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More and More GOP Members Opposing Trump's Healthcare Bill; Lowest Poll In U.S. President's History. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 17, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Here's a breaking news. The Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, a top republican priority appears to be dead on arrival tonight.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
President Trump marks six months in office this week, and tonight his administration is consumed by special counsel investigation into possible collusion and his key legislative initiative is apparently dead.
Let's take a closer look at where things stand right now. Republicans control the White House and both Houses of Congress, but Obamacare will remain the law of the land.
Two more senators on record tonight saying they will not support the healthcare bill, and that's enough to bill it.
The White House meanwhile, unable to gets its story straight on Donald Trump, Jr.'s controversial meeting with the Russian lawyer. President Trump and his son both saying the meeting at Trump Tower that took place before last year's election was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. But White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisting to reporters it was about adoption despite evidence to the contrary.
And at the six-month mark, President Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in the history of polling. What is the mood inside the White House tonight and around the country? We'll discuss all of that. A lot to get to.
I want to begin tonight with CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins, Julia Ioffe, the staff writer for the Atlantic, and Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News.
We start again tonight with breaking news, everyone. Kaitlan, there are now four republican senators opposing the motion to proceed to advance the GOP healthcare in the Senate. So right now this version of Obamacare repeal and replace is dead. What can you tell us tonight?
KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, CNN: That's exactly right. This version is not going to go to the floor for any votes, especially because Senatr majority leader Mitch McConnell could only afford to lose two senators tonight and then two more came out tonight dealing a devastating blow to the Republican Party who has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare for seven years now.
Now this all comes as Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were dining senators at the White House tonight in hopes of getting more support for the bill. And right now there's no path forward for this. This isn't going forward. So what the question is now will the White House choose to move on to tax reform or will they try to get healthcare one more go.
LEMON: Mr. Gergen, President Trump, republican Senate, he's a republican president he's got a republican Senate, he's got a republican House, they voted countless times to repeal and replace Obamacare when he was in office, what do you attribute this failure to?
DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: When the president has the lowest approval ratings of any president after six months it's not surprising he took one of the biggest body blows in politics after six months. You know, the strategy of playing to his base only and trying not to go to the country on major legislation that would try to bring some democrats in, that would try to be more bipartisan I think led the republicans to embrace a healthcare bill in the House and then basically the same thing in the Senate which was extraordinarily unpopular.
I think we have never seen a president put forward a major legislative piece in his early days and have it be greeted with such division and fear. I think we are going to be talking about how much this is going to change Donald Trump's agenda. Can he get anything passed?
The single most important thing, Don, is what happens to the people of this country on our healthcare in the next few weeks, the next few months, who is paying attention to them and trying to ensure they don't get thrown off their insurance and they don't lose their capacity to protect their families.
LEMON: Yes. I think it's incumbent upon obviously lawmakers to do that.
LEMON: And also for us to keep the focus on that.
GERGEN: Yes, and we should. The lawmakers, the standard by which they should be judged now is, what are they doing for their party but what are they doing for the folks back home.
LEMON: And remember this, David, remember the victory lap that they took and people called it the 2017 version of mission accomplished when it passed the House.
LEMON: And everyone was wondering why are you taking a victory lap? There is no victory yet.
LEMON: They're missing the victory.
GERGEN: I agree with that. I agree with that. But we've reached the -- we've reached and we've been doing this for a while. But the Trump people are just taking us way down on this where the attempt to build big legislative achievements is no longer based upon trying to reach out to the other party.
Then (Inaudible) had taught to me a long ago, he's one of my mentors. When you do big social legislation, big milestone legislation, it has to be passed with super majority, 65, 67, 68 votes in the Senate.
LEMON: Let's talk about this, Michael Isikoff. How does this play in Peoria? I said on top of the show what's the feeling inside of the White House, but how does this play in Peoria when you have the lowest approval rating at the six-month mark since polling in the history of polling in 70 years, when your major legislative initiative now appears to be dead on arrival, when you have a republican House and a republican Senate, you are the republican president and you still can't get anything accomplished?
[22:05:06] MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Well, it doesn't play well. I mean, look, the president clearly has lost a lot of political capital. And to the extent that he -- you know, and that is a factor in not being able to bring his healthcare bill to passage.
You know, normally presidents use their leverage, use their clout, use their standing with the American people to pressure members of Congress to vote their way. And the president's rating, poll rankings are so low at this point, historically low, that he doesn't have that leverage.
And I think then you have to look to explain that into all the other things that have gone on to lower his poll rankings and certainly the Russia investigation is a big part of that.
LEMON: Julia, before we move on, because we want to talk about the Russia investigation, specifically Donald Trump, Jr. what do you make of this situation tonight?
JULIA IOFFE, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think it's republicans fear from 2009 from the Affordable Care Act debate in 2009 coming true. They were afraid then that should this law pass and come into effect and people get benefits that they become used to and like, it's going to be impossible to repeal, which is exactly what's happening.
This is coinciding with Obamacare really taking root and really helping people, you know, however many people that's helped and it's hard to take away something that people have come, have become used to and kind of like. So they warned about this in 2009, and that's what's happening now.
LEMON: It's really mind boggling when you think about it. When you think about all the times the number of times that they voted on this when Barack Obama was President of the United States and you think about, you know, everything that he said on the campaign trail, on day one this is going to be so easy, we're going to put something better and he's gotten no movement.
IOFFE: It's easier, it's easier to be in the peanut gallery than to be at the head of the class and teach, you know, or to do something productive.
GERGEN: I think that's true. And when you become hostage to your ideology as oppose to sort of looking at the evidence and the facts and how system really works, you can make terrible, terrible decisions.
LEMON: Do you think his, do you that this president is bogged down saying I'm right. I'm going to -- I need to prove everybody else wrong, I need to sort of raise the legacy of President Barack Obama instead of realizing you are the president for the entire United States not just that small number of people who voted for you?
GERGEN: Yes. I started out there. That this insistence of just going to the base and not trying to appeal to everybody else, to try to divide the country doing my base versus everybody else and beating up on everybody else I think has been -- has been very destructive for his presidency.
But I think that overall he -- this is a president who spent most of his time thinking about himself, how am I playing, how am I doing, what about the polls? What about the fake news? As opposed to thinking about the people of the country.
I have never seen a president who spent so little time trying to figure out what's best for the country in terms of policies and what steps do we take and here we are, this bill has gone down, we have no damn idea where we're going from here.
LEMON: It makes me wonder, Michael Isikoff, when you hear about some of the things that he says, you know, how he spends his time. If there is a mirror and if he sees himself because the rest of America, if you look at that polling, the rest of America are saying I see you Donald Trump. Does he see himself?
ISIKOFF: Well, he watches TV. We know that. And he watches the cable shows that drive him crazy and then he tweets about them. And there's multiple examples. And then he tweets about the cable shows that drive him crazy saying he doesn't watch him, but he's reacting to what he's watching.
I mean, it's kind of silly on some level and the idea that the president has been so obsessed with what is being said about him on cable TV instead of, for instance, the nuts and bolts of the healthcare bill is, you know -- I think at some point that's going to be disturbing to those folks out in Peoria and elsewhere that did vote for him.
LEMON: You have to wonder if it's like the funhouse mirror the one that I like though that makes me look taller and skinnier, the one that he's going into. But go ahead, Julia.
IOFFE: I just wanted to say though, that all this talk about polls it just takes me back to horrible, horrible nightmares of reliving the campaign of 2016 where we in the media kept talking about his high disapproval rating, his high unlikability rating, how much people didn't like him, and yet here we are.
[22:10:03] And something has to happen because of the way our system is constructed and because of the way political power is allotted that we essentially have minority rule in this country. Something else has to happen than just these polling numbers because he has never cared about, like David Gergen said, he never cared about the vast majority of the people who aren't, you know, sick of fanatic act likes of his. That are that like 39 percent has always been that...
LEMON: And it's not moving. Right, that number has never moved.
IOFFE: But it's never moved.
IOFFE: It's never moved in 2016. And yet here we are. He's in the Oval Office. He has the nuclear codes and he's never been liked, so something else has to give and it's not going to be because of the approval ratings.
LEMON: We are going to talk about Russia because it has been nine days since the story of Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer. The White House still can't get its story straight. We're going to hear from Sean Spicer and the rest of our panel after the break.
LEMON: The White House Spokesman Sean Spicer contradicting President Trump over Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer.
Back now with my panel. Kaitlan, to you, it has been nine days since the story of Donald Trump's Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer broke in the White House and the trump family still can't get their stories together. Here's Sean Spicer today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to get into the specifics of this. But I will say that it is quite often for people who are given information during the heat of the campaign to ask what that is.
[22:15:05] That's what simply he did. The president made it clear through his tweet and there was nothing as far as we know that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything other than adoption, the Magnitsky Act, but I would refer you back to council on that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Kaitlan, by the way, that's simply not true. We have Donald Trump, Jr.'s e-mails. We know the goal of the meeting was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. And here we have Sean Spicer contradicting the explanations that we're now getting from the president and his son.
COLLINS: Yes. I'm not sure if Sean Spicer has been reading the news lately. But Donald trump this morning issued a statement saying that the meeting was about getting opposition information on his opponent and Donald Trump, Jr. like you said released the e-mails where we saw in the subject line it said confidential Russian, for your eyes only so it's like, it was, so they could only read it and Donald Trump Jr.
In the e-mail was corresponding with this person about incriminating information that this person claimed they had on the Clinton campaign. And the person said they were a Russian government attorney. So, Sean Spicer completely contradicted the president and Donald Trump, Jr. today when he said that this meeting was simply about adoptions and sanctions, which we now know that it certainly wasn't.
LEMON: I think it's also worth pointing that out, Danny, I'm speaking to director, if you can put Sean Spicer back. You don't have to play the sound. But when you have this thing you got, you have, you know, a briefing and you can invite cameras in, but then you have this thing where you don't see the people. Do they realize that the White House, that this makes them look guilty not transparent instead of holding an on-camera briefing? Do they understand that.
GERGEN: You would think, Don. For a long time I thought, who is in charge here? Why don't they get this? Why don't they get, this is not hard. Other presidents succeed at this by just being straightforward about the facts.
GERGEN: And it's gone on for so long and so duplicitous and so much double speak that you begin to wonder, this is quite intentional. This may be quite intentional.
GERGEN: You create a fog bank of lies and uncertainty and vagueness and create so many different details that people just start to say I don't want to watch this.
My sense is that a lot of Americans are starting to tune out on this.
GERGEN: Because it's like, you know, it just keeps going on and on. There is a stench about it. But what can you do.
LEMON: It is a campaign of misinformation.
LEMON: It's a campaign of lies?
GERGEN: Yes. A campaign of lies that may numb us.
GERGEN: And may -- whatever Mueller does may be just sort of lost in the politics of it.
LEMON: Yes. Michael, Michael Isikoff, our CNN correspondent Pamela Brown spoke to Donald Trump Jr.'s attorney Alan Futerfas -- I get it. I don't know if I'm saying that right -- about the eighth person in that meeting. The attorney spoke with this mystery man recently. He was a representative of the Agalarov family and now we're learning that he claims to be a U.S. citizen.
He says he's not at the meeting on behalf of the Russian government but we still don't have his name. We're learning that all of this information piecemeal. There is nothing transparent in any of this as David and I were saying just now.
ISIKOFF: Well, it does seem very weird that eight people can walk into Trump Tower and have a meeting with the campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, a senior campaign advisor, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr. himself and there is no record of who these people are?
You know, I talked to Rinat Akhmetshin on Friday who said he walked in. Nobody asked him for any I.D.'s. He just walked -- waltzed in with no security check at all. It does make you wonder, did somebody either, you know, did somebody send a notice to the security guards at Trump Tower to let a bunch of people in, and if so, who was that or is security so lax at Trump Tower that anybody can stroll in and meet with the campaign chairman? I mean, there is so many questions here that are, you know, that are extremely puzzling.
LEMON: Did any of you guys ever been to Trump Tower? I went to Trump Tower before the Secret Service.
LEMON: And they asked for identification, if you are going up to any of the floors where you have those meetings with the president or his family. It just seems mind boggling to me that...
IOFFE: Also there was...
LEMON: Go ahead.
IOFFE: There was that moment when they tried to blame the Secret Service, which was amazing, right? And then the Secret Service said, we have nothing to do with this. We were not part of the equation at that point. But like, how, if they're willing to throw their own protection under the bus, it's just so amazing.
LEMON: Didn't you find that -- didn't you find that, I guess that's why you're bringing it up, Julia, that the Secret Service would actually respond to something like this? It's a bit unprecedented.
[22:19:58] IOFFE: Well, I mean, they're being accused of sleeping...
ISIKOFF: I just, can I add?
IOFFE: They're being accused of sleeping, you know, on the job. And not taking their responsibility seriously. You know, letting the security of the what is now the presidential family not taking it serious. That's a pretty serious accusation.
LEMON: Go ahead, Mike. I want to bring Julia back in because I have to ask question.
ISIKOFF: Yes. I would just say, going back to Sean Spicer statement, all right, so eight people are cleared in or somebody gives, you know, notice to let this group of people, Russians, U.S. people working with Russians into Trump Tower, let them up, just going to let them up.
Just going back to Sean Spicer's statement that this was about adoptions. Does anybody really believe that the OK for this meeting would have given and Paul Manafort would have been there and Jared Kushner would have been there if it was advertised as a meeting to discuss Russian adoptions. It's just this hard to fathom that scenario.
GERGEN: What we do know and it's very clear, we're not sure whether the people there violated the law, or the people there violated the law, but what is quite clear is that there was a huge amount of dishonesty in an attempt to hide the meeting from the public.
And one of the curious things in the last hours has been the fact that Donald Trump, Jr.'s lawyer, the word is out that he and Donald Trump, Jr. wanted to issue a statement originally that was going to be complete.
LEMON: Yes. It says Don Junior and the counsel were fully prepared to -- and absolutely prepared to publish or make a statement that was a fulsome statement about the nature of the meeting, what led to the meeting, what the conversation was in the meeting. So it sounds like somebody clamped him up.
GERGEN: Somebody clamped him up and put out a fake story, right? That's really what's going on.
COLLINS: Well, Don, I think it's worth...
LEMON: Go on.
COLLINS: I only think it's worth pointing out that today Sean Spicer he said that he didn't think anyone would think that this meeting was anything other than adoption and the Magnitsky Act.
But during Donald Trump, Jr.'s only interview last week after all of this came out, he said he didn't even know what that act was until the day of the meeting with this Russian lawyer. So it's not true that he walked into this meeting thinking it was about adoptions.
GERGEN: That's also true.
IOFFE: And also can we just stop talking about adoptions? Because none of this, not on the American side, and certainly not on the Russian side is about adoptions.
LEMON: This is a lie, Julia. Thank you.
IOFFE: On the Russian side...
GERGEN: I agree with that.
IOFFE: n the Russian side, it's about money. It's about being able to take money that has been stolen or earned in non-nefarious ways and getting it out of the country so that it's not stolen by other people.
IOFFE: And the Magnitsky Act...
ISIKOFF: I just add one more point.
IOFFE: And the Magnitsky Act shuts that pipeline down. That's what it's about for the Russians. It's not about the adoptions.
LEMON: Hey, Julia, hang on, hang on, Michael. Julia, before we go, I want to ask you. Did you come across or you may have had a brush with this Russian translator, the Russian translator?
IOFFE: Yes. As far as I know, he has translated lots of events, lots of panels, including panels on the situation on LGBT rights in Russia. So he seems to be a professional translator.
You know, it's just -- what's amazing to me about this is that some of these characters in the story I have come across in my dealings with Russia and reporting on Russia and you meet these people and you think, OK, it's just another Russian and you don't think of them as anything special. If anything, sometimes they're kind of, you know, not the cream of the crop.
And then of course you find that these are the people involved with the Trump campaign just like Carter Page, just like some of the other talent that has wound up in the Trump orbit, not the cream of the crop, not even the cream, but something else. GERGEN: Can I just say one last thing? That is to me, a really
significant question is, when Donald Trump, Jr. when the clamp down came not letting him go out with an honest statement who ordered that? Who is the architect of the cover up?
ISIKOFF: I just, Don...
GERGEN: Was the president involved? I think those are really important questions.
ISIKOFF: If I can speak to that. As I reported last week, the president's lawyers Marc Kasowitz and Alan Garten, the chief legal officer of the Trump organization were notified about these e-mails and the meeting in the third week of June. So three weeks -- more than three weeks ago now.
So if you're looking for who might have ordered the clamp down, if in fact what Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer is saying is correct, I mean, I think you have to wonder what role, what actions did the president's lawyers take to try to seal the evidence from the public.
GERGEN: But then, Michael is right. That's right, Michael. And the question is who ordered the president's lawyers to do that.
LEMON: Yes. OK. We got to go. Many questions to be answered. We'll continue our conversation. Up next, the president responds on Twitter to the Senate healthcare bill being dead in the water.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So we have the breaking news tonight as the Senate does not have the votes to pass the healthcare bill.
I want to bring in now Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS. Fareed, let me just read. The president just tweeted responding to the healthcare collapse. He said "Republicans should just repeal failing Obamacare now and work on a new healthcare plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in."
Does he understand how this works? If you repeal it, something has to go in its place. Does he understand that?
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN: No, I don't think he -- part of the president is the president has always been unaware and unwilling to understand the details of how this works. What he's describing is essentially impossible.
I mean, you would throw 20 million people off Obamacare. It's not clear what they would do. It is not clear what insurance companies would do. It's not clear whether Medicare then is expanded or not. I think part of the problem here is that the president has been behaving as a -- I think the president he thought he was going to be, which is the person who he sees, who we saw on television.
That was the president, the guy who meets with foreign leaders, who has photo ops, who pardon, to Thanksgiving Turkey. But actually a lot of the presidency is very detailed policy meetings where you have very detailed policy discussion, where you have to deal with very complicated tradeoffs.
[22:30:05] And I don't get the sense that really he understands -- he understands healthcare.
LEMON: Yes. I have been wondering since they've been having so much trouble repealing and replacing that as if whatever democrats came up with Obamacare and the way they tied it into Medicaid and Medicare and all that, is that why it is so tough for them to undo it? Did they even realize at that time that they doing that?
ZAKARIA: You know, I don't know that they realized it, but the trust is, you're right. Everybody criticized it because it's a Rube Goldberg and it's kind of add-ons. Well, it turns out because of that it might actually be very complicated to unravel because you unravel the whole system.
But it is important to understand. Obamacare is actually very simple. Basically, the idea is that you don't let insurance companies deny people claims because they have pre-existing conditions. That's called sick people. You don't have insurance companies throw sick people off the rolls.
So the insurance companies came to them and said, look, if we have to ensure everyone who has pre-existing conditions, which is we have to ensure lots and lots of sick people.
ZAKARIA: You've got to give us lots and lots of healthy people to balance it out. That's how insurance works. That's how car insurance works. And so you have the mandate that healthy people have to buy insurance so that -- and the insurance companies have to ensure sick people. That's what Obamacare is.
You had the third part, which is and the people who can -- who can't afford to buy insurance, the federal government provides subsidies for. So, it's that simple.
ZAKARIA: Insurance companies can't say no to sick people. In order to make the insurance companies make that viable, you have to have some healthy people buying in and the poor people get some help from the government. That's it.
ZAKARIA: You can't take one of those stools away. What the republicans keep trying to do is say we like the part where you can't get rid of pre-existing conditions.
LEMON: But we don't like the other parts.
ZAKARIA: But the insurance companies were the first to say we will all go bankrupt if we were all insuring our sick people how could we make money?
LEMON: I wonder why, I have you here because you're very smart on this subject. I want to talk about this meeting, the Russians now and Donald Trump, Jr.
There have been every day there is a drip, drip, drip of new information. There was another person in the meeting. The explanation changes about why the meeting took place and what have you. It's absolutely incredible.
ZAKARIA: Well, it's incredible, but here actually we now have clarity because this meeting explains to us what the Russian ask was. You know, so far we've been a little unclear as to what was it Russia wanted. So maybe they wanted better relations with the U.S. Maybe they thought they could get Trump to try, you know, to have there's a Trump.
But now we know there was a very specific task. And it's important to understand what this adoption issues. The adoption is the red herring. What happened is the United States passed sanctions not against Russia as a country, as an economy, but against a specific series of Russian oligarchs and officials around Putin who were basically accused of human rights abuses and corruption.
Those guys who are really the Russian power elite, they want to be able to send their money abroad, they want to be able to buy apartments in London and New York, they want to be able to buy houses in the south of France and they want to be able to send their daughters and sons to boarding schools in England and their mistress maybe for shopping expeditions in Sicily.
The Magnitsky Act stops all that. It freezes those funds. It doesn't allow those people to travel, it doesn't allow those funds to be moved. That's what the Russians wanted. They wanted to repeal of that act because they don't care about the Russian economy. They cared about their economy.
And, so, what we now understand is the Russian quid pro quo was they went to the Trump campaign and said we'll give you dirt on Hillary Clinton if you repeal the Magnitsky Act. Everybody agrees that that was the bargain that was being offered. So now we really understand what it is the Russians wanted and what it is that so annoyed them about, you know, the last few years of U.S. policy.
LEMON: So here we are getting to the bottom of it. So how is Russia reacting to all of this? Do they still see an opportunity with this president?
ZAKARIA: I think they are very frustrated because I think they thought they had this opportunity. If you see the scenes of Russians and particularly Russian elites when the election was announced, they were celebrating. There were almost no countries in the world that were celebrating the election of Donald Trump.
You listen to Putin afterwards, he was bloating, he was talking about how we alone in the world predicted that Donald Trump was going to win. And now what they see is a Trump, you know, a White House that is more than anything else paralyzed on Russia and because they're paralyzed policymaking has evolved to people like James Mattis who is pretty tough on Russia, to McMaster, who is pretty tough on Russia.
Trump I don't think has had much room to maneuver. Whenever he has a chance, though, what's interesting is he always gives Russia the benefit of the doubt. He always says maybe it wasn't Russia did the hacking.
[22:35:02] I think I can find a way to get on with Putin. He has some extraordinary soft spot for Russia alone among countries in the world and it began by the way, in about 2007, 2008 when Russian money started pouring into the west and when the Trump organization was looking for investors.
I don't know if there is a connection. But the timing is uncanny. It's about that point that Donald Trump decides there is one country in the world that isn't ripping off the United States that isn't, you know, the source of all problems and it's Russia and there is one leader in the world he admires and it is Vladimir Putin.
LEMON: There you have it. Thank you, Fareed Zakaria, the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS. Thank you.
Coming up, the legal ramifications of Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with the Russian attorney. Plus, the White House kicks off made in America week hailing products made in the USA. But the president and his daughter Ivanka don't practice what they preach when it comes to products they sell.
LEMON: We have breaking news tonight on the mysterious eighth person in attendance at Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer.
Let's discuss now with CNN legal commentator Matthew Whitaker, and CNN contributor John Dean, a former White House counsel for President Nixon and the author of "Conservatives Without Conscience."
[22:40:07] Good evening to both of you. Matt, first let me ask you about this news that our Pamela Brown is reporting tonight. She says that Don Junior's attorney spoke to the eighth person he won't name him but says he is a U.S. citizen not working for the Russian government and was there to represent the Agalarov family. Is any of that comforting to republicans and can he be believed.
MATTHEW WHITAKER, LEGAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: No. because throughout the coverage, Don, we all know that and we've learned how the Russians do business and how they would, you know, develop a relationship like this. And, so, I think the eighth person who is unnamed raises more
questions than it answers and right now I think there is a lot of people that are lawyering up as we have talked about and are facing some exposure going forward.
LEMON: Yes. John, I mean, what do you think? Does that change the investigation in any way or make the meeting any less troublesome for Donald Junior or for Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort or for the president?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL & CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it adds another potential witness. I think the e-mail that gathered the people together in that room is about as explanatory as you can be why the meeting was being convened and that's going to begin to show the elements of a possible conspiracy if these people went on and carried out any further acts in sort of concert of what they agreed upon at that gathering.
LEMON: Yes. Both Don Junior's attorney Alan Futerfas also issued a statement today. I butchered his name earlier. Sorry, Mr. Futerfas. It says "Don Junior and his counsel were fully prepared and absolutely prepared to publish or make a statement that was a fulsome statement about the nature of the meeting, what led to the meeting and what the conversation was in the meeting."
So if you kind of read between the lines here, John, is someone saying -- did someone clamp down on Don Junior, what he wanted to say, and who might that have been?
DEAN: Well, it certainly sounds that way that counsel is saying that we wanted to tell all and we got shut down and we're unable to do so. Now, you're raising the right question, who did that? Was it another lawyer for another client that had a conflict with that or was it the president himself, Mr. Trump.
And the reason this is important, I saw this happen in Watergate where some of the press papers that were agreed upon in meetings turned around later and were used very effectively by prosecutors to show a conspiracy to obstruct justice. So they -- these things can have later implications.
LEMON: Matt, does it sound like someone was clamping down on him?
WHITAKER: It does. And if you remember the way those statements came out, I think there were at least three over the course of about three days, is there always seemed to be additional information available. And, you know, this is maybe an attempt to rewrite history and to, you know, put lipstick on a pig, but it's very concerning that first, the first mention because as we all know what that meeting was about and what was discussed. That was not a fulsome first statement and it was actually almost looked like it was a head fake to try to get everybody to look the other way.
LEMON: Yes. Matt, we now know that there were at least eight people in that Russian meeting for the purpose of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton and with the intention of getting Trump elected. Of the eight people in the meeting with the Russians at Trump Tower, only Jared Kushner now is currently in the administration. What about legal jeopardy for him?
WHITAKER: Well, I think as I have thought about this case and as a former U.S. attorney, I certainly believe that his security clearance it's currently temporary. I think he has some risk of ever getting a permanent security clearance, but I'm certain that his father-in-law can help him maintain a security clearance as I understand the way the process works and ultimately the president being the decider in that.
But you know, there are some other issues with his relationship to Russia and some of the news that's been reported that I think he does face some exposure and I think that I expect the special counsel is going to take a pretty deep dive into not only his e-mails but his cell phone and other data that's going to show what he was doing at the time as it progressed through the end of the election and into the transition.
LEMON: So then the question is, Matt, then why isn't that's considered conspiring with a foreign government to influence our election?
WHITAKER: Well, one of the reasons is I don't think we have enough evidence right now to suggest that he conspired. But at the same time, he is certainly not out of the woods and there is a reason that he has a lawyer or team of lawyers that are advising him and ultimately the special counsel and Bob Mueller, who was a director of the FBI when I was U.S. attorney is going to do a very thorough investigation and we will hear what the facts are.
But right now as we sit here on the sidelines trying to figure out what's going on, I just don't think there are enough facts to support the case as we know it.
[22:44:57] LEMON: All right. Let's take everyone through this, OK, so that they can understand what happened. John, I am going to give this to you because to get a security clearance Jared Kushner is required to disclose all the meetings he's had with foreign contacts. So here's what we know.
January 18th he's admitted a clearance form for no foreign contacts listed. And then January 19th he submitted supplemental form saying, "During the campaign and transition period I served as a point of contact for foreign officials trying to reach the president elect. I had numerous contacts with foreign officials in this capacity."
And then early spring he amended his SF-86 form listing 100 foreign contacts. June 21, disclosed meeting with the Russian lawyer. Then June 23rd he met with the FBI to be interviewed for his security clearance. Does this lack of transparency mean trouble?
DEAN: It could very well mean a lot of trouble. One of the -- this is done electronically today, these FS-86. And one of the things I'm told repeat itself in the form is a warning that failure to disclose information can result in a violation of the 18-USC-1001, which is the false statement statute, criminal statute. So you're constantly being reminded not to forget. But yet he had
these lapses in memory time after time. You wonder what -- if he did indeed meet with the FBI agent who took him through his form on maybe more than one occasion, if he made false statements to that agent as well. That's just going to compound it. So this could be a heap of trouble and it certainly is a lot of leverage for the special counsel to get him to talk seriously about what's going on.
LEMON: Matt, what if John Dean...
WHITAKER: One point.
LEMON: Yes, go ahead.
WHITAKER: One point, Don, is any of those crimes under that have to show to be intentional. And if he amended them before it was brought to his attention, that would suggest that he didn't have the intent and was doing it just as he did with meeting. But that's just a small final point.
LEMON: Matt Whitaker and John Dean, thank you, gentlemen.
Straight ahead, new poll numbers out. Not good news for the president as we begin a week long explanation -- examination of his first six months in office.
LEMON: All this week, we'll be looking at President Trump's first six months in office. But as he approached this milestone, the president is facing record low approval numbers.
Let's discuss now with CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro, Karine Jean-Pierre, the national spokesman -- spokeswoman for moveon.org, and political commentator Alice Stewart, a republican strategist, also contributor Salena Zito, a columnist for the New York Post.
So glad to have all of you. Ana, I'm going to start with you. The Trump presidency about six months in. Thirty six, this is according to the Washington Post/ABC, 36 percent of Americans approve the president's job performance, that is the lowest approval rating of any president in polls dating back 70 years at the six-month mark. What's your reaction?
ANA NAVARRO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: my reaction is how can it still be so high, you know, after everything he has done, the last six months, he's continued to act unpresidential. He had told us that he would change his tone. He hasn't. You know, he has used the presidency as a bully pulpit to do things like tweet out against department stores and Broadway musicals and the press and you know, he's tried to suppress the press.
So, I think, you know, I think it's less about his achievements or lack thereof in office. I think people are just very disappointed with the tone, with his lack of gravitas, with the idea that he is tarnishing the presidency. And what he's doing you know, foreign policy, this is a guy who tweeted against the mayor of London in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. It's embarrassing.
LEMON: Alice, I have to ask you, and I speak with some people who are not Trump supporters and they say that every time they want to give him a chance, every time they say OK, he's our president, we should, you know, accept him and sort of reach out and reach across the aisle so to speak, he does something and then they say I just cannot do it. So can he come back from numbers like this? What can he do? Should he start reaching out more?
ALICE STEWART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Absolutely. I think what we're seeing with these numbers is he may continue to hold on to his base and that is clearly who he is appealing to, but he's losing independents and the people that you mentioned that are trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. And sometimes it's like two steps forward, one step back.
And an important cross tap in that poll is that 63 percent of those polled say that they disapprove of Don Junior's meeting with the Russians with regard to Russian information. And the fact that the administration continues to drip information out about that hurts their credibility and causes many people to question the truthfulness of this administration and that's a big problem.
And I think moving forward, what he needs to do is use this as a wake- up call. Use this as a sign. Look, we really need to focus on our agenda why we got elected repealing and replacing Obamacare, securing the border. I think he made great strides with his appointment of Scalia-like justice of Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. But this should be a wake-up call. I think they can take this opportunity to say let's focus on the issues that are important to the American people.
LEMON: But if you look at this, because the president tweeted today, he said, you know, he tweeted about this poll. He said, "The ABC/Washington Post poll even though almost 40 percent is not bad at this time was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time." OK.
But as I mentioned, 36 percent approval rating in six months. And I just saw John King do a fact check on this, right, basically saying that the president was inaccurate and what he tweeted. So as far as the assertion that the poll was inaccurate around election time, the final estimate from the Washington Post/ABC tracking poll was 47 percent for Clinton, 43 percent for Trump compared with a final of 48.5 for Clinton and 46.4 for Trump, given the 2.5 percentage point -- percentage point margin of error, it's definitely not inaccurate. So why is he still going there saying that this is not that this poll is inaccurate? Karine?
[22:54:56] KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, MOVEON.ORG: Well, here's the thing. This is a president who lost the popular vote by three million and he just became more unpopular as the six months have gone by as we've seen. His policies are unpopular. He's unpopular. His behavior is unpopular. And he refuses to be presidential.
He refuses to just not just have a base strategy but you are the president for everyone. And he won't do that at all. And what does he get? He doesn't -- he hasn't been able to fulfill any of his major policy promises. Tax reform, healthcare as we're seeing from today, the border wall as we're seeing, thank goodness that hasn't been able to happen, but he hasn't -- he hasn't been able to do anything.
Obama's first 100 days, he was able to do the stimulus package. He expanded healthcare for kids. He was also able to do equal pay. That's 100 days. And Donald Trump just can't get it passed himself of losing the popular vote and get it out of his head that you are president for everyone.
LEMON: Salena Zito. Salena speaks to a lot of folks in Trump territory all the time. So in the countries, Salena, let's go through this poll. Trump won in November -- excuse me -- 50 percent of his job performance according to a Wall Street Journal they approve of it. NBC poll, this new poll.
However, there is a split with counties that he won easily in those that went to Obama back in 2012. There his approval is only 44 percent but still that's higher than the national average. You spent a lot of time talking to supporters. Why do think they remain so loyal to this president?
SALENA ZITO, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, it's going to take a lot to dislodge them from him because you know, it's not just about him. It's about them. And their lives and their communities. So they're a little more emotionally invested because of the promise of jobs, promise of making America great again, which is a very aspirational thing.
People like to feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves. So it's going to be harder for those voters to dislodge from him, but you know, as far as his tweets go, I never expected them to be incredibly presidential. But I'm always sort of surprised at how he hasn't used them to his advantage, you know, to talk about the things that are really important to him, talk about jobs, talk about regulations, talk about energy.
You know, there's a lot of opportunities that he could use this platform for, and he does not. The problem for -- the problem for the president is, if you look at these numbers, there's a softening of independent voters that can really hurt him in the midterm elections. Especially since the democrats have decided that they are going to now court blue dog democrats to run for the House and the Senate.
ZITO: Those are moderate leaning elected or potentially elected officials that could win in swing districts.
LEMON: OK. I have to go but I'll give you the last word because I know you're dying to get in here.
NAVARRO: Well, it's just you know what I marvel about Donald Trump, you know, dude, your poll numbers are at 36 percent. Leave it alone. Stop tweeting about it. He's like the kid who can't stop picking the scab until it bleeds whether it's Russia, whether it's poll numbers. There are things that you should not be stirring up. Stop being president baby onion and having a very thin skin and making us cry.
LEMON: Yes. I got to go. Thank you all. I appreciate it. Straight ahead in our next hour, our breaking news coverage. The Senate does not have the votes to repeal Obamacare.
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