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Secret Putin-Trump Meeting Revealed; President Trump Pushes for Republicans to Continue Health Care Reform Effort. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired July 19, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN.
I'm talking about 24 hours now after this health care bill collapsed, President Trump hosting these frustrated Republicans at the White House and demanding they stay put, stay in town until a new plan is in place.
The only problem is that it's not entirely clear whatsoever what that plan would look like. And we are now just starting to hear from these senators about what went down in the meeting.
But, first, let me play something for you. This is the president of the United States just as the lunch was beginning. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're close. I think we're a lot closer than people understand, and we have to pull it through. So important.
But we're in this room today to deliver on our promise to the American people to repeal Obamacare and to ensure that they have the health care that they need.
We have no choice. We have to repeal and replace Obamacare. We can repeal it, but the best is repeal and replace, and let's get going. I intend to keep my promise, and I know you will too.
Obamacare was a big lie. You can keep your doctor, lie. You can keep your plan, lie. It was a lie directly from the president. You can keep your doctor. You can keep your plan, 28 times he said it, 28 times. And it was a lie, and he knew it was. And now it's hurting this country irreparably.
I'm ready to act. I have pen in hand, believe me. I'm sitting in that office. I have pen in hand. You never had that before. You know, for seven years, you had an easy route. We will repeal, we will replace, and he's never going to sign it.
But I'm signing it. So it's a little bit different. But I'm ready to act. For seven years, you promised the American people that you would repeal Obamacare. People are hurting. Inaction is not an option.
And, frankly, I don't think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we can give our people great health care, because we're close. We're very close. We have no Democrat help. They're obstructionists.
That's all they're good at is obstruction. They have no ideas. They have gone so far left, they're looking for single-payer. That's what they want. But single-payer will bankrupt our country, because it's more than we take in for just health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Then there was this moment where President Trump called out Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who was seated just not right of the president. Senator Heller was the key no vote in that first version of the Senate bill. Watch this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The other night, I was very surprised when I heard a couple of my friends, my friends -- they really were and are -- they might not be very much longer, but that's OK.
TRUMP: I think I have to get them back. That's right. I...
TRUMP: I just -- well, no, you didn't go out there. This was the one we were worried about. You weren't there. But you're going to be. You're going to be.
TRUMP: Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn't he? OK.
And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they're going to appreciate what you hopefully will do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's begin there, Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent.
It's like you look at Senator Heller's sort of smile. He's like, I need to be smiling because I know the cameras are on me, but I'm really not finding this very funny kind of smile.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. He's like, does anybody think that there is a mechanism for this seat and for the floor to open and I can just get sucked down? Because if there is, can somebody tell me how to press that button? BALDWIN: Push the button.
BASH: Yes. Yes, no question.
And, look, it was a smart tactic, just sort of, you know, strategically, politically, to put Dean Heller next to the president in the first place, because he's a very key guy here, in terms of whether or not he's going to come on board.
The reality is that the person who has the most influence with Dean Heller is not the president of the United States at this time. It is the governor of his state, Governor Sandoval, who is enormously influential, because, in Nevada, they took money from the federal government, they expanded Medicaid.
And it's one of the states where Obamacare is actually, all things considered, working pretty well. So, that's the dynamic with Dean Heller.
He should be calling -- the president should be calling Governor Sandoval maybe more than the senator.
But, regardless, Brooke, this was a tactic, a president, a strategy that we have not seen, that people even inside the administration have been pulling their hair out, asking, why are we not being more aggressive in trying to define this bill, trying to define the politics, maybe try to put a little fear, if it is possible, into Republicans who are bucking the Republican leadership, reminding them, you know, you voted for this and you -- you campaigned on this, I should say, over and over again, repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Now it's time to step up and do it.
Whether or not it is going to be successful, who knows? It could be too little too late. But at least the president is getting the message, and there is no doubt in my mind that there are people who have been begging for this kind of presidential presence on this who finally got their wish.
BALDWIN: So, then with the presidential presence, how much will that actually influence some of these Republican holdouts?
BASH: It's unclear, because of the, you know, question of when this happened, and whether it's too little too late.
When you already have people like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and even -- and those are sort of on the more moderate side of the spectrum, on the other side of the spectrum, Rand Paul of Kentucky coming out and saying that this bill, which the president was referring to, the one that seemed to be dead 24 hours ago, or 36 hours ago, the Republican plan to replace Obamacare, that they have problems with it, they're already out there.
So, it just depends on where they think the sort of politics are and, more importantly, whether the Republican leadership and the White House can give them a way to save face. There you see another, Shelley Moore Capito, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and, yes, these are three, who, never mind the replace bill. They have said that they don't even want to go forward with just to repeal.
BALDWIN: Repeal only. Right.
So, the question -- I mean, this is a true test now, and the president has put himself out there. And whether or not he has the juice to make them worried based on what he said today, which is, you should vote at least to get on this bill, that's going to be -- that is currently, because of his comments, being put to the test.
BALDWIN: Let's listen -- speaking of these senators, they're meandering out of this meeting here. Here's Senator Johnson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Completely supportive of that. These markets are collapsing. He made a strong case for repeal and replace. And so, again, I completely support and I thought this was a really good lunch, good meeting.
QUESTION: You guys were fairly far apart on replace before that was scrapped. What's going to change this time around?
JOHNSON: I really do believe that, if it's two Republican senators, the vast majority of us -- don't have the exact count, but probably 50 or more.
When we ran for election, we told our supporters, our voters that we were going to repeal Obamacare and replace something that worked better. And I think we take that commitment very seriously. And I think it's good to remind us all of that, and to do everything we can to move forward to get a result that's going to continuously improve what our health care system is.
QUESTION: Were any new policy options put on the table? We saw the public part of your guys' meeting, but behind the scenes, were any new policy options put on the table or agreed upon?
JOHNSON: Not agreed upon, but we talked -- it was a pretty wide- ranging conversation. That's good, and we will continue those conversations tonight and into the weekend. Thanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Senator Ron Johnson with our correspondent there on the Hill, Phil Mattingly, with that, saying it was a good lunch. So there you have it, at least for now.
Dana Bash, thank you as well.
Health care certainly not the only thing on the president's mind today, as we're learning even more details about the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower involving his oldest son and seven others.
So this Russian lawyer at that meeting is now telling CNN that she is ready to tell her story to the U.S. Senate with a few conditions. Here she was speaking earlier to a Russian government-backed TV network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, ATTORNEY WHO MET WITH TRUMP CAMPAIGN TEAM (through translator): Let's put it this way. I'm ready to clarify the situation in today's mass hysteria, only within the legal field through lawyers or by testifying in the Senate.
QUESTION: You are ready to go to the Senate?
VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): Yes, if I'm guaranteed safety. Today, I have to think about my safety first and safety of my family, my four children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We are also learning even more about this eighth individual who was in the meeting. Ike Kaveladze was tied to this money laundering investigation involving nearly $1.4 billion that passed through U.S. banks.
Now, Kaveladze was actually never prosecuted, and he currently works for the Russian billionaire who originally requested this meeting with Don Jr.
So let's go to our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, who's been working this angle of the story.
And so this whole money laundering investigation, what more are you learning?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.
So, Brooke, Kaveladze, he was investigated back in the year 2000 and it was part of that potential billion-dollar money laundering scheme that was tied to Russian brokers, and that is really what's raising some red flags for lawmakers.
In fact, former Michigan Senator Carl Levin, he took to his Facebook page to really spell out the concern here.
So, the way he described it, he talked about the congressional probe that he led in the year 2000 that asked the Government Accountability Office to look into how foreigners establish U.S. corporations with hidden ownership as a way to launder money through U.S. banks.
So, Levin says that the investigation looked into -- quote -- "numerous corporations and bank accounts established by Ike Kaveladze on behalf of people in Russia." And then he continued on to say that Kaveladze, he actually set up 2,000 corporations and bank accounts where -- quote -- "the owners of those accounts then moved some $1.4 billion through those accounts."
Now, Kaveladze, he did, at the time, speak to investigators, and he said he knew all of the entities for whom he set up the accounts, so saying that they weren't just shell corporations, but former Senator Levin at the time he called Kaveladze the poster child of this practice, setting up those shell companies.
And then last night, though, Kaveladze's lawyer said, and he reiterated that Kaveladze did nothing wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BALBER, ATTORNEY FOR IKE KAVELADZE: What Mr. Kaveladze did back 20 years ago was absolutely, unequivocally legal. There was never any allegation of him alleged in any criminal activity.
QUESTION: He was not charged.
BALBER: Was certainly not charged with anything criminal or regulatory and did absolutely nothing wrong. The focal point of that GAO report was about the banks on-boarding of client accounts, account opening documents and that kind of issue, a compliance issue. He has never been implicated in any wrongdoing whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: Like his attorney said there, Kaveladze never criminally charged as part of that money laundering investigation.
But, Brooke, lawmakers really saying that's beside the point, including Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. He says the mere fact that Kaveladze was inside that June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr., given his "colorful past," Senator Warner says that raises the stakes even more as these investigators continue and plow forward to find out exactly what transpired in that meeting -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Jessica, thank you, Jessica Schneider in D.C.
We're going to talk more about this eighth man, whether this is becoming a follow-the-money investigation.
Also, a secret sit-down or conversation between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, why didn't we know about this, and why didn't another American join the conversation?
And the story of two Russian spies living life in a New Jersey suburb deep undercover.
Stay right here. This is CNN.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
All these new questions now emerging about this meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and this Russian attorney, as we're learning these new details about this eighth previously undisclosed person in the room. His name is Ike Kaveladze.
And one former senator says the Russian-American has a murky history. If you go back to 2000, he was actually linked to this $1.4 billion money laundering investigation. He wasn't charged, all right? He wasn't prosecuted at the time.
Mike Rogers is with me now, host of CNN's "DECLASSIFIED: UNTOLD STORIES OF AMERICAN SPIES." He's also a CNN national security commentator, former Republican chairman of the House Intel Committee.
So, Mike Rogers, good to see you.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Great to see you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: On this Kaveladze bit, so we know that he now works for that Russian oligarch who originally requested the meeting with Don Jr.. But to know that this individual, and, again, he wasn't prosecuted, but to know he was in the meeting, does that concern you at all?
ROGERS: Well, you know, if you look at the cast of characters around that table, it concerns me a little bit.
You know, the e-mail that should have sent flags up everyone's pole is when they said that they had information from the government, from the Russian government. That should have been the first, hey, wait a minute, this is not just a normal political meeting where somebody comes in and says, hey, I got some dirt on your opponent. This is a whole different level.
And so when you start looking at who was in the room, it's clear to me that this was more -- at least from the Russian perspective, was more than what the face of the meeting was. I'm not sure on the American side. I think they probably went in thinking, ooh, this is going to be great. Clearly, to me, the Russians were dangling something in order to see if there was some way they could spot or assess somebody in the meeting that they might be able to follow up with.
So I'm sure the investigators are focusing on that piece of it. Was there a follow-up? Did they recommend -- the Russians recommend that they meet someone else, that they go talk to someone else, or could we get another meeting or I have some information, some other information I would like to drop off?
All of those things become more important for the investigative team, I think.
BALDWIN: Right. And we were trying to get context of the report at the time, looking at these shell companies and money laundering. And so I talked to the CEO of the GAO, the Government Accountability Office, who was at the helm at the time, talked to him last hour. This is what he made of the meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WALKER, FORMER GAO HEAD: Candidly, from my standpoint, it looks like that that meeting that is getting a lot of press attention, that people were saying it was for one purpose, and it was obviously for something very, very different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Do you think this is becoming a follow-the-money kind of investigation?
ROGERS: Well, again, if you know how the Russians operate, you know, it was -- it is very...
BALDWIN: Not intimately, I don't.
ROGERS: Yes, well, that's a good thing, right, I mean, probably.
ROGERS: But it's very plausible that the Russian intelligence services saw this as an opportunity to get in a room with important people in the campaign for the president of the United States and either figure out a way to get closer to them or try to recruit someone or something else.
I mean, again, when you look at all of the players and how they got there, how they got asked to be in the room, who asked them to be in the room, you start scratching your head a little bit and thinking, boy, these Russians are pretty clever.
And they are, and they're -- again, the Americans could have walked in the room with absolutely no ill intent whatsoever. But I'm not sure that the Russians walked into the room with the same intent.
BALDWIN: Under the Russians are pretty clever file, Mike Rogers, let's talk about your CNN original series, airs on Saturday. The entire first episode is about the spies next door, Operation Ghost Stories, where this is all about Russian spies infiltrating the U.S. and trying to, you know, seemingly live these normal American lives before being busted.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christopher Metsos, now in possession of what we believe to be $250,000, meets Richard Murphy, passes him almost half the cash to sustain his operation. And then GPS shows that Metsos' car traveled approximately 80 miles
north of New York City to a small rest stop in Wurtsboro, New York. Metsos buries the final portion of the money at the base of a pole underneath an inverted brown bottle.
Agents in New York set up cameras to monitor that drop. The implement of that camera became a whole new case, separate code name. We didn't know how long that would be there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we had to be ready to document that whenever it happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole role of intelligence agencies is to be ahead of the game and not to be surprised. If you are surprised, then the chances are that you failed to do your job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Tell me more about the story, Mike.
ROGERS: Oh, it's just a great story.
So there were actually a number, about a dozen of these Russian intelligence officers who were trained in Russia, came to the United States. What they did is take on American-sounding names and really assumed the identities of Americans. Could have been your neighbor. You never would have known it.
And their job was to infiltrate organizations, try to get into government -- get close to government officials, gain policy intelligence, and what was really fascinating about this one, Brooke, is the Russians were willing to go 20, 30, 40 years or more in this operation.
It was the biggest FBI counterintelligence investigation in their history. It was so mammoth.
BALDWIN: That's crazy.
ROGERS: And you can see the kind of techniques that they used in this episode on Saturday to try to beat the FBI. And, of course, being a former agent, you know that's pretty hard to do.
BALDWIN: We know who won. That is crazy, though. Mike, thank you. We will tune in.
This is the original series "DECLASSIFIED: UNTOLD STORIES OF AMERICAN SPIES." It airs Saturday 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific here on CNN.
Coming up next; this private conversation that is now going public, the White House facing tough questions after we learned that the president met with Vladimir Putin for a second time at the G20 summit. We will talk live with the former ambassador to Russia, what concerns him the most, if anything, about this mystery chat. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: All right, we want to come up on these live pictures here as you're seeing what seems to be people getting -- oh, did we lose the picture?
People getting arrested, people sitting down outside of Republican senators -- here we go -- Republican senators' offices up on Capitol Hill.
The context of this -- you can obviously hear them chanting something -- is that a lot of these senators who just walked out of this luncheon over at the White House with the president where obviously the president is hoping for something to pull through when it comes to repealing and replacing Obamacare.
We know the math. It's not looking good so far. I think they're hoping for maybe a Hail Mary on this one. And so we're seeing these people, obviously, protesting what's going on with regard to health care in this country.
And we have also learned that Republican senators will meet tonight. Again, this is just hours after sitting around a table for lunch with the president today, talking about their so-far thwarted efforts of repealing and replacing Obamacare.
So we will keep our eyes on the hallways there up on Capitol Hill.
But let's move on this, new questions as we learn that President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a second undisclosed meeting earlier this month at the G20.
According to the White House, the two men chatted for nearly an hour. This second meeting happened hours after the first official Trump- Putin sit-down around midday on July 7 at G20 in Hamburg, Germany.
Later on, at this banquet filled with world leaders, President Trump left his seat, walked over to President Putin's table for this second conversation. Apparently, the only attendees of the conversation included President Trump, President Putin, and Putin's Russian translator.
President Trump did not have an American interpreter with him.
President Trump tweeted that nothing sinister happened during that second meeting.
So, let's talk about this with former British Ambassador to Russia Sir Andrew Wood.
Mr. Ambassador, nice to see you.
SIR ANDREW WOOD, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Good afternoon.
BALDWIN: I want to just hone in on the secrecy part of this. Why do you think we, the public, didn't hear about this?