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New Book Reveals Details on Trump and Bannon; Trump & Putin Had Second Undisclosed Meeting at G-20: Trump: 'Let Obamacare Fail'. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 19, 2017 - 07:00   ET


CAMEROTA: -- and think that he sort of functions as Donald Trump's brain. What's your take?

[07:00:08] GREEN: I don't think that take is quite right. Bannon has a lot of influence and a lot of ideas, and he helped shape Trump's politics during his run for president, but what Bannon really is is a soldier.

And I tell different stories in the book, the fight between Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly, the fight in the media over the "Access Hollywood" tape. At every pivotal moment in the campaign, Bannon was the guy there fighting on Trump's behalf, even when other people like House Speaker Paul Ryan or other Republican leaders abandoned Trump, when people thought his campaign was headed toward an epic loss.

CAMEROTA: here is a particular passage from the book that I want to read about Paul Ryan and about Steve Bannon's take on Paul Ryan, and it's colorful.

GREEN: You're going to say this on the air?

CAMEROTA: Well, I'm going to fudge this. Watch how I do this. "The possibility, however remote, that Paul Ryan might steal the nomination from Trump sent Bannon into a panic of his own. Ryan, he fumed, was a limp-blank mother-blank who was born in a Petri dish at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank too close to the 'globalist donor class' for Bannon's taste."

GREEN: So here's the context. In the spring of 2016, when it became clear to everybody that Donald Trump was going to win the nomination, the Republican Party went into a panic: "How can we stop him?"

One idea that came up was the idea that there would be a deadlocked convention and that maybe Paul Ryan could come galloping in as the white knight candidate. This was Steve Bannon's nightmare.

And I happened to be sitting with them as all of this was going down, because I wanted to write a story about what he was going to do. And as I sat there with a tape recorder running, Bannon just exploded at Ryan, because he thought that he was going to steal the nomination from Bannon's candidate, Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, how are these two men getting along now , Bannon and Ryan? GREEN: I think they have an up-down relationship like everybody does

in Trump's inner orbit. From everything I have heard, Bannon is back in high esteem, partly due to the fact that Trump once again needs a defender because of the Russia probe.

CAMEROTA: Josh Green. The book is "Devil's Bargain." It's a great read. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, we're talking with lawmakers at the center of this health care debate. NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's only three people that really know what was said in that meeting: presidents Trump, Putin and the Russian interpreter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This kind of private meeting is virtually unprecedented.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If every single time something like this happens, the dial gets turned to 11, people just don't buy it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ike Kaveladze has now been thrust into the spotlight as the mystery eighth person of the Trump Tower meeting.

IKE KAVELADZE, ATTENDED TRUMP TOWER MEETING: I'm a private individual who had a very tangential role in this meeting.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm certain disappointed. Let Obamacare fail. It will be a lot easier.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The president is playing a dangerous game.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hopefully, with the collapse of the program, they'll be more willing to come to the table and clean up the mess.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: You have a president who says, "Let me do nothing. Let me sabotage the current system .and so what if millions of people suffer?" That is really awful.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, President Trump slamming the media as dishonest as the White House downplays reports that Mr. Trump and Vladimir Putin had a second undisclosed meeting at the G-20 summit. That is 100 percent true.

You'll remember the intense scrutiny of their initial meeting. So the question becomes, why didn't we know that the president got up at a G- 20 dinner and spoke to the Russian leader for about an hour without any American officials present, which means there's no transcript and no understanding of what was discussed?

CAMEROTA: And this morning we're also learning more about the eighth person in that Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and the Russians. The eighth person now identified, that man, is catching attention of a former senator who is speaking out about this situation.

All of this as the president tries to save face on health care, calling all Republican senators to the White House today for a lunch. So we have it all covered for you.

Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He's live at the White House. Good morning, Joe.


President Trump's two-hour meeting with Vladimir Putin was one of the most closely scrutinized moments of his presidency so far, and now we know there was yet another meeting, the White House confirming that after reports of it first surfaced in the news media.


JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump lashing out, calling coverage of his previously undisclosed second meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin "sick," and alleging it's been made to look sinister.

A senior White House official tells CNN the discussion on the sidelines of a G-20 dinner lasted nearly an hour, and no other U.S. officials were present.

[07:05:00] Ignoring protocol, the president relied on a Russian translator, leaving the U.S. with no official record of their conversation. The White House downplaying the second encounter, asserting, "The insinuation that the White House has tried to 'hide' a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd."

This new revelation the latest in a string of undisclosed meetings between Trump associates and Russians.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: This kind of private meeting is virtually unprecedented in the diplomatic world. There seems to be a pattern of reckless or willful concealment of contacts with the Russians.

JOHNS: This meeting coming to light as CNN learns new details about the eighth person in attendance at the June 2016 meeting, where top Trump aides hoped to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. That man, Ike Kaveladze, seen behind the president in 2013 in this exclusive video obtained by CNN, is a senior vice president at a real-estate development company run by Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, who has ties to Putin.

SCOTT BALBER, ATTORNEY FOR RUSSIAN FAMILY AND EIGHT MAN AT TRUMP JR. MEETING: There was absolutely no conversation between Agalarov and the Russian prosecutors or the Russian government about Hillary Clinton or the U.S. campaign ever. Didn't happen.

JOHNS: According to his attorney, Kaveladze believed he was attending a meeting as a translator for a Russian lawyer, despite the fact that she brought a translator with her. In 2000, Kaveladze was linked to U.S. bank accounts that came under congressional investigation for possible money laundering on behalf of Russian brokers. He was not charged.

SEN. MARK WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: This individual who's at least had a colorful past, if not a potentially criminal, it is very strange to me that this meeting that was supposed to be originally -- was related by three or four people, about Russian adoptions.


JOHNS: And some information that is new this morning. Reuters reporting that the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump is now offering to testify before Congress to dispel what she called any hysteria about that encounter.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California telling CNN that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has given the green light for Donald Trump Jr., as well as Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. No word on when that's going to happen.

Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

JOHNS: All right, Joe. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in the panel. CNN political analyst David Gregory; senior Washington correspondent for Anna Palmer; and CNN Politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza.

OK. So David, the latest piece in the concerns about transparency where Russia and the Trump administration is involved is a meeting we now know about at a big dinner for the G-20 heads of state, the American president leaves his seat and his translator, who was a Japanese translator, because he was sitting next to the Japanese head of state, moves over to Vladimir Putin and talks to him for about an hour with no U.S. official, no transcript, or any recording of what it was about, just Putin and his translator.

How does this feed into the concerns on a larger level?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the supporters of Trump and the president himself talk about this hysteria in the media about we want to go to, you know, a high-decibel level to criticize the president about Russia, but this is why.

I mean, you have Russia's responsible for intending to influence our election. There's an investigation into the administration's and the campaign's cooperation with Russia during that period. We know nothing about how the president is going to respond to the fact that that interference happened. And what we see is the president coddling Putin, going back to the

campaign, now deflecting attention about whether they were even involved in hacking the election.

So when this kind of meeting happens, you don't have aides. You don't have a translator who can translate Russian, then what are they talking about? How about just disclosing it?

I mean, the president -- I just want to know what they talked about. Because the president has not been truthful about all their dealings. His son hasn't. Other White House officials haven't. I'm suspicious.

So tell us more. He spent all that time on Air Force One just sitting back and talking about all his interactions with Putin, but I want to see evidence that the president might actually be responding forcefully to what happened, and instead, we just get more silence. He won't even tell us what they talked about. That's what strikes me as not right.

CAMEROTA: And "The New York Times" has reporting on how other world leaders responded to this sort of sidebar conversation. They say the dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States' staunchest, oldest allies.

I mean, obviously, President Trump is breaking the mold. As we know, that's what he was elected to do. But in some cases, this is just so outside of the bounds of what any other U.S. president has ever done.

ANNA PALMER, POLITICO.COM: I think this is also going to be a big issue on Capitol Hill. I mean, in terms of his allies here. There's already tense relationships in terms of this whole Russia drip, drip. I think there's a frustration among a lot of lawmakers. I was up on the Hill yesterday talking about this kind of thing.

You know, so this is just another example where he's going outside the bounds of normal procedure, and there's no official accounting of it. So no one knows exactly what happens, and then he kind of just goes to the classic Trump manner and takes to Twitter and says, you know, it's sick that the media is, you know, even covering this kind of stuff.

CUOMO: Look, and it was working. Right? But it is interesting, the reaction to him saying it this morning; it was sick. He has the story wrong. Nobody is suggesting, at least not on this show, that Putin and Trump had a secret dinner. Nobody is saying that. It's just what he did at this G-20 dinner. And he has to heed the "Wall Street Journal's" words from his friend who owns that paper, which is we can't call everything fate when you have facts that show that it's real to Chris Cillizza.

That takes us back to what this real concern is about. Why do we care if Trump is talking to Putin? He's the president. Because we don't know -- there is no transparency about what conflicts or complications might suggest a softness towards Russia. What's more, another layer on this lasagna, the eighth person

identified in that Donald Trump Jr. meeting, according to former senator Carl Levin -- former representative Carl Levin, he says that this man was investigated, because former senator Carl Levin -- the "GAO came across the numerous corporations and bank accounts" -- like over a thousand of them -- "established by this man" -- who was the eighth person at the meeting -- "on behalf of people in Russia. As the GAO reported, Kaveladze established some 2000 corporations." One point four billion moved through those accounts. Why does that matter?

So now you have a meeting. Once again, that at best reckoning, best reckoning for Donald Jr., is a group of Russia-connected operatives who wanted to talk about the money that Russia may want to get back. And you have a guy in the room who is suspected of moving over a billion dollars in Russian money.

CAMEROTA: Meaning laundering?

CUOMO: Well, maybe, because he didn't get convicted of anything. But that's what they were looking at. And it didn't wind up changing the guidelines for how you have to disclose ownership of corporations.

But again, best reading is we don't know what the relationships are or financial obligations of Trump to any financial institutions in Russia. But we do know that they were looking for a meeting to talk to his son about how to work on Russia money matters. That's relevant. It's not sick.

CILLIZZA: Why don't we know of any -- what his business or ties, financial ties are to Russia, Chris? The reason is because he's the first candidate in modern presidential history not to release his tax returns. It's the longest audit I've heard of in a very long time, which is his reason for not releasing them.

And it gets to the broader point you're making. Context matters. David points this out exactly. What's past is prologue. You don't get to have a nearly an hour, according to CNN's reporting, nearly an hour sidebar conversation with Vladimir Putin after you've already had a two-plus-hour more formal conversation with him with no U.S. translator present when we know, for a fact -- it's not debatable -- that Russia actively meddled in the election.

We know there's a lot of smoke around this June 9, 2016, meeting between Don Trump Jr. and these seven other people that we know were there, including two other of the top campaign officials in the Trump campaign.

When you have the Mike Flynn story, when you have the Manafort stuff, and there's just -- you know, this is not an isolated incident. Donald Trump knows this is a bad story for him. He is trying to make this about the media. As Anna points out, it has nothing to do with the media.

We at CNN, no media -- no credible media outlet has said, "h, this meeting was a secret dinner." It was on tape. That's not -- that's not the issue here. It's like somebody saying, "Hey, Chris, you're tall" and me saying, "I have brown eyes." That's not -- you know, both of those things are true, but that's not the same debate. He does this time and time again. He's trying to change the subject. This has nothing to do -- nothing to do with the media here.

Context matters. He knows that. It's why he's trying to change the story.

CAMEROTA: Look, David, I think it comes back to what you said, transparency, right? And so there are bad signs, bad omens about whether or not there will be more transparency.

[07:15:00] No. 1, the press briefing no longer on camera. It hasn't been for the past couple of weeks. Now it's audio only. They might even try to get rid of that. And so I understand not wanting to play your hand. That's what President Trump said he doesn't like doing. He doesn't like revealing what he's going to do.

But you're not supposed to not play your hand to the American people. You're supposed to not play your hand to Putin or to other people like that. The one good note before I let you talk about transparency, I mean the one for the press, obviously, and the American public, is that Bob Mueller, special counsel, has apparently given the green light. He's OK with Don Jr. and Paul Manafort testifying in front of Congress in public.

GREGORY: Right, and I think, as Chris was saying earlier, this is some deference on the part of the special prosecutor to Congress in the way that they're constructively trying to look into what all has happened. Look, there's got to be accountability. That's what the Senate and House committees are about, and the president has to be accountable to the American people about an enemy of the United States who he appears to be coddling, and this is another evidence. I'm sorry, I'm suspicious.

Tell us what your view is, what you've done with Putin, and don't tell us and expect to get a big hug by the American people to say, "Well, I told him about the meddling, and he said he didn't do it." So I thought, "What am I going to do, get in a fight? We have to move on." No, it actually should be more sophisticated than that.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much for all of the insight.

So are Republicans siding with Mitch McConnell's plan to repeal Obamacare or President Trump's plan to let it fail on its own? We'll speak to one key senator next.


[07:20:39] CAMEROTA: President Trump will host a lunch with Senate Republicans today to discuss the path forward on health care. Four Republican senators already say they will oppose a procedural vote to repeal Obamacare that is set for early next week.

Let's discuss all this with Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota. He was previously the governor of that state. Senator, thanks for being here.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you.

CAMEROTA: When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushes and holds that vote next week for whether or not just a straight-up repeal of Obamacare, how will you vote?

ROUNDS: Well, the first step will be to get on the bill, and that's the procedural vote you're talking about. I would like to proceed to the bill.

CAMEROTA: OK. Then how will you -- how will you vote whether or not to just repeal it flat out?

ROUNDS: Well, we're not sure that that's what it will be, but if that is the vote, I would vote to repeal it with a delayed implementation so that we'd have a chance to actually make some changes. It won't fix the problems that are coming up between now and the end of the year, but it would be a step in the right direction to get to a final fix for the health care industry.

CAMEROTA: So just explain that to us, Senator.


CAMEROTA: How -- if you voted to repeal it now, where does that leave people?

ROUNDS: The next step would be for -- it would be exactly where they're at today. It would not change anything for a period of two years, which is not good news, because this particular system right now is not working the way that it should.

There will be a lot of people with increases of between 20 and 40 percent of their premiums, beginning in the first of the year. It will not stabilize the markets. But it would give us two years in which to actually find some alternatives, Republicans and Democrats alike, so that we could actually fix this system that's in place today.

CAMEROTA: That's awfully optimistic. I mean, you've had seven years, quite frankly.

ROUNDS: We don't -- we don't have a choice. We have to fix what's currently in place. The system today, regardless of where you're talking with folks across the United States, their premiums have not gone down, they've gone up.

But rather than focusing on what's not working today, there is a proposal that we've been working on for the last six months. It's getting better. It may not be perfect yet, but it most certainly is better than what Obamacare is today or what it will be next week.

CAMEROTA: I'm sorry to interrupt, but you could just work with Democrats to fix it rather than repeal it.

ROUNDS: There is a -- there is a discussion that goes on that says that, if we could get a group of us to actually sit down side by side, let's get past the question of whether we're repealing, replacing or fixing. The reality is the concept behind Obamacare in the first place does not work.

Companies are not going to share profits between themselves if they go over 85 percent in terms of -- or under 85 percent in terms of their actual expenses, which is what one of the premises is in Obamacare.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I understand, but I mean, look, there is a difference between repealing it with nothing else and fixing it. There is a difference. And by the way, one more thing. You said there's no other option. That's not what President Trump has said. President Trump does think that there is another option. Let me play for you what his suggestion is.


TRUMP: We'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.


CAMEROTA: OK. So that other option that he's suggesting is do nothing. Walk away, let whatever the problems are with Obamacare, bring it down and let it fail.

ROUNDS: I respectfully disagree with that approach. That means a lot of people are going to get hurt. It is true that Obamacare is failing under its own weight. There's no question about that. But that doesn't mean we sit back and let it happen.

The fix that you're talking about can't be done by simply tinkering around the edges. We have to make major changes in this health care proposal that's been in place now since -- really, since 2014. We know it does not work. There's a better way to do it. I think Republicans and Democrats probably could get together and fix it, but there's a political divide.

Next best step is to work through the issues, come up with a proposal that we can get 51 votes on. I think we're getting close. I really don't want to give up on it yet. I think we can begin the process of actually making the changes that are necessary that will slow down the increases in health care in terms of premiums for people across the country.

The real issues that are dividing us is whether or not we've done enough to make those changes work within the Republican Party. We had a good chance to talk with some of our Democrat colleagues yesterday afternoon, former governors. We visited -- you know, we're really not that far apart in terms of what we want for our country and the health care that we want to have for folks that are out there.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but...

[07:25:14] ROUNDS: We're not going to get there in the next couple weeks, I'm afraid.

CAMEROTA: Well, listen, today you are going to lunch at the White House. Are you going to share your thoughts with the president? Are you going to tell him that his plan sounds irresponsible to you?

ROUNDS: I think -- most certainly, I think there's a group of us that have already begun that process. We shared yesterday with the vice president at a noon lunch in a very informal way that we think that there's still hope in trying to make the repairs. We'd rather work together to find common agreement or to make modifications to what we've been working on for the last several months.

I think there's a lot of good quality in what we've proposed already. Not perfect but most certainly better than what's currently in place, and I'm not ready to give up yet. I don't think the people in this country sent us here to simply give up and say, "We're going to let Obamacare fail on its own." It's true that it would. And that's the fallback position that happens if we can't come to an agreement.


ROUNDS: That doesn't mean we should allow it to happen without a fight.

CAMEROTA: Well, very quickly, you have had seven years. Republicans have had seven years. So if you're optimistic and you think that there's still things that can be done, why wasn't something figured out during those seven years?

ROUNDS: There's a lot of different ideas about how to approach it. We're getting closer to a consensus. Right now there's probably 47 out of the 52 that would probably agree. The challenge is we need 51.

And to pick up the last few folks with the concerns that they've got -- and remember, this is not so much a divide within the Republican Party. It's a divide based upon the needs of the different states.

Folks in one state have a different approach based upon whether or not they expanded Medicaid. Other people who didn't expand Medicaid have other concerns. It's more about trying to make sure that each of these individual members help their own states and protect their own states. That's really what's driving the changes and the reason why it's so difficult. We all come from different states with different approaches to how we want to see health care resolved.

CAMEROTA: And is Senator Mitch McConnell going to be able to cobble all of that together? Or have you lost faith in his ability to do that?

ROUNDS: No, look, Mitch is doing everything he can. He wants this to work. I have a lot of faith in him. I think we're moving in the right direction, although sometimes I say, if it was easy, it would have been done a long time ago. This is not easy. And it takes a lot of perseverance.

We're going to have some setbacks, but I don't think we give up. I think we hang right in there. We do what we can, because the reality is people get hurt if we don't fix this thing.

CAMEROTA: Senator Mike Rounds, thank you very much for sharing your positions with us on NEW DAY.

ROUNDS: Thank you.


CUOMO: The former head of Government Ethics is walking away from Capitol Hill to try to create change on the outside. The rules Walter Shaub is trying to reverse in the Trump era, next.