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Kris Kobach Discusses President's Voter Fraud Investigative Commission; Reports Reveal Second Undisclosed Meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin at G-20 Summit; Interview with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 19, 2017 - 08:00   ET


KRIS KOBACH, VICE CHAIR, THE PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON ELECTION INTEGRITY: Whether that sample is good enough to draw conclusions. This commission is going to be looking at real figures, real numbers, real voter rolls, and real cases, not just doing surveys. That's the big difference. There's never been a nationwide commission to actually look at real cases of voter fraud, look at real instances.

So for example, the Pew Foundation has sampled and has concluded that there are more than 1.8 million deceased people on the voter rolls, and they acknowledge that is probably a lowest estimate. But it's just an estimate. Wouldn't it be better if a commission were able to get some real hard data and not just make an estimate that actually presents some real numbers? That's what we're talking about here is just presenting numbers so the American people can decide. And we can come back and have a discussion a year from now. And you can say, Chris, I draw different conclusions than you did. And that's fine. But let's at least put some numbers on the table, and there's so much debate about this issue, why wouldn't we want more facts on the table.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I don't knows there any debate about whether 3 million people voted illegally in the election.

KOBACH: No, about the issue of voter fraud.

CUOMO: Again, the reason I don't think there's a lot of debate over it is because we don't have any factual basis for saying that there is a problem with legal voting in this country it. It is not seen as a scale that would be relevant on any level except when one person, named president of the United States, Donald Trump, said it's why he lost.

KOBACH: Well, I study this issue a lot. I've told you 128 cases in Kansas. Any time you have a close election and if you have one or two noncitizens voting it could swing that election. There was a case in north Kansas City, 2010, primary election, won by one vote for a state legislative seat on the Missouri side of the state line, Rizzo versus Royster. Mr. Rizzo won by one vote but it was alleged that more than 50 Somali nationals voted in that election in sworn affidavits from poll workers in that election.

CUOMO: I'm familiar with the case. KOBACH: So there are many cases where a close election can be swung

by a few fraudulent votes. So I think as with some of his charges with elections and as someone who cares about our system, why wouldn't we want to minimize the chances of elections being stolen, of your vote being canceled by an illegal vote, or my vote being cancelled by an illegal vote, someone who is not qualified or who voted fraudulently for some reason. That's all we're trying to do.

CUOMO: We'll see what the commission comes up with. I'm just saying there are bigger concerns than illegal voting that this commission could be looking at, like Russian interference. So we'll see what you can come up with and we're always welcoming you on this show to discuss matters.

KOBACH: All right. Take care.

CUOMO: Kris Kobach, thank you very much.

There's a lot of news, including the latest in the battle over healthcare. Is there a way forward to make sure that your healthcare is safe? Let's get after it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House says President Trump had a second undisclosed conversation with Vladimir Putin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the hell is Donald Trump's obsession with Vladimir Putin? Why won't he be straightforward about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little extreme for us to somehow make this into a conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're also learning the identity of the eighth person in Don Junior's Trump tower meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very disturbing it's taken us this long for this kind of information to come out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's heartless. We're talking about real people here.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I regret the effort to repeal and immediately replace will not be successful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a real Mitch McConnell failure.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, July 19th, 8:00 in the east. Up first, the White House downplaying reports that at the G-20 summit Mr. Trump and Vladimir Putin had a second undisclosed meeting. The president reportedly had an hour-long conversation with the adversary without any American officials present and no official record of what they discussed.

CUOMO: In just hours President Trump is going to host all 52 Republican senators for lunch at the White House. This comes after the president said he wants to, quote, let Obamacare fail after the Senate health plans humiliating defeat.

We have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House. Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. That first meeting, that two-hour meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin caught the attention of the world. And now we know it wasn't the only time the two men spoke face-to-face. The White House confirming a second encounter at the G-20 after reports of it surfaced in the news media.


JOHNS: President Trump lashing out, calling coverage of his previously undisclosed second meeting with Vladimir Putin sick, and alleging it has 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. Ignoring protocol, the president relied on a Russian translator, leaving the U.S. with no official record of their conversation.

[08:05:04] The White House downplaying the second encounter, asserting the insinuation that the White House 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 hope 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 as a senior 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 EIGHTH MAN AT DONALD TRUMP JR. MEETING: There was absolutely no conversation between either Agalarov and the Russian prosecutors or the Russian government and the Hillary campaign or the U.S. campaign ever. It didn't happen.

JOHNS: According to his attorney, Kaveladze believes he was attending the meeting as a translator for a Russian lawyer, despite the fact 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 (D-VA), VICE CHAIR, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This individual who has at least had a colorful past, if not potentially criminal. It is very strange to me that this meeting that was supposed to be originally related as three or four people about Russian adoptions.


JOHNS: Also this morning CNN has confirmed that that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who met with Donald Trump Jr. last year has offered to testify before the United States Senate in order to clear up what she has called hysteria over the issue. Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has told CNN that the special counsel Rob Mueller has given the green light for two witnesses to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, that would be Donald Trump Jr. and the former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, though there's no clear note on exactly when that is thank you happen. Back to you, Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Joe, for all the reporting.

Let's bring in our panel now to discuss this. We have CNN political analyst David Gregory, senior Washington correspondent for Anna palmer, and CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza. Chris, I know you've just written a piece for called saying that what President Trump appears to be doing with this second meeting with Putin previously undisclosed is a bait and switch. How is it, Chris Cillizza, it has been more than 10 days, and in this age of all information all the time we did not know that he had this possibly hour-long meeting with Vladimir Putin?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, EDITOR AT LARGE, CNN POLITICS: One, because the White House didn't disclose it. But second, because Alisyn, as you rightly know, all information all the time means you miss some things. It's just hard to see everything that is out there.

But I do think what you're seeing here is classic Donald Trump misdirection, taking a story which is the White House Donald Trump met with the Russian president with no other -- or huddled with or had a sidebar with -- choose your word -- at the G-20 dinner with the Russian president and no U.S. translator and no other U.S. official present. We didn't know about it, as you rightly point out, for 10 days after it happened.

And now Donald Trump is trying to turn the story into a media story, that the media is sick, his word, and that we're twisting things around. It's not a media story. It's about a story about a meeting we didn't know about prior with a foreign adversary that we know through our intelligence agencies meddled in the 2016 election. That's a story. The fact that the media is reporting on it is what we do. The fact that Donald Trump is trying to change the subject is what he does. It will work for a certain segment of people, but that doesn't make it right. It doesn't change the facts. And the facts here are very clear.

CUOMO: And what is fueling it is the unknown. Why do we care about the meeting with Putin? Because there's an odd softness to the disposition of the United States versus a known inimical government agent in Vladimir Putin. We just had the former head of the office of government ethics saying that Trump's lawyer didn't want the president to sign his financial disclosure forms certifying that it was accurate. Can you believe that? With these questions about what financing does he have from any Russian banks?

[08:10:03] Why did they want to seek out his son to talk about the money? That's what talking about the Magnitsky Act, a best reading of what that meeting might have been about, that's about Putin's money being tied up. Why do they --

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We don't know what the financial relationship is between Donald Trump and his business and the Russian government.

CUOMO: We don't know. Walter Shaub just said that not only did the president not want to sign but eventually he did sign it, but after reviewing it, they still didn't know what they were --

GREGORY: Were there loans? Is he leveraged by the Russians in terms of loans that the businesses got? We don't know that. Put it back into the realm of substantive policy. It is dangerous to go into a meeting with an adversary where there's an agenda that we don't know about, particularly given this president and his administration's record. They have not been truthful about contacts with Russia and the campaign. There's more that's being revealed.

It is suspicious when the president appears to be coddling Vladimir Putin as he did as a candidate and now as president. And the thin nature of his protest with regard to interference in the election amounted to I asked him if he did it, he denied it twice. I brought it up a second time. What am I going to do? Get into a fist fight? It's not acceptable. So from a substantive point of view -- I covered the White House. You want to know what the president is doing. He was on Air Force One holding forth about everything he is doing and didn't say I met with him two hours and we had a separate conversation.

What did you talk about? Just be accountable. Let's know what you talked about. And there's no question he wants to develop and use personal chemistry in relationships. This is not leader of Montenegro. This is Vladimir Putin. This is a dangerous game he's playing. He's not telling us about it.

CAMEROTA: And by the way, Anna, the world leaders at the G20 found this tete-a-tete publicly with President Trump and President Trump to be peculiar. So here's what the "New York Times" reporting said. "The dinner conversation caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American presidential seeming to single out the Russian leader for a special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States' staunchest, oldest allies. What is the bigger picture to you, Anna, in terms of where this relationship and this transparency and these Russian threads are?

ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO.COM: I just think this is another example of President Trump taking a different tact than his predecessors. You have a lot of allies concerned about it. There's a lot of geopolitical things happening now, North Korea, other things. The U.S. is going to need other foreign leaders on its side. And it's facing that Donald Trump is buddying up to Vladimir Putin, that's not a good thing for those kind of relationships to move forward.

CUOMO: Look, just look at the checklist, Chris Cillizza, of how this all started and how we got to this moment. Do you want to release your taxes? No. Why? Because I'm under audit. We don't even know if he is under audit.

How about your financial disclosure? It's all there. It isn't all there. Now we know that his lawyer didn't want him to sign the disclosure form certifying that it was accurate. We know that at least two of the people at this meeting with Donald Jr. had some connections to activity that is a little dangerous, right? This eighth person now identified as someone that former senator Carl Levin says they were looking at for money moving through thousands of shell corporations over a billion dollars. Why were they targeting him? That's how we got to this, the lack of disclosure, lack of transparency, and the outright lying about what did happen.

CILLIZZA: That's right. Context, context, context. This sidebar with Putin didn't happen in a vacuum. There's been a lot here. Most eventually the revelations about the Donald Trump Jr. meeting in the summer of 2016. So, this is not an isolated incident.

The other thing I would say just from a human nature perspective, what Donald Trump is essentially doing is he has got a box. He says nothing to see here. This box isn't important. But he always keeps it with him. People are like what's in the box? He's like, nothing. It's not important. No need to see anything in here, no box. But he always has got it with him. This is the problem. At some point, you have to open the box and say see, there's nothing in it. You can't say take my word for it. Everything in my financial records are great. It's perfect. David Gregory keeps making the exact right point, which is you can't continue to say, oh, everything is fine. Take my word for it, take my word for it, take my word for it, when your word has not been borne out to be right.

GREGORY: I think what Trump wants to do is pull off some coup with Putin, some agreement to break some new ground. But all you have to do is look back at the past two presidents who actually used all the expertise that were surrounding them, unlike Trump, and they were confounded by Putin as well. You have got to be careful and I think you have to have some distance from this leader in order to really faithfully formulate U.S. policy towards him.

[08:15:00] CAMEROTA: Anna, very quickly, his supporters, the White House, point to the Syrian cease-fire as success. This is what happens when you speak to Putin. You can actually come together with some agreement that works for the U.S. PALMER: Yeah, I think they see this as kind of him doing business the

Trump way. They defend it very aggressively. I think the problem is, to David's point, that oftentimes what happens is what he says didn't happen and then the story changes five times later. So it's hard to have credibility when they go to the press and say, no, there really isn't anything that was happening here.

So that's going to be the biggest problem, I think, as this continues to unfold.

CUOMO: And the nature of what's actually happening on the ground in Syria is also very soft information. So we don't know what's going on.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you all very much.

President Trump trying to turn the page on healthcare. He's inviting all 52 Senate Republicans to the White House for lunch today. The president raising eyebrows after saying that he should just let Obamacare fail.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux just spoke with the senator at the center of this debate. She is live on Capitol Hill. Give us the latest, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Alisyn. I just spoke to Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, one of the conservatives who has been a holdout in this, saying that it does not go far enough in repealing Obamacare because of taxes, subsidies, and regulations that are still intact.

He believes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's call for repealing obamacare and waiting for replacement is a good one, at least a partial victory for conservatives who've been calling for a clean repeal of this. But they voted back in January, 51 out of 52 Republicans said yes to that bill, but it ultimately failed. And I pressed him on this because he said, well, maybe it will take more time for them to change their minds. But there are four Republican senators who are dead set against this. And Senator Paul saying, well, perhaps there will be a political cost.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think the vote will at least make them take a position. Right now people are taking a position without a vote. A vote sometimes makes it a little more serious. And so I think if you were for repealing Obamacare and you're no longer for it, the people in your state deserve to know that.


MALVEUAX: And it really just underscores the incredible division here, the philosophical differences within the party themselves, that this is not likely going to change just over the weekend. Again, four Republican senators saying, no, they are not even going to move that particular part of the legislation forward. Chris. CUOMO: All right, thank you very much, Suzanne. Appreciate it.

So here's the question for you, what happens if President Trump gets his way? Will Obamacare fail? That's an important premise. We're going to ask a Republican governor next.


[08:21:16] CAMEROTA: The President's latest plan for Obamacare -- to let it fail. The Senate Republicans are moving forward with a plan to repeal Obamacare without a replacement. What does this mean on the state level? How are governors responding to everything that's transpired?

Joining us to discuss is the Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson. Good morning, Governor.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: Hey, good morning. Great to be with you.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you. From where you sit, how do you think Congress and the White House botched this so badly?

HUTCHINSON: Well, that's hard to say. That's a little bit of a process question. But we've been pushing that they listen to the governors, because we've got the greatest level of experience in actually what's happening in our states. We've encouraged them for a number of months to make some changes in the Senate bill. Many of them were adopted, but in the end it was hard to bring people together.

The message that I have is they need to continue their path of reform, though, and not give up.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that. Because there seems -- it seems as though certainly the president is ready to wash his hands of this. It seems as though he's reached a dead end.

Let me play for you what President Trump said about this yesterday.


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: Is that the answer, Governor? Wash his hands of it and let Obamacare do whatever Obamacare is going to do and walk away?

HUTCHINSON: The people always hold political leaders accountable. And so we have a responsibility, when we see problems, address them. When we see a system that's not working well, that's not affordable, they expect us to do something about it. It's hard for them to understand the complexities, the vote, why

people can't come together on this, but you got to figure out a way to do it. And so it's not sufficient to say we're going to wash our hands of this. We've got to engage in it.

And we're going to continue in Arkansas that path of reform we're already started on because it's a cost to the states as well, and we don't want to make the Medicaid expansion portion an entitlement program. We want to reform it in to a means and a safety net to help people move up the economic ladder.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Look, I know that you're looking for a work requirement for Medicaid.

But back to the president. What would you say to the president? I mean, if you think that it's not satisfactory to let it fail, and to leave people on the hook, why is the president using that tactic?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think he's trying to drive the message that he's frustrated that Senate was not able to come together on this. But I'll let him speak to that.

More importantly it's the Senate -- and this is where I hope they do not give up. That they might have to let the dust settle here But, you know, if there's ten things we want to do, and you can bring four things to accomplish and reach consensus on it, let's go for those four things to fix what we have. Because right now we've got a cost problem for the federal government. We've got an access of insurance availability in multiple states. So you just can't let this continue. You've got to work together.

And I am hopeful that they will do that.

CAMEROTA: So you want to see them fix Obamacare rather than the vote they're having early next week to repeal it?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I've always advocated that you need to repeal it because it's a bad system. Let's start over.

[08:25:00] But if you can't get anything done, then obviously you've to reform it because it's not -- it's too costly. Again, there's not enough access.

And so whatever you've got to do to set up a process that you can get the votes to change the status quo, that's what governing is about.

I applaud our senators that have worked hard for good changes but it fell apart on the left and right. Hopefully they'll get back to the table and not give up, just like in Arkansas. We're going to continue to work on this.

Many of the states, if you don't do anything, the states will continue to ask for waivers on the exchange, waivers from the federal government, to innovate in the states. And that's OK. But there's a better solution to have a national fix. And that's what Congress obviously needs to address while we continue to look at the states by state as to what works for our citizens.

CAMEROTA: Right, but just so I understand, you would be in favor of the vote early next week repealing it with no plan in place?

HUTCHINSON: No, I've always said you need to have a direction as to where we're going. I want to be able to know we don't need to create more uncertainty.

Now, if they do a vote next week to repeal it, that's a good thing as long as there's a path to get to a replacement that people have confidence in. Right now, I've said that we shouldn't go anywhere without a replacement plan because there's too much uncertainty in our healthcare system. And we've got to create some certainty and confidence in where we're going.

CAMEROTA: OK, understood. Governor Asa Hutchinson, thank you very much for your perspective. You are obviously on the front lines, as are all of the governors. Thanks so much for being here.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you.


CUOMO: All right, so what is the way forward? President Trump is meeting with all of the Republican senators today to kind of figure out where their heads are and what comes next. But all of this effort for policy has a cloud over it, and that's the Russia investigation. In fact, the White House is defending the second undisclosed meeting with the president and Vladimir Putin that took place at a G20 dinner. What does that mean, this meeting? And what is the way forward for the Democrats on healthcare? We have a member of the Senate Intel Committee, a Democrat senator, next.