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CNN Exclusive: E-mail Shows Effort to Give Trump Campaign WikiLeaks Documents; Trump Jr. Attorney: "We Have No Idea" who Mike Erickson is; Trump Tweets: Vote Roy Moore!; Strong Jobs Report, but Low Job Approval for Trump. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired December 8, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.
And we do begin this hour with breaking news in the Russia investigation and two CNN exclusive reports. This morning, newly surfaced e-mails show an effort to give hacked "WikiLeaks" documents to the Trump campaign. This e-mail sent to Donald Trump, Jr., to the president himself when he was a candidate and other members of their team just weeks before the election. Now another CNN exclusive report reveals how previously undisclosed e-mails show there were follow-ups to that meeting that Donald Trump, Jr. had with that Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton at Trump Tower.
Our senior correspondent Manu Raju is on the Hill with more. So let's begin with though with your reporting that you broke on this attempt to get "WikiLeaks" information, basically hacked stolen e-mails to the Trump team. They never as far as we know responded to this outreach, right, Manu?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's rigHT. It was a September 4th, 2016, e-mail that was sent to then candidate Trump, his son Donald Trump, Jr., and others in the Trump organization including Donald Trump, Jr.'s personal assistant. Now the time frame here is also important. This came months after the DNC hacked and the e-mails started to leak from after that hack as well as a month before John Podesta's own e-mail was hacked and then released by "WikiLeaks" and about a couple weeks before Donald Trump, Jr. had a communication over Twitter and direct messages with "WikiLeaks".
Now, at the same time this e-mail that was sent to the Trump campaign it had a decryption code and a website address with a reportedly could receive some of these hacked e-mails including the former Secretary of State Colin Powell's e-mails which 10 days after the e-mail was sent to the Trump campaign with those hacked Colin Powell e-mails also were released. Now, the person who sent this e-mail, someone by the name of Mike Erickson and we don't know who this individual is. We tried to find a Mike Erickson. We were not able to identify this person. Congressional investigators don't know who the person is. And when Donald Trump, Jr. was asked about this e-mail, Poppy, during a House Intelligence Committee hearing earlier this week, a classified hearing, he said he had no recollection of this. He did not know about this and his attorney said he did not act on this afterwards.
HARLOW: So to that point, I mean he says I don't remember this e-mail, et cetera. He's given similar answers on other questions about other e-mails that look at least relevant to question. When you look back at Donald Trump, Jr.'s tweets, it seems like there's a question about timing here and, you know, when he first tweeted about "WikiLeaks".
RAJU: No question about it. We are just finding out that there was actually September 4th tweet on the same day of the September 4th e- mail where Donald Trump, Jr. appears for the first time to reference "WikiLeaks." He says, "WikiLeaks", Hillary Clinton, sent thousands of classified cables marked "C" for confidential and he cites a link where you can access those documents that was on the same day as the Trump organization received this e-mail that we now know that they have received, saying that they can access these documents.
Now, Trump Jr.'s attorney just put out a statement in response to our story saying that they don't know who Mike Erickson is and they said that we understand that the media reported 12 hours prior to this e- mail that the DNC e-mails had been hacked or leaked. We do not know who Mike Erickson is. We have no idea who he is. We never responded to the e-mail and the statement goes on to criticize how the leaks came out of the -- after the committee hearing but clearly more questions for investigators to figure out exactly what happened here and if there was any action taken, Poppy.
HARLOW: Absolutely. Manu with your exclusive reporting, we appreciate it. Thank you.
Some more news now tied to the Russia investigation. CNN has also learned that previously undisclosed e-mails show there was, indeed, a follow-up to that meeting that Donald Trump, Jr. had with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.
Our Jim Sciutto joins us from Washington and this is after Donald Trump, Jr. said on cable television no follow-up, nothing to follow up on. What now do we know?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And it's after Donald Trump, Jr. and others said that this meeting was only about Russian adoptions, both those claims, really a lot of evidence now that contradicts it. One, that there was a follow up among participants in that meeting, not Donald Trump, Jr. but in one of the e-mails Rob Goldstein, the British publicist, friend of Donald Trump Sr. who brokered this meeting between senior Trump advisors and Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
[10:05:05] He e-mailed one of the Russians, who was in the room for that meeting and another Russian forwarding actually a CNN story the day that the news broke that Russia had hacked the DNC. This is five days after the Trump Tower meeting. He forwards that story and says, isn't this weirdly -- isn't this weirdly odd in light of what we spoke about the other day, raising the possibility that they did not just speak about adoptions the other day.
In addition to that, there were repeated e-mails from Goldstein to Dan Scavino, he was with the Trump campaign then he's now the director of social media at the White House pushing for Donald Trump Sr. to get a page on Russia's equivalent of Facebook called VK. Now why would a presidential candidate get a page on a Russian social media site, a very popular one? One argument we have been told is that this is a way to reach Russian-Americans here in the U.S. who might use it but it's also we should note that VK is a site that's very popular with right wing extremists here in the U.S. as well. Regardless, it's more evidence that at least raises hard questions about the story that the Trump team has been telling since the beginning that there was no follow-up and that this meeting was all about adoptions.
HARLOW: Right. Jim Sciutto, stay with us. Let's also bring in the conversation, Susan Hennessey our national security and legal analyst, former national security agency attorney and Nathan Gonzales, CNN political analyst, editor and publisher of "Inside Elections," nice to have you all here as well.
Susan, legally let's talk about this, OK? Michael, about -- we're getting into stuff on Michael Flynn in a moment but about Trump Jr., and this "WikiLeaks" e-mail from someone that Trump Jr.'s attorney says we don't know who this Michael Erickson guy is. The "WikiLeaks" outreach, even if the Trump campaign did not respond you now know looking at timing that Manu reported that Don Jr., the president's son, tweeted about "WikiLeaks" for the first time the same day that this e-mail that he doesn't recall came through. Politically just difficult for the team or legally some implications here?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Well there are certainly both potential legal and political implications. So legally right now, the most significant thing is whether or not he was being honest with Congress whenever he said that he did not recall -- that he didn't take any further action. So certainly, you know, lying to Congressional investigators, lying to the special counsel, as we've seen in Mike Flynn's case that has serious consequences. You know we've seen that Trump Jr. during this same period of time sort of came forward very strongly and said, you know, the Russia story not only was fake news, he said it was disgusting that people would even accuse them of this.
Now we're seeing story after story after story come out about the nature of sort of extent of the contacts. In terms of whether or not there's legal exposure just for having received these e-mails really depends on whether or not they took any steps afterwards, right?
HENNESSEY: So they actually attempt to log into that site. Did they attempt to log into to the site -- this website and e-mail that was provided via Twitter. So those kinds of significant steps that they took after that is going to be what's legally most significant.
HARLOW: Nathan, how do you see it? Because as far as we know now from Jim's reporting and Manu's reporting is that there was no response to these outreaches, right? These e-mail outreaches from "WikiLeaks" data and what Jim reporting as well? How do you see it? NATHAN GONZALES, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "INSIDE ELECTIONS": Right. Well that was one of the things that stuck out to me about Manu's story, right in the lead, is that an e-mail was sent to candidate Donald Trump. I think a lot of the stuff that we've been talking about for weeks now has been at least one or two steps removed from the candidate and now the president himself. Now, as you -- as we've been talking about that this -- there's no indication that there was an action particularly on candidate Donald Trump's side. But politically, I still see this as a very partisan issue. If you are a Democrat or even a Republican who has opposed Donald Trump from the beginning, you probably think, of course, this new evidence is just more evidence that something was going on and this was an effort to throw things to -- throw the election to Donald Trump. But if you're a Donald Trump loyalist, then, you know, just kind of dismiss it and say, well, this doesn't have anything to do with the president himself and it's just a conspiracy against him.
HARLOW: Jim, on the "WikiLeaks" front, the Manu reporting that we just went through, these came to light, these e-mails came to light, of course, in Don Jr.'s testimony before Congressional investigators this week and one important nugget is right at the end of Manu's reporting and it's been apparently according to multiple Congressional sources Don Jr. said, well, talking to "WikiLeaks" is just like talking to news networks like NBC or CNN.
SCIUTTO: Well, listen. That's been a position that you've heard from others including Trump himself on this. That all this kind of stuff, you know, dirt on Hillary Clinton et cetera is the equivalent of just opposition research that all parties do on each other. Of course the counter argument that you hear not just from Democrats but from Republicans, when that information comes from a foreign country, in this case a foreign adversary and in this case a foreign adversary at the time is willfully interfering in a U.S. presidential election.
[10:10:12] That's not your typical opposition research here. Keep in mind, it's the view of the U.S. Intelligence Community that "WikiLeaks" was used as what's called a cutout, that "WikiLeaks" was the middle man between Russian intelligence and getting this information out to the public. Out, you know, via the Internet and its website, et cetera. So, you know, Donald Trump, Jr. can say that. That's not the view of the U.S. Intelligence Committee. It's not the view, frankly, of a number of Republicans as well as Democrats.
HARLOW: Jim, let me just stay with you on this also just switching gears a little bit on the Russia investigation, Bob Mueller. Look, there are so many Republicans that came out supporting Bob Mueller's investigation and the man himself like Newt Gingrich and so many others when he was appointed special counsel and now they are reversing course and they are attacking him, Newt Gingrich did it last night on Fox News. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: After in May he called him a superb choice to be special counsel. What has changed?
SCIUTTO: Well, the investigation is working, right? I mean, it's keeping at it. Robert Mueller is no wilting flower, and he's finding stuff and, in fact, he's putting people in jail, right. And these are people very close to the president. Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, Rick Gates his deputy campaign chairman, Mike Flynn, his former national security adviser, George Papadopoulos who the campaign has dismissed or the administration dismissed as a coffee boy, but who had multiple communications with senior officials through the weeks and months. Again, these are people facing real hard time because they broke the law.
So this is an investigation continuing. This is a public campaign to undermine the man and the team behind that investigation. Keep in mind, it's not the first time that Trump or his surrogates has attacked a U.S. institution that he views or they view as coming after them. I mean, remember, Trump compared the intelligence agencies to Nazis as he was taking office.
SCIUTTO: So, you know, no one is out of his line of fire if he considers them -- if shall we say on his enemy's list.
HARLOW: It's true. But Susan, as you know, the legal process for this, if there were to be an attempt which the White House has not said there will be, but if there were an attempt to get rid of the special counsel, Bob Mueller, he would have to go through deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein to get it done and Rosenstein just did an interview this week with NBC and said yes, I'm confident, so far, in the investigation that Bob Mueller is doing.
HENNESSEY: Right. So DOJ and the FBI have repeatedly sort of reaffirmed their own confidence. If course if Trump decides that he does want to fire special counsel Mueller he has that constitutional authority. And I think a lot of what we're seeing both in terms of the attack for political bias and also the question about whether or not Mueller is exceeding his jurisdiction issues that actually aren't really viewed as valid at all, the career institutional level. I think we are seeing that sort of floated in public more and more, potentially to see if it offers a justification for Trump to fire Mueller if he decides that he wants to do so.
HARLOW: And quickly before we go. Jim, you have a special report tonight. I said at the top of this, we're going to talk about Michael Flynn because I just couldn't get your special report off my mind. It's a great, great hour and it's tonight. What are we going to see?
SCIUTTO: Well it's central to the investigation. Michael Flynn has just pled guilty to a federal crime. He was the president's national security adviser. He was the -- one of his most vocal supporters throughout the campaign, and what we do here is look at the long expanse of his career, this was a war hero, it decorated intelligence officer, a man who helped turn the tide of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who then entered the political sphere and surprised a lot of his former brothers and sisters in arms. And that's why we call this the mystery of Michael Flynn. Have a listen.
SCIUTTO: Inside the intelligence agencies, some grew concern that Flynn's position sometimes contradicted the facts and the intelligence. Flynn facts they called them.
People talked about Flynn facts. You heard this expression.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER U.S DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I was hearing from more than one source, NDI about you know what became Flynn facts. That concerned me.
SCIUTTO: Can you give me an example?
CLAPPER: I think he was convinced that the Iranians were behind the Benghazi attack which they weren't, at least we had no evidence of that, but he insisted that we find evidence to back up that proposition.
SCIUTTO: The increasingly infamous Flynn facts became one symptom of broader concerns about Flynn's leadership at DIA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flynn started to manifests some of the more controversial behaviors that ultimately played out on the national stage.
[10:15:12] SCIUTTO: Keep in mind these are people there who served with him, who admired him in the military field, on the battlefield and intelligence and their opinions changed over time and we get to some of the questions and how that happened.
HARLOW: It's fascinating, Jim. We'll look forward to it tonight. Thank you so much. Susan, Jim, Nathan, I owe you one. We ran out of time, my friend.
GONZALES: No problem.
HARLOW: Thank you so much.
All right, so if you had any doubt about President Trump and his support -- clear support of a man who faces credible accusations of child molestation, Roy Moore, have no doubt here's what the president just wrote in his own words. "Last thing to Make America Great Again Agenda needs is a liberal Democrat in the Senate where we have so little margin for victory already. The Pelosi/Schumer Puppet Jones would vote against us 100 percent of the time. He's bad on crime, life, borders, vets, guns and military. Vote Roy Moore!"
This is a president heads very close to Alabama to stump tonight, much more ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[10:20:12] HARLOW: It is very clear from the president this morning that he is rooting for Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate accused of sexually assaulting teenagers in his 30s. Just moments ago, he tweeted, the president tweeted, "Last thing to Make America Great Again Agenda needs is a liberal Democrat in the Senate where we have so little margin for victory already. The Pelosi/Schumer Puppet Jones would vote against us 100 percent of the time. He's bad on crime, life, borders, vets, guns and military. Vote Roy Moore!" This, ahead of the rally the president holds tonight just 25 miles from the Alabama border, four days before the special election there.
Our senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is live at the White House this morning. It could not be more clear, Joe, from the president this morning on this.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I think you're right, but it's also true, Poppy, that the White House and the president have been a little coy about the reasons for this visit. I mean even two hours ago the president also tweeting that the speech in Pensacola is a Make America Great speech again. He also predicts big crowd, but the argument that this is not at least in part about Roy Moore sort of defies logic because Pensacola is some 25 miles from the Alabama border, about 60 miles from mobile, which is one of the largest media markets in the state of Alabama.
And so why would he do that? Well the one thing is very clear, the president's tried to protect his base and had trouble with this Alabama Senate race from the very beginning and he doesn't want to look either weak, weak if you will, with his base or otherwise out of touch. So, the Republicans are split on the issue of Roy Moore. National Republican Senatorial Committee is opposed to him, while the Republican National Committee supports him. Now listen to what they're saying about Roy Moore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIRWOMAN: Voters in Alabama this is democracy. They're going to see this play out. They get to make that decision. It's not up to me. The president has said we want to keep the seat Republican. The RNC is a political arm in the White House. And we want to support the president's agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Again, they are being just a little bit coy about the reasons for this visit, but Poppy, as you said at the top it seems pretty clear the president is going down there at least in part to show his face, very close to Alabama right before this election comes to fruition. Back to you.
HARLOW: And he is wildly popular there. Joe Johns, thank you.
Joining me now, CNN political commentators Doug Heye, he's a Republican strategist, Patti Solis Doyle, former Hillary Clinton campaign manager, very nice to have you both here. Doug, let me begin with you, so if anyone was wondering how the president felt about Roy Moore, wonder no more, right?
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. Certainly, he had been inching his way up there earlier this week. We saw his more full- throated support and now we see this today, the comments from the president.
As a Republican -- let me give you, Poppy, just real quickly my background. My first job in politics was for Jesse Helms. I think a lot of people know his history and his record with race. Later on, I went twice to work with Michael Steele, who became the first African- American RNC chairman and then later, worked for Eric Cantor who's the highest ranking Jewish Republican in electoral history in this country.
So I think about race and the Republican Party a lot. I think about what we've done wrong. I think about what we try and do and how we can do right. And what really troubles me right now after two years of Donald Trump castigating immigrants, going after minority families and now these latest comments about Roy Moore saying that the last time America was great again was in slavery because somehow families were intact when we know that slave families were ripped apart time and time again. It makes it real hard for me to identify what we're doing right, regardless of policy, and it makes me - it makes it impossible for me to look any African-American friend, any Hispanic-American friend, any minority in the eye and say you know what, now is a good time to vote Republican. There are a whole lot more important things than wearing a red hat and saying MAGA.
HARLOW: Patti, Doug is referring to the comments from Roy Moore at the September 16th rally when an African-American member of the audience said when do you think the last time America was great again, he said, "I think it was great at the time when families were united -- even though we had slavery -- they cared for one another. Our families were strong, our country had a direction."
Look, Doug is a Republican, a Republican strategist. He's saying my party is misguided in this. So, you know, from your lens, as a Democrat, and a strategist on that side, where does this go?
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think Donald Trump and the Republican Party have made political calculation that being behind Roy Moore is good.
[10:25:02] It's good because they need that seat. It's good because they need that vote. I think they've learned in the last year that having a slim majority is problematic and they learned that lesson quite drastically with their failure on the repeal and replace Obamacare.
Having said all of that, I think this is a very short sided political calculation on behalf of the Republican Party because they are now married to Roy Moore, win or lose. If Roy Moore wins, of course they are now attached to Roy Moore but even if he loses there is no way that Roy Moore will not be in every single ad, for a Democrat in 2018. Roy Moore has now become the face of the Republican Party. And that's a real shame because as Doug said, he's just not you know -- ideally conservative. He is racist, he is a pedophile. He believes -
HARLOW: Allegations. Allegations, Patti.
He is an alleged pedophile but I truly believe that his accusers are very credible. This is now the face of the Republican Party. That's a shame.
HARLOW: I had a spokeswoman on earlier this week and spent 17 minutes trying to get some answers and then asking at the end would he come out and talk to us which he hasn't done in more than two years, nada. OK.
Let me get you both on this other fascinating thing I think we're seeing right now. So the jobs report Doug this morning was really, really good, 228,000 jobs, added 4.1 percent unemployment, wage growth is up, all of this in the last three decades since Clinton, it's the economy, stupid, and people have been willing to look past other things, not take presidents out of office when the economy is very strong. But, the President Trump's approval rating this morning is 32 percent. And it is just this fascinating divide that we haven't seen in the last three decades with an incredibly strong economy and jobs numbers and a president at incredibly low approval rating why?
HEYE: Well I think it's because what do we find ourselves talking about when we talk about Donald Trump every hour of every day. We talk about something that he said that's inflammatory. We talk about whether he's tweeting at a military family, at a basketball player's father, in support of a racist candidate who's not your garden variety racist in Alabama, what so many Republicans like myself would love to see from this White House is a focus on the economy --
HARLOW: They talk about the economy, talks about the stock market every other day.
HEYE: Yes but we know that when Donald Trump says something controversial, tweets something inflammatory that's going to define the week. Remember when he called Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas. We talked about that 48 hours straight and nothing else. Focus on the economy. Don't talk about anything else but the economy. Similarly, when we were trying to pass Obamacare repeal or this tax bill that Congress is considering, focus on those things. One of the biggest challenges for President Trump and this White House is its inability to stay out of its own way. We have great economic news. Focus on that.
HARLOW: Patti, you get first word next time because I'm out of time, lot of news this morning.
HEYE: Sorry, Patti.
DOYLE: No problem.
HARLOW: You can battle it out during the commercial. Thanks for being here, guys. We appreciate it. Have a nice weekend.
All right, we're following some exclusive reporting from CNN and an attempt by "WikiLeaks" to share hacked documents with then candidate Trump and his son. I'm going to speak to a member of the House Oversight Committee about all of it ahead.