tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN July 14, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
or in a video. they're gone and our country's a much better place. >> thank you. >> thank you. thank you. ♪ good evening we begin with new developments about the meeting don jr. held with a rushz attorney he had been told was a russian government attorney with dirt on hillary clinton from the russian government. trump legal team member joins us with reaction. there were as many as eight people in that room. this is significant for a number of reasons. yet again the story that donald trump jr. has publicly told continues to change.
for days the president has been praising his son's transparency. let's remember on tuesday after releasing several emails shortly after he'd been told the new york times was going to publish the contents, donald trump jr. said he'd come clean. >> this is everything. this is everything. >> well, today we learned it was not. let's start back in march when the new york times asked donald trump jr. if he ever had campaign related meetings with russia and he said no. then the new york times disclosed a meeting between son, son in law, campaign lead and a russian lawyer. who has connections to the kremlin. so how did donald trump jr. describe the meeting and the it reason for it to the times? he said we primarily discussed a
program about the adoption of russian children. nothing about dirt on clinton, nothing about ending sanctions on human rights abusers. then we learn this meeting was indeed campaign related and clinton related. with the times gearing up to publishing the emails and asking donald trump jr. to comment, he tweeted them out. he said he was doing it in the name of transparency. but still wasn't coming fully clean. that same time he was being less than transparent, he was blaming others for the very things he was consealing or still consealing. >> they want to drip a little bit today. so here it is. i'm more than happy to be transparent about it and to cooperate with everyone. >> it has nothing to do with reporters dragging it out. its to the do with donald trump jr. needlessly draging it out.
trump surrogates latched on to that word and praised donald trump jr. for sharing it. >> he was transparent. the entire chain. >> we are incredibly impressed by don jr.'s transparency. >> because it's completely transparent. >> how refreshing to have somebody take responsibility, be transparent. >> donald trump jr. is transparent. >> so listening to that you're given the idea that donald trump jr. is the very essence of transparency. >> did you ever meet with any other person from russia that you know? >> i've probably met with other people from russia but not in the context of a formalized meeting or anything like that. because why would i? >> today we learned the 2016 meeting that there the transparency is about was attended by at least eight
people including another russian who has ties with russian intelligence, an allegation he denies. more on what the drum beat of shoes dropping is doing especially among republicans. >> someone close to the president needs get everyone connected with the campaign in a room and say from the time you saw dr. zavago, to the time you drank with a guy named boris, you list every single one of those because the drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration. >> he was speaking of course as a republican, a trump supporter and a representative of the american people and a citizen. and the truth is there's still a lot we don't know about this meeting. as i said a member of the president's legal team joins us.
we firmly believe in providing all sides. jim chuto joins us with that. what have you learned? >> eight people. the president's son, son in law, jared kushner. you have paul manafort who at the time was his campaign manager. and the russian lawyer natalia. a translator, and now we know a representative of the family. promises you remember this information saying that's what the russian side was going to bring and someone connecting back to the family we know had a relationship of many years including a business relationship with the trump family. it yet again contradicts the way
trump world has described this meeting. they said it was inkaungs kwengsal. in fact we learned on both sides very consequential people from the russian side of this. a lobbyist well known in washington pushing for a major change in u.s. policy that punishes russian lawyers, promising damaging information that will help the trump campaign and part rob goldstone said was a effort to help donald trump. so not an inconsequential meeting. in fact, very much the opposite. so all the details we're learning fighting the explanation of what the meeting was for. >> the russian lobbyist has given interviews today. has he offered any other details? >> not details butte
characterization. he said the meeting was not as substantive as he expected. he said it ended quicker than he expected. it's interesting in that sense he and the trump team are on message there, saying it was nothing. but the fact is when you get there those people in the room, such senior people from the trump side, people with apparently something to offer from the russian side and looking for something in terms of a major change to u.s. policy, those facts tend to fight those descriptions and i spoke to both democratic and republican law makers whos said the circumstances require much more investigation. >> plenty to talk about with our next guest. very happy to have him on tonight. always good to have you on. there's been a number of statements made by the
president, by others. and i'll let you express how you see this meeting. the president has repeatedly praised his transparency. you said donald trump jr. put it all out there. do you still say he put it all out there? >> well, yeah. there was the emails that resulted in this meeting and he put the entire chain of those out. you look at the situation and as the lawyer here, you look at the situation. i'm saying i understand it's getting a lot of attention obviously. but the question is what law has been violated or might be violated? i was on the other night with jake tapper and jonathan turley was on. and everybody agreed that there's not a legal violation with the meeting. i go back to what i said
initially. the question still is the meeting takes place. no exchange of information. the russian american you talked about the lobbyist who said that in an interview i guess she gave in moscow said it. that nothing transpired. so at the ownend of the day you look at the statute. >> you're a lawyer, i'm not and we have had a lot of legal people on. but you're right have said they don't think there's anything there. who knows what we may learn down the road. and there's the ethical and moral argument is it right to have had this meeting? but backing the idea donald trump jr. has been transparent. you were talking about the emails.
everybody's praising his transparency. why did we learn there were eight people in this meeting? it wasn't just this russian lawyer. >> one of the people that meetings was a translator. so i think we're making a lot about something that generally is not significant. whether there were eight people -- >> as an attorney if you have a client who's going to get on the witness stand, you'd want to know all the information even from public relations standpoint. just put it all out there. holding back oh, wait, this was a meeting of eight people and this other russian lobbyist who is fighting for the end of sanctions against human rights abuses. that would be something you could toss in as well. >> the issue was the meeting itself. there was not lot of discussion
about what other people may or may not have been there. >> we know jared kushner was there and other people were there and left. so people came in and out. it was short. much shorter than anybody anticipated and the substance resulted in nothing. so who the individual was -- how did natalia -- >> we only know that from donald trump jr. and this russian attorney. >> and from the person that jim acosta spoke to, the guy that was a russian american. >> i mean obviously you're not donald trump jr.'s attorney. you're the president's attorney. have you reviewed what emails the personal assistant may have received from goldstone or the father and son russians who knew him from the miss universe
pageant? do you know for a fact there aren't other emails? >> you started with the right supsition. i'm one of the lawyers representing the president. i don't represent the trump organization. i don't represent the others. the president has stated very clearly he was not aware of the meeting and did not attend the meeting and that has been undisputed. he was not aware of it, did not attend it. with regard to the email chain itself, i became awafer of it about the time you did. no, i've not reviewed the emails. i've not reviewed any other documents until this issue came out. here's the thing that's important. remember this. the president was not aware of the meeting and didn't participate in the meeting. that is what the issue is i'm concerned with as one of the president's lawyers. >> what you're saying is the
president wasn't aware of the meeting. my question is was the president made aware that other people were present prior to today? did he know a man who has apparently ties to russian intelligence was in this meeting prior to today? did he just learn that. >>? >> my knowledge is the president recently became aware of the meeting. the president wasn't there. >> but did he know prior to today? >> no. remember what donald trump jr. said. he had not even mentioned this meeting to his father. and why would he? there was nothing to discuss. hold on one second. you know how many meetings they were having today? every 15 to 20 minutes.
i haven't checked the schedule but the president was off campaigning. so trying to put this as the president's knowledge of it, the fact is i go back to what i said in the beginning. he learned recently of the emails, the meetings. that was it. there was no discussion with the president. >> just so i'm clear you're not sure whether the president prior to today knew there were eight people in the meeting? >> i could -- let me tell you what i'm sure of. the president was not aware thoof meeting. did not attend the meeting and only recently became aware of the meeting and his son said that. so what transpired i don't know. and who would. >> you've been very clear the president wasn't aware of the
meeting. was the president at any point or the candidate at any point -- when i read those emails, to me one of the things that stands out is he's being told, apparently for the first time, but he doesn't seem surprised by it that he's being backed by the russian government. that's pretty big information that russian government is backing your father. can you say with 100% certainty that candidate donald trump either prior to the meeting taking place or after the meeting took place was never informed by donald trump jr. or kushner or somebody in that room that you know what the russian government may be backing your campaign because that seems like pretty big thing. >> he stated publicly he did not tell his father of the meeting.
>> we only know that from donald trump jr. >> i got to be really clear here, anderson. the president was not aware of or participated. he became aware when we all did. the meeting was not an issue until the emails were released. they were released by donald trump jr. he stated he did not discuss them with his father and i take his word for that because no one has said he was aware of it. >> that's different than an email -- >> the president he has never had a discussion with his son about that. the son did not discuss the issue. he didn't discuss it with the president when he was a nominee. >> and based on what he tsds on saturday the credibility of his
son is in question for some people. >> they had hundreds of meetings going on in a weekly basis. hundreds of meetings going on. this was one that had no results of any kind. >> we don't know that for a fact. we just know that based on donald trump and his lawyer. >> the people you put on the air said nothing developed. >> we did play an interview that the russian attorney gave. but if she's linked to the kremlin -- >> i guess they spoke to the russian american and he said nothing happened. let me go back to the legal issue for just a moment. what law was violated by that meeting and your experts have said so too. nothing. >> if you could just stick around, we'll be right back.
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lobbyist who allegedly has ties to russian intelligence. back now with one of the president's attorneys. do you know, jay, for a fact if there was or wasn't a phone conversation between donald trump jr. and this russian pop star prior to the meeting? because from the emails it seems like it was. i know you're not his attorney. >> i have no knowledge of that at all. >> to you, is that an important fact? because the attorney for the pop star and his dad told me there was no phone call. but it seems like from the email there was a phone call. >> no. i don't think it would be legally significant. the legal significance of a phone call wouldn't be legally significant. but i don't represent donald trump jr. i'm one of the lawyers for the president. so i'd be commenting on something i shouldn't be commenting on. >> both president trump and you have said the russian attorney that donald trump jr. met with
is not a russian government attorney. i'm wondering how do you know that? how can you say that giveten was said in the emails she was. there had been reporting reporting by the new york times and it seems the story she's telling is evolving. >> i'm trying to figure out if she was a russian government prosecutor, how in the world did the secret service allow her into a meeting at that point that took place with the campaign officials if she was actually a government operative? why would the secret service have allowed that? and how did she over stay her visa? >> i can tell you jason miller for umthe campaign and others that we had on the other night were making the argument that at that point it was a busy, chaotic environment at trump tower and people could get in. i found that hard to believe. >> the secret service, it shouldn't be cchaotic.
but there were meetings all day and for weeks in the campaign. but i raised the question how did natalia get into the united states in the first place? she was denied visa on entry and that's because she was allegedly working on this particular case. but the entire event and she then took her activities from new york to washington d.c. and it was all in the act. the russian government has said she was not government attorney. she said she was not a government attorney. i don't know if the individual knew the difference between a russian lawyer and a russian government lawyer. >> do you really want to go on the world of the russian government and this attorney? >> no you know what word i want to go on. what statute's being violated here? this is interesting and i
understand why you're covering but the fact is no legal violation for the meeting. >> it's important and you're a lawyer and that's what you got to look at. the notion she could get into trump tower without giving her name in advance seemed ludicrous to me but that undercut what donald trump jr. said. he didn't know the identity of anybody. >> if this was some -- i think this whole thing when you look at it. this was a set up to do what? to really get in on the. >> every former intelligence officer i've spoken with say the mo, particularly the russians is to use cutouts.
to make an early approach to gather information. you can't say for sure that's not what was happening here. >> all we know is the facts that we know and she came in to discuss what? the magnitsky act. that never. >> comes into play. that's why people left the meeting in minutes. and everybody that was at the meeting said the same thing. it was very short, not what it was supposed to be about and ended up being zero. >> but every intelligence official says that's how these initial contacts go. dangling information and there's a prid pro quo of we want these sanction s ended. they're going to gauge the
suceptability and the willingness of the other party to engage. >> makes for a fascinating novel and maybe a fascinating movie one day but none of it violates the law. >> when did you and the others on thes president's legal team learn about the meeting? can you say when you were made aware of it? >> i can't give you conversations we had as lawyers with each other regarding information because that's protected by attorney-client privilege. but the president was not aware of it until recently. i guess that was last week. just last week and that's when the president was aware of it as the issue came out. so what conversations counsel has had among themselves and other co counsel, that's not something i can discuss with you. i appreciate your respecting
that. >> with our panel tonight joining us, former republican presidential candidate santorum, and former cia officer bob bear and matthew whitker. jeff, what's your reaction to what jay said? >> i think what's interesting is how the subject matter has changed. for months the president and everyone involved in the campaign was saying this whole subject was ridiculous. there were no contacts between thecome pain and the russians. now we know this meeting took place. >> now it's no illegality. >> and he's saying there's no illegality. he may be right, he may be wrong. but they are moving the defense lines back. and we'll see if there's no illegality. it is true it is not 100% clear
there's any illegality at this point. but the facts are going to determine. >> obviously jay has a tough job in many ways. when you have a client who has not told you or has not revealed the full story right away, it is this drip, drip and it's become a week-long story and i don't think it would have been had it not been for little pieces of information. >> you have i think i can hold on to this information and it will never come out. it's human nature. and unfortunately if you're not schooled in politics and don't recognize they will doubt everything you've done, you're going to make these mistakes and they have. i understand what you're saying about the significance of this
meeting. but if this is it, there isn't a whole lot more. the next meeting is going to be a huge story and you're going to start connecting dots. i think it's important this administration realized they have damage done here and if there's anything else to be disclose said -- >> if there was a phone conversation between donald trump jr. and this russian pop star which is saying had to be because he had to know what this was about. the family for the pop star has denied there was any phone conversation. that's one shoe that could drop. there could be more emails. >> and or contact before this particular exchange. s there laurt of questions about
these dozens of contacts that jared kushner has now allegedly disclosed. we haven't seen that full list of contacts that led to this whole story coming out. and i think to jeff's point about the moving of the goal posts, every time they have made this argument that this is all there is and this didn't happen, it has been an attempt to cut off further investigation. there's nothing to see here so stop looking. and every time there has been more as we kept looking and that means we need to keem looking until we get to the bottom of it. >> from an intelligence standpoint, is it totally beyond the pale of thought that russian government would use an attorney from moscow who has had connections who now says in an interview today she had met with the top prosecutor in russia to discuss things and it's been
revealed did do work for this russian oligarch, even though the oligarch's attorney said she never worked for them. is that standard operating procedure for russian intelligence? >> well, it is, anderson. this is called a soft pitch. they got some dirt on hillary. they wanted to know if the trump team would cooperate with them. and not bringing any information would be pretty typical. they want to see the reaction to see if the trump team would pick it up, donald jr. and the question is was this passed to somebody else? like carter page, any of these other people that met with the russians. but this is a classic kgb recruitment. keep plausible deniability, soft pitch and see what happens and
if it's accepted hit it some place else. >> is part of that to see whether the target then reports it and if they don't report it, then that is telling in some way? >> exactly if they don't report it either to donald trump or the fbi, you know you've got a willing subject. the standard answer is i'm going to report this to my bosses. they were very receptive to working with the russians. and for the russians, that was a green light to keep going at this and the question is we don't know what contacts occurred afterwards. the fact that later on in december he proposes setting up a channel through russian communications to the russians because he doesn't trust the
nsa, i find that particularly disturbing. >> that as your legal experience, if you had a client who says one thing on a saturday, doesn't give the full story of the meeting and gradually the story changes. is that transparency to you? >> it's concerning as a lawyer because as you see jay trying to explain the facts as he currently knows them, i think he's a little worried he's on shifting sand. i think he's doing a great job in this circumstance. but anyone can tell you if you haven't got the full story from your client, you're very worried. jeff's point is very true that they have moved the goal post and to say there's no evidence of a crime that's been committed but nobody's arguing that bob mueller has legitimacy to investigate these facts and
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we're talking tonight about the evolving story, the previously undisclosed meeting between paul manafort and we learned at least two russians, not just one. earlier i asked a member of the president's legal team about it and whether it puts a dent in the notion that donald trump jr.'s shown transparency. >> you said just the other day that donald trump put it all out there. given what we learned today, do you still say he put it all out there? >> well, yeah. the there was the emails that resulted in this meeting and he put the entire chain of those out. i go back to it, something we've talked about before and as the lawyer, you look at the situation and i understand it's getting a lot of attention obviously but the question is what law has been violated here or might be violated here? >> back now with the panel.
he raises an important point. does this damage the white house? does this put -- >> i think this is an evolving story. it doesn't really matter whether today he is -- anyone is more under criminal scrutiny than they were a day ago. what matters is mueller is now at a fact finding moment. he is going to learn about this meeting. but the larger question -- >> has it enlarged the range? the candidate's assistant was mentioned. he said i can just email the candidate through rhona. >> they go in chains. so once you have a group of emails about this meeting and obviously we only have those four pages of emails.
there clearly have to be others. mueller's going to want to everyone involved and mentioned in those emails, including the then candidate, now president's assistant. this is a lot to investigate. and it's just one part of his investigation and there really is one reason to conclude one way or another whether legality took place because it's a moving target. >> i get the frustration of trump supporters who a, are frustrated there's so much coverage because they don't think it's important. but in terms of the president's agenda on capitol hill, moving it forward. how much does it -- i think john mccain said it sucks all the oxygen out of the room. >> i could make the argument this might even help them in this respect. there's not a whole lot getting done up on capitol hill. and the president's agenda has
been stuck. ha they're trying to work through a health care bill. right now they don't have the votes. that's pretty clear. they'd be pounded away of how bad donald trump is doing, how he can't leave the country. in fact they're having a pretty good time. >> if there's not like two signature accomplishments or three -- >> but it's not likes there prr been a long drum beat of how effective the administration is inputting it forward. and if he does pull a rabbit out the hat and they do pass the health care bill, it's going to look like all this noise is going on, he's been effective and able to get things done and see the media's been wrong and focussed on something that's not the real news. the real news he's doing his job. it could work in his favor. >> there's the -- the way things are going now republicans are frustrated.
i was speaking to a republican member of congress. he said on the one hand, yes, republican divisions existed long before donald trump was elected president. there was going to be clashes between and within republicans in the house and the senate. on the one hand the one thing that could unite the clans is clear and focussed presidential leadership. the president who won the election for the sake of the whole party and focus said on bringing the factions together around legislation it was clear he believed in and that's not what republicans on the hill feel like they're getting. >> did the president create more problems for himself? his administration by not remaining silent about this? he was asked about it directly in france. but he gave very lengthy answer, making a number of starmtementsn france about it. >> i think the risk right now is
everyone's talking about what they know. i watched the hannity interview with don jr. obviously he was stuck between a rock and a hard place where there was a political situation he had to respond and answer all the questions but if i was his lawyer, i'd be very nervous about that because he's locking in a story that is evolving as we sit here today and i think the same situation the president finds himself in. often times he has his lawyers saying when he knew it. but i think it's concerning for anybody under this kind of scrutiny to lock in any story at this point in time as these things continue to come out. i hope they know what the true story is but it's worrying as i watch it. >> coming up a white house in crisis. how the west wing staff is handling these revelations and what it needs to do to go forward.
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the story was published by the new york times. do you feel the white house has their arms around how to deal with this? >> i think this must be a rhetorical question. plainly not. i'm not even sure the white house has their arms around what the story is completely. i'm not sure for examplethal communications staff of the white house knows exactly the puramteres of the story. obviously sarah sanders went out early in the week and issued a denial called the stories ridiculous and so on. and within hours was proven wrong and so that's a very bad place for a white house staff to be and so my question is do they actually know what the full story is? and then you have to biefr kate. they have a political crisis in terms of the story that's unfolding publicly and they've got legal concerns that engulf not just the president but jared and major players around
so this is a very difficult time for the white house and a very difficult time to do any other kind of work. >> we've heard a lot about the need for compartmentalization. this is a different white house than any we've seen in a long, long time. what is it like to actually be there when all this is happening? >> well, it can be shattering to an individual. most of the people are going to white houses and i'm sure this is the case with donald trump's white house. most of them are honest individuals, they want to come in and serve the country. they may not believe in what you and i believe but they're trying to serve the country and they're drawn into this vortex and we don't know of course whether this meeting brought violations of the law but we do know in the aftermath there has been a
pattern, a very clear pattern of dishonest, misleading statements that -- and that represents stupidity as well because clearly more was going to come out. for them to issue a statement that made it all look very innocent about adoption of children and we've had now three versions and disturbingly, the "new york times" time has reported as cnn points out that donald trump himself apparently approved at least two of these misleading statements and they've been blown out of the water. you know, this may go down in history as one of the most incompetent coverups we've ever had. >> you really believe that? david gergen, you really believe that? one of the most incompetent coverups? >> absolutely. let's take it with regard to this particular meeting. they've been trying to hide what happened at this particular meeting. they've attempted to cover it up but they've done it with
enormous incompetence. if there was nothing there, why not say here's where we met, here's who was in the room, we didn't find anything but instead they come out with a statement which is completely acts like they're completely innocent and the next statement says, no, we did want to find out dirt on hillary so we met with these people. now we learn there was a soviet counterintelligence spy in the meeting and they never disclosed this. >> i should point out he denies this. >> he denies being a counterintelligent spy but do we believe that? i don't think it's possible to believe what they said about the outcome of the meeting. how that we know that it all ended with nothing? all i'm saying is in this particular instance, it was a clear attempt at a coverup, it was incompetently done and the president and his team are paying a price for it. i think david axelrod is right
about the law. >> david axctioxeaxelrod floate maybe this could work in his favor, health care not moving forward and being stalled on capitol hill. >> i think that would go down as the glass has full. there was a report out for the cbo that the trump administration had overestimated growth by several trillion dollars and it's a damning report that will get absolutely no attention. i'm not sure the way you want to bury bad news is by having worse news. that doesn't seem like a winning strategy to me. i don't think anyone in the white house is saying thank god we have this russian spy scandal because the fact that health care is frozen is not getting as
much attention. i don't think that at all. i think they would like not to be in the situation and i quite agree with david. the fundamental essence of crisis communication is figure out where the story's going and get there first. don't let it drip out. the fact is they violated those rules and i think they violated them because they weren't being honest with each other about where this was all going. >> thanks very much. you can see a new episode of the "ax files" tonight at 10:00. up next, president trump treated to a show pomp and circumstance in france this morning. plus a very, very lengthy handshake. we'll be right back. i will never
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macron's wife. and then an enormous parade filled with pomp and circumstance. >> reporter: at the bastille day parade, an american flag rolled beforeha beforehand. a private tour of the tombs and a private dinner. >> it will be a dinner between friends. >> reporter: flattering for sure. it's the pomp and circumstance showered upon all presidents and all part of a larger plan, it seems, to woo the leader of the free world. >> thank you for the tour of some of the most incredible buildings anywhere in the world.
that was a very, very beautiful thing to see. >> reporter: no question donald trump enjoys being the center of attention. his biographers say the more adulation people heap on him, the more likely they are to get a better response. when donald trump went to saudi arabia, he was treated with a sword dance. y left with a gold chain necklace from the kingdom. >> words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived. >> reporter: poland did its best to curry favor with trump as well, bussing in a crowd of people to cheer for president trump. >> it's a majestic nation, it's a spectacular place, some of