tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN July 24, 2017 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
in our lifetime? that's a good question. >> nick paton walsh in kabul for us. thank you for that great report. be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. you can see me tonight at 7:o00 p.m. i'll be in for erin burnett on "out front." we turn to wolf blitzer in the situation room. president trump's son-in-law jared kushner denies collusion with russia and says he has nothing to hide. >> mr. kushner, will you testify publicly? >> reporter: kushner insists all his actions with russian officials were proper. will lawmakers agree? insulting sessions. president trump derides his attorney general, referring to jeff sessions as beleagured, referring to russia investigations. why is president trump attacking one of his most loyal supporters? doing the right thing.
the president ups the pressure on republican senators on health care. but some don't know exactly what they'll be voting on. we're standing here with the president live tonight. and president putin. congress reaches a deal on sanctions against russia for its meddling in the u.s. presidential election, but president trump still refuses to admit russia's role. will he sign the sanctions bill? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we're following breaking news. new pressure from president trump as senate republicans who will hold a health care vote tomorrow speaking at the white house just a little while ago. the president warned lawmakers the vote against a motion to proceed means, quote, you're fine with the obamacare nightmare, closed quote. but republican leaders have not made clear which version of their health care plan lawmakers will be voting on. we're standing by to hear live
from president trump tonight. we're also hearing rare public remarks by the president's son-in-law, jared kushn kushner, who spoke behind closed doors with senate investigators as part of the intelligence committee's russia probe. kushner says he did not collude with russia and the information he provided shows all of his actions he says were proper. meanwhile, senator diane feinstein is now calling for attorney general jeff sessions to appear before the judiciary committee as part of its russia investigation. president trump stepped up his public disdain obsessions, one of his earliest supporters referring to him in a tweet as, quote, beleagured. the president learned that sessions was in the white house today for meetings. communications director anthony scaramucci won't say whether the president wants sessions to resign. i'm quoting now, they need to speak and determine what the future of their relationship looks like. congress is expected to vote
tomorrow on new sanctions against russia for its election interference. the question is, will president trump sign the bill? we're covering all of that, much more this hour, with guests including sergey kislyak. let's begin with jared kushner's interview with senate russia investigators. our justice correspondent jessica snooyder joins us with e very latest. t jared kushner says he's done nothing wrong when it comes to russia. >> he maintains he's fully transparent. he met with staffers behind closed doors for two hours, and then he made his statement in public outside the white house. tonight in a rare public statement, the president's son-in-law is trying to selt the record straight before senate investigators and the cameras. >> let me be very clear. i did not collude with russia, nor do i know of anyone else in
the campaign who did so. >> reporter: kushner's brief prepared statement outside the west wing came after two and a half hours on capitol hill where he was questioned behind closed doors by staff members from the senate intelligence committee. >> the record and documents i have voluntarily provided will show that all of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign. >> reporter: kushner kept his on-camera comments brief but reiterated the president's line, suggesting that the russia investigation is a political excuse. >> donald trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won. suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him. >> reporter: kushner released an 11-page statement detailing four meetings with russians between april and december 2016. he acknowledged a previously undisclosed meeting at the mayflower hotel with russian ambassador sergey kislyak in
2016 that kushner said was a short meet and greet. kushner met again with kislyak in september where they discussed policy in syria. kushner said he suggested they use the russian embassy but stated emphatically, i did not suggest a secret back channel. i did not suggest a secret ongoing form of communication for then or for when the administration took office. kushner downplayed that june 26 meeting with donald trump jr., paul manafort, russian attorney natalia veselnitskaya, among others. but kushner's statement shows don jr. e-mailed him twice, once to set the meeting and again to change the meeting time. the subject line of both e-mails read, "russia-clinton confidential." kushner said he left the meeting when he realize tit was a waste of time, e-mailing his assistant, can you please call me on my cell? need excuse to leave the
meeting. president trump was tweeting. so why aren't the committees and investigators and our be leage leagueerred a.g. it came in the wake of a "washington post" report that intelligence intercepts of conversations between russians indicate that sessions discussed the campaign with russian ambassador to the u.s., sergei kislyak, at least twice during the election. kushner refused to disclose his contacts with kislyak and then said they were unrelated. senators' decision to recuse himself in march from the russia investigation. the president and attorney general have not spoken since the interview. and the president rolled his eyes when asked about sessions during a photo op with interns in the east room.
>> cnn caught up with cformer nw york mayor rudy giuliani and said he believed sessions made the right decision. and attorney general jeff sessions was at the white house today for a regularly scheduled meeting with white house counsel don mcgann as well as tom price. scaramucci confirmed sessions' visit but neglected to say whether he should resign, saying the two need to talk to discuss what their future looks like. wolf? >> we're standing by to hear directly from president trump as he appears in west virginia with one of the republican senators critical of the help can healre health care plan. jeff zelany joins us with the health care chaos.
jeff, the president had strong words for his republican senators. >> strong words, indeed. he's also doing something that he seldom does, using the power of presidency and the megaphone to talk about a health care plan. he told them now is the time to help their problems. the second question, is it now too late? >> remember repeal and replace, repeal and replace? they kept saying it over and over again. >> reporter: donald trump delivering an ultimatum to republicans on health care. >> everyone was promised immediate relief from this disastrous law. >> reporter: on the eve of a critical vote, the. >> the american people have waited long enough. there's been enough talk and no
acti action. >> reporter: surrounded by those he called victims of obamacare, he made his first public speech yet on the health care plan stuck in congress. >> you are telling america you are fine with the obamacare nightmare, which is what it is. >> reporter: in a series of tweets, he's been ramping up pressure on his fellow republicans. it's very sad that republicans, even carried over the line to my bac back. they're doing the same thing on repeal and replace, after years of talking about it, to a not so veiled threat. if the republicans will be won over by a president with some of the lowest approval rating at this stage of his tenure since
modern day polling began. tonight the president is bringing shelly moore cavadeaux, a west virginia senator, on board. she is one of the biggest critics of the bill. >> i don't know. i'm still tempted to say no. >> senator mitch mcconnell pledged that also. >> we have waited for a little eight years, and for if the longe longest. it's yet another pivotal moment for republicans. >> so far several republicans have not done their job in ending the obamacare nightmare. they now have a chance, however, to hopefully, to do
so, but it would take more than that just to get the 50 votes they need to start debating the bill. so republicans talking about this are still more at the beginning of the process than they are at the end. wolf? >> there is another development. i want to get your quick word on this. we're learning that we may begin to see more white house press briefings on camera once again. what's the latest? >> wolf, indeed. the new incoming communications
director anthony scaramucci told our colleague sara murray that the white house briefings will be back on camera, on televised camera. that is something that's supposed to happen later this week. that is the tradition and the norm here at the white house. it's been interrupted for the last month or more here in the end of fleishner's term. sarah huckabee sanders will be back in the white house. >> sergey kislyak is joining us. thank you for being here. >> yep. >> jared kushner confirmed all the meetings. he confirmed that on april 7 he did meet with russian kislyak. on june 9 he met with natalia
veselnitskaya, december 13 with gorkov who has very close ties with trump. do you think he would have self-inflicting wounds? >> i always said from the beginning, we're going to let the investigation bear out what the matters are. he would be the best case for these facts. when all is said and done, when you try to hold back any information you have, get it out there. get it out there because it's going to come out. whether or not this would have come out fully, it just doesn't seem like it. >> the 11-page statement for a
couple mistakes he made, miscommunication with his assistant, that's why there is a security clearance questionnaire to begin with. do you expect that? is it appropriate to blame his assistant? >> it might not be appropriate, but i can tell you when you immediate with officials what happened if ju-- in july to october. and i think in terms of thees. so the fact it was not complete and was just sent without rkt. i sign security clearance forms all the time with the military, and i do it all myself. so i think if, in fact, what he's saying is true and that it was his direction.
>> he's a businessman, a real estate guy, he seemed to suggest he was over his head in this new area of politics, the campaign and the government. but now he's in charge of arab-israelis, new deals involving china. should he be involved in that if he is that inexperienced in politics? >> the president has the ability who he trusts and in whose cases we started that. this was much more of a.
>> the president tweeted this morning very interesting at 8:39 a.m. so why aren't the politicals? he's referring to the attorney general of the united states, jeff sessions. it's not the first time he's criticized sessions. he endorsed him, gave up a senate seat to work in the cabinet. now the president. sessions was one of the very first -- i think he was the first to endorse president trump. public is what i don't understand. if the president has lost faith in mr. sessions, he should call mr. sessions into his office and tell him that and ask for resignation. it when you do this stuff in.
use it for things like that, but airing these interpersonal problems on twitter is bad not just for us, the whole world is watching, too. >> he's telling the justice department what to investigate in this tweet. he doesn't want to fire sessions, he wants sessions to resign. do you buy that? >> maybe. but the attorney general said if he lost the face of the president, he would move on. thaet not a day to -- db very good and really achieve some things on our agenda or. we have a lot more to discuss. much more news coming up. i was wondering if an electric toothbrush really cleans...
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we're following breaking news, including a new call from the top democrat on the senate judiciary committee for the attorney general jeff sessions to testify in his russian investigation. we're back with republican congressman adam kensington. in a radio interview, this is what he said. >> remember, bob mueller is a republican who was appointed by a republican, who served in the republican administration and stayed on until his term ended. but i don't think many people are saying bob mueller is a person who is a biased partisan. he's really sort of anything but. >> do you think the speaker is worried that the president might fire him? >> i don't know what the speaker
is thinking. i know that i agree with what the speaker said. in fact, when he was announced, i had called for the special investigator that day, and i said, this is the best pick. you know, people tried to discredit him by saying he's friends with comey. well, this is a small town, a lot of people are friends with people, especially an outgoing fbi director. but i think he just wants to get to the bottom of what's going on. if there's any sort of firing, and i don't know what the administration is thinking on that, that would create way more headaches than it would solve any problems. >> the president tweeted this this morning as well, quote, it's very sad that republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their president. what is he referring to? >> it's hard to tell what he's referring to in every tweet. probably he wants republicans out there defending him no matter what. i'm a legislative member.
my job is to be a check on the legislative branch. the president is of the same party i am, but i also have a responsibility to my country and the 78,000 people that i represent to do what is the right thing and be in check. while we need to be defensive of our policies, we would ask him to do the same thing, too, whether it's health care, tax reform, et cetera. >> i don't know what he was referring to, but i suspect he was referring to the sanctions legislation on russia, the bill that went 92 passed in the senate, now it's going to be the slightly revised session. the white house doesn't like it because it strips away a little bit of the president's power, irrespective of would oppose anything like that because they want to have as much power in that process as they can. i understand that. but this is the.
we examine that the president signs this and this is the right thing to do to say, russia, you do not meddle in the american elections, you don't meddle in the elections of our allies and parties at this instant. >> what does it say when the president can't even include members of his own party, to ease sanctions against russia if he wants to that. is he that weak with his fellow republican? >> no, i don't think it's that weak. you still have a republican party that is still very strong on this russia issue. despite some of the. we obviously very much disagree with that. we think dmend approximating the institu institute. because if people lose having their vote counted, that will lead to many problems.
>> if he vetoes, will you oppose it? >> i have no doubt. constitution experts weigh in on the president's tweets that he has complete power to pardon. could that include pardoning himself? also a completely rare statement by the president's top adviser and son-in-law, jared kushner. >> i had no improper contacts. i have not relied on russian fund for my businesses. skpl i've been fully transparent in releasing all requested information. choicehotels.com. badda book. badda boom. that's it? he means book direct at choicehotels.com for the lowest price on our rooms guaranteed. plus earn free nights and instant rewards at check-in. yeah. like i said.
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trump went before tv cameras at the white house this afternoon to push senate republicans to begin debating an obamacare repeal and replacement bill. the showdown vote is tomorrow. also this afternoon, white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders said the president is very proud of his son-in-law and top adviser jared kushner who answered questions from senate intelligence committee investigators. today kushner made an extremely rare public statement denying he colluded with the russians. we have a lot to discuss with our political specialist. mark preston, i'll start with you. kushner's statement today, was it a milestone? in effect, he subsequently confirmed a lot of press reports about his four beatings over these many months with various russians. >> four meetings, and one of the details he provided to us was the fact that the former russian ambassador, then russian ambassador sergey kislyak
offered up russian intelligence information during the transition about what they were doing in syria. i thought that was fascinating. so he acknowledged that he tried to have that briefing with the russian generals in the russian ambassador's residence. so that in itself was very interesting. the second thing is he really pushed back on all of these meetings and said, listen, you know, either i didn't know what the meeting was about, which was the june 2016 meeting he had with donald trump jr., or, listen, i'm kind of a novice in this and i just took these meetings and i was trying to be pleasant. that doesn't necessarily cut the bread for everybody in washington, d.c. he actually probably is going to open the can for more questions about what all these meetings, what occurred during these meetings. >> he went into great detail confirming what a lot of his associates earlier said was fake news. he confirmed all of those meetings. dana, what do you make of his style and his defense? a very lengthy statement made public, that he was a novice to politics, had no government experience, he was a real estate
guy, a business guy. what do you make of that defense? >> it's the aw shucks defense. i'm new at this, we didn't have this establishment or the people around us who maybe we should have or could have had we been a more traditional campaign. i think it's the best that he can do, and i'm sure it also has a lot of threads of truth to it, that at the didn't have a really good sense that kislyak the ambassador from russia going and saying, oh, maybe you should come to the embassy and have a conversation with russia about syria is a good idea. regardless, this is separate from questions of russia meddling in the election. that's about one president at a time and it's probably not appropriate during the transition to have those kinds of conversations. having said all that, look, there are a lot of things he didn't answer even though he did go pretty far in talking about a lot of these meetings, namely what many democrats want to
know, which is how much, if at all, did the trump campaign, jared kushner in particular who was involved and supposedly running the digital operation, how much did they know about what the democrats and some of the intelligence community believe was a real russian effort to put fake news onto the internet in key places like wisconsin and michigan others to help donald trump? >> that's an important element in this. do you think this is enough to get him through this investigation, brianna? >> no, i do think it raises a lot more questions and i also think it was pretty fascinating how he kind of separates himself so much from donald trump jr., right, where he says he basically doesn't know what the e-mail was about, he didn't read the whole e-mail where it makes clear there was a favoritism from the russian government for donald trump to win. so there's that, and then there's also a number of things that he reveals that make him
look like he doesn't have it together. from not knowing what the russian ambassador's name is to his assistant mistakenly filing his security clearance so that it was incomplete and didn't have these things. he didn't recall, really, this meeting at trump tower until he was reviewing documents. so in addition to not really closing the door on all of these questions, he also just doesn't come off looking like he has it together. >> the president and the attorney general, jeff sessions, that tweet this morning, it stunned a lot of us. i'm sure it did you as well. i'll put it up on the screen once again. why aren't the committees and investigators and of course our beleagured ag, attorney general, looking into crooked hillary's crimes and russian relations? do you believe he's trying to push the attorney general out? >> yes! >> it just seems to me that context matters here, even
though that tweet in and of itself would maybe be enough, but this comes five days after donald trump said, well, i never would have hired jeff sessions if i knew he was going to recuse himself. it comes to that saying something similar to the beleagured tweet without using the word beleagured. donald trump something things so wildly different than other presidents, but imagine barack obama saying six weeks into term things that he says, we wouldn't know how to handle it. i don't think trump wants to fire jeff sessions, but he's at the point where he's making it so uncomfortable for jeff sessions to hold the job that he hopes jeff sessions resigns. >> i talked to someone who is in frequent contact with president trump who pretty much said for
months as we've been reporting behind the scenes, the president has been steaming about jeff sessions ever since he recused himself and has been trying to, behind the scenes, get him to qu quit, didn't happen, so when things don't happen, he takes it into his own hands where he throws the president under the bus and makes his own tweets. sessions is maybe in a job he really likes and he's going to hold on as long as he can. >> since that "new york times" article, the president hasn't spoken to sessions. it's pretty startling when you think about this. everybody stand by. we're now being told vice president pence is on capitol hill desperately trying to get some sort of deal on health care. we've got new information right
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they are going to head over momentarily. about 20,000 boy scouts have gathered. this is american heroes week from the white house perspective. we'll have live coverage of the president's remarks. that's coming up. stand by. brianna, the president tweeted this on sunday about his fellow republicans. he said it's very sad that
republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their president. i thought he was referring maybe to the sanctions legislation because he doesn't think it's good. his aides say it goes too far in stripping the president of the united states of some authority in easing sanctions against russia if he wants to. what was your analysis? >> it came not long after the spokeswoman, sarah huckabee sanders, the new press secretary, said he would sign it, so that's possible. because they are new sanctions but they also stop the trump administration from easing the sanctions and takes some of the power away. it could be about obamacare. it could be about a number of things where he really wants backup. he doesn't seem to understand that the mission of the members of congress is not to protect him. they are not cheerleaders, they are a separate branch of government that represents constituents. as i was reading that tweet, i made a joke to myself where i thought of that saying, if you want a friend in washington, get a dog. if you want protecting in
washington, maybe make it a doberman, you know, because you can't rely always on members of congress, especially when your approval rating is where donald trump's is. >> brianna is exactly right about -- i think he thinks senators work for him on some level, right? that's number one. point two, the way in which you get elected officials if you're the president to do your bidding -- >> he's walking down the stairs now in berryville, west virginia. the president going to the motorcade. >> -- if you get less than 39%. they're not all that worried about donald trump coming out against them because they can say, look, i voted for what i thought was the right thing for my constituents, and he doesn't really have that hammer to bring down on them to say, the people who backed me, who elected me, they'll visit defeat or problems on you, and that's orften the
stick that works as it relates to members of congress. >> the future of health care, he just tweeted minutes ago, any senator who is in this debate knows we need to change health care. they need this win. >> they need this win, but tactically and politically, that's not a bad tactic to remind the west virginia senator who he is going to appear with shortly that she ran in the house and then when she ran with the senate on repealing obamacare and every other republican voted on it. however, the big issue is, the cliche the devil is in the details couldn't be more profound right now because what the leadership is asking for is these republican senators to vote to start debate tomorrow on tbd bill. they don't know what it is right now.
>> do they know what they're going to be starting a debate on? >> absolutely not. you know what's interesting about this, president trump is absolutely right when he says, they need to vote to move the debate forward in order to have a debate. the reason you have senators who are on the fence or who aren't supportive who don't want to move forward, because once they pull the trigger on that and move forward, now they have backed themselves into a corner and they'll be forced by president trump and the republican leadership to vote for a bill that they don't want. i wouldn't even say this is on life support, i wouldn't even say it's born yet. >> politically speaking, just to add to mark's point, politically speaking, once you vote, the average person doesn't understand. it was a procedural vote. once you vote, will you own whatever it is, and they're cognizant of that. there are new developments coming in. also coming up, president trump claims he has complete power to pardon. does that include pardoning himself? plus, both in private and with senators on camera, the
president's son-in-law and top adviser jared kushner denies colluding with russia. >> the documents i have provided show all my actions were proper and occurred in events of a very unique campaign. because our pets deserve it. beyond. natural pet food. helping small businesses.ut, jamie -- damage your vehicle? we got you covered. [ glass shatters ] property damage? that's what general liability's for. what?! -injured employee? -ow. workers' comp helps you pay for a replacement. what's happening? this is carla. how's it going? and if anything comes up, our experts are standing by. ♪ boo!
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back as we await president trump's speech in glenn jean, west virginia, we're trying to sort through some of the conflicting signals the president and his aides are sending about his power to issue pards. let's bring in brian todd who has been looking closely at the story, all the talk plea sumably started because of the russia investigations, right? >> reporter: that's right, wolf, it did start because of the russia probe and there have been
reports that president trump has asked his advisors if he's got the power to pardon his aides, relatives, even himself. that sparked some confrontations between the president's aides and the media and a big debate here in washington over the president's powers. president trump and his inner circle fighting off salvos from all directions in the russia investigations tonight. >> i did not collude with russia nor do i know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. >> reporter: tonight the president's team is also dealing with rumblings of a potential legal fight with special counsel robert mueller. following a report in the washington post that trump has asked his advisors about his power to pardon his aides, relatives and even himself, the president tweeted over the weekend, quote, while all agree the u.s. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is leaks against us? fake news. that got one of his personal attorneys on the defensive on abc's this week. >> pardons have not been discussed and pardons are not on
the table. >> reporter: but in an interview with cnn's jake tapper, trump's new communications director didn't deny pardons had been discussed. >> it has been coming up a lot. there is an undercurrent of nonsensical stuff >> because he has asked advisors about it. >> oh, come on, jake. he's not allowed -- this is the problem with the whole system. he's the president of the united states. if i turn to one of my staff members at sky verse, i ask them a question, they run out to the news immediate wra and tell them everything i'm thinking about, is that fair to the president? >> reporter: it's triggered debate whether the president can pardon himself. some constitutional experts say he can because there is nowhere in the constitution where it says specifically he cannot pardon himself. others say the constitution at least implies that a president cannot go that far. >> a fundamental principle, it is embedded in the constitution that no man can be a judge in his own case. how can you have a rule of law system where the president is both the judge, pardoning himself, and the defendant in
the case? >> reporter: experts say no democratic leader anywhere has ever tried to pardon himself. richard nixon looked into it, then decided against it. how does it look for trump politically that pardons are apparently being discussed just six months into his presidency? >> it's a terrible sign for trump's presidency that not only is his legislative agenda completely bogged down on capitol hill, but at the same time he has this me tas that sizing russia scandal thals forcing him to talk about extreme options of pardon and potentially firing the investigator. >> reporter: now, of course, the president and his aides have not been found guilty of any crime, but legal experts say if the president was ever in hot water and tried to pardon himself, he would set off a constitutional crisis the courts would probably strike it down after a long legal fight, and that is, of course, aside from all the political problems the president would likely be causing himself. wolf? >> enormous political problems. what about his family, brian? the president could pardon jared
kushner, donald trump, jr., other members of his family if they were to get into legal trouble with this russia probe? >> reporter: he does have the power to do that and other presidents have pardoned their relatives. bill clinton pardoned his brother. he can do that only if he's not doing to protect himself or his inner circle from legal trouble. if he pardons them for that reason, that could be obstruction of justice. >> brian todd reporting, thank you. coming up, presidential son-in-law jared kushner speaks to congressional investigators and to the american public about russia. >> let me be very clear. i did not collude with russia, nor do i know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. whoooo. going somewhere? here's some advice.
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happening now, questioned the son-in-law's senior advisor offers his first public information about contacts with russian officials. facing senate investigators denying wrongdoing in meetings as fake news. beleaguered, that's what his calling jeff session tsz, criticizing his loyal attorney general again. could a new administration shake up be in the works? tonight, last chance, mr. trump uses his bully pulpit to bully republicans in the house senate. is it too little too late with the gop promise to repeal obamacare hanging in the balance? and friendly fire, we are standing by to hear from president trump appearing live with a republican senator who has defied his wishes. we a