tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN June 19, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
>> i would like to ask him if he's ever met a transgender child. i'm a teacher of many lgbtq students. the struggle is immense but their needs are universal. once you've met a transgender child, you've listened to their experiences, you can learn so much from them. >> i'm out of time. nicos, congratulations to you. thanks for being with me. i'm brooke baldwin. "the lead" starts now. russia threatening to shoot down american planes. "the lead" starts right now. the skies over syria now even more dangerous for american pilots. russia's new threat after the u.s. shoot down a syrian jet. tweet said, he said. president trump and his own lawyer seemingly not on the same page or even the same chapter when it comes to what they're saying or tweeting about the president being under investigation. so what are we supposed to believe? plus -- ugly ads, uglier threats,
the most expensive race in u.s. house history now in its final hours. who is going to win this nasty battle? hello, everyone. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we're going to talk about a u.s. warplane flying over the syrian area could be shot down by russia. that is a stark warning by the kremlin after the u.s. shot down a syrian jet over the weekend, one that the u.s. pentagon said dropped bombs on u.s.-backed anti-regime forces. russia issuing this threat of sorts to the u.s. stay out of our way. any aircraft caught west of the euphrates river will be tweeted as, quote, air targets. how seriously is the pentagon taking this threat from the kremlin? >> well, jake, to be clear, the pentagon not looking for a dogfight with the russians but taking it strongly enough to
respond to it, jake. u.s. pilots flying over syria now on the lookout for russian airplanes or missile threats following the weekend shootdown by a u.s. navy fna superhornet of a syrian war plane. this because the kremlin threatened any u.s. war plane operating in certain areas of syria would be considered a threat. when the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff was asked if he was confident that russia would not shoot down a u.s. warplane, the answer was carefully worded. >> i'm confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the russian federation operations center, and i'm also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves. >> reporter: defense secretary james mattis taking the threat seriously, his spokesperson issuing a statement. as a result of recent encounters involving pro-syrian regime and russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to reposition
aircraft over syria. the pentagon won't offer details, but the goal is clear. get u.s.-backed ground forces to push isis out. >> they're sending warnings to the syrians, to the iranians and to the russians that this offensive must be the top priority and it cannot be hindered. >> when the syrian war plane attacked those u.s. forces on the ground, the u.s. reacted. it began sunday at 4:30 p.m. forces backed the u.s. fighters near the city of tabqah. u.s. aircraft swooped in launching flares to scare off the units. they also asked the russians to try to stop the fighting. at 6:00 p.m. a syrian s-22 dropped bombs near the
u.s.-backed fighters. it was immediately shot down. the coalition said by that u.s. navy aircraft as a matter of self-defense. a full court press is now on by the pentagon and the trump administration to try and calm all of this down . as a first step, they want to make sure they are still talking to the russians and the russians talking to them on that so-called deconfliction line, the communication line they use every day to make sure nothing escalates and gets out of control. jake? joining me now to discuss this is adam kinser from the state of illinois. he did tours in both afghanistan and iraq. russia calls the shoot-down an act of aggression and is ready to put military action on the united states. do you think russians would actively target a war plane.
>> it's kind of a show of force. the guy in the plane, our plane, would know that he's being painted at that point, and that could be indication to attack that radar that's painting. but to attack an american military aircraft, i think, look, i think vladimir putin is a pretty smart guy. i don't like him but i think he's smart, and i think he knows that to attack an american warplane would basically mean the end of the syrian air force and potentially could have some real damage to the s-300 missile defense system that i would imagine the next reaction, if we saw our aircraft attack, would be to take out their s-300 missile defense. frankly, the russians don't want that because it would show how effective the russians could be against american military. >> on a human lefrvel, you're a pilot. what would it be like for a u.s. pilot to fly into syria on assignment that would take him or her west of the euphrates which would then put him or her directly in harm's way according
to this message from the kremlin? >> it's frightening. it would be disconcerting, but this is what they train for. they train every day to fly into hostile environments where you're bombing a target with a nation that has a full integrated air defense system, that has capable aircraft of intercept, so it's not like this is new to them. they've trained for this. but it is noteworthy this is the first air to air engagement we've seen against a manned aircraft since 1999, so this is very rare. despite all the training a pilot can get, nothing is like the real thing. my guess is there are some nerves going into this, but again, the russians would be really stupid and the regime would be really stupid that somehow to think of engaging in the u.s. military after they just bombed ground force attacking isis, if they somehow think that would be smart, i would think they wouldn't think that because they would know better. >> as you know, the u.s. is leading the coalition in syria. we have nearly 100,000 troops
there. are you afraid we're heading to confrontation with russia and syria? >> i don't want that without us having prior planned it, definitely not with the russians. i do think that in order to eliminate extremism in syria, in order to take out isis, ultimately we're going to have to go after the regime, not necessarily militarily but forcing a negotiated solution which may take strikes to do that. but that has to be on our timetable, and as president trump, who i think has handled this very correctly. we've reacted against syrian regime forces a couple times in an exclusion zone in syria against ground forces. we've done this against this plane. and you're not seeing a lot of bravado out of the administration. it's kind of the silent stream saying, we've put down red lines. we're not crossing those red lines. but this is our area of operation and don't come into it and don't attack our forces. >> congressman, thank you for joining us. we have questions of whether or not there are tapes of president
trump firing james comey. that's coming up. stay with us. voice asking me, "is your daughter ok?" that's where i felt relief. it actually helped to know that somebody else cared and wanted make sure that i was okay. that was really great. we're the rivera family, and we will be with usaa for life. usaa. we know what it means to serve. call today to talk about your insurance needs.
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president trump promised and we are all still waiting. today sean spicer said it's possible we should have an answer by the end of this week as to whether tapes exist when president trump spoke to james comey who he planned to fire. the white house banned video and audio recordings of a briefing. the president's own attorney continues to contradict what the president tweeted, all but confirming he is under investigation for obstruction of justice. jeff zelany is live for us in the white house. how did you get a camera in that briefing? they weren't allowed a few hours ago. >> reporter: good question. i'm standing where sean spicer would normally deliver a
briefing. he is not doing it today because they are working on the russia threat. a storm is moving into the washington area, but the storm here at the white house is over russia and whether the president is the target of the investigation or not. president trump welcoming the president of panama to the white house today. but the fanfare fading away inside the oval office. >> mr. president, are you under investigation by the special counsel? >> reporter: a seemingly simple question with a yes or no answer has become the latest flash point in the expanding investigation over russia's role in the 2016 election. the president started it with a tweet last friday. "i am being investigated for firing the fbi director by the man who told me to fire the fbi director. witch hunt." appearing across the spectrum of sunday talk shows, jay sekulow, one of the president's private attorneys, told state of the union that was not true.
>> that was in response to a "washington post" piece. it's that simple. >> with all due respect, the president said, "i am being investigated" in a tweet and people take his word on that, but you're his attorney. you're saying that the president, when he said that, was not accurate? >> no. the president -- it was 141 characters is the limitation on twitter, as we all know. there should be no confusion the president is not under investigation. >> reporter: but confusion and contradictions linger over the president's firing of fbi director james comey. sekulow concedes the president was under investigation. >> he's being investigated by the department of justice, so he's being investigated for taking the action that the attorney general and the deputy attorney general recommended that he take by the agency who recommended the termination. >> reporter: on cnn's "new day," sekulow still doing clean-up
today, telling chris cuomo that he sdint think he's under investigation. >> do you think bob mueller is looking at the firing? do you think that's a condition of his probe? >> i have no idea if he's looking at that or not. >> reporter: they did not allow the briefing to be televised as they try to answer questions about the russia investigation. the administration is to turn over tapes by the end of the week, if they exist, of conversations with comey. jared kushner, who normally stays behind the scenes, made a rare public appearance today. >> this is technology at the white house, and we're happy to be kicking it off with your engagement. >> reporter: kushner is also headed to the middle east this week to try to engage in palestinian peace talks. speaking of jared kushner, he is also thinking of adding to his team as well. he is due to hear at some point on capitol hill about his official meetings with the
russian officials late last year after the election. but jake, specifically, sean spicer was asked today if the president has confidence in rod rosenstein. he's the deputy attorney general who appointed the special prosecutor. sean spicer said this: the president has confidence of everyone who serves him in this administration. asked again, he would not specifically say if he agrees the same about rod rosenstein. jake? >> we'll have much more on jared kushner later in the show. jeff zelany, thank you very much. does he believe the white house is letting the investigation run its course? that story next. stay with us. >> to suggest that i participated in any collusion is an apalling and detestable lie. speak now. (coughs) so sorry. oh no... it's just that your friend daryl here is supposed to be live streaming the wedding and he's not getting any service. i missed, like, the whole thing. what? and i just got an unlimited plan. it's the right plan, wrong network. you see, verizon has the largest,
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congressman, the deadline to turn over all comey memos and possible white house tapes to the house intelligence committee is this friday. if that request is not granted by the white house, how would suggest the white house intelligence committee proceed? >> i don't know what their options are, whether it's further subpoenas, holding somebody in contempt. i actually don't know what they can do. but i hope they get the information that they requested. as i've said, i put faith into the senate and the house intelligence committee in the investigation. now with robert mueller and his investigation, i think through these processes we're going to get to the bottom of what did or didn't happen. but i think all that information needs turned over. from the tapes' perspective, president trump never said there were tapes. he said comey better hope there's no tapes. i think we need an answer as to whether or not there's tapes. it's another example of how a tweet in the morning can drag something into a whole different area and can drag something out. so i just think the american people, right, left, in between,
everywhere else, just need answers to what happened, what's going on and that's all we're asking. >> speaking of tweets, president trump has been pretty critical not only of james comey but also in recent days of robert mueller, who is heading the investigation. he's the special counsel. also presumably taking aim at the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. what do you make of this all? >> so i don't like this. i don't like any attempts to discredit people, especially through twitter. i'm uncomfortable with that. i think it's wrong. i think robert mueller is a great american that served his country very well and is going to continue to serve his country in this unfortunate capacity. i think president trump needs to remember other presidents have seizure voourvived special coun. when you think about president clinton's situation, what he did well was instead of focusing on the investigation against him, he kept repeating that he has work to do for the american people and basically turned public opinion in that process. i think president trump would be well served right now to be
focusing on the agenda that we have as republicans in the house, which i think is very aggressively good for the economy to focus on his successes on foreign policy, and let the investigation work its way. and then we would have other things to talk about than this, but when you tweet about it every morning, this is the front of every newspaper and every 24-hour news cycle because it's just natural that it would be. >> what did you make of the president's attorney, jay sekulow, going on the sunday shows, including "state of the union" yesterday basically contradicting the president. the president had said he was under investigation and took a slam at rosenstein, and then sekulow came on and said he's not under investigation. i don't know what the american people are supposed to think. >> this is another concern i have. truth matters. and lately, you know, on both sides of the aisle, frankly, there's been this idea that truth only matters if it benefits your side, if it makes your side look good. i think when we talk about the shooting and the political tone,
some of this is the case. you only look at things that comport with your world view. i think in this case do we know if the president is under investigation or not? i haven't heard so i can't answer that. the president said he is, but when his folks come out and say the opposite, if i was giving advice to the white house right now it would be, get your message together. there may be competing interests in the white house, there are competing interests in every white house, but get your message together and present a unified front and make it benefit the american people. >> thank you, congressman. always good to see you. two terror investigations under way in two different cities after two separate attacks just hours apart. what are we learning about a car filled with explosive and see a v -- a van that plowed into a crowd? stick around. about people. people who rely on us every day to deliver their dreams
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a man driving a car full of explosives ran up on the champs-elysses today. he had been on the radar since 2015. he is now dead after being taken down by officers. the driver had weapons and enough explosives to detonate the car. this is the second time in just two months police were targeted on the iconic boulevard. in april a man shot at police officers also on the champs-elysses, killing one officer and wounding two others. turning now to a mosque outside london, british media have identified the terrorist as 37-year-old darren osborne. he ran into a group of worshippers marking the end of the holy month ramadan. it's not clear if his death is directly attributed to the incident. sean spicer said the president's thoughts and prayers are with
the victims in london, but president trump has yet to comment himself personally on twitter as he frequently does when the attacker is an islamic terrorist. let's get to fred pleitgen in london. fred, was osborne this white male who launched an attack on this innocent muslims, was he on anybody's radar screen? >> reporter: it doesn't appear that he was, jake, but the police really seem as though it's anti-muslim terrorism that took place here. they are not aware of this man having been on any sort of security ray dadar, and what the trying to find out is if he acted alone or if he had someone who helped him at least logistilogisti logistical logistically. here's how the attack unfolded. just after midnight, as worshippers of one of london's mosques filled the streets, a man went driving through the crowd. >> this is not something i
thought i would see in the 21st century. >> a man was driving very high speed. he just ran over the people. >> reporter: one man died, but it's unclear if this was as a result of the attack. when police arrived, the suspect, a 47-year-old man, had been detained by shocked members of the muslim community. in an extraordinary intervention, the local imam protected him until he was handed over to the authorities. >> he was shouting, you deserve it, stuff like this. mamud went quickly and dropped g the guy because he was trying to kick, but he saved us and waited
for police. >> this is treated as a terrorist attack, but caution the investigation is still in the early stages. >> it appears at this time this attacker attacked alone. that is not to say that we are not investigating the full circumstances of how he came to be where he was. >> reporter: prime minister theresa may described the act of violence as sickening. >> this was an attack on muslims near their place of worship. and like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same fundamental goal. it seeks to drive us apart and to break the precious bonds of solidarity and citizenship that we share in this country. we will not let this happen. >> reporter: london's mayor also condemning the incident. >> this attack behind me in seven sisters, the attack in manchester, the attack on london bridge, the attack on westminster bridge. an attack on our shared values, our shared values of tolerance, of freedom and respect, and we won't allow these terrorists to
succeed. >> for the third time in three months, authorities here are investigating the deadly consequences of a vehicle being driven into people. but local leaders here say that while extremists try to divide this community, they will stand united. so jake, as you can see, it's really been a tough couple of weeks here in the united kingdom, especially in london. if you look at the muslim community here in finsbury park and other parks of the united kingdom as well, islamaphobia, they say, has really been on the rise. i should say there is really an outpouring of support in the community. london here as a sizeable muslim community. it also has a sizeable jewish community. and the jewish community has really stepped up today. you can see a lot of folks from the community coming in, laying flowers and pledging their support publicly to their muslim neighbors, and i think that was something very, very important for a lot of the muslims here but generally for the public to see as well, jake. >> fred pleitgen in london,
thank you very much. it's the most expensive u.s. house race ever. will it help democrats pull off an upset in a republican stronghold? what does it mean for 2017? then, his nickname is the secretary of everything, but is jared kushner's role a conflict of interest in the white house. we follow the money. stay with us. eople have vertical blinds. well, if a lot of people jumped off a bridge, would you? you hungry? i'm okay right -- i'm... i'm becoming my, uh, mother. it's been hard, but some of the stuff he says is actually pretty helpful. pumpkin, bundling our home and auto insurance is a good deal! like buying in bulk! that's fun, right? progressive can't protect you from becoming your parents, but we can protect your home and auto.
we're back with more on our politics lead. election day is tomorrow in georgia. a tight race to fill. the suburban atlanta seat which has been reliably red for many years is now the most expensive house race in american history, and widely perceived as a referendum on president trump who tweeted this morning and just moments ago his support of the republican candidate, karen handel in georgia 6. he can't even vote in the
district. the president, we should point out, did not campaign physically for handel over the weekend, prompting some to wonder if that says something about the president's popularity in this district. cnn's caylee hartung is in georgia, and early voting ended on friday. is either candidate feeling comfortable? >> reporter: jake, comfortable isn't a word i would use to describe how either camp is feeling. in a race where it could be decided by a couple thousand voters tomorrow in these northern suburbs of atlanta. that early voting that you talk about north about, north of 140,000 votes have already been cast here. that's nearly double the early voting they saw back in april, and that includes 36,000 voters who didn't even vote in that race. now, we know historically it's democrats known to vote early, republicans who show up at the polls. all the more reason for the anticipation to be high for the results we'll see in a district that's been held by a republican
for more than 40 years. >> now the unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting republicans. when will it stop? it won't if john ossoff wins on tuesday. >> reporter: ugly attack ads coming up in this race just in the recent days and both candidates have denounced the ad you just saw that links the left to the shooting in washington last week during that republican baseball game. it's not just the attacks on the airwaves that we're seeing. jon ossoff is now traveling with a security detail. karen handel has neighbors receiving letters in the mail with a threatening note and white powder that turned out to just be baking soda. jake, karen told me she couldn't sleep wednesday night with the image of hazmat suits in her home. we have breaking news. the family of otto warmbirkser,e
22-year-old who had been held in north korea, has died. cnn's miguel marcos joins us now with more. miguel? >> the family announcing he has passed on at 2:20 this afternoon. they said otto warmbier had died. they don't go into details about how this happened. obviously he had been, according to the north koreans, in a coma or some type of coma state for the last year and a half. the family, though, clearly was distressed when they saw him on the plane, the father saying he had dropped to his knees, spoke to him. he was not conscious, though. the doctors at university of cincinnati medical center saying that he had suffered extensive brain damage. it's appeared to be in april of 2016 that the brain damage occurred. he clearly had had a feeding
tube when he was taken off the plane and had to have some sort of life support in order to survive. the family announcing today that after some beautiful days with him, they had to let him go. there's one piece of this statement that i'd like to read to you about what they've said. he returned on late june 13. he was unable to speak, unable to see, unable to react to verbal commands. he looked very uncomfortable, almost anguished. though we would never hear his voice again, the countenance of his face changed, he was at peace, he was home, and we believe he sensed that. >> lots to talk about with the panel. i'm joined by david urban and jen saki. jennifer, you used to be a spokesperson for the state department under the obama years. how does the u.s. respond to
this? a young student is taken prisoner in north korea and returned in a coma and he dies. >> it's absolutely horrific, and i think watching this and just thinking of the family, this is really going to bring it home for the american people. what happens with places like north korea is it feels like far away. they've been terrible human rights abusers for many, many years. they are perhaps the biggest threat that is facing the world, the united states. this may make people tune in to what's happening, what's the united states doing and what's the government doing. in terms of what steps the government takes, obviously there will be significant reprimand reprimands, we'll go back to china, i'm certain, and redouble our efforts. there are lots of concerns in the staffing in the government right now that make it impossible to put the necessary pressure on north korea that is needed because of the lack of assistant secretaries and people in the state department. maybe there will be a redoubling of efforts to get that done by congress. but this is horrific. i think it's going to be all over news channels and people
will think of their sons and their families when they see news of this today. >> david, the family of warmbier last week was very strong in terms of praising trump and the trump administration in getting their son out of the country only, of course, to have this tragedy unfold. >> the administration worked very hard to have him released. obviously everyone's prayers are with the family. it's a horrific thing, as jen said, to have your son return in such a manner and then to pass in such a way. at the end of the day, jen's point is well taken in that the focus now will go back strongly on north korea, an existential threat to the united states, to the world, the leader there, and president trump, this administration is going to have to do something about it. it's going to have to deal with china and the chinese are going to have to step up and take a stronger role. it is a huge, huge crisis that faces america and this brings it home. >> let's turn to the georgia race. obviously a huge race in that congressional race tomorrow. unprecedented early voting is
being reported in the district. jen, who might that help? >> typically it helps the democrat. there is a lot of energy in this race. jon ossoff is a young guy. i think he's raised more money than anybody thought possible, and all of a sudden, this race got on the radar. it helps you can bank those votes, and what it means is on election day, you only have to focus in turning out your voters who haven't already voted. typically that helps democrats. we'll see in this race. >> david? >> special elections, i think, you really can't look at because dr. price had been in that seat for so long, you don't really get credible opponents in those kind of races. specials are one-off. i will say this special has gotten a lot of attention, obviously. a lot of money. you pointed out the most expensive race because both sides are throwing a lot at it. win, lose or draw, i don't put a lot of anything in this. it's a one-off. people across the united states in their special elections, they don't really foretell a whole
lot what's going on with this president or any president in congress. it real it's really about the district at that point in time. >> i don't think it determines the democrats win back the house next year, but there are more democrat leaning in this district than in the country. what it will do, if jon ossoff wins, it will energize the party, more people will get into races, money will flow in. that's something the democratic party needs right now. does it determine the outcome in 2018? no. but it can have a huge energi energizing, empowering effect. >> as you both know, incumbent presidents rarely win seats in their midterms. only two instances, after 9/11 and the depression has a president in power kept a seat. most of the time we'll lose seats. the democrats need this victory very, very badly to kind of hold the line and to raise money, as
jen said, to get better people out there, because i think this is going to be the third time. not two times. >> i don't think we need it, but there are more people who want to run for office than ever in recent memory. that is such a positive sign. this will only add to that. >> ji appreciate you both being here. does jared kushner pose a bigger issue? stick around. days and nights of laxatives, only to have my symptoms return. (vo) if you've had enough, tell your doctor what you've tried and how long you've been at it. linzess works differently from laxatives. linzess treats adults with ibs with constipation or chronic constipation. it can help relieve your belly pain, and lets you have more frequent and complete bowel movements that are easier to pass. do not give linzess to children less than six,
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rigsby, singho alexander, ngac troung, xavier alec martin and gary leo rehm, jr. the president tweeted, quote, my heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the 7 sailors of the uss fitzgerald and their families. anything comes with risk, but one wonders if their deaths could have been prevented. >> the investigation just started so we don't know if this crash could have been avoided. it happened in an extremely busy stretch of water during a routine run for the uss fitzgerald, yet a quiet night turned chaotic found hundreds of sailors fighting to keep their ship from sinking. the massive merchant ship made a sharp turn around the time of the fatal collision with the
american war ship, according to a maritime tracking system. it's not clear what, if anything, that had to do with the accident. we do know the crash was catastrophic. >> the damage was significant. this was not a small collision. >> reporter: the freighter, the acx crystal registered in the philippines, is almost 50% longer than the war ship and three times as heavy. it was not badly damaged. but the crystal has a large protruding section just below the water, and the impact immediately breached the destroyer's radio room, a machinery space, and most importantly, two spaces where crewmen were sleeping in the early morning hours. >> the water flow was tremendous, and so there wasn't a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea. and as you can see now, the ship is still listing, and so they had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface, so it was
traumatic. >> reporter: the ship was saved but seven crew members could not be. the dreadful news coming back to the states on father's day weekend. xavier martin maryland was 24 years old. >> it's very hard. he's my only child. he's all i have. >> reporter: dakota kyle rigsby was 19, a fireman back in virginia. >> he was a good guy. just a straight up good guy. >> reporter: also injured, the commander, brice benson. >> matter of fact, his cabin was destroyed. he's lucky to be alive and he's at the hospital right now. he's undergoing treatment. >> reporter: both ships had radar systems to warn against collisions, the fitzgerald's extremely advanced. the navy says watch teams are on duty the entire night, so the primary question for american, japanese and philipine vef investigators, how did it
happen? there are a lot of questions within that including it appears now this merchant ship took an hour before it reported the collision, even though the military ships' communications had been disabled by the crash. people need to find out if that's an anomaly, if that's exactly bhapwhat happened, and so, why? >> so many questions to be asked. now it's time for our conflict of interest to watch series. the president's son-in-law jared kushner and the president are being investigated by robert mueller. however, sources have said there is no evidence that kushner is being investigated or that he did any wrongdoing. kushner's attorney says this is standard practice in a case like this for investigators to check into kushner's finances for any sign of russian connections. but what f anythi, if anything, to find?
>> his official name at the white house is secretary of everything, but another nickname for jared kushner could just be the landlord of everyone. his family's real estate empire includes 20,000 apartments, 13 million square feet of other real estate across six states. the kushner company has a stake in everything, from luxury penthouses in manhattan to modest apartments in ohio and new jersey. jared kushner even disclosed a small financial stake in this mobile home park in union, new jersey. no kidding. it's right here on page 32 of his 54-page financial disclosure form. the park lane mobile home park. you would like to walk arn tulk the park with him. >> yes, and show him all the stuff that needs taken care of. >> reporter: the president's son-in-law resigned or divested himself from a building at 666
pennsylvania avenue. as a whole, jared kushner remains invested in nearly 90% of his pre-white house real estate holdings. 124 properties, most now held in trust. >> is he still involved in these projects? >> i think he's got too much on his plate at the moment. you can't try to solve middle east peace and be the liaison with the pentagon and also look at properties. but he has a financial stake in these properties. he's not divested from everything. >> the kushners continue to make big deals, just without jared. in may kushner's sister was widely criticized for mentioning her brother's role in the white house while pitching chinese business owners to invest in the company's billion-dollar investment in new jersey. that role in the white house also raised concerns when the kushners were trying to track a chinese bank to redevelop a chinese flop. that building at 666 penn avenue is a billion dollars in debt. that deal fell through, the family still needs to refinance,
but jared is no longer involved. he sold his stake when he went to the white house. so what does this all have to do with russia? after all, none of jared kushner's 54 pages of financial disclosures disclose anything about russia. cnn has been told by sources that the special counsel is focusing in on an odd meeting jared kushner had here in december at trump tower with the head of russia's state bank. it wasn't just any russian state banker. it was a putin friend who attended russian spy school, a mega rich banker named sergey gorkov. gorkov heads one of the russian banks facing stiff sanctions from the united states, and adds an intrigue that gorkov isn't talking. the russian bank and the white house have two very different versions of what that meeting was about. the russian bank said they talked business. the white house says they talked future u.s.-russia relations.
and both versions have fueled speculation. if the bank's version about a business meeting is true, congressional democrats want to know whether kushner might have brought up his family's troubled 666 building and the need for a new loan, which could cross ethical lines between his company and his role as adviser to the president. if kushner's version about it being a diplomatic meeting is true, it raises questions about whether the bank brought up u.s. sanctions and appealed to kushner to drop them. but so far all of that is speculation. kushner's attorney said jared volunteered to share with congress what he knows about these meetings, and a white house official tells cnn jared trace the ethics rules very seriously and would never compromise himself or the administration. he is fully complying with the federal ethics rules and will recuse as necessary. drew griffin, cnn, new york. >> our conflict of interest watch for the day. our thanks to drew griffin for
that report. be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter @jaketapper. that's it for "the lead." i turn you over to wolf blitzer who is in the situation room. have a great day. happening now, breaking news. end of the week, the white house now says it is possible president trump will have appearance by the end of the week on whether there are oval office recordings more than a month since he hinted there may be tapes with his talks with fired fbi director james comey. new flynn questions. top democrats want more documents on former national security adviser michael flynn, saying he failed to disclose a 2015 middle east trip that was followed by a saudi russian nuclear deal and failed to give details on another trip. senate blockade. furious democrats are vowing to block all senate business in response to republican secrecy in drafting obamacare