tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN July 10, 2017 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
in "the situation room." happening now. breaking news. clear evidence that the public now has clear evidence of senior level trump campaign officials trying to collect damaging information from russians. that comes as donald trump jr. changes his story about a 2016 campaign meeting, now admitting he met with a russian lawyer hoping for information on hillary clinton. impenetrable or not? president trump changes his story about working with russia to form an impenetrabl erke cyb security unit. he dropped the subject as soon as he brought it up.
false accusations of classified information. world leaders let kim jong-un's long-range missile test pass without any apparent consequences. are they giving north korea a green light? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the situation room. breaking news. the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee, senator mark warner, said the president has clear evidence that the trump campaign saw damaging information about hillary clinton from a possible foreign agent. that comes as donald trump jr. changed his story about a meeting during the campaign, admitting he met a russian lawyer hoping to collect information on hillary clinton. also attending were then-campaign manager paul manafort and the president's son-in-law, jared kushner. a source says the senate
intelligence committee will begin interviewing trump campaign officials this week. warner says he would absolutely like to talk to donald trump jr., who has tweeted that he would be, quote, happy to work with the committee to pass on what i know, closed quote. the president's plan to cooperate with russia's president putin on cyber security has ended before it could begin. the president's top aides touted it and the president promoted it in a tweet of defense against election hacking, but key republicans blasted the idea. senator marco rubio said working with putin on a cyber security unit is like partnering with bashir's president on chemicals weapons union. senator lindsey graham called it pretty close to the dumbest idea he had ever heard. soon after in yet another tweet, the president quickly dropped the idea. i'll talk about that and more
with senator chris coons of the judiciary and foreign committees. and secretary leon panetta. they're standing by with full coverage of today's top stories. the trump administration once more forced to try to explain a potentially very damaging revelation from the country's inner circle. let's begin at the white house with national correspondent jason. >> critics say this points to a troubling pattern. remember, then later forgetting, then remembering. when it all comes down to it, there is still, they say, no evidence of collusion here tonight the white house is on the defensive regarding russian meddling after a bombshell reported that donald trump jr. met with a russian lawyer in 2016 claiming to have damning
information on hillary clinton. >> i can certainly say don jr. did not collude with anybody to mess with the election. >> reporter: someone closely associated with the president has acknowledged a willingness to have talks with the russian in relation to the campaign. from junior's story about the meeting has shifted over time. he initially said he had not met with russian officials during the campaign. then he changed his story after the "new york times" published a report saturday, detailing the meeting trump jr. had with the russian attorney, naalthough. >> that's all nitskaya said, saying she was meeting with parents about adopting russian
children. the russian lawyer had promised to deliver damning information on hillary clinton. donald trump jr. now acknowledges that was the pre text for the meeting, but insists her statements were vague, am bbiguous. kushner, who did not initially disclose this meeting, or ones with the other two russians on his security clearance form, has now acknowledged them. >> don jr. has very specifically stated, he didn't even know the name of the person who was meeting. with long shots as in no. the meeting ift had no
follow-up. this was standard operating procedure for the campaign. let's focus on what did not happen in that meeting. no information provided that was meaningful, no action taken, nothing. >> reporter: the meeting was set up and trump met with putthem i moscow. this was taken with the newly crowded miss universe and trump after the pageant in 2013. while the meeting last year may not have proved fruitful for the trump campaign, it's certainly raising fresh questions whether trump's associates actively tried to work with russians to hurt clinton's campaign. >> and then they have a meeting
with someone who is almost an attorney for the burglars. we don't have proof of collusion, but we do have more smoke and more reason for investigation. >> reporter: all of this as the administration is facing questions over another meeting, the white house seemingly reversing course with russia after the president. >> i am sure that vladimir putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort since he's doing the hacking. >> when it comes to russia, i am dumbfounded, i am disappointed, and at the end of the day, he is hurting his presidency by not ang knowled acknowledging the fact that putin is a bad guy and he's doing it all over the world. it's not the dumbest i heard, but close. >> as for trump jr., he has hired a lawyer-based lawyer.
he has not received any requests from any type of government committee or agency goes forward. . he said he would be perfectly wlg to sit down with any questi question. update our viewers. >> reporter: the senate intelligence committee now does want to look into this meeting that donald trump jr. did set up last campaign. . he absolutely wants to talk to donald trump jr. what he says is the first time the public haven't had information. trump officials were trying to get dirt from russian officials on hillary clinton. moments ago i had a chance to talk to mark werner who said
this. >> this is the first time the president sees levels of the trump campaign meeting with russians to try to obtain. it's also a continuing pattern that we've seen of trump campaign and trump administration officials who ha have. they need to acknowledge those kind of meetings. >> we want to speak to doc jr. >> absolutely. >> wolf, this comes as the senate intelligence committee is also trying to move forward to interview trump campaign officials this week. this is the first time this committee has moved into this new phase of the investigation. i'm told by a source familiar with the plans that they have
interviewed roughly 50 people so far but not trump campaign officials. we will give out the names of those interviewed this week. they're expecting jared kushner, paul mana port, donald trump jr. to come forward. he didn't say when they would come forward or if they would come forward in the august recess. they have talked to the russian officials about this campaign dirt, but he's not saying if he saw that privately. >> it looks like a meeting between the senate intelligence committee and those republicans. based on what you know about
donald trump jr., would you go so far as to call this collusion? >> that's a legal conclusion and i'll leave that to bob mueller and the senate intelligence committee to conclude. i'll tell you this, it is definitely part of a disturbing pattern where the trump administration, and i'll remind you this includes attorney general jeff sessions, former national security adviser mike flynn, and now the president's own son, son-in-law and campaign manager all conveniently forgot meetings with senior russian officials, or in this case, a representative claiming that could mean a lot to seek information about the trump campaign. in all of these cases, they were asked, they initially denied that such a meeting happened or failed to disclose it. then what res dense and they changed their course and said, that's exactly why this is being
conducted by bob mueller and why i'm encouraged that the senate committee pursue this investigation in a bipartisan manner. >> what do you think of the changes bob mueller made about the statements he put out friday, saturday and then on sunday, going into considerably greater detail? >> that's pretty striking. my understanding is the "new york times" initial report led to a statement by donald trump jr. when confronted with evidence showing that his first statement was not truthful or complete, he then changed that statement to say, yes, the reason for the meeting with the russian attorney was to discuss possibly negative information about hillary clinton. they showed kellyanne conway, what happened. campaigns do engage in opposition research. but this was a meeting
potentially of a hostile foreign power. that's a have i. >> why are we just now finding out about this meeting? >> great question. my hunch is because there's good journalists on the beat that are digging into details, and there are sources coming forward that are providing more information now that they know there's ongoing investigations both by senate committees and by bob mueller. >> jared kushner did not close th this. does that pose any conflicts for you as him working in the west wing advising the president? >> it's just another in a series of troubling incidents that suggest senior member of the trump administration about their disclosures oral.
the attorney general of the united states recused himself. this is why the former adviser was fired from this administration, and this is just the latest in a series of things that point in the same direction. >> what issues does it potentially raise that this meeting took place at all? >> well, wolf, the fact that this meeting took place in trump tower, including trump's. white house official and his son, and they were seeking information allegedly compromising information. those senior positions in the aump. senator warner said meetings of this sort may have happened not
just once in trump tower but other times in other places. >> you're just speculating on that, right? >> i am just speculated. >> mr. trump on sunday tweeted this. quote, i strongly pressed mr. i've already heard a statement that he accepts putin's denial of russian meddling. >> the trump camp has a longstanding reputation of not standing up to president putin, his intrusion into our 2016 campaign, his violation of human rights, his violation of the committee. he said he did everything he could to challenge vladimir putin. it would have been far more forceful had the bill that was passed here in the senate 98-2 that poses new sanctions on
russia to punish them for interference in on you, and prend to vladimir putin as the first real consequence with this tru trump. they merely had an exchange of words where each agreed the other was wrong. >> it took mr. trump approximately 13 hours or so to backtrack on the idea of a joint session cyber security unit. why do you think that proposal was appropriate to begin with. >> i have no idea why people would suggest a joint alternative with putin, the leader of our country, who is our most capable aggressor and adversary. this was a terrible idea. >> you certainly did.
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you know i can't remember that. stop this madness. if it's appreciation you want you should both get snapshot from progressive. it rewards good drivers with big discounts on car insurance. i have also awoken from my coma. ♪ it's called a nap, susan lucci. ♪ breaking news, the vice chairman of the senate intelligence community, senator mark warner, has just said the american public has clear evidence, his words, that senior members of the trump campaign saw damaging information about hillary clinton from a possible foreign agent. that comes as donald trump jr. has changed his story that he
said during the campaign, saying he hoped to collect information on hillary clinton from a former lawyer. leon panetta, thank you for joining us. >> nice to be with you, wolf. >> do you believe that any part of this meeting was potentially what they call a collusion? >> obviously that is a legal issue that i'm sure the special prosecutor will look at in the course of his investigation. but i think the reality is that this meeting took place, and the fact that the meeting took place and it took place in june in trump tower with people who were high up in the trump campaign, including his son-in-law and his son, what it does is it raises the mere fact that a meeting
took place in which there was a willingness to listen to possible evidence from a foreign agent that could relate to the campaign? i think the mere fact that that meeting took place, regardless of just exactly how much was presented or how valid the information was, the fact that that meeting took place raises serious implications about the possibility that this campaign did, in fact, try to work with the russians with regards to trying to undercut hillary clinton's campaign. >> but as far as meetings, this is one meeting. do you have any other evidence that there were other similar meetings where they were meeting with russian agents to try to get dirt or negative information about hillary clinton? >> wolf, what you have here is a pattern that has taken place, beginning with this meeting way
back in june. but since then, there were a number of other meetings between the campaign and various russians. all of that obviously is going to be looked at by the special prosecutor. all of it will be looked at to determine whether, in fact, there was deliberate collusion here. but i think what we're seeing is obviously two things. one, there's a dangerous pattern that developed during that campaign. two, there's been a withholding of information from the american people about the fact these meetings did take place. and thirdly, there has been a clear implication that we were willing to work with possibly foreign agents here, which is a violation of federal election law, to get information that could be used in a political campaign in this country. all of those issues have to be
looked at by the special prosecutor and by the committees on capitol hill. but there is no question that there is, i think, a growing indication that something serious took place here. >> you said there is a dangerous pattern that has emerged from this new information. i want you to listen to what another former cia director john brennan said in may. listen to this. >> i've studied russian activities over the years and have seen it manifested in many different intelligence cases and how they've been able to get people, including inside the cia, to become treasonous and frequently victims who go on the treasonous path do not even realize they're on that path until it gets to be too late. >> do you agree with the former director's assessment? >> absolutely. this is a foreign adversary.
we have to stop kidding ourselves. russia is an adversary. and for a large number of years, as far as i can remember, including the time i spent in the cia and the defense department, the reality is that the russians were engaged in activities to try to undermine the stability of the united states, including placing agents in our country, including cyber efforts, including efforts to basically undermine whatever policies we were trying to implement. they have been deliberately engaged in an effort to destabilize this country. and for that reason, ichk it is incredibly important that we understand that we have to find out, what did the russians do here and how do we stop it from happening in the future? >> so am i hearing you correctly, you believe there potentially could have been -- and he used the word, brennan, a
treasonous path here? >> what we have here is an effort by a foreign adversary to conduct operations against the united states of america. and it's something that we witnessed time and time and time again. unfortunately, we never saw what the russians would do in terms of directly interfering with our election process. what has happened here is that they've taken it to a whole new step of trying to undermine the democratic institutions of the united states of america. this is dangerous. it's dangerous, we have to recognize it for what it is, and we've got to take action to make sure it doesn't happen again. >> would this russian lawyer have been under some sort of american surveillance?
>> it would strike me -- i would certainly not be surprised by the fact that we would keep track of those in this country that represent russia or that have russian connections, that we would keep track of their activities because, as director brennan pointed out and as i've pointed out, the russians are continually engaged in efforts to undermine our country. >> would any intelligence agencies, u.s. intelligence agencies, mr. secretary, have information that could verify what was actually said during the course of that meeting? >> i don't think there is any question that bob mueller and perhaps the committees, the intelligence committees that are conducting their investigation, will determine whether or not that information is available. the fact is that we have a very
good process in this country, or we certainly have had in terms of our intelligence agencies and in terms of our law enforcement agencies, to be able to track those individuals that could create problems related to our security in this country. >> stuart stevens is a consultant who worked on the bush campaign. he tweeted, when gore campaign sent bush a debrief book, they called fbi. if foreign interests offer you info on former sos, you call the fbi. do you agree that donald trump jr. or jared kushner should have notified the fbi about this meeting? >> yovi don't think there is my question they should have notified the fbi. when you're in a political campaign and then you're told
that somebody who is a russian agent wants to provide you information regarding that campaign, the bells should have gone off. there is no question that somebody should have said, wait a minute, wait a minute. we shouldn't do this kind of meeting because of the implications involved. nobody seemed to do that. nobody raised those questions. and that's why the mere fact that this meeting took place creates evidence that there was a willingness to listen to that kind of information coming from a foreign agent. >> sunday morning president trump tweeted this. i'll put it up on the screen. "putin and i discussed forming an impenetrable cyber security unit so that a number of things would be guided." later he revised that saying, quote, the fact that president putin and i discussed a cyber security unit doesn't mean i think it can happen. it can't, but a ceasefire can
and did. what is your reaction to trump's initial proposal to work with russia on cyber security and that very quick reversal? >> wolf, i'm absolutely astounded that the president would indicate that somehow we are going to establish some kind of cyber security partnership with the russians. that just is an astounding assertion. and somebody in the white house, whether it was a nartional security adviser, whether it's the head of his intelligence agencies, somebody needed to stand up and say, mr. president, this cannot be done. this cannot be done. the russians are engaged in cyber activities trying to penetrate the united states of america. we've seen evidence of that. we certainly saw it during the
election. and for the united states and russia to suddenly sit down and exchange that kind of information is virtually opening up our security protection in this country, opening that up to the russians. that would mean we are giving an adversary, a formidable enemy adversary access to our most secret information. that's crazy. >> this morning the president tweeted this. i'll put it up on the screen as well. james comey, the former fbi director, leaked classified information to the media. that is so illegal. we know that isn't true, that comey gave a memo of a conversation he had with the president to a friend of his, a law professor in new york, who then gave it to the "new york times," but comey testified under law that the memo, and
classified nflgs in other memoranda he had, but he never provided that directly to the news media through that friend. w why. they accused him of a crime of felony by leaking classified information. >> well, you know, i think what we're seeing an awful lot of, wolf, in the course of these investigations is it's an effort every time something breaks that is damaging to the white house. there is an immediate effort to try to divert attention and try to create some other news, particularly with the president using his tweeting capability. and i think that's what's involved here. the reality is the director or the fbi has a pretty good chance
material is classified. ultimately this, too, will be determined by the special prosecutor and the committees that are investigating this matter. >> indeed they will. leon panetta, as usual, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. nice to be with you, wolf. >> thank you. coming up, u.s. bombers take part in a show of force off north korea. will it slow down kim jong-un aiming at the u.s. with nuclear weapons? whoooo. finding the best hotel price is now a safe bet. because tripadvisor searches over 200 booking sites - so you save up to 30% on the hotel you want. lock it in. tripadvisor.
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investigation. chairman mark warner said the committee absolutely wants to question president trump's son, donald trump jr. donald trump jr.'s meetings with a russian lawyer with what he's calling clear evidence of senior level officials of the trump campaign meeting with russians to obtain damaging information about hillary clinton and the democrats. let's bring in our specialists and mark preston. what new questions does this meeting raise about what we call possible collusion? >> i mean, it's like literally a box that's this big, maybe this big, perhaps this big of questions that still need to be answered because of this new revelation. the first and foremost for me, anyway, is we were told that paul manafort and jared kushner did not know who they were meeting with. i find that very hard to believe, especially at that point in the campaign given what was going on at the time. the convention was a couple weeks away. paul manafort oversaw the
convention. as we all remember, i don't want to say it was in shambles but it was a work in progress. i can't imagine he would take a meeting without knowing it. secondly, why do we keep on seeing, not only from donald trump jr. with his story here, but also other former aides, general flynn and jeff sessions as well, the attorney general. why do they keep changing their stories? it's like an evolution of what they say on monday. by tuesday and wednesday it changes. >> there was a change in the statement from donald trump jr. from saturday to sunday. saturday he said this meeting was strictly about an adoption issue allowing russian kids to be adopted by americans, which would have been for the russians put on hald because of sanctions on human rights issues. sunday a new statement came out from donald trump jr. that they had this meeting with this person because this person might have information helpful to the campaign. there was a very quick change in the narrative based on one "new
york times" story on sunday. >> it's different from what he said a few months ago where he didn't know, he didn't remember if he had any meetings f. donald trump jr. was asked a different set of questions so we gave them more information. this is a pattern, as mark said. from the trump officials coming out and saying, oh, right, this meeting of various russians. nobody's memobeing forthright. it's this drip, drip, drip from people that have more answers than we have about these meetings. >> the white house press secretary saying the president only in the last few days learned about this meeting, a meeting involving his oldest son, his son-in-law and his campaign manager. >> anything is possible, and i
think we have to give sarah huckabee sanders the benefit of the doubt. if she says he didn't know about it, who are we to say until we learn otherwise. i would hesitate, though, and say this. i would be shocked given how close donald trump is with his kitds that this mentioned some point. >> he also had his campaign manager there at a time when they were talking all the time. it's hard to see how a principal wouldn't know about this, even as sort of a flippant in passing, but again, we don't have that information yet. >> you know, phil, on the same day that that meeting took place at trump tower in new york city in june of last year, then-candidate donald trump wrote in a tweet, directed at hillary clinton, he said, quote, where are your 33,000 e-mails that you deleted? how significant is that to the timing of all of this.
>> i think when you're looking at this, to go back to the time period and look at the time lg, i will. when we already had concerns about what russia was doing in the election and fake news on the internet that someone walks in and says -- in this case his son and says, hey, mr. manafort, i don't know this lady's name but someone told me to meet her. in the myth of you defining the campaign, i want you to. you have to folk on us what's going on with this other investigation, the hillary clinton e-mails. i think there might be something to the timing and that's clearly what the fbi will be looking at. >>. >> can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised
your campaign had contacts with russia during the course of the election? >> i told them dealing but he -- >> nobody that you know of? >> nobody that i know of. russia is a ruse. >> no one in the campaign or during the transition, he said during the campaign nobody that i know of was talking to the russians. >> a lot of people he knew actually were. that is the problem here, because this keeps getting closer and closer. paul manafort is close. jeff sessions was close. jared kushner, even closer. donald trump jr., probably the closest at this point. proof that he knew? he said he did not. but certainly there is a lot of smoke here. >> phil, do you think this
lawyer, this woman, natalia vessel netskaya would have had some kind of surveillance? >> i doubt it, unless she had some information the government might want. who scheduled those meetings? . whether they made a reference to her in an e-mail beforehand that suggested they did actually know who this was. there were a thousand ways they might have tripped up after this meeting to suggest today they actually did know what she was in there to talk about and the meeting is more significant than they're saying. you don't necessarily have to have surveillance on her to figure that out. already, stand by. there is a lot more coming up on this. our top story, president trump's
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bombers on the dividing line between north and south korea. but there's been no show of force by world leaders. brian todd has been looking into that for us. brian, what's the message to kim jong-un? >> reporter: the message is he can keep behaving dangerously. we are told the trump team tried by failed to get the g20 leaders to put more pressure on kim jong-un following his long range missile test. the threat from the north korean leader remains strong despite the recent show of force over the peninsula by its allies. american b-1 lancer bombers combining mock speed with a heavy pay load fly alongside south korean and u.s. fighter jets. a show of force to counter north korea's successful test firing of an inter-continental ballistic missile. it appears tonight kim jong-un is undaunted with nothing standing in the way of his nuclear and missile buildup. at the g20 summit just days
after that missile launch, this was about the strongest statement any leader uttered about north korea. >> the problem that's something has to be done about. >> reporter: at this gathering of the world's most powerful leader no statement from the larger group condemning north korea's missile launch and administration official said an attempt at that statement failed. there were no announced punishments or plan of action, an opportunity missed to pressure the young dictator. >> it would have been good to see a united international community taking a strong stand in what north korea is doing and we didn't hear that. that sends a message perhaps to north korea that the international community is not as united as it should be in dealing with this problem. >> reporter: at the summit president trump thanks thanked chinese president xi jinping for working with him to address north korea. but analysts say to expect china to really pressure kim to dial back his missiles is a pipe dream. >> there is no way in god's green earth the chinese are going to do anything on north korea at the g20.
and the reason are very clear. the chinese are basically scared of the north koreans. if that country were to ever collapse, if they were ever to push too hard, the chinese would be the ones holding the bag. they'd have millions of refugees that would be streaming across their border. >> reporter: and america's last line of defense may not be causing kim much concern. critics say the thaad missile defense battery being tested and the long-range missile intercepters tested in recent weeks are improving but not enough. >> despite an investment of over $40 billion in this system, it has at best a limited capability to defend against a very small number of unsophisticated icbm missiles. >> reporter: imperfect american missile defenses, no tangible action from the world's top leaders, sending a dangerous signal to a dangerous man. if you're kim jong-un coming out of g20, what are you thinking? >> i'm going to keep testing missiles. maybe it's time if i have a
hydrogen bomb, it's time to test that. >> reporter: the white house is pushing back on the idea they did nothing to pressure north korea at the g20 summit. an administration official told me trump tried to get language in the final communique, urging the threat and calling action. china and russia refused to sign onto that communique, wolf. >> interesting. brian, u.s. officials are still scrambling right now to learn more about the last north korean missile launch that occurred, what, july 4th? >> reporter: that's right, two u.s. officials telling our barbara starr there is an intense analysis of that missile test going on right now. u.s. intelligence is trying to assess to what extent any parts of that missile reentered the atmosphere intact. it is not clear whether the north koreans can have the front stage . missile that would carry that war head successfully reenter the atmosphere without burning up and steer to a particular target. their getting there, though. they could be close. >> all right, very worrisome
information from brian todd. thanks very much. coming up, the breaking news we're following, the senate intelligence committee vice chairman now says the american public has clear evidence that senior trump campaign officials tried to collect damaging information from russians. that comes as donald trump, jr. now admits he met with a russian lawyer, hoping for information on hillary clinton. as easy as saving $600e when you switch to progressive. winds stirring. too treacherous for a selfie. [ camera shutter clicks ] sure, i've taken discounts to new heights with safe driver and paperless billing. but the prize at the top is worth every last breath. here we go. [ grunts ] got 'em. ahh. wait a minute. whole wheat waffles? [ crying ] why!
trump, jr. admits he met with a russian lawyer expecting to get damaging information on hillary clinton. tonight, new questions about collusion, and what the president may have known. weakening sanctions, did the trump administration secretly try to water down legislation that would slap new sanctions on russia and the putin regime? we're going to tell you what we're learning this hour. widening split, as more senate republicans refuse to support the republican health care bill, the president is daring lawmakers to skip their august recess while staying largely absent from the nitty-gritty up on capitol hill. is there any real hope for progress in the days ahead? and taking back mosul as iraq declares a crucial victory against isis, cnn goes inside the climatic battle with exclusive video of a war-torn city emerging from the terrorist's brutal grip. we want to we will p come our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'