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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  July 11, 2017 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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opponent, you want to meet? that's when you say, um, let me call you back and you hang up and you call the fbi. if you don't know that much, then maybe we shouldn't be letting them run the country. >> i want to thank everybody on the panel. we're out of time. thanks for watching. time to hand things over to don lemon and "cnn tonight." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. so, everyone, you have to admit the irony of it all. here we are talking about e-mails, not hers, but his, donald trump, not senior, but junior, e-mails showing that people close to this president were ready and willing to work with the russians to hurt hillary clinton and help donald trump. how can i say that? because here are the e-mails. they say as much. it's titled "russia clinton private and confidential." not convinced? well, the e-mail from a man with connections to a powerful russian family close to putin, a
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former judge in trump's miss universe pageant, offers to set up a meeting with someone who he calls a russian government attorney with information and documents that would "incriminate hillary and her dealings with russia and would be very useful to your father." doesn't get any plainer than that, or does it? it goes on to say, this is obviously very high-level and sensitive information "but is part of russia and its government's support for mr. trump." let me read that again. "this is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of russia and its government's support for mr. trump." government. donald trump jr.'s response back then -- "if it's what you say, i love it, especially later in the summer," in other words, closer to the election.
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and now this tonight. >> do you tell your father anything about this? >> no. it was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell. >> so, let me ask everybody at home this. why should you, why should any of us believe that? this interview is like, i think his fifth attempt to defend the indefensible. don junior is the latest person in the president's orbit to mislead you, the american people, about their contacts with russia. former national security adviser michael flynn, attorney general jeff sessions, his own son-in-law and top aide, jared kushner, and now the closest yet, his namesake, donald trump jr. so, no one knows exactly where this investigation is going to end up, what it's going to uncover. the president and his supporters have said time and time again that this is fake news! it's a witch hunt! please, it's time to end that garbage. read the e-mails and ask
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yourself, who do you believe, the people who have misled you over and over and over, or do you believe your own lying eyes? let's start our show right now. i want to bring in now cnn's seen white house correspondent, jim acosta, cnn political analyst april ryan, michael isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for yahoo news and cnn political commentator david axelrod. so good to have you all on. david, two key things about this e-mail exchange released today and i read some of in in our open. rob goldstone, the person who set up the meeting e-mails, donald trump jr. says "this is obviously high level and sensitive information but part of russia and its government's support for mr. trump" with donald trump jr. replying "if it's what you said, i love it!" and here's what he said tonight. >> things are going a million miles an hour again. and hey, wait a minute, i've heard about all of these things, maybe this is something, i should hear him out. this was basic information that was probably there. i didn't know them well enough to know if this talent manager
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from miss universe had this kind of thing, so i wanted to hear him out. >> do you tell your father anything about this? >> no. it was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell. i mean, i wouldn't have even remembered it until you start scouring through the stuff. it was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame. >> so, donald trump jr.'s story kept changing, it keeps changing. he only released these e-mails after "the new york times" was about to publish them, and now he's describing the meeting as a wasted 20 minutes. david, what's your response? >> well, look, i remember thinking when i saw the initial story over the weekend, when he said we met and we talked about adoption, i was thinking, why would you have a meeting about adoption with this connected russian lawyer, and why would you bring in jared kushner and paul manafort, the two leading figures in the campaign, for a trivial meeting? it didn't make sense then. and then as the story evolved, obviously, that's not what the
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meeting was about. they've got a terrible credibility problem on this, and it's really -- it's beyond credibility now. this is something that's in the hands of the special counsel. obviously, the congressional committees are torqued up to drill down on all of this, and we have entered a new phase of this investigation. there's no question about it. >> i want to read this. maggie haberman and peter baker of the "the new york times," they have new details on donald trump jr.'s changing statements over the weekend, and here's what they're reporting tonight. it says "as air force one jetted back from europe on saturday, a small cadre of mr. trump's advisers huddled in a cabin, helping to craft a statement for president's eldest son, donald trump jr. to give to "the new york times" explaining why last summer with a lawyer connected to the russian government. participants on the plane and back to the united states
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debated about how transparent to be in the statement, according to people familiar with the discussions. each day more revealing than the last." did the white house mishandle this? i hate to ask you that question, but what's your answer? >> well, as they were working with the president's son to craft some sort of statement to explain all of this, they did a pretty poor job of it. they've had to revise their statement a couple of times, or at least donald trump jr. has over the last several days. we're running out of white chalk to draw the lines on the tv screen in terms of who is connected to who in all of this. i think over here at the white house, the sense is, is that they are running out of good answers for these questions, and that's why i think you're seeing these briefings off camera. i think that's why you're seeing people like sarah huckabee sanders giving statements like we saw earlier today, where she essentially was just sent into
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the room to read a quick two-sentence statement from the president and then deflect questions for the remaining 19 minutes of that briefing. she really didn't have much more to say than that. and you know, i think what we're looking at here is a situation where the white house and the president, his team, his defenders can no longer repeat what they've said for months now, which is that there were no contacts between trump world and the russians. that denial is now out the window. that cannot be used anymore in light of these e-mails. the one thing that they can say, that they can attempt to say, is that there was no collusion, but it appears there was attempted collusion, if you look at these e-mails from the president's son. and so, my guess is, is that the president will be asked about this on thursday. he's scheduled to hold a joint news conference with emmanuel macron, the french president, over in paris. but don, just to give you an indication as to how locked down things are over here at the
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white house, tomorrow will be the third day in a row where the president has a public schedule with no public events where he's out in front of the cameras. the only time we'll see that is when he departs the white house from marine one to head to paris. and as david axelrod will tell you from working at the white house and i know he worked for a democratic administration -- i don't mean to tee him up here -- it is highly unusual to see three days in a row of no events on the public schedule. >> yeah. so, you mentioned -- >> let me -- >> go ahead. >> let me just say, not only is it unusual normally, but you're in the final weeks before recess of a senate -- of a congressional session in which health care is hanging in the balance, and they're champing at the bit to get some other things done, including trying to prepare to deal with a debt ceiling. there are some really weighty issues going on, and the president of the united states is sequestered in the white house, pinned down by a scandal that has now come right to his
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doorstep. >> yeah. and michael, listen, i want to talk about your new reporting shortly, but cnn is now learning that special counsel robert mueller will be looking into donald trump jr.'s e-mail with publicist rob goldstone. he is the guy who set up this meeting on behalf of the pop star client. and then there is his father who has a connection to putin, both of whom have a connection to president trump. my question is, all of this will likely expand the scope of this investigation, will it? >> well, it has to. i mean, here you have in plain language in e-mails representations that the russian government was seeking to aid the trump campaign. so, that begs all sorts of questions, leave aside how don junior and paul manafort and jared kushner reacted to the meeting. you have rob goldstone, who i spoke to for hours back in march, stating flatly that the
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kremlin, through the agularofs, business partners of donald trump, going back to that 2013 miss universe pageant, were seeking to assist trump's candidacy by providing damaging information about hillary clinton. so, how extensive was this russian government effort? was this the sole message, the sole effort to provide information to tilt the scale, or was it part of this larger influence campaign that the u.s. intelligence community described back in january? >> april ryan -- >> that's the question on mueller's desk. >> april ryan, a couple things. if donald trump jr. thought so little of this, why bring in the campaign chairman and top adviser? why bring in manafort and jared kushner if he thought so little of this meeting that he forgot about? why would he bring in those two
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people who have such influence with donald trump? >> you said it exactly, such influence with donald trump, the man who they wanted to be president of the united states. and don, that brings in the question, how wide will this go and how high will it rise? who else? what higher heights will this implicate someone else? and this is really getting to people because it's touching a nerve. today in the white house briefing room -- and jim will tell you, after sarah huckaby said, you know, that's it, she's leaving -- >> april, can we play it, then you can finish your -- let's play it and then you can finish what you're saying because i want the viewers to be able to hear it. here's sarah huckabee sanders today. >> i have a quick statement that i will read from the president. "my son is a high-quality person, and i applaud his transparency." and beyond that, i'm going to have to refer everything on this matter to don junior's counsel
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and outside counsel and won't have anything else to add beyond that today. >> go ahead, april. that was pretty luke-warm, though. >> it was luke-warm, but the devil's in the details and nuances. the president did not tweet this. he gave it to sarah huckabee sanders to read. it was basically almost 140 characters. he could have tweeted this, but this was so important -- >> not even on camera. >> right, not even on camera, but he wanted his spokesperson from that white house podium to deliver that statement. but we kept peppering. we kept peppering sarah huckabee sanders about it. i even asked her, you know, some of the words now being used -- treason and perjury -- and she ultimately, after asking her again, she said, you know, it's ridiculous, those words are ridiculous. but they were so frustrated with this, because like jim said, you know, they cannot say there's no collusion anymore. there's no justification for some of the things they've been saying. when they walked out of that room, someone in that line with sarah huckabee sanders opened
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that door so hard with force and frustration that you could hear it. they were so angry when they left that briefing room today. so the frustration is now evident. there are some legs with this, and the legs come from a person that bears the president's name. >> jim, did you want to weigh in on this? >> well, you know, i think that -- and i think perhaps the rest of the panel will agree -- i think the next turn in all of this is when republicans up on capitol hill, republican leaders up on capitol hill will say enough is enough. i talked to somebody from trump world earlier today who is saying, well, this is just a minor headache, we can recover from all of this. there is a sense inside the trump team that, you know, well, we survived "access hollywood," we can survive anything. and i just don't know how long they can run with that mind-set. i was talking to a senior republican source up on capitol hill earlier this evening who was describing this as another depressing turn, incompetence, this is why good people don't go
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into government. there is a gloominess that is hanging over republicans here in washington, and i think the death watch that you have to keep your eyes on here in washington is just when republicans on capitol hill say enough is enough, when have they just taken it up to here and not go any further. and i think that is when things will start to turn here in washington and get real serious over here at the white house. >> let me just -- >> david, hold that thought if you can, because i've got to get a break in. you'll come back in on the other side. when we come back, much more on the bombshell e-mail chain on donald trump jr.'s russian meeting, plus, what cnn learned when we spoke to the russian lawyer who was in that meeting. (bell ringing) [ barks ] radio: scorching heat today, staywalter!ut there! stop suffering with hot ac.
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more than 200 booking sites to find the hotel you want and save you up to 30%. trust this bird's words. tripadvisor. our breaking news tonight, donald trump jr. speaking out tonight, trying to explain his campaign meeting with the russian attorney who promised dirt on hillary clinton. jim acosta, april ryan, michael isikoff and david axelrod are back with me. david, you wanted to weigh in. jim was saying how much longer the concern would be, how much longer republicans in washington would put up with this. go on. >> yeah, and i just want to offer a little bit of reality check. the fact is that as we sit here today, donald trump's numbers overall aren't particularly good, but his numbers among republicans are very strong, and they've been pretty consistent throughout. the base has stuck with him. there hasn't been as deep an interest in this story among his base. there's been more of an inclination to believe his story, and there's much more of
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an interest in other things that he's doing -- supreme court appointments and trade and immigration and some of the issues that fire up that base -- fighting obamacare. so, the real question is -- i think there are plenty of republicans on the hill who are dismayed, who would like to walk away from the president, but they're not going to walk away from a president who has 85% approval numbers among republican voters, and until those numbers change, or if they start walking up to those midterm elections, and it looks like he is going to be a lead weight for them, i don't think they're going to walk away. >> now i want to play more of donald trump jr. tonight. watch this. >> my takeaway, when all of this was going on, is that someone has information on our opponent. this is 13 months ago, before i think the rest of the world was talking about that, trying to build up this narrative about russia. so i don't even think my sirens, you know, went up, or the antennas went up at the time because of it, because it wasn't the issue it's been made out to be over the last, you know, nine
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months, ten months. >> all right, so jim earlier asked him, then why would you invite manafort and kushner to the meeting. what's your reaction to that? >> yeah, i mean, i think, you know, this -- i heard this from somebody who was a trump campaign adviser during the campaign who said, you know what, they were getting all kinds of opposition research coming in around this time when donald trump clinched the nomination and the weeks that followed, and this person was saying, you know, maybe donald trump jr. was acting as sort of a pollyanna, working out of naivete, not fully understanding what the implications were of having the russians come in and sit down for a meeting, a russian lawyer come in who reportedly had connections to the kremlin, but that does not really answer the question as to why paul manafort would come in and sit in for a meeting like that, why jared kushner, the president's son-in-law, why all three of them would get in a room with a russian lawyer with that kind of explainer in the
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e-mails coming from this rob goldstone character, you know. it just sort of defies frigulity. it sounds like at this point, don, that we have evidence of attempted collusion, or at least an effort made to begin the process of some kind of collusion and coordination. you know, remember, donald trump jr. only released four pages of e-mails today. that's what he released to the public. we don't know what other e-mails are out there. and remember during the course of the campaign -- we all remember this very well -- there was all this talk about servers and preserving the servers and where are the missing e-mails. i would think, and i don't want to start, you know, imagining what the other side is going to say in all of this in the months to come, weeks and months to come, but my guess is you're going to hear a lot from the democratic side of the aisle saying where are the e-mails, where is the server, can we get our hands on the server, is that server being sent over to robert mueller's office, because my
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guess is they're going to want to see more than just those e-mails that were released today. >> yeah. did you want to say something, michael? >> well, i wanted to just talk about the story we posted later this afternoon, because i think it explains a lot about -- to understand the context of what was released today. i mentioned before that i had spoken at great length some months ago to rob goldstone, long before there was any hint of these e-mails, because i want to understand the events in moscow in 2013 when trump went there for the miss universe contest. and in fact, you know there was talk then of him, a business deal, a trump tower in moscow. it was kind of dismissed as something that never got off the ground. in fact, there was a lot more to that than was commonly understood. first of all, the trump organization and the agalarovs signed a letter of intent to
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construct the trump tower in moscow. donald trump jr. was put in charge of the project. ivanka trump flew over to moscow in 2014 to scout sites for the trump tower with eminute agalarof and there is a picture confirming what goldstone told me. but most significantly, goldstone said why the tower project collapsed, and it happened in 2015 when the russian economy took a downturn because of the imposition of sanctions by the u.s. and the eu over russia's intervention in ukraine. and i think when you see that, you begin to understand, number one, trump's hostility or interest in lifting sanctions. it was those sanctions that screwed up his business deal in russia. and number two, when you see
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these e-mails and you see how close the agilarovs were to the kremlin -- they were being used to pass along this information from the russian government -- it shows just how close these relationships were, and you know, i think helps shed light on what was going on here. >> so, hey, april, cnn spoke with the russian lawyer, advicil anytime skia, about the meeting. >> translator: when it was suggested i meet with donald trump jr., i met him in a private situation. it was a private meeting, not related at all to the fact that he was the son of the candidate. and the whole story which i had was spelled out. it was the same for everyone, including for donald trump jr., who, having listened to my story didn't understand based on our conversation how he could help me. >> when you hear what she's saying and then you hear what donald trump jr.'s saying, his explanation, what are you
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thinking? >> when he said in that e-mail, if it's what you say it is, i love it, the question is, what part did he not love? or did he take the information and just want to hold on to it, not give in, saying that this is what he wanted? there are a lot of questions still about what's going on, but there is a lot of smoke around here when it comes to these e-mails. and at issue -- and i'm going to go back to something that david sa said. when you look at the support for donald trump, president trump, right now, yes, his base is supporting him still, but there is a little bit of buyer's remorse in there. some republicans on the hill, they're looking at this askew. but at the same time, you have to remember, there are people who are putting a lot of stock into this investigation by mueller, and if mueller sees the smoke and finds the fire, we wonder, will things change?
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will there now be people who are saying there is something really serious, not just on the democratic side, but on the republican side. >> yeah. >> and for both donald trump jr. and for this lawyer to say what they're saying, something is there, and we just have to wait to find out what is that something. >> yeah, and it's interesting, because everything that michael isikoff said now, that will expand this investigation, what happened with the real estate deals and on and on, all of that will expand this investigation. >> but there was never a trump name on a building. trump's name never went on a building, and that's the crazy piece about the whole thing. they worked up to all this and trump's name never went up on a building there. through that conversation and that connection. >> tax returns. >> hey, don, i just want to ask jim something. jim, you covered the trump campaign from start to finish. knowing the relationships that you do, is it credible that that
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group could have gotten an e-mail like that, had a meeting like that, and never mentioned it -- none of them ever mentioned it to donald trump? >> you know, david, i asked a couple of former trump campaign advisers earlier today, and they were telling me that they had not heard about it. now, how extensive that goes, i think that is going to take some more digging. i don't think that holds up. i think it's very possible that somebody did know about this. but as one person said to me, and this has been trotted out there as a line of defense in all of this, is that, you know, if the trump campaign wasn't organized enough, you know, to win this election -- remember, people were saying they weren't organized enough to win this election -- then how could they have been organized enough to collude with the russians? and whether -- that's not a very good argument anymore, i suppose, but you know, i do get the sense that they're looking for a way to make this -- to explain this away. and you know, donald trump ran a
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very hierarchial campaign, very much run by the inner circle, him, his family and a few close advisers. and you know, it is possible that they were able to keep this under wraps. i find it amazing that the president himself did not know this until just a couple of days ago. that is the story that they're giving us right now. that, obviously, is something that the president is going to be asked about, i would think, later on this week when he holds this news conference -- what did he know about these e-mails? did his son tell him about this before earlier this week? did he find out about this earlier this week, or has he known about this for some time? and if he has known about this for some time, then it does call into question in these comments that he's made for many, many months now about no contacts, no collusion, because that is what he has said repeatedly to the american people. >> we asked that question last night, david, about whether or not donald trump jr. would have
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a meeting like this or have e-mails like this and not tell his father, and we had some people respond to it last night -- >> and the other guys in the room. >> and the other guys in the room, but here in the e-mail, it says "what do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to imin about this directly? i can also send this information to your father varoerronia ronae know is the gatekeeper. make it quick because we're out of time. >> the e-mails were discovered by jared kushner's lawyers in late june, june 21st, i believe. >> okay. >> so, it's been known inside the white house for, you know, three or four weeks now. >> good point. >> go ahead, david, quick. >> the other question is what signal did they send to the russians by taking this meeting? did they signal to the russians that they wanted to play ball with them? >> yeah. thank you all. thank you all. by the way, david axelrod sits
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down with civil rights leader congressman john lewis on "the axe files" friday night at 10:00 p.m. eastern. dan rather says "the american people deserve to know what in god's name is happening." he's here, next. here's to the safety first... i think i might burst... totally immersed weekenders. whatever kind of weekender you are, there's a hilton for you. book your weekend break direct with hilton.com and join the summer weekenders.
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well, president trump breaks his silence on his son, donald trump jr., and those bombshell e-mails about his meeting with an alleged russian government lawyer. what does this mean for the trump white house? let's discuss now. dan rather's here, the host of access tv's "the big interview." good evening, sir. >> good evening, don. >> you said -- and i want to get this right -- these e-mails are unlike anything you could have imagined, right? did you say that? >> i did say that, because that's been my experience. look, i haven't seen everything, but this is absolutely unprecedented in the history of the country. we've never had any president, any president in the whole history of the country, that had such a wide in the country that he couldn't be trusted for the job. andrew johnson, who by the way, wasn't elected president. he came on in lincoln's death, but andrew johnson was scorned throughout the country. but even andrew johnson did not
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have as many americans on a percentage basis saying, listen, this business with a foreign power is ridiculous. and it is. i mean, what we've seen today is shakespearian in tragic terms for the country, because the presidency is frozen, that this, exposing this e-mail on the president's son just puts a freeze in the stomach of everybody who's in the white house, whether they'll admit it or not. and with that as the narrative for the moment, nothing is going to get done. health care's not going to get done, tax reform can't get done. these things will not get done. so, what you have is a presidency that's been disintegrating from the very first. we've never had that in our history before so early. we're only six months into this presidency. we've never had a presidency begin disintegrating from day
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one and then continue to disintegrate for six months. it's a tragedy for the trump presidency, it's a tragedy to the country. >> let's talk about some of those, because as you know, you know, it's not -- it's a witch hunt, it's fake news. and i addressed that at the top of the show. the news media didn't write the e-mails, democrats didn't write the e-mails. it was written by a friend of the trumps, right, who said they had connections to the russian government, and donald trump's own son responded. this is a problem of their own making. >> yes. well, so, when the original contact was made, keep in mind, this is a russian government operative making this contact, saying i have dirt on hillary clinton. in fact, the response was, we'll have a meeting and i love it. this is very serious. and i will say that the person who seems most vulnerable at the moment from a legal standpoint would be jared kushner, because -- the son-in-law. >> yes, he works for the --
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>> because he's inside the white house. >> right. >> and so far as we know, he still has security clearance. but let's pull out for what we call the wide shot in television talk. what we have here, the information so far has been dug up by great investigative reporting. but reporters, they don't have the pain of perjury. robert mueller, the special prosecutor, these prosecutors, they have the threat of perjury. they will get all of these people in by themselves to give testimony and they'll compare the testimony, and if anybody tells an untruth, then they go through perjury. and by the way, something i haven't heard mentioned very often, i think at all in television today, you know, there are laws against foreign governments being involved in american election campaigns. there are laws against it. they're election fraud campaigns where a foreign government can't give money to support one presidential candidate. but as i understand the law,
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it's not limited to money. anything you get from a foreign government designed to affect an american election campaign -- >> because there is a value to information. >> well, exactly. and so, therefore, already you have -- i'm not saying that anybody broke the law. i am saying there is a real question as to whether there has been illegality already, illegal acts already -- >> this is under the interpretation of that -- >> right. >> right. >> and i'd be very surprised, amazed, if robert mueller, the special prosecutor, isn't looking into that line of thought. but i do agree with what axelrod said earlier tonight on your program, that among the people who voted for donald trump, 85% of them still say that they support him. this reminds me of a time during the worst of the nixon time, almost the worst, not long before president nixon was forced to resign because the facts got out. there were plenty of people, not all of them republicans, who were saying, you know, identify got to tell you, with the people
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back home, back there in flyover america -- >> my constituents. >> yeah, my constituents, congressmen or republican, senator, saying back home, a lot people don't know about this and a lot of other people don't care about this, and we do have to be careful, you and i and others who report on the coasts not to be too quick to say this is so terrible, it's bound to affect donald trump directly, because there are out there today a lot of those same thoughts of people who say, listen, it's just the press jumping on trump because he won the election, and other people don't know about it, and some who do know about it don't care about it. >> yeah. we still have -- we are tasked with telling the truth and reporting the story, and it is what it is, whether people don't want to believe that, that's their prerogative. >> well, exactly. that's why i come back to this. you know, there's been a renaissance of american investigative reporting led by "the new york times" and the "washington post" and some other
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newspapers. this is great reporting. and when we talk about freedom of the press and the value of the press in exposing what the powerful wants to keep secret, we're seeing almost every day an example of it. >> how do you think these e-mails -- since you brought up nixon -- how do you think this compares? is this comparable to the tapes, this e-mail? >> i wouldn't say it's comparable to the nixon tapes yet, but overall what's happening, the overall questions about who did what to what end of the trump campaign, this is one of the great scandals of american political history, and its potential is to be even greater than the watergate. that's the potential. >> i sit here and i listen to you because, as i listen to you, i think about that old saying, that if we don't pay attention to history, we're bound: >> we're doomed to repeat it. >> -- doomed to repeat it. >> doomed to repeat it. and there's a lot of it. however, i do think that a lot
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of people are in position, i just need to know the facts. >> facts. >> i need to know the facts. that's why i wrote this today about, listen, people need to know the facts and they deserve to know the facts. as you know, i'm an optimist by nature and by experience, and i do think that we will get to the bottom of this. and when we get to the bottom of it, we may very well find out that days like today were only the tip of the iceberg, that there's so much yet we need to know, because the central question -- you and i have discussed this before -- in addressing trump, the trump campaign and what's happening, is what are they hiding? now, we find out today some of the things they were hiding, the details about this secret meeting. and the question remains, what else were they hiding? thanks, don. >> always a pleasure. when we come back, there's no doubt donald trump jr.'s russia meeting is a bombshell, but was there anything illegal about it?
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my next guests are veterans of washington's biggest political scandals, and they have very different opinions. h is confide. destroy. but when it comes to mortgages, she's less confident. fortunately, there's rocket mortgage by quicken loans. apply simply. understand fully. mortgage confidently. [ barks ] radio: scorching heat today, staywalter!ut there! stop suffering with hot ac. cool it yourself with a/c pro. in just 3 easy steps, enjoy the comfort of 2 times the cooling boosters
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were trying to meddle in the election? >> oh, of course not. >> i have nothing to do with russia. to the best of my knowledge, no person that i deal with does. >> there is evidence of collusion -- >> there is no connection. you've got russia. if the president puts russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow, that's a russian connection. >> we've been going on this russia/trump hoax for the better part of a year now. >> it's a total hoax. >> yeah. >> it's a total hoax. >> there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but i can only speak for myself and the russians -- zero. >> by the way, don junior released those e-mails because "the new york times" was going to release them first.
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two veterans of waernt's biggest political scandals, robert ray, former whitewater special prosecutor and nick akerman, former special watergate prosecutor. so good to have you both on. robert, there is a lot of talk about collusion, conspiracy and even treason, but let's break this down, the donald trump jr. e-mail from the russian friend. it promises to provide the trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate hillary and her dealings with russia and would be very useful to your father. and it says "obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of russia and its government's support for mr. trump." and donald trump jr. responded, "if it's what you say, i love it, especially later in the summer." so, does any of this add up to collusion with the russians, influence in the election? is it illegal? >> well, there's no federal collusion statute. there is a federal conspiracy statute. the question is whether there is underlying criminal violation to investigate. and i have said i think from the
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beginning -- you know, we've discussed this many times now in the past, over the first six months of the trump administration -- collusion in my mind requires first that you have a high-level campaign official with the trump campaign, okay? so, apparently, that's been satisfied. it's donald trump jr., the campaign manager. second, it requires that, you know, there were discussions with a russian government official. still somewhat unclear as to whether this russian lawyer is a russian government official. but third and most importantly, it's got to be collusion when which what's dangled out there is the russians say here's what we have for you, 30,000 e-mails, evidence with regard to the clinton foundation or something. and in exchange, we're asking something from an eventual trump administration. hard to imagine if all there is -- and we don't know, you know, ultimately what the facts will show, but going back to june of 2016 when the trump
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campaign hadn't yet even received the republican nomination, difficult to imagine that there would be discussions about what the russians and russian officials would be expecting from a trump administration in the event the trump administration, in fact, materialized. >> nick, i think you disagree, because you called these e-mails almost a smoking cannon. so, make the case. what crime has been committed here? >> well, there's been several crimes committed. first of all, we're not talking a quid pro quo to have collusion. you can have a conspiracy to violate the campaign finance laws, which you have here. as dan rather mentioned earlier today, this evening, it's not just a matter of money, it's a thing of value. it was clear that they were willing -- the russians were willing to turn over documents to the trump campaign. it was also clear from these e-mails that the trump campaign would be promoting trump and working on the trump campaign.
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so, that in itself, taking that and donald junior saying "i love it," the fact that he's accepting it is in itself a crime. i mean, what he should have done the minute that came up was to call the fbi and turn these people in. you don't say, when somebody suggests that is clearly involved in our election and to rovide assistance to any campaign to say terrific i love it. you should be calling the fbi, going to trump tower and getting the secret service agents who are all over the place and telling them there is a federal crime that he wants to report. he did not do that. the real easy one here is jared kushner. he is probably under the worst possible umbrella because of this meeting. we know that he lied about the fact that this meeting even took
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place on his national security form. i just filled out one of those a couple months ago for a case that i have. there is no way that any normal person would read that form and not know that you have to report every single matter any time that you met with a foreign official, particularly a russian. now you've got a very high level of materiality as to why he lied. you've got materiality and you've got motive. so he's really in the hot seat on this. in addition -- >> go on quickly. >> -- two other crimes. >> what do you say they are? >> there's treason, for one and there's the logan act. and i can get into -- >> hold on. how is it treasoness? do you think that's putting the cart ahead of the horse now? >> not at all. basically he's given aid and comfort to the enemy.
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russian by any standard is our enemy of not only our county but of all the western democracies. >> but we're not at war with russia. >> we don't have to be at war -- >> that's a ridiculous notion. by doing something that would be damaging to hillary clinton's campaign. that's absolutely ridiculous. yes, it is technically true that you can prosecute a campaign violation involving an unkind campaign contributiocontributio. but they understand that generally speaking, that while you can prosecute, it's much more difficult to do so unless you're talking about something that's a cash equivalent and it would be difficult to show that emails are a cash equivalent from a prohibited party. >> and i don't mean by winning
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or what have you because there's a lot to be gained from that in power. >> theoretically you're right. it would be hard to imagine. and then finally, the last thing on the logan act. june 2016. seriously, we're talking bute violation logan act, which is to say that the conduct of foreign policy by a campaign that hasn't even yet received the republican nomination. you want to talk about a logan act nomination if you want to talk about the period of the transition -- >> do you agree with that? quickly, i've got to go. >> i don't agree with any of that. they're dealing with this russian representative. this lawyer who's talking about sanctions that she wants lifted. i mean there's a subtle reference here to a quit pro quo anyway. and the fact that there's not -- we're not at war with russia doesn't mean that you don't get
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involved in treason and with are respect to a unkind contribution, it doesn't have to be money, it doesn't have to be anything more than providing aid to the campaign. and clearly those emails show that the russians were providing and offering to provide aid to the campaign. >> thank you both. we'll be right back. rking my caf to clean and shine and give proven protection against fading and aging. he won't use those copycat wipes. hi...doing anything later? ooh, the quiet type. i like that. armor all original protectant. it's easy to look good.
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megan's smile is getting a lot because she uses act® mouthwash. act® strengthens enamel, protects teeth from harmful acids, and helps prevent cavities. go beyond brushing with act®. donald trump jr. saying in retrospect he praubably would have done things differently when it comes to the russian meeting. 2016 independent presidential candidate, mcmullen. scott, it's hard to over state how stunning this email chain is. this is the editorial from the new york post and they write in part we see one truly solid take away from the story of the day, donald trump jr. is an idiot. this is the new york post which has been very kind and friendly to the trump folk pmz what's
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your reaction? >> it was a stupid meeting to take and i'm sure in retrospect he wishes he wouldn't have taken it. it is time for him to make a strong statement that he understands and acknowledges there was russian medaling in the election and he agrees with the transparency pledges they said they would make. if he would take a couple of steps this week, that would be a strong statement that the white house is taking this seriously. >> are you happy with it or no? >> no. i'm not happy with it. i think republicans have got do do more. they've got to show leadership. but donald trump is playing a 35% game. he wants to protect his core support. as long as he does that, by throwing them red meat on policy issues, then he'll have
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protection in the house. these emails are so egregious. they portray activities so egregious that i think it harms him to say the russian thing is a hoax. and if he can't say things like that, then it impairs his ability to have his base think there's nothing to this. over time this has an effect. >> and to get anything done in washington. yrv heard people saying that to me if this continues on. and this certainly does hurt that. you've supported president trump all along and i respect you for that. and you're a straight shooter but at what point does it become too much for you? >> this is yet another chip away at the credibility of this administration. i think it may fall short of any criminal wrong doing but the problem is the denials of a
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meeting in the first place and telling everyone it was about russian adaungsz and explaining away every other version of the truth. it's insulting to the american people and the fact we continue to get misleading statements from the administration chips away at their credibility and we're seeing e stands for emails. and for them to continue to say there's a big nothing burger, these -- >> so, i know you have lots of c contacts with trump folks and republicans in washington. >> they continue to say there's nothing there and they continue to say that the meeting was one that shouldn't have happened -- >> what about law makers in washington? >> they want to let the investigation play out. they want to see where the facts lead. they don't want to jump to conclusions. this is concerning though.
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it does make them difficult when they have all these distractions. we're still waiting for progress on health care. this is nothing more than a huge distraction for republicans. >> i want to ask about vice president pence. the vice president is working to advance the agenda. and then it goes on. what does this tell you that even the vice president is distancing himself from this? >> it's similar to the posture they took on flint. they were angry about flynn. so several turns, the vice president's office has sought to distance themselves from some of these drip, drip, drips. maybe doesn't lead to harmony inside the west wing. >> what do you say to that? >> i think that's true but also smart for the broader team so that inpence has a little
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separation, then they can use him to advance policy initiatives and what nautsz and that can keep the boat afloat in some way. i see it that way as well. >> thank you all. i appreciate it. thank you so much for watching. white house in crisis. jake tapper starts right now. this is cnn breaking news. >> good evening. this is a cnn special report. white house in crisis. breaking tonight. what an ally of the trump white house is calling a hurricane. the president's son, donald trump jr. trying to defend himself and explain what is arguably the most incriminating piece of public information into russian interference in the election squl there was any cuclusion between

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