tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN July 12, 2017 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
let me just try to ask two or three questions. and to nail down this torture memo issue. i want to follow up on what you said earlier about your role in approval of interrogation techniques, which we also discussed in my office. you said that during your time the deputy attorney general's office, you don't recall reviewing or commenting on any memo written by john yu. you also said that as assistant attorney general, the criminal division, you, quote, provided general information and legal support, close quote, regarding the legal standards for interrogation. i want to ask you about one specific memo and i'm going to send it down to you if you haven't had a chance to see i, because i want you to. it's written by daniel levin, and it was dated december 2004. this memo replaced the august 2002 biby memo, and it says that the criminal division reviewed and up a it -- it specific says, the criminal division of the department of justice has reviewed this memorandum and
concurs in the analysis set forth below. here's the key point. in a footnote of the memo, in s indicates that under the new analysis, all of the torture techniques that were approved under the bibey memo, like water boarding, would still be legal under the new memo. in other words, nothing changed. and it has that expressly had the approval of your division. do you recall reviewing and approving that memo? >> i do not recall approving -- reviewing and approving that memo, but what i do recall is that we provided -- we drew a line about what the criminal division's appropriate role was, that the criminal division should be consulted on the general meaning of the statute, what the elements are, how you define what the elements are. what i did not think was appropriate role for the criminal division, and so we did not review and approve or bless,
is review of particular interrogation techniques. and that was because even at the time, i believe, we were already starting to investigate, and in one case, which led ultimately to prosecution, cases where techniques went too far, and i did not think it was appropriate for the criminal division to be setting interrogation policy or providing legal advice on a going-forward basis. >> memo does not make that distinction. it simply says the criminal division of the department of justice has reviewed this memo and concurs in the analysis set forth below, which goes into detail in terms of techniques and interrogation techniques. in the footnotes. i want to give this to you because i want you to take it and look at it. i'm not trying to stump you here. take a look at it. see if you can put it in context for me. tell me if i'm missing something about this. but it appears that this did go through your division, and i want to hear, after you've had a
chance to look at it, if you wouldn't, if you would respond and let me know that. is that fair? two other things. you worked with u.s. attorney chris christie. >> when i was assistant attorney general, yes, he was u.s. attorney of new jersey. >> and you were part the bristol-myers squibb settlement involved in it. >> that, i don't think so. i was aware of the bristol-myers investigation. i think it's possible that the settlement may have occurred after i had left the criminal division. >> okay. that's what i wanted to know. the last point i want to ask you about relates to the obstruction of justice, which i think you've -- in a 2004 speech about prosecuting corporate fraud, you urged severe penalties for obstruction of justice, and you said, quote, lying to government investigators, obstructing our investigation, needs to be seen as one of the surest paths to severe consequences. end of quote.
do you believe that obstruction of justice by government officials should be treated similarly. >> i think obstruction of justice, whether it's committed by a senior corporate executive or a guy in the mail room or a government official needs to be treated very seriously. >> in the early enron cases that you were involved in, they are exceptional in that people went to jail. executives went to jail. and then we kind of, for some reason or another, the department of justice lost its stomach for that and stopped sending people to jail. to me, that is a category of injustice which i hope we will rectify. i don't have great hope, but i hope we will rectify in the future, if there's wrong doing that harms so many people, would you comment on that particular aspect of prosecution? >> happy to, senator. i feel very strongly that when one is investigating companies, that we need to look at the
people, the individuals in the company who may have engaged in wrong doing, because companies act through people. and so, i think one of the things that we did effectively with the enron task force and in a number of other corporate fraud prosecutions during that era was show that we were willing to follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead all the way to the very top of the house, and in the enron case in particular, as you know, as you commented on, we brought cases against the -- specially the entire c-suite of the company. obviously, we have to have the facts and the evidence and the law to support it. we can't succumb to mob rule or anything like that. but i think we need to be sure, and i think that is the way i view the fbi's mission is to follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead, to whomever they may lead, even if people don't like it. >> that's fair. thanks for your patience today and i'm going to send this memo
down to you so you have a chance to take it with you. thanks, madam chair. >> thank you very much, mr. wray. i think you can finally get some lunch here. i wanted to thank you and to make sure you know that you have a lot of support here. i am going to be supporting you, as a number of my colleagues are. i think your answers earlier explaining your opposition to torture of any kind was very important. when you -- senator feinstein asked you those questions. i also think that the answers that you gave to many of the senators about the independence of the fbi was very compelling and heartfelt, and that meant a lot, because i don't have to tell you that you're coming in at a time that is unprecedented, where you've had the director of the fbi fired, the then-acting attorney general a few months ago fired, and as someone that's been in law enforcement and
believes that law enforcement has to have people that are in charge that are -- follow the law and care about the law and believe in our democracy more than anything, it couldn't be a more important time for you to be coming into this agency. and i think that you saw the bipartisan nature of the questions and the respect here has a lot to do with how you've handled it and your experience today, but it also has a lot to do because the senators here know how important this job is right now. so, i want to thank you for your time, and we are going to leave the record open until friday if senators have further questions, and i am pleased to say this hearing is adjourned. thank you. >> thank you, senator. watching lawmakers questioning the president's choice to replace james comey at the fbi, christopher wray. we'll talk about all this in just a moment but first we want
to get to manu raju. what can you tell us? >> reporter: that's right. in fact, the senator judiciary committee, we just heard the testimony from christopher wray. in fact, now, want to hear testimony from another key person, persons involved in this investigation about possible trump ties with the russian officials. that's paul manafort, the former campaign chairman, who is now at the center of these investigations on capitol hill as well as the special counsel's investigation as well. now, chuck grassley, the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, told me just moments ago that he wants to bring in paul manafort next week to testify in a public session. take a listen. >> one thing, he was present at the meeting that we've all read about in the last week, weekend news. number two, he's going to fit in
well at the hearing we have on the registration -- what do you call it? federal agent registration act. okay. >> reporter: so when is that, and has he agreed to testify in open session? >> well, i don't know whether he just -- we're going to invite him, and if he doesn't invite, then under our new rules, senator feinstein and i have the power to issue a subpoena. >> reporter: so, threatening a es subpoena there and later he said that hearing is going to be next week. this is significant, because we have not heard from paul manafort in the middle as this controversy has grown, and we know that the senate and house intelligence committees, two separate committees that are investigating this russia issue, do, they both want to talk to paul manafort. they've exchanged documents with him. he provided documents to the committee, but he doesn't want to talk to them, but he's wanted to talk to them in a classified session, so the question is if
he does come before congress in a public session, next week, that could lead to a lot of questions about his role in -- during the campaign, meetings that he had with russian officials, these questions that he -- about whether he was involved in any collusion. of course, something that he has strongly denied. as well as the fact that he participated in that meeting with donald trump jr. and the lawyer from -- who had apparently had ties to the kremlin, that he participated in that july 2016 meeting and what happened in that meeting. all would be subject to questions by senators in this session if manafort does, in fact, appear and does not invoke his fifth amendment rights not to testify. now, the fact that they are willing to subpoena him also very, very significant. it shows a level that they're willing to go to get him to appear. now, i tried to reach out to manafort's representatives. i have not heard back yet about
what the next steps will be, but one other point, chuck grassley also saying that he may want to hear from donald trump jr. himself before his committee so they're starting to have conversations about calling him as well. so, a lot of developments here as a new investigation, separate investigation from the ones that are ongoing, here in the senate judiciary committee is starting to take shape, possible testimony from paul manafort next week. >> interesting, especially because we know that the senate intelligence committee, the house intelligence committee are really the ones that are taking the lead in terms of the russia investigations and now senator grassley, bringing, perhaps, paul manafort before the judiciary committee. that is significant. thank you, manu raju. let's talk more about the testimony we just heard on the hill from christopher wray. again the president's pick to replace fired fbi director james comey. i want to bring in gloria and our chief national security correspondent, jim scuitto. jim, wray seemed to say
everything lawmakers wanted to hear. we heard a lot of affirmation, good answer, in response to questions including whether he believes donald trump jr. should have gone to the fbi about his russian contact. >> well, it's interesting. perhaps a more nuanced answer on that. on the big picture things, he was very clear cut. he said he was not asked, for instance, for a loyalty pledge by the president, that, of course, referencing back to what james comey said that he was. he said if he was given an illegal order, he would not obey that order. he said he might even resign under those circumstances. all those answers that really senators wanted to hear from both parties, as well as a definitive statement from him that russia is an adversary and on that point somewhat contradicting the president or going much further than his commander in chief has been willing to go in public. but on the point that is in the news, donald trump jr. taking a meeting with someone promising
him information damaging to hillary clinton. senator lindsey graham had to press him a bit. listen to this exchange. >> do you believe that in light of the don junior e-mail and other allegations that this whole thing about trump campaign and russia is a witch hunt? is that a fair description of what we're all dealing with in america? >> well, senator, i can't speak to the basis for those comments. i can tell you that my experience with director mueller -- >> i'm asking you as the future fbi director. do you consider this endeavor a witch hunt? >> i did not consider districter mueller to be on a witch hunt. >> can the president fire director mueller? does he have the authority and law to fire him? >> i don't know the law on that. >> can you get back to us and answer that question? >> i'd be happy to take a look at that. >> should donald trump jr. have taken that meeting? >> well, senator, i'm hearing for the first time your description of it so i'm not really in a position to speak to it. i gather that special counsel
mueller -- >> let me ask you this. if i got a call from the russian government saying, they want to help lindsey graham get elected, they've got dirt on lindsey graham's opponent, should i take that meeting. >> i would think you would want to consult with some good legal advisers before you did that. >> you're going to be the director of the fbi, pal. so here's what i want you to tell every politician. if you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the fbi. >> to the members of this committee, any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation state or any nonstate actor is the kind of thing the fbi would want to know. >> that's the republican senator from south carolina, somewhat frustrated with the answer there. seems like a pretty clear answer would have been easy, but
mr. wray there didn't want to get into what is clearly a political question now, but again, as a republican senator not getting the firm answer he wanted from the fbi nominee on saying no to this kind of meeting. >> well, we did hear are a very firm answer when asked whether this investigation into the russia election meddling was a witch hunt, to which replied, no, i do not consider director mueller to be on a witch hunt. that was the verbatim there, gloria, but i know you have some new reporting as the president continues to call this a witch hunt. you have some reporting on his thinking right now. >> well, i spoke with a source who is familiar with the president's thinking, and he continues to believe that if you were to connect the dots on all of this, you would come up with nothing. that these are kind of a series of coincidences according to the president that add up to nothing. and he considers this, you know, a move by those of us in the media to try and draw out a
scenario that he does not believe exists. i think he feels very much under fire, very much unhappy, and obviously, look, this is reflected -- this is not a secret. this is reflected in his tweets, publicly, but this is also clearly what he's telling friends privately. i want to also point to an exchange that the nominee, mr. wray, had with, i believe it was senator ben sasse, because i think it was an important question here, because sasse said to him, if you are ever directed to shut down or curtail an investigation, will you report that to the committee? you know, saying, i want to get you on the record that if this were to ever occur, that if any questions were asked of you, such adds as the ones that james comey said were asked of him, would you tell us, and he said, yes. i would bring it to the attention of the appropriate
people, including congress, and that's important. >> so, jim, what is the next step when it comes to the confirmation of christopher wray? >> well, we heard several senators come out of that room, including democrats, dianne feinstein saying i'm going to vote for him and you could tell by the feeling in the room that that committee is going to vote to move it on to the full senate. and again, based on his record, based on the bipartisan support already expressed about him before this hearing and this is, i think it was virtually a flawless hearing for him. that it's pretty likely he's going to go through. i think that's a reasonable expectation. >> jim, gloria, our thanks to both of you. up next, a white house in chaos right now. republican source said the administration is, quote, paralyzed over the e-mail bombshell involving donald trump jr. our special coverage continues in just a moment.
to not just accept what you see, but imagine something new. at invisalign®, we use the most advanced teeth straightening technology to help you find the next amazing version of yourself. it's time to unleash your secret weapon. it's there, right under your nose. get to your best smile up to 50% faster. visit invisalign.com to get started today. welcome back. you're in the "cnn newsroom." new reports of a whousz paralyzed and a president furious and frustrated as his son's e-mails dominate the headlines. we are told president donald trump believes it's all b.s. and
has reportedly spent much of the last 24 hours holed up inside the oval office glued to the tv. on the surface, at least, the president is still standing by donald trump jr., his son, tweeting, "my son donald did a good job last night. he was open, transparent, and innocent. this is the greatest witch hunt in political history. sad." he was referring to donald trump jr.'s interview on fox news where he downplayed the meeting between the president's top campaign officials and a russian lawyer last summer. listen. >> this is pre-russia mania, you know? this was 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 this time because of it. because it wasn't the issue that it's been made out to be over the last nine months, ten months, since it really became a thing. >> joining me now, cnn justice correspondent jessica schneider, "the new york times," jessica, says people in the president's inner circle have formed a circular firing squad now to
find the source of the latest leak related to these e-mails and the meeting with the russian lawyer between donald trump jr., jared kushner, and paul manafort. what are you learning about what's now happening behind the scene at the white house? >> reporter: well, one republican source close to the west wing really putting it bluntly, saying that the white house is paralyzed, all consumed, and distracted by this. in fact, one source saying that this is yet another week lost when it comes to advancing the president's agenda, another source saying that really it's time to get some fresh new talent into the white house. but you know, we've heard that when it comes to chief of staff, reince priebus, he's telling the staff here to keep their heads down, to keep working hard, not to be distracted by all this but we know that one person, at least, may be somewhat distracted by this, the president himself. we know from sources that he did spend much of yesterday watching the news coverage of this about the release of his son's e-mails as it pertained to this meeting with the russian lawyer. we know that he spent the day huddled with his staff and advisers, the president's mood
ranging from furious to frustrated but also defiant. in fact, just a few moments this morning, after my cnn colleague, jeff zeleny reported that the president had been watching the news, consuming this news coverage about his son's e-mails, the president did take to twitter just after 9:30 this morning, putting out this tweet saying, "the white house is functioning perfectly, focused on health care, tax cuts, and reform and many other things. i have very little time for watching tv." despite that, however, we've seen the president's twitter feed. he does often retweet those news segments that he sees. the president, though, he has been largely out of public view. he hasn't had anything on his public schedule for several days. we haven't seen him since he got back here to the white house on saturday and also, tonight, the president and first lady depart for another trip overseas to france. >> that's right, for bastille day. thank you very much. to analyze all this, i want to bring in david, cnn's political director, also joining us andrew
rice, the contribute r editor of new york magazine. so to you first, it's amazing that the president continues to say this is all the work of his enemies. >> yeah, we had not heard that in this period that we haven't seen him until today. the last few days, as donald trump jr. was putting out statement after statement, changing his story and then actually putting out the e-mails, it was eerily quiet from donald trump, the president calling this fake news as he's done in the past or a democratic effort to discredit his legitimacy as an elected president. that didn't exist because we had it in black and white because his son put out the fact that he did indeed accept this meeting, knowing that it was the russian government helping his father's campaign. today, he woke up and it seems like time to start trying to punch back again. the problem is, how does it -- it just -- there's a credibility gap here. how can you tweet out that the white house is functioning
perfectly and that you don't watch tv when you can marry up his twitter feed to tv segments that he's responding to where we are reporting that he is in his office off the oval office watching tv and we're clearly the white house is not functioning perfectly because if it was, you wouldn't need your chief of staff going around telling people, keep your head down, do your job. >> on that note, his own lawyer, apparently, is having some friction now with jared kushner. kushner was at that meeting. we know andrew rice, and now the reporting that we have is that his personal attorney, the president's personal attorney, is upset or frustrated with jared kushner because he feels that kushner's going behind the backs of the attorneys who are part of the trump team and going straight to the president with discussions about russia. does that make sense to you, that there's this friction now. >> well, i think that, you know, this was "the new york times" reporting this morning, and i think that -- i mean, all i know
is that it certainly fits with the pattern, which is that no one in this white house has succeeded in getting in between jared kushner and the president, and he, for all the many tremendo travails that he's had on a variety of fronts, he seems to have retained his influence and he's like that last voice in the president's ear so if you're a criminal defense attorney trying to give him advice as to, you know, how to best protect his own interests in this situation, you want to be that last voice in the president's ear, i'm sure. so, you know, while i don't have any firsthand reporting to substantiate that report, it sounds totally credible to me. >> i was just going to say, you have to remember the special nature of jared in this current moment in time. a lot of the characters that we've talked about in this russia investigation, whether it's paul manafort or mike flynn or even his son, donald trump jr., are not currently working in the white house. jared is a senior adviser,
day-to-day, working in the white house. and so the fact that he was forwarded this e-mail, the fact that, therefore, he, very likely knew what donald trump jr. knew, that this was part of the russian government effort to help his father-in-law's campaign and hurt hillary clinton, therefore meddling in the election, the fact that that's -- the fact that we've learned he's had to update his security clearance form several times now reveal these contacts, this is much more acute for the president because jared kushner is still there as a senior adviser, and that's, therefore, puts the president even more political peril. >> and we know there are calls for jared kushner's security clearance to be revoked. i want to play another sound byte from donald trump jr. last night from his interview as he was defending what happened in the meeting with the russian lawyer. listen. >> that's the first time we've ever done any of this. i'm still way in the learning curve on all of this, so it wasn't that urgent to me if i'm saying, hey, it can wait until the end of summer. >> david, how much inexperience
is a role here. >> it may be some. we don't know about the content of the meeting yet. clearly, the excuse that we initially heard is, this is just collecting opposition research, and every campaign does it. doesn't hold water, because what every campaign does do is collect opposition research. what they don't do is kplekt cot from a foreign add very saversa there could be incompetition or naivete. i'm going to get into whether or not donald trump jr. has done something illegal or whether there might be criminal activity here but what he did by accepting that meeting, it just blows up the last six months of excuses we heard that there's absolutely nothing to see here and that this was a complete fabrication. that doesn't hold water anymore, because donald trump jr., whether from incompetence or because he thought this was the best way to defeat hillary clinton, whichever it is, he had a willingness to accept this help from a foreign adversary.
>> as he stated in his e-mail. >> let's not forget that paul manafort was at the meeting too, somebody who had extensive political experience, you know, worked on bob dole's '96 campaign, somebody who presumably should have known that this is outside the norm of what happens in political campaigns. so, if nothing else, it just sort of bespeaks, perhaps, that something deeper about this administration, which is that -- which is that people who work for the trump administration know that you cross the family at your peril. >> loyalty is the biggest thing. and family, we know, is so important. andrew, i wanted to ask you about the chances that kushner actually just forgot this meeting. we know that he admitted it twice on security clearance forms. it wasn't until a third time where his lawyers were going through his e-mails, apparently came across it in preparation for him to testify before these committees that they decided they better update that disclosure form. could he have just forgotten? >> i mean, i'm not inside his --
>> he's a sharp guy, right? >> i'm not inside of his head. it seems like the sort of thing i would remember, an encounter that might be memorable, especially in the context of running a political campaign. but i mean, i think that the deeper issue is, whether it's true or not that he forgot it or what the circumstances of the disclosure are, the fact that these continual kind of forgetful incidents, to be generous, continue to happen is problematic for the administration because they're constantly having to rewrite their story of what happened, and for gosh sakes, i mean, you know, if there isn't something at the heart of it, they've done themselves no favors by the way that they've behaved because it certainly has the appearance of being, you know, of there being some guilt. >> not forthcoming. david, i want to ask you about the new reporting on melania trump. apparently she's getting a little unhappy about being tied to reports of the staffing
disputes. if melania's unhappy, we know she's off to france with the president tonight, how's that going to stir things up? >> well, we were also hearing that she doesn't really want to involve herself so much in the west wing staffing disputes that she perhaps sees that as really not her role and is focused more on her east wing responsibilities. but what we do know over the course of this time is that melania trump, if not weighing in on staff issues in the west wing, certainly weighs in with her president on sort of his broader positioning and is careful with his brand and makes it known when she thinks he's going against the grain in a way that's not helpful to him. so i have no doubt that as this swirl is happening, she no doubt is offering some private advice for her husband. >> we'll see if he takes it. david challengeian and andrew rice, thank you both for being here. what are the legal implications for donald trump jr.? our experts discuss the likely outcomes. plus, who is rob goldstone, the publicist who set up that meeting. his background and possible motivation. just like the people
who own them, every business is different. but every one of those businesses will need legal help as they age and grow. whether it be help starting your business, vendor contracts or employment agreements. legalzoom's network of attorneys can help you every step of the way so you can focus on what you do. we'll handle the legal stuff that comes up along the way. legalzoom. legal help is here. fitting into my skinny jeans ♪again? that's cool. feeling good in slim fit? that's cool. looking fabulous in my little black dress? that's cool. getting the body you want without surgery, needles, or downtime? that's coolsculpting. coolsculpting is the only fda-cleared non-invasive treatment that targets and freezes away stubborn fat cells. visit coolsculpting.com today and register for a chance to win a free treatment.
whuuuuuat?rtgage offer from the bank today. you never just get one offer. go to lendingtree.com and shop multiple loan offers for free! free? yeah. could save thousands. you should probably buy me dinner. no. go to lendingtree.com for a new home loan or refinance. receive up to five free offers and choose the loan that's right for you. our average customer could lower their monthly bills by over three hundred dollars. go to lendingtree.com right now.
donald trump jr. is downplaying the meeting's significance, but the fact that it took place at all, could it have serious legal consequences? some of the charges being floated, violating campaign finance law, perjury, false statements. joining me now to talk more about this phillip, he was counsel to the special prosecutors during the white watergate scandal and rick is an election law and campaign finance expert and a professor at uc irvine. thank you for being here. on its face, donald junior's
e-mails, he agrees in writing to this meeting for information that would incriminate hillary clinton, very high level and sensitive information, part of russia and its government's support of mr. trump, quotes from these e-mails. do you see legal trouble here? >> i think the memo is important, legally, for a couple of reasons, apart from the political consequences of showing that the trump administration's denials of contacts with the russian government were false. but from the standpoint of a prosecutor, such as special counsel mueller, this is red meat. because what we're seeing is really chapter 6 of the story of the campaign. the first part of the e-mail chain that was released, i think, conveys to a prosecutor not only willingness to meet about russian contacts and russian influence, probably obtained illegally through espionage activities, which is the only reason why it's
characterizes as russian government information that's sensitive, but it also seems to suggest to me, and i think to any other prosecutor, that there's a back story behind that contact that mr. goldstone and donald junior had a prior discussions about the russian support for president trump and the possibility of providing raw material. so i think that's an important piece of the investigative puzzle. and in addition, what the memorandum demonstrates is what i would say a prosecutor would characterize as a kind of consciousness of guilt. that is, for the last almost a year now, and you've played many times don junior's comments calling these speculations disgusting and denying absolutely that there had been any contact with the russians, that was false because he had had, now, it's clear, the very same kinds of contacts that he
was disavowing just a few weeks earlier, and prosecutors wonder why is somebody being so aggressive in denying something if the contacts that are now demonstrable were really that innocent. >> so you're saying there's more and more evidence here, but am i hearing you say that the memo alone shows he broke a law? >> i don't know that the memo itself demonstrates that he broke a law. there is a very broad federal conspiracy statute that makes it a federal crime to conspire with anyone else to not only to obstruct justice but to deprive the united states of its lawful functions, and there's been speculation that that might include conspiring with others, including foreign operatives, to interfere with the integrity of a federal election. and of course, your other guest will comment on possible
solicitation of election law violations. >> exactly. >> which could also be in themselves troublesome. >> let me go there with you, rick. you have talked a lot about campaign finance law. how would you prove he did anything illegal in that regard? >> well, it's a pretty straightforward question. under federal campaign finance law, a person ks so list, which is either explicitly or implicitly, ask for anything of value from a foreign person or entity so the argument would be that by donald trump jr. saying, i love it, in that e-mail chain to, would you like to see some high level and sensitive information from the russian government that's dirt on hillary clinton, that that is something of value that's being provided by a foreign source, and he's asking for it. and so, while i don't think that the memo itself is the smoking gun ends the case, i think it's more than enough for the special prosecutor to dig in and to really determine whether or not
the statute and potentially other campaign finance and other laws outside of campaign finance were broken in either soliciting the meeting or in the meeting itself. >> now, trump junior, jared kushner, they were not professional campaigners. they're pretty new to politics. rick, is ignorance a defense? >> well, they certainly were not -- there may have been ignorant that there was a particular statute on the books. that's not going to help. they weren't ignorant of the conduct or at least it appears that donald trump jr., i should say, was not ignorant of the conduct. he's being told that the russian government is offering him sensitive information on the campaign's political opponent and he says, i love it. sounds like he has all the knowledge you would need to show that he is a willing participant in this. as to how that applies to manafort and to kushner, i think we don't know. >> that's an extremely important point. it's often said, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and that's important, because over the last few months, we've heard many
attempts at defending the conduct here, that these people are neophytes. president trump himself is not a professional politician, but the law is the law. and it forbids certain kinds of conduct. one does not have to know about the existence of a particular statute in order to run afoul of it. if the person knowingly or deliberately engages in the conduct that the law forbids, and i think that's where not only donald junior but jared kushner and paul manafort and others may be in trouble and will certainly be pursued by mr. mueller's investigation on the basis of this memory randumd the basis of the back story that led up to goldstone's memorandum and contacts that took place thereafter. >> and our understanding is mueller is interested in talking to don junior and looking at this situation.
phillip and rick, thank you. next in the "newsroom," don junior tweeting out his own e-mails surrounding the meeting yesterday but who leaked them to the "new york times" prior to that? we'll discuss with a former cia undercover operative next. a few. oh, like what? ♪ you're gonna have dizziness, ♪ nausea, and sweaty eyelids. ♪ and in certain cases chronic flatulence. ♪ no. ♪ sooooo gassy girl. ♪ so gassy. if you're boyz ii men, you make anything sound good. it's what you do. if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. next! ♪ next! binders, done. super-cool notebooks, done. that's mom taking care of business. but who takes care of mom? office depot/office max. this week, get this ream of paper for just one cent after rewards. ♪ taking care of business.
ready to of your back pain? new icyhot lidocaine patch. desensitizes aggravated nerves with the max strength lidocaine available. new icyhot lidocaine patch. by all accounts, there were just four people in that meeting, the russian lawyer, donald trump jr., his brother-in-law, jared kushner, and then trump campaign chairman paul manafort. the question many are asking, including white house staff, is how could people so high up in the trump campaign agree to such a meeting and once they met with the russian, who leaked it to the media? i'm joined by former cia undercover operative lindsey moran. thanks for being here.
goldstone's involvement, you say this is classic kgb. explain. >> sure. i mean, i think it's helpful and important to look at this administration from the vantage point of a foreign intelligence service, like russian intelligence. and this administration has shown itself to be a kremlin dream come true, really, because it's truly target rich. a foreign intelligence service, when they're looking at acquiring secret information about the united states, they're going to look foremost for people with placement and access. so, don junior. they're secondly going to look for people who have vulnerabilities, and motivations. we've heard don junior say that his antenna didn't even go up over this requested meeting with the russian lawyer. i'm sorry, but if you're antenna does not go up over something like that, you're showing incredible either naivete or just plain stupidity. this is exactly what we do when cia officers, when we're out looking to recruit human sources
in foreign countries, we're looking for people with placement and access and people that we might be able to manipulate and exploit. so, what i think we're seeing, before our eyes, are some classic kgb tactics and intelligence human operations taking place for all of us now to see, because it's been exposed. >> so, what we are just showing were pictures of rob goldstone. he, of course, is the publicist of this pop star in russia who apparently was the one who coordinated this meeting between donald trump jr. and the russian lawyer. do you find it interesting that he was the guy who was putting these different sides together? >> i find it interesting. i don't find it surprising at all. i mean, one way that russian intelligence gathers secret information is to prey upon people who are kind of ordinary citizens, who might not have the knowledge of russian intelligence tactics, whose
antenna might not go up, and so mr. goldstone, someone who's connected, someone who might have motivations of his own, this is exactly what russian intelligence or the kremlin would do. to find someone to kind of act as an intermediary. kn nobody's going to come to donald trump jr. and say, hey, i work for russian intelligence, would you like to have a meeting with me. no. they're going to have a number of go-tweens that massage that meeting. but to anyone with any knowledge of how human intelligence and source recruitment works, it's obvious that it was -- that there were ulterior motives in seeking that meeting. >> the word inside the white house now is to find the leaker of this story. the new york sometim"the new yoe advisers. these leaks are apparently coming from inside the white house. what does that tell you? >> what it tells me is less important than, again, what it tells our foreign adversaries
and people who might collect intelligence against us. because now we have not only an administration that, as i said before, is displaying kind of glaring vulnerabilities, but also we have an administration that's obviously in complete disarray. again, target rich for overtures from any foreign intelligence service but particularly from the russians. >> are you surprised donald trump jr. put out his e-mails for the world to see? >> i'm not entirely surprised, no, because i think he knew that they were going to come out. so it was a little bit of, i would venture to say, cover his own hide. he knew the e-mails were going to be published anyway, so really, he had no other choice if you say, okay, i'm going to be completely transparent and put them out myself. >> all right, lindsay, thank you so much for your take. president trump today slamming stories with anonymous sources even though he often cites them when it's good news for him. but this time, the source was his own son. we'll discuss. also, breaking this afternoon, the moan nominated t
there are reports today that the white house is paralyzed by suspicion that someone in their midst anonymously leaked the donald trump jr. story to the media. president trump got on twitter early this morning to rail against unnamed sources. remember when you hear these words, sources say from the fake media oftentimes those sources are made up and do not exist. joining me to
discuss, cnn senior media and politics reporter and the president of the white house correspondents association. so, dylan, first of all, the president's tweet just isn't true. we have the e-mails. we have the statement from his very own son about the meeting that he had with this russian lawyer, and what he thought he was going to get going into it. this is not a conspiracy.
>> no, of course it's not a conspiracy. and it's not true. and trying to cast doubt on the media with your supporters becomes very hard when your own son, who's at the center of this story, is not only acknowledging the e-mails but publishing them himself on twitter and you know, as former president obama said in his farewell address, reality has a way of catching up with you. at a certain point, all this demonizing of the mainstream media, calling it fake news, calling into question whether or not these sources actually exist, it becomes very hard to do when there is actual evidence that is being acknowledge bd by members of your own family or members of your own team and in that context, a tweet like this from the president of the united states sounds more akin to something you would hear over a loud speaker in north korea. don't believe what you're hearing from the other side. don't believe what you're hearing from the outside. it's becoming increasingly hard for the president of the united
states to make that argument and i would make the appeal to his supporters, how can something be fake if we have the e-mails and his own son is acknowledging that they're real. >> and on top of that, the president seems to like anonymous sources when they benefit him. what's your reaction to him saying, don't believe anything if sources aren't named. >> well, the president obviously does like to complain about stories that he doesn't like, and he uses anonymous sourcing as one of the vehicles for doing that as well as some of the rhetoric that he's employed. the use of anonymous sources is something that journalists do but honestly as a reporter, i'd always prefer to have a named source and the irony of the president criticizing that is the white house uses anonymous sources all the time. so, we will often speak to people here in this building behind me and they will say, we can use that but you have to use it on background or you have to use it in a way that does not attribute my name. so it's, yes, i'm sure it is frustrating to read something that you don't see the name to, but journalists would almost
always prefer to have a name if sources, including the ones that are used here at the white house, would agree to it. >> and sources are nothing new to this administration. for a long time, there have been people who don't want to be named but are giving important information that does need to be put out there for the public to keep government officials and people in power accountable, but jeff, what do you now make of these reports that people, republicans, who are close to the white house, plan to dig up dirt now on the reporters who are covering this trump junior story and then feed the information to trump friendly outlets and social media? >> well, i've heard those reports. i don't have any independent knowledge of that myself. there is, you know, often an effort by folks who don't like the coverage that they see to attack the messenger, and if that's the strategy that is employed, then it won't be the first time. i think good reporters and good news organizations can take it. we can take the heat as long as we continue to do our jobs. >> now, in the briefings for the
last year, we're expecting a briefing to happen at the top of the hour. it's off camera. of course we'll have to wait until after the briefing is over to bring it to you all live, but last year, in the past year, with these briefings, we've heard over and over and over, there were no russian contacts between trump campaigners and the russians, none. then we learn this. and once again, it seems, dylan, that this is a credibility issue for the white house and its associates. >> sure. well, and this white house, unfortunately, i just think this is a point of fact, i don't think it's a biased thing to say. they lost their credibility a long time ago. they've shown a total willingness to mislead the american people, to lie to the american people, to mistreat the press. very often, you talk about these press briefings, the people sitting or standing at the podium in the press briefings, whether it's sean spicer or sarah huckabee sanders, don't actually know what the president is thinking or have a sort of coherent message that they can put forward from the white house. you know, the "wall street
journal" made this point several months ago in an editorial, which was, if the president of the united states tweeted that a missile had gone off in north korea and landed somewhere in the pacific ocean, would you believe it? would you, as the american people, believe it? there's room to doubt and the reason there's room to doubt is because nothing that this administration says can be trusted going back to the tweet that you mentioned at the top of this segment, which is casting doubt on a story that once again was confirmed by the son of the president of the united states. it's a joke. and by the way, that credibility gap does not only hurt the relationship between the press and the president of the united states, it hurts america's credibility both here and abroad. >> jeff, what can you tell us about the trump administration reportedly reaching out to the white house correspondents association to call out reporters and news organizations? >> well, i don't think it was about calling out reporters and news organizations. i shared a story at a town hall that the correspondents association had earlier this week about an incident where the white house was unhappy with a
story that a white house reporter had written. it was about the press, and they asked me in my role as the head of the correspondents association to issue a statement about that. and defending the white house. and i said no. that's just not something that we do. that would be seen as criticizing a reporter and a member of the white house press corps and that's not our role. so that, you know, part of the learning experience that we've both had, the correspondents association and this white house in the last several months, has been figuring out each other's roles and i had to make clear that that is not a role that we would play. >> jeff mason, dylan biers, thank you both. thank you. top of the hour. i'm in the "cnn newsroom." any minute now, the white house will be holding another off-camera briefing as reports swirl of a white house paralyzed. and a president furious and frustrated as his son's e-mails dominate the headlines again today.