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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  July 13, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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>> to find out how harry transforms the lives of these young people, you can watch his story right now on cnn heroes.com. and nominate someone you think should be a hero. white house in crisis is next. ♪ this is cnn breaking news. >> this is a cnn special report. "white house in crisis." breaking tonight. top white house aids now at risk of being dragged into the special counsel's investigation. >> they've been exposed to scrutiny for what they may have known about donald trump jr.'s meeting with a russian lawyer and for the incomplete and changing explanations of what went on. >> here's what we know at this hour. right now we're getting new details on how the white house strug tooled manage the disclosure of emails setting up that bomb shell meeting.
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this as top senate investigators now want donald trump jr. to testify under oath possibly as soon as next week. they want to know more about his meeting with the russian lawyer last year that he went into expecting dirt on hillary clinton. he was told coming from the kremlin. tonight president trump is fuelling new questions about what he knew and when he knew it. speaking to reporters while flying to paris, he seemed to contradict his own public statements that he learned about the meeting only within the last few days. saying quote maybe it was mentioned at some point. another key question. did donald trump jr. speak on the phone with a pivotal figure behind the meeting? a very well connected pop star. we're going to talk to his attorney live this hour. >> we're covering all the developments with our team of correspondents and analysts. and the potential crisis for
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white house aids. we're joined by evan perez. how did the white house aids get dragged into all of this? >> this begins in june when the kushner legal team discovers this -- these emails which describe this meeting and they realize they now have to disclose it as part of the security clearance process and this begins a series of events, including notification to people inside the white house, the president's own legal team becomes aware of this. and then they begin to strat jz about how to respond to this, especially once the media starts figuring this out. you have top aids working with the president who become aware of different parts of this and they're trying to figure out how they're going to answer the questions from the press, including when the new york times answers them over the weekend and you see the beginnings of different explanations that were out put
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out. we know those people behind the white house -- at the white house were a bigging part in trying to put that message out, including some of the incorrect statement statements. >> it wasn't just about don jr., it was about jared kushner. how much did protecting jared kushner play into all of this sh. >> we're told a big part of the discussion was making sure jared kushner, who was the only person inside the meeting about protecting him and making sure that there donald trump jr., who is a private citizen doesn't have to disclose the meeting, that all of the blame goes on him and part of the issue is you have people that white house who purpo purposely were supposed to be left out of the russia investigation who may have to answer questions from the special counsel, mueller, because they've become part of the discussion of this meeting. we'll see if robert mueller decides he wants testimony from all of the aids who moilth have been part of this strategy to
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respond. >> they'll be treated as witnesses. >> yes. >> a growing witness list, no question. is the white house once again changing its story on a key detail of the russia investigation? this time on when the president knew about donald trump jr.'s meeting with a russian lawyer. interviewed by fox on monday, he said unequivocally, he did not tell his father about the meeting. >> a lot of people are going to wanted to know this about your father. did you tell your father anything about this? >> it was such a nothing. there was nothing to tell. i wouldn't have even remembered it. it was literally a wasted 20 minutes, which is a shame. >> yesterday the president himself said he learned about the meeting saying quote no i didn't know until a couple of days ago when i heard about this. but the president somewhat cryptically raised the question that he learned about this not a
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couple of days ago but at some specified earlier date quote in fact, maybe it was mentioned at some point. so to repeat the phrase, what did the president know and when did he know it? >> gloria, you've been speaking with sources with knowledge of the investigation. what are they telling you about the actual timeline? >> the key here is this june 21 date. this was when jared kushner and his attorney going through document review, as they would before they wept back and spoke with the fbi as part of his security clearance process, discovered this email chain. and that is a key date. so we look back to june 21 and the question i think that all of us have is did jared kushner
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telegraph in any way shape or form that there was a problem on the horizon? the new york times has reported that he did in an obtuse way or was this lawyer to lawyer conversation? or did he talk to don jr. about this? did don jr. talk to the president about this? and so the president kind of changing his story a little bit here is quite interesting. >> and not the first time we've heard difring stories on key details. you're reporting they have known about this email for more than three weeks. is it credible to you that in light of the closeness of that relationship that the lawyers would not let the president know? >> that is an excellent question. june 21st is the date that jared kushner amends his security clearance form and then june 23rd, two days later, he's re-interviewed by the fbi. fbi agents show up for a second
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time to question kushner about this. now, that same week kushner's lawyers inform the president's lawyers, mark caswts, the chief lawyer in the russia investigation and the chief lawyer for the trump organization. so you have this question sitting at the table. did the top lawyers for the president have this explosive information and not inform their client? you could argue that they had some have argued and i quote richard painter, former ethics lawyer for the bush white house, saying they had an ethical obligation to inform their client about relevant information relevant to this investigation and it's possible they were trying to protect him. but it raises questions about the twice statements. that he only learned about this in the last couple of days. >> we also know real quick that jared kushner told his own
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lawyers that he planned to sit the president down, show him the document. go through it with him because he felt he needed to explain this, he owed this to the president. we don't know whether it did because the president is saying he didn't -- >> and there was another person in that meeting. paul manafort, who also is supposed to testify before congressional investigators. what did his lawyers know? what has he told congressional investigators? is and have his lawyers spoken with jared kushner's lawyers? and i want to ask you so clearly people within president trump's innercircle knew about this and it it seems as though it wasn't immediately brought to his attention. tell me more, gloria, about the dynamic between president trump, donald trump, his son. >> donald trump jr.'s office is
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below the president's in trump tower. it was very difficult for don jr. when the president and ivana were divorced. they didn't speak for a period of time. they have since become very close and don jr.'s been involved in every part of the president's businesses. and so you have to ask the question -- and the children in this family want to please donald trump and that's always the way it's worked. so you have to ask the question when he got this email from somebody that is very well known to donald trump from a family that he's done business with and done the miss universe pageant with, etc., you have ask yourself the question would he not have told his father about it? >> he even said earlier we're a very close family and when we're under attack, we stick together.
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describe that relationship. you've been talking to the lawyers a lot. i mean, this goes back to the way he ran his businesses. it's a family affair. he has long-term relationships with some of his lawyers as well. hard to imagine information wasn't changing hands in that arangement. >> and a lot of the strategy was happening behind the scenes. certainly after the fbi -- it turns out cnn made a phone call. i made a phone call on the 26th in which i informed them i was aware of the adjustment and so what happens behind the scenes is a lot of strat jzing about how to deal with this? because they know the day is coming about how tomanage this news and the instinct that kicks in is not to disclose despite the advice of other people of let's get this out, rip the ban dade off. instead what their instinct was
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to partially tell the story and tell it falsely. their first statement was false. >> that led to immediate changes. and the next day there was another story. >> and this has been the problem for jared kushner all along is the disclosures he's made and to members of congress have not been complete. this is what mark warner, the top democrat raised today. i asked directly what is happening with jared kushner right now? kushner himself offered to come before the panel in march. we're in july and there's no sign of him coming. and one reason why is because of them going back and forth over records and there's a new request from the senate judiciary committee for mr. kushner to lay out exactly what happened here because as mark warner said there were at least three meetings with kushner and russian officials
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that were not included in some of the forms that he provided. >> and another big request from sandra grassley asking for don jr. to testify on capitol hill. i spoke to his attorney who said he's considering this request but this would be a significant deal for the president's son to be testifying under oath. >> and significant too because this is a republican chairman of a key committee that wants to bring donald trump jr. before him. you've heard democrat after democrat say they want him to testify. some republicans have said that too. but having a chairman that has the power to bring him forward, making that decision today very sniff competeignifican significant. sounds like we'll get cooperation. they're not ruling out the prospects of issuing subpoenas and the question is if paul manafort comes before the judiciary committee. the question is if that's going
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to step on bob mueller's investigation. >> the white house has known since january that the house and the senate intelligence committees were going to be investigating this matter, including any links to the russian government by any political campaign. so they were on notice that this is something that was going to be getting a lot of scrutiny. they were going to have to be testifying, providing documents. any other white house in which there were people with some experience handling scandals in the past would have known the first thing you do is an internal review. you collect every email, every document, every memo, assemble it. and then you make decisions about how you're going to deal with it. it's not clear -- we know that simply wasn't done in this case. >> in fact the instinct throughout has been opposite. and we see a little microcosm of
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that this weekend. you start -- you get the team on a saturday as you're reporting tonight has shown and they were looking to obscure, right? and then that backed them into a corner because they had to correct and correct again. >> and then there's also preparing to say hey, i want to make sure we're prepared for any scenarios. >> i think if you have a president of the united states who says we have to get all of this out, we have to do everything we can, we have to comb through every record, we have to make sure nobody here colluded in any way shape or form with the russians. if the president is saying that, then the rest follows. >> i have to say this prospect of the president's son going before as soon as next week under oath -- this is different. you can obscure in public statements but once you're in front of the committee, that's
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under oath. as we know investigators are looking into the possibilities of other meetings and what the content of those meetings were. if he's not forthcoming on those, this sets up true legal jeopardy. >> and gets back that initial point of what did the president know? you can guarantee you the question he's going to be asked if he does agree to testify, particularly in a public session or a closed session is did you tell your father about this meeting? and if he says something different than what he said publicly, that would look bad politically, but if he lies to congress, that's legal problems. >> many moments and a string of incredible moments. hold your thought because we have the advantage of more time later. new questions about the russians mentioned in donald trump jr.'s emails. >> we'll be joined by a u.s. law maker and other top members.
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breaking news tonight, top white house aids now at risk of being dragged into the special counsel investigation. >> they may be under scrutiny for what they may know about donald trump jr.'s meeting with a russian lawyer and for their role in crafting the changing explanations of what went on. joining us is a member of the judiciary committee. thank you for coming on. >> a pleasure. i want to start with what
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did president trump know and when? because he told roiters yesterday he only learned a couple of days ago but today it sounds like he's leaving that window open. maybe it was mentioned at some point. what's your take? >> first of all you can't believe anything he says because he's a serial liar. his story will change once, it's already changed twice. you had this email chain in which donald trump jr. and manafort and jared kushner all get these emails and participate in the chain, promising the russian government is going to get information, dirt on hillary clinton. the next day the president make as speech saying that next week i'm going to give a speech with all sorts of negative stuff and dirt on hillary clinton.
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a few days after that on the 9th of june, they have the meeting. the material doesn't turn up. talks about repealing the act -- >> the russian lawyer. >> the russian lawyer. and he doesn't in fact make a speech with dirt on hillary but the wikileaks start coming out a week later. there's circumstantial evidence he was told immediately about the fact they expected shortly a lot of dirt from the russian government and he said i'm going to have a speech with a lot of information. >> and we should point out again his son did not tell his father about this at the time. they're reporting president trump 's lawyers found out about this more than a week ago when he found it in the email exchange and at that point they told jared kushner's legal team. but do you think it's possible they wouldn't have told him at
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that point? >> no. it's perfectly plausible the way the white house seems to operate but they didn't tell the legal teams. but given the timeline i just said and given the fact if you're the president's son and son in law and campaign manager and you get told the russian government is a, operating a russian government operation to help your election and going to give you information on hillary clinton, you'd probably tell the candidate. >> what's your response to the president's repeated defense by saying listen it's campaign. anybody would take that meeting. >> anybody would not take that meeting. you don't meet with a agent of a foreign hostile power hoping they will intervene in the election. in fact that very email chain is probably criminal solicitation of illegal russian interference in the election and unkind contribution of something
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valuable. and opposition research that can only be gotten by theft, russian spyi spying. now, the best case scenario is he didn't know it and got no information at that point and that simply means manafort and kushner and donald trump were probably involved in a crime. the worst case scenario, you have to look at more timeline. remember the lawyer i met with had to delay the meeting for an hour because she was engaged in american court. what was she doing in an american courtroom? she was involved in the case where the justice department and the purse thochb u.s. attorney was suing some russian oligarchs for laundering money through manhattan real estate. it was for revealing this and
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had been murdered and congress in etaliation had been passed the act, imposing sanctions on certain people involved in that. and -- >> let's hit the pause button for a second. but bottom line this is a case involving the russian attorney. are you suggesting the department of justice somehow interfere interferes? do you have any proof for that? >> no. what then happens is a u.s. attorney prosecuting the case is suddenly fired in march of 2017. in may it's settled for $6 million, causing her to go back -- >> and to be clear, i spoke with a law enforcement official. he made it clear the portion involving new york was just a fraction of the $230 million and the other side actually came to
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the government and wanted to settle it. that the government wanted to go to trial and the government was asking for 10 million and settled for 6 million. >> i don't know any of a that. i'm saying a worst case scenario this was part of a quid pro quo. you give us the information, we'll settle this case, we'll do other things. we'll go easy on the sanctions. this is what we have to investigate. >> and you've written your letters? >> there's a lot of suggestive things there but they're highly suggestive and we have to investigate this and we've written very -- a whole series of specific questions. did the trump campaign, the trump presidency get involved in this at all? maybe not. but have to investigate. >> pleasure.
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we are back with our special report, white house in crisis. tonight president is down playing his meeting. but law makers on both sides are taking it very seriously. >> senator chuck graphly says they're sending a bipartisan letter requesting he testify before the judiciary committee. law makers want to know about his connections to the wealthy russian family and family behind the meeting and whether a phone call ever took place beor the meeting as the emails might suggest. during the exchange, pub lissest says let me know when you're free to talk about this hillary info. rob, could we speak now. go goldstone writes let me track him down in moscow.
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what number could he call. and don jr. replies he can call his cell. and goldstone, i'm sure he can call. that's june 6th. nearly an hour later, don jr. replies, thanks for the help. raising the question of whether a phone call might have taken place during that time. around 24 hours later, another email saying emin asked that i schedule a meeting between you and the russian government attorney. i'm sure you're aware of the meeting. how else would he might be aware thoof meeting one might ask? >> that attorney joins us now tonight live from new york. he represents two of the men mentioned in donald trump jr.'s emails. thanks for taking the time. >> i wanted to bottom line ask did your client speak to donald
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trump jr. before or after the meeting with the russian lawyer? >> likely months before. he has no recollection of any conversation by telephone or otherwise in this time frame with donald trump jr. either. he doesn't believe it happened. >> so when you say months before, was this during the campaign he spoke to him? >> no, he has no specific recollections of any conversation on this topic. he spoke to donald trump jr. during the couple of years before this time frame in which they had known each other but nothing about this issue. >> so they did have a phone relationship. >> and do you know how many times during the presidential campaign this happened? >> no. again, nobody has any recollection of conversations during that time frame.
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>> give us a better sense of the russian lawyer, who goldstone called a russian government lawyer. >> let me put this in context if i can. the theory is that russian government is in possession of highly confidential supersecret devastating information that would effect the outcome of the election and change the fucher of the free world and they debated how should we convey that to the trump campaign? and someone said let's get rob goldstone, a music publicist to convey the message? and let's get as many people involved in the conversation and do it by email. it just makes no sense. >> to be fair goldstone, yes, set up the meeting but the lawyer is a very well connected lawyer with an effort, a history of challenging u.s. sanctions
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against russians accused of human rights abuses, so these are big issues. >> it is true she has been a vocal opponent to the act. it's -- she is a moscow based --. >> what do you base your cert.ty on she had had no association with the kremlin? >> what i meant was we had no understanding or reason to believe she has an association with the kremlin. she has been a private real estate lawyer who over the course of time has been engaged in the transactions and that's
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how alling a will arknows him. if someone has a basis, i would love to see it. >> so to be clear, were they told by anyone that russian government was in campaign to medal in the u.s. election and even if they weren't aware of it, did they ever direct rob goldstone to say that in this email to don jr.? >> tanswer to the first questio is no. they never had any knowledge or understanding of any effort by the russian government to try and be involved in the u.s. campaign and no, it's not the case that either of my clients had any involvement in some of the preposterous things mr. goldstone said in the emails you showed on the air a moment ago. >> do your clients have any ties to the vladimirpute snn. >> no, other than the fact he's
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the president of their country and mr. aguilar received a high level award. >> not an insignificant high level award. it's people who mr. putin considers important people. >> i'm saying it's the case that he's an import pt person in the russian federation, a successful businessman, involved in lots of activities which have put him in high prominence. he doesn't have a personal relationship with putin anymore than any other powerful person has with their leadership. and months before there was a phone conversation between your client and don jr. spoking to the attorney for don jr. saying tlhey're going throuh all the phone logs to make sure there weren't any other conversations. have you done the same? and i want to circle back to where weather or not there were
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any conversations after that meeting as well. you said there weren't any in that time frame but anything after? >> we have no reason to believe there were any after or before in this time frame. we are doing the same analysis. we're trying to look back at information to determine whether there was any phone calls beutthis was a year ago and there is no recollection of any phone calls having taken place on this topic. >> the president's nominee for fbi director said if a person offered information from a foreign government, as this is being dubbed, that person should seek legal counsel. what kind of counsel would you give your client? >> my client has no need for counsel because they have no involvement in these issues other than setting opmeeting. >> what kind of koupscounsel wo you give generally? >> i'm not in the mood to give free legal advice to the world.
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it's me and it's you. don't stop now, it's easy to add to the routine. join energy upgrade california and do your thing. i think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. it's called opposition research or research into your opponent.
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yrv only been in politics for two years but i've had many people call up, oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person or frankly, hillary. that's very standard in politics. >> that was president trump today in paris. once again defending his son's meeting with the russian lawyer in june of last year promising incriminating information on hillary clinton. let's bring back our correspondents and analysts. a very glib argument saying it's just opposition research, happens in politics. this is not your typical opposition research when you were told it is sourced to the russian government and you were told it is part of a russian government effort to win. >> this is how he won the election and this is what donald trump does, which is he has a narrative which he has crafted and anybody would have done this
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and even though donald trump jr. himself said to sean hannity, i might have handled things differently, that is not the narrative you're hearing from the president because that's not how donald trump works and what he is doing is digging in and then he later on says look, the lawyer was not a government lawyer. this lawyer was a -- just a lawyer and she got her visa as a result of something loretta lynch did and went down that path and this is what donald trump does. >> i mean there is this other small issue though of the laws and norms of the united states of america right here. and the fact is he made this glib argument the day after his own fbi director said unequivocally after questioning by the senator that this is
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something cryou have to go to t fbi with. how aggressively are you hearing that argument made by republicans at least in private? >> public and private. most republicans i talk to it's a no brainer to them. they say we're not going to accept a meeting with anyone who's tied to the kremlin, any foreign adversary and frankly because a lot of these republicans on the hill have a much tougher line on russia than the president of the united states does. jeff blake, republican senator from arizona up for reelection next year. i said what about this? the president says it's common practice. anyone would do this. he said not me. i wouldn't do this. maybe it's easy to say to a reporter. but when you ask virtually anybody on the hill, they'll say they've never taken a meeting such as this one. >> you may have heard we interviewed congressman and he raised the speech donald trump gave just two days before this
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meeting. >> i am going to give a major speech on probably monday of next week and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the clintons. i think you're going to find it very informative and very, very interesting. >> and to be clear this is four hours after the meeting was set june 9th. but it certainly raises some questions. >> it absolutely raises questions of what the president was informed of and whether he knew about this meeting. again they've exposed themselves a little bit here where they might be able to ask people around him and keep in mind even though president seems to be digging in and trying to at least arrive at a new story they're going to try to stick to, there are cracks forming behind the scenes. there are people pointing fingers because they're very unhappy about how this thing was done and they do not want to go
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down with the ship. so you're going to see -- what we're going to see is those cracks, whether those people start jumping ship, whether people who quit might then go to the investigators and say what they know was happening behind the scenes and that is what the white house should be very worried about. >> what are you learning, michael? >> first of all that was a fascinating interview with the lawyer for the aguilars. but it was incomplete about the relationship between his clients and the trump family. i actually had the occasion to spend two hours interviewing rob goldstone back in march before anybody had any idea he was going to become a central figure in this investigation. because i knew he had been with donald trump in moscow during the miss universe pageant and could give an eye witness acount of what took place there and he had quite a bit to say about the
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aguilars. there was a lot more to the miss universe trip than was publicly understood at the time. and even in the years afterwards. what's significant is that they signed a business agreement to build a trump tower in moscow. donald trump jr., according to goldstone was put in charge of that project. ivanka trump flew to moscow in february 2014 and scouted sites for the property of trump tower with emin and there's photographic evidence on the facebook page of ivanka and emin in moscow at the time goldstone told me it was. it is true this ultultimately
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didn't happen. they said it was because trump decided to run for president. in fact, trump properties organization went forward -- projects went forward around the world. what really happened according to goldstone's accounts was in 2014 russia intervenes in ukrain and the u.s. impose sanctions. and the project is no longer economically feasible. so when we learn as we have in the early weeks of the trump administration, they were looking looking to lift sanctions on russia, you have to wonder if the fact that sanctions torpedoed in moscow -- >> you've opened a whole host of a can of worms. our correspondents look ahead. >> what's next and for the trump
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been known about donald trump jr.'s meeting with the russian lawyer, and the changing explanations of what went on. our correspondents and analysts are back to look ahead to where the story goes from here. >> rob goldstone's name is at the center of this e-mail, setting up this key meeting here. likely to be called to testify? >> i think so. mark warner has said he wants the senate intelligence committee to bring forward and question anybody who was involved in setting up the meeting. i think the problem, or the thing to look for is there are a number of document requests that are out for people like jared kushner, security clearance information, letters that came from the senate judiciary committee, deadlines at the white house, and the fbi have not yet met to provide that information. soon enough, they're going to face subpoenas if they do not turn over that information. that could be key to watch in the coming days. >> this testimony is under oath, right? >> under oath. very significant. we interviewed the attorney for the agalarovs between don junior
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and the russian attorney. he said tonight for the first time that there was a phone call between emin agalarov and don junior before that meeting at trump tower. >> that seems significant to me, in the sense that we know there have been some conversations before this meeting. there's reference, i think, in the e-mails, that there might have been a phone call. we didn't really know whether or not it occurred. that's the first instance anybody's confirming that there might have been such a conversation. the question is, what happened in that conversation, was this just a continuation of previous business discussions, obviously they seemed to have known each other before that. but i think investigators are going to want to know a lot more about what happened in the communications. i think the focus on this, of this discovery of this meeting, and this -- and these e-mails i think will cause them to go back and look through everything they have, communications. there's a lot of stuff stored up that they can look back and see
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if they can put some of this together. >> michael isikoff, the refrain is there is no evidence of collusion. is there now at least evidence? >> there's certainly evidence of discussions of collusion. where it went from there, you know, we just don't know. but i think it's -- by the way, i should say, emin agalarov, he's given a number of interviews over the past years in which he said he stayed in touch with president trump, even both he and his father congratulated him on his election in november. got a nice message back from the president. in fact, he even said, the president is somebody who remembers his friends. >> now we're heading into the point where you're going to have a congressional committee and they're going to be calling the people they want who are obvious, and the question is going to be, bob mueller, the special counsel, where is there a conflict, and who's going to get immunity.
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we haven't heard from general flynn in a while. i'm curious about that. >> the questions of the russian cloud will continue to hang over the white house. thank you for joining us. >> the news continues on cnn right after this quick break.
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i'm leaving you, wesley. but why? you haven't noticed me in two years. i was in a coma. well, i still deserve appreciation. who was there for you when you had amnesia? you know i can't remember that. stop this madness.
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good evening. thanks for joining us. we begin with the president's koishlted misstatements of facts. continuing because there's a pattern which includes making bold claims unsupported by facts or contradicted by them. leveling serious accusations, allegations about individuals with vague atattribution, unles somebody said somehow counts which it doesn't. in paris, for bastille day, he defended the meeting his son, done junior, had last year with a russian lawyer peddling dirt on hillary clinton. a lawyer he was told was a lawyer from the russian government. he's a wonderful young man the president said, making it sound like donald junior is not the same age as the president.

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