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President Trump is Revealing Some Details About His Private Meeting With Russian President Vladimir Putin; Troops Have Been Involved in Battle For Mosul; President Trump Asked Putin if he Had Anything to do with Election Meddling, Putin Says No; Republican Struggle To Agree on A Way Forward For Healthcare Reform; The New York Times Reporting Right Now On Donald Trump Jr.Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 9, 2017 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: Hello, you were in the CNN News Room. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York, great to have you with us. President Trump is revealing some details about his private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not in the form of a press conference where reporters could ask questions, but instead through a flurry of tweets.

The president typing this today, I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in the election. He vehemently denied it, and I've already given my opinion. Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cyber security unit for that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded. U.S. Intelligence Agencies unanimously agreed Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee as well as the Clinton campaign official email.

That they attempted to hack into the election systems of at least twenty-one states and that they launched a massive cyber campaign aimed at spreading this information, so the idea that the U.S. would work with Moscow on cyber security is certainly raising some eyebrows. It's already being sharply criticized from both sides of the aisle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDSEY GRAHAM, SENATOR, UNITED STATES: It's not the dumbest idea I've heard, but it's pretty close. But when it comes to Russia, I am dumbfounded, I am disappointed and at the end of the day, he's hurting his presidency.

ADAM SCHIFF, RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't think we can expect the Russians to be any kind of a credible partner in some cyber security unit. I think that would be dangerously naive for this country. If that's our best election defense, we might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow.

ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY, UNDER OBAMA: But this is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary. It's they who did this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: CNN White House Correspondent Athena Jones is joining us live outside the White House. Athena, what is the White House saying beyond these couple of tweets.

ATHENA JONES, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, for one thing, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is now finally clarifying something that several White House officials declined to clarify yesterday on the flight home on Air Force One, in speaking to reporters.

You'll remember after this much talked about meeting between President Trump and President Putin, there were differently read-outs -- contradictory readouts by each sides. Both sides agree that President Trump brought up the issue of Russia's meddling in the election.

But the Russians said that the president -- President Trump seemed to take president Putin at his word when he denied that Russia meddled in the election. Yesterday several White House officials were asked to clarify this, to clear the record, to correct the record I should say, no one did. Today, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus did so. Take a listen to what he said on Fox.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHIEF OF STAFF, WHITE HOUSE: The president absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin. What the president did, is he immediately came into the meeting, talked about Russian meddling in the U.S. election, went after that issue at least two separate times. He has answered this many times, he said they probably meddled in the election. They did meddle in the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: So there you hear Reince Priebus being definitive in saying that President Trump did not believe President Putin. But he also said that the president has answered this question many times. We often hear that from White House officials, it isn't the case.

The last we heard directly from the president on the whole issue of Russian meddling was on Thursday in Poland and he not -- he was far from definitive. Listen to what he had to say then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: Mistakes have been made. I agree, I think it was Russia but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Nobody really knows for sure. So this is a very much muddled message, and it's -- what's also raising questions of course, is that the president talking about working with Russia on cyber security. If Reince Priebus -- is that he believe that the president does believe that Russia had something to do with meddling in the election, then it doesn't make sense to then work with the meddlers necessarily trying to prevent future meddling. Anna?

CABRERA: All right, Athena Jones at the White House for us. Thank you. I want to bring in our panel, joining us to discuss, CNN Political Analyst and Columnist with the Washington Post, Josh Rogin and CNN National Security and Legal Analyst, and former NSA Attorney, Susan Hennessey.

So Susan, you worked at the NSA, you know people who are currently working for our Intelligence Agencies, how do you think they'll take these tweets from the president, this idea of working with Russia on cyber security.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, again and again, President Trump has called into question their work, their unanimous findings that the Russians that were in fact responsible for this election interference.

In terms of this idea to sort form a cyber security working group with Russia, the issue is not having sort of the laudable goal of reaching certain cyber norms. We actually do reach out and work with adversaries in order to reach agreement on the Xi Jinping agreement against economic espionage as a good example of that. The problem is that President Trump is going about it all sort of wrong.

[17:05:00] He's given up all of our meaningful leverage. I mean, in order to have these types of agreements work well, you have to do it from a position of strength. President Trump has really given that all up by refusing to accept the findings of the Intelligence Community about Russian culpability here.

CABRERA: Josh, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Marco Rubio, all Republicans again, they all came out today saying, this is a bad idea. That working with Russia would essentially be like a robbery victim working with the person who burglarized them, that was the analogy we heard from Ash Carter. Do lawmakers have a say in whether this goes forward?

JOSH ROGIN, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: No, they don't have a say in whether this goes forward. They do have a say in whether or not Congress passes and enacts real serious in additional sanctions to punish Russia for its election interference. And also, what happens to improve the deterrence, resilience and defense against these attacks that are definitely coming in the 2018 and 2020 election.

You know, I think there's this widespread frustration on Capitol Hill to the president's attitude towards this. There's confusion, because as you saw, just in the statements, you just played, you know, there's total incoherence coming out of the top levels of the administration on are Russia policy is.

What the president believes, what they think happened, what they're planning to do about it, that's a huge problem, OK, and that's not something that Republican or Democratic lawmakers can look away from. So they have got to stay engaged in this. The sanctions legislation is the way that they're moving on it right now, but you know, unless this administration gets its act together one way or the other.

You know, if they want to have a cyber security whatever, fine, but that's one small piece of a much larger puzzle. And unless they put that puzzling together in a way that makes some sense whatsoever, you know, you're going to have Republicans and Democrats crying foul for a long time to come.

CABRERA: Guys, to the critics about this cyber security unit that's been discussed, Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., defended the Joint Cyber Security Unit on CNN earlier today, and she said, this is -- this is part of the bigger strategy, and here's how she explained why she believes this would be a good idea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, AMBASSADOR, UNITED STATES: We need to get together with Russia, we need to tell them, you know, what we think should happen, shouldn't happen, and if we talk to them about it, hopefully we can cut this out and get them to stop. It doesn't mean...

(CROSSTALK)

HALEY: ... we ever take our eyes off the ball. It doesn't mean we ever trust Russia. We can't trust Russia and we won't ever trust, but you keep those you don't trust closer, so that you can always keep an eye on them and keep them in check. And I think that's what we're trying to do with Russia right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Susan, could it work this way, as she -- as she describes it.

HENNESSEY: The problem is, that we hear Trump's cabinet member say certain things that sound reasonable and then the president contradicts that. So that's a reasonable message coming from Ambassador Haley, that's certainly not the message that we're getting from the White House itself.

One of the issues here is that in that meeting, even accepting sort of the Trump camp's account of what occurred that he really did press Putin on this election interference. They actually never said that they said not to do it again, that it was serious, that there would be consequences going into 2018 and 2020.

That was a high priority for that administration. And so, viewing this as sort of one piece of a puzzle, maybe. But we aren't seeing any of those other pieces of the puzzle in place, that means that this might actually be an effective strategy.

CABRERA: I want to turn to a little bit of different topic, some new reporting that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. And it was a meeting that wasn't initially disclosed we know on Kushner's security clearance form. His lawyer said, he did add it later. What is the potential significance of this, Josh?

ROGIN: Yet, unclear at this time. I mean on the one hand, this is another meeting with a Russian national that everyone who met with this Russian national seems to have forgotten, and then all of a sudden remembered it and has like clear recollections of when reporters brought it to their attention, and that's bad, OK?

And it feeds this pattern of suspension that there's a lot going on here that we still don't know about what -- what happened during the campaign. And between the campaign officials and Russian people. On the other hand, you know, there's nothing in this meeting that adds to what we know about or gives us any additional evidence about any alleged collusion.

It's just this moment who is like work -- introduced apparently by fusion GPS which is ironically, the company that commissioned the dirty dossier, but in this case, they were working for the Russians you know, because they were fighting against the Magnitsky Act, the U.S. sanctions against Russian official with human rights violations.

So you have got this complicated sort of web of people working for Russians, trying to influence the campaigns. Pretending they have information. Not having the information some people have the meeting. And they have announced to a whole lot of it, and everyone is like OK, this looks really bad.

[17:10:00] But you know, as we acknowledge that, like all of the sort of smoke that they also acknowledge that it doesn't really add to the fire, you know, except for the fact that, you know, they definitely seem to have messed up on these forms which is a problem.

CABRERA: One more contact between the Trump Campaign and Russian officials, that's all we know at this point.

ROGIN: That's right.

CABRERA: Josh Rogin, Susan Hennessey, we appreciate both of you, thank you.

ROGIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: One result of this Putin and Trump meeting that happened in Germany is being seen and felt today not in Russia, and not in the United States, but in Syria. A partial cease-fire in the Syrian civil war that took effect earlier today, the two presidents along with officials from Jordan brokered this truce, which establishes three so called de-escalation zones, one of which is the responsibility of the U.S.

The cease-fire, just a few hours old right now, and President Trump tweeted this a few minutes ago. Syrian cease-fire seems to be holding, many lives can be saved, came out of meeting good. Now, previous cease-fire attempts at least four of them either failed or were ignored from Syria to Iraq now.

Another battlefield in the war on terror where American troops have been helping to push ISIS out of the city of Mosul, and a major development this weekend. Right now, Iraqi soldiers and officials are celebrating saying Mosul is free for the first time in three years, ISIS is no longer in control there. Let's get to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. He has details on exactly what happened today. Nick. NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Around

Iraq, you can see the celebrations beginning here, sparked by tweets from the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi lock and say that he come here to announce the liberation of Mosul, a city that has been fort over to kick ISIS out for over eight months.

Now, we're still waiting for the live or recorded speech from the president making that declaration. But this nation is in full celebration mode already. Across the city, we're seeing parades in the streets and the sense I think of a bird has been lifted, it's a bird frankly, that Iraq has carried for the world to some disagree.

They're fighting ISIS on their own territory over the destructing the terrorist group but have projected its far influence the launch attacks in European capitals in the United States, too. So a lot being done here for the global community but also to a recognition. Even though flags by the Iraqi military are being erected on the river that runs from the central of Mosul and mark the back end of ISIS territory, effectively say they're defeated here.

A big task is still ahead of Iraq. ISIS sprung out of the nasty sectarian divide in this nation between the Sunnis nicety and the Shia as nicety, the Sunnis just around the country on the (Inaudible) has say there's a minority. But now, the Shia find themselves as the majority in charge of most the government and the military.

They eye each other Sunni are with great suspicion, but they have to heel that divide, begin to rebuild, if we don't see perhaps the disenfranchised Sunnis in this nation, turning again to another group of extremists just like ISIS. That's the longer term difficult future ahead for Iraq after fifty years, frankly of internal conflict.

But important today to pause, to remember the enormous sacrifice this nation has endured over eight months for the world, over years frankly, and also remember now that ISIS had lost pretty much its last piece of territory in Iraq, just to fight a small piece of territory now remains. Ana.

CABRERA: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you. And a reminder, American troops have been involved in this battle for Mosul both with air strikes, and helping to lead trained coalitions missions on the ground. Let's to get to the Pentagon and our correspondent there, Barbara Starr. Barbara, what does the liberation of Mosul mean in the big picture battle against ISIS?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, expect to see U.S. troops still very involved. Mainly from the areas you say, they will be still be conducting missions in the air looking for ISIS targets both in Iraq and Syria. And as ISIS tries to flee, move around into other pockets, they will be on the lookout for them. They will be continuing to train, advice and assist Iraqi forces on the ground.

And also the U.S. backed fighters across the boarder in Syria. So it doesn't change all that much. The territory of course very glad -- the coalition very glad to see it back in Iraqi hand, but as, Nick, was just saying, the big push ahead now is not just to secure it, but how to hold on to it, rebuild, reconstruct and do what needs to be done. So that Isis doesn't move back in. That's going to be one of the big challenges although ISIS troops are largely depleted. Ana.

CABRERA: So even if they are able to officially take acknowledge Mosul -- I mean how stable is the situation currently as you and Nick Paton Walsh point out, this would be the beginning of a much longer road. What happens next?

STARR: it really would be. Well, let me give you one example, there's a town just west of Mosul called the Tal Afar. And the coalition -- the U.S.-led coalition now believes there may be five hundred to eight hundred ISIS fighters really dug in, hold up in Tal Afar just west of Mosul.

[17:15:00] Not an insurmountable numbers of fighters for the coalition and U.S. air strikes to go after, but if you don't shut that off, those fighters can begin to stage the kind of guerrilla attacks into Mosul and just keep sort of the situation off kilter, the big concern now, ISIS becomes a guerrilla organization.

They conduct suicide attacks, terror attacks, they continue to of course to inspire fighters -- their fighters around the world, we've seen a number of attacks in Europe, by people who have become radicalized, none of that goes away.

This is defeating ISIS on the patch of ground where it stands in MOSUL, it is significant, it's huge for the devastated people that live there, but bombs and bullets don't kill a terror ideology off, and that has been a very hard lesson for everybody to learn over the last many years.

CABRERA: An ongoing struggle no doubt. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you. Senators return to Washington this week after the July Fourth break, and Republicans are scrambling to pass their health care plan. Coming up, how one prominent member of their party says the bill is dead. We are live in the CNN News.

[17:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: President Trump is grappling with a very real problem has absolutely nothing to do with Russian President Vladimir Putin. One of President Trump's signature campaign promises, repeal and replace Obamacare is now on the line.

And Senator John McCain, a Republican says the GOP Senate health care bill is likely dead. A political price tag may be steep. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley tweeting this, fifty-two Republican senators should be ashamed that we have not passed health reform by now. We won't be ashamed, we will go from majority to minority. Our Tom Foreman breaks down what's next for the Senate bill.

TOM FOREMAN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Ana, Congressional Republicans have been waiting for years for their opportunity to overturn Obamacare, and now with it sitting right in front of them, they just can't figure out how to get it done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: From the Republican controlled Senate, a stunning change of direction. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he will work with the Democrats to prop up Obamacare if his own party can't pass an alternative plan.

MITCH MCCONNELL, MAJORITY LEADER, SENATE: Premiums are going up, co- payments are going up, deductible are going up, so we have to solve the current crisis, and I think repealing, and then delaying the replacement doesn't work.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare.

FOREMAN: CNN has learned the White House was caught off guard by McConnell's comments, coming less than a week after the president's own surprise move. And he tweeted, if Republican senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date. But that has gained no traction even as the Republican bill has continued spinning its wheels. Some senators in their home districts for the July Fourth recess face tough questions from constituents.

SUSAN COLLINS, SENATOR, UNITED STATES: I still in the middle, unless the bill is dramatically changed.

FOREMAN: So bipartisan support limited as it may be, is swirling around McConnell's idea.

BEN CARDIN, SENATOR, UNITED STATES: Senator McConnell is correct in that we need to make sure that the individual market is a stronger market than it is today.

DAN DONOVAN, CONGRESSMAN, NEW YORK CITY: I believe what Mitch McConnell says the right path to take.

FOREMAN: Even amid furious push back from conservative quarters. Heritage action for America saying such a deal with the Democrats would be catastrophic for the Republican Party and all like those. The various Republicans offering their own solutions about how to end to end pass unite the party and somehow turn the turmoil into triumph.

TED CRUZ, SENATOR, UNITED STATES: I think we've got to get the job done but we've got to do it right. The results matter. It's not just passing a bill who is title is Obamacare repeal. We actually got to do something that fixes the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Watching the Republicans twist themselves into knots trying to deal with the healthcare reform riddle was a wonderful holiday recess for Congressional Democrats, only it was less like Independence Day and more like Christmas in July. Ana.

CABRERA: Tom Foreman, thank you. I want to talk more about this Republican struggle to agree on a way forward for healthcare reform. Joining us now, Republican Strategists and former communication director for Senator Ted Cruz, Alice Stewart, Conservative Commentator Jeffrey Lord, and former Chairman of the Washington DC, Democratic Party A. Scott Bolden. Alice, let's start with you. Senator McCain says this bill is likely dead, your reaction.

ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGISTS: It's probably is in its current form because it doesn't have the votes to pass and that's why they continue to go back to the table and what we heard from Senator Cruz just there, he and Mike Lee have come up with a consumer freedom option, which gives more options for those who buy and sell insurance to give them more freedom and choices.

And it's important that they not only do this right, they don't have to do it right now because all of these senators who are up for re- election and many members in the House campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare.

And they made that promise to their constituents and it's not about repealing Obamacare now and maybe doing something to replace it down the vote, it is repealing and replacing, and it's important that they keep that promise or they're going to face some serious consequences come 2018 in the mid terms.

CABRERA: So, Alice, you have mentioned this Cruz amendment as I understand it, again, it hasn't been really pushed out there officially or anything.

But it would offer unregulated policies that might appeal, they would be stripped down policies for younger people, healthier people who may not need the full -- the full package, shall we say, of Obamacare options. But how is that going to lower premiums for everybody. Not just the healthier people.

STEWART: It provides more options for people.

[17:25:00] And the key with that is to focus on lower premiums. And reducing premiums for people across this country, that is one of the biggest concerns for people with Obamacare. Look, we were promised back when Obamacare was passed, it would be lower cost, greater options and greater access to health care.

And if you like your doctor, you can you keep it, if you like your insurance, you can you keep it and that hasn't been the case. And campaigning across the country in this presidential election, I heard from people in every state that we went to, where their biggest concern was premiums. -- high-cost premiums.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Exactly and I think that's the problem with the Republican bill as we know less than twenty percent of the American people think that it's the answer to the problems that are currently part of the Obamacare issue. But, Jeffrey, Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey had this to say this week about this struggle over the replacement bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT TOOMEY, REPUBLICAN SENATOR, PENNSYLVANIA: I didn't expect Donald Trump to win. I think most of my colleagues didn't. So we didn't expect to be in this situation and given how difficult for this to get to a consensus. It was hard to force that until it was in need to, and so that's what we have been working on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Is Senator Toomey's comment an admission or an excuse, Jeffrey, for why Republicans can't get it together and agree on a reform health care plan when they've been working toward this for seven years.

JEFFREY LORD, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR, PENNSYLVANIA: I have to say, I like Senator Toomey and I voted for him, but I was really taken aback when I heard this. I mean as you had just exactly pointed out, they had been supposedly at work on this for the last seven years.

For the life of me, I can not understand why the day after the president's inauguration, the House and Senate Republicans didn't stand out there on the steps of the Capitol and say, here's our plan. And that they were ready for this.

Clearly, they were not. Clearly, they still can't get their act together. And I think, you know, Alice is exactly right, I mean, this comes down to lower premiums. Senator Cruz has got this right. They have got to get their act together, and if they don't, this is going to be a major problem for them when it comes to 2018.

CABRERA: Was it a mistake do you think for President Trump to have a hands off approach with the policy making part of this Senate bill?

LORD: I don't think so. I think he's probably more involved than we're -- than we know. I really do think this is a legislative problem here and now that he's back, I'm sure he's going to plunge right into it, plus, tax reform, there are other things on the agenda.

But Republicans in the House and Senate have put themselves in this position of saying, you know, out there on the campaign trail, we will repeal and replace. To now not do that is going to be a big problem for them if they don't get it done.

CABRERA: Scott, McConnell made headlines this week as we -- we played in that package from Tom Foreman. He suggested the plan B would be to work with the Democrats. Do you think this is just political theater trying to -- to get Republicans motivated who might be on defense or in the no calling court or do you think McConnell seriously plans to get Democratic input on health care?

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, WASHINGTON DC DEMOCRATIC PARTY: I think both actually. I think he's a political realist, if you will. You know, when the Republicans are twisting in the wind, the best thing the Democrats can do is get out of the way, and the Republicans the want to repair Obamacare as Mitch McConnell has tossed out there. I think it was part threat to the Republicans, but it was also raising

the possibility for the first time that possibly the best way to do this for the American people is to work with the Democrats. That's a huge, huge pivot there. And the other part that is really confusing about the Republicans is a twist in this inter-party war is this.

These promises they made to the Republican voters and to America that they keep raising is really interesting, because only seventeen percent of the voters agree with this Republican replacement of Obamacare, sixty percent of those who have Obamacare right now actually are growing and like it.

And so, who are they -- which means eighty percent would prefer Obamacare over this Republican bill. So whose promises are they keeping to the American people? They're not keeping those promises because their voters actually don't like this bill. So what are you left with?

You're left with working with the Democrats and those promises are being kept to themselves and to their ideology, and to tax cuts and this wealth transfer, because that's all that's left, because nobody likes this bill, moderates and Republicans both hate it.

And so he really has no choice but to be successful, but to work with the Democrats. Now, we'll see whether that happens or not, but it ought to happen quicker in my opinion than further down the road because you're a year out from midterms, and you're about I think four weeks out from summer break. This got to happen sooner than later.

CABRERA: Alice, do you agree with that?

STEWART: Well, I do agree that this version is not popular amongst people across this country.

[17:30:00] And that's exactly why they're continuing to go back to the drawing board and work on the fine details. Look, at the end of the day, this is a regional and state issue, these senators and these members of Congress are beholden to their constituents.

Every state is different. Look at Nevada for example. They rely on Medicaid expansion of Obamacare. So they have certain needs. You have more conservative members in the Senate who have certain needs and wants that they want added to this.

And you have the moderates who have what they want in this, and this is a matter of everyone putting forth what they need for their state in order to get this thing passed. It's not a one size fits all.

And the key at the end of the day, they have to go back to the districts and sell it to their people. And that's why, they're not going to vote for something with seventeen percent approval rating because they know, it won't get passed in the end they now, it's going to hurt them when it comes time.

LORD: One other thing, Ana.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDEN: And they can do it without broken promises to their people, too. They don't want to break their promises.

CABRERA: Guys, we got to leave it there. Jeffrey Lord, A. Scott Bolden, Alice Stewart, I'm sorry. I wish we had a little bit more time but you guys are always in the show. So we'll have more time.

BOLDEN: And another thing...

CABRERA: At another time, exactly, thank you all. Coming up, we have some breaking news we're following, new reporting from the New York Times right now about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting last summer with a Russian lawyer, we'll bring that to you next.

[17:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Breaking news, the New York Times reporting right now Donald Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Now, according to the New York Times, the Russian lawyer in question has connections with the Kremlin. I'm going to read you a statement from Donald Trump Jr. And I quote, I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting.

I asked Jared and Paul to attend but told them nothing of the substance. We got a meeting in June of 2016 after pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information at individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Miss Clinton.

Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered, it quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information and she then changed subjects, and began discussing the adoption of Russian children, and mentioned the Magnitsky Act.

It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along, and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official but rather private citizen, and that her comments, and concerns were better addressed if, and when he held public office.

The meeting lasted approximately twenty to thirty minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance acknowledged for taking up -- apologized for taking up our time, that was the end of it, and there was no further contact or follow-up from any kind, my father knew nothing of these meetings or these events.

I want to talk more about this with Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott. And Elise, President Trump's historic meeting with Putin is being analyzed across the nation right now. How might this new report affect Trump-Putin relationship and Trump's ability to negotiate with Russia?

ELISE LABOTT, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Ana, I think we have to be careful to find out more about the meeting and who knew -- who was meeting with who and why. I mean, we're just starting to unpack this right now.

Now, let me tell you what CNN has confirmed, we have that statement from Donald Trump Jr. and that says essentially why he met with this lawyer at that meeting. Natalia Veselnitskaya formed a group purporting to seek the removal of that adoption ban, and it's important to note on why this program was ended.

And the Russians put it in place as retaliation for an American law that Mr. Trump mentions, known as the Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions on Russian officials, Russian oligarchs, members throughout the government who have thought to have violated human rights. Now, Ms. Veselnitskaya has also sought the repeal of that Magnitsky Act.

So you know, Trump Jr. says that the adoption issue is not a campaign issue, there was no follow-up, but the question is, how much he knew about who he was meeting with, did he know that she was a Russian lawyer?

He obviously didn't know her name, and as he says, what she was doing, but clearly, it raises questions about the Trump campaign meeting with the Russian official just -- Russian national just after Donald Trump clinched the nomination.

CABRERA: I know CNN is working confirm the New York Times reporting but at least what we do know is President Trump has a sense vow to work on cyber security now with Russia, the very nation that meddled in our election. Could this report impact that plan?

LABOTT: Well, I mean, I think all of these issues about Russian involvement possible collusion that is being investigated with the Trump campaign kind of taints issues for the Trump administration to work with the Russian government, not just on issues of cyber security, but on issues elsewhere.

I don't -- you know, I think that President Trump talked about cyber security with President Putin. I'm not sure that the really kind of made an agreement to do that, in terms of Russian meddling in the election, and whether that would happen again, because clearly, President Putin has not acknowledged that he did that, and President Trump has said that he doesn't believe that Russia was involved.

But it certainly does add to this cloud of allegations and involvement of Russia in the -- in the campaign. And the idea as Donald Trump said that, you know.

[17:40:00] This was a ruse Ms. Veselnitskaya to get together with Donald Trump under the ruse of information helpful to the campaign and that just adds additional questions obviously.

CABRERA: All right, Elise Labott, thanks to you. We will have much more on this breaking news in Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer right after a quick break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Back to our breaking news, the New York Times is reporting Donald Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign. Now, according to the New York Times, the Russian lawyer in question has connections with the Kremlin.

I want to bring in Jeffrey Lord and A. Scott Bolden who are joining us now. First to you A. Scott, what is your reaction to again, what the New York Times is reporting, they say Donald Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before he agreed to meet with this lawyer.

[17:45:00] Again, Donald Trump Jr. saying he didn't know exactly who he was meeting before he ended up at the meeting, only that he was told by an acquaintance that he should meet with somebody who had information that may be helpful to their campaign.

BOLDEN: Well, I think there are a lot of questions and fewer answers right now, but we're going to unpack this over the next day or two probably, it will certainly be investigated by Mr. Mueller who is the special counsel -- the special prosecutor.

But what it does show us right now, that the campaign, and people high up in the trump campaign, after he got the Republican nomination had the aptitude and the willingness to meet with Russian officials or Russian operatives in order to get information damaging to Hillary Clinton, and anything that would help Donald Trump win.

That's even more significant because you have all these other meetings, some eighteen by last count of the meeting with Republican operatives. And while we have not found the buyer yet if you will, it makes no sense quite frankly to have all of these meetings with Russian operatives before -- before you are ultimately the president- elect of the United States.

It merits investigating, but it also shows that we're getting closer to what the real problem was. Donald Trump was trying to win, the Russians wanted them to win, and there's a lot of smoke here that says that the two were at lest discussing or willing to accept information that would help him win over Hillary Clinton.

CABRERA: And Jeffrey, I mean, that is what Donald Trump Jr. said in his statement and this is a statement that he gave to CNN. As CNN works to confirm all the reporting that the New York Times has said, but the statement from Donald Trump Jr.

He says, I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who have us told might have information helpful to the campaign. And he goes on to say after pleasantries were exchanged.

The woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Miss Clinton. Now, the New York Times, of this account of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some of the campaign were willing to accept Russian help. Your reaction?

LORD: Well, I mean, I have to laugh, I think -- you know, here we go again, and yet again what this says is, there's absolutely no proof that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to win the election. Ana, I mean, I just -- as somebody on the ground as it were here in Pennsylvania.

A state that was carried against all expectations by the experts for Donald Trump, I can tell you going rally after rally that I never heard anybody say anything about Russia or Mrs. Clinton, what they were talking about was trade, jobs, they lost a job here.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: I hear you, but I want to ask you specifically about this, Jeffrey.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Can you please hold your thought both of you. I mean, when you hear what Donald Trump Jr. is saying in response to the New York Times report. He's not denying anything about what the New York Times is reporting, is that concerning to you?

LORD: What I'm saying to you, Ana, is -- you know, I've been in presidential campaigns, all kinds of people come out of the woodwork telling you they have got information on your opposition. This happens every single day. Not just in presidential campaigns, campaigns for the Senate or the House, or the State Senate.

And I've been involved in all of them. I mean there -- there is nothing new here. So someone lures you into a meeting and then you know, bait and switch, they say, well, we've got secret information and you go, well, the information is neither not secret or not good. I mean this is totally typical.

BOLDEN: Well, Ana, that one make sense.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Bolden, we got to take -- we've got to get a quick break. Stay with us, we'll be right back.

[17:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN NEWS ROOM SHOW HOST: Good news coming up on me out of the break. All right, welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin -- I'm Brooke Baldwin live here in Santa Monica, here in L.A. We're so excited for the debut episode of The Nineties, original series tonight, 9:00 eastern, 6:00 pacific.

We're hanging out with, you know, my friends from the Nineties like Sinbad, as one does, on a Sunday on L.A. All right, seriously, I was a little bit fan-girling earlier, but I mean, a different world, a Sinbad Show, I was a mega, mega fan.

SINBAD, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: See, that's cool. You were like, what, ten?

BALDWIN: Oh, please.

SINBAD: Five?

BALDWIN: More like high school in a college. But I appreciate you. I appreciate you.

SINBAD: Maybe junior high.

BALDWIN: What do you miss about the nineties?

SINBAD: You know what, camaraderie. We were all -- we all sort of make it, hopefully just hit -- from the eighties, we're all like hip, ma'am. I got my own show. I got my thing. Comedy was happening.

Hip-hop was happening. New jack swing was happening. So we thought we would take over Hollywood. We thought we're going to take the Hollywood to the next level. The Hollywood was going to viral, diversely, we just thought all this cool stuff is going to happen.

BALDWIN: Well, we thought. Have not -- have you not taken over Hollywood in that?

SINBAD: We're thinking to slow down, something happened. And now we're trying to do it all over again. It's like we -- we went so far, and then it's like something happened. And now we've got to do it all over again.

BALDWIN: Before we get to the do it all over again, let's relive our nineties.

SINBAD: Yeah.

BALDWIN: So I mean, again, I go back and look at you and I think of the different world, and I that the Sinbad Show and I think of how funny you are. And now you are doing a ton of stand-up now. But what was the special sauce in the nineties do you think?

SINBAD: Well, we all read comics. We were all in comedy clubs. Everybody lived in the car. So you developed. Everybody was funny, (Inaudible). There wasn't Instagram.

BALDWIN: Instagram, YouTube.

SINBAD: Yes.

BALDWIN: What was that? (Inaudible)

SINBAD: No, you had to go in the comedy club, you had to plant your feet and find out if you were funny. And you saw the same guys, you're kind like a team but also friends. It was like all-star teams, we play for different teams but then get together for the all-star teams.

BALDWIN: I love that.

SINBAD: Yes.

BALDWIN: And then also, just to say in t he music, I was hanging out with the deejay earlier. You mentioned, you know just the hip-hop in the nineties.

SINBAD: Oh, man.

BALDWIN: What -- who do you miss? What music do you miss the most?

SINBAD: I miss music with lyrics and instruments.

BALDWIN: You don't like auto tuning and...

SINBAD: I miss New jack swing. I miss -- remember, the kids of the nineties have older brothers and sisters, and aunts from the seventies.

BALDWIN: Yeah.

SINBAD: So that music was still have...

BALDWIN: So you're getting samples in the Hip-hop in the nineties.

SINBAD: It was happening, New jack swing and Teddy Riley. Teddy was killing and the New jack swing, come on, that was...

[17:55:00] ...I loved that.

BALDWIN: Tell us what -- in thirty seconds, just tell me what you're up to right now, Sinbad?

SINBAD: Out on the road doing stand-up, doing music out there, my daughter is doing stuff, my son is a director, why should we stop? And we're going to take it another level. We're going to do it (Inaudible), we're going to take the grit of the nineties and we're going to move it into the 2000s. That's what the nineties -- so we've got a grit, they don't understand.

BALDWIN: Based on everything I'm hearing from everyone talk about The Nineties, you've got something special there for sure.

SINBAD: Yeah.

BALDWIN: Thank you for coming out.

SINBAD: Well, thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you for keeping me company here on the Santa Monica pier.

(CROSSTALK)

SINBAD: I'm fan-boying.

BALDWIN: He's a fan boy, I going to fan girl. The show is tonight, 9:00 eastern, 6:00 pacific. The Nineties will start tonight with TV. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We're here for several more hours. We'll be right back. CNN continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: You're live in the CNN News Room, I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us.