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Trump's Son Changes Story on Russia Meeting; Neo-Nazi Site Founder Sued For "Troll Storm"; Mosul Declared "Liberated" After 3 Years Of ISIS Rule; Thousands Flee As 14 Wildfires Rage Across CA Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 10, 2017 - 16:30   ET



ADRIENNE ELROD, FORMER STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Conservative wing of the Republican Party who are less and less inclined to also support it because they don't think it goes far enough.

So, again, I'm never going to count Mitch McConnell out.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, you shouldn't.

ELROD: He's a true master, but I think that, the longer this goes on, this process goes on, the less the chances are that Obamacare will be repealed, which, to me, is a victory for Americans.

TAPPER: We're going to go right now to the Senate,where the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, is talking about Donald Trump Jr. Let's listen in.


MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: ... campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Now, it's also a continuing pattern that we have seen since the election of Trump campaign and Trump administration officials who have conveniently forgotten meetings with Russians. Only when they are then presented with evidence, they have to recant and acknowledge those kinds of meetings.

It's why we have got to continue this investigation. There is a lot more work to do. We continue to add additional individuals that will now need to be interviewed and receive documents. But, obviously, this past weekend's revelations move us forward, and we expect much more to come.

QUESTION: You said this is first time the public has seen information suggesting that there was these discussions between Russians and Trump officials. Is this the first time that you have seen information...

WARNER: I'm going to leave my statement where I was.

QUESTION: Do you want to speak to Don Jr.? WARNER: Absolutely. Absolutely, and as well as -- if there are -- I

think there are some doubts still of, were there were other individuals in that meeting beyond this Russian lawyer who has strong ties to the Russian government, the individual who was the lawyer or who asked to set up the meeting, the music promoter in Russia?

Again, for a campaign and now a president who continues to say there's no there there, yet virtually every week or two, there's more stories of meetings, undisclosed meetings with Russian officials that beg the question, if there's no there there, why aren't more of these people coming clean at a more regular fashion?

QUESTION: Senator Warner, did you -- at the Intelligence Committee, you and Burr know that this meeting had taken place before this weekend?

WARNER: I'm not going to -- again, I'm not going to get into what we know or didn't know in terms of information we receive from individuals that were already scheduled to appear.

But, again, what we do know, I keep coming back to, I think about this -- I have been a candidate. At one point, I was a campaign manager. If I was a campaign manager, and had been contacted by what may be an agent of a foreign power, and was told that that agent might have damaging information about a potential candidate, I think I would remember that meeting.

And I think it's also a little strange as a candidate if my son or son-in-law met with an official or an agent of a foreign power. I think I would probably want to hear about that information.

So, again, I will accept these individuals' words so far. But we have seen this constant pattern as more facts come out. These individuals constantly have to recant.

QUESTION: Is Donald Trump Jr. someone you all had reached out to already? And do you think -- have you discussed this with Burr?

WARNER: Again, I'm not going to get into the witness list and the individuals that we have talked to or plan on talking to.

But rest assured Donald Trump Jr. will be somebody that we want to talk to.

QUESTION: Do you believe that this meeting gives the appearance of collusion?

WARNER: I believe it's remarkable that this meeting, one, was not reported beforehand, that, two, this is again the first time the public has seen clear evidence of at least an attempt by the Trump campaign to obtain information, and, again, in this case from a possible foreign agent that would interfere with the Hillary Clinton campaign efforts.

You know, this is again kind of the underlying premise that has been raised throughout this whole investigation. We have got more information to garner.

QUESTION: Do you expect to speak with Jared Kushner in the coming weeks?

WARNER: Yes. As has been indicated before -- I think the chairman indicated this, that Mr. Kushner has volunteered to testify.

I think it's appropriate that we obtain all the appropriate documents first, because, again, we want to make sure that we're able to ask the right questions, so that we don't have again this constant pattern of convenient forgetfulness from senior-level Trump officials.


QUESTION: Talk to Kushner and Manafort before the August recess?

WARNER: Good try.

QUESTION: I wonder, though, I you can just give the -- give us a sense of where you are in the investigation right now. From what we understand, this week, you're going to start to interview some Trump campaign officials. Why are you moving into this next phase?

WARNER: That's your inference, Manu.

But I'm not going -- again, I think that the chairman and I are working through a schedule, but I don't think it gains anything by going through who is coming in when.

QUESTION: Aside from this thing, do you have any other indications the any other people from the campaign were sort of shopping for opportunities to...


WARNER: There are a series of claims that have been made, many of them made in the press.

And it's our job and the job of this investigation to sort through those claims and find which are true and which are not true.

What continues to bother me is that -- this pattern. And I think we're up to 20-plus examples of where senior-level Trump officials and even, you could argue, the president himself continues to deny that they have had any kind of contacts with Russians until the proof comes out that there were contacts, multiple contacts.

And then these senior officials recant or amend their filings. And you just -- I think a rational person would ask, why didn't they remember these particular meetings? I think many of these meetings are pretty important.

QUESTION: Senator, were you aware of this meeting (OFF-MIKE)

WARNER: That question was already asked, but I will give you the answer again. I'm not going to get into what I knew before or after. But I will say again that this is the first time the public has seen clear evidence that senior-level officials of the Trump campaign met with potentially an agent of a foreign government to try to obtain information that would discredit Hillary Clinton. I think that is pretty significant.

QUESTION: Senator Warner, does that meeting on its face improper? And do you want Donald Trump Jr. to come and testify in public, and not just a private interview?

WARNER: I think, again, I want to -- sorry about that.


WARNER: Those pencils are (OFF-MIKE) pencils.

You know, I remember the old days when I used to read the clips.

So, the question again? I think -- yes.

QUESTION: Do you think on its face this meeting with a Russian lawyer to try to get information detrimental to Hillary Clinton was improper? And would you like to see Donald Trump Jr. testify in public session about it?

WARNER: Well, in terms of questions, clear collusion or even potential violations, that's for special prosecutor Mueller to determine.

In terms of Donald Trump's Jr. form of testimony, again, the chairman and I will work that out. But we will expect to hear from him.

QUESTION: Senator, there has been a report today that James Comey's memos may have contained some classified information.

Do you have any indication that he disclosed classified information publicly and have you seen the memos yet?

WARNER: I don't have any indication that he did. But I would say this, that there are very few people that would know better how to draft a memo, so it wouldn't fall into the classified area than Jim Comey.

And he testified to that before our committee to a question that I asked him. I have seen these reports that there may have been after- the-fact classification. We don't know who may have classified those documents, if they were classified. And I want to get the answer to that.

QUESTION: Have you seen the memos yet?

WARNER: I expect to see them very shortly.

QUESTION: Is this meeting going to be part of the Mueller investigation or is it already part of the Mueller investigation?

WARNER: Again, in terms of the witness list that special counsel Mueller has, you will have to ask him.

I know this much. Our committee intends to ask Donald Trump Jr., as well as if we can find other people who attended that meeting, beyond Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, who we also intend to question, some very serious questions about why they would take this meeting, why they didn't disclose it on the front end, and then the idea that somehow you would bring in the campaign manager and the president's son-in-law for some meeting that was supposed to be about Russian immigration.

I believe they may have already changed that story from this morning. But, again, this pattern is, information comes out, that they constantly recant and change their stories, is, I think, very troubling.

QUESTION: Is there any significance to the timing of the meeting? They had it at right after, what, June 10, after...

WARNER: June 6, I think.



I think it is interesting that it happened so quickly after then candidate Trump secured the Republican nomination. But, again, we will have more questions on that to answer.


QUESTION: This is the third time that Jared Kushner has been -- has admitted to a meeting that was previously undisclosed with Russia.

WARNER: Again, I'm not going to get into how many times that Jared Kushner has had to amend his filings about forgotten meetings with the Russians.

But I will say that this is a pattern we have seen since Election Day. And it doesn't include just Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. It doesn't include just Donald Trump Jr. It includes General Flynn. It includes Attorney General Sessions. It includes a series of other individuals that I find that, in itself, is a pattern that's troubling.

QUESTION: Have you seen Jared Kushner's security clearance form?


WARNER: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Your first statement?


[16:40:00] This was first time that the public has seen clear evidence that

senior-level officials of the Trump campaign reached out to potentially an agent of a foreign government, clearly a Russian, to try to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

QUESTION: Have you seen Jared Kushner's security clearance forms, amended clearance forms?

WARNER: Personally? No.


TAPPER: Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, talking about the bombshell report in "The New York Times" that Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and others met with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, because she had promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Let's continue with our panel.

Let me read this. And you will forgive me. I have to put on my glasses for this because it was e-mailed to me.

What we have here that Warner said that I thought was so interesting, "I believe it's remarkable that this meeting, one, was not reported beforehand. Two, this is again the first time the public has seen clear evidence by at least an attempt by the Trump campaign to obtain information, again, in this case from a possible foreign agent, that would interfere with the Hillary Clinton campaign efforts. This is again kind of the underlying premise that has been raised throughout this whole investigation."


BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": And the meeting is set up by a go-between who appears to be an agent for someone who had previously been a bit of a go-between between Trump and Putin in 2013.

TAPPER: For the Miss Universe Pageant.

KRISTOL: Yes, this lawyer seems to be somewhat Putin-connected. And they go out of their way to have this meeting on June 9.

Trump clinches the nomination on Tuesday, June 7. Unbelievably busy time. Think about it. They have got a V.P. to make, a convention to run.

TAPPER: Right.


KRISTOL: He's going to fire Lewandowski in 10 days. So, he's got campaign turmoil.

And Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, the top strategist, take half-an-hour for a meeting on June 9 with this woman. Obviously, someone thought it was important. And that is pretty striking.

That's not like Jeff Sessions running into the Russian ambassador at the speech or at a social occasion. That stuff, one can say, come on, is that really a sign of collusion?

This is a meeting in Trump Tower at the request of a Russian go- between with someone who is maybe not close to Putin, but could be understood to be an adversary from Putin.

TAPPER: And she does -- this Russian attorney does a lot of work to try to get rid of those Russian sanctions, anti-Russian sanctions from the Magnitsky Act.

Asked today about this report, Kellyanne Conway said in response, "You didn't have to look very far to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton."

You worked for the Clinton campaign.

ELROD: I did.

TAPPER: I'm wondering what you thought of that response and I'm wondering what you think of this story.

ELROD: Well, look, first of all, opposition research, as all three of us know on this panel, or on the show, opposition research is a fundamental part of a campaign.

Candidates are always trying to find out what they can use against another candidate. But it's highly unusual that you actually go to a foreign agent to try to get opposition research on your opponent.

That is first of all slightly startling. Secondly, I also just want to bring up the fact that this is the third time that Jared Kushner, that we've learned about a meeting that he's had with a Russian agent that he did not disclose on his security form.

TAPPER: Yes, he's amended those security clearance forms, but, yes.


ELROD: He's amended the forms.

But, again, what these guys hiding? If you're having these meetings, especially the one that we learned about last night in Jo Becker's story in "The New York Times," why would you not disclose those meetings on your forms? How would you forget that those meetings actually took place?

And, again, to Mr. Warner was saying, Senator Warner was saying, I think this is a very important time for the public to finally realize this is not speculation, this is not hearsay. We actually have clear- cut evidence and Donna Trump Jr. backed this up, that they did have this thing. And, again, this is something -- this is exactly why we have a special prosecutor right now. If these guys go in front of Bob Mueller, in front of a grand jury, and lie under oath, they could actually serve prison time.

KRISTOL: I think the special prosecutor is just so important.

This is still being treated somehow in conversation as if it's kind of an interesting story. We will see what the media gets. Who is leaking against who?

Bob Mueller is going to find out what happened at that meeting. He's going to subpoena the contemporaneous e-mail records, texts, phone conversations, phone records. He's going to ask everyone what happened at that meeting. He will ask them each individually in front of a grand jury or not in front of a grand jury. Even so, they will compare their recollections. They will ask him what they told other people.

There's so much we don't know. But there's a lot he will know. And I'm sort of the view, having been with the candidate, the president's son, son-in-law and top strategist meet with someone, no one else knows about it? I don't believe that.

They don't tell -- maybe it's so pointless and worthless, they just all walk out of the meeting and just leave it aside. Maybe. But someone is leaking about it, incidentally.


TAPPER: The sources of the "New York Times"' story, three of them were White House sources.

KRISTOL: Well, or advisers to the White House. Not sure what that mean.


KRISTOL: But there are people like Corey Lewandowski, who was in the campaign at that point who was fired 10 days later, no love lost between him, I believe, and Manafort and the Trump kids.

I think they were part of -- they -- all the stories at "The Times" said they helped shoved him out.


KRISTOL: He may have heard about the meeting at the time.

So, again, one just doesn't -- there will be a lot of strings to pull. And I totally agree. The Special Counsel will pull those strings and (INAUDIBLE) he's been totally quiet but I've got to think that thing is moving pretty fast. I mean, it's not that hard to call these people up and get them to testimony.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You say Bob Mueller has been quiet, you know who else has been quiet when we're talking about this during the break is that Mike Flynn has been very quiet. His son is a chatty patty on Twitter but Michael Flynn Sr. who it's been speculated is probably you know, doing everything he can to preserve his reputation and cooperate with investigators as any lawyer would advise someone to do.

ADRIENNE ELROD, FORMER STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Yes. He has been very quiet and you know, he was - as we're also discussing on break, he was the person who was sort of "the guy" that was dealing with the Russians during the campaign. So why has he been silent? I don't know if his attorneys are advising him to do so. I would assume that that's why he's been so quiet. But again, it goes back to this, I mean, people have meetings all the time. I can't tell how many meetings that took during Hillary's campaign that I could not recall today that you are -

TAPPER: With Russian lawyers connected to the Kremlin?

ELROD: But no, not with - not with any Russian agents.

KRISTOL: And with the equivalent of Chelsea Clinton in the meeting and if their - and the son-in-law or someone like that, right?

ELROD: Right. Exactly.

KRISTOL: And at a level the Chief Campaign Strategist.

ELROD: And that's the - and that's the point. Like, knowing how much scrutiny the Trump administration and the Trump campaign are because of their - all the questionable aspects of their ties to the Russians, why would you not disclose this, unless you have something to hide? That's the question.

KRISTOL: I think Flynn's absence from the story, and apparent that we don't know. It was his absence from the meeting is very interesting to me. Flynn was the National -

TAPPER: Do you think he should be at the meeting?

KRISTOL: Well, I don't know. If I were campaign -

ELROD: Maybe he was.

KRISTOL: I was Vice President Quayle's Chief of Staff, he said, you know, there's someone from some foreign country who wants to come and talk about things, fine, well, going to as some security guy would be there probably or (INAUDIBLE) expert on that country, someone who knows about Russia. Now, I guess Manafort knows a lot about Russia, having (INAUDIBLE) work for various Russia oligarchs (INAUDIBLE) it's still very - it's interesting that he either is excluded or he hasn't been mentioned yet. Maybe they thought this was something he's - you know, Flynn, whatever his mistakes, he is a military guy, straight arrow, maybe not the kind of guy you want to have at a conversation where you start talking about who knows what about e-mails and stuff. And (INAUDIBLE) isn't that the day not - (INAUDIBLE) a day or two after that Trump, the Trump campaign starts talking about how they're going to really unload on Hillary Clinton. They don't - they're going to have a huge amount to drop on him and then we do get - start getting the DNC and Podesta e-mails fixed in a couple of months later.

TAPPER: A few days - and like I said, it's June 13 or 14th I think is when Guccifer 2.0 announces that he has hacked the DNC and then, of course, all comes out. Great panel. Thank you so much for being here, really appreciate it.

How a real estate run-in led to a woman and her young son becoming the target for neo-Nazis internet trolls. A look at the hate-filled anti- Semitic messages she gets every time she goes online check her voice mail. Stay with us.


[16:50:00] TAPPER: We're back with our "BURIED LEAD." That's what we call stories we don't think are getting enough attention. The founder of a neo-Nazi Web site is facing a lawsuit for allegedly targeting a Jewish woman of Montana with a "troll storm." Andrew Anglin, who founded the Daily Stormer has been accused of launching a "campaign of terror" against the woman, publishing her personal information on his Web site and triggering an army of neo-Nazi internet trolls to make thousands of hateful and terrorizing threats against her and her family. We have to warn you, some of the languages you're about to hear is explicit and might be disturbing but it illustrates the depth of hate in America today. Here's CNN Sara Sidner.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They call themselves trolls. What do you call them?


SIDNER: In the digital era, it only takes a few key strokes for hate to suddenly consume your life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your worthless piece of shit.

SIDNER: This is what is often waiting for Tanya Gersh every day when she goes online or picks up the phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you die, you worthless (BLEEP). You stupid, ugly bitch. Ms. Tanya Gersh

GERSH: I had a lot of phone calls with gunshots. That sound kind of still makes me sick.

SIDNER: The Gershes, including their 12-year-old son, have received thousands of messages like this for months.

GERSH: Your whore of a mother should watch herself. Why don't you crawl into this oven, little boy? There's a free x-box inside. They photoshopped endless imagery of me with Nazi symbols on my forehead or my arm, and terrible imagery of me and my son on the gates to Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

SIDNER: Do you think it scarred them? GERSH: Yes.

SIDNER: It's the last thing you'd expect in the quaint resort town of Whitefish, Montana.

GERSH: They just prayed that we'll be safe.

SIDNER: Gersh said it all started when she came into contact with fellow resident Sherry Spencer who happens to be the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.

RICHARD SPENCER, WHITE NATIONALIST: Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!

SIDNER: He shot to fame celebrating President Trump's win with Nazi symbolism. His mom Sherry Spencer owns a commercial building in town. Gersh, a realtor says she was trying to help Spencer sell the building to calm tensions within the town over her son's beliefs. But according to a lawsuit filed by an anti-hate group, Spencer published a blog post accusing Gersh of threatening her with protest until she complied and sold her building. We called Spencer, she said, she didn't want to talk to us.

BILL DIAL, WHITEFISH, MONTANA POLICE CHIEF: People said, who do you believe? And I said, you know, it's - I don't know.

SIDNER: But the Police Chief says no complaint was filed by Spencer and no charges were brought by any other agency. But after the blog post, the lawsuit says Andrew Anglin, the founder of one of the most popular neo-Nazi Web sites, The Daily Stormer, picked up the torch and unleashed what he called his troll army on the Gershes, publishing their contact information on his site.


SIDNER: The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing Andrew Anglin on Gersh's behalf accusing him of intentionally inflicting emotional distress, invasion of privacy and intimidation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The purpose is to cause them fear and emotional harm and that's illegal. It's not protected by the first amendment.

SIDNER: We reached out to Andrew Anglin who told us he now lives, of all places, Lagos, Nigeria where he says his rights to say what he wants aren't limited. He did not return comment about the Gersh case. But we managed to catch up with one of the writers on The Daily Stormer Web site at a rally in Houston.

ROBERT RAY "AZZMADOR", DAILY STORMER WRITER: Andrew Anglin specifically called on the readers of Daily Stormer to contact Miss Gersh and tell them what they think about it. And that's exactly what they did. There's no evidence that anyone from - who was influenced by Daily Stormer made any death threats or anything. I've watched what -

SIDNER: They made some threats, definitely. RAY: Like what? We're going to throw you in a gas chamber? That's a real credible threat.

SIDNER: Then Anti-Defamation League says, Anglin has launched his army of hate many times before. Anglin initially responded to the Gersh lawsuit with this image.

GERSH: He's on a horse with a big spear into me.

SIDNER: Asking for donations to fight the lawsuit. He has raised more than $150,000 so far. Gersh is also receiving support in the form of batches of letters and e-mails.

GERSH: I don't think I could have survived the whole thing without this.

SIDNER: While it was the hatred spewed by strangers that has terrified her family, it's also the kindness of strangers that are saving them from utter despair. Sara Sidner, CNN Whitefish, Montana.


TAPPER: Our thoughts are with the Gersh family and our thanks to Sara Sidner for that report. The Daily Stormer's Andrew Anglin told his troll army to stop contacting Gersh after the lawsuit was filed and we're told that they have - (AUDIO GAP)

TAPPER: Turning to our "WORLD LEAD" now. The (AUDIO GAP) Iraqi city of Mosul is now free according to the county's Prime Minister. He announced today that the entire city has now been retaken from the terrorizing grip of ISIS just moments ago. President Trump congratulated Iraq and its people for their "victory over terrorists." Let's bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, he's in Irbil, Iraq near Mosul. Nick, this was - this was three years in the making.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And 48 hours, actually, in the final announcement, we saw Haider al- Abadi come to Mosul saying he's going to announce the victory, but fighting was still going on, it seemed, in the pockets of the old city of Mosul. Remnants of ISIS dug in deep and delayed the announcement until tonight in which he claimed ISIS had been consigned to a dustbin of history. Well, even as he spoke, they still had some fighters in areas we had seen early this morning holding out, able to take sniper fire with Iraqi Special Forces, but themselves being heavily pressured by American airstrikes. In fact, some ISIS fighters we saw surrendering themselves to those Special Forces. Now, the broader question, of course, is are they consigned to (INAUDIBLE) like the Prime Minister said? Well, no, they still have small towns in Iraq they control but they've lost that contiguous sense of a caliphate across the nation. They've lost control of the second largest city in the country, Mosul from which they announced the creation of their so- called caliphate. So symbolically, in their image so important to ISIS, they barely suffered pretty much a mortal blow here, but they will continue as a low-level insurgency causing great damage -

TAPPER: We're having some problem with Nick Payton Walsh's satellite feed. Of course, we - one of the things that is interesting of course, is that Mosul of course, no longer has ISIS but there is a presence of ISIS throughout that city. We're going to bring back Nick Paton Walsh from the camp.

In our "NATIONAL LEAD", right now. The state of California is battling at least 14 devastating wildfires right now, forcing thousands of people to evacuate for safety. Raging flames have already destroyed homes and continue to threaten thousands of structures across the state. Santa Barbara County is seeing the most damage so far. The so-called wittier fire was sparked over the weekend. That fast moving wildfire shut down an entire highway, trapping dozens of children at a nearby summer camp. Thankfully, luckily, they all managed to make it out safely. All across the state of California, more than 60,000 firefighters are battling the wildfires. They might have an uphill battle with high temperatures and low humidity forecast.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or you can tweet the show @theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, clear evidence. The Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman says the public now has clear evidence of senior level Trump campaign officials trying to collect damaging information from Russian.