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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Russian Family at Center of Trump Jr. Meeting Speaks Out; Interview with Senator Angus King of Maine; Interview with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 11, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:08] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, breaking news, Donald Trump Jr. speaking out about a meeting with his Russian lawyer. Why did he think he needed to, "hear them out?" Plus, who are the Russian billionaire and his pop star son who set up the meeting and why does it lead up to that miss universe pageant. And Trump defends his son, sort of. The president's statement today speaking volumes. Let's go out front.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight the breaking news. Donald Trump Jr. speaking out. Just moments ago the president's embattled son going on national television to defend himself for meeting with a Russian leader. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S SON: Things are going a million miles an hour again and hey, wait, a minute, I have heard about all these things, but maybe this is something I should hear about. This is, again, just basic information that was going to be possible there. I didn't know these guys well enough to understand if its talent manager from miss universe. You know, had this kind of thing. So, I wanted to hear him out and play it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. That comes as we're learning tonight that Special Counsel Robert Mueller now wants to exam that meeting and the e-mails exchanges disclosed by Donald Trump Jr. according to U.S. official. And this is where it gets even more stunning.
Donald Trump Jr. has revealed an explosive e-mail exchange on Twitter. Now, he only did this when it appeared he was backed into a corner. The New York Times was apparently about to publish these e-mails. But here is the breathtaking bottom line.
A go-between was made between Donald Jr. -- a go between made Donald Jr. an offer. Let's be clear here, was an offer to quote, "provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father." And it continues. Listen to this. " This is obviously very high level and sensitive information. But as part of Russia and it's government support for Mr. Trump."
OK. Well there you have that. And now the reply from Donald Jr. He replied an e-mail, "If it's what you say, I love it." By releasing the e-mails, Trump Jr. is obviously affirming their authenticity and advancing what is frankly a snowballing story. So is this just lazy politics or is it the smoking gun?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRMAN: These facts that have shown in the last 24 hours that there clearly was a Russian government effort to discredit Clinton and to help Trump and the Trump officials at the most senior level were aware of that, how high that goes, we still have questions to ask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And there is more. Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were in that meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and that e-mail chain I was just reading you a part of was forwarded to them.
Now, Manafort has said he worked for a Russian billionaire with close ties to Putin in the past. Though, he has denied ever talking to any Russian officials to further political interests. Kushner did not officially report the meeting on his security clearance forms. Why? And is it believable that the president of the United States did not know about the meeting as he claims. Was Donald Jr. played by an adversary of the United States?
These are just a few of the very troubling questions that are surfacing tonight. I want to begin this breaking news coverage with Pamela Brown in Washington. And Pamela, among the many stunning details here are the ones related to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer. All of this appears to be news to Robert Mueller, the special counsel.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It was news up until recently after Jared Kushner amended his security clearance form, his SF86, and included this meeting on that form. That was in late June. For context, the initial one he gave to investigators was in January.
So after he amended that form it came to investigator's attention, the extent of the interactions and these communications came to the attention of the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller. And what's significant about this, a couple things here, Erin, first of all, that means it is clear that whatever the predication was to open up this possible collusion probe between the campaign and the Russians had nothing to do with this meeting in Trump Tower between Don Jr. and this Russian attorney and had nothing to do with these communications. So clearly, there is other evidence that exists to give the predication to the investigation.
Secondly, it gives you a window and to what the FBI thought about this Russian lawyer. Because as I've been told from investigators if the FBI thinks someone who is tightly linked to the Kremlin is coming to the United States, the FBI will know everything that person is doing, who that person is meeting with. So people I've been speaking with say the FBI would know who she was meeting with in Trump Tower. So I think the fact that the FBI is just now finding out about this meeting and what happened is also telling in that sense. Erin.
BURNETT: All right. And obviously it could be very important. All right, Pamela Brown, thank you very much. Jeff Zeleny is out front of the White House. And Jeff, you know, when we talk about parts of this story that are so surprising, here we are a couple of days after this story happened and the president who was so quick to tweet and defend those he wants to defend has not yet even tweeted about a major story surrounding his oldest son who shares his name.
[19:05:1] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, it's a four-day story in the running and we are used to seeing a running commentary from the president. We certainly (ph) got news to that as odd as it might be sort of in the status of history with presidents weighing in on Twitter, but I am told by White House officials as well as lawyers to the president, they have urged him, gently asked him to not weigh in moment by moment on this specifically because they know this is actually the subject of an investigation. We'll see if it holds.
We've heard so many times the White House aides are, you know, telling the president not to tweet. That doesn't work, we know. But he has been unusually quiet about this. But, Erin, also, he's been unusually silent. We have not seen him in public view since he returned from Germany last Saturday. Very unusual to not see the president at all today, in a public meeting. He met with his national security advisors. That was it.
I am told he spent a lot of time watching television today. He was agitated by all this coverage. Of course he wants to defend his oldest son. But the reality here, Erin, is this is a different moment here. And this is something that also is pitting potentially family members against family members. The reality is it's not just Donald Trump Jr.
Jared Kushner, you know, son-in-law and senior advisor now was also in that meeting. Although, he may have left early. But he was on that e- mail exchange about a Russian government official having information potentially to help the Trump campaign and take down the Clinton campaign.
So, Erin, the White House can feel and knows this is a different moment, even though they're saying, you know, it is not necessarily. But, today, Erin, felt different here in Washington. Even long-time supporters of this president, Republicans are suddenly saying this meeting doesn't sound right. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. And I want to go straight now out front to the former CIA director under President Bush and also the former NSA director, retired General Michael Hayden. General, thank you for being with me tonight.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER NSA DIRECTOR: Thanks Erin.
BURNETT: You know, look, these e-mails, let me just quote again, that this is obviously high level sensitive information but it is part of Russia and government support for Mr. Trump to this e-mail Donald Trump Jr. replies, if it is what you say, I love it. What do you make of these e-mails, general?
HAYDEN: Well, put aside for the moment, Erin, what may or may not have happened and let's accept for the moment for purposes of discussion that nothing more occurred out of this meeting. What you've got in the e-mail, the plain English meaning of the e-mails was that senior members of the Trump campaign were very much willing to cooperate to receive information from what they thought would be a Russian government agent in order to help defeat Hillary Clinton
I mean, that's a fairly momentous thing. It may not be illegal. I surely don't think it's treasonous, but it's revealing and in fact very inconsistent with the absolutely this message that the campaign and now the administration has given us that no such meetings had ever taken place.
BURNETT: Right. And of course now we're actually getting the e-mails coming from Donald Trump Jr. himself, right. So he certainly knew it took place and had those e-mails. All right. So, the question, though, general is collusion, right? This is the word that keeps coming up as a question. It's obviously the subject of investigation by the special counsel and both Houses of Congress. Does this look like collusion to you?
HAYDEN: Look, I'm not a lawyer and I'm a foreign intel guy, I'm not the domestic law enforcement guy. But there was one line in the e- mail that struck me. The kind of soft collusion that we might see as this story rolls forward. Lord knows where it ends. But the soft collusion I'm referring to here was the line in the e-mail that simply suggested if you got bad stuff, August or September, late summer is the time we'll really need it.
I mean, that's a member of the campaign, perhaps unwittingly informally, carelessly at least suggesting on this kind of information would be most useful.
BURNETT: I mean, it is pretty stunning when you put all this together. I mean the Russian lawyer at the center of this, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has come out today and defended herself. She actually spoke to CNN. She said, look, I'm not tied to the Russian government. Our Matthew Chance caught up with her in Moscow where she is late today and here is part of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN ATTORNEY (through translator): When it was suggested that I meet with Donald Trump Jr., I met him in a private situation. It was a private meeting, not related at all to the fact that he was the son of the candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, in a sense that sounds absurd on the face of it. Not related at all to the fact that he was the son of the candidate.
HAYDEN: Yes. I mean, I think we can dismiss that and frankly my going in position we could dismiss our claim that she has nothing to do with the Russian government either.
[19:10:05] Look, Erin, this feels like part of that extended synchronized massive Russian covert influence effort to affect the American electoral process.
BURNETT: Now, we know that President Trump was in Trump Tower where the meeting took place at the time of the meeting. Now, general, I have been in Trump Tower. The Trump offices are fairly small. You usually see members of the Trump family walking by. It isn't some big (INAUDIBLE) place where someone could be in the other corner and you wouldn't have any idea.
In the e-mails Rob Goldstone who was trying to set this up and communicating with Donald Jr. says I can also send, again, quoting from the e-mail, "I can send this information to your father via Rhona. But it is ultra sensitive so, wanted to send to you first."
Now, General Rhona is President Trump's long-time assistant to New York. Anybody who needed to get something to Donald Trump has gone through her for years. So clearly Goldstone was connected enough to know that. And yet the White House says the president just found out about this meeting this week. Do you believe him?
HAYDEN: Look, I don't know what to believe and frankly, sadly, Erin, I have to say that the White House denial is not sufficient in itself for me not to entertain multiple possibilities. Look, the campaign was indeed chaotic. I can believe in one scenario, yes, word didn't get to the boss.
On the other hand, two of the three people in the room from the campaign were family members, intimate family members on whom the president relied a great deal during the campaign. So it cuts both ways.
BURNETT: And do you think -- I mean the significance of this, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. all taking 20-30 minutes of their time to take this meeting, that in and of itself would seem to be significant. Their time was extremely valuable.
HAYDEN: Well, look, this wasn't a fully flushed out campaign. It is not like they had a massive team where they could hand this out this some--
BURNETT: Yes. Fair.
HAYDEN: -- sub-intern (ph) over here. But it is impressive that the three key members of the campaign thought this was important enough to go into the room and have the meeting. And Erin, I'll make one additional point, too, that concerns me over the longer term. And that is the decision-making style that we see reflected in the e-mail in the conduct of the meeting. Chaotic, happen hazard, spontaneous, just respectful of constraints, not seeking expertise. Boy, to the degree that decision-making style transfers from the campaign to the government, and I think we see that a bit, that's very scary. That's concerning. BURNETT: Now, Don Jr. tonight in the interview by the way with his
supporter, Sean Hannity, explained why he says he did not think this meeting was a problem at the time. Here is part of his reason.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP JR. This is 13 months ago before the rest of the world was talking about that, trying to build up this narrative about Russia. So, I don't even think my sirens, you know, went up or the antennas went up because it wasn't the issue it's been made out to be over the last, you know, nine months, 10 months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It was 13 months ago. People weren't talking about it. Do you buy it?
HAYDEN: Erin, this phenomenon in intelligence which late arriving information illuminates information that you've already have. So let me take this at face value, just the way that Mr. Trump laid it out. After you get to the point where the American intelligence community is telling his dad about this high confidence (ph) judgment about what the Russians did, whatever he thought about this meeting 13 months ago now has to be illuminated by what he's now learning. And for one reason or another, he doesn't admit that to be true.
BURNETT: No, he didn't. Of course when they gave that conclusion to his father, at least we know the specific counsel never got wind of this meeting. Nobody did. So they didn't rush out to disclose it at the time from the facts that we know now. Thank you so much General Hayden. Good to talk to you.
HAYDEN: Thanks Erin.
BURNETT: And next more of Donald Trump Jr.'s explanation of what happened at that meeting with the Russian lawyer. He is speaking out tonight. Plus, the man in the middle of this new Russian controversy making light of it with this selfie. What is he saying tonight?
And is the president defending his son or distancing himself from his name sake?
[19:18:08] BURNETT: Back to OutFront and we are following the breaking news. President Trump's eldest son speaking out after releasing the bombshell e-mails about his meeting with the Russian lawyer over alleged damaging information about Hillary Clinton that supposedly it was said was being provided by the Russian government.
He and now Donald Trump Jr. is admitting he would have done things differently. OutFront now, national security correspondent at the New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg, former White House Ethics Lawyer under President George W. Bush, Richard Painter and former Attorney General for the State of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli. Matt, let me start with you here. Donald Trump Jr. saying now in retrospect he would do things differently. How significant is it that he would actually admit that?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: It is significant. I do however wonder and I would ask him if was sitting there with him it did not occur to you or anyone with you at the time that it was a country that many people in our government, in our country consider an adversary was reaching out to you to provide you dirt and help you defeat a political opponent, why that wasn't questioned at the time. And what exactly you thought you might get from them and why you thought it was okay to get it. I mean it is a bizarre story.
BURNETT: And, ken, that question not only by Donald Trump Jr. but by, you know, the fact that Jared Kushner was in the room, Paul Manafort was in the room, it doesn't appear anybody questioned this or the source and I say that because Paul Manafort is an incredibly experienced political hand.
KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, VIRGINIA: Right. And they -- you know, we learn about all this from Jared Kushner's supplement to his security, you know, submissions and in the last two weeks I suppose. And it does raise questions rather obviously and Donald Trump Jr. is now starting to answer those questions publicly about his own perspective on it.
[19:20:08] I don't think it's surprising that he would say now he would do things differently. It is a whole lot easier to look back and put it in the context based, you know, hindsight is 20/20. And also, look, this is ugly. This is very ugly for Donald Jr. You know, there has been comments earlier in the show about how quiet the president has been. I'm a person who said on this network that the president should be quieter on Twitter. It serves him well in the campaign. It hasn't served him well in the White House. I don't actually take that as a bid sign. I take that as a more disciplined whether you see its as suspicious or not, I don't. I see it as disciplined on his part --
BURNETT: Very interesting.
CUCCINELLI: -- but they have a long way to go just on these e-mails.
BURNETT: So Richard, we have another sound bite from Donald Trump Jr., this interview he had just finished. In this, he's talking about his thought process for the entire meeting, right. So let's give him a chance to explain his side of it. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP JR.: I had been reading about scandals that people were probably underreporting for a long time, so maybe it was something that had to do with one of those things, I mean this is her -- perhaps involvement with the Russian government. So, you know, again, I didn't know there was any credibility. I didn't know if there was anything behind it. I can't vouch for the information. Someone sent me an e-mail. I can't help what someone sends me. You know? I read it. I responded accordingly. And if there was something interesting there, I think it's pretty common.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do you buy his logic? Look, there are rumors. I don't care who's going to give me information substantiating them or what country they're from or what government they're on behalf of, if it's going to help me, I'll take it.
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH: No. I don't buy that at all. Not only did he go to the meeting, but so did Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. The top three people in the Trump campaign are meeting with this person who he is told has connections with the Russian government and he's also told that he's going to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton that's going to be coming from the Russian government and how does the Russian government get such information? We know that because they have been conducting espionage activities inside the United States for years.
The only appropriate response when you get this type of call is to call the FBI, not to go and meet with the person. It is absolutely absurd that he did this and that the others went along with him and they clearly wanted to collaborate with the Russians. That is expressed in those e-mails and that is categorically different than what this administration has been saying versus there was no collaboration. They clearly wanted to collaborate and it appears they did.
CUCCINELLI: Erin, can I comment on the consequences here?
BURNETT: Yes, go ahead.
CUCCINELLI: This is, by itself, nothing obviously illegal here. You know, Tim Kaine, one of my state senators is getting a little hyperbolic throwing the treason word out there.
BURNETT: He's calling it a treason tonight, yes.
CUCCINELLI: Treason is helping another country, an enemy. Yes. And it isn't getting help from the other. And you heard the characterization of they taking help from all over the place and didn't care where it came from. And they truly, I don't think they really did care. What this is really doing though is it is really destroying the opportunity for the Trump presidency to get any substantive traction on issues on Capitol Hill inside the beltway, to move their legislative agenda.
And while we're all focused on this and legitimately so, most of America isn't.
CUCCINELLI: And yet it's stopping this administration in its tracks from getting a lot of things done. BURNETT: I mean, Matt, because there are some questions. Obviously
the questions here that are going to come are did the president of the United States know about this? OK. Now, Donald Trump Jr. is speaking out about that tonight, I want to play itbut first here is the time line we know.
1:02 p.m. on the day of the meeting Donald Trump left a lunch fundraiser, he was at the Four Season. He went back to Trump Tower and he never left for the rest of the afternoon, so he was there. The campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, 2:18 left the Four Seasons and at 4:00 was at the meeting. Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner meet with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, that was at 4:00. The meeting was 20 to 30 minutes.
At 4:40 Donald Trump responded to a Hillary Clinton tweet with a dig about how her e-mails were saying, "How long could it take your staff of 823 people to think that up and where are your 33,000 e-mails that you deleted?" All right. This is the context. Now Donald Trump Jr. asked tonight did his father know about this meeting. Here is what he's saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do you tell your father anything about this?
TRUMP JR.: No. It was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell. I mean, I wouldn't have even remembered it until you start scouring through the stuff. It was a waste of 20 minutes, which is a shame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do you buy it, Matt?
ROSENBERG: I don't know. That's the thing. And I think as General Hayden previously pointed out here --
ROSENBERG: -- is that this White House doesn't really get the benefit of the doubt anymore because there have been a lot moments, many moments where they said we didn't know about something and it turns out they did know about it. And, you know, the fact there is a huge credibility gap.
[19:25:13] But I also I kind of want to illustrate just how weird this whole meeting is and I have to be a little vague. This is a source told me this. But many, many years ago some people from the Russian embassy approached somebody who runs a new service in Washington. They do very Washington type new service. They wanted to buy this service in cash. And this guy went straight to the FBI and actually asked them first, hey, what's going on here. You know, that was the first instinct.
So to have a Russian official saying (INAUDIBLE) with you with have potential dirt and to not think, well, maybe I should tell law enforcement here and not do it after the fact either. You could take that meeting. This idea that somebody is coming with information, I don't care what the information comes from, I just want to know if it's true, that's what I do. That's what journalists do and investigators do. It's not what you do when you are running a political campaign or you're running a government. You can send other people, you can send more junior people. You don't take the three top people in the campaign say, oh yes, we really want to hear this. We want to sit down with you.
BURNETT: Right. Right. Which Ken, you know, back to the point of what's in the e-mail, right, the e-mail says to Donald Trump Jr. requesting meeting. It's part of Russia and it's government support for Mr. Trump that continues to talk about the Russian government attorney. If you give him Donald Trump Jr. the benefit of doubt, OK, and he was clueless. He's a business guy. He didn't know. You should call law enforcement. This is totally inappropriate. Paul Manafort was in that meeting, he was forwarded that e-mail trail. He certainly knew. I mean there is no way you could say he thought that was OK. Could you?
CUCCINELLI: Yes. Manafort is an interesting piece here. I mean, there is another tug going on. We've all seen how tight the trump family wagons circle. And if you are Manafort and you've got Donald Trump Jr. with Kushner coming into a meeting, do you tell these two, no, no, no, we're not going to do this. That's an awkward position. I have never heard Paul Manafort talk about that because this was not a traditionally run operation.
But clearly Paul Manafort is the one person there that you expect kind of knows the inside skinny in terms of how people in this part of the world might operate, that he's the person that right raise flags among all of them who would most likely say, you know, this is something that we need to be careful with, we should tell the FBI about, we should back away from, whatever it might be. Now, the meeting may have been a total nothing murder (ph). I think it's going to be hard for us to know that, which led to nothing. But if it was anything --
CUCCINELLI: -- other, Manafort is the person I would expect to raise a flag.
BURNTT: Yes. I thank you all very much. I have to point out it doesn't -- right. And thanks to all. I guess I think the bottom point we have to make it doesn't matter if nothing came out of it. If they thought something would and that was the intention and the pretence (ph) for taking the meeting, that ultimately is what matters most.
OutFront next, denial and damage control tonight from the Russian family that is now exposed to Trump's e-mails. This is a fascinating part of the story. We're going to tell you in full next.
And where does the Russian meddling end? I'm going to ask a prominent target of one of their biggest hacks.
[19:31:43] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Breaking news, the billionaire family that helped arrange the controversial meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer is speaking out. Through their new attorney, the family which I think it is important to say has ties to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, claims that at no point did they think the purpose of the meeting was to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Now, that obviously directly contradicts the e-mails that Trump Jr. released today.
So, just who is this billionaire family and what is their connection to the Trumps?
Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, this will be a great one, there's no question, because of the fact that it's Miss Universe in Moscow.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In November 2013, Donald Trump was in Russia to host the Miss Universe pageant. And his side, his partner for the pageant, fellow billionaire and real estate developer, Aras Agalarov. Just days before, Agalarov had been awarded one of the Russia's highest honors by Vladimir Putin himself.
And now, Agalarov, along with his pop star son Emin, were hobnobbing with Trump who later told Russian reporters he was considering a run for president.
TRUMP: Well, a lot of people want me to run and a lot of people want to see a different approach.
MARQUARDT: The origins of Donald Trump Jr.'s controversial meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya can all be traced back to the Miss Universe pageant.
Noah Kirsch has covered Trump's business ties for "Forbes Magazine".
NOAH KIRSCH, FORBES MAGAZINE: Emin Agalarov decided he wanted the most beautiful women in the world to be in his music video. That led him to a meeting with Miss Universe, Miss Universe organization, which eventually he says led him to an invitation from Donald Trump himself.
MARQUARDT: An invitation to the Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas, where they reportedly brokered the deal to host the Miss Universe competition later that year in Moscow. The Agalarovs claimed they spent $20 million on the event.
TRUMP: So, we're going to meet (INAUDIBLE) in Moscow. And come on up here. Where are you? Where are my partners? Very powerful, very rich, very nice, great people. MARQUARDT: With them in Vegas, Emin's British publicist, Rob
A few days later, Trump wondering aloud on Twitter, do you think Putin will be going to the Miss Universe pageant in November in Moscow? If so, will he become my new best friend?
He didn't attend, but Putin reportedly sent a present for Trump. And Emin Agalarov performed.
After, Trump tweeting the Agalarov father, I had a great weekend with you and your family. You've done a fantastic job. Trump Tower Moscow is next. Emin was wow.
The relationship grew. Trump even appeared in Emin's music video.
TRUMP: Emin, wake up. Come on. What's wrong with you?
KIRSCH: We know that Emin Agalarov spent time at Trump properties, that he received a personalized video message from the president on his 35th birthday. And I know from my conversation with him that at least according to Emin Agalarov, this relationship extended up and passed the November election.
MARQUARDT: So, when the message came via Rob Goldstone that Emin Agalarov wanted Donald Jr. to meet a Russian government attorney, he likely assumed it was coming from trusted friends.
Today, the Agalarov's new lawyer claiming Goldstone's e-mail was utterly inconsistent with our understanding of the purpose of the meeting, telling CNN Goldstone is out of his element in writing these e-mails and having these communications.
[19:35:06] MARQUARDT: Goldstone has not commented since his e-mails were published today. As for the Agalarovs, there is no way to become a successful as they have in Russia and get the state building contracts that they have without a friendly relationship with the Kremlin. We saw that picture of the Agalarov father with Putin.
I want to show you another photo, this one from today of the pop star Emin which he posted on Instagram with the caption, finally sunny. What new? He's not looking too upset to be at the center of this scandal -- Erin.
BURNETT: So he believes all press is good press. OK, thank you very much, Alex.
And I want to go now to the independent Senator Angus King of Maine who also, of course, is in the center of this as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian hacking into the election and any involvement by the Trumps.
Senator, this is a family, we're talking about the Agalarovs, that appears to be close to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Is your committee now looking actively into their ties to the Trump family?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think the short answer is yes. We certainly will be. This whole matter will be examined, as I'm sure Mr. Mueller is going to be looking into it as well.
I mean, I think you put your finger on it a few minutes ago, Erin. The real issue is the fact that they were approached. They said they were told they had dirt on Hillary from the Russian government, as part of the Russian government's plan to help Mr. Trump. And they took the meeting.
The proper response should have been, as I think you mentioned earlier, to call the FBI. This was information from a foreign government, an adversarial foreign government. And now, they're also saying the meeting didn't amount to anything. It was about adoption.
That's a little misleading as well. What this Russian lawyer is all about is trying to undo the Magnitsky Act, a law passed, a sanctions law passed by Congress on Russian individuals, and that was what she wanted to talk about, and that's part of this story now. They wanted the sanctions relieved.
BURNETT: Right. That's right. And that, of course, is something very, very important to Vladimir Putin himself. You heard the former director of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, General Michal Hayden, saying he believes that she was linked to the Russian government, that he thinks it's absurd to suggest otherwise. Would you agree?
KING: Well, in the e-mail from Mr. Goldstone, one of the follow up e- mails he refers to as a government lawyer, a Russian government lawyer. I mean --
BURNETT: Yes. The Russian government attorney, yes.
KING: Right. So -- but the other thing about this that's really disturbing, Erin, is the pattern of denial that we've seen for a year that there is nothing to this, it's a witch hunt. I saw a clip earlier today of Donald Trump Jr. at the Democratic Convention saying it was all a tissue of lies and the Democrats have lost their moral compass and all those kinds of things.
This meeting was a month before that. It was in early June. And to say we know nothing about meeting with the Russians, they went to that meeting because they wanted the dirt on Hillary. That's what the e- mails tell us.
BURNETT: Now, the Agalarovs, as we're trying to understand here how important their role may be, because they are close to Putin. They said they spent $20 million bringing the Miss Universe pageant to Russia. They talked about building a Trump Tower next to the Agalarov Tower in Moscow.
Even Agalarov told "Forbes" after the election, and this is a crucial quote, now that he ran and was elected, obviously referring to Donald Trump, he does not forget his friends. Are you concerned right now that the president or his family owe these
Russians who are close to Putin, the Agalarovs, in some way, or indebted to them?
KING: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to speculate on that. I think we have a long way to go. That's the kind of information that our committee will be seeking, will be talking to as many witnesses as we can. We want to talk to Donald Trump Jr. We want to talk to Mr. Goldstone. We want try to get all these facts.
And I know that on a parallel track, Robert Mueller is going to be looking at this from the point of view of whether there were laws broken.
BURNETT: Now, Donald Trump Jr. was just asked -- he did an interview this evening with FOX News, of course. He was asked about this meeting with the Russian attorney. And he did admit now that he would have done things differently.
And I just wanted to play a clip of that for you, Senator. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: In retrospect, I probably would have done things differently. Again, this is before the Russian mania. This is before they were building it up in the press.
For me, this is opposition research. They had something, you know, maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I've been hearing about that there were probably underreported for, you know, years, not just during the campaign. So, I think I wanted to hear it out. But really, it went nowhere and it was apparent that wasn't what the meeting was actually about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do you buy that explanation or excuse, whatever word you would like to use?
KING: I don't -- I don't think it holds much water. I mean, you go back to the email.
[19:40:00] Forget about the meeting for a minute. You go back to the mail which set up the meeting and all the e-mail mentioned was incriminating information about Hillary Clinton prepared by the Russian government as part of their plan to help Mr. Trump be elected, your father to be elected president. I mean, that's what induced them to take the meeting.
Now, you can argue that he and Jared Kushner maybe were naive, they didn't do anything, they didn't really know what they were getting into. But you can't make that argument with Paul Manafort, a very sophisticated guy involved in a lot of campaigns and he certainly knew that there was something fishy about an e-mail like this, an invitation to get opposition research from the Russian government.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Senator King. We appreciate your time tonight.
KING: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, a high ranking Democrat who lost her job in the Russian email hack scandal. What does she think of today's bombshell? Well, Debbie Wasserman Schultz will tell you next.
And the president unusually silent, finally sort of speaking out about Don Jr. What's taking him so long?
BURNETT: Tonight, the breaking news: special counsel Robert Mueller's team now planning to investigate meetings and e-mail exchanges disclosed by Donald Trump, Jr. His meeting with a Russian lawyer came before the public knew the extent of Russian hacking.
[19:45:02] Now, the Russian cyber attack on the Democratic National Committee's computer systems, do you remember that? That's sort of when all this came into the public eye. It revealed damning e-mails and other information which ultimately led to good-bye DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She lost her jobs over it and Wasserman Schultz, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz joins me OUTFRONT.
I mean, these developments for you, Congresswoman, are very, very significant. I just want to once again to start this interview of, if I may, read a part of these e-mails between Donald Trump Jr. and the publicist Rob Goldstone. That's the one who set this meeting up with the Russian lawyer.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Right.
BURNETT: Goldstone says to Donald Trump Jr., this meeting was, quote, to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information, but is part of Russia and it's government support for Mr. Trump.
Donald Trump Jr. replies, I love it, especially later in the summer, referring to when it could come out.
What's your reaction, Congresswoman?
SCHULTZ: Erin, I mean, I was stunned when I heard about this e-mail exchange and obviously this has unfolded over the course of yesterday and today. Clearly, what we learned today is that the president's son, his namesake, a senior advisor and someone who was in the top tier of the Trump campaign, colluded through the classic dictionary definition of what that word means. Merriam Webster defines collusion as cooperation, especially for deceit or illegal purposes. And there is no question that what Donald Trump Jr. agreed to do with
relish, I might add, is meet with a lawyer who he believed was affiliated with the Russian government to assist his father's campaign and collect dirt on Hillary Clinton. If that is not the definition of collusion, I don't know what is. I'm sure that it is. And this is, obviously, continues with this iceberg that we were initially at the tip of last summer just gets larger and larger.
BURNETT: So, where does it go from here to you, right? Donald Trump Jr. is not involved in the Trump administration. He says his father didn't know anything about this meeting.
Does this go nowhere? Whatever it may be, you're right. It's collusion. Does it go anywhere?
SCHULTZ: Donald Trump Jr. is a liar. I mean, he has lied throughout all of the questioning just on this one e-mail exchange. I mean, he said initially that the meeting was about adoption and conveniently left out the important part of why he took the meeting. He also said that no one -- that he didn't know the lawyer's name or why he was meeting with her.
This meeting was attended by Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law who is now a senior advisor inside the belly of the White House, right next to the president. I mean, this is someone who has top secret security clearance, which, if it's not already revoked, it should be immediately because he also clearly participated in collusion.
And the only question now is what did the president know? When did he know it? And to what extent did this collusion, how deep it is?
BURNETT: OK. So, they are saying this is opposition research. That's what they thought it was, all right? In fact, the White House says it was actually the DNC that had inappropriate communications with foreign officials during the campaign. They actually say there was a consultant for the DNC who met with top officials at the Ukrainian embassy to try to get dirt on Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and the Russians, right?
Sebastian Gorka who as you know is a top adviser to the president now made that case today. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Was it a good idea for Don Jr. to meet with this Russian lawyer?
SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Was it a good idea for the DNC to send its operatives to the Ukrainian embassy?
CAMEROTA: I'm not sure that answers my question.
GORKA: No, I -- you know, if there is a meeting that was wholly appropriate but which leads to nothing, let's compare to the DNC sending its people to the Ukrainian embassy to coordinate oppo attacks against our candidate. I mean, if you want to see collusion, it is in the DNC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You were the head of the DNC. Did you OK a meeting like that? Would that be appropriate?
SCHULTZ: No. Of course I didn't. And that is an absurd comparison.
Let's go back to what we found out today. Donald Trump Jr., the president's namesake, his son, senior official of Donald Trump's campaign, agreed to a meeting that he knowingly was told via e-mail was with a lawyer affiliated with the Russian government and the e- mail specifically said that they wanted to help Donald Trump's campaign and help him and provide them with dirt on Hillary Clinton.
BURNETT: Yes, it did.
SCHULTZ: That meeting was attended by Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, by Jared Kushner, who was now a senior advisor and was then to the campaign, but is now a senior adviser to the president with top secret security clearance, that is collusion --
[19:50:04] BURNETT: Just to be clear though, what Sebastian Gorka said -- OK, are you saying what Sebastian Gorka says happened, that there was, did not happen, that is untrue?
SCHULTZ: What I'm saying is that it is an absurd comparison and you asked me whether I directed anyone in the DNC. No, I did not.
BURNETT: OK, I understand.
SCHULTZ: What we have here is a very clear case of collusion. We have a clear case of the top tier of a presidential campaign knowingly and specifically taking a meeting in which they intended to collude with the Russian government, to collect dirt on their opponent, to affect the outcome of their election, which was successful.
Unbelievable, outrageous and we have to get to the bottom of it.
BURNETT: Congresswoman, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, the president's not so full-throated defense of his eldest son named after him. We're going to go inside their relationship.
BURNETT: Breaking news: after three days, President Trump breaking his silence on embattled son Donald Trump, Jr. and the bombshell emails about his meeting with a Russian lawyer and Russian government, possibly having damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The president saying, not on Twitter, and not coming out saying in a
statement that his press secretary read, or his deputy press secretary: My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency.
[19:55:02] So why did it take so long for the president to defend his own son and use those terms?
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TRUMP JR.: My best friend, my father, Donald Trump.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The relationship between the two Donald Trumps has been at times rosy --
TRUMP SR.: Where is Don, by the way? Is Don here? Where is Don? Where is my boy?
FOREMAN: And at times rocky.
TRUMP SR.: Well, I wasn't thrilled with what he did.
FOREMAN: The oldest of the president's children, he was born to first wife Ivana and suffered through his parent's divorce.
TRUMP JR.: It was a difficult time. I mean, it's certainly difficult reading about it in the papers every day in the way to school.
FOREMAN: It was messy, painful and very public.
BARBARA WALTERS, TV HOST: You yourself said that you saw your children maybe once a week. You were having a lot of difficulties with your 12-year-old son, Donny.
TRUMP SR.: As far as myself, I think I'm a very good father. I've been a very good provider, and I guess you have to leave it like that, Barbara. I mean, what can I say?
FOREMAN: There was not much to say. Co-author of "Trump Revealed" Marc Fisher says father and son did not speak for a full year.
MARC FISHER, SENIOR EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: Donald, Jr. is really the only one of the adult children who has gone through a period of rebellion. He went off to Colorado and became a bartender, really disobeyed his father by leaving the family business and appearing to be going off in a different path entirely.
FOREMAN: Eventually, he came back to the fold, embracing his father's fame, the family business, and all it means to be a Trump.
TRUMP JR.: He said before he ever coined the phrase on "The Apprentice," that if we didn't do well, he'd fire us like dogs.
FOREMAN: He also embraced his dad's flare for controversy, enraging animal rights activist with his love of big game hunting, infuriating feminists by dismissing sexual harassment as a serious issue.
TRUMP JR.: If you can't handle some of the basic stuff that's become a problem in the workforce, you don't belong in the workforce.
FOREMAN: During the campaign, he was criticized for comparing refugees to Skittles. He stumbled into an interview with a white supremacist, and instagrammed a cartoon associated with that cause. But he rarely publicly admits he's wrong or apologizes.
TRUMP JR.: I really appreciate you always being there for me whenever I need you. Yu really are the best dad a guy could have.
FOREMAN: And in that sense, it very much is like father, like son.
TRUMP JR.: Congratulations, dad. We love you!
FOREMAN: Like his father, he's occasionally had troubles in business, even though he's now basically in charge of the family business while his father is in the White House. Like his father, he's denied doing anything wrong during the campaign. And like his father, it looks like these questions around Russia just won't go away -- Erin.
BURNETT: Yes. All right. Tom Foreman, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Gloria, look, this wasn't just a White House adviser, right? This is the president's oldest son. This is his son.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BURNETT: They have the same name.
Why did the president wait days, three, four days to come out and defend him and then do so, so, I don't know, staidly via a statement?
BORGER: Well, I think it's clearly upon the advice of attorneys and probably upon the advice of Donald Trump, Jr.'s attorneys. And the president couldn't exactly tweet about this and say that it's fake news or a hoax or not real. And I think that this is probably something that his son feels badly about.
I mean, as he told FOX News earlier, if he had to do it again, he might have done it a little bit differently.
BURNETT: I mean, you know, Gloria, when it comes down to this question, right, the White House says President Trump didn't attend the meeting, didn't even know about the meeting actually until a few days ago. This, of course, was his son attending the meeting, along with his son-in-law, along with the chairman of his campaign on the day that Trump was in Trump Tower.
Donald Trump Jr.'s office is on the floor below Donald Trump's office.
BURNETT: It's a small office as we said.
Is it possible that President Trump really didn't have any idea about the meeting?
BORGER: You know, it's just -- sure, it is. You know, this is a guy who had just become the nominee, and he was busy raising money and doing everything else, and there are lots of meetings that candidate staff had without letting the candidate know about it.
BORGER: Now, Donald Trump, Jr. is his son. They are close to each other.
But particularly since nothing seemed to come out of the meeting, it's quite plausible that Donald Trump didn't know anything about it. I mean, that's a question that the special counsel is going to have to look at, Erin. It's -- at this point, we just don't know really know the answer. We don't know the answer to your question, and there are a lot of unanswered questions about this whole episode that we still need to find out about.
BURNETT: Right. And, of course, then, if there was collusion between whether it's Donald Trump, Jr. or someone else and the Russians, what does that mean? Then there's the big what does that mean?
BORGER: Well, we don't know, you know?
BURNETT: Right, yes.
All right. Well, Gloria, thank you very much.
BURNETT: And thanks to all of you for joining us as always. See you tomorrow.
"AC360" is next.