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Trump Claims He Learned Of Son's Russia Meeting Just A Couple Of Days Ago; Kushner Told Trump Russia Meeting Wouldn't Cause Problems. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired July 12, 2017 - 23:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SPECIAL REPORT SHOW HOST: This is a CNN special report, White House in crisis. Breaking tonight, President Trump is on his way to Paris right now leaving behind a White House rocked by bomb shell revelations on Russia's election meddling and ties to his campaign, I am Pamela Brown.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN SPECIAL REPORT SHOW HOST: I am Jim Sciutto. The President has finally spoken out about his son's embrace of a Russian offer to provide negative information on Hillary Clinton. Here's what we know at this hour.

BROWN: After keeping a low profile for days, the president will take questions in Paris tomorrow. Tonight, he has gone public saying he didn't know about a meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer. He just saw it a couple of days ago, he tell Reuters that he doesn't blame Donald Jr. saying quote many people would have taken that meeting. They describe the White House as paralyzed and various administration figures draw a picture of chaos now penetrating the president inner circle following Donald Jr. revelations about his direct Russian contacts. The President insists the White House thought, quote functioning perfectly. The President's son in law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner was also at Donald Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer and that New York Times sight sources are saying Kushner down played this meeting informing the President it would not cause a problem for the administration. And CNN has exclusive video of Donald Trump interacting years earlier with the billionaire father and son named in Don Jr. emails. As investigators examine the links between the two wealthy families, the Trumps and those Russians tied to Donald Jr.'s meeting.

SCIUTTO: We're covering all the angles with our team of experts and reporters. Pamela, certainly a lot of news today, you almost forget that the new FBI Director had his confirmation hearings today. You had really the President's first defense for this meeting saying in his words in an interview with Reuters that many would take this meeting and yet hours later his FBI Director said listen, if Russian government is offering damaging interview information on your opponent, you should report that to the FBI.

BROWN: He said yeah, you should probably alert the FBI. He was very clear in this is a very serious matter when a foreign government a foreign adversary wants to take a meeting with you during that presidential campaign and also in this case according to the emails offering incriminating information on your part.

SCIUTTO: And Lindsey Graham from South Carolina. How did you take hearing that defense from Donald Trump in effect? Yesterday the whole thing was he is got to stay out of it, he is only going to tweet support for his son, but he was right in the middle of it today.

LINDSEY GRAHAM, REPUBLICAN SENATOR: I think he listened to his lawyers for a day and then he decided to go out and defend his son. It is his son after all and I was talking to somebody who talks to the President quite frequently today and he said to me look, the President, his frame of mind is that it has always been. This is a media exercise, this is a media creation. This is the media trying to create a conspiracy that doesn't exist and that he also believes he needs to fight back, he needs to punch back. This is what he is always done and that he still believes in the end the special counsel, Mueller will be out to get him.

BROWN: Interesting. And you look at The New York Times reporting about Jared Kushner. It reads Mr. Kushner omitted significant details according to two people briefed on the exchange. They said Mr. Kushner informed the President that he had met with the Russian foreign national and while he had to report the name, it would not cause a problem for the administration. Now, according to Gloria's reporting, this was discovered. The email chain was discovered June 21st, I believe. Even if at first when he got the email, if he didn't scroll all the way down, one would think he would read the whole email exchange then and it seemed as though he wasn't totally forthcoming about this.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The email in question actually has a subject line that says Russia, Clinton. It's problematic. And I think a lot of reasonable people would say I don't read all the emails and don't get to the bottom of every email chain that comes on my iPhone. But --

BROWN: But when there's an FBI investigation and you discover this email after going through it --

PEREZ: And according to the people I've talked to, he was aware of this email being discovered by his legal team as early as early June and so June 21st is when they file the updated SF-86 form in order to get his security clearance. That is when he officially tells the FBI that he is acknowledging this meeting. So does he have the ability to tell the President? There's legal issues here, because if this investigation is ongoing, is it proper for Kushner to actually tell the President about this? Would it come across --

[23:05:30] BROWN: Would it be better to have plausible deniability?

PEREZ: Would it be better for his lawyer to talk to the President's lawyer because you don't want the special counsel to think perhaps you're trying to align stories. So there are all kinds of issues that come up. SCIUTTO: This is a story coming from inside the White House. Someone

saying that Kushner deliberately played down a meeting and said it will not going to cause a problem for the administration when in fact it did. There's internal sniping going on inside the administration over this meeting.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Clearly there is and clearly there's mixed stories. We forget there were all kinds of denials and down playing attempts. And everybody was in the room except for the President. And how do you forget about that part too if you're trying to forget what the emails mean to make sure you're in compliance with something you're not in compliance about? So there's all those stages we can't discount where they have to explain away the latest phase? It's out in the open because Don Jr. put it out himself.

SCIUTTO: The essential question when we gather around this table. Is this something that has captured the attention of a significant number of Republicans beyond that core group that we always hear, frankly, the Grahams and the McCain's (inaudible) of the world, based on the numbers, not really.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Not really. I mean no one's running away and saying I can't support this President anymore, largely, because of their own internal politics back home. You do hear voices of concern. People say it is problematic, they raised back in --

SCIUTTO: Inappropriate.

RAJU: And they say look, this is something the special counsel will investigate, the house and Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate and it's very clear, Jim, that they're doing everything in the leadership -- in particular trying to just run away from the story and every single time this comes up, they point to the investigation. Paul Ryan today, punted when he had an opportunity to talk about Don Jr. Especially when I ask Mitch McConnell, the majority leader punted as well in this investigation. They're not going to officially run away from him unless --

PEREZ: Interesting thing is it's not the same inside the White House. Certainly reporters like us who are calling over there, trying to figure out what is the truth and you can see that from this New York Times story that there's a different versions. Everyone knows and they're sniping at each other and blaming each other. This is what's exactly is happening inside the White House. They all have a story to tell.

BROWN: I wouldn't get to what Jay Sekulow told Jake Tapper. This is what he told Jake Tapper last night.


JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: When did President Trump find out about this meeting, the full story of this meeting?

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP' LAWYER: The full story -- TAPPER: The emails --

SEKULOW: You're talking very recently and I'm not going to give you the nature of the conversation. It was a conversation between his lawyer and the President very, very recently. The president is not aware of this until --

TAPPER: Today, yesterday?

SEKULOW: No. It started coming out over the weekend, so within that time frame.

TAPPER: Within the time frame --


BROWN: All right so on that note Gloria you have been reporting on --

GLORIA BORGER, AMERICAN POLITICAL PUNDIT, JOURNALIST AND COLUMNIST: I think it's not mutually exclusive that Jared Kushner -- on The New York Times reporting that Jared Kushner might have given him a heads up and might have been told not to give them details, we have no idea, and that the President was informed of the details later on. I mean that is what -- we don't know the answer to this. We don't know what the President knew and when he knew it to rephrase the Howard Baker question. We don't know at this point.

BROWN: But how much is this credibility issue for the White House now? We hear what they say, what Don Jr. says, what Sarah Huckabee Sanders says.

PEREZ: She says it's a credibility problem for the media.

SCIUTTO: Let's state the fact openly. You have two -- Senate and House Intelligence Committees with Republicans and Democrats on board investigating and the FBI and the special counsel, it is not a media conspiracy. You have multiple bodies and consider this important question that they are going down this path.

[23:10:00] BROWN: Yes absolutely. And you have more reporting this about sort of behind the scenes what's going on the White House particularly as it pertains to Jared.

PEREZ: Yes, like I said, people -- everyone seems to have a different version of the story and the question of why this story went out the way it did. For example the fact incorrect statement was issued in the name is of Donald Trump Jr. on Saturday -- a misleading statement. They had to quickly correct. This is malpractice of public relations 101.

BROWN: Do they just not think it will ever come out in the media --

BORGER: Public relations people get together and try to come up with a statement they believe will do the least harm and what they didn't realize is this thing would unspool itself. RAJU: And they thought they could throw sand in the eyes of the media

and the story would shift and the media would drop the story and move on to the next thing.

DEMIRJIAN: And so much of pivotal issues. You don't forget the chapters to that point and to the Republican Party, I agree there are not a lot of open shifts happening in the GOP, but you are hearing people say of course we're going to bring Don Jr. in. I would be surprised if he didn't testify and you're hearing a lot of them, the Republicans too. And you don't usually hear Republicans insisting on that. Because --

SCIUTTO: But beyond pr and lawyers, there is an essential mendacity about the White House story line on this, as it has been on other issues. The first statement said it was about adoption of Russia children when we know that not to be true.

PEREZ: The instinct at the White House which is to not tell the full truth, to mislead, we saw it repeatedly. We actually watched it happen.

BROWN: I know law enforcement community we talk with say there is a serious concern that there could be, you know vulnerability for blackmail and that type of thing. The emails have existed for over a year and there is a repeated denial of Don Jr. To --

SCIUTTO: Sally Yates, acting Attorney General said her concern about Michael Flynn not being forthcoming about his Russian meetings, is that he would be open to blackmail by the Russians. Is it not a reasonable question to ask does a Kushner or Donald Trump Jr. open himself up? And I know we were talking about a series of meetings to this point it's one meeting that has been lied about in effect. Is blackmail a fair question?

DEMIRJIAN: It's not just one meeting. It's been several meetings Kushner's been involved with. That have been -- and the question is -- even if you want to say okay. Those were mistakes, it's a judgment call.

RAJU: Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence when he brought up yesterday he believed this meeting was potentially something that could be held over to the President, compromised information and could presumably influence the President's viewpoint on key policy decisions and that is one of the things and also going to back to the notion of credibility of telling the truth, when they come and they have to testify under oath, that is completely different.

PEREZ: This is the third time Jared Kushner has had to update his form. He is seeking a permanent security clearance to represent the country. That is an extraordinary thing.

BORGER: The overall strategy here that I can gleam from the White House is when you can't argue the facts you have to discredit the messenger. Because there's probably a presumption there are other shoes to drop, other shoes to drop. Then if you discredit the messenger enough, then when they drop, you don't have to believe them.

BORGER: Don Jr. was the messenger. That is why they had to change the story until he released the emails.

BROWN: You have to stick to that one and that is the problem is they've shifted too many times.

SCIUTTO: And not just the media. There's a lot of messengers they're willing to aim fire at. We have a lot more to discuss, stay there, just ahead four contradictive stories from the White House in just the past five days. A closer look at how this administration has repeatedly changed its tune on the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. along with two other top campaign officials and a Russian lawyer.


[23:18:47] BROWN: Our breaking news, President Trump is flying to Paris at this hour after finally going in public as his son's embrace on a Russian offer to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton and subsequently meeting on a Russian lawyer. The President says he only learned about the meeting just a couple of days ago.

SCIUTTO: After a long silence, President Trump today gave a low key response to the stunning developments involving his son's emails and meeting with a Russian lawyer.

BROWN: Let us go now to CNN Correspondent Jessica Schneider at the White House. Jessica, so President Trump is leaving behind a White House said to be in a state of paralysis.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know the President might be in route to Paris right now but this White House really still feeling the after effect and aftershocks of the revelations that Donald Trump Jr. met with that Russian lawyer. An official here is where we put it in this way saying yet another week lost when it comes to advancing the President's agenda. Another official here saying this White House is in dire need of some fresh new talent and another official also saying it's gotten to the point where some of President Trump's family members are now turning against each other. So yes the White House in the case of one official saying that this White House is paralyzed. But on the flip side we do know chief of staff Reince Priebus has been talking to the staff here, telling them to keep their head down, to keep focused and really tune out the noise. We know some of the staffers here are ready for a fight. They're staying strong and they believe that Donald Trump Jr. is really a scapegoat in this. So mixed emotions here, but yes, paralyzed is the word here at the White House. Pamela.

[23:20:20] BROWN: All right Jessica Schneider live for us at from the White House. Thanks Jessica.

SCIUTTO: It is too easy to get lost in the headlines of the day, but tonight we want to highlight the changing stories coming from the White House in just the past five days. Five days, four contradictory stories. As of Friday, the consistent Trump world story line for nearly a year, have been no evidence of collusion or cooperation with the Russian government, what's ever. Donald Trump Jr. himself had gone further saying all along that he had set up no meetings at all with Russians, even dismissing accusations of Russian interference in the election at all.


DONALD TRUMP JR., OLDEST SON OF DONALD TRUMP: We hear experts. His house cat at home once said this is what's happening with the Russians. It is disgusting, it is so phony, I don't mind a fair fight but this lies and the perpetuating of that kind of nonsense to try to gain some political capital is just outrageous.


SCIUTTO: That was only story number one, but on Saturday, that story change, confronted by The New York Times with news of a previously undisclosed meeting with a Russian lawyer, Donald Trump Jr. released a statement admitting that meeting did take place. He described it as short and introductory. Saying quote, we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children, that is story number two. But by Sunday, the story change again, after The New York Times reported Trump accepted the meeting after learning the lawyer might have information damaging to Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. issued a second amended statement admitting the reason for the meetings, saying it was with quote an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. Story number three, on Tuesday, confronted by The New York Times with details of an email between Trump and the British publicist Rob Goldstone, who arranged that meeting. The President's son tweeted out a copy of the email itself and the email delivered an entirely new account, demonstrating in black and white that the meeting was setup with the understanding that the Russians were offering quote official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father, end quote. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but it is part of wrath part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump. The president son responded by telling if it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer. That is story number four. 120 hours, four conflicting accounts, one White House.

BROWN: All right. Let's bring in our panel to talk about these changing stories you just laid out Jim. Gloria, when you look at that, even Republican they have said look, from the get go you should turn over the email exchange, be transparent.

BORGER: Tray Gouty, Lindsey Graham, you can go down the list. They're not taking the next step but they are saying this is something that you ought not to do and what you ought to do is call the FBI or just not have this meeting at all and they are clearly not buying the notion that he was naive or had never been involved in politics before. I think what they're saying is if you're an American citizen, you ought to know dealing with the Russian on election related issues is probably not a great idea.

RAJU: Exactly. Shifting explanations in great detail and that is probably causing the most concern from Republicans. I spoke to a number of them today and what they're particularly frustrated with. Not to mention the merits of the meeting, but the fact that the White House cannot keep its stories straight and provides one distraction after another at a time when the Party is trying to do something right now, health care and their White House is overwhelmed by this growing crisis.

BROWN: And that is why they're not answering questions.

SCIUTTO: So this is -- five stories in -- four stories in five days.

DEMIRJIAN: It's also a judgment question because every time you have one of these things happen you think let's extrapolate that and see what happens and the more you have to ask what are they actually really meaning at any juncture and at what point do you have the full truth? And he would have done it.

[23:25:06] BROWN: Who's sort of in control? Who's the captain of the ship when it comes to the messaging, how involved was the President?

PEREZ: you know we're told the President actually approved of that message that he signed off on it, the statement issued by Donald Trump Jr. and the interesting thing -- the Saturday statement. And the interesting thing is behind the scenes, people could see this train wreck happening. They knew this email existed. They knew that statement was misleading. They knew the idea of adoptions really meant Russian sanctions and that is really what this was about. And nobody really stood up to try to stop it and so what's happened now in the last couple days, you see this hunger game situation where everybody's in it for themselves trying to figure out who's to blame. They're blaming each other. It's a very ugly situation because exactly what you're describing where people don't trust how they arrived at this.

BORGER: And who controls the message, the President of the United States.

BROWN: And he is headed overseas to Paris. He'll be taking reporter's questions, much more to come on this breaking news, President Trump speaking out and coming to his son's defense.

SCIUTTO: Next reaction from a member of the House Intelligence Committee which investigating the Russian Meddling in the Presidential Election.


[23:30:18] PAMELA BROWN, CNN SPECIAL REPORT SHOW HOST: Breaking News, President Trump and the first lady boarded Air Force One this evening heading to France leaving behind what a top Republican close to the west wing call as paralyzed White House. The President is described as furious and frustrated by the release of emails about last year's meeting involving a Russian lawyer and members of his family and Presidential campaign.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN SPECIAL REPORT SHOW HOST: Up on Capitol Hill, committees investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election are asking for information and testimony from the participants in that meeting. Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He is a member of the judiciary and intelligence committees and a former prosecutor. Thanks you very much congressman for joining us tonight. So the President today interviewed just today said that he was unaware of Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with this Russian lawyer, though his son in law, Jared Kushner also President and at the time Paul Manafort was his campaign manager and the fact this meeting took place in Trump tower, one floor below the President's office. Do you believe that?

ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA CONGRESSMAN: Hard to believe. It's worth us pursuing and getting a final answer on that. But you think about father/son relationship. We've seen those who are close and by both of their own admission, they're very close so hard to imagine he wasn't aware of what was going on.

SCIUTTO: The President also told Reuters today that he doesn't fault his son for having these meeting. In fact he was quoted as saying many people would have held that meeting. Do you buy that, a meeting with someone purportedly bringing information from the Russian government damaging to your political opponent?

SWALWELL: I don't buy it. I don't think there is any excuse for it. His own nominee for FBI director today, Christopher Ray, said that would be inappropriate. And you should go to the FBI. That is not what they did. You know Jim what we're really seeing here is everything's coming into focus now. A lot of the other evidence that is been out there where they have offered innocent explanations, the Trump campaign, now with this meeting, putting everything else into context, it looks like they were willing to work with the Russians.

SCIUTTO: It is interesting because the focus of this meeting has been almost entirely on Donald Trump Jr., the President's son, when at the same time, Jared Kushner was also present at that meeting. Is that a line of investigation for the House Intelligence Committee?

SWALWELL: It is and for this simple reason we want to probe all relevant documents. For me it's important because when you're running a campaign and want to know what's important to you, look at how a person spends their time. These are principals of the campaign and to suggest that there were just taking walk-ins, people who are walking information and bringing three principles to sit down with them, the campaign headquarters that doesn't make sense.

SCIUTTO: These are busy people as they often would say. There's an interesting point here because Sally Yates who was fired as we remember as the acting FBI Director just after following through on the Flynn investigation. At the time she said one reason she was concerned was because Flynn had lied about his contacts with the Russians and because of that he was vulnerable to blackmail. To -- do you have the same concern for Jared Kushner or Donald Trump Jr. maybe lie is too strong word but they certainly did not disclose these meetings or have they in your view, subject to blackmail?

SWALWELL: If this was truly the Russian government seeking, as the email said, now the Russian government want to you to take that meeting, knows what happened and this is in the Russian playbook which is to gather compromising information on individuals and then to use it when it can affect their agenda. And that is the compromise where they put you in extortion position. Either you work for us, help us or we'll expose you. So it's still too early to tell if that is what they were doing but if this was the Russian government, they certainly have the evidence now that would be embarrassing and damaging to the Trump campaign.

SCIUTTO: Did it strike you the specificities, the explicitness of the language in that email. It said this is incriminating evidence about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government, which, by the way wants to help your father win. And of course Donald Trump Jr.'s response was I love it. That was from the way Russia operates. Was that intentionally explicit, do you think?

SWALWELL: Again too early but it was direct and what really bothered me was how nonchalant Donald Trump Jr. was about that. He wasn't shocked there was information about Russia which raises the question had he known from prior conversations from individuals that there was an effort out there by Russia to seek information and so, then the willingness to proceed, let's do a phone call immediately. That really bothered me. We know that in the Russian play book generally they do like to gather compromising information on people that they're meeting with.

[23:35:32] SCIUTTO: So this is the first meeting where we have seen evidence in black and white, where we know the function of the meeting. We know there are other meetings that took place both in the states and Europe between Trump advisors and Russians known to U.S. Intelligence or Russian officials. What is the status of the investigation into the function, the impetus for those other meetings?

SWALWELL: So far over the past few months, there's been so much public evidence where the Trump team is offered this innocent explanation. So Carter Page, who just a few weeks after this meeting with Donald Trump Jr. in Trump tower, he goes over to Moscow with the permission of the campaign and they said well, he was just going over there to give a speech. Now that you understand what this meeting was about, the Carter Page trip to Moscow seems a lot less innocent than they explained. The way I look at this is you get a vision test and they show you lens one and lens two and they say is it clearer or blurrier? This evidence just made our investigation, I think, a lot clearer.

SCIUTTO: Just to be clear, I said earlier Sally Yates the former FBI Director, acting Attorney General. The President was given yet another opportunity to answer the most basic question of this investigation. Is it clear to you, Mr. President that Russia meddled in the election and interfered? And yet again, on the same day, that his own FBI Director, like all the senior advisors said, of course they did, this is grave threat. But again the President said something happened and we have to find out what it is. Is that remarkable to you?

SWALWELL: Yeah, we -- know what it is. It was ordered by Putin. Donald Trump was the preferred candidate and it was a multifaceted campaign and the fact he can't acknowledge that, keeps us from moving forward. I've called for an independent commission to make this a lot less partisan but it's very hard to see that through and have a Republican members give support to it and I think lot of that is because the President won't even acknowledge that.

SCIUTTO: Right. Congressman Swalwell thanks very much for joining us tonight.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

SCIUTTO: Next we have exclusive video of President Trump with some of the Russian businessman who now figures very prominently in Donald Trump Jr.'s emails. We'll see more of these fascinating videos in just a moment.


[23:41:54] SCIUTTO: Welcome back tonight. Investigators are looking at ties between two very wealthy families, the Trumps and Russians linked to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer.

BROWN: CNN has learned exclusive video of 2103 Donald Trump meeting with a father and son who last year allegedly promise to helped pass along damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government to Donald Trump Jr. through an intermediary. The video is a fresh look inside the relationship apparently as it was beginning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The behind the scenes video, exclusively by CNN shows then businessman Donald Trump in Las Vegas in 2013, at several events during the weekend of the miss USA Pageant hanging out with the men now at the center of the newest development in the Russia controversy. The men, Russian pop singer (inaudible) and his father, a real estate developer in Russia were helping Trump hold his Miss Universe pageant in Moscow later that year.

In the video, Trump is seen having dinner with them, along with their publicist, Rob Goldstone, seen here leaning over to talk with Mr. Trump. On Tuesday, Trump son, Donald Jr. released emails from Goldstone, pitching a meeting between a President's son and a Russian lawyer, promising he would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton provided by the Russian government. According to the emails released by Trump Jr. (inaudible) seen here between Trump and Goldstone to set up the meeting, quote (inaudible) just called and ask me to contact you with something very interesting, this is obviously very high level and sensitive information but it's part of Russia and it's government's support of Mr. Trump.

The exclusive footage provides a closer look at the friendship of the two families and could help explain Donald Trump Jr. willingness to take the meeting arranged by Goldstone. He can be heard boasting about his work on the Miss Universe pageant. The next day in front of reporters, Trump spoke grandly about the promise of taking miss universe to Russia. Trump predicting his pageant could even bring Russia and the U.S. closer. Investigators plan to examine the Trump tower meeting and the emails.

On Fox News Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr., who does not appear in the 2013 video said he had limited knowledge of the Russian family.

DONALD TRUMP JR., OLDEST SON OF DONALD TRUMP: I met once or twice and maintained a casual relationship, and talked about deals and they didn't go anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But new video so and others show the President's own connections. And 2013 Trump appeared in one of the music videos.

[23:45:00] DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're just another pretty face. I'm really tired of you. You're fired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And wished him happy birthday in a video posted on Amin's Instagram. On CNN's new day their lawyers said the emails don't add up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality is if there was something important he wanted to communicate to the Trump campaign, I suspect he could have called Mr. Trump directly, as of opposed to having his son being the intermediary.


BROWN: And the father of the Russian pop star (inaudible) spoke out to a Russian Radio station in the wake of this email released and said he doesn't personally know Don Jr., saying there was no Goldstone neither saying it was quote a tall tale that Goldstone asked Trump Jr. to contact him about dirt on Hillary Clinton, clearly trying to distance himself from there.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now our Washington Post Adam Entous with the former CIA chief of Russia operations Steve Hall. We watched that video there and part of the Trump world defense had been we don't know where this meeting is coming from. But you see great familiarity with this very powerful Russian oligarch and his son who were essential in setting up the meeting.

ADAM ENTOUS, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: I think the context here. All along they've been telling us there were no contacts. In this particular case we've had the story change three times over the weekend. This story may change again before we finally figure out what actually happened in that meeting. Were there any other meetings that took place after that meeting maybe was follow ups we haven't learned about yet? So there's a lot of reporting that needs to be done, to try to get to the bottom of what is being offered. Was this a dangle? Were there other dangles were being made by the Russians? I think we don't know the answers to that yet.

BROWN: And Steve, do you see these emails or the meeting as a possible trial balloon from the Russians to gauge interests from the Trump campaign? Jim and I were talking about how it struck us how explicit the email was laying out this is a Russian government effort to support the Trump campaign. What is your sense on this? STEVE HALL, RETIRED CHIEF OF CIA RUSSIAN OPERATIONS: I think as you

step back and take a look at the wide range of what Russia was up to in the lead up to this, we know, we've already established firmly that they had a propaganda campaign going on, an influence operation going on. We know they were hacking into DNC and other data bases and part of this overall covert measures plan that the Russian intelligence services put together was also probing to find out whether or not there was anybody in the Trump team, the Trump campaign, the closer candidate the better to see whether anybody there would be willing to have that initial conversation. Would you be interested in just talking about it? I think that was part of the plan to get the human element in there.

BROWN: Really quickly from your expertise would it be something the Russians would do to have a long game where this would be in the works years before?

HALL: Well, what the Russians are extremely good at, especially if you're in Moscow as Trump was and others were it's really not that different from the cold war days from the Soviet Union where you have the successor to the KGB has the entire place wired for sound. Collection will happen on you. They will get information on you. So they'll play a long game, because you never know when the information you'll collect will come in handy.

SCIUTTO: And we'll never know how Russia used fake news to get fake stories particularly to vulnerable districts during the election. What's interesting is that hasn't stopped. They noted what has been a dormant account, called cyber bearcats. And it's been tweeting out a lot of the story line of the Clintons and Ukraine. But it's worth noting this cyber activity by Russia has not stopped at all.

ENTOUS: Actually it's interesting. If you look at some of the site said created, they maintain the property but for some reason some of them shut down in early January. A lot of them shut down for reasons we don't really understand. If you look at the sites, that have the last headline from January 6th. It just went dormant as if the Russians had to, just like our government they have priorities and their priorities maybe shifted to Europe. So they put their resources into elections that were going to be taking place in Europe. But they kept the property, the real estate so they can turn it back on when it become as priority to again exert influence again in the United States.

[23:50:04] SCIUTTO: That is what we're hearing now, warnings about Russian cyber activity continuing now and concerns on upcoming elections. In a moment our correspondents are going to look ahead.

BROWN: What's next in the Russian meddling investigation and for the Trump White House?


SCIUTTO: Our breaking news, President Trump heading to France leaving behind the problems of the Russia meddling investigation for a time. BROWN: Our correspondents and analysts are back to give us their

final thoughts and look ahead to where the story goes from here. That is of course the big question. Evan, we've had these moments of crisis before for the White House. Is this any different, in your view?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think it is different because it has forced them off of their talking points that they have had now for several months. I think one of the most interesting things now is whether the President starts listening to the professional people around him, his lawyers and people who have really tried to make sure that he is not just flying by the seat of his pants. That is going to be the key, as he faces down this investigation.

BROWN: Legally, too.

SCIUTTO: What's your focus going forward?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: The question is at this point the surrogates continue to listen to Trump's advice on what to do. And if not, do they each go their own direction? At that point who starts talking to the committees, who starts talking to Mueller and do they get into conflict with each other. We could see this open up in new ways because this is now happened.

[23:55:08] BROWN: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, AMERICAN POLITICAL PUNDIT JOURNALIST AND COLUMNIST: I want to know what happened to General Flynn, by the way, and whether he starts cooperating with the special counsel. And we're not going to learn anything about the special counsel until his job is done. But when people have conflicts, as they will in this story, they tend to divide and take sides. And, so, there may be other conversations we learn about, other connections with the Russians that we learn about. And, of course, I want to know what the President knew.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: One big question is going to be whether or not Paul Manafort appears in a public session before the senate judiciary committee next week. The chairman of that committee Chuck Grassley telling us earlier today he does want to appear in a public session. Interesting thing, he wants to make sure he is not conflicting with Bob Mueller's investigation. If he does not appear it's because Bob Mueller doesn't want him to.

SCIUTTO: He was in that meeting with the Russian lawyer as well.

BROWN: Thank you so much for joining us.

SCIUTTO: The news continues on CNN right after this short break.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN NEWS SHOW HOST: Good evening, a lot happening tonight including exclusive new video only on CNN of Donald Trump long before he decided to run for President with the father and son and music promoter who later brokered the infamous meeting with a Russian Attorney and Donald Trump Jr. We have more on that shortly.