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Paralyzed White House; Trump Attends Bastille Day; Verdict for a President; Mother Nature's Power. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 13, 2017 - 03:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:00:00] MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Russia threatens to overshadow Donald Trump's trip to France. His team back at the White House reeling from the latest controversy.

Brazil's former president was found guilty of corruption. And Lula da Silva is not the only one facing prison time.

One of the biggest icebergs in recorded history has broken away from Antarctica. What it says about the state of the planet as temperatures continue to rise.

Hello, and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. I'm Max Foster. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife have arrived in Paris for the annual Bastille Day celebrations. But back home in Washington, the White House is in turmoil. One republican insider says it's paralyzed. All because the president's oldest son has revealed a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 in expectation that he would get damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

It is a stunning admission and the fallout could be dire. Still, a White House spokeswoman says, it's business as usual.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, the president wants to be focused on his agenda and he'd much rather be talking about health care, tax reform, infrastructure, national security. I think that that's his focus and when he's talking about those things that's a good day for all Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: We'll have more from Washington in just a moment. But first let's go back to Paris as we mentioned, Air Force One landing with the U.S. President and first lady just moments ago. There they are. They'll be guests of President Emmanuel Macron to observe France's biggest national day, national holiday.

Senior correspondent Jim Bittermann is live in Paris. Take us through the day, Jim. JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Max, they're

on their way right now, the president and first lady, to the ambassador's residence here in Paris. I should say residence that is not occupied because there is no ambassador. No ambassador has been named to France so far by the Trump administration. And that's kind of unusual in the fact that you usually want to have an ambassador. It would be a very smart post especially one as key as France.

In any case, they'll be going to the ambassador's residence where they will be meeting with some of the staff as well as military personnel, having lunch with the military personnel, and then later on in the afternoon they'll be traveling over to the Invalides on the other side of the same river, and they'll get an official greeting by French President Emmanuel Macron, and also a little tour of the Invalides that's the site of Napoleon's tomb so they'll probably visit that.

Then it's back across the river over to the Elysee Palace where they will be holding bilateral talks for about two hours. The two presidents together. And then, a press conference after that.

That, of course, is what the press is most interested in because it will be the first time that the press has gotten a crack at asking the kind of questions that are circling around in Washington over the various scandals that have erupted because of Donald Trump's e-mails.

So, it's going to be a very full packed day and it ends with a dinner this evening on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. The Michelin- Starred restaurant at Le Jules Verne where the two presidents and their first ladies will enjoy dinner with a panoramic view of Paris. Max?

FOSTER: Two very different politicians, but Macron wants to make this work. This is about Britain and America, a long-term relationship, building on that as opposed to the politics of today.

BITTERMANN: Well, yes. And I think what we'll see -- we're going to see, a celebration of that tomorrow with the Bastille Day parade. Because the fact is that Bastille Day in France, probably the keynote of pomp and circumstance in Paris and France. You rarely see the French do it with in grander style. An hour and a half long military parade, the kind of thing rarely seen in democracies in the west as a matter of fact, but every year they stage this parade.

More than 3,000 French troops will be involved and 200 motorized vehicles, and all sorts of things that will be out on the Champs- Elysee behind me here tomorrow. In any case, that will be celebrating 100 years since the Americans entered into World War I and turned the tide of battle in World War I in terms of victory to the French.

It was really a most important moment in the French military history when the Americans came to the aid of the French in World War I. Over five million Americans, servicemen, eventually got involved in World War I. Three years later the war broke out.

But nonetheless, time to turn the tide about. So that is a celebration of that. There is going to be a unit of about 186 American military who will march in the parade tomorrow. Most unusual, they'll be leading the parade. And that's something that's rarely been seen here.

[03:05:08] So, in fact, it's a moment of celebrating the cooperation between France and the United States that goes back to, in fact, the Revolutionary War. France was America's first ally anywhere back when the United States was forming during the Revolution. Max?

FOSTER: OK, Jim, thank you very much indeed. We'll be back with you throughout the day as all that pomp and pageantry unfolds.

Donald Trump, Jr., meanwhile, saying in retrospect he should have done things differently when he got an e-mail promising dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. But President Trump is defending his son.

He tells Reuters most of the phony politicians who are democrats who I watched over the last couple of days. Most of those phonies that act hollier than thou. If the same thing happened to them they would have taken that meeting in a heartbeat.

Now the president says he doesn't blame his son for taking the meeting and he only found out about it a couple days ago.

Jessica Schneider has more on the controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight the White House is all consumed by the Russia investigation grappling with the latest revelation found in Donald Trump, Jr.'s e-mails which detailed how he eagerly accepted a meeting with someone he was told a Russian government lawyer promising to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton, an effort the e-mails described as part of the Russian government's support for Mr. Trump.

When Trump Jr. released the e-mails via Twitter Tuesday, sources tell CNN the president spent most of the day watching television and huddling with top advisors. His mood ranging from frustrated to furious.

But today the president disputed reports that he was keeping tabs on the unfolding coverage, tweeting this morning, "The White House is functioning perfectly, focused on health care, tax cuts, reform, and many other things. I have very little time for watching TV."

But one republican close to the West Wing tells CNN, the White House is paralyzed as the administration finds its policy agenda, including health care and tax reform, imperiled by another Russia related bombshell.

Many in the West Wing were rocked by Donald Junior's e-mail disclosures. But the president used it as another attempt to distract and damage his presidency by democrats, according to sources. A person close to the president says he believes the media is trying to create a conspiracy that doesn't exist.

DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently.

SCHNEIDER: Donald Trump Jr. appeared with conservative host Sean Hannity to explain his meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya saying his lack of political inexperience was the reason he didn't think it was wrong.

D. TRUMP: This is the first time we've done any of this. This was, you know, I'm still way in the learning curve on all of this. So it wasn't that urgent to me if I'm saying hey, it can wait until the end of summer. But, yes, I just want to hear the information and that's what we do in business, if there is information out there, you want it.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans close to the White House tell CNN they've warn that the combination of power and naivete was sure to get the Trump's family members into trouble and some predict the problem could worsen in the future. But sources say the president is still inclined to trust family members more than his own staff.

The president tweeted early this morning, "My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest witch hunt in political history. Sad."

President Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow insists the president knew nothing about his eldest son's meetings or e-mails.

JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: Let's focus on what the president was aware of. Nothing. He was not aware of the meeting, did not attend the meeting, and was only informed about the e-mails very recently by his counsel.

SCHNEIDER: The president sat for an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network this morning. The clip released by the program did not address his son's e-mails. Instead the president defended his two hour face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think a lot of things came out of that meeting. But I do believe it's important to have a dialogue. If you don't have a dialogue it's a lot of problems for our country and for their country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Jessica Schneider reporting for us there.

Republicans in the U.S. Congress say it is getting harder to do their jobs in light of the growing Russia controversy. They say it's distracting from important issues like health care and tax reform.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How much then all this Russia controversy is overwhelming things here for you guys? How much of it is...

(CROSSTALK) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: It sucks oxygen in the room. Everybody

knows that.

RAJU: When it sucks the oxygen out of the room, does that mean that you guys, this agenda -- essentially undercutting the republican agenda?

MCCAIN: Sure. I think it's very difficult when you have this overwhelming barrage of new information that unfolds every few days. I think it's obvious.

REP. TREY GOWDY, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Here we are beginning another week, this one in July, with a new revelation about Russia. And then the third which is more of a medical issue, is the amnesia of people that are in the Trump orbit.

Someone close to the president needs to get everyone connected with that campaign in a room and say, from the time you saw Dr. Zhivago until the moment you -- until the moment you drink vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every one of those and we're going to turn it over to the special counsel because this drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[03:10:13] FOSTER: OK. Joining us is Peter Trubowitz, he is professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. A lot obviously made of this e-mail process and, you know, the meetings that have been had.

And Donald Trump does seem to be on the back foot on this and Donald Trump, Jr. certainly because they are responding to it. Normally if it didn't feel it was that big a deal they would ignore it, wouldn't they? So where is the real issue here?

PETER TRUBOWITZ, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Well, I mean, they're clearly on their back foot. This thing is taking up a tremendous amount of political oxygen in Washington and inside the administration. It seems like there is a lot of scurrying and infighting inside the administration about this right now.

You know, it seems to me that this story has already confirmed several things. One is that the intelligence community in the United States was not wrong, that the Russians were, in fact, trying to interfere in the U.S. election. So, if there are doubters out there, it seems to me that this story has set that aside.

FOSTER: Although the Kremlin is saying that they didn't know who this lawyer was who set up the meeting.

TRUBOWITZ: Well, you know, everybody else...

(CROSSTALK)

FOSTER: Set up the meeting. TRUBOWITZ: Everybody else seems to have thought that she was representing the government. And when the son took -- Trump's son took the meeting -- he took the meeting on...

(CROSSTALK)

FOSTER: That was the premise.

TRUBOWITZ: That was the premise of taking the meeting and Kushner was in there and Manafort as well. I mean, the other thing about this, this is in writing from the son in an e-mail trail. This is not, like, in quotes, a fake news story. The son put this out there himself.

And, so, I think it has put the administration on their back foot, and I think they're trying to figure out how to get out in front of this story. And, so, Donald Trump himself went on, you know, both on Twitter, but also on television yesterday in an attempt to I think reframe the story.

FOSTER: Well, that point is that, look, this meeting took place.

TRUBOWITZ: Right.

FOSTER: But nothing came out of it so it's not a story. Why are you getting so head up about it?

TRUBOWITZ: Right. Well, I think that that's going to be, that's going to reassure his political base, that 35 to 40 percent of republicans who are still backing him. But for many Americans they are not going to find that particularly credible. They're wondering I think two things.

First of all, is this the iceberg or is it the tip of the iceberg? And secondly, how credible is it to believe that if the president's advisors, then the republican candidate's closest advisors were meeting with this woman, how credible is it to believe that the president himself didn't know?

FOSTER: So, where do you think it goes from here? How do they see their way out of this? We're presuming there aren't any new revelations because the new revelations have come every day in the New York Times and they haven't got any new ones today.

TRUBOWITZ: Right. Well, I mean, I think for the administration it's, in fact, trying to make sure that they have all those meetings that did take place with Russians, whether it was a Russian ambassador or this Russian lawyer.

You know, kind of on the table and out of the way so that all the information is there, or as much as possible, and that there are -- it's not a drip, drip revelation, revelation. I think that's the problem for the administration. To the extent that this thing continues like that, it forces them to lawyer up and to spend a tremendous amount of their own time.

I mean, look, this is the front story. This is the front-page story. It's not the trip to France right now, and inside the United States. I think the other thing is that it makes it hard for the administration to move its agenda.

I mean, right now it's got health care before the Senate and it wants to move to tax reform, and this thing has got preoccupied.

FOSTER: Well, that's the point. The communication secretary (TECHNICAL PROBLEM).

[03:15:00] (TECHNICAL PROBLEM)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and this is all what western networks are talking about. It's amazing how serious people can turn a fly into an elephant. Maybe there is even no fly there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also pointed out that the e-mails in question are between Trump, Jr. who is an American citizen and the music promoter Rob Goldstone who is a British citizen. They don't even involve directly any Russian entities. And he does have a fair point there.

The denials, though, do not hold as much water when they come from the Agalarov family because in his e-mails and directly in his communication with CNN, Rob Goldstone says he was acting on behalf, at the request of his client, this Russian pop star, Emin Agalarov.

And the e-mails go on to say that the Agalarovs directed him, essentially, to try to deliver this compromising material from the Russian government to help get Donald Trump elected to the White House.

A lawyer for the Agalarovs told me, this is not true. This is -- it just has been completely misrepresented. And Agalarov, the senior, the billionaire real estate developer himself on Russian radio, he denied as much, even though they confirmed that they had asked, essentially, Goldstone to help set up this meeting in the first place. So, somebody isn't quite telling the truth here.

Beyond this immediate controversy, I think the realization is setting in here in Moscow that whatever hope existed in the days and hours after President Trump and President Putin's historic meeting in Germany just last Friday, less than a week ago, that has almost all but dissipated, not only because of the e-mail scandal, but also because just 48 hours after the meeting took place, President Trump had already backtracked on one of three agreements he reached with President Putin.

That was to set up a cyber-security unit to prevent future meddling. President Trump is clearly not just facing serious head winds at home, but his administration is seriously wounded when it comes to trying to improve relations with Moscow and any hopes of rolling back U.S. sanctions against Russia. Those are all but gone now.

FOSTER: Ivan Watson reporting. Next on CNN NEWSROOM, Brazil's former President Lula da Silva learns his fate in his corruption and money laundering charge.

Plus the U.S. is making a concerted effort to end the diplomatic feud in the Arab Gulf quickly. We'll have the latest on Qatar's isolation next.

[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Now the man who helped blow the FIFA corruption scandal wide open has died. Chuck Blazer was the former FIFA executive himself, but he later admitted accepting bribes for World Cup bids and he pleaded guilty in 2013 and FIFA banned him from all football activities for life.

Blazer though became a whistle blower, helping U.S. authorities investigate broader corruption in FIFA which ultimately led to former president Sepp Blatter's departure. No word on how Blazer died. He was 72 years old.

Brazil's popular former president is being found guilty of corruption and money laundering charges. The Brazilian court sentenced Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to nine and a half years in prison on Wednesday.

Our Shasta Darlington has more from Rio de Janeiro.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A stunning blow for a man who was elected president twice and left office with an approval rating over 80 percent. In fact, he was already planning his comeback. He's leading in the polls for presidential elections next year.

But now Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva better known as Lula has been convicted of graft and money laundering and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison. He will likely appeal that conviction and he will be able to appeal it in freedom.

However, if the conviction is upheld, he will not be able to run in elections. Again, a stunning blow for someone who is still very popular in Brazil, but not a complete surprise. He's been under investigation for the last year and will likely face four other trials.

Federal prosecutors accused him of master minding the corruption and bribery scheme known as La Jato or car wash. Lula himself denies the allegations and says that this is a political witch hunt.

In fact, he's just the highest profile conviction the corruption investigation has already brought down dozens of major league politicians and political leaders and was a driving force behind the impeachment of Lula's handpicked successor Dilma Rousseff, which means that going into those presidential elections in 2018, it's hard to find a political party or player who hasn't been tainted.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on a marathon tour of the Arab Gulf. He's been zig-zagging around the region trying to reach breakthrough and left -- and lift diplomatic isolation of Qatar.

On Wednesday, he was in Saudi Arabia meeting with foreign ministers of four nations leading the boycott. Then he met with Kuwaiti leaders who are helping to mediate the feud. He'll be heading back to Doha soon to meet with the Qatari Emir.

Jomana Karadsheh has been following Tillerson's tour. She joins us -- she joins us from Amman in Jordan. He is putting so much into this, isn't he, but still no breakthrough?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't seem to be seeing any sort of change in either side's position at this point, Max. Despite the mediation efforts and U.S. shuttle diplomacy. At least publicly neither side is really backing down or softening their position.

You have to just take a look at what was going on Wednesday. These announcements that we heard while Secretary Tillerson was in Jeddah there for the meetings with the foreign ministers of the Saudi-led quartet.

[03:25:04] We still heard the same sort of rhetoric and announcements from both sides. You have Qatar announcing the arrival of the 5th batch of Turkish troops, that's part of their military cooperation deal with Ankara. And of course that is one of the 13 demands that was presented by the Saudi-led bloc that they scrapped the plans of establishing a Turkish base in Doha. That is obviously not happening.

And on the other hand, you also -- we also heard from Egypt with calls to expel Qatar from the global coalition against ISIS. They're saying that you cannot have a country as they accuse Qatar of funding and supporting terrorism that is part of a coalition that is fighting exactly that.

And as we know, Qatar has repeatedly denied these accusations. So, really at this point it seems that Secretary Tillerson has a very tough job to try and perhaps secure any sort of compromise from these two sides. It's not going to be easy, especially as we are seeing that no one is backing down and they've really pushed themselves into these corners and it's really hard to see how he will be able to get them closer to any sort of resolution or at least negotiation.

But some, Max, are feeling a bit more optimistic to see an active U.S. mediation role taking place now more than a month into the crisis.

FOSTER: It's a big issue, isn't it, for the U.S., because effectively this crisis is causing divisions in U.S. allies in that region, which has repercussions for the rest of the world. KARADSHEH: Absolutely. And it's a major concern. We've also heard

this from European officials saying that, you know, any dispute within the GCC would weaken this part of the Arab world where, you know, it would be a threat to security and stability in the region.

As you mentioned, all these countries are a part of that global coalition for the fight against ISIS. And at the same time, you know, while the U.S. wants to perhaps see this resolved, if you look back, Max, at this crisis, the U.S. position has possibly made it worse. You know, this was the feeling, at least, in Doha when I was there recently, that there was a lot of confusion about what the U.S. position really is.

There was real inconsistency at the start of the crisis, mixed messages with Secretary Tillerson, his State Department on the one hand pushing towards the resolution, trying to de-escalate the tensions, and on the other hand you had President Trump with his tweets and some statements seemed to be taking sides in this crisis, siding with Saudi Arabia.

And many felt that this made this worse, and really encouraged the other side, the Saudi-led alliance not to compromise. So, maybe now if we are seeing, you know, a unified U.S. position where Secretary Tillerson is taking the lead to try and resolve this, perhaps maybe we could see this coming towards a resolution sometime soon. Max?

FOSTER: OK, Jomana, thank you.

Donald Trump calls the Russia investigation a witch hunt. Just ahead, video obtained exclusively by CNN shows him cavorting with the Russian pop star at the center of the latest scandal.

Plus, you think the iceberg that sunk the Titanic was big, wait till you see the new one in the Southern Hemisphere. Our meteorologist will tell us what happened next.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Welcome back. I'm Max Foster. Let's update you on our top stories this hour.

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva has been convicted of corruption and money laundering charges. A Brazilian court sentenced him to nine and a half years in prison on Wednesday where he'll remain free during his appeal. He denies taking bribes from a construction company in exchange for government contracts.

The British government is set to publish its 'great repeal bill.' It will transfer all E.U. law into U.K. law for future revision by parliament if lawmakers eventually see fit to do so. Prime Minister Theresa May calls it an essential step in what has been a contentious Brexit process.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Paris where she met French President Emmanuel Macron for France/German meetings. The French media report the message of the meeting is that the Paris/Berlin alliance which has driven E.U. integration for decades is back.

Donald Trump and his wife Melania also arrived in Paris a short time ago. The U.S. President and first lady will observe the national holiday Bastille Day as guests of President Macron. Friday's celebration will also mark the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I.

The Paris trip comes on the heels of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. That high profile meeting further underscored the strained relations between the U.S. president and many of his European counterparts.

Melissa Bell has more on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The family photograph of the G20 more divided than ever. Not only along old fort lines, but new ones as well. Like the ideological divide that now separates the United States from its historical western European allies.

D. TRUMP: A strong Europe is a blessing to the west and to the world.

BELL: President Trump may have said the U.S. Transatlantic bond with Europe is stronger than ever, but underneath the words, the tension is real. Europe knew change was coming when Donald Trump won the election. His promise to put America first brought to an end the consensus that had lasted since the end of World War II.

But it was Emmanuel Macron's election in France just a few months later that brought the divide into sharper focus. The new French president vowing to defend more aggressively the enlightenment ideals and the international organizations now under populist threat. But not without paying credit where it was due.

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: I think Mr. Trump was extremely smart to play with emotion, guts of your people, and that's the first point. Second, it was disruptive in a certain way vis-a-vis the system and people love that because now they are fed up with the political system. And third, he understood the frustration of American middle classes and workers about this globalization and increasing inequalities of globalization.

BELL: It was the point of the handshake at the NATO summit in Brussels in May. More arm wrestle than greeting and far from innocent. Macron explained later, it was about standing his ideological ground.

The French president apparently going out of his way to make his feelings with regard to Donald Trump plain. An early clash of ideas seemed inevitable and it came on climate change.

D. TRUMP: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

MACRON: I do think it is an actual mistake. BELL: The battle then carried over into tweets. The next round in the battle of ideas will come on July 14th when Donald Trump joins Emmanuel Macron for Bastille Day. A celebration of the French Revolution and the idea of universal values of liberty that fueled it.

I think the point of the timing of this visit inviting him to this particular celebration is really all about impressing on his American counterpart the importance of those ties.

Melissa Bell, CNN in Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[03:35:00] FOSTER: Back in Washington, a top republican describes the Trump White House as paralyzed by the latest Russia revelations. A new video shows Donald Trump and several of the key players who set up that meeting.

CNN's Pamela Brown reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The behind the scenes video obtained 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 Emin Agalarov and his father Aras, 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 the Agalarovs along with their publicist Rob Goldstone, seen here leaning over to talk with Trump. On Tuesday, Trump's son Donald, Jr. released e-mails from Goldstone pitching a meeting between the president's son and a Russian lawyer. Promising she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton provided by the Russian government.

According to the e-mails released by Trump, Jr., Emin Agalarov seen her between Trump and Goldstone told Goldstone to set up the meeting. Quote, "Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but it's part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump.

The exclusive footage provides a closer look at the friendship between the two families and could help explain Donald Trump, Jr.'s willingness to take the meeting arranged by Goldstone. At dinner, Trump can be heard boasting to the men 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.

D. TRUMP: I think it would be great for both countries.

BROWN: Trump predicting his pageant could even bring Russia and the U.S. closer.

D. TRUMP: It really is a great country; it's a very powerful country. It's a country that we have a relationship with, not a great relationship, but this could certainly help that relationship.

BROWN: Investigators plan to examine the Trump Tower meeting and the e-mails. On Fox News Tuesday, Donald Trump, Jr. who does not appear in the 2013 video said he had limited knowledge of the Russian family.

TRUMP, JR.: I met them once or twice and you know, it maintained a casual relationship there. Talked about some potential deals and that was the extent of it but they really didn't go anywhere.

BROWN: But new video and others show the president's own connections.

D. TRUMP: What's wrong with you?

BROWN: And 2013 Trump appeared in one of Emin's music videos.

D. TRUMP: You're just another pretty face. I'm really tired of you. You're fired.

BROWN: And wished him happy birthday in a video posted on Emin's Instagram.

D. TRUMP: Emin, I can't believe you're turning 35.

BROWN: On CNN's New Day, their lawyer said the e-mails don't add up.

SCOTT BALBER, ATTORNEY FOR EMIN AND ARAS ALGALAROV: It's just fantasy world because the reality is if there was something important that Mr. Agalarov wanted to communicate to the Trump campaign, I suspect he could have called Mr. Trump directly as opposed to having his son's pop music publicist be the intermediary.

BROWN: The father of the Russian pop star Aras Agalarov spoke out to a Russian radio station in the wake of this e-mail release and said he doesn't personally know Don, Jr. and also said he doesn't really know Goldstone either. Saying it was a, quote, "tall tale that he asked to contact him about dirt on Hillary Clinton."

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Now, some good news for tech savvy girls in Afghanistan. The team from Herat will be allowed to compete in an international robotics competition after earlier having their visas denied.

The White House says President Trump intervened after he heard about the State Department denial. Among those applauding the reversal, Ivanka Trump, she tweeted this. "I look forward to welcoming this brilliant team of Afghan girls and their competitors to Washington, D.C. next week."

Dash cam footage in southern China shows the moment a mudslide hit a busy road full of cars. The cars start out inching along in traffic until they are swept away in a massive wave of earth. Eight vehicles were buried. Emergency crews managed to clear the road to rescue the drivers and passengers trapped in their cars though. It's not clear if anyone was seriously injured yet.

Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, the man President Trump has selected to run the FBI says he won't make any pledges of loyalty to the White House.

Plus, a massive iceberg three times the size of Greater London has broken off from Antarctica. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri will explain how it happened and what it means for the planet.

[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: U.S. Senate republican leader Mitch McConnell is set to reveal a revised version of his party's bill to repeal and replace Obamacare on Thursday. It's been a politically chaotic process with a lot of infighting and threats of deflections. McConnell hopes to get a first procedural vote done by next week, but it's yet to be seen whether he'll have enough support to move the bill forward.

Vice President Mike Pence has been traveling the country to drum up public support. The first Senate health care bill had a dismal approval rating, just 17 percent according to one poll. President Trump is taking a hands-off approach right now, but says he'll be very angry if republicans don't get this done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

D. TRUMP: I'm sitting waiting for that bill to come to my desk. I hope that they do it. They've been promising it for years. They've been promising it ever since Obamacare, which has failed -- it's a failed experiment, it is totally gone. It's out of business. And we have to get this done. Repeal and replace.

PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, CBN: Mitch McConnell is the tactician of great skill. Do you think he can pull it off? It's his job.

D. TRUMP: He's got to pull it off.

ROBERTSON: Yes.

D. TRUMP: Mitch has to pull it off. He's working very hard. He's got to pull it off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, Mr. Trump's pick to lead the FBI had pledged his independence on Wednesday telling the Senate panel in his confirmation hearing he would resign if he's asked to do something illegal or immoral.

Our Diane Gallagher has more from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

DIANE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christopher Wray, President Trump's pick to lead the FBI after the firing of James Comey facing senators today.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR NOMINEE: If I am given the honor of leading this agency, I will never allow the FBI's work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period, full stop.

GALLAGHER: The Russian firestorm engulfing Washington dominated questions from both democrats and republicans.

SEN. BEN SASSE, (R) NEBRASKA: Do you believe that the Russians were involved in trying to influence the 2016 election?

WRAY: I have no reason to doubt the intelligence community's assessment.

GALLAGHER: Including questions about the recently disclosed e-mails from the president's son, Donald Junior about a meeting between a Russian attorney and him, Trump's son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: The director of the FBI, pal, so, here's what I want you to tell every politician. If you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the FBI.

WRAY: To the members of this committee, any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation state, or any non-state actor, is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.

GALLAGHER: Wray breaking with President Trump who tweeted as recently as this morning that the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia is a witch hunt.

WRAY: I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt.

[03:44:57] GALLAGHER: While he lauded past working relationships with both special counsel Robert Mueller and fired FBI Director James Comey, Wray, a former assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush in charge of the criminal division, maintains he has the ability to remain independent.

WRAY: No one should mistake my low key demeanor as a lack of resolve, as some kind of unwillingness to compromise on principle because anybody who does would be making a very grave mistake. And there isn't a person on this planet whose lobbying or influence could convince me to just drop or abandon a properly predicated and meritorious investigation.

GALLAGHER: And that, according to Wray, includes the commander in chief. SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) VERMONT: If the president asked you to do

something unlawful or unethical, what do you say?

WRAY: First I would try to talk him out of it. And if that failed, I would resign.

GALLAGHER: The president has denied it, but fired FBI Director James Comey testified under oath that during a private dinner, Mr. Trump requested total loyalty from him.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER UNITED STATES FBI DIRECTOR: He asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay.

WRAY: No one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process, and I sure as heck didn't offer one.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: As you recall, Director Comey contemporaneously made memoranda to reflect his conversations with the president and others. Would you do the same?

WRAY: If a conversation that I had suggested to me that I ought to create some record, I wouldn't hesitate to do it and I've done that before at various stages of my private practice, for example.

GALLAGHER: Wray testifying that in the two times he's met with President Trump, they've never discussed the Russia investigation.

WRAY: I can assure you that if anything had been said that made me remotely uncomfortable, I would not be sitting here today providing testimony in support of my nomination.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: And that Diane Gallagher reporting from Washington for us.

Now one of the biggest icebergs ever reported has broken away from Antarctica. You can see it in this image, the wide crack, the white one, shows the rift in the Larson C ice shelf. A whale's based research group says the splinter weighs more than 1 trillion metric tons and has a volume twice as large as the Great Lake, Lake Erie.

The group Project MIDAS has been watching the Larsen C crack for some time. Satellite data confirmed it finally broke free between Monday and Wednesday this week. The rupture shrinks the size of the ice shelf by 12 percent. The researchers say Larsen C may now be more susceptible to spontaneously disintegrating just as the Larsen B shelf did back in 2002.

Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us with more. Obviously the statistics are huge here. But what does it actually mean?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, it's a great question because when you think about how this has played out in recent years, and as you said there, Max, we're talking about an incredible amount of ice that's moved into the ocean. So this will begin the melting process. And of course the shipping lanes will be impacted by this as well.

But the weight of that alone is just about the equivalent is 40 million Titanics. That's how much weight has moved now over into the waters. But we're talking about 12 percent as you noted there, Max, of the ice sheet itself. So the remaining 88 percent still sits in place, but frankly we knew this was going to occur.

In fact since the 1960s scientists have analyzed the break up process and now finally the separation process in the last several days. There is one piece of good news with this. Because this is just a sea-based ice sheet that was in place.

So when you take a look at this, when you have a sea based ice sheet that breaks away and separates and moves away over the open waters we know melting will now begin in earnest. But as that melts the water levels in our oceans are actually not going to rise because it's much like an ice cube inside a cup of water.

If that ice cube melts in your cup you're not going to see that water rise in the cup. It is the land based ice sheet. If that melts then you're going to increase the water levels across our oceans globally speaking.

So if this were land based we're talking about a 4 millimeter rise on a global scale across our oceans. That's not happening rate now. That's again the only piece of good news. The bad news of course is that it's almost inevitable that this is going to follow suit because it has now destabilized the rest of that 88 percent of the remaining ice sheet.

So there is a continental perspective of Antarctica. We're going for a closer look and this is what it looks like. There is Larsen A, this broke apart in 1995. Larsen B broke apart in 2002, Larsen C broke apart in the past several hours. So you put this again in perspective here, and we know this was going to play out because they have a life cycle.

But again, once you start impacting areas that are associated with it on land, that's when it becomes problematic. And thermal imaging here it kind of shows you what we're talking about because you can clearly see the land area kind of highlighted there in yellow. That's the land separation. There is the ice sheet right here. Do you see this area kind of whiter outline right next to -- I've drawn my line. That's where the break has taken place and occurred.

[03:50:00] And the concern is now that as this separates and breaks away, we are now going to allow much warmer waters to begin to break apart the rest of it and jeopardize this particular structure.

So, here's what it looks like when you look at an animation on something so massive, so large in scale. One trillion metric tons. Talking about 3,000,000,747, Max. That's the weight of it that is moved over the open water.

Once again, when the melting begins it's not going to increase the ocean water levels, but again, it is a major shipping concern. Of course a broader concern in general when you think about what this means over the next few decades as well. Max?

FOSTER: Pedram, thank you very much. Brilliantly explained.

Meanwhile, a new report is naming U.S. cities that can expect to be inundated with water in the years to come. The union of concerned scientists says it wants people to be aware of the dangers that lie ahead from rising sea levels due to climate change.

They claim hundreds of U.S. cities especially along the coast may not make it through the next 20, 50, or 80 years due to rising water levels and will face severe flooding. The list features places like New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Miami. Ninety communities are considered inundated today. Mostly in Louisiana and Maryland where seas are rising and the land is sinking. The group is urging the federal government to take action now to address that problem.

Now, next on CNN NEWSROOM, one of the world's greatest mysteries finally solved? We have new photos surface. Think again. The fate of Amelia Earhart is up in the air. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Now actor Shia LaBeouf apologized for profanity-laced tirade during his arrest Saturday. He was taken into custody and became increasingly irate with police. Have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHIA LABEOUF, ACTOR: What did I do, sir? I have rights. I'm an American. You got me in my hotel, arresting me in the hotel for doing what, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go.

LABEOUF: No, you really have these cuffs on me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me help.

LABEOUF: Listen, can we talk, me and you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we can't talk.

LABEOUF: Listen, I'm not doing (muted). Get this (muted) off my arms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we're not going to have a conversation?

LABEOUF: No. You don't put this (muted) on my arms or you be (muted).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, in his apology, the Transformers actor reveals he is seeking help for addiction, saying, "It is a new low. A low I hope is bottom. I have been struggling with addiction publicly for far too long and I am actively taking steps towards securing my sobriety and hope I can be forgiven for my mistakes." [03:55:13] This one of the greatest mysteries of all time, the

disappearance of Amelia Earhart. The new documentary thought it had uncovered a photo that showed the famed aviator after the plane crashed. That was until two bloggers said not too fast.

CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Might as well put this photo in the fun while it lasted file, and it didn't last long. A History Channel special on Amelia Earhart promised to shock us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it's truth beyond a reasonable doubt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are new doubts this morning.

MOOS: Doubts that Amelia Earhart and her navigator were photographed alive in the Marshal Islands after crashing in the Pacific.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Amelia Earhart?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

MOOS: No, that's probably wrong. And her navigator Fred Noonan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hairline is the most distinctive characteristic.

MOOS: Probably not him either. As for the blurry hunk of something being towed that was supposed to be the wreckage of their plane, don't count on it. The documentary's theory is the pair were picked up and imprisoned by the Japanese.

But a couple of bloggers uncovered what appears to be the original photo published in a travel logbook in 1935, nearly two years before Amelia Earhart even took off on her final flight.

Matt Holly, an American living in the Marshal Islands was one of the bloggers who tracked down the photo.

MATT HOLLY, BLOGGER: This is one of the magical mysteries of the universe, like where the dinosaurs go. Where is Jimmy Hoffa?

MOOS: Just last week, I and most of the world's media outlets stood there, is this the latest photo? It were already questionable enough. Dissecting the photograph that's since been debunked. Debunked by a second Japanese blogger who says he spent half an hour Googling and found the original photo in Japan's national library.

The History Channel says it has a team of investigators exploring the latest developments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to follow the facts where they lead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. MOOS: Just so they don't lead to Gulliver's Island.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. We're back with more news in just a short moment. Stay with us.

[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)