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Trump Defends Son's Meeting with Russian Lawyer; Senate Judiciary Leaders Want Trump Jr. to Testify. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 13, 2017 - 17:00   ET

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


TAPPER: And our thanks to Leila. That's it for "THE LEAD." I am Jake Tapper. You can follow me on Twitter, @JakeTapper. I now turn you over to Jim Acosta, in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

[17:00:14] JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, very standard. President Trump goes to Paris where he goes to great lengths to defend his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer. The president says most people would have taken the meeting, calling it very standard in the political world.

Summoning Don. Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he wants Donald Trump Jr. to testify soon about his Russian contacts. And warns he can subpoena former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who also met with the Russian lawyer. The Democrats are calling for action against presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, who did the same.

Double jeopardy. The Senate GOP leadership unveils the latest version of the health care bill, but two Republicans have already come out against it. One more "no" could be too many for the bill to pass.

And men behind the missile. Kim Jong-un celebrates his recent long- range missile launch and honors the scientists behind it. But does the public ceremony reveal vital clues to U.S. intelligence?

Wolf Blitzer off, I'm Jim Acosta. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It took another trip overseas to get President Trump to take questions from -- of the news media in public at a news conference in Paris with French President Emanuel Macron. President Trump defended his son, Donald Jr.'s, sit-down with a Russian lawyer, saying it was a short meeting that went very, very quickly.

While stunning e-mails shows his son embraced an offer of Russian government help in attacking Hillary Clinton, the president insisted that most people would have taken that meeting.

Before leaving Washington, the president dismissed what he called "the Russia story" as a hoax made up by the Democrats, but on Capitol Hill, both sides are treating it as anything but.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley wants Donald Trump Jr. to testify and warns he's ready to subpoena former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi wants the security clearance revoked for Jared Kushner, the president's son- in-law, who like Manafort was also at the Russia meeting. And she's calling for the release of electronic communications within the Trump campaign and Trump family.

Meantime, Senate Republicans are wrangling over their leadership's latest version of a health care bill, but divisions between conservatives and moderates may still prevent passage. There are at least two "no" votes so far, and the leadership can't afford one more. I'll talk with congressman Castro of the intelligence and foreign affair committees. And our correspondence specialists and guests are standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.

We begin with President Trump. Amid all the ceremony the state visit to France defending his son's meeting with the Russian attorney. CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray is in Paris -- Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, it was a trip designed to celebrate long-lasting military allowances to build stronger ties with the French president. And to see some of the historical sites in Paris, but even here, even abroad, President Trump could not escape questions about what exactly his son was doing meeting with a Russian lawyer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man.

MURRAY: President Trump jumping to his son's defense at a press conference in Paris, insisting Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer was typical campaign fare.

TRUMP: I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research.

That's very standard in politics. Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it's very standard.

MURRAY: The comments coming in the wake of another Russia revelation. This time, a meeting last June between the president's eldest son and a Russian lawyer who purportedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton. The lawyer was described in an e-mail to Donald Trump Jr. as a Russian government lawyer. Part of a Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign, according to that e-mail.

Trump, arriving today amid much pomp and circumstance, only to find he couldn't escape the problems that plague him at home.

TRUMP: Took a meeting with a lawyer from Russia. It lasted for a very short period, and nothing came of the meeting.

MURRAY: As Russia dominates the headlines in the United States, here in France, Trump has focused on forging another strategic partnership. Quickly jumping at French President Emanuel Macron's invitation to visit for Bastille Day festivities, and the 100-year anniversary of America's entrance into World War I. TRUMP: I said, "Mr. President, I will be there. That's a big,

important date. One hundred years."

MURRAY: The two leaders didn't shy away from their differences, particularly on climate change.

EMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Next, climate. Well, here we know what our disagreements are. We have expressed them on a number of occasions.

TRUMP: Something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord. We'll see what happens.

MURRAY: But both men made clear, they were dining tonight at the Eiffel Tower as close allies.

TRUMP: A good friendship. And we look forward to dinner tonight at the Eiffel Tower. It'll be something special.

[17:05:06] MURRAY: The two world leaders noting their bilateral meeting focused on building stronger ties on trade and fighting terrorism.

And while Trump has made the City of Light his punching bag in the past, particularly on national security issues...

TRUMP: If you look at what's happening in France, it's no longer France. Friends of mine that used to love to go to Paris, they say, "We're not going to Paris anymore. It's no longer Paris."

MURRAY: ... today, Trump lavished praise on his French counterpart.

TRUMP: You have a great leader now. You have a great president. You have a tough president. He's not going to be easy on people that are breaking the laws.

MURRAY: Vowing it won't be this American president's last trip to Paris.

TRUMP: And I'm coming back. You'd better do a good job, please. Otherwise you're going to make me look very bad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now President Trump has made clear he's not afraid of breaking a little bit of glass on the world stage. And that was no different today. He broke what is considered protocol in his press conference with the French president. Usually two American journalists get a question, and two of the local journalists get a question. Well, when Emanuel Macron told President Trump to call on his final American journalist, he instead opted to call on a television reporter from a Chinese news outlet.

Back to you, Jim.

ACOSTA: Very strange. Sara Murray, thank you very much. President Trump may be downplaying the meeting between his son along

with other campaign officials and a Russian lawyer, but lawmakers on both sides are taking it seriously.

Let's turn to CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown. Donald Trump appears to want this to go away. It's not going away, is it?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's not. In fact, now it seems that Don Jr., his son, may soon be questioned as part of the Russia probe on Capitol Hill in the wake of the e-mails he released showing this discussion about meeting with a Russian lawyer.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says his committee is sending a bipartisan letter to Donald Trump Jr., requesting that he testify before the Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers want to know about his connection to the wealthy Russian family, Emin and Aras Agalarov, who were allegedly behind the meeting, and whether a phone call ever took place between Don Jr. and Emin Agalarov before the meeting, as the e- mails might suggest.

During this exchange, the Agalarovs' publicist, Rob Goldstone, says, "Hi, Don, let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info."

Don Jr. Responds, "Rob, could we speak now?"

Goldstone writes, "Let me track him down in Moscow. What number should he call?"

Don Jr. replies, he can call his cell, and then Goldstone says, "OK, he's on stage in Moscow but should be off within 20 minutes, so I am sure he can call."

That was at 3:43 p.m. on June 6, and nearly an hour later, Don Jr. replies, "Rob, thanks for the help," raising the question of whether a phone call took place during that time.

Around 24 hours later, Goldstone sent another e-mail saying, "Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and the Russian government attorney. I believe you are aware of the meeting."

So how else would he be aware of the meeting, one might ask? Agalarov's lawyer denied a phone call ever happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT BALBER, ATTORNEY FOR EMIN AND ARAS AGALAROV: I really can't speak to what Rob Goldstone was thinking or what he wrote or why, but I'll tell you again that that call didn't happen. I don't know if there was someone else who spoke to Donald Trump Jr. about this prospective meeting, but it wasn't my client. And again, I don't know where Mr. Goldstone got his information from, but it's just categorically incorrect.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: And we've reached out to Don Jr.'s attorney. We're awaiting comments on this and whether he will testify on Capitol Hill. But I can tell you, Jim, that Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the probe, the special counsel probe, will be looking at any communications, of course. As we know, he'll be scrutinizing this e-mail exchange, this meeting at Trump Tower, and so this is all going to be part of that.

ACOSTA: Sounds like they may want more records than those four pages of e-mails that Don Jr. released yesterday.

BROWN: That's absolutely right.

ACOSTA: Pamela Brown, thank you very much.

Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, a member of both the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Thanks for having me, Jim.

ACOSTA: Congressman, President Trump defended his son today by saying his lawyer wasn't working -- or this lawyer wasn't working for the Russian government and that most people would have taken that same meeting. What is your reaction to that? That seems to be the comment from the president that made the most news today. What is your take on that?

CASTRO: Well, on the one hand, it's not a surprise that a father is going to defend a son. Here it happens to be the president of the United States, but substantively, I completely disagree with his comment.

Yes, opposition research is common in politics, but meeting with officials of a foreign government, specifically an official of a country that is an adversary of the United States, is not standard practice at all. And if you look at that e-mail chain, it's also clear that Donald Trump Jr. probably knew ahead of time what that meeting was going to be about. So the e-mails, to me, raise as many questions as they answer.

ACOSTA: And yesterday, when the president was speaking to reporters on Air Force One, we should point out, those comments were off-the- record; and the White House for whatever reason made them on-the- record. President Trump said of his son, quote, "He's a good boy; he's a good kid."

[17:10:12] Is the president trying to make it seem as if Donald Trump Jr. didn't know any better? We should point out, Donald Trump Jr. is 39 years old. Congressman, I hope you don't mind, we looked up your age. I believe it's 42.

CASTRO: That's right. That's right. Yes, and it's not a surprise, again, that he would try to shield his son, but here you're dealing with the president and the president's son, who is very involved in the politics of the nation. And so, at 39 years old, you have to know better than to take a meeting with a representative of a foreign government when the person who was doing the introduction specifically says that the Russian government is attempting to aid your father's campaign.

That's completely unacceptable. It's not normal. And it's unpatriotic also.

ACOSTA: So you're saying that the president's son behaved here in an unpatriotic fashion, is that what you're saying?

CASTRO: Absolutely.

ACOSTA: That's a pretty strong charge. It's the son of the president of the United States. You want to expand on that?

CASTRO: Well, to be meeting with a representative of a foreign government, to get involved in American democracy, to affect an election for the highest office of this land, yes, I think that's unpatriotic.

ACOSTA: And do you think it represents collusion to you? Do you believe that laws potentially have been broken here? Do you want to see Donald Trump Jr. testifying publicly on Capitol Hill about this?

CASTRO: I have said that the House Intelligence Committee on which I sit should call Donald Trump Jr. and everyone who was in that meeting to come testify and also request further documents from each of those persons. So yes, I think this should be brought in.

ACOSTA: And we should point out that we don't know for a fact that this lawyer is not a representative of the Russian government. That's what we've been told, but yesterday -- yes, we don't know that she is. The president told Reuters he only learned of this meeting a couple of days ago. What do you make of that? Of that comment? Do you buy that?

CASTRO: It's possible. At this point, we don't know. But remember, Donald Trump Jr.'s story has changed multiple times about what exactly happened in that meeting, you know, why he agreed to take the meeting. We know that President Trump, unfortunately, has a long history of falsehoods and telling falsehoods.

So it's very hard to trust anything that the president says. Or that his son says at this point.

ACOSTA: And what do you think needs to happen next in this investigation? Do more e-mails need to be brought in? Don Jr. only released four pages of e-mails yesterday. Presumably, there may be others. Pamela Brown was just talking about possibly there being a phone conversation, that the potential was there for a phone conversation, and that opens up the possibility of phone records.

And we know that on Air Force One and these off-the-record, now on- the-record comments from the president, he sounded receptive to the idea of his son testifying.

How much disclosure do you need to see to be satisfied by Donald Trump Jr. in all this?

CASTRO: We need to see everything they have with respect to any kind of interactions with Russian business owners, tycoons, folks who wanted to have an influence on that campaign. We can't assume that, because Donald Trump Jr. said nothing came of the meeting, that in fact, nothing came of the meeting. I think we need to follow the paper trail, the e-mail trail, and get further evidence before we can make that determination.

ACOSTA: And an FBI official who oversaw the Clinton e-mail investigation has now joined Bob Mueller's team, the special prosecutor in all of this. I remember during the campaign, we talked so much about computer servers. Would you like to see servers brought into all of this? Is that a leap too far, do you think, at this point? Or has this sort of opened up Pandora's box for the Trump family in all of this?

CASTRO: Well, on the one hand, you want to make sure that everybody has due process and that it's a fair process. At the same time, I think many Americans, most Americans, can't help but think that if somebody basically provided a paper trail, would suggest that it's quite possible that they committed a crime. If this was an ordinary American, there's a good chance that the FBI or someone in law enforcement agency would be at their home collecting documents, computer servers, et cetera, and files to figure out how they could get to the bottom of that question.

ACOSTA: And what do you make of -- just very quickly, what do you make of when you hear some of the talking points from the Republican side, whether it's just no crime that was committed here: "There wasn't a crime committed in this meeting. Why are we talking about criminal activity?"

What is your response to that?

CASTRO: On the one hand, I think it's very sad that that is the state of American politics today, and on the other hand, it's very scary that people would deny and turn away from things that are obviously very concerning and possibly are already very detrimental to the nation and potentially even more detrimental to the nation.

[17:15:22] ACOSTA: OK, Congressman, stand by. We have more to talk about, including the president talking about inviting Vladimir Putin over to the White House. We to want take a quick break, and we'll talk to you about some of this on the other side of the break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:09] ACOSTA: Our top story: in the middle of the ceremony of a state visit to France, President Trump is forced once again to defend his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer, insisting that most people would have taken that meeting.

We're back with Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, a member of both the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. Congressman, I want to bring you back to something else that the

president said on Air Force One to reporters last night. Again, these were off-the-record comments that the White House all of the sudden decided would make on-the-record. We don't have a full explanation as to why they did that. We're glad they did.

But the president was asked, would he invite Vladimir Putin over to the White House, and he said, quote, "I would say yes at the right time. I don't think this is the right time, but the answer is, yes, I would."

After everything that has gone on with the investigation and is ongoing right now, what do you make of the president saying that he would invite Vladimir Putin over to the White House?

CASTRO: Well, I just -- I wouldn't reward Vladimir Putin with a White House visit at this point, after everything that's gone on, after Russia interfered with the American presidential election in 2016. I think it would be a very bad move and in poor taste to do that. So, I'm glad the president realizes that, at least at the moment, he shouldn't have him over at the White House.

ACOSTA: And do you think at some point -- six months, year from now -- that that would be OK? How long do you think he should wait?

CASTRO: The way things are going, no, I don't think it would be OK. Now, we need to get to the bottom of this investigation, and figure out the full scope of what Russia has done, but, at this point, I don't see that on the horizon.

ACOSTA: And the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee has raised questions about how these so-called Russian bots knew to target specific demographics of voters and specific jurisdictions in states like Michigan and Wisconsin. Is that something that your committee is looking into, you know, this very specific and very, you know, high- tech potential attack on states like Michigan and Wisconsin?

It doesn't seem like we have the full scope of what the Russians were trying to do. It was -- it seems like it was more than just getting damaging information on Hillary Clinton out there.

CASTRO: Yes. Well, you could imagine I don't to want divulge any of the classified part of the investigation, but I will speak for myself and say that it's something that I'm very interested in. How exactly Russia used paid trolls and others with technical and cyber skills to essentially wage a propaganda campaign to help elect Donald Trump.

That's something that we absolutely need to figure out, because if we don't understand it and punish for it, then there's a good chance that Russia and other nations who have the same capability, and non-state actors, will try to do the same thing in subsequent elections.

ACOSTA: And just quickly, when you hear the president and his supporters say that you're just trying to delegitimize his election, that you're just trying to take the election away from him, what do you say to that? Is that true? Is that what you're trying to do? Are you trying to take this victory away from him?

CASTRO: No, Donald Trump won the election. You know, there's no -- there's no debate over that. Nobody is trying to relitigate the presidential election itself. We're trying to understand and account for who interfered with the election and, specifically, whether any part of this was an inside job, whether any Americans coordinated with the Russians who interfered with our election.

ACOSTA: OK, Congressman Castro, we appreciate your time very much. Thanks for joining us.

CASTRO: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Coming up, President Trump again says most people would have agreed to a meeting like the one his son had with a Russian attorney during last year's presidential campaign, but that answer is at odds with what the nominee for FBI director told senators just yesterday.

Also North Korea's Kim Jong-un hands out medals as he continues taunting the United States.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:28:15] ACOSTA: OK. This hour's top story: President Trump again defending his son's meeting with a Russian attorney during last year's presidential campaign. During a news conference with the French president, Mr. Trump said quote, "I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting."

Let's bring in our reporters and specialists, and Gloria, let me start with you. The president was asked at the presser today in Paris about his FBI nominee, Christopher Wray's comments that someone should alert the FBI if a foreign entity were to come forward and say, "Hey, I've got some great information for you."

But the president talked about it this way, talking about his son Don Jr. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer. It was a short meeting. It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast. Two other people in the room, they -- I guess one of them left almost immediately and the other one was not really focused on the meeting.

I do think this. I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research, or even research into your opponent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And he basically said the same thing last night, Gloria, in that off-the-record conversation reporters that became on-the-record magically today. The White House waved a wand and now these comments are on-the-record. What do you make of the president's comments about this? He's awfully casual about someone being able to go and do this.

BORGER: And then he went on in his statement there to talk about how this is a lawyer who walked the halls of Congress; in fact, she really didn't work for the Russian government; and that her visa was approved by none other than the attorney general, Loretta Lynch.

I think he talked way too much. I think the best answer would have been a very short answer, which is "I love my son and I don't believe he did anything wrong". And, you know, now everyone will have to investigate. But that is not the way this President behaves.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And then Jeffrey, he blamed Loretta Lynch for - the former Attorney General for letting this Russian lawyer into the country. Why - it's always the Clinton - the Clinton's fault here or the Obama administration's fault here when something like this happened.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right. We're always sitting here at this very table, editing the President saying he shouldn't said this and he shouldn't said that. You know what, he is who he is, and he got elected President of the United States being that way. You know, we're long past the moment when the great pivot was going to come and he was going to start acting a different way.

BORGER: Oh, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: It's ancient history by now. But you know, he is who he is, and he has views that are distinctive, sometimes false, but, you know, he's not going to change.

BORGER: I would say it's not very standard, to me, with somebody from a foreign government who says, they have information on your opponent and to take that meeting.

ACOSTA: OK. And Charles Grassley is saying -

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Who thinks that it is?

BORGER: The president.

PRESTON: Right. And that said. I mean, any normal human being would understand that that's not how you operate, specifically in the world of politics, which we all know is extremely dirty, right? I mean, politics is about as dirty as it gets. This goes one step too far as far as getting -

ACOSTA: His own nominee for the FBI director said this is not what you should be doing. You know, he said, call the FBI if you do this. So presumably, President should call the FBI, I guess. But Charles Grassley -

PRESTON: I don't think that's going to happen.

ACOSTA: The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman said that he wants Donald Trump Jr. to come and testify. Kaitlan, this is just setting up a very unusual situation for this White House, where they're going to have to watch - I mean, it was bad enough when the White House thought they had to sit there and watch Jim Comey testify, but the prospect of the people around the White House sitting and watching television, the President watching television, he says he doesn't watch a lot of television, but he watches a lot of television, watching his own son testify about all this.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: And I think it would really raise the stakes for Don Junior because going on Sean Hannity's show and answering questions about your meeting with someone who you thought was a Russian government attorney, regardless of whether she was or not, it's what you walk into that meeting thinking and then testifying in front of Congress under oath about it are two very different things. And I think there are questions probably would be a little bit tougher than Sean Hannity's were and they would want to know about other communication he had with these people and what all was said during that meeting. And I don't think they would buy that it was just about adoption.

TOOBIN: And it's not just that he would be testifying under oath, he would be testifying under oath while there is a Special Council who has the power to indict people for making false statements in front of Congress. So, I mean, it would be a high-risk scenario for him to testify.

BORGER: Well, but he has said that he's willing to. And he wants to get - you know -

TOOBIN: OK.

BORGER: - he has been very forthcoming about it. He released the e- mails and there clearly is going to be a document search and they're going to want to know whether there were phone calls as Kaitlan was saying, you know -

TOOBIN: Other e-mails.

BORGER: - other communications.

COLLINS: Right, but I think it would be way more forthcoming because the only forthcomingness we've seen from him so far, he released the e-mails after the New York Times said they were going to publish them, and then he went on a show that is friendly to his father's administration to answer questions about it. It's not like he went to an independent outlet to answer.

BORGER: Well, and Grassley also wants to look at the visa of this Russian lawyer, and he wants to look at how that was approved, not necessarily by Lynch but was she on an expired visa, et cetera.

ACOSTA: Maybe we're going to back to a conversation about unmasking. Who knows. We'll see. All right, we'll talk about more of this when we get right back after a quick break including some of the President's comments about climate change, which sounded like something the President had resolved, but maybe not. We'll talk about that when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:35:00] ACOSTA: All right. We're back with our panel watching developments on Capitol Hill where Republican leaders unveil their latest plan to overhaul the nation's health insurance system but first let's go to CNN's Ryan Nobles. This latest bill already faces an uphill battle, how far up the hill are they, Ryan?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENTS: It's pretty safe to say that Mitch McConnell is basically right back where he started. Forced to cobble together 50 votes far bill that no one seems to particularly love. And once again, he has very little room for error.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: Within just a few hours of the release of the Senate GOP'S newest version of health care reform, the bill is already in jeopardy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes and already two Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine are firm noes, but for different reasons.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Clean repeal, that's what we promised the voters.

NOBLES: Collins tweeting, "Still deep cuts Medicaid and Senate bill will vote no on MTP, ready to work with GOP and Dem colleagues to fix flaws in ACA." The 172-page bill is designed to fulfill the GOP campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. And there is no one with more at stake at this stage of the debate than Senate Majority Leader McConnell who was personally called out by President Trump on Wednesday.

[17:40:04] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He's got to pull it off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

TRUMP: Mitch has to pull it off, he's working hard. He's got to pull it off.

NOBLES: McConnell the Leader of the Healthcare working group in the Senate today promised a revised plan would help bring the party together.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: After extensive consultations across the conference, numerous meetings with constituents and intensive conversations with members, our conference has updated the last month's better care and discussion draft with additional provisions to make it stronger.

NOBLES: But the plan is not the major overhaul that some Senators were looking for. It keeps in place many of the sharp Medicaid cuts originally proposed. It includes a version of the so-called Cruz Amendment that allows insurers that sell ObamaCare plans to also offer policies outside the confines of Affordable Care Act regulations. It adds more money to state stabilization funds to help lower premiums, particularly for the sick. The bill also avoided repealing ObamaCare taxes for wealthy Americans, a reversal from the previous GOP plan, and it boosts funding to combat the opioid crisis. While the mood coming out of an all GOP Senators closed door meeting was positive, there are still concerns that the bill doesn't go far enough.

PAUL: It's worst. The old version repealed most of the ObamaCare taxes, this repeals about half of the ObamaCare taxes.

NOBLES: The bill is now in the hands of the Congressional Budget Office which will forecast how much this bill will cost and how much it will impact insurance coverage. The first vote, a critical step to allow debate on the bill could come as soon as Tuesday, and even undecided Senators like Thom Tillis of North Carolina are asking their colleagues to allow that vote to go through.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I'm willing to take a position that we should debate it, we should get on the bill, we should consider amendments.

NOBLES: But right now Senate Leaders have a lot of work to do to get the 50 votes they need.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: And if this bill does make it to a vote, and that is a big if, expect a flurry of amendments to the bill, including one that will be proposed by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, which they're touting as an alternative plan that would give more control over health care decisions to the states. Jim.

ACOSTA: A lot of ifs, not a lot of whens. OK, Ryan Nobles, thank you very much. Let's get the insights of our specialists here. And Mark Preston, it seems to me you may find Mitch McConnell folks saying, OK, we've got enough votes here, we're very close to having enough votes and then the CBO score is going to come out. And it may not show 23 million or 24 million like it did over in the House, maybe it's going to show somewhere in the low 20s, high teens -

PRESTON: Right.

ACOSTA: Can they still swallow that?

PRESTON: No. I don't think Senators can or moderates can. Let's just start at a baseline right now. We're not talking about Democratic votes. We're talking strictly Republican votes and they're trying to pass this on a razor thin margin. Now just take a step back. What does that mean? We're talking about something that is so important to our economy right now, where you have half the United States Senate that's against it, and you know, a sliver - although a (INAUDIBLE) of the Republican conference that is not for it either. And you have polar opposites, Rand Paul who doesn't think its conservative enough and Susan Collins who thinks that it's too strident. It is really a big problem right now not only for Mitch McConnell but when it comes back to Paul Ryan and quite frankly to Donald Trump who says he's going to be angry if doesn't get passed.

ACOSTA: Gloria, how long can this go on? Can they just take the summer?

BORGER: Well, they're - you know, they're talking about getting rid of half the recess in August. And this is important to them. I mean, this is something every single Republican campaigned on, repeal and replace. And if they can't do it, there's going to be hell to pay. And if they do it, there's going to be hell to pay. So, they're stuck here and the problem they have, quite frankly, is that when you lose these moderates, you know, there really isn't much of a - of a margin for them. And, you know, look, health care is always passed, we saw with President Obama, it passed by one vote. It may very well do that here again, but they're going to have to make sure that these Governors in these states, that are on the fence or don't like this, like in the state of Ohio or the state of Nevada, that if they can get the Governors on board, they will be able to get some of these Senators on board.

TOOBIN: Although, you know, the polling shows that this bill is somewhere around 15 to 20 percent support. I don't know - I can't imagine that this change that McConnell announced today is going to change those polling numbers. So how do you ask Senators to support a bill that 80 percent of the public opposes? I just think that's - politicians don't work that way in my experience.

ACOSTA: And speaking of things that could or could not happen, the President said today in Paris that when he was asked about possibly re-entering the Paris Climate Accord, Kaitlan, he said, something could happen, even though the White House had this huge announcement that we're pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, do you think that the President could possibly come back to a position where, OK, maybe we'll renegotiate this or maybe we'll get back to this thing.

[17:45:04] COLLINS: Well, as you and I both know, I don't think it would not be unusual for the President to change his mind. But you're right, they had this huge celebration in the Rose Garden, there was a band, refreshments when they pulled it out of the Paris Climate Accord, and he's been incredibly critical of it. But today, we didn't see any of that criticism even though they both acknowledged on stage that they had their differences about it, but he wasn't critical at all of it and left the floor open to put possibly reenter it which left a lot of people confused because he's been so heavily critical of it in these past few weeks.

BORGER: You know, but in the end, do you think he's going to change on it? I mean this - as he said to people, he did this for his base -

ACOSTA: They said it was a promise he could keep.

BORGER: It was a promise - it was a promise he could keep. And could this be one much those things where Donald Trump just didn't want to get into kind of an argument with President of France that he was standing next to because he wanted to be gracious to a degree?

ACOSTA: Maybe he's hearing - maybe he's hearing about this from his friend, Jim.

BORGER: Jim? ACOSTA: His friend who likes to visit Paris.

BORGER: Who likes to visit Paris.

COLLINS: Not anymore.

ACOSTA: Does anybody, Mark Preston, do we have - you've been - I'm sure you've been working your sources all day today. Do we know who the mysterious Jim is? I feel like we're back to where are the - where are the tapes?

BORGER: No

PRESTON: No, no we don't. But again, like -

ACOSTA: I don't think he's talking about me.

PRESTON: This whole administration - no, we don't know where he is. You know, let's go back to climate change though, I think Kaitlan is right about this, is that - is that Trump needed to do it because he told his base that. However, I do think he could come back. And someone who's very close to him said that to me today, said you know what, now he's free to do what he wants because he held his promise.

TOOBIN: You know, do we always talk about climate in terms of the politics of it? The climate is actually a science issue and the science - the climate's going to continue warming, regardless of what his base wants or, you know - it's actually science, it's not politics.

ACOSTA: It is settled science, unlike the identity of Jim at this point -

PRESTON: Which is not settled.

ACOSTA: We're on the case for that one. OK, thanks very much. Coming up, more fallout from Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer expecting her to pass along damaging information about Hillary Clinton. President Trump says most people would have taken that meeting. And next, North Korea's Kim Jong-un again taunts the U.S. because of its latest ballistic missile launch.

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[17:50:00] ACOSTA: We have much more ahead on President Trump in France. We're also bringing in new pictures of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un still celebrating and taunting the U.S. because of his ballistic missile launch. Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd, it's always something interesting happening with Kim Jong-un. He's found another way to surprise us I guess.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Jim, and you know, tonight, we have got new images of this high profile awards ceremony where Kim shows gratitude to the scientist responsible for the intercontinental ballistic missile launch on July 4th. A U.S. Intelligence official tells us Kim lavishes attention on officials who advance his weapons build-up. Now, at the ceremony, Kim may have inadvertently given his enemies some key intelligence about three scientists who really drive his missile program.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: North Korea's news anchor sounds joying as she announces Kim Jong-un's arrival at this massive ceremonial hall. The North Korean Leader is the star of his own show speaking behind 12 microphones, there to celebrate his recent intercontinental ballistic missile test firing and to hand out commendations to the scientist behind it. One woman who receives an award can't contain her emotions on stage. What's not mentioned, that Kim's missile test may have fallen short on reentry at least according to South Korean Intelligence. Analysts say this public awards ceremony was designed to project success to his people and to send a message.

SUK-YOUNG KIM, UCLA NORTH KOREA PROPAGANDA EXPERT: The medal ceremony was to tweak the United States and provoke the world and consolidate the image of North Korea as a true nuclear power that emerged victoriously out of this long standoff.

TODD: But what Kim may not have realized is that his spectacle may have intelligence value for his rivals. Analyst Michael who consults with intelligent agencies about North Korean Leaders tells CNN this man receiving an award is Ri Pyong Chol former Air Force General and right behind him Kim Jong Sik accomplished rocket scientist.

MICHAEL MADDEN, 38 NORTH/NK LEADERSHIP WATCH: These are Kim Jong-un's top missile managers.

TODD: Kim Jong Sik, Ri Pyong Chol and an official named Jang Chang Ha are the three superstars behind Kim's missile program and are believed to be at every launch. At least one was seen right behind him on July 4 when the long range missile was fired. CNN is told Intelligence Agencies around the world are watching these three men carefully. Their body language and behavior toward Kim are different from other North Korean elites. They share hugs, smiles, and cigarettes with their vicious boss and enjoy privileges not given to most North Koreans.

MADDEN: These are gentleman that live in basically a whole floor of an apartment high rise. They have domestic staff, their family members get to go to elite schools. They have the top health care.

TODD: Analysts say this ceremony also shows how these scientists are Kim's key to threatening the west.

SUK: It is significant to note that those were the scientists who accompanied Kim Jong-un when he visited his father's tomb recently. And he used to rely heavily on military leaders to support his regime. And now his power bases seem to have shifted to scientists who enable the success of missiles launched.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Those three top officials are so crucial to Kim Jong-un's missile program that analysts say it's possible rival intelligence agencies could target them for assassination similar to how four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated a few years ago. Jim.

[17:55:14] ACOSTA: Brian Todd, thank you. Coming up, his son's Russia scandal follows President Trump to Paris. President defends Donald Jr. as I quote, good boy, but Lawmakers from both parties still wanting to come testify.

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ACOSTA: Happening now, defending Don Jr. President Trump tries to tamp down the fire storm surrounding his son saying zero happened in a meeting with a Russian lawyer during 2016 campaign. Tonight, the President in Paris in under more pressure in the Russia investigation. Calling for testimony, a powerful Senate Republican wants answers from Donald Trump Jr. asking him to appear before his Committee.