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Report: CNN Reports At Least 8 Other People in Trump Jr. Meeting; Trump Spends Week Talking About Hillary Clinton; Charles Krauthammer Says Bungled Collusion Is Still Collusion. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired July 14, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK]
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: We're back with the news that more people were in the room during that meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer last year. One of them was a Russian-American lobbyist. So, what makes this previously undisclosed person so interesting? Rinat Akhmetshin has been accused of acting as an unregistered agent for Russian interests. I want to bring in Bill Press, the host of the Bill Press Show. And Nan Hayworth, a former Republican congresswoman from New York who is also a member of the Trump campaign advisory board. Thank you both for being with us. Let's listen to some new sound from Donald Trump Jr. This was just three days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So as far as you know, as far as this incident's concerned, this is all of it.
DONALD TRUMP JR., ELDEST SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is everything. This is everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: This was everything, Nan. The statements about this meeting, though, keep on changing as new information is revealed. What's the statement going to the next time?
NAN HAYWORTH, Member, Trump Campaign Advisory Board: Well, I frankly don't think it would be any different. He said, look, he released the e-mails, he got this invite, yes, you know, Natalia Veselnitskaya obviously had some prior relationship with the Obama administration let her remain in the country to defend a client, so you know, there's -- there are people involved in that meeting who -- that revealed nothing of interest.
[15:35:00] CABRERA: You don't think he's inconsistent?
HAYWORTH: No. Not at all. Did he list the people in the meeting? He said I took a meeting, I got an e-mail. He released the e-mails. He said I will talk with the senate.
CABRERA: He said the meeting was about adoption. He didn't even mention the Clinton campaign.
HAYWORTH: The Magnitsky act, which has been talked about, relates to Russian-American adoption. It was nothing having to do with anything that even approaches illegality in any way.
BILL PRESS, HOST, BILL PRESS SHOW: You know the problem for people like my friend Nan is that they go out and defend the Trump operation, and then the Trump operation just lies to everybody, including them, and they're caught in the lies and having to defend them. Which I feel sorry about. But let's face it here. This is drip, drip, drip, and the problem is that every drip gets them closer to the Kremlin. Let's just think about the things that Donald Trump has lied about. First of all, that there were no meetings whatsoever. We were told that for a year with the Russians, then it comes out, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner. And then it turns out that, oh, there was a meeting, this one, June 9, in Trump Tower, but we talked about adoption, not about Hillary Clinton.
Well then it turns out they admitted, no, we did talk about Hillary Clinton. Then he says, well, we didn't know ahead of time meeting was all about. Then he releases the emails that says, this is part of a Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign, and then he says we just heard it. That's all we know. And then now, one more thing, this Russian former intelligence officer who was there. All I'm saying is that really raises red flags about how close the Kremlin coordinated this meeting.
CABRERA: Just a minute, Nan, before you respond to that because we don't another statement yet from the White House nor Donald Trump Jr., I do want to play more of what Donald Trump Jr. has said happened in this meeting. Let's listen to what he told Sean Hannity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS, HOST: OK. Let me ask a hypothetical and I know hypotheticals, maybe you've thought about it since and since this has now become Russia collusion, Russia collusion, and et cetera, did you ever meet with any other person from Russia that you know?
TRUMP JR.: I don't even know. I've probably met with other people from Russia, certainly not in the context of a formalized meeting or anything like that because why would I? You know, in the grand scheme of things, how busy we were, it was much more important to doing this. This was a courtesy to an acquaintance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, Nan, at the time of this interview, we knew Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Natalia Veselnitskaya were part of this meeting. Should he, in that moment, have said there were other people in that meeting?
HAYWORTH: Well, Akhmetshin is an American.
PRESS: Russian-American, former Russian intelligence officer.
HAYWORTH: He's an American. He has said he has nothing to do with Russian intelligence. The Agalarov family are friends of the Trumps. They're the ones who helped set up the meeting. So, I don't think any of this --
CABRERA: Why not be transparent? Why not be more forthcoming? Why the changing story as journalists learn the new information and have it there, then they come out and respond with more information?
HAYWORTH: Because the content of the meeting has already been discussed. The nature of what was offered in the meeting has already been revealed, released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. There's -- there's nothing illegal there. Politics is a rough business. The Clinton campaign was working hard to connect to the Ukrainian government and Poroshenko was supposed to sit down.
CABRERA: Let me get Bill in here.
[15:40:00] PRESS: First of all, we don't know that there was anything legal or illegal about this. I would not jump to any conclusion. But let's not lose sight of the big picture here, all these little details. The Russian government, a foreign adversary of the United States, tells this candidate's son, we want to give you some dirt on your opponent in order to influence the outcome of this election to help your father win.
CABRERA: That was according to Rob Goldstone, the publicist initially.
PRESS: And Donald Trump Jr. Says, I love it. Opposition research is not illegal. You have been a candidate, I've been a candidate.
PRESS: But we don't get our opposition research from foreign enemies, from foreign adversaries. When that happens, ding, ding, ding, you call the FBI.
CABRERA: And we have heard that message from both Republicans as well as Democrats, as well as intelligence officials, investigators, but Nan, let me ask it to you this way. Can the president continue to call this a witch hunt?
HAYWORTH: It certainly feels like a witch hunt. And the media, there's such a disproportionate --
BALDWIN: Come on, Nan. This is black and white. It's lack of transparency.
PRESS: Why is it a witch hunt?
CABRERA: E-mails revealed by Donald Trump Jr.
HAYWORTH: They don't deserve -- in this sense. A disproportionate amount of coverage in the media has been devoted to this, which I continue to say is a nothing pickle and a nothing burger in terms of any legal implication, Bill, with all due respect and I do mean that, we have such important issues that actually the public should be aware of what's going on. What provisions are going to be in the senate health care bill versus what's not going to be. What's going to be in tax reform versus what's not going to be. The president just signed a VA accountability bill that his predecessor, and Bill, I'm sure you support your veterans.
PRESS: I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I know you want to change the subject. I know you want to blame Hillary Clinton. No, no, no, this is not a nothing burger. When the son of a candidate says, I want this dirt from a foreign enemy of the United States, that is huge. And here's what I mean --
CABRERA: Finish your thought, Bill, and then we got to go.
PRESS: This is what it means. This is why it's not a witch hunt. First of all, it's his Department of Justice that's conducting the investigation. It's the senate themselves. The house intelligence committee, which are controlled by Republicans that are conducting the investigation. And what this means, this latest thing is, this is not going to go away. Donald Trump Jr. is going to have to testify in front of Robert Mueller under oath, in front of the house committee and the senate committee.
HAYWORTH: And he's already volunteered to do it, though.
PRESS: This thing is not going to go away, I don't care how many times --
HAYWORTH: You need to talk about the previous administration.
PRESS: I don't care how many times Donald Trump calls it a witch hunt.
CABRERA: We are moving forward.
Now the president is spending another week on Twitter. Interviews talking about Hillary Clinton. I'll speak with David Axelrod about why Donald Trump seems to be fixated on his former opponent.
[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: A new crack is emerging in the conservative defense of the White House. Charles Krauthammer, a prominent conservative, who is very vocal usually about his support of the administration has previously come on to defend the Trump administration in places like Fox News. He now has some scathing words for the latest developments in the Russia scandal. In an opinion piece in "The Washington Post," Krauthammer writes, you don't need a lawyer to see the Trump defense -- collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election is now officially dead. And he repeated this harsh criticism of the White House on Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: And this just showed up today in black and white, released by Don Junior himself. This is not released in the, you know, the anti-Trump media. So, you see it in black and white. This is not to say that collusion is a crime. It never was. But it is to say that the denial of collusion is very weak right now, because it looks as if -- I don't know if there's any other explanation. Don Junior was receptive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. But that's different.
KRAUTHAMMER: To receiving this information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Joining me to discuss this and more is CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod who is also a former Obamacare adviser and host of "The Axe Files." David. A reaction?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN HOST, THE AXE FILES: First of all, he's absolutely right. The issue isn't what happened in that meeting, it's what happened that led up to that meeting. Basically, there was a proffer from people who Don Junior knew that suggested that there was information generated by the Russian government that could be helpful in defeating Hillary Clinton, and he took that meeting. We're learning more about that meeting by the hour. But just the act of accepting the meeting sent a signal to the Russian government that they were open for business, that, yes, the Trump campaign wanted information from them, and that's really disturbing. And I admire Charles Krauthammer for being so forthright about this. He has been a defender of the administration. But he obviously felt misled as I think many other people did.
CABRERA: What do you make of the ever-changing developments and now we're learning about more people in that meeting at Trump Tower where the Trump team was promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton?
[15:50:00] AXELROD: Yes, well, you know, the meeting was depicted by the president yesterday from the rostrum Paris as a rather benign affair, but now we know there were other participants in the meeting, including a gentleman who had some roots in counterintelligence, Russian counterintelligence, who was actively working, as was the lawyer who originally set up the meeting whom we originally knew about on the issue of sanctions. This wasn't about adoption. Adoption is a side issue here. There was an interest in removing sanctions on the Soviet -- on Russia as a result of human rights violations. And so --
CABRERA: And that was related to a Russian adoption ban, just to clarify for our viewers. It was part of the Magnitsky act. It wasn't sanction they were talking about, we don't know but their story is that the sanctions --
AXELROD: The Russians were -- the Russians reacted to the sanctions by blocking American adoptions of Russian children. So, there is a relationship, but that's really a cover.
CABRERA: But not the relationship to the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. I just want to clarify for viewers. It wasn't the sanctions imposed after the election because of election meddling.
AXELROD: And I think it's important to let the process work. Mr. Mueller is moving on with his investigation. Bipartisan committee efforts are going forward in the house and senate. We tend to chew these things over and try and analyze them in the moment, but these investigations are going to go much deeper and probably already know much more than we know right now.
CABRERA: Now, yesterday, you talked about the president's statement, how he defended his son. He also blamed Loretta Lynch and President Obama for letting this Russian attorney who met with his campaign staff into the country. He has also blamed Hillary Clinton for colluding with Ukraine. What do you think this fixation is?
AXELROD: Well, first of all, obviously, Loretta Lynch didn't have authority over this lawyer's presence in the country. That was a State Department matter. But the Trump fascination, obsession with Hillary Clinton is something we've never seen before. Can you imagine Barack Obama six months into his administration going on and on about John McCain or Mitt Romney or George W. Bush talking, about Al Gore six months into his administration? But, you know, Donald Trump is all about one thing, winning and losing.
That's how he defines everything in life. What's clearly bothering him is the suggestion that somehow his victory was illegitimate, that somehow because of the Russian involvement that he really wasn't a legitimate winner of the election and, therefore, not a legitimate president, that he didn't actually win. And that seems to be really bothering him, and it provokes this constant return to Hillary Clinton. I have great respect for Hillary Clinton, but I don't know anybody who talks about Hillary Clinton more than Donald Trump.
CABRERA: I want to ask you about your special tonight, "The Axe Files." You talk to congressman John Lewis. You have a powerful relationship with him. He relives a violent experience that he lived firsthand. Let's all watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AXELROD: Through those earphones is a depiction of the scene that you faced when you sat there. I want to ask you to sit down, put those headphones on and let's talk when you're done.
REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D), GEORGIA: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't get it, boy, I'm going to kill you right in front of everybody! I'm going to take this fork and jam it right into your neck. If you don't leave now! Get out. Kick him again! Get out.
AXELROD: How painful is it to hear those scenes?
LEWIS: So real. It is real. That's exactly what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Wow, David, what an emotional moment.
AXELROD: And I have to tell you, I was sitting with John Lewis and reliving not just those events because he was a 20-year-old man who was leading sit-ins at lunch counters so he was masterful when that happened. But he also led so many other efforts when he marched into the fires, risked his life to be at a lunch counter, to desegregate transportation facilities, for the life to vote. When you consider how he and so many others sacrificed so much, it really puts today's debates in perspective. He is truly a heroic person, and I hope everybody gets the chance to take a look at this. It will give you a broader perspective on the debates of today.
CABRERA: We can all use a broader perspective, no doubt. Thank you very much, David Axelrod. We look forward to your special, don't miss it on CNN, "The Axe Files" a one on one with Civil Rights leader John Lewis, tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.
[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: In Los Angeles, hundreds of at risk youths, may high school drop outs look to one man to help him find the right path.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRY GRAMMER, FOUNDER, NEW EARTH: Bottom line is everyone in this room, including myself, we got a story to tell. You're going to tell the world about who you are. I want to see what you have inside of you that wants to come out.
We need to listen to our young people. We need to find out what it is that they're longing for, what they want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: You can watch his story right now at CNNheroes.com. This Sunday CNN's original series, "The History of Comedy," explores the evolution of stand-up comic Dick Gregory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT WEIDE, FILM MAKER: Until the '60s, comedy, and especially stand-up comedy, was a segregated proposition. And Dick Gregory changed all of that single handedly.
DICK GREGORY, STAND UP COMEDIAN: Baseball is a great sport for my people. That is the only sport in the world where a negro can shake a stick at a white man and won't start no riot.
I realized that if I made people laugh, they would stop talking about me. So that's what I set out to do.
W. KAMAU BELL, COMEDIAN: Dick Gregory was one of the first black comedians who really crossed over the mainstream and did so in a way where he kept his integrity. There was not a sense where he became less culturally black or less committed to his own race because he played white rooms. GREGORY: You heard what Bobby Kennedy said about eight weeks ago, he
said 36 years from now, a black man can become president. So. treat me right or I'll get in there and raise taxes on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Don't miss "The History of Comedy" at 10:00 Eastern, 8:00 Pacific.