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Russia Investigation; France-U.S. Relations; Turkey's Failed Coup Anniversary; Chinese Dissident Cremated; Venus Williams Chasing History. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired July 15, 2017 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): After two days in the French capital, U.S. President Trump is returning home to a political firestorm that has just had more fuel added to it.
Thanks for joining us, everyone. I'm Cyril Vanier. It's 11:00 am in Paris.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. I'm George Howell, here in Atlanta, where we're tracking new revelations about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer.
Plus: the nation of Turkey marking a major anniversary with reports of another massive purge ahead.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States, in France and all around the world. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
VANIER: U.S. President Donald Trump returned home to the United States on Friday after a whirlwind trip to Paris for Bastille Day. But in his absence, the political firestorm of a Russian election meddling grew even larger.
At the epicenter of it, a controversial meeting in June last year with the president's oldest son and a Russian lawyer, who supposedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton. Now it turns out twice as many people were at that meeting than previously disclosed. We get the latest from CNN's Dianne Gallagher.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This man, a Russian-American lobbyist, who one senator has accused of being in Soviet counterintelligence, has been thrust into the center of the Russia investigation.
Rinat Akhmetshin now tells the Associated Press and other outlets he, too, was in the controversial meeting with the president's son at Trump Tower in June of 2016.
Until now, Donald Trump Jr. had said the only people in the meeting were the Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, the president's son- in-law and presidential adviser Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST: So, as far as you know, as far as this incident is concerned, this is all of it?
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is everything. This is everything.
GALLAGHER: But tonight CNN has learned as many as eight people were in the room, including Akhmetshin, a translator, a representative of the Russian family that initiated the meeting and Rob Goldstone, the music publicist who set it all up.
In one of the e-mails released by Don Jr., Goldstone writes to him, quote, "I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today."
No names were included in the released e-mails in which Goldstone promised, quote, "some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."
Akhmetshin is a Russian-American registered lobbyist for his Veselnitskaya's organization focused on overturning an American law that sanctions human rights abusers in Russia, according to lobbying records.
In an April letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley described Akhmetshin as a Russian immigrant who, quote, "been acting as an unregistered agent for interests and apparently has ties to Russian intelligence."
Akhmetshin denied any of those ties to "The Washington Post," saying: "I never worked as a Russian government. I served as a soldier for two years. At no time have I ever worked for Russian government or any of its agencies. I was not an intelligence officer, never."
The new disclosure represents yet another version of who was in the room and adds to a growing list of questions about why the story keeps changing. Sources close to Kushner's legal team tell CNN his lawyers and White House aides started coming up with a strategy about how to manage the disclosures of the e-mails back in late June.
Kushner amended his security clearance to include the Trump Tower meeting after his team discovered the e-mails preparing for his congressional testimony. President Trump maintains he did not know about the meeting until just before his son released the e-mails and continues to defend him.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man. I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. GALLAGHER: But a White House official tells CNN the top advisers know it's not good that the story keeps changing -- Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Washington.
HOWELL: The story keeps changing. While the president's own family has been caught up in this controversy, Mr. Trump himself was apparently kept in the dark. Here is what his attorney told CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So I think we're trying -- the meeting was not an issue until what?
E-mails were released. Here's the legal issue.
What law was violated by that meeting?
And your experts have said it, too: nothing. And at the end of the day, that's what this is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let's get some analysis now from Steven Erlanger. He is "The New York Times" bureau chief in London, live with us in our London bureau.
It's always a pleasure to have you here on the broadcast. So let's talk here about Donald Trump Jr. saying, look, there is nothing more to it. Nothing more to it, he said on FOX News. But the drip, drip, drip does continue as we now know that there were more people in the room than previously disclosed. [05:05:00]
HOWELL: How does this help or hurt the White House?
STEVEN ERLANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, it looks terrible. It looks like on the one hand, they say it didn't matter. Nothing came out of it. And then on the other hand, they won't tell you everything that we need to know about who was in the meeting.
And it can't be that they forgot, right?
So they've been covering it up.
Now why, if it meant nothing, are they so shy about it?
Clearly it meant something to somebody. Now it could be that Donald Trump Jr. was trying to help his father, they have had a difficult relationship. Some people compare him not very nicely to Fredo Corleone, right, trying to help his father but getting the whole machine into trouble.
But there is a real issue and that comes out in the e-mail list, which is that the son of the president-elect, though he was just about to get the Republican nomination, was not only willing to meet with people from Russia who said they had incriminating material on Hillary Clinton, but wanted to.
"Love it," he said.
Now the Russians, it sounds like, may have been testing their ability to access the Trump family and the Trump campaign. And they certainly seem to be using the Hillary Clinton suggestion as bait to talk about other issues that matter to Russia, like lifting of sanctions on Russia, that stemmed from this Magnitsky case, which is something this Russian woman lawyer has been very involved with and also this Russian lobbyist.
Now to say that the Russian lobbyist was involved with, you know, Russian intelligence right now feels like a bit of a stretch because, after all, he was a soldier in Afghanistan and it could be he's an undercover agent, who the hell knows.
But this is something Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor and investigator will be looking into and the Senate and the House will be looking into. It smells really bad.
And as usual, it may have been the meeting was not very important but it's the effort to lie and lie about and cover up who was there, what was discussed, why it happened, why it happened then, which does the damage. It's the self-created drip, drip, drip that's so harmful.
HOWELL: Steven, journalist to journalist, I want to raise the issue of transparency. The question here, Donald Trump Jr. has been praised by some for being transparent, as it's been described, for putting out this e-mail chain.
But was this Mr. Trump trying to get ahead of the story or was this, indeed, transparency?
ERLANGER: Well, I think he was trying to get ahead of the story because "The New York Times," my colleagues, had the e-mail chain. So it was described to them and then they got it.
So he was releasing it on his own before we released it. That let him say that he was transparent. But also inside the e-mail chain was this very, very harmful, you know, expression from him that he loved it.
He loved the idea of defamatory material coming from a foreign government, the Russian government, about the former secretary of state and Democratic candidate.
And that's what's gotten everybody nervous and in trouble. The relationship with Russia and the Trumps, you know, goes back quite a way. I mean, it goes back at least to the Miss Universe contest and the people that Trump was involved with and met as he, you know, agreed because he was the head of it, to bring Miss Universe to Moscow.
And these same people were the ones that facilitated this meeting and some of them actually attended the meeting.
So, you know, if it were all about transparency, then we would know who exactly was in the whole meeting, which we hadn't found out until your reporting and our reporting and "The Washington Post" reporting.
But we certainly -- someone was taking notes and everybody pretends, oh, it was a nothing meeting.
Well, if it was a nothing meeting, why are they being so mysterious about it?
HOWELL: Again, Mr. Trump Jr. on FOX News said there was nothing more to it. I'm paraphrasing poorly there but clearly there was and we continue to get new information.
ERLANGER: Well, you know, yes. Substantively, perhaps there wasn't. I mean, he didn't get the compromising material on Hillary Clinton that he hoped to get. Instead, he seemed to have been lectured the about the sanctions which didn't interest him very much and probably he didn't know that much about.
And that may have been the real purpose of the Russians in getting --
ERLANGER: -- the meeting.
But the fact that he had it, that he thought he was going to get something compromising from the Russian government, that he didn't report the meeting, that they only amended their records to the FBI later and, you know, did he really not tell his father about it?
I have no reason to suspect either of them. But there does seem to be still a lot of effort to pretend that this was not important.
But it was important because you had a Russian government involvement and you had someone very close to the man who was likely to become -- who was possibly to become president, very eager to get, you know, foreign intelligence and to harm his father's opponent. I mean, that's a problem.
HOWELL: Steven Erlanger, live for us in London, thank you so much for the insight and perspective today.
ERLANGER: Thanks, George.
HOWELL: There is conflicting information coming out about another man who is now at the center of that controversial meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer.
According to reports, that individual is a lobbyist and he's also been accused of serving in a Soviet counterintelligence group. But he says that's not quite the case. We get more now from Alex Marquardt.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His name was never mentioned in the e-mail chain setting up Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the supposed Russian government attorney at Trump Tower.
Today, the explosive revelation there was another Russian in that meeting. The Russian-born lobbyist, who is now an American citizen, identified himself to several media outlets as Rinat Akhmetshin.
In April, Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote that Akhmetshin "has been accused of acting as an unregistered agent for Russian interests. Mr. Akhmetshin is an immigrant to the U.S. who has admitted having been a Soviet counterintelligence officer."
Akhmetshin denies that he was formerly trained as a spy but told the AP and "The Washington Post" that when he served in the Soviet army, his unit was part of counterintelligence.
"At no time have I ever worked for the Russian government or any of its agencies," he said. "I was not an intelligence officer. Never."
He is now a registered lobbyist, working aggressively in Washington to overturn the Magnitsky Act, the U.S. law that sanctions and blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. It was named for a Russian lawyer, who died mysteriously in prison after uncovering $230 million of fraud by Russian officials.
Magnitsky worked for American financier Bill Browder, who was the driving force behind the law and who filed a complaint with the Justice Department against Akhmetshin, accusing him of working on behalf of the Russian government.
WILLIAM BROWDER, HERMITAGE CAPITAL: All of his actions today show that he's absolutely, clearly working in the interests of the Putin regime and the FSB in order to repeal the Magnitsky Act and create a situation where Russian torturers and murderers can now freely travel again.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Akhmetshin's partner to remove the sanctions is Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer initially introduced to Donald Jr. as having incriminating information on Hillary Clinton from a Russian prosecutor. She was also named in Browder's complaint.
The day of the meeting, according to "The Washington Post" and AP, Veselnitskaya asked Akhmetshin to attend.
BROWDER: They were working together in New York. They were working together in Brussels. They had this big project together. It would have been odd if he hadn't been at the Donald Trump Jr. meeting, since this is a project that they've been walking lockstep.
And from what I can tell, Rinat Akhmetshin is the U.S. operator. He's the guide in the corridors of power. So it completely makes sense that he would have been at that meeting. MARQUARDT (voice-over): California congressman Dana Rohrabacher has been critical of the focus on the Trump administration's Russia ties.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: You're trying to make it look sinister that he only remembered two of them. Come on.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): But Congressman Rohrabacher has also been lobbied by Akhmetshin and told CNN in May that he is someone with an ulterior motive, who was "involved with people who've got an agenda."
Asked if Akhmetshin is connected to the Russian security services, he said, "I would certainly not rule that out." -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, New York.
VANIER: And all this political drama in the U.S. was taking place while Donald Trump was actually far from home. Just a week after the summit in Germany, the U.S. president was back in Europe, this time as the guest of honor at Bastille Day celebrations here in Paris.
Mr. Trump and the first lady were invited by France's new president, Emmanuel Macron; by all appearances, the two leaders seemed to enjoy each other's company a great deal. There was a lot of handshaking, backslapping, a lot of smiling. The highlight of the two-day visit was Friday's military parade along the Champs-Elysees.
VANIER: This year, of course, was the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I. So about 150 U.S. troops marched in the parade, kicked it off, in fact, and U.S. fighter jets also took part in the crowd favorite, the flyover.
Joining us now is Erin Zaleski, Paris correspondent for "The Daily Beast."
Erin, now that the dust is settling on Mr. Trump's visit to Paris, I want to put to you the dominant narrative that has emerged from this visit, which is that Mr. Macron maybe has found an in with Donald Trump, a way to handle him. Indeed, before the trip, he had said I want to reason with him.
But my question is this, can we look at it the other way around?
Maybe Mr. Trump has found a way to speak to these Western European leaders with whom he had had some level of discomfort before?
ERIN ZALESKI, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, I think it's both. I think in many ways, this was Macron's game. He was the one in control here. He was the one who invited Trump. He knows that Trump is a fan of spectacle.
So it was basically a charm offensive of sorts, the private tour of the Invalides, the dinner actually inside the Eiffel Tower, which is the quintessential monument of Paris and capped off by this military parade and all this fanfare. And I think he knows that Trump will respond to that. And, by all accounts, it seems like it has worked.
VANIER: But ultimately, there is still -- in this partnership or in this duo, Trump and Macron, there was one person who is trying to appeal to the other because he needs the other more. And that is Mr. Macron trying to appeal to Mr. Trump.
ZALESKI: I think both of them need the other. I think Macron is trying to cement his place on the world stage as a credible world leader, someone strong, someone who is able to deal with Trump and maintain the relationship between France and the U.S., which has lasted long before Trump was on the scene and will continue long after Trump has departed.
And I think some people have lost sight of that, lost sight of -- they've been focused on the negative feelings about Trump to the detriment of the longstanding relationship between France and the U.S.
VANIER: You know, France -- the French leadership and the French people very much liked Barack Obama. He was well liked here, both by the people and leaders. Donald Trump, of course, not so much. We know that's and it's reflected in the polls.
Yet it may be, in the end, that France gets perhaps more things from this leader than it did from the previous leader. If you take the example of Syria, France was hoping that Barack Obama would strike Damascus years ago. It didn't happen. France didn't get what it wanted. This may change.
ZALESKI: This may change because it also seems like Trump and Macron agree on that, more than Hollande had agreed with that and more than Obama.
So there are many things in which they don't see eye-to-eye with but there are a couple of things, Syria is one of them and the fight against global terror is another, in which they really are on the same page. And I think the cooperation between the two will be stronger as a result of that.
VANIER: Going back to my earlier point, do you think Donald Trump has found a way to seduce these Western European leaders?
He says great things about their countries, about their wives, even if that was maybe a little odd.
VANIER: And has he found a way to appeal to them in a way that might help him politically on the world stage?
ZALESKI: I think that remains to be seen. I think it was more about Macron appealing to Trump and getting a positive response from him. As you saw during the press conference, he even backpedaled on the previous statements, he'd made negative statements about Paris and its safety and France not being the same. He actually retracted those statements --
VANIER: Yes, that seems to be over now.
ZALESKI: -- very complimentary toward Macron, which was a bit surprising. And he even hinted that maybe, in a typical vague Trump fashion, that there can be a door left open regarding the Paris climate accord.
So it seems like this charm offensive, whatever Macron has done to reach Donald Trump, seems to have been -- well, at least in the short- term, it seems to be effective.
VANIER: Erin Zaleski from "The Daily Beast" here in Paris, thank you so much for joining us on CNN NEWSROOM.
We're going to take a short break. But when we come back, Turkey marks the anniversary of a failed coup attempt. How a government crackdown is still ongoing.
And from wildfires to dust storms, parts of the U.S. are dealing with severe weather. We'll have a full update from the World Weather Center in just a moment.
Also later this hour, Donald Trump has glowing praise for France's youthful new leader. You just heard that from Erin.
Did Emmanuel Macron discover the secret to winning over the U.S. president?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER (voice-over): This was the scene a year ago in Turkey. Chaos amid a coup attempt to oust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It failed and a crackdown against perceived government opponents just hasn't let up since then.
There are reports that more than 7,000 police, academics and civil servants have just been dismissed, that's on top of the thousands who have been dismissed or jailed since that coup attempt.
Mr. Erdogan has addressed the purges. He indicated the sacked workers got exactly what they deserved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): They are asking how many people are dismissed from work, how their needs will be met from now on. Let them work in the private sector.
Why should we care?
Will we think about them?
Let them work in the private sector.
Will the state look after them?
The state looked after them and they betrayed the state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Events to mark the anniversary are planned for the coming hours. A national unity march is set for later in Istanbul, this despite the country's political divisions.
Our Gul Tuysuz has this report on a mother who defied soldiers.
GUL TUYSUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Few people knew Sophia Bayat (ph) before this moment. She led a seemingly quiet and simple life. But this conservative mother of two surprised even herself.
During the coup attempt last year when she stood up to tanks and soldiers, she said she made a split-second decision that night when she turned on the TV, that she would go out to confront the soldiers trying to topple the government of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
She says, as a woman, she thought she might be able to stop the soldiers and appeal to their conscience.
"But they only had anger and violence in return," she tells us.
She says when she wouldn't leave, they threatened to shoot her.
"I told them I wasn't afraid of them," she says. "They roughed me up but I kept saying, 'I am not afraid,' and that they could shoot me if they wanted to."
When soldiers begin firing on the crowd, Bayat (ph) says she was shot in the leg while trying to carry away the wounded. A strong supporter of Turkey's president, Bayat (ph) is glad to see those who she believes are responsible for the coup behind bars.
And while many in Turkey are united behind Turkey's president, for others, the post-coup Turkey has become an intolerably oppressive --
TUYSUZ: -- place. Since the coup attempt, the government has declared a state of emergency. More than 100,000 people have been detained or arrested. Tens of thousands of workers, including civil servants, teachers and journalists have been dismissed from their jobs.
Critics of the government say that the post-coup crackdown has turned into a cleansing of all voices of dissent, with both the coup and the crackdown leaving scars on an already fractured nation -- Gul Tuysuz, CNN, Istanbul.
HOWELL: Gul Tuysuz, thank you for the report.
The body of Liu Xiaobo has been cremated at a private ceremony. The Chinese government says his relatives have scattered his ashes into the sea. The Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner died after a battle with cancer. He had been serving an 11-year sentence for challenging state power.
And although he was allowed to go to hospital, he remained in custody. Liu was 61 years old when he died. The handling of his case was condemned internationally.
At least three people have been killed in a high rise fire in Honolulu, Hawaii. It's unclear what started this fire but officials say the apartment where the fire originated did not have sprinklers. About 100 firefighters fought the flames and helped the people there, the residents, to escape and get to safety.
HOWELL: Good to have you here on CNN NEWSROOM.
Still ahead this hour, there are growing questions about why Jared Kushner took so long to disclose the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer.
And did he tell the President of the United States about that meeting?
HOWELL (voice-over): Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
VANIER (voice-over): And I'm Cyril Vanier, live from Paris. Let's get you a quick recap at the bottom of the hour of the main stories CNN is following for you. (HEADLINES)
HOWELL: The U.S. president is spending the weekend at his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, which is also hosting this year's women's U.S. Open golf tournament.
By while Mr. Trump was in Paris for two days, that controversial meeting between his eldest son and a Russian lawyer took an unexpected turn. CNN has now learned there were others in the room besides those --
HOWELL: -- previously reported. Some of their identities remain a mystery. Donald Trump Jr. helped to coordinate the meeting by e-mail with the expectation that the Trump campaign might get damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
A former top Trump campaign adviser is also talking to U.S. lawmakers.
Michael Caputo testified before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed door session on Friday. That's part of multiple investigations into alleged Russian meddling into last year's election. Following his testimony, Caputo told reporters he never once heard anyone discuss Russia during the campaign. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I had no contact with Russians and I never heard of anyone in the Trump campaign talking with Russians.
But I never was asked questions about my time in Russia, that I never even spoke to anybody about Russia, I never heard the word Russia and we did not use Russian dressing. There was absolutely no discussion of Russia on the Trump campaign to the day I left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Caputo also told CNN the idea that anyone in the Trump campaign would have colluded with Russia is, as he says, "laughable."
One of Jared Kushner's top lawyers is stepping aside from the Russia investigation. CNN now confirms that Jamie Gorelick will hand over responsibility to Abbe Lowell, a top criminal defense attorney.
This comes as Kushner faces growing questions about why he initially failed to disclose the meeting with a Russian lawyer and Russian American lobbyist and whether he told President Trump about it. Tom Foreman takes a closer look.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inauguration week and the President's son-in-law files his first papers for a security clearance on January 18th. Jared Kushner reveals no contact with any foreigners during the
campaign or transition. But the next day he says he hit that send button too soon and will amend that.
In May, according to his lawyer, the papers are updated to show Kushner had over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most during the transition.
By mid-June, as they prepare for congressional testimony, Kushner's lawyer say they discovered the e-mail from Donald Trump Jr., setting up that meeting last year with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, allegedly to get Russian government dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Kushner attended that meeting, which Donald Jr. now says was a best.
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: It went nowhere and it was apparent that that wasn't what the meeting was actually about.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Nonetheless, on June 21st, Kushner amended his security papers again to reflect his attendance at that meeting. And according to a source close to Kushner, he said he was going to tell President Trump. We don't know if he did.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing happened from the meeting. Zero happened from the meeting.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Yet, even as the President calls the Russian lawyer meeting meaningless, he is also saying he learned of it not in June, but only days ago.
JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: 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.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Kushner's late admission of that meeting has spurred sharp interest in all his foreign contacts not initially disclosed, because as an advisor, all meetings with foreigners must be listed.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It seems strange to me that those meetings were at least conveniently forgotten, at least by Mr. Kushner.
HANNITY: How long was the meeting?
DONALD TRUMP JR.: Twenty minutes or so.
HANNITY: About 20 minutes.
And Jared left after 5 or 10?
DONALD TRUMP JR.: Yes.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The Russian lawyer says neither Kushner nor then Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort played much of a role. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was the only one I was speaking to.
FOREMAN (voice-over): But amid all the late revelations, Democrats are fuming that Kushner was given security clearance at all.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Anybody else apply for clearance under these facts would be denied that clearance.
HOWELL: Thank you so much for that report.
Still ahead now, two world leaders are far apart in age and politics. They form a strong bond in a short time. We'll take a closer look now at the budding friendship of Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump.
VANIER: During Donald Trump's quick visit to Paris, he appeared to thoroughly enjoy the company of his host, French President Emmanuel Macron.
So was it chemistry or was it shrewd diplomacy by Mr. Macron or perhaps by Mr. Trump?
CNN's Randi Kaye has our report.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Bastille Day parade in France this week, U.S. President Donald Trump was the guest of honor. Marching bands, jet flyovers and an American flag rolled out before him.
Earlier, the French president accompanied Mr. Trump on a tour of Napoleon's private tomb and arranged for a lavish dinner at the Eiffel Tower's Jules Verne restaurant, where they dined on filet of beef and potato souffle with truffle sauce.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): It will be a dinner between France.
KAYE (voice-over): Flattering?
For sure. It's the pomp and circumstance showered upon all presidents and all part of a larger plan, it seems, to woo the leader of the free world.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you for the tour of some of the most incredible buildings anywhere in the world. That was very, very -- a very beautiful thing to see.
KAYE (voice-over): No question, Donald Trump enjoys being the center of attention. His biographers say the more adulation people heap on him, the more likely they are to get a better response.
When President Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia in May for his first foreign trip, he was treated to a sword dance, his image projected even on the wall of his hotel, where he walked a red carpet. He left with a gold chain necklace from the kingdom.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived.
KAYE (voice-over): Poland did its best to curry favor with Trump as well, busing in a crowd of people to cheer in support of President Trump as he delivered his foreign policy speech.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's a majestic nation, it really is. It's a spectacular place, some of the most beautiful sights.
KAYE: Perhaps it was the Japanese prime minister who led the way on how best to ingratiate himself with President Trump. Even before Inauguration Day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe showed up at Trump Tower with a golf driver that was plated in gold.
Ever since, his relationship with President Trump has been on solid ground.
KAYE (voice-over): And while Germany's Angela Merkel was once caught striking a cool stance in an awkward photo with President Trump, she is --
KAYE (voice-over): -- showering him with flattery in other ways. "The New York Times" reporting she called him for advice before her trip to Saudi Arabia, despite the fact he's a newcomer to diplomacy.
And if world leaders can't get the president himself, they'll work relations with his family. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu played up his relationship with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau took Ivanka Trump to a Broadway show.
Germany's Angela Merkel welcomed Ivanka Trump to Germany for a women's entrepreneurial panel. Dealing with a president who demands loyalty, all this flattery may just pay off. After France's Macron went out of his way to woo him, President Trump is already patting Macron on the back, saying publicly the two men have a good friendship -- Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
VANIER: Let's talk about this, what the significance of this is and whether it matters. With me now is Francois Lafond, a political researcher, associate professor at Sciences Po, the political science institute here in Paris.
A lot was made after the victory of Donald Trump of about how he would get on with world leaders and how that would affect world affairs; in particular, the U.S.-Europe relationship.
After this Paris trip, do we have a better idea of how that's going to work?
FRANCOIS LAFOND, SCIENCES PO: Yes. I think this is a much better. We understand better who (INAUDIBLE) that means that he is a guy who wants to have some deals.
So he is keen to come to France at the invitation of President Macron. He's keen also to discuss about topics which are not so offensive for himself in the country. I mean, he has discussed about the climate and the withdrawal from the -- of the U.S. from the Paris agreement.
So this is good and this is good also for President Macron because it is showing every world -- every people, every leaders in the world what kind of foreign policy France will have to have with him for the next five years.
VANIER: And in a slightly unexpected way, it looks like these two have found a healthy way of communicating and even dealing with each other. We acknowledge differences and we focus on where we can make deals.
LAFOND: There are two similar way of thinking. I mean, there are none from the political arena. There has been two years for President Trump in the political scene and the same is for Emmanuel Macron. They have been business people. I mean, Macron in (INAUDIBLE) and Trump, of course, with the business side.
And their views, a certain a number of tools in order to find the populist mindset of the society. So, of course, there is a kind of chemistry. They want to get some results. So -- and they are not ideological. I mean, they want to have some deals, both, on a different way.
So that's why I think this is very important, the visit of President Trump here. Good because the international context is also very good for the President Macron. I mean, Chancellor Merkel is campaigning; Prime Minister May has some problem with the Brexit.
There is no other European leaders who could engage with the U.S. president and, I think that, on a certain number of themes, topics, he may get some results in the long run.
VANIER: In a way, isn't it easier for these Western European leaders to deal with Donald Trump as opposed to a Barack Obama?
Because Barack Obama was revered here by people in Germany and France, across Western Europe, really. It was very difficult for a Western European leader -- French president, German chancellor -- to say no to anything that Barack Obama proposed. LAFOND: I don't know exactly if this is the right answer but the point is if you look to the polls, I mean, the public opinion polls of President Trump after just the time in power, you can see a decrease of the respect of the U.S. in the world. You have in France and in the last indication is 70 percent less good feeling about the U.S.
VANIER: Yes, but does that matter?
Because those are feelings. This doesn't drive policy.
LAFOND: This is important. International relation is also about the marriage of the leaders and the country. And, of course, the President Trump has a certain number of domestic complications, even on his political side.
So this is good for him to show that, despite that, in the U.S., he can have good trip in Paris at a very good occasion because it was the 14th of July and the one-century anniversary of troops coming into Europe in order to help the French allies, the best one, according to President Trump.
So I think it is a win-win solution for both presidents.
VANIER: Francois Lafond, thank you very much for coming on the show. It's a pleasure seeing you today had talking to you. Thanks a lot.
LAFOND: Thank you for having me.
VANIER: Now we have a quick programming note, on Monday in a CNN exclusive, the Duchess of Cornwall, we'll show you the very different sides of Camilla. She's known as the friendliest --
VANIER: -- member of the royal family and she has a cordial relationship with the press. We've taken advantage of that. In a rare interview, she talks to CNN's Max Foster about how she's helping victims of domestic violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMILLA, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL: I think we can talk. It was such a taboo subject. But I think we can talk about it now. And if I can talk about it and bang the drum a bit, so can a lot of other people. So that's what I'm trying to do to help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Often seen but rarely heard. More of our chat with the Duchess of Cornwall as we follow her on a busy day of engagements. And that will be Monday, only on CNN.
Venus Williams takes Centre Court at Wimbledon very soon. We'll see what makes this final so special after such a decorated career. Stay with us for that.
HOWELL: Welcome back.
In just a few hours' time, Venus Williams will play for her sixth Wimbledon title. She'll have to get past rising star in Spain's Garbine Muguruza, though. As our Christina Macfarlane reports, Williams is chasing history.
CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 37, Venus Williams is back on top. Striding into Centre Court Saturday, hoping for her sixth Wimbledon singles title, she's poised to become the oldest women's Grand Slam champion in the open era, ready to silence the skeptics who mused that she would be too old to win again.
VENUS WILLIAMS, TENNIS PRO: I feel quite capable, to be honest, and powerful. I have an opportunity to bank on experience in having dealt with those sort of pressures before.
MACFARLANE (voice-over): Perhaps it's that experience that has allowed Williams stay focused on her game, despite considerable emotional turmoil heading into the tournament.
In June, Williams was involved in a tragic car accident in Florida that led to the death of 78-year-old Jerome Barson. His family, filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the tennis champion.
The initial police report found Williams at fault for the accident but surveillance video caused police to revise their findings, ruling instead that Williams acted lawfully.
Williams shared her sadness about the crash on her official Facebook page.
"I'm devastated and heartbroken by this accident. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Jerome Barson and I continue to keep them in my thoughts and prayers."
When asked about the incident following her first round Wimbledon win, she broke down.
Williams regained her composure, channeling her energy onto the court, beating much younger opponents, three of whom were born the year she debuted at Wimbledon.
It's not the first time Williams has had to transcend pain to compete. After years of battling debilitating fatigue that affected her ability to play at the elite level, Williams was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Sjogren's syndrome in 2011. Many thought it meant the end of her tennis career.
But Williams vowed to do whatever it took to return to the game.
WILLIAMS: When you don't feel well and things are taken away from you, it's hard to stay positive. But for me, it's not an option to get negative or to feel sorry for myself.
MACFARLANE: Defying the odds, Williams reached the finals in two Grand Slam tournaments this year for the first time since 2003, losing to sister, Serena, in the Australian Open in January.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the court, we're mortal enemies. But the second we shake hands, it's -- we're best friends again and --
MACFARLANE: Serena's bombshell announcement that she won the match while expecting meant there wouldn't be a chance for a rematch between the sisters at Wimbledon.
WILLIAMS: I just wish she was here and I was like, I wish could do this for me. I was like, no, this time you do it for yourself.
MACFARLANE: Serena, due to give birth in late August-early September, will have to cheer her big sister on from afar, joining millions who tune in to see whether 37-year-old Venus Williams will become a champion once again.
HOWELL: Thank you for being with us for NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell in Atlanta.
I'm Cyril Vanier in Paris. The headlines are next for international viewers and if you're in the U.S., "NEW DAY" starts right after this.