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Russian Lobbyist Confirms He Was At Trump Tower Meeting; CNN: At Least Eight People In Trump Jr.'s Russia Meeting; Senate GOP Has No Votes To Spare On New Bill; Two Cousins Charged With Killing Burying Four Men; E-mails Reignite Concern Over Kushner's Clearance. Aired 6- 7a ET

Aired July 15, 2017 - 06:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The explosive revelation there was another Russian in that meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm more than happy to be transparent about it and I'm more than happy to cooperate with everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never even spoke to anybody about Russia. I never heard the word Russia, and we did not use Russian press.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This meeting is a very damaging revelation. I can see why they might want to cover it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes for a fascinating novel. It maybe a fascinating movie one day but none of it violates the law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Neighbors Sean Prats couldn't picture the sweet kid next door entangled and killing three young men at a Bucks County farm last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The train started to move. It dragged the vehicle and the injured couple about a hundred yards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was with expanding up to 10 feet per hour swallowing nearly everything in its path.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At 37, Venus Williams is back on top. She is poised to become the oldest woman's grand slam champion in the open era.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. So grateful to have you with us here. First it was four, now it's eight, the story about Donald Trump Jr.'s secret meeting at Trump Tower during the campaign seems to be changing yet again.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. We are learning there were even more Russians there in the room just days after the president son's said he revealed everything. There's nothing else.

The controversy follows President Trump this weekend to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where yesterday, he watched the U.S. Women's Open. This also comes on a pivotal weekend on one of his campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate health care bill gets a CBO score next week, but a potential vote could hinge on one more senator saying no.

PAUL: First, we now know at least eight people attended that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with the president's son. Take a look here. Several more than Donald Trump Jr. had initially disclosed.

Now one of the new attendees we are learning about a Russian-American lobbyist, who one senator has accused of being in Soviet counter intelligence. Here's our Jim Sciutto.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort included more people beyond the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

A source familiar with the circumstances tell CNN Russian-American lobbyist, Renit Akhmetshin, told several media outlets that he was also in the meeting. Akhmetshin told reporters for the "New York Times" and "Washington Post" that he's a veteran of the Soviet Army.

In a March letter to the Justice Department, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley described Akhmetshin as, quote, "someone with ties to Russian intelligence, someone alleged to have conducted political disinformation campaigns as part of a pro-Russia lobbying effort."

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Plainly this Russian attorney, this other third party, they were present. They were there to both deliver a message as well as to receive a message and plainly Moscow only understood too well that this is conduct that the Trump campaign would really appreciate.

SCIUTTO: Akhmetshin denied any intelligence links to the "Washington Post" saying, quote, "At no time have I worked for the Russian government or any of its agencies. I was not an intelligence officer, never."

He also told the "Post" he was born in Russia and became a U.S. citizen in 2009. Akhmetshin's lobbying effort which he did on behalf of the Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya, was aimed at repealing the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russians accused of human rights abuses. A complaint filed against him with the Department of Justice claims that effort was on behalf of the kremlin. He has also been accused according to court papers filed in New York in 2015 of hacking on behalf of one company into the computer systems of a rival company to steal confidential information in a business dispute.

The company, IMR withdrew the accusation soon after without providing a reason. In an earlier related case he denied a similar accusation saying in an affidavit, quote, "I am not a computer specialist and I am not capable of hacking."


SCIUTTO: In addition to his lobbying work, Akhmetshin was well known in Washington for being connected to very powerful people in Russia, both in the business world there and in government.

And one more note, though he was born in Russia then the Soviet Union, he immigrated to the U.S. and is now a U.S. citizen and as a U.S. citizen, he can be subpoenaed to testify before the investigating committees on the Hill. Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.

[06:05:04]BLACKWELL: Jim, thank you. Let's talk now with CNN political commentator and political anchor at Spectrum News, Errol Louis, deputy editors at the "Weekly Standard," Kelly Jane Torrance, and CNN legal analyst, Danny Cevalos. Good morning to all of you.

And let me start with you, Kelly Jane, and start big picture. Now we know there were eight people at this meeting, which was not initially disclosed by Donald Trump Jr. The significance of this rolling disclosure as we learn more day after day about this meeting.

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Exactly. It seems like we're learning something new every day. I'm waiting for new revelations by the hour by the end of the weekend, and that is the problem.

You know, if nothing happened, if everything was on the up and up why wasn't this disclosed immediately and why weren't the full details disclosed immediately?

I mean, I recall Donald Trump Jr. saying when this story first started coming out that I didn't know who was going to be at this meeting. Then we find out in the e-mails that he had to have those names for security to let them into Trump Tower.

Then he said I didn't let Jared Kushner or Paul Manafort know what the substance of the meeting was going to be ahead of time. But we know from the e-mail chain he forwarded that full chain, which said right in the chain, you know, I have information from a Russian government lawyer against Hillary Clinton.

So the fact that he's now trying to claim he's being transparent is a little hard to believe given that he's so-called new transparency proves that he was inaccurate if not lying from the beginning. BLACKWELL: Errol, let's go to one specific person we've learned who was in this meeting. This Russian lobbyist, Akhmetshin, what's the significance of his addition considering Senator Grassley wrote this letter back in April saying that he was someone alleged to have conducted political disinformation campaigns as part of a pro-Russia lobbying effort.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, that's right, Victor. That same letter from Senator Grassley alleges that he's affiliated with Russian counterintelligence. Now, of course, he says that that's not true, but these are questions that were asked long before the revelations of what is now I guess day eight of this latest sort of slap over what went on at this meeting.

So Congress was already on to this gentleman. He himself has told the press that, yes, I work for the Russian government, I came out of the Russian military, I was at the meeting and these are the kind of things that we talked about.

More sort of logs adds to the fire and here again, you know, if we accept that everything we've heard, this shifting story has been inaccurate or untrue up until now, there's almost nothing that you can rely on from the White House and from Donald Trump Jr. about what else was going on at the time.

You know, you closely read those e-mails, Victor, and the reality is that it looks like something much larger was going on of which this meeting is just a part.

BLACKWELL: So Danny, let's get to the legality of this. The group (inaudible) filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that the Trump campaign violated campaign finance law by soliciting of a foreign national something of value here. Is there a black and white answer to if there has been some violation of law or does it as most things do live in the gray?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It lives in the gray and here's why. One of the applicable sections prohibits receiving anything of value for a campaign from a foreign government and that foreign government is defined to include any foreign national, but it requires a thing of value.

And yes, you can say theoretically information has value, but if you say that, then almost anything has value. So the mere fact that two people meet with the idea that they could get information really doesn't go to the thing of value that was likely envisioned by campaign finance laws.

When you also start talking about things like collusion and conspiracy, you know, these all require a lot of ifs at this point. As Kelly Jane said, this is a changing narrative and tomorrow may bring new facts that support some crime.

But as long as everybody is talking about if this person was connected with Russian government, if Donald Trump Jr. knew, with all these ifs, those do not lead to probable cause or even a conviction and that's even under an expansive definition that you usually see in most federal criminal laws.

BLACKWELL: All right, Kelly Jane, let me come back to you. I want you to listen to Kellyanne Conway on Fox News just yesterday talking about what she says is a moving goal post.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT: Well, even the goal posts have been moved. I mean, we were promised systemic hard evidence of systemic sustained collusion that not only interfered with our election process, but indeed dictated the electoral outcome.


BLACKWELL: Obviously some spin there from the White House. It was the White House who said there was absolutely no collusion at all.

[06:10:02]Even saying it will remember the incoming vice president's interview with CBS's saying there were no additional meeting with Russians after the Flynn revelation.

TORRANCE: Yes, Victor, I'm so glad you played that clip because I had tried to memorize Kellyanne Conway's words because I wanted to bring them up in the spot and I was having trouble remembering exactly what she said but there it is.

And you know what? She's right, the goal posts have been moved, but she and the White House have moved them, not anybody else. You're right. They said from the beginning there was no collusion with Russia. There was absolutely none at all.

There were no more contacts than those we've mentioned. Now she's saying actually it was actually systemic furtive collusion. No, come on. They said from the beginning there was no collusion from the Russian government and now you have an e-mail chain in which somebody tells the president's son that hey, we have someone from the Russian government that wants to help him and he says I love it.

I mean, how can you possibly say that when you said earlier there was no collusion, nothing to do with the Russians? It's really quite ridiculous and it's amazing to me that, you know, this still going on and the reason it's still going on and it's because of those denials.

BLACKWELL: The defenders of Donald Trump Jr. have said that even up to this point he has been transparent. We're still learning more about this meeting, things that he did not say in the initial press release from his attorney.

David, let me come back to you and then to Errol. First, Yahoo News! is reporting that Criminal Defense Attorney Ty Cobb is joining the president's legal team, Danny, and he's going to be answering questions about Russia.

But unlike Sekulow and Kasowitz and Dowd, who are defending the president he's going to be working in the White House as a White House staffer and not really reporting to the White House Counsel. What's the significance of putting this attorney inside the White House?

CEVALLOS: I think in a case like this the lawyers that are closer to and directly representing Donald Trump has a personal relationship, they might be a slightly different procedural situation than an attorney who is directly retained by the White House, but practically speaking I don't think you're going to see a lot of difference.

You may see a little more transparency from a White House lawyer than you might see from Trump's private lawyer, especially one that he has used for many years, but I wouldn't expect too much difference in the narrative. I think we're going to see very similar sort of messages from each.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol, unfortunately, we've run out of time. You get first question next time. Errol Louis, Kelly Jane Torrance, and Danny Cevallos, thank you so much.

PAUL: It is yet another make or break weekend for health care reform it seems. The president and vice president are really pushing right now and Senate Majority Leader McConnell cannot afford to lose one single GOP vote.

BLACKWELL: Plus cousins here have been charged with killing four men in Pennsylvania. Why at least one of these men has confessed to police and told them what happened.

Also, three people dead after a fire breaks out in a high rise apartment building.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I smelled something burning and I looked over my left shoulder and I saw black billowing smoke.




BLACKWELL: It's 17 minutes after the hour and this is a crucial weekend for the senate GOP. Leadership is still working to line up support for the revised health care bill.

PAUL: Two Republican senators have said we're not voting for this, which means out of the remaining undecided senators here, the party cannot afford to lose one more vote. Here's CNN correspondent, Ryan Nobles with more. Good morning, Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, good morning. Right now Senate leadership and the White House are engaged in a high stakes campaign. They are rallying to get the 50 votes they need to get this bill passed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NOBLES (voice-over): The White House and Senate leaders are making an aggressive push to convince Republican members to vote yes on their latest version of health care reform.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are very, very close to ending this health care nightmare. We are so close.

NOBLES: Fifty two Republican senators have now had more than 24 hours to digest the bill and as it stands right now, two members, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, remain opposed to the plan.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It does not make sense to do a major rewrite of a vital entitlement program without having any hearings or consideration of the implication.

SCIUTTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cannot lose any more votes if he hopes to get the bill through. The president who has let McConnell take the lead in the day-to-day negotiations is stepping up his public push to get the bill passed.

He tweeted four times about health care Friday morning writing, quote, "Republican senators are working hard to get their failed Obamacare replacement approved. I will be at my desk, pen in hand."

Vice President Mike Pence made a similar pitch in a speech to the nation's governors.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Donald Trump is going to lead this Congress to rescue the American people from the collapsing policies of Obamacare.

NOBLES: Trump is also working behind the scenes, spending part of his time in Paris making phone calls to GOP senators including Senator Rand Paul whose position has not changed. Many rank-and-file Republicans who remain undecided are waiting to hear from stakeholders back home before making up their minds.

SENATOR THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I hope that they wait and speak with their state leaders as I will over the weekend and I hope they wait until they see the CBO score which doesn't come out until next week.

[06:20:04]NOBLES: Republicans from states with governors who expanded Medicaid are under a special kind of pressure because this bill rolls back federal funding for the expansion.

Rob Portman of Ohio and Dean Heller of Nevada are both dealing with GOP governors unhappy with the plan, and as Bryan Sandoval met one-on- one with Pence, but still has concerns.


NOBLES: Even though the prospects for this bill remain dim most senators are still undecided and they believe that a deal can be reached. So much will depend on that score from the Congressional Budget Office which is due out Monday -- Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All righty. Ryan, thank you so much.

I want to tell you about the two cousins who have been charged in the murders of four men in Pennsylvania now. Cosmo Dinardo and Sean Kratz, both 20 years old, facing murder, robbery and other charges.

Dinardo detailed the crimes to police only after the death penalty was taken off the table from him. The four victims were lured on to a remote property with promises of buying marijuana.

Instead they were shot, killed and buried there. Their bodies have since been recovered. Really detectives say only because Dinardo's confession included where the bodies were located.

BLACKWELL: At least three people were killed when a large fire engulfed a Honolulu high rise. Twelve people were injured, five of those victims are in serious condition. This started Friday on the 26th floor of the Marco Polo Apartments, which has about 538 units, we're told. Roughly 100 firefighters worked to put out those flames and get those people out.


RON CHLARITINIO, RESIDENT: I looked down, I could see the billowing smoke coming up, and this is really sad. I heard three women's voices screaming, pleading, moaning, please help me, please, continuous screaming for five or ten minutes and then I didn't hear anymore.


BLACKWELL: The investigators do not know what started this fire, but we've learned from authorities that the building did not have sprinklers.

PAUL: And this is some serious video. Look at this thing. A giant sink hole in Florida swallowing two homes there. At a news conference last night, officials said the sink hole does appear to have stopped expanding at this point but nine other homes in the area were evacuated.

Power has been cut to nearly a hundred people in that neighborhood. The hole this is estimated to be about 50 feet deep is full of water as you saw there. It's not draining due to all that debris so recovery and repair operations are set to begin shortly.

BLACKWELL: A massive wildfire has forced people to leave their homes in Santa Barbara, California. The Whittier fire started July 8th. It's burned roughly 13,000 acres and firefighters have not been able to contain it fully, but 52 percent though thus far. They still have a rough battle ahead thanks to those high temperatures and also rugged terrain.

PAUL: Yes, and we are getting this first glimpse of how intense and dangerous the flames are. The U.S. Forest Service released this dash cam video. First responders there driving into the flames in an effort to rescue children from a summer camp. Can you imagine? All camp counselors, staff, they were all rescued and returned to their families. I'm happy to be able to tell you that.

BLACKWELL: Jared Kushner's security clearance may be on the line after an e-mail dump from the president's son revealed Kushner had direct contact with Russians about the 2016 campaign. Why Democrats are calling for that revocation.

PAUL: Also, a car collides with a train, and there's body cam video from moments immediately after that crash.




PAUL: I hope Saturday has treated you well so far. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. The president is spending the day at the Women's Open in New Jersey, which is being held at his golf club in Bedminster, but as the president attends the tournament, the White House is trying to navigate a public relations crisis centering around his son's meeting with Russians at the Trump Tower.

PAUL: The administration's story about Donald Trump Jr.'s secret meeting at Trump Tower during the campaign has changed yet again. Tuesday, Trump Jr. told Fox News he'd revealed everything he knew.


DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: So as far as you know as far as this incident is concerned this is all of it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is everything.

TRUMP JR.: This is everything.


PAUL: So fast forward to this morning and take a look at the list. We now know at least eight people were in that meeting including a woman who presented herself as a Russian government lawyer and a Russian-American lobbyist there as well.

Now Donald Trump Jr.'s e-mails may have started the fire storm. He's not the one that ended up with a job at the White House though, that's Jared Kushner and as CNN's Tom Foreman reports Democrats are calling for his security clearance to be revoked now.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Victor, Christi. Not only will the Russia investigation not go away, it is now circling closer and closer around someone who is described as very close to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FOREMAN (voice-over): Inauguration week and the president's son-in- law files his first papers for 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 Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, allegedly to get Russian government dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Kushner attended that meeting, which Donald Jr. now says was a bust.

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) it was apparent that that wasn't what the meeting was actually about.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Nonetheless, on June 21, 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 J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing happened from the meeting. Zero happened from the meeting.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Yet even as the president called the Russian lawyer meeting meaningless, he's also saying he learned of it not in June, but only days ago.

JAY SEKULOW, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: He was not aware of the meeting, did not attend the meeting and was only informed about the emails 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), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It seems strange to me that those meetings were at least conveniently forgotten at least by Mr. Kushner.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST, HANNITY: How long was the meeting?

TRUMP JR.: About 20 minutes or so.

HANNITY: About 20 minutes. And Jared left after five or ten?

FOREMAN (voice-over): The Russian lawyer says neither Kushner nor then Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort played much of a role.

NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN LAWYER: Don't know. 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 applying for a clearance under these facts would be denied that clearance?


FOREMAN: Of the three representatives of Donald Trump known to be at that meeting with the Russian lawyer, Kushner is the only one who is now an official advisor to the president. And that puts him squarely in the crosshairs of investigators looking to find out if anyone did anything illegal.

Victor, Christie?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY: Tom, thanks. We'll talk more about that next hour.

The Trump administration's election integrity commission, attempting to respond to concerns over potentially releasing sensitive personal information of likely voters just released sensitive personal information.

Last month, the commission asked every state for a complete list of voter information. Here are some of the criteria. Party name, the affiliation there, addresses, last four digits of the social security number.

Well, some outraged voters emailed the commission expressing concerns their information would inadvertently be made public. Well, the commission then posted those emails online, several contained that sensitive information including physical addresses, one even had some obscene material. And as of this morning, that personal information is still posted their publicly.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY: A dramatic rescue in Texas and police body camera caught it. After an SUV, with two people inside, crashed into a stopped train and then the train began to move.

Kevin Quinn from our CNN affiliate KTRK has the story.


KEVIN QUINN, REPORTER, KTRK (voice-over): Just after 02:30 -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got at least one inside crashed.

QUINN (voice-over): A La Marque police officer arrived at the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you hear them loud (ph)?

QUINN (voice-over): This SUV was westbound on Main near Highway 3 when it hit a stopped freight train.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, I know, buddy. Hold on. We've got medics coming.

QUINN: And suddenly, as the officers tried to get out to two people -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Tell him to stop. Stop the train. 35, call the railway company, tell them to stop moving. They're dragging the car, with people inside.

QUINN: The train started to move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to the front of the train, tell them to stop moving. They are dragging this car.

QUINN: It dragged the vehicle and the injured couple about 100 yards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shine the spotlight in their eye. Do something to get it up at the front.

QUINN: The officer did what he could, trying to coordinate efforts further down the track to get the attention of the engineer, while getting dispatch to frantically call Union Pacific.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop. Hold tight. We're getting them to stop. We're getting them to stop.

QUINN: Finally, they got the train to stop. Only then could they tend to the injured.


BLACKWELL: Wow! Well, police say that the engineer, as you would imagine, did not realize the SUV was stuck under his train. The driver of the SUV is listed in serious condition. And the passengers' injuries, we're told, are not considered to be life-threatening.

PAUL: Well, a big reason to celebrate for six girls from Afghanistan, Afghan girl robotics team is heading to the US after all. Who pulled the strings to make this happen?

BLACKWELL: Well, in a few hours, Venus Williams will try to win a sixth Wimbledon singles title as she faces challenges on and off the court.


[06:40:00] BLACKWELL: So, good news for six Afghan girls. They will be allowed into the United States for a robotics competition next week. The decision comes after the girls' visas had been denied twice.

PAUL: And President Trump is getting credit for the about-face. CNN's Amara Walker has more for us here.


AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Coming to America after all. A group of tech savvy girls from Afghanistan are headed to the US to take part in an international robotics competition.

The all-female team thought they would miss out on the contest after their visas were denied. But all of that changed after US President Donald Trump personally intervened.

FATEMAH QADERYAN, AFGHAN ROBOTICS TEAM (via translator): We are so happy for the Americans and Mr. Trump support.

WALKER: Under the Trump administration's stricter visa policies, US authorities twice turned down visa request from the Afghan team, along with school children from a number of Muslim-majority nations.

QADERYAN (via translator): We were disappointed when the Americans made a difference between Afghanistan and other countries are not issuing visas to us. At that time, we lost hope and we were feeling sad.

WALKER: After a public outcry, the president urged the State Department to reconsider and, this week, the decision was reversed.

Thursday, visas in hand, the six girls began their long journey from Afghanistan to Washington where they will become the first robotics team to represent their war-torn country overseas.

Trump's daughter, Ivanka, was among those who cheered the reversal, tweeting, "I look forward to welcoming this brilliant team of Afghan girls and their competitors to Washington, D.C. next week."

Now these teams will get a chance to show off their hard work - this robot which they built out of low-tech recyclables.

LIDA AZIZI, AFGHAN ROBOTICS TEAM (via translator): Afghanistan is a war-torn country, which is difficult for women to improve. But now, this is a big chance for us.

WALKER: Along with the Afghan girls, event organizers say all 163 teams from 157 countries, including Iran and Syria, were given the OK to attend the competition.

Amara Walker, CNN.


PAUL: Alrighty. Well, listen, in a few hours, Venus Williams is going to try to defy the odds by winning her sixth singles title and become, if it happens, the oldest women's Grand Slam champion in the modern era. We're live for you in London, next.


[06:46:33] PAUL: Alrighty. She is 37 years old. And Venus Williams, in just a few hours, is going to try to win her sixth Wimbledon singles titles.

BLACKWELL: It's actually very nice how we put the court behind us. I was impressed by that. All right. So, Venus, has been on a roll lately, and her wins are coming really as she faces challenges on and off the court. Here's CNN correspondent Christina Macfarlane.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: At 37, Venus Williams is back on top, striding into Center Court Saturday, hoping for her sixth Wimbledon singles title. She is 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 PLAYER: I feel quite capable, to be honest, and powerful.

I have an opportunity to bank on experience and having dealt with those sort of pressures before.

MACFARLANE: Perhaps it's that experience that has allowed Williams to 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 on to 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 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.

SERENA WILLIAMS, SISTER OF SERENA WILLIAMS: On the court, we're mortal enemies. But the second we shake hands, we are best friends again.

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 she could do this for me, but I was like, no, this time you have to 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.


BLACKWELL: It'd be great to see her win it.

Let's turn to the men's tournament now. Thirty-five-year-old Roger Federer steamrolling his way to another final.

PAUL: We're going to go live to London with you here, bring in CNN tennis contributor Ravi Ubha.

So, Ravi, tell us more about what is expected there today. I mean, does he really believe that he can pull this off?

[06:50:05] RAVI UBHA, CNN TENNIS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's going to be a great match, guys. I mean, when you're talking about Wimbledon, you think about the biggest tennis tournament in the world.

But not only that, I think if you're just a casual sports fan, you'll know about this tournament, you'll hear about Wimbledon, you know who's going to win the title.

In terms of what's at stake, today, Venus playing in that Wimbledon final, 37 years of age. She's bidding for that sixth Wimbledon title.

Hasn't won a Grand Slam title for a while. Christina was talking the issues that she has had to go through. Hasn't won a Grand Slam title since 2009. So, this would be massive for her.

If she is able to do it, she would become, as mentioned, the oldest player in the open era on the woman's side to win a Grand Slam title. She does have a 3-1 record against the player she is facing, a Spaniard, Garbine Muguruza.

But Muguruza won the last time they played just a couple of months ago on the clay. So, I think one thing that's very important to mention is that Venus has lost eight Grand Slam finals, but in seven of them it's been Serena who has been on the other side of the net. So, this could be a big opportunity for Venus to get the maybe one last Grand Slam title.

BLACKWELL: Let's turn to the men now and Roger Federer, heading toward his eighth final tomorrow, I think it is. Yes, Sunday.

His chance is looking pretty good?

UBHA: Yes. I mean, Roger is playing so, so well. I mean, he was the favorite going in. And he became even more of the favorite after some of his rivals lost.

And you think of what he's done at this tournament, 11 finals - that is a record. If he wins tomorrow, he's playing a Croatian by the name of Marin Cilic, then it would be another title for him here, which would be number eighth. He would be the first man to win eight Wimbledon titles.

But, guys, I don't think it's a foregone conclusion because when they met here last year, Cilic actually had match points on Federer. Federer came back from two sets down to win. And also, Cilic has beaten Roger Federer at a Grand Slam, at the U.S. Open in 2014, en route to winning that title.

But one thing is for sure, the 15,000 behind me on Center Court tomorrow are going to be so firmly behind Federer. He's the massive fan favorite.

PAUL: OK. That's what I was going to ask you about. There are so many tennis fans in the world, but they rarely get the chance to go to Wimbledon and watch. How much does the support in the stands - even though you've got to be quiet. Do you feel that energy? Does it make a difference to who is playing?

UBHA: I think it does make a difference for sure, Christi. And that's something Federer has talked about.

If we look at his career a little bit, he missed the last six months of last season because of a knee injury and he came back after that.

Now, he's 35 years old. So, you wonder why is he coming back. One of the reasons he said was because he loves competing around the world because he gets so much great support from everybody who watches him play. And that includes some of his great rivals when he takes Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray.

It's because not only of the way he plays, which is such a graceful artistic game, but also because of what he does in his press. He's a fluent speaker and he's just, yes, really so popular.

PAUL: Interesting. All right. Hey, Ravi Ubha, it's so good to have you with us this morning. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. (INAUDIBLE). PAUL: Alrighty. It was people's selfie gone wrong. Can you believe this? Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of art sculpture damaged when a woman tries to take the perfect photo of herself at an art exhibit.


[06:57:29] BLACKWELL: So, on the campaign trail, President Trump talked about his friend Jim, describing him as a very substantial guy who loves Paris.

PAUL: Well, some people are questioning, is Jim real? Our Jeanne Moos investigates herself.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump got the royal treatment, but whether he was ringing the hand of the first lady of France or complimenting her physique.

TRUMP: You're in such good shape. Beautiful.

MOOS: Or getting chummy with her husband, the president, somebody was missing. Jim.

TRUMP: A friend of mine, he's a very, very substantial guy. He loves the City of Lights.

He's told me for years, Paris, Paris.

Jim, let me ask you a question, how is Paris doing? Paris? I don't go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris.

France is no longer France.

MOOS: He talked about Jim so often, trying to make the point that France had succumbed to terrorism, that the "New Yorker" started hunting for Jim in vain. He inspired memes and tweets like, "Just hanging out with #Jim."

But when the White House refused to say whether Jim actually exists, thus was born Jim, the president's imaginary friend. With his own Twitter account, insisting, "I exist," "The View" dedicated a photo album to Jim. A French reporter brought him up at the joint press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You've mentioned a friend, Jim, who told you that Paris is no longer Paris.

TRUMP: That's a beauty. You know what? It's going to be just fine because you have a great president.

MOOS (on camera): If Jim were imaginary, it wouldn't be the first time that an invisible character has entered the political fray, would it?

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: What do you mean shut up?

MOOS (voice-over): Clint Eastwood wowed the Republican convention, riffing with an imaginary Barack Obama.

EASTWOOD: What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. Can't do that to himself.

MOOS: Judging from their body language, Donald Trump's imaginary friend didn't get between the two presidents.

TRUMP: I'm coming back.

MACRON: And you're always welcome.

MOOS: But what about Jim? They're making him jealous.

Jeanne Moos, CNN.

TRUMP: France is no longer France.

MOOS: New York.

TRUMP: They won't like me for saying that.

See what happens.


PAUL: All right. A selfie gone wrong here. A woman trying to take a picture of herself at a Los Angeles art gallery triggers a pretty disastrous domino effect.

BLACKWELL: Yes, causes $200,000 in damage in exhibit. At least 11 sculptures were damaged when a woman posing in front of a row of display columns accidentally knocked one over.