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President Hits Republicans; Trump Blasts Russia Investigation; Kushner on Capitol Hill; Tractor-Trailer Migrant Deaths; Deadly Jerusalem Violence. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 24, 2017 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Really any moment from now. He's driving to The Hill any moment to speak to Senate investigators. We'll bring you that moment live when it happens.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, in just moments, the president's son-in-law and one of his top White House aides, Jared Kushner, will face Senate investigators. We've got some color on what is happening, who is going with him. This is a small group inside the room today, about four to six Senate staff. He's going to be with his lawyer, his attorney, Abbe Lowell, and a staffer. They're going to take notes of the meeting. He has provided documents, as well as his formal statement, that he finalized, we've learned, over the weekend.

BERMAN: Yes. Now, one of the more interesting things here that we're getting word from Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill, the interview will be transcribed and Kushner's legal team has told the Senate Intelligence Committee it has no problem with the transcript being made public. It is up to Senate protocol, says Kushner's legal team, in that case.

[09:35:18] And also Kushner has no preference as to whether he goes under oath for the interview. He is willing to do sworn testimony if asked. Now, even if he's not sworn in, you know, he can't lie to Senate investigators.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: That is something that has come up in the past. (INAUDIBLE), a baseball player, totally a separate tangent right there. And the legal team here says there's no question that Kushner will not answer --

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: And that it will take two hours and -- yes.

HARLOW: Well, this is -- I mean all of these things show a Jared Kushner seemingly wanting to be very transparent, saying you can release the transcript, I'll go under oath and there's no question I won't answer. Let's see if we get that transcript.

BERMAN: As of now, after all these months. HARLOW: Now.

BERMAN: All right, while that is going on, the president of the United States, Jared Kushner's boss and father-in-law, is on the attack against Republicans, hitting them for not doing more to protect him and he says there will be repercussions if Republicans do not repeal and replace Obamacare.

This is what he wrote in a statement just moments ago. He said, Republicans have a last chance to do the right thing on repeal and replace after years of talking and campaigning on it.

Now, joining us now to discuss this issue and all kinds of issues going on this morning, Congressman Ralph Abraham, Republican from Louisiana.

Congressman, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

Let me ask you about some of the things the president has been writing about Republicans over the last few hours. He says, it's sad that some Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their president.

Do you see it as your job, congressman, to protect the president?

REP. RALPH ABRAHAM (R), LOUISIANA: I think it's our job to support the president if we're going to ride on the Republican brand. And with the repeal and replace, the Senate, I know, is working very hard this week and they will get this thing done.

To send just a repeal vote to the president, I think it sends a statement, but it doesn't send a solution. We need a repeal and replace so that I, as a country doctor, can write the prescriptions I want for my patients, get the specialists that I need for my patients, send them to the hospital that I need to send them to for my patients, and, again, get them what they need. And I'm unable to do that right now with the current Obamacare system.

HARLOW: But, congressman, just building off of the statement that John read from the president, we don't know what specifically he was talking about. He may have been talking, though, about sanctions and the, you know, bill in the House right now on sanctioning Russia because just moments before that he tweeted about Russia, calling it all a witch hunt.

In this bill that sits in the House, as you know, it does not give the president the power to alleviate or loosen these sanctions on Russia. Why is it important to take this power away from the president? Are you supportive of the way the bill looks and stands right now?

ABRAHAM: Right now I do have some questions with the bill. Again, we need to support the president. I -- look, Russia is no friend of the United States. That --

HARLOW: But does that mean giving him -- does that mean giving him sort of unbridled power when it comes to these sanctions? ABRAHAM: No, not at all. We have to have constraints on Congress, on

the president, on all aspects of society.

But, again, I'm a firm believer in keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. Russia is some -- a country, a President Putin, that we have to be very cognizant of, be very suspicious of and have to watch him very closely as to what his actions globally are and the way it affects America.

So, certainly we want the president to be able to do what the president needs to do to make those things happen, to protect our national security. But at the same time, we certainly need oversight on all of us up here on The Hill.

HARLOW: OK. Go ahead.

BERMAN: You know, on the idea of protecting, you called it loyalty, to the president right there. Is your sworn oath to the president or is it to the Constitution?

ABRAHAM: It's to --

BERMAN: And do you think it's the job of Republicans to protect the president on the Russia investigation?

ABRAHAM: It's not the job to protect the president on the Russian investigation. It's the president's job to be very transparent. And as your previous broadcast on the Kushner thing, he is being very transparent and I think the president has been very transparent on this issue.

Again, we did swear an oath to the Constitution, not to the president. And you don't go in -- all in for a particular person or particular party. You take a step back and you look at the objective data and then you make a decision. And that's what we are doing up here in Congress.

Again, we need to give the president some leeway. He, by the way, is the president of the United States and we have elected him to that job. We, in Congress, do have oversight over ourselves, somewhat the president and other branches of the government, and that needs to stay place.

[09:40:05] HARLOW: Why do you think the president has been, in your words, so transparent on all things Russia? Many would argue the opposite, even from your fellow Republicans when it comes to the refusal to release his tax returns, when it comes to his firing of the FBI director because of, by his own admission, the Russia investigation, and his slamming of his own attorney general for recusing himself in the Russian investigation. What about the president has been transparent on all things Russia?

ABRAHAM: He has been transparent on basically everything that we've asked him to be transparent. The tax returns have nothing to do with the Russian so-called collusion. And let's define collusion in the law structure and being an illegal conspiracy or a cooperation between two parties. We have had upwards of six -- and I think now seven committees, both on the Senate and the House side look into this Russian collusion. And I use that in quotation marks. And, guess what, none of those committees have come back to a new finding of significance.

HARLOW: Yes, they're not -- congressman, they're not done, as you know.

ABRAHAM: Well, they are, to a point, that nothing has come out --

HARLOW: No, they're not.

ABRAHAM: Of these -- that nothing has come out.

HARLOW: How do you know that? You don't sit on these committees.

ABRAHAM: But -- well, look, I -- look, I sit on a lot of committees and I hear a lot of things that are being done, are being discussed. The same things that you guys hear in the news media. And, again, nothing has come out that said this president or his son-in-law, or any of his family, has colluded with the Russian government.

BERMAN: Congressman, thank you for your time.

ABRAHAM: All right.

BERMAN: I think we'll have you back in to talk more about these investigations. Also health care. We range --

ABRAHAM: Ready to go.

BERMAN: We covered a range of things today. Appreciate your time.

ABRAHAM: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: And we're waiting -- thank you, congressman.

The live pictures you're looking at, we're waiting for Jared Kushner to walk up those steps. As much as we love looking at all the employees walking into the beautiful Capitol this morning, we're waiting for him.

BERMAN: No, you know, you do see -- you do see some of the fashions, you know, of late July in Washington, D.C.

HARLOW: Like it's hot down there. Yes.

BERMAN: I saw a lot of khakis. I think I saw some seersucker and (INAUDIBLE) short sleeves on some of the men and women protecting the Capitol right now.

HARLOW: So --

BERMAN: All right, we've got a lot going on this morning.

HARLOW: Yes. BERMAN: Nine people are dead, many of the several dozen survivors could suffer permanent consequences. And the driver of the tractor- trailer found crammed with more than 100 people -- hang on one second, guys, I think -- let's go back to Capitol Hill right now. This, I believe, is Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president, arriving. Let's listen.

QUESTION: Jared, (INAUDIBLE) --

QUESTION: Mr. Kushner --

QUESTION: Mr. Kushner, was it appropriate for you to meet with the Russian officials?

QUESTION: Mr. Kushner, (INAUDIBLE) working at the White House?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) with Russia?

BERMAN: All right, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president, son-in-law, as loquacious as ever upon his arrival.

HARLOW: That is a true fact, as loquacious as ever because he doesn't usually say very much.

You see another set of microphones that I believe he'll walk past in a moment. So we'll see if he addresses any questions.

You saw him walk in with his attorney, Abbe Lowell, there before he goes to this relatively small meeting with Senate staffers. About four to six of them will be present. He has said, and what we've learned in the last few moments, that he will be very transparent. Our Suzanne Malveaux reporting that there is no question he says he will not answer. He is open to the transcript of this meeting, interview, being released.

And --

BERMAN: Yes.

HARLOW: Go ahead.

BERMAN: No, I'm just saying, you know, that is Jared Kushner right there.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: You can see him. Abbe Lowell, the attorney there, obscured behind the man in the hat. There he is, Abbe Lowell, his attorney in the blue tie, arriving for the discussion. A wave from Jared Kushner.

The one thing Suzanne pointed out that I think we hadn't known before, which is fascinating, is that the Kushner legal team has no problem with the transcription being made of this entire process.

HARLOW: Right. And they say it's up to the Senate Committee's preferences as to whether or not he will go under oath for the interview, but that he is willing to go under oath and give sworn testimony.

BERMAN: Again, we wanted to see, just in case, in the rare instance that we would hear some of the first words ever from the senior adviser to the president, Jared Kushner, who almost never speaks in public or in a way that the press can hear him.

Now he is going to speak behind closed doors to these Senate investigators, these staffers from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

HARLOW: Right. We should be learning more about that in a little while. We'll bring you that when it begins.

We have much more ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:48:44] BERMAN: All right, moments ago, senior adviser to the president, Jared Kushner, arrived on Capitol Hill. He is behind closed doors right now, meeting with Senate investigators, staffers, on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

That wave was about as much as we got or heard from Jared Kushner right there.

HARLOW: Right. So we'll learn more as he comes out of this meeting. We might even get a transcript, as we've learned, because his team said just this morning, according to our Suzanne Malveaux, that he's completely open to a full transcript of this interview being released and he's totally open to going under oath if they choose to do so.

So we'll follow that also for you.

Also want to tell you about a very, very deadly --

BERMAN: Well, I think we have Manu Raju on --

HARLOW: Do we have Manu? OK.

BERMAN: Manu Raju I think is with us on Capitol Hill.

Manu, are you there?

So the meeting now underway.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: I am here.

(INAUDIBLE) Jared Kushner just -- the meet is now underway. Jared Kushner just walked by where I'm standing right now. We tried to ask him a question about that Trump Tower meeting, of course, that he acknowledged in this 11-page statement that he gave to the committee, saying that -- in that statement that he gave to the committee that there was really nothing to that meeting at all. He really didn't even follow the e-mail chains that were going back and forth.

I tried to ask him if he regretted that in any way. Not surprisingly, he ignored the question, walked by, smiled, waved to the cameras as he walked into this meeting room.

[09:50:02] Now, we expect maybe four to six staffers to be in that meeting. No members will be in there. He will not be under oath. That doesn't mean that he cannot tell the full truth. That, of course, misleading Congress in any way is something that can be prosecuted. So this is a very significant meeting. The first of two this week on Capitol Hill.

We'll see how long this goes. His team telling Suzanne Malveaux maybe not more than two hours but it really depends on the number of questions that people have, especially in light of this disclosure of a number of meetings he has during the transition and during the campaign. He, of course, says, nothing to it. We'll see what members of Congress have to say, guys.

BERMAN: All right, Manu Raju for us on Capitol Hill, having just seen Jared Kushner walk by in the halls of the Hart Building right now. Jared Kushner behind closed doors with Senate investigators right now.

In the meantime, tractor-trailer driver James Bradley will be in court today. He's accused of driving a truck with more than 100 people crammed inside.

HARLOW: Nine of them have been confirmed dead this morning, dozens more still recovering in the hospital. We've learned also that some of these people may suffer permanent brain damage as a result of the conditions that they were trafficked in.

Our Ed Lavandera is in San Antonio with more.

And, Ed, what else have you learned?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are awaiting that court appearance here in downtown San Antonio. Sixty-year-old James Bradley of Clearwater, Florida, expected to face federal criminal charges here today in making that initial court appearance. But really all the eyes of the investigators are kind of focused on trying to piece together this human smuggling operation. Just who else was involved? Where these people were coming from.

Nine people dead, as you mentioned. Thirty others being treated for heat exhaustion and asphyxiation. Nearly 20 of those in critical condition we're told. So we're still waiting on more updates on the conditions of those other people. Two of the victims that are being treated in hospital are 15-year-olds.

So this story really highlighting the lengths that many people around the world will go to, to get to the United States. It's a horrifying story. The fire chief yesterday telling us, John and Poppy, that the temperatures inside that tractor-trailer could have reached more than 150 degrees.

BERMAN: All right, Ed Lavandera for us right now in San Antonio.

Again, that court appearance scheduled for later this morning. A simply horrible story there. Rising tensions in Jerusalem. Security cameras now in place outside one of the holiest sites in the city. The United Nations Security Council holding an emergency meeting very shortly. We'll bring you the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:55:07] HARLOW: The United Nations Security Council has called an emergency meeting today as some of the worst violence in years has broken out between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem.

BERMAN: At the same time, a senior official tells CNN, the White House has been working with Israelis, Palestinians and the Jordanians in an effort to diffuse the tensions there. These clashes started after new security features were installed at a holy site after two Israeli police officials were killed in an attack there.

Joining us now live from Jerusalem, were, as I said, tensions are very, very high, CNN's Ian Lee.

Ian, what's the latest?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, tensions are high as these diplomats try to work out some sort of deal. And the White House really is spearheading this. We have President Trump's special envoy to this region, Jason Greenblack (ph), he's in town. He's going to be talking with different government officials, the Jordanians, the Israelis, the Palestinians, trying to figure out the best way they can come to some sort of resolution to this.

We also know that President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been talking to them as well, trying to come to some sort of deal. And this is a real crucial test because over the past few months the Trump administration has been working, has been building relations with the different parties. So this will be a test of how good those relations are and if they can come to some sort of deal to end this crisis. And this crisis is going to take that diplomatic effort.

But, on the ground, in the old city and around every night we've seen clashes between Palestinian protesters and police. Four Palestinians have been killed so far. Also last weekend, three Israelis were killed in the West Bank when a Palestinian snuck into their house and killed them with a knife. So that just underscores how important it is for the powers to come to some sort of agreement.

But to give you an idea of just how far that -- that divide is right now, after those two Israeli police officers were killed over a week ago, we had Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, express his condolences and condemn it. Well, now they're not even talking. The Palestinians have frozen relations with the Israelis. That's something that the Americans are going to have to work on.

HARLOW: Ian Lee, thank you very much for the reporting for us this morning from Jerusalem. We appreciate it. Also, we know the man the president has charged with Middle East Peace, Jared Kushner, right now focused on his testimony in front of Senate investigators behind closed doors in that meeting right now. We'll bring you the breaking news as soon as we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow.

[09:59:57] On The Hill, Capitol Hill that is, and on the hot seat, just moments ago, senior adviser to the president, Jared Kushner, arrived. He's now behind closed doors in a meeting with Senate investigators.