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Widening Trump/Russia Probe; Inch Away to Another Terror Attack; Confidential Matters Leaked; Dubai's Torch Tower in Flames; James Bond-type Campaign in Kenya; Neymar the Highest Paid Player in Football. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 4, 2017 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: -- a new grand jury has been impaneled. The investigation between possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign takes a significant step forward.

Also ahead this hour, leaked transcripts of the president calls with world leaders called, in some cases, bargaining, and others. And that border wall? He says it's not all that important.

And new details on a foiled terror plot in Australia. Police say it is the most sophisticated scheme ever attempted in the country.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Around the world, good day to you. The Department of Justice in the United States is stepping up its focus on potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. A source tells CNN the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has issued a grand jury subpoena, several, related to Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with a Russian attorney last year at Trump Tower.

The e-mail setting up that meeting promised dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. On stage among his supporters in the U.S. State of West Virginia Thursday, President Trump said investigators should be focused on Hillary Clinton instead. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That's al it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: All right. And then this statement from White House counsel Ty Cobb., quote, "Grand jury matters are typically secret. The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly. The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller," end quote.

And then there is this developing story we're following. CNN has learned that Mueller's team is closely looking at financial ties between Russia and Mr. Trump, his family and the Trump organization. The president has warned that a red line Mueller should not cross involves his financial background.

CNN's Pamela Brown has details for us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Does anyone really believe that story?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAMELA BROWN, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The Russia investigation continues to widen as federal investigators explore the potential financial ties of President Trump and associates to Russia. Sources tell CNN financial links could offer more concrete path to any potential prosecution.

Investigators are delving in to possible financial crimes including some unconnected to the election. For the president that's going too far. He's warned that delving into his businesses is a, quote, "violation." Trump has maintained there's no collusion and he has no financial ties to Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I owe nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Now, one year into this complex probe the FBI has reviewed financial records related to the Trump organization. The president himself, as well as his family members and campaign associates. CNN has told investigators have comb through the shell companies and buyers of Trump branded real estate properties. They scrutinize the roster of tenants at Trump Tower in Manhattan reaching back several years.

And officials familiar with the investigation tell CNN special counsel Robert Mueller's team has examined the background of Russian business associates connected Trump getting back to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant he hosted in Moscow.

CNN could not determine whether the review has included Trump's tax returns. But even investigative leads that have nothing to do with Russia, but involved Trump associates are being referred to the special counsel to encourage subjects of the investigation to cooperate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: President Trump keenly aware of the increased financial focus, regularly denounces the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Russia is fake news. Russia is -- this is fake news put out by the media.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Trump's team seeking to limit Mueller's investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's point is that he doesn't want the special counsel to move beyond the scope and outside of its mission, and the president has been very clear as have his accountants and team that he has no financial dealings with Russia. And so I think we' been extremely clear on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: CNN has learned new details about how Mueller is running his special counsel team. More than three dozen attorneys, FBI agents and support staff, experts and investigating fraud and financial crimes, broken into groups focus separately on collusion and obstruction of justice. There is also focus on targets like Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager and General Michael Flynn, his fired national security adviser.

[03:05:05] CNN has learned that investigators became more suspicious of Manafort when they turned up intercepted communications that U.S. , intelligence agencies collected among suspected Russian operatives discussing their effort to work with Manafort, and coordinate information that could hurt Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House, according to U.S. official.

In Flynn's case the focus is now on his lobbying work for the Turkish government which he failed to initially disclose as required by law. While those men deny any wrongdoing the approach to the Manafort and Flynn probes may offer a template for how the focus by investigators on possible financial crimes could help gain leverage and cooperation in the investigation.

The president's attorney, Jay Sekulow said to CNN in a statement, quote, "The president's outside legal not received and request for documentation or information about this. Any enquiry from the special that goes beyond the mandate specified in the appointment we would object to."

And for context, the investigators don't have to go directly to the president's lawyers to get financial information. Investigators can issue subpoenas to financial institutions and get records from the Treasury Department.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.

HOWELL: Pamela, thank you for the reporting. In the early days of the Trump presidency we learn that he had a couple of less than diplomatic phone calls with two key allies. The Mexican president and the Australian prime minister. Now, those transcript of those conversations they've been leaked to the Washington Post.

CNN's Jim Acosta has details for us.

JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It was a key campaign promise pushed by then-candidate Donald Trump time again, not just a wall on the border with Mexico but a wall that Mexico will fully fund.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're going to build that big, beautiful wall. A big, beautiful wall. And we're going to have a door in the wall and people are going to come into our country but what are they going to do? They are going to come in legally.

Who is going to pay for the wall? Who is going to pay for the wall? Who is going to pay for that wall?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: But in transcripts the President Trump's January phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto obtained by the Washington Post, it's clear there are cracks in that promise of a wall. In the call, Mr. Trump says if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that. I am willing to say that we will work it out. But that means it will come out in the wash and that is OK. Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.

Pena Nieto stood firm saying, "But my position has been and will continue to be very firm," saying that "Mexico cannot pay for that wall." The president's response, "but you cannot say then to the press. The press is going to go with that. And I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The president also appears the chalk of his victory in the New Hampshire primary to the states opioid drug crises. Mr. Trump tells a Mexican president "I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug infested den."

That comment drew bipartisan criticism from New Hampshire officials with the states GOP governors saying the president is wrong. It's disappointing his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things the state has to offer.

Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan was even tougher.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAGGIE HASSAN, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: His words were disgusting. They are an outraged. And my message really is this. He should stop insulting people and instead work with us to get to resources to our state and states all around the country who are also challenged by this epidemic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Another leaked transcript comes from the president's call with the Australian prime minister that reveals the two leaders bickering over Obama an administration plan to welcome refugees from Australia.

During the conversation, the president says he had a much friendlier call earlier in the day with Russia's Vladimir Putin. "It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I am concerned, that is enough. Malcolm, I have had it. I've been making these calls all day and that is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous."

The president had said that any reports of a testy call were fake news. The tense exchange leaked earlier this year made a splash on Saturday Night Live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I'm tired and cranky and I feel like I could just freak out on somebody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then maybe you should Australia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, thank you for still accepting our refugees.

BALDWIN: Only say what? No refugees. America first. Australia sucks. You rip us daily. Prepare to go to work.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: As about those leaks transcripts once again an aid to the president said the White House won't be commenting on those conversations that officials did reiterate the opioid crisis remains a concern for the president.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

[03:09:59] HOWELL: Jim, thanks for the reporting. Let's get some context now with Jacob Parakilas. Jacob is the deputy head of the U.S. and Americas program at Chatham House live in our London bureau this hour. Jacob, it's good to have you with us.

Let's go ahead and pivot first going back to these two developing stories we're following. First, the red line that Mr. Trump drew with regards to his financial businesses, his dealings. The same president who has criticized his predecessor for drawing red lines and not taking action. Now Mr. Trump in that same position a line has been crossed, Jacob, what will you do?

JACOB PARAKILAS, ASSISTANT PROJECT DIRECTOR, CHATHAM HOUSE: It's not clear what he will do. Congress is beginning to suggest and it's beginning to introduce legislation that would protect Bob Mueller and his special investigation against attempted interference from the White House.

You've seen a couple of bills introduced by republican senators by democratic senators. Of course those bills will have to be signed into law or pass to the veto of proof majority.

So it's not clear whether to what extent those will actually sort of service more than shot across the bow of the White House. But unlike the Obama red line or previous red lines drawn by other president this is about an internal investigation and targets of investigation for people who are people of interest and investigations don't get a lot of say generally and how they are conducted.

HOWELL: Jacob, so we also know about this new grand jury that's been impaneled a sign that Mueller's investigation is growing.

PARAKILAS: Yes, I think that something that, you know, it's certainly -- it's certainly news. I think it's more or less expected news in order to issue subpoenas in order to compel witness testimony, which is a critical part of building a case, Mueller would need a grand jury.

So it's a sign that it's not just a counterintelligence investigation that they are looking at potential criminal wrongdoing. On the other hand, it doesn't inherently mean that indictments are coming. It just means that Mueller is being very thorough at least being very fastidious but I think people knew that already.

HOWELL: The president has indicated from time to time, you know, his consideration about Mueller, his job, the role, he has called this a witch hunt, but the question remains, does the president have the ability to limit Mueller's investigation?

PARAKILAS: We get there into that strange space between his legal authority and his actual authority because she could legally sort of reach into the Justice Department and compel them if they were to change some of their rules and procedures to limit Mueller's authority.

Now that would be a really significant and dangerous deviation from the norms that govern the Justice Department independence from the top of the executive branch and I think it would provoke widespread protest.

So the question there is one of the difference between sort of statutory power and can this, is this something that he can actually do, is this something that he can actually get away with, and they are fundamentally the question is what will Congress do. HOWELL: Jacob, as you know the president obviously he won the

presidency back in January but still maintains that the role of campaigning throughout the country. He was onstage in West Virginia doing just that. And listen to how he is categorizing all the investigations. The questions that have been related to the Russia topic. Let's listen, and we can talk about it here on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They can't beat us at the voting booths so they are trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want. They're are trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us, and most importantly demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Jacob, essentially there on stage the message they are attacking me. So in fact they are attacking you, but more so, they are attacking the country. It's a rallying cry to some but polls do indicate that his base is preying in other areas.

PARAKILAS: Yes, and certainly there brought a broad-based support of the public for clear, fair, impartial investigation and in highly polarized time I think Mueller is one of the few people remaining who has sort of a widespread sort of set of respect across both parties.

So, well, I think that sort of line of attack or line of defense might work to some degree I think it's also running up against a very difficult environment for Trump. I mean, I understand why he is making the argument. I just I'm not sure it's going to have much currency beyond the part of the country that's already committed to him

HOWELL: Eight fourteen in the British capital, Jacob Parakilas, live for us this hour. Thank you for the insight today. The president didn't mention the new reports about the grand jury on Thursday but he did lash out at the Russia investigation.

In general, as you heard. Listen again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There were no Russians in our campaign, there never were. We didn't win because of Russia. We won because of you, that I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:15:01] HOWELL: That was the tone in the U.S. State of West Virginia. Now let's get the view in Moscow. CNN's Oren Liebermann is live this hour. Oren, we've seen relations between these two nations reach new lows just over the last week.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Absolutely. And both the U.S. and Russia have acknowledged that. It was Secretary of State Rick Tillerson who said relations were at their worst since the Cold War and still finding ways to get worse to the point not only the sanctions bill and President Trump's signature of the sanctions bill.

But let's not forget that Vice President Mike Pence was in NATO countries and Montenegro which is an inspiring NATO country on the western border of Russia where he attacked Russia for destabilizing the region and the essentially election meddling and more. Russia fired back at that saying the U.S. needs to stop demonizing Russia.

In short, the relations not getting better anytime soon. Now it is interesting where President pointed his anger. His anger is pointed at Congress over healthcare over sanctions bill, it's pointed at special investigator Robert Mueller. It is not pointed at Russia. Russia seems to acknowledge that because when they fired back the softest tone is reserved for Trump even if they do view him as somewhat weak for not fighting the sanctions bill and finding a way to end it.

So even if there is some relationship between Trump and Putin the U.S./Russia relationship is not getting better anytime soon.

HOWELL: Very important meeting ahead that we will all keep an eye to with Rex Tillerson and Sergey Lavrov meeting over the weekend.

Oren Liebermann, thank you for the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you of course to monitor developments on that.

Still ahead here on CNN newsroom, shocking new details in the Australian terror case. The role that ISIS may have had in trying to bomb a plane ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell.

Residence of one of Dubai's tallest buildings are assessing the damage after a major fire that broke out there. Flames shot up the side of the 84-storey high-rise for two hours before firefighters could put them out. Look at that. Eyewitnesses recorded video showers of burning debris streaming to the ground there dozens of f apartments in flames. But the scale of the damage at this point is still not clear.

The building is only six years old but this is already the second major fire and its name, the torch fire it's disastrously ironic. Just look at the video there you get a sense of what people were dealing with. Thankfully no one was injured in either event.

Since the United States pulled its support for anti-regime rebels in Syria, Russia who supports the president of that nation, Bashar al- Assad's government has taken advantage.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is following the story for us live in Damascus this hour. Fred, it's good to have you with us.

[03:19:59] How's the fight against ISIS changing there from what you've seen?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, George. That was one of the things that the U.S. is always accused both Russia and the Syrian government. They've always said, look, you guys are fighting against moderate rebels here in Syria but not fighting against ISIS and certainly that seems to be changing in a big way.

What the Russians have done, of course, especially after that meeting between U.S. Presidents Trump and Vladimir Putin as they start setting up what they call safe zones here, local ceasefire, which means that the Syrian military in many places, is not fighting against rebels anymore, but is concentrating its firepower against ISIS.

And one of the interesting things that's been happening is that there is now a new front line against ISIS here in Syria and it's the town called Deir-Ezzor which is south of Raqqa, you know that town that we've been talking about so much ISIS' capital.

Well, south of that there is a whole another zone where there's a big battle going on right now between the Syrian military and its allies on the one hand and ISIS on the other hand. And of course, the Russians are involved in the way in that battle as well.

So there is a lot of mention right now on the side of the Syrian military and certainly we seem to be focusing their firepower on that, and it's really changing the way that the whole fight against ISIS is happening here in Syria.

HOWELL: Fred, this is been a long, bloody, a hellish situation throughout Syria.

PLEITGEN: Yes.

HOWELL: I know that from your experience from your travels and reporting on the story you've been through Damascus you've seen that city at many stages. Talk to us about the mood there in that city and how things change given the changes we've seen.

PLEITGEN: Yes, and you know, you're absolutely right. The city and this country really has gone through various different stages during the Civil War that's been going since 2011. You know, we always have to keep that in mind.

There have been shortages here people have been thinking that this place might fall into chaos. But right now the scene is really very different. You know, we were in town last night and it's really amazing to see how many bars and clubs are open, how many people are also out in the street you can tell that for many folks, you know, who have been enduring this hardship for a very long time, you know, either side of the equation that you're on here in Syria. Almost everybody here course has endured hardship.

Many people have lost loved ones, many people have lost their livelihoods. Many people have lost their homes and have to move they've been internally displaced, and so you can really feel the weight falling off a lot of people, them wanting to go out, them wanting to have a good time. It was really amazing to see also how many new shops have open, how many new cafes have open. So, you know, especially here in Damascus and one of these safe zones that we've been talking about, one of this local ceasefire is actually on the outskirts of Damascus in a place called Ghouta which saw a lot of fighting in the past. And really you could feel how much more calm the city is now and how the citizens are taking advantage of that.

And you know, one of the things that people told us is that no matter which side of the equation you're on here in the Syrian conflict a little bit of calm to someone or something that almost everybody here can use after six years of violence, George.

HOWELL: Ten twenty-two a.m. in Damascus, Syria, our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen live for us. Thank you for the reporting and we will stay in touch with.

Moving on now to Australia, police there say they foiled not one but two terror plots. They say an ISIS commander sent explosives from Turkey to be used in an attack on an airliner and two suspects in that plot tried to make a device to spread poison gas.

Let's go live to Sydney. CNN's Anna Coren following the story for us this hour. Anna, so, what have you learn about this investigation. What new do you know?

ANNA COREN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, George, certainly when police addressed the media earlier today was absolutely alarming. The details that they were sharing and they said that they were breaking with protocol. The reason being for being so transparent was that they wanted to allay the concerns of the community here in Australia that they had disrupted the most sophisticated terror plot ever known in Australia.

But look, two men have been charge with terror related offenses that happened overnight. One man is still detained with those offenses relate to two plots, one dating back to less than three weeks ago when a 49-year-old man. One of the men who had been shot walking to Sydney International Airport carrying an IED. Police say it was fully ready to go, fully operational and ready to go.

Now the reason that it didn't go through with the plan and the plan was aborted, we believe that he was checking it on with his brother's luggage and that perhaps it was a waste issue and he aborted the plan walked out of the airport carrying the IED.

Interestingly, George, police say that his brother who boarded this Etihad flight had no knowledge no idea of this plot which is absolutely frightening.

[03:25:01] Now, the second plot was, as you say involved this gas attack. If say a chemical dispersion device made of hydrogen sulfide, and this was not to target the aviation industry, but rather a close crowded area like public transport. Police say that they want that fire along with the planning process but certainly they were having the discussions with ISIS leaders.

And as you mentioned the component for that IED had been flown from Syria, Turkey in actual fact, and came into Australia undetected. So obviously that has raised so many red flags in having learned that information, George.

HOWELL: Wow. The most sophisticated plot ever in that nation. Ana, do we know much more about the men here involved whether investigators have been monitoring them. Do they have any information about them before they were tipped as to their activities?

COREN: Yes, it's a very interesting point because we have to remember that while that first plot was meant to take place less than three weeks ago, police did not learn about it. Intelligence agencies did not learn about it until a week ago.

There was an intelligence tipoff and that is when they began to monitor these men and that lead then to the raids across Sydney that we saw over the weekend in which they searched multiple properties and made multiple arrests.

But certainly as far as we know those men went on a terror watch list. We understand that one of the men has a brother although in Syria who is a known ISIS fighter and that it was he pushed his brother in touch with this ISIS operative back in April. This ISIS operative, George, he was the one who was really operating things remotely, if you like.

He sent those components those military grade explosives via a cargo to Australia where they would then under his instructions put together to make this IED. So, we don't know if they were, had been monitored before that. We do know, however, that there are at least a thousand Australians who are known to police with terrorism links, George.

HOWELL: The sun setting there in Sydney, Australia at 5.27 p.m. Anna Coren, live for us as we learn more about this investigation. Thanks for the reporting there. We'll stay in touch with you as well.

You're watching CNN Newsroom. And still ahead this hour, while the U.S. president's legal trouble appear to be growing his top aide Kellyanne Conway points to his accomplishments. We'll hear from her, next.

Plus, Kenya's presidential election is literally up in the air, literally. We'll tell you how candidates are hoping to soar into new heights as they try to reach the top offices there. Around the world, you're watching Newsroom.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEORGE HOWELL, HOST, CNN: Three thirty a.m. on the U.S. East Coast. Welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

Australian police say that a senior ISIS commanders applied bomb parts in a foiled attack on a passenger plane, they say the parts were sent from Turkey and turned into a full functioning improvised explosive device. Two men have been charged in this alleged plot. Police say they were also trying to make a poison gas device. Firefighters have extinguished a fire that threatened to engulf

Dubai's ironically named Torch tower. It took two hours these firefighters into the high-rises and douses the flames from inside that building. It's the tower's second major fire in less than three years. Neither of it resulted in any injuries.

The U.S. Justice Department is looking at financial dealings by President Trump, by his family, and his businesses all part of the Russia probe. Sources also say the special counsel Robert Mueller has issued grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with the Russian attorney that happened last year.

Let's talk more now about the news of this grand jury investigation and what it means for the special counsel's investigation. CNN legal analyst Page Pate is here with me on set. Page, always a pleasure to have you with us.

PAGE PATE, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Thank you.

HOWELL: So, clearly, Robert Mueller's investigation is ramping up, there is this first grand jury that was inherited from James Comey focused on the former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and now a second grand jury has been impaneled. What can you read into this?

PATE: Well, I think it's clear the investigation has moved into another phase. I mean, when the special counsel was initially appointed to his position what he wanted to do is gather a team which he did, a very competent team, organize the team and say, OK, these groups are going to look at the obstruction issues. This group is going to look at the collusion, the Russian connections, and perhaps both of them will look in the financial transactions.

Once the group is in place and organizes, the next step is evidence gathering and that's what you use a grand jury for. You issue subpoenas to get documents, you can issue subpoenas to get witness testimony, but that is part of evidence gathering, which eventually will be reviewed to determine if there is a crime.

HOWELL: All right. Let's push further just on that evidence gathering. The power of the subpoena, because really a grand jury is a tool for prosecutors.

PATE: Yes.

HOWELL: How broad can this go here?

PATE: Incredibly broad. The only thing a grand jury cannot do is compel someone to testify against their own interests. So, someone may have a Fifth Amendment privilege a constitutional privilege not to incriminate themselves so they can object to a grand jury subpoena, but otherwise, if a grand jury requires a financial institution and entity some company or even an individual to produce records or documents they have to do it or they'll be held in contempt.

HOWELL: Well, let's talk about that because when a grand jury is in place, when the subpoena is used, what is the general feeling one of the optics for the general public.

PATE: Well, grand jury proceedings are supposed to be secret. There is a rule under federal criminal law where no one who conducts the grand jury. No one who participates in a grand jury is supposed to talk about what happens inside that grand jury room, but you can find out because witnesses can talk about it.

So, if a company gets a subpoena requiring them to produce documents it's likely people will find out about it. And so, the optics of having financial institutions that may have dealt with the Trump organization at one time having individuals who had some relationship to either the campaign or the transition team having to go down and I'm here in front of a grand jury, or produce documents that can certainly suggest a lot of activity which may lead to an indictment.

HOWELL: Interesting. OK. CNN also reporting that this investigation now basically following the money, looking into financial transactions of the president when he was a citizen well before he was candidate Trump, well before he was President Trump. Again, this goes to that question of how broad can this go.

Because the president has pointed out, you know, he said, hey, there is a red line, there is a line not to cross here. Can they go as far as they want?

PATE: Well, that's an open question. The special counsel was a creation of the Department of Justice and they gave him a very specific direction. You can look into issues relating to Russia's interference with the U.S. election and anything that directly relates to that.

So, if they are investigating the Russian connection and they stumble upon a financial transaction that looks interesting they're not going to ignore it. Because if that's a potential crime then they can follow the league, they can see where that goes.

[03:34:59] And they can try to determine if even though it may be separate, it is somehow at least a criminal activity that generated their interest by looking at the Russia investigation.

So it can broad. It can go further and further. Now there is an argument that the special counsel may need to get permission from the Department of Justice if he goes too far. Let's say he is investigating tax fraud that the president may have done prior to running for office are certainly prior to taking office.

That he'll probably have to get permission to do and that's going to be a question as to whether or not justice says, OK, you can do it or they step in try to stop him, or even fire him.

HOWELL: Last question just with regards to timing, because I know you have a good sense of this from your own dealings. Given that we have a second grand jury is this moving along pretty quickly?

PATE: I don't think so. And I don't think a case like this can move along very quickly. The subpoena process takes time. Let's say the grand jury issues a subpoena to a bank wanting years of records, banks lawyers are going to call in and say, well, can you give us some additional time. Usually they do it.

So these things go back and forth. And that's assuming the scope of the investigation is narrow. And here I don't think it is. Many months a year or more, certainly a possibility.

HOWELL: There are so many nuances and a lot of detail in this. Page Pate, we always appreciate you being with us. CNN legal analyst. Thank you.

PATE: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: One of President Trump's top aides says the grand jury investigation isn't about Russian interference of the U.S. election, but Kellyanne Conway says the Trump team wants to cooperate with investigators to get the matter settled once and for all.

Here is what she saw -- told my colleague Chris Cuomo on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: The president and his counsel have said repeatedly, including today, anything that accelerates this investigation to its conclusion were all for it. Also everybody has agreed to comply.

Jared Kushner comply last week, went and shared the information that he had with House and Senate officials and then gave a statement right here steps away at the White House.

Obviously, everybody -- look, again, let's look at that meeting that you're talking about and the people like to focus on.

What came of that meeting? I became the campaign manager two short months later. Nobody said to me, hey, we've got the silver bullet, that the secret weapon on how to beat Hillary Clinton. Here it is. Here's the dossier.

The only dossier we know about is the phony baloney thing that apparently was provided by using Russian money, meant to damage candidate Trump. And look at what Donald Trump has done as president.

He is building up the military, we're exporting coal to Eastern Europe, and we took significant and decisive swift action in Syria when Assad was gassing his own people.

None of that was pro-Russia. It's all -- it's all pro-America, and pro-freedom and democracy.

CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: All we know really for sure about the meeting with Don Junior is who was there and why Don Junior was interested in going in the first place, which was at the invitation of a potential chance to get bad information from the Russian government about Hillary Clinton. CONWAY: Well, we actually know more than that. We know more than

that. We know what Don Junior has said, we know what Jared Kushner has said and I think came of the meeting. That Jared Kushner had texted an associate and ask him to please get him out of the meeting because it was a waste of time.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right. We know what they've said. That's true. That those are a couple of sources of information about the meeting, but that...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: And why don't you believe them, why are you ascribing negative motives, nefarious motives to my colleagues into relatives of the president, but we're not...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: How am I doing that?

CONWAY: ... looking at the evidence we have about -- well, you're saying that's what they said.

CUOMO: Yes.

CONWAY: What is leading us to believe is not true? Again, as campaign manager I never had to go as far as Moscow to find anything negative about Hillary Clinton. I just listen to Hillary Clinton.

CUOMO: I understand.

CONWAY: She was a walking treasure box of negative (Inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I understand.

CONWAY: She had no uplifting message, no optimism, and she didn't even run a good campaign. Even Van Jones, your colleague at CNN said she lit a billion dollars on fire. I agree with him.

CUOMO: But regardless of who won the election and how Hillary Clinton handled herself and handled her campaign, it's all irrelevant to the questions of Russian interference.

CONWAY: That's not true.

CUOMO: Of course they are.

CONWAY: If you want to talk about the election we should talk about it -- no, no, no.

CUOMO: I'm not talking about the election. I don't even think that word came out of my mouth until you brought it up. CONWAY: It's not -- no, this investigation is not about Russian

interference. That you know that, right? You're talking, you're conflating too.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I think it is exactly about that. I think one of the reasons that this meeting is so troubling is because what the president had called a hoax, and a witch hunt is now demonstrably not that because Russian people reached out, and not, like, citizens. Not just, like, good people from Russia...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: But I'm asking to what end?

CUOMO: ... but a lawyer of very specific contacts reached out to his son with a solicitation...

CONWAY: Right.

CUOMO: ... of negative information about his political opponent.

CONWAY: Right.

CUOMO: And then either duped him or whatever happened in the meeting happened.

CONWAY: But we had this conversation for months now.

CUOMO: It shows it's not a witch hunt.

CONWAY: No, no, what happened in the meeting? What do we know happened in the meeting? Again, there is...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We know why we went to the meeting but it's hard to know what happened in the meeting.

CONWAY: No, because you just want to re-litigate something from last -- from last week, you don't want to cover the Medal of Honor recipient this week.

CUOMO: Not true.

CONWAY: You don't want to cover that it's the coal miners getting their jobs back.

CUOMO: Not true. It's not an either or. It's not an either or. And you say why don't I believe Jared Kushner.

CONWAY: It isn't your network.

[03:39:59] CUOMO: Why don't I believe Don Junior? One, unfair assumption. I'm not saying that I disbelieve anyone, but you must give a nod to the existence of this fact as well.

The initial statement that Don Junior put out with apparently, the help of his father, was misleading at best about what that meeting was about.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: He, well, first of all, he corrected that...

CUOMO: So, when somebody is misleading, it hurts their credibility on that issue. Fair point.

CONWAY: Well, Chris -- Chris, he has corrected that statement or added to it weeks ago, so I do have to respectfully disagree that somehow CNN is covering all types of issues and not just this one where we basically we're having the same conversation we had a few weeks ago, because you're not -- you're not pushing it forward at all. You're re-litigating something that's already the subject of an investigation.

CUOMO: I hear you. But actually I am. I did advance it.

CONWAY: No, no, no. But hold on. But that's not unfair. What came a bit.

CUOMO: You brought me back. I advanced it by what Mueller just said he is doing. That's the new reporting.

CONWAY: What came of this investigate -- what came of that meeting? That meeting was...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We don't know.

CONWAY: ... completely nothing, and the president himself in Warsaw, I believe at a press conference made very strong statements against interference of any type. But you want your viewers somehow to believe that interference equals impact, and we know that simply is not true.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: That was the counselor to the U.S. president. Kellyanne Conway speaking with my colleague Chris Cuomo there with some of the most recent reaction from the White House.

I want to tell you now about a story about a woman who urged her boyfriend to commit suicide. A U.S. court has sentenced her now to 15 months in prison. In hundreds of text messages Michelle Carter encouraged 18-year-old Conrad Roy to take his own life. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter earlier this year.

Roy locked himself in his pickup truck dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. This happened back in 2014. Carter was on the phone with him as he suffocated never telling him to stop or to call the police for help. Still ahead, Kenyan candidates are looking for the sky literally as they campaign for the top political office in the land. A live report ahead as CNN Newsroom pushes on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back to Newsroom. Polls have been open in Rwanda's presidential election for a couple of hours now. Almost seven million people are eligible to cast ballots across the country and in more than 30 other countries.

President Paul Kagame is widely expected to win a third term there. He's been hailed for modernizing the country after the genocide in 1994 when almost one million Rwandans were killed, but there have also been allegations of repression and violence. He's being challenged by Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green party and independent Philippe Mpayimana.

[03:44:59] In the meantime, the presidential campaign is nearby in Kenya and it's in its final week. That race getting tighter. The incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta is hoping to win a second term. He faces a longtime rival Raila Odinga.

Let's go live to Nairobi. CNN's Farai Sevenzo following the story this hour. Farai, good to have you with us. As this election draws closer the excitement fair to say is on the ground and also in the air, literally.

FARAI SEVENZO, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It's probable George. A very good morning to you from Nairobi. Everyone is talking about the election that candidate themselves have only got today to campaign, tomorrow the campaign is suspended. And of course, the press is all over it, all eyes are on Kenya.

The observers are here, including John Kerry, including some African and former President Thabo Mbeki. But we were interested in finding out how these individuals vying for political office are actually campaigning. There is not cap and election spending and those are the deepest pockets find their way to get their voters as we found out, George.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEVENZO: Well, politicians hoping to pull in a crowd in this Kenyan election, a helicopter may just be the thing, at this opposition campaign rally in the middle of Kenya's Maasai country people can't decide which helicopter to run to. As yet another chopper makes a landing, kicking up dust and drawing people in. They use for efficiency in this vast country and of course flare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lots of campaigning no more here, so we were very happy to see it's coming here.

SEVENZO: Kenya's 2017 general election is approaching the final stretch and the race seems tight. Helicopter after helicopter carrying politicians across the political divide lift-off into the Nairobi skies.

There are more helicopters right now in this country that is any time in Kenya's history. And why is that? Because campaigning by chopper has become all the race in this Kenyan industry. Politicians pay an average of $3,000 an hour to rent one. Kenya's lawmakers landing constituencies where the people whose mostly covered earn a half of that in an entire year.

And the presence of so many choppers has produced a worrying trend. They're calling it the James Bond effect.

GILBERT KIBE, DIRECTOR GENERAL, KENYA CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY: The James Bond is a figure of speech the individual who decides that who want a free ride in a helicopter and the thing that it would be fun.

SEVENZO: One James Bond chopper grabber told CNN that he hung on to the chopper because others had been given something and he'd missed out. Kenya's civil aviation authority notice the number of visits to rise and made public service announcement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shall not accept to see ever again a James Bond. If you see something that looks dangerous, please, inform us.

SEVENZO: One by one the little bird lift-off leaving the voters bemused. As they wave the politicians away beneath the departing choppers there is no sign of James Bond for now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SEVENZO: And there you have it, George, it's fascinating to see it happen. You remember, the way Kenyan election works is very different. It's a very open sort of first pass proposed kind of election system pure democracy, but what happened that even if a man loses the primary t elect him in one seat or another he can run as an independent. Why, because his wallet allows him to do that.

So, it's going to be interesting because thousands of individuals are going for this election, not just Mr. Uhullulu -- and other Mr. Odinga. It's many, many individuals vying for political office and we will find out on Tuesday, 8th of August just who they choose amongst all those people, George.

HOWELL: We will soon see, Farai, I also saw you stepping out of that helicopter. Hope you can get a ride as well. Farai Sevenzo, live for us. Thank you so much for the reporting today.

The football world is known for throwing around a lot of cash but one Brazilian star is taking things well, to another level. His record- setting deal as the Newsroom continues.

[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back. In just a few hours' time Venezuela's new legislative assembly will be inaugurated. Prosecutors are asking the courts to hold the process though. The opposition is calling last week's vote, electing the new assembly unconstitutional. And the U.S. says that it will not recognize it saying the election was, quote, "rigged from the start."

There are protests planned against and for, and in favor of the president of that nation, Nicolas Maduro on Friday outside of the legislative palace.

Brazilian football star, Neymar, will have to start brushing up on his French but he'll have plenty of money to pay for that lesson beforehand. He is heading to the Fresh club Paris Saint-Germain on record shattering deal.

Our Patrick Snell has details for us.

PATRICK SNELL, SPORTS REPORTER, CNN: So at long last the wait is finally over. French league on giant Paris Saint-Germain have now confirmed that Brazilian superstar Neymar has joined on a five-year deal for a world record an eye watering $262 million fee. But if you think this first day past of without a hitch you'd be very much mistaken.

This deal now shattering the previous mark of around $150 million that Manchester United pay for Pau Pogba last year. Neymar's lawyers had paid the sum required, but only offer a twist. Spain's top La Liga are not happy with the move. It's believed Neymar will earn around a $1 million a week before tax with the total outlay put at around $525 million.

Now, in a statement, the man himself giving this reaction. "I'm extremely happy to be joining Paris Saint-Germain. Since I arrived in Europe the club is always been one of the most competitive and most ambitious and the biggest challenged. What most motivated me to join my new teammates is to help the club to conquer the titles of their fans once. Paris Saint-Germain's ambition attracted me to the club, along with the passion and the energy. This brings, I played four seasons in Europe and I feel ready to take the challenge. From today, I will do everything I can to help my new teammates to open up new horizons for my club and to bring happiness to its millions of supporters around the world."

Well, earlier, on Thursday, Spanish officials had rejected the payment on the grounds that any deal for the former Santos that might violate European footballs financial fair play guidelines. Something which BSG, by the way, had already full and followed back in 2014. The financial payroll preventing clubs from running up huge deficits in their quest for star power.

In statement, Neymar's former club saying on Thursday afternoon, "Neymar Junior's legal representatives visited in person the club's offices and made the payments of Euro 222 million and the player's name with regard to the unilateral termination of the contract that United both parties. As such, the club will pass on to UEFA the details of the above operation so that they can determine the disciplinary responsibilities that may arise from this case."

Neymar is expected to be reeled on Friday in the French capital Paris, it's the big-money move that has the world of football talking.

Patrick Snell, CNN.

HOWELL: Patrick, thank you.

Computer wizards from around the world are in Tehran this week, the Iranian capital is hosting a major high-tech contest, but the United States ignored its invitation. A new sanctions from Washington are casting a shadow over that event, as our Nick Paton Walsh reports.

NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: At a time when Washington wants Iran isolated here it is playing to host to 80 different nationalities of nerds. The international Olympiad and informatics are competition for teenagers who are really, really good with computers.

As diplomatic daunts between Iran and America stiffens was stopped entirely. America has been invited, organizer say, but since (Inaudible) instead.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

He's a Chinese passport holder educated in the U.S. the American citizens were told were invited didn't come.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were 80 countries here and the missing country is U.S.

WALSH: What did you think of Donald Trump?

[03:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think American people serve much better.

WALSH: Nuclear sanctions made help Iran's domestic I.T. sector boom particularly among the young. Where talks of sanctions returning meant dreams of foreign work fade for Iran's men is here.

Would you like to work at Apple or Microsoft one day in America?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I definitely think about.

WALSH: What is this the sanctions and the bad relations between Washington and Iran, does that make you worry that may not be possible?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's not impossible but part, and I believe the program is not in our side but the sanctions are coming from the United States. So, for example, getting here work visa is really hard.

WALSH: What do you think of Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I prefer to stay quite.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: Iran and America headed back to a darker place signed in the weeds of America's own embassy here where U.S. diplomats were held hostage for 444 days accused Obama of being a Jihadist sympathizer. And CNN of being a snake in this very grass.

This place will always represent the lowest points in U.S.-Iranian diplomatic relations arguably but it's peaked in recent decades the nuclear agreements between the Obama White House and Tehran has never really seem quite so much on the threats and it showed lifespan the Trump administration clear about the contempt they hold in even seeing Iran is perhaps the key number one regional threats.

The question though for younger Iranians here is if diplomacy what might that do their dreams of broader global economic liberty. All gloating young dreams hanging on the deal fragile as ever on Trump's hands.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Tehran, Iran.

HOWELL: That's a view from Iran. And we thank you for being with us this hour at the CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. The news continues with my colleague Isa Soares live in London.

Thank you for watching the Cable News Networks, CNN, the world's news leader.

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