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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
White House Ends Readouts of Trump's Calls With World Leaders; Polls Close In Georgia Runoff Primary Elections; GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Condemn State Rep. in Sacha Baron Cohen Video; Alleged Russian Spy Set to Appear in Court; Trump to Help Farmers Hurt by Trade War, Gives $12 Billion; Trump's Push to Drill in Alaska Pits Neighbor Versus Neighbor; Singer Demi Lovato Hospitalized After Apparent Overdose. Aired on 7-8p ET
Aired July 24, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:11] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, a CNN exclusive. The White House will no longer issue summaries to the public of President Trump's phone calls with world leaders, a major break from his predecessor's protocol. This as the President goes full speed ahead for a second one-on-one with Vladimir Putin.
And Trump tells supporters, don't believe what you read or hear or see about him. A stunning statement by the President of the United States, what's he talking about? And our special OUTFRONT series about oil drilling in Alaska, the President is going full steam ahead with that. Can you believe in climate change and still say "drill, baby, drill?" Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, a CNN exclusive this hour. President Trump suspending White House protocol. Tonight, he says, no longer going to release summaries of his calls with foreign leaders. It is a major break from long- standing White House protocol. This breaking news from our Kaitlan Collins coming as Russian president Putin gives Trump what appears to be the runaround. But Kremlin, as they tell you things, right, says it's received Trump's highly touted invitation for a second summit in Washington, D.C.
Tonight a Russian aide, though, saying Putin's not ready. Telling reporters, quote, "I think it would be wise to let the dust settle and then we can discuss all of these questions in a business night way, but not now." Not now? That is hardly an embrace of an invitation to come to the White House.
I mean, you know, Trump didn't seem to be aware of that, because he's still plowing full steam ahead with his summit. He had his press secretary announce it on Twitter, as we know, surprising his own top intelligence chief, also tweeting that he's, quote, "looking forward to the meeting with Putin." Talking about that they're going to talk about more issues discussed in the last summit, issues so important the President's own secretary of state today suggested the outcome of the Helsinki summit is going to go down in history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The President has been clear about some of the things we've agreed to. We're going to begin to put together a business council. There will be places that will stop attractive processes. There were many things that came from what I view as incredibly important meeting between President Trump and President Putin, one that I'm, I think the world will have benefited from, when history is written.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What are those many things? Well, most of the things we know of from the Helsinki summit, let's just be frank, have come from Russia, right, because the president wouldn't let anyone else in the room other than his interpreter. Military agreements about Syria as well as a reported proposal that could give Crimea to Putin, possibly Eastern Ukraine going to a referendum, the lack of details is probably why more and more Republicans are telling Trump to slow it down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you think about this idea of bringing Putin back for a second summit after the way the first summit went?
REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R), ILLINOIS: I don't necessarily know if it's a good idea.
REP. MIKE COTTMAN (R), COLORADO: Well, I think the first summit was a terrible mistake. I think a second summit would be equally bad.
RAJU: Do you think that he got played by Putin?
COTTMAN: Absolutely, no question about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: No question about it, played by Putin. Just to be clear, that was a Republican that you saw saying that, and you heard saying that. He's not the only one slamming Trump for that summit. Former Republican governor, New Jersey governor, Christine Todd Whitman called Trump unfit for office after his meeting with Putin, saying, "We must put aside the GOP label as hard as that may be and demonstrate the leadership our country needs by calling on the President to step down."
Now, that's absurd. The President is not going to step down. But will he step aside from the second summit that Putin seems to be panning? Paul Ryan today, making it clear that Putin is certainly not welcome in the halls of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Are you comfortable with Vladimir Putin coming to Washington to meet with the president?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We would certainly not be giving him an invitation to do a joint session. That's something we reserve for allies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Russia is not an ally, just to state the obvious, at least the obvious to pretty much everybody but the president. It's been nearly 17 years since Putin last stepped foot in Washington, right? This would be a hugely momentous occasion. At the time, it was a three-day summit with then President George W. Bush. There are good reasons that he has not been back in 17 years. Here's the President's UN ambassador.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, US AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: We don't trust Russia. We don't trust Putin. We never will. They're never going to be our friend. That's just a fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: She says that, opposite of what her boss says. Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live at the White House. And, Kaitlan, you know, this criticism of the President regarding Putin, and Putin frankly telling -- seeming to say, hey, I don't know, maybe when I get to it. I'm not jumping at this invitation, could be hitting home. You have some big breaking news from the White House. They're changing how they handle calls with foreign leaders now.
[19:04:59] KAITLAN COLLINS: Erin, this is big. The White House is no longer going to publish these public summaries of the readouts of the President's calls with foreign leaders. And that brings to an end a common practice, not only in Democratic, but also Republican White Houses that has gone on for some time now, essentially to establish the record that the president did speak with a world leader. They don't often have a lot of news, but they do have a public record of who the president spoke with.
We've seen this play out in recent days. The White House not announcing calls that the President had with the president of Turkey and the prime minister of Israel. The press found out about those calls through either the foreign media or those foreign governments. And then the White House confirmed them, but did not offer details on what exactly was said during those calls.
Now, in the past, they've issued very short summaries of what exactly was said. They've talked about tariffs or trade or Middle East policies. Anything like that can be involved in those calls. That's no longer going to happen. Instead, these readouts will still happen internally, but they will not any longer issue these things to the press, as they have done in the past.
Now, former administration officials who have served in previous administrations have expressed some concern about this, number one, saying that it's the White House not being transparent, by not publishing these calls. But two, they also lose their opportunity to shape the narrative of what was said during a call with a foreign leader. You'll recall back in April, as there was all of this discussion about trade with Canada and the White House published a very different readout than the Canadians did of the President's call with the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Those things are no longer going to happen. Instead, the Canadians will be able to publish their readout, but the White House is not going to do the same. Now, of course, Erin, all of this comes as there are still questions about what was said during the president's sit-down with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, but now we are learning that the White House is no longer going to be announcing and publishing these public summaries of President Trump's calls with world leaders.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. Obviously, a significant development this evening, as team Putin says, you know, whatever, when we get around to it for this meeting, that you've invited us to in Washington, first in 17 years.
OUTFRONT now, the top Democrat in the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler. Congressman, I want to get your reaction first to Kaitlan's reporting. The White House no longer going to put out its own version, like its readout, right, its way of shaping the narrative on these crucial calls with foreign leaders. Does it matter?
REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Yes, it matters. It means the president is not going to take the American people into his confidence and the American people should know less about what's going on, because apparently he doesn't trust the American people or trust the democratic process. So he can make private deals with other countries or what he thinks are private deals and it's no business to the American people. That's anti-democratic and it's authoritarian.
BURNETT: Well, of course, you know, here's the thing. When it comes to the summit, as an example, right, Putin has been putting out his version bit by bit, right? Saying Trump agreed to a referendum in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and all sorts of things that are completely against US policy. I mean, are you going to do anything about this? Or it's the President's prerogative to put or not put out these summaries?
NADLER: Well, I don't know that we can force the President to put out the summary. We can criticize him for it but the fact that we can hold hearings and ask the administration what was done if Congress would be willing to confront the President. But under the Republican leadership, we're not holding hearings on anything intelligent or certainly not anything to confront the President or his administration.
Whether it's on the child abuse at the borders or whether it's on the fact that the President humiliated himself and the United States at the summit, that the United States -- that he believed Putin's assurances over all of our intelligence agencies about the Russian's interference in our elections, or the fact that the President is not doing anything to protect our next elections from an ongoing attack by the Russians. Congress is supine under the Republican leadership. BURNETT: Obviously, you know, the latest we have, I believe it was from Chief Rogers was, you know, nothing -- they haven't been given any authority by the President to go ahead and do anything about an attack on the elections. That's the latest statement we have.
I mean, the Russians today said, about this invitation, that the president has issued, right, they've acknowledged they've gotten it, right. They've invited us to Washington. Their comment was I think it would be wise to let the dust settle, and then we can discuss all of these questions, but not now? I mean, why is Putin not jumping at this?
NADLER: Because he humiliated the President and now he's playing with him. Now, he's just running a victory lap. Again, it's insulting to the United States. And how could the president have announced that he was inviting Putin to the United States without getting an acceptance behind the scenes first?
BURNETT: I want to turn to the House Speaker Paul Ryan. You know, you obviously saw what he said today about Putin, right? He said he's not welcome in our House because he's not an ally, right? Couldn't be more clear about it. He also spoke today about the White House's suggestion, right?
[19:10:00] Not just a suggestion, right, but they said that they are looking into the mechanisms to strip security clearance from former intelligence chiefs, including John Brennan and James Clapper, right? Others that they mentioned already don't have security chiefs. Let me play Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: I think he's trolling people, honestly. I think some of these people have already lost their clearances. Some people keep their clearances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trolling? That's all it is? I'm sorry, Congressman, can you still hear me?
NADLER: Yes, I can now.
BURNETT: OK, I'm sorry. So what Paul Ryan said, let me just read to you what he said.
NADLER: I heard what he said.
BURNETT: You heard, OK, he said, I think he's trolling people. It sounded like he was making light of it. Do you agree with that analysis? Just trolling?
NADLER: No, this is punishing distinguished public servants who devoted their careers to serving the safety of the American people. It's punishing them for expressing their opinions. It's another attempt to say that we control all the information and we don't want criticism. And I think that is wrong and dangerous.
BURNETT: I also want to play you what the attorney general said today, Jeff Sessions. He was speaking to a crowd today. And I want to play for you what happened. This, obviously, is a reference to Hillary Clinton. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Lock her up?]
JEFF SESSIONS, US ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, so -- I heard that a long time, over the last campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You obviously know the attorney general, right? A colleague of yours over on the Senate side for years. You oversee the Department of Justice, which he of course runs. And often he does so while the President threatens him with his job. Is what happened today appropriate? We do anything about it?
NADLER: No, it's not appropriate. It was a missed opportunity. I mean, there were bunch of kids-- I think the audience is bunch of kids and it was a missed opportunity to educate them and to say, look, that was a partisan chant. And the fact she was charged with nothing. We know a crime was committed during the 2016 election and that crime was committed by the Russians in attacking our elections and by various people in the Trump campaign, by cooperating with them. And that's under investigation.
That's a serious crime. And the next serious crime would be not to do anything to protect our current elections. And look what the House just did. The House Republicans just voted to zero out all funds for helping states protect their own election machinery. That is the risk of abetting criminal activity by the Russians trying to destroy confidence in our democracy.
And this nonsense about "lock her up" ought to be relegated to a previous year. And let's talk about what we ought to be doing to protect our democratic institutions. We have a President who trashes the courts, trashes our police agencies, trashes every institution that might put any limit on his power and that might investigate what happened and might protect us in the future.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Nadler. To me, you know, hearing that was sort of reminiscent of John McCain and that famous moment where he said, "No, no, no, ma'am. No, ma'am."
NADLER: That's exactly right.
BURNETT: You know, a moment where he could at least say, we just don't talk like that. All right, thank you so much.
NADLER: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, breaking news, polls closing in a key state tonight. We are watching a lot of close runoff races. They're all important here. A Republican meantime comparing the blue wave that he sees coming to a 500-year flood. Can Democrats actually pull that off?
Plus, the alleged Russian spy about to appear in court, her lawyer is live OUTFRONT tonight. And breaking news, pop star Demi Lovato hospitalized, an apparent drug overdose. The reason, we're learning more about what happened tonight.
[19:17:20] BURNETT: Breaking news. Polls just closing in Georgia, several high-stakes runoffs tonight with big implications for the midterms. Trump, himself, weighing in on the governor's race in Georgia today, tweeting, "Today is the day to vote for Brian Kemp, will be great for Georgia, full endorsement." The Republican winner facing Democrat Stacy Abrams, who would be America's black female governor if she won.
Tonight's polls closing as a top election forecaster is shifting, 17 House races away from sure Republican wins. That would be a sea change. Larry Sabato's crystal ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics is moving eight House races to toss-up. These were all eight of them lean Republican, now in pure toss-up. Is there a blue wave coming?
I'm using that word, because that's what a Republican is calling it today. I want to go now to Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor at Sabato's Crystal Ball. He's the one who wrote this piece today on the shift, April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks' White House Correspondent and our Senior Political Analyst, Mark Preston.
Kyle, you did the research here. We're talking about 17 races shifting, eight of them specifically going from lean Republican to toss-up. What's causing the shift?
KYLE KONDIK, MANAGING EDITOR, SABATO'S CRYSTAL BALL: Well, I think it's big picture factors and also individual factors in these districts. So, you know, for much of this cycle, we've seen that, you know, the President's approval ratings have been kind of in the low 40s. The House generic ballot, a national poll that asks the voters whether they're going to ask for a Democrat or a Republican in their respective house district.
It's been around a lead of about, democratic lead of about six to eight points, which is about in the range where you would think that the Democrats would have a decent chance to win the House. We just got the second quarter fund-raising reports from the FEC for April through June. Dozens of House Republicans got out-raised by their Democratic challengers. Some of those races are among the ones that we moved today.
And also, history just suggests that, you know, when a party takes control of the White House, as the Republicans did in 2016, there's often a price to be paid more that. And 36 of the 39 midterms since the civil war, the president's party has lost ground in the House. So you put all of that stuff together, and you could start to see how the Democrats could net the 23 seats they need to win control of the US House.
BURNETT: All right. So there, you know, there's lot of Democrats who are really thrilled to hear you say that. April, I want to mention those. Some Democrats I've spoken to, they say, look, you know, the number Kyle puts out there, 23, and they go, gosh, we might only get five. They're terrified that they just don't have the excitement and the enthusiasm to deliver on what Kyle is saying could be possible. Do you think Democrats can actually pull this off?
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Let me say this, Erin. Politics is personal. And for this political season, it is about how personal is the politics for you, and if you go to the polls.
[19:20:04] This is just a moment, a straw holes moment of the time. We've still got a little ways to go. And if the elections were to happen today, there's a lot of discontent. And people are revved up to go. But what happens in November for some of those elections in November?
You know, and I think about how the GOP, it's in favor for the GOP, when you have white people who -- white GOP members who like to go to the midterms. They are known to go to the midterm elections. Also, there are issues of the economy. It's doing well. Also, you have gerrymandering.
A. RYAN: So you've some things that are in favor of the Republicans, but then you have Democrats who are very upset about this climate. The NAACP is talking about vote now because of the atmosphere of hate. You've got people who are on the immigration issue who are very upset. Again, going back to the issue, the politics is personal. And how personal is it for you? It determines if you go to the polls and vote.
BURNETT: So -- and that's the crucial question, mark. Now, you know, Kyle is going through some of the numbers he's been running, right, for the House. On the Senate side, a senior democratic senator told me recently that he thinks Democrats can take the Senate. He thinks it's going to be 51. Possible?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, anything is possible in this political environment. I think that is rather ambitious, given where these races are playing out. Ten of these races are playing out in states that Donald Trump won by double digits. Let's just take three of those away, such as Michigan and a couple of others. And you're looking at incumbents that are in very, very difficult races right now.
PRESTON: Democratic incumbents, meaning Bill Nelson down in Florida, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp out in North Dakota, Joe Donnelly in Indiana. The reason why we say is --
BURNETT: By the way, he has all of those as wins. Of course.
PRESTON: He has all of those as wins. And they're all different states, mind you. So Trump country isn't just in the middle of the country, right, Erin?
BURNETT: That's right.
PRESTON: It is pockets around and that is going to be difficult for Senate Democrats.
BURNETT: So, Kyle, this whole issue of the blue wave, right? That I was referring to Republican Representative Kevin Yoder. He's from Kansas. He told David Drucker of the Washington Examiner about his campaign saying, quote, "My assumption is, we could be heading towards a 500-year flood, a Democratic wave." Now, those are some big -- those are some big words. What do you say, Kyle? Realistic?
KONDIK: Well, look, you know, Yoder is an interesting case because he's one of the 25 Republicans that represent a district that Hillary Clinton won in the last presidential election. You know, in 2010, we had the Republicans pick up 63 seats, but part of the reason for that was that the Democrats were defending almost 50 seats that John McCain had won in the previous presidential election. So I mentioned that there were just 25 of those so-called crossover seats.
And so, the Republicans aren't as exposed in 2018 as the Democrats were in 2010. However, you know, if things break right for the Democrats, I think you could see them pick up significantly more than the 23 seats they need, you know, 30, 40, maybe even 45 seats, something like that. And I think that would probably classify from Yoder's perspective, as sort of a huge wave.
BURNETT: It sure would. And I just have to say, you know, when I'm hearing the Democrat strategist who was telling me, what if we only get five seats from the 23. And you're saying possibly 45. I mean, it's amazing how uncertain the situation is.
And as we have this poll closing tonight, Mark, in Georgia, right? There is this whole side story that's become much more of a front story than the candidates want. One Georgia Republican making waves that state representative Jason spencer, who actually went on an episode of Sacha Baron Cohen's new series. In which Cohen post an Israeli terrorism expert convinced Spencer that saying the N-word would help for terrorist. This actually happened, this is actually real. Let me play it for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SACHA BARON COHEN, BRITISH ACTOR: In America, there is one forbidden word. It is the N-word. Now, I am going to be the terrorist. You have three seconds to attract attention. Go.
JASON SPENCER, GEORGIA LAWMAKER: (Inaudible).
COHEN: Are you crazy? The N-word is nuni, not this word. This word is disgusting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And then Spencer pulled his pants down after being told it would scare terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: We say in the Mossad -- I mean, not in the Mossad, if you want to win, you show some skin.
COHEN: OK, show it to me. Now, try to touch me.
SPENCER: I'll touch you. I'll touch you with my buttocks. I'll touch you. Drop the gun or I'll touch you. USA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, yes. I see the look on your face, Mark. I can see the look in your face.
PRESTON: USA, how about that?
BURNETT: The two gubernatorial candidates here, Kemp and Kagel, in this runoff today, have condemned everything about this, right? But yet they were forced to talk about it.
PRESTON: Yes, they were. I mean, look, this is very embarrassing. This is a terrible thing right now for the Republican Party, because you have one individual who is a Republican, who is now saying and doing things that cast terrible aspirations upon the Republican Party as a whole, OK?
[19:25:07] So that in itself -- I should point out that that state rep is not somebody who was necessarily well liked in Georgia amongst his colleagues, somebody who had lost a primary and is going to be out of office in five months anyway. So good chance we won't see him around.
But I will say this, though. Talk about this Georgia race, you know, we'll get a Republican nominee tonight, wow! Because you have two candidates right now on the Republican side that are running so far to the right. I mean, they've talked about -- Kemp has talked about driving around the state of Georgia in his pickup truck and picking up illegal immigrants and taking them back to Mexico. So you have that.
And then as you pointed out at the top, Stacy Abrams, who is this progressive firebrand that could be the first African-American governor ever elected. It's amazing.
BURNETT: It's amazing. And the choice is stark, just to be clear, when you talk about Kemp driving around in his pick up truck, picking up illegal immigrants we should say, again, Trump came out today with a full-throated endorsement of Kemp. April, pretty incredible though that you have a video like that. That became that the Republicans candidates, where we're going to get the results here momentarily, had to talk about.
RYAN: Yes. You know, this is Sacha Baron Cohen just played on the climate right now. And for some business, what they want. This is the political incorrectness that we're seeing from the head. And, you know, this candidate felt it was OK.
But, you know, it comes out of state of Georgia, where you have a potential African woman to be the new governor of that state, turning this to Stacey Abrams, turning it purple. We're not in a moment in 2018 where we should be doing that kind of thing. We're going backwards instead of forwards.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all so very much. I appreciate it. And next, the alleged Russian spy, Maria Butina's cryptic message to Russia after Trump win. What did she mean? Four lawyers is my guest. Plus, our special OUTFRONT series Bill Weir tonight on the ground in Alaska, at the town at the heart of one of Trump's most controversial moves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN HOST: There are three top conversations most days, polar bears, the weather and Donald Trump.
Are you a fan of President Trump?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:30:13] BURNETT: New tonight, alleged Russian spy Maria Butina about to have her second court hearing. She remains behind bars this evening, held without bail, labeled a flight risk.
CNN now reporting that Butina had access to high-level U.S. government officials attending meetings with Stanley Fisher, then the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Nathan Sheets, then the treasury undersecretary for international affairs in the Obama administration.
OUTFRONT now, Maria Butina's attorney, Bob Driscoll.
And, Bob, I really appreciate your time.
So many questions as this story develops for you. The U.S. government says your client is a, quote, serious flight risk. Government attorneys saying her lease was up at the end of this month. Her boxes were packed. They have proof, they say, she was planning to move money outside of the United States.
Are you saying all of that's false?
ROBERT DRISCOLL, ATTORNEY FOR ALLEGED SPY MARIA BUTINA: Yes. I mean, in large part, the government was well aware she was moving to South Dakota with her boyfriend, because I informed the government of that at the end of June. And so, there was no surprise on the government's part that she was packing her boxes.
She did, in fact transfer money to Russia to pay her credit card bill, which was with a Russian bank. So, she is not a flight risk in any way. In fact, she's been receiving media exposure for well over a year. All of these different connections people are bringing up now have been published online for a long time.
And she has not fled. She testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee rather than go back to Russia. And she stuck around after her apartment was searched in April.
So, I don't think -- I mean, if she was going to leave, I think she would have left. And I think the government's argument was a little bit disingenuous, particularly because I let them know exactly where she was moving to at the time she was moving.
BURNETT: So, look, they also say your client trained as a spy in Russia. They say she's sophisticated.
Look, you're an American lawyer, right? I mean, you're an American. Are you sure that she's telling you the truth, Bob? Are you really confident in that?
DRISCOLL: Well, the government -- I just want to clarify, the government has not charged her with being a spy. They haven't alleged that she was trained as the spy. The government has not brought any espionage charges at all.
They've brought a failure to register as a foreign agent case, which is something very different.
DRISCOLL: So she hasn't been involved in any classified information. She hasn't done anything kind of spy-like. And you know, there's been nothing that she has told --
BURNETT: Well, they can use the words they're using, but they're saying she trained as that. They're saying, so to your point, OK, they're not going that far in the complaint, but that's what they're saying. I mean, you're saying you're confident that she's telling you the truth. You feel that you know the truth?
DRISCOLL: There is nothing she has told me that has been proven incorrect thus far. And there are plenty of things that the government have said that have been either out of context or flat-out false.
So she attended -- let's go back to those meetings that I mentioned when I introduced you, Bob. The meetings with top U.S. treasury officials. She was there alongside a Russian official named Aleksandr Torshin. And I believe you have specified that it was more of a translator role, is how you may have explained it.
BURNETT: The court filing that we have, of course, details a conversation that the two had. Your client, Maria Butina and Aleksandr Torshin had that the night that Trump won the White House.
BURNETT: And they say that Butina told the Russian official whom we understand to be Torshin, quote, I'm going to sleep, it's 3:00 a.m. here, I'm ready for further orders. The Russian official responds, quote, think about which levels of life we could work towards bringing us closer, ISIS, understandably. What else we need to look at? The American agenda.
BURNETT: That doesn't concern? What about -- what is this about "orders"? What orders was she waiting on, do you know?
DRISCOLL: This is one direct message on Twitter among I think over several thousand between the two of them. Maria and Aleksandr Torshin are friends. There's lots of things about dogs, about Russia, about families back and forth. There's plenty of things, and they occasional talked American politics and they talked Russian politics.
So, again, this is an example of cherry-picking. And I think when all of this is put in context -- I mean, at the end of the day, the government after surveilling her for 18 months, they can't really come up with anything she did. There doesn't seem to be any dead drops anywhere, there's no confidential information anywhere.
DRISCOLL: It appears that she went to a bunch of cocktail parties and went to a few nice dinners and that's what the government is calling a conspiracy. But I haven't seen anything that was accomplished of any significance. I mean, one person's infiltrate is another person's attend, I guess.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, they say she offered, you know, people sex in exchange for position, including the boyfriend that you mentioned. But you claim Torshin --
DRISCOLL: And that's something I want to address. I have not seen the evidence for that, and that actually very much upsets me that the government in the course of a detention hearing is bringing up the sex life of my client. I've been asking the government for any evidence that that's true. And I haven't seen it yet.
So, maybe we'll -- maybe it will be forthcoming. Maybe it won't. But I do not personally believe that the government acted appropriately in bringing up those allegations in open court the other day.
[19:35:07] BURNETT: When you mentioned Torshin and Butina are friends, I want to just ask you about that, because Torshin is of 64. Butina is 29. Obviously, we can do the math, 35-year age difference. He's a banker with close ties to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin,
former Russian senator. He's a top deputy at the central bank of Russia.
BURNETT: He refers to Butina at one point, according to the filings, by saying, quote, you have upstaged Anna Chapman, referring to the Russian spy.
I mean, how do two people like this become friends, Bob? I mean, are you comfortable with this? A Kremlin insider, a central bank guy, senator, Putin guy, takes her into a meeting with a vice chair of the Federal Reserve when she's, what, 26 years old? Does this add up to you?
DRISCOLL: Well, Maria founded a gun rights group in Russia and called the right to bear arms. And after she had founded it and it existed for about a year, Torshin became interested in that group. And that's how they became friendly.
And, you know, it's obviously good to have a patron like that if you were in Maria's position. So then when she came to the U.S. to do work, to either visit with the NRA or eventually become a student, when Torshin visited the U.S., she would serve as his translator at the National Prayer Breakfast and at various NRA meetings.
Aleksandr Torshin, just so you know, does not speak any English at all, and so, he needs help when he goes around America and has meetings. And so, she served as his translator for a few trips, as other translators that served for him before.
So, again, I don't think it's really anything to read into it. You know, too much. There's certainly no romantic relationship and they were friendly and that was it.
So I think that, again, people are taking this out of context. And I think if you take the Russia part out of this, it becomes a lot less exciting. And unfortunately, people are, you know, I think filling in the gaps in their mind with the "Red Sparrow" and other popular cultural things rather than looking at the facts of actually what happened.
BURNETT: All right. Bob, I appreciate your time. I look forward to having you back as this case develops. Obviously, high interest and a lot of ties here, as we all know, inauguration, prayer breakfast to various members of the Trump family and campaign. Thank you so much, Bob.
DRISCOLL: Thanks for having me, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, is President Trump in denial about the effect of his trade war?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, our special report. A place full of beauty, some say, though, it is in grave danger with the promise of big oil from President Trump.
[19:41:07] BURNETT: Tonight, the president denying reality when it comes to his tariffs, saying they won't hurt Americans?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The European Union, they're a big abuser. But it's all working out. And just remember what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNET: OK. If what we are seeing and what we are reading is not what is happening, why is the president planning to spend up to $12 billion to bail out American farmers hurt by those tariffs, right? I mean, he's putting real money against something that he says is not real, so that does not add up.
And the Republican senator, Ben Sasse, put it this way, quote: This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and the White House's plan is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
Tom, the president says, do not believe what you see, do not believe what you read. And yet, of course, the facts are facts. They're putting these subsidies out there for a reason. How are American farmers being hurt here?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Because they're being caught between the warring sides.
Look, President Trump has made it very, very clear. Tariffs are the greatest, he says. So when he looks at more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods brought into this country every year, he says, they want to slap tariffs on at least half of them, maybe on all of them, to force China to the bargaining table.
But so far, China has responded by saying, they'll put their own tariffs on about $130 billion worth of American imports. It's a lot less, but it's enough to hurt, and that's where this $12 billion comes in for agriculture.
Specifically what we're talking about here is soybeans. This is the biggest agricultural expert from the United States to China. About $22 billion worth of soybeans are grown for export every year here. And more than half of them go across the ocean to the Chinese market. When those Chinese tariffs kick in and they don't sell so well there
anymore, when they turn more to Argentina and Brazil, that could force that to basically stay at home, creating a glut of soybeans here, driving the prices through the basement, and that's where you need the $12 billion, or at least the White House thinks so. Because what they would do is then pour that $12 billion into the soybean belt of America. See that green part in the middle? That's where most of them are grown.
Helping those farmers, helping those communities, and not incidentally, helping politically, because those are areas that voted overwhelming for the president, who is now pursuing these tariffs -- Erin.
BURNETT: And, of course, you know, any basic econ 101 would know that pouring subsidies is in at the very least distorts the market, it's not a very good thing. But I guess we're not supposed to believe what we see, just believe the cash handout.
Tom, are tariffs the only threat to these farmers?
FOREMAN: No. Since the tariffs talk started and this talk of a trade war began, yes, soybean prices have been depressed. But take a look at this. Back in 2014, the average bushel sold for more than $15 billion -- $15 per bushel of soybeans. Now, it's down to around $8 per bushel. That's the lowest in 10 years.
So, this idea of a stimulus out here, money being spent to help offset the impact, the White House says it's temporary, but it has to overcome not only the fear of a trade war, but also this trend. If not, a lot of farmers in Trump country could be in a lot of trouble -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Tom Foreman.
And next, our special report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Skinny hungry polar bears aren't the only warning sign up here. They're seeing more and more freakish rainstorms in the winter and blizzards in the summer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Skinny polar bears are a depressing and sad sight, and Bill Weir is going to take you to ground zero in the fight between drilling and the environment.
Plus, breaking news, music superstar Demi Lovato hospitalized. It's an apparent drug overdose, obviously front and center for so many Americans. We are live with the latest this hour.
[19:48:19] BURNETT: New tonight, Trump's plan to open up America's last big wilderness to big oil. So, the question is, can you fight climate change and support more drilling?
Well, the senior senator from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski, is trying to do just that. She backs Trump's plan for drilling in the Arctic wildlife refuge.
Here's the second part of our special OUTFRONT series, Bill Weir reporting from Alaska.
WEIR (voice-over): In the little hamlet of Kaktovik, Alaska, the only village inside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, there are three topics of conversation most days: polar bears, the weather, and Donald Trump.
(on camera): Are you a fan of President Trump?
CHARLES LAMPE, RESIDENT OF KAKTOVIK, ALASKA: Yes, he does good things. He does bad things. I'm grateful that he got the bill passed.
WEIR (voice-over): December's tax cut bill also opened the Arctic refuge to drilling. And the government is now moving fast to lease 800,000 acres on this pristine coastal plain. This is where the last great caribou herds give birth, a place brimming with life and beauty, made all the more fragile by a staggering rise in arctic temperature.
PIERS MORGAN, TV HOST: Do you believe in climate change? Do you think it exists?
TRUMP: There is a cooling and there is a heating. The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they're setting records.
WEIR: That is the exact opposite of the truth. And this time lapse of NASA satellite data clearly shows how the relentless burning of fossil fuels is melting the Arctic at a record pace, including the oldest, thickest ice here seen in white.
Which is why more and more emaciated nanook are wandering into town. They need sea ice to make dens and hunt seals, and without it, whale scraps are the next best thing.
[19:50:04] (on camera): But skinny, hungry polar bears aren't the only warning sign up here. That is the Kaktovik airport, and they're moving it away from the coast due in part to sea level rise. They're seeing more and more freakish rain storms in the winter and blizzards in the summer, but at the same time, all the modern creature comforts in this town from the clinic to the school were paid for with oil money.
And with the promise of fresh millions for their native corporation, most of the folks here are eager to tap into the one product that is changing their land forever.
GLEN SOLOMON, KAKTOVIK, ALASKA: What we use for whaling? We use gas and oil. What do we use to go hunt caribou? We use gas and oil. We have this right to develop on our own land.
WEIR: A so-called scoping meeting with federal officials lays bare just how emotionally divisive the issue has become.
ADRIENNE TITUS, UNALAKLEET, ALASKA: Think about what's going to happen to this land if there is an oil spill and the response that's going to come along with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for that message. Can I ask where you are from?
WEIR: That loaded question and the tension in the room shows how much resentment there is for outsiders who want to protect the refuge.
And to the Inupiat here on the coast, those environmental rivals include the Gwich'in tribe up in the mountains, folks fiercely opposed to drilling.
FAITH GEMMILL, NEETSAII GWICH'IN TRIBAL MEMBER, ARCTIC VILLAGE: So, they partnered with the oil companies. We told them our position, our culture, our spirituality, our traditional way of life is based on the caribou, and we're not willing to give it up.
ROBERT THOMPSON, POLAR BEAR GUIDE, KAKTOVIK: I'd say that they have the moral high ground. They're trying to preserve their culture, and the people that are for oil are doing it for money.
WEIR: Back in Kaktovik, Robert Thompson is known as the local anti- drilling gadfly, a wildlife guy who carries a revolver just in case that skinny polar bear gets grouchy.
THOMPSON: This gun is more powerful than Dirty Harry's gun.
WEIR (on camera): Is that right?
(voice-over): He points out that the native-owned Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is worth billions, thanks to royalties from other drilling sites. But that wealth does not trickle down, and his neighbors here believe that that tapping the refuge will finally bring the wealth and respect they deserve.
(on camera): There are a lot of people in Chicago or Dallas or Iowa who believe this is their land too. It is a national wildlife refuge, like a national park.
LAMPE: Yes. But they --
WEIR: And they want to keep it pure.
LAMPE: But they will never set foot here. I don't think it's right for them to be able to tell us what we can and cannot do with our own land. You know, we're the best stewards of our land.
WEIR (voice-over): That is the kind of local support pro drilling lawmakers like Lisa Murkowski love to highlight. The senator is a driving force behind opening ANWR, and she insists that wildlife won't be harmed. Despite our numerous requests, she refused to be interviewed.
And one reason may be that unlike the president, she is one Republican who believes in manmade climate change, but wants her state to keep drilling regardless.
FLORIAN SCHULZ, FILMMAKER, WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER: If this will happen here, it would just destroy the entire -- the entire place.
WEIR: Up in the refuge, photographer Florian Schulz is one outsider who has spent years here, capturing the magic of this place, and he hopes everyone, including the good folks at Kaktovik, will take the long view.
SCHULZ: I'm using resources. I'm driving a car, but I feel we need to think in new ways. We need to think in new technologies and stay with the value of keeping wild landscapes, because once they're gone, they're gone.
BURNETT: It's incredible when you think about that this is happening, a lot of Americans didn't realize this is already starting. It's happening.
WEIR: It's happening.
BURNETT: And you spent obviously almost a week covering this, doing these pieces, and tomorrow another one.
WEIR: Another one. We're going to go from black oil up in the north to the yellow kind down in south. Take you to the site of one of the last great salmon runs on the planet. Million of these salmon surge through Bristol Bay, up into the streams to give birth in the exact spot where they were spawned. And it feeds bears and eagles and humans to the tune of billions of dollars in the fishing and tourism industry.
But in a place that many consider too close for comfort, a Canadian mining company discovered what may be the biggest copper and gold mine in the world. And there are worries that what it takes to get that buried treasure out could harm the fish. It pits pro-mining Republican against pro-fishing Republican over which is more valuable, this red gold that swims into our lives every year or the ones they want to come get for all the devices we need.
BURNETT: It's an incredible story, and I can't wait to see it, truly. The footage has been stunning as well.
Thank you so much. Incredible reporting.
And Bill will be back with us tomorrow night with that.
[19:55:00] And next, pop singer Demi Lovato rushed to the hospital after an apparent drug overdose, a crisis striking so many Americans. Now live tonight, we're at the hospital with the latest on her condition. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Breaking news. Singer Demi Lovato rushed to the hospital, suffering an apparent drug overdose, according to a source close to the family -- part of the drug crisis we are seeing across the United States that so many Americans are facing tonight.
Let's go straight to Miguel Marquez live in Los Angeles.
Miguel, what do you know?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A source close to her family telling "People" magazine that she is in stable condition at the moment. It was about 11:22 in the morning, just before lunchtime that police and fire responded to Demi Lovato's Hollywood Hills home.
She was brought to a local hospital where she is now, and everything that we understand is that she is doing all right.
This is certainly a young woman who has had a very tough time. Six months ago, she announced that she had -- was celebrating her six years of sobriety, and then a few weeks ago, she released an album or the song called "Sober", indicating that she had had trouble and had a relapse into drugs and alcohol. This is somebody who has spoken very broadly and openly about her use of cocaine, alcohol, mental health issues, and eating disorders in the past, and now, it seems that she is struggling once again.
In that song "Sober," some of the lyrics to it were interesting to note. One of them was: I am sorry that I'm here again. I promise that I'll get help.
And a lot of fans tonight hoping she gets that help and she is OK -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Miguel.
And, of course, that promise one is physiologically impossible for people to make across this country grapple with the drug crisis.
Thank you so much to Miguel and thanks to all of you for joining us.
"ANDERSON" starts next.