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Emails Show Trump Jr. Agreed to Meet With "Russian Government Attorney For "Very High Level" Info On Clinton; Interview with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 11, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin tonight, for the first time in the entire Trump-Russia saga with clarity, with something that cannot be discounted, downplayed or spun as complaints from a losing campaign or called fake news. This doesn't come from unnamed sources or deep state leaks. It's nothing that can be described as anything by what it actually is -- simple words from a string of e-mails between Donald Trump Jr. and a family acquaintance with something to offer, allegedly coming straight from the Russian government.

From the opening e-mail dated June 3rd of last year, quote, some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

That is from a music producer named Rob Goldstone passing on information he says is from a Russian pop star who himself is the son of a real estate mogul known as the Donald Trump of Russia.

Goldstone goes on to say in that same message, quote, this is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.

That's the offer, dirt on Hillary Clinton gathered by a foreign adversary to help Donald Trump become president.

And Trump Jr.'s reply, quote: If it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.

And from there, Trump Jr. and Goldstone go on to set up a meeting with someone Goldstone first calls, quote, the Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow. Then in the next e-mail, the Russia attorney.

Several more e-mails follow with Trump Jr. looping in campaign manager Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. The meeting is set for June 9th at Trump Tower. And again, this is the plain and simple language from e- mails released by Donald Trump Jr. himself as part of his evolving explanation of this meeting which "The New York Times" first revealed on Saturday.

Keeping them honest, for starters, they expose his prior accounts of the meeting as simply untrue. He wasn't as he first said motivated to meet this woman out of concern for Russian orphans. He certainly did, contrary to how he described it on Saturday, discuss politics.

The woman, though, unnamed, was not offered up simply as some random acquaintance of a friend as he first suggested. She was described as a Russian government attorney with information from the Russian government. She did not as some Trump surrogates have suggested on this program just last night just get walked into Trump Tower. One of the e-mails discusses arrangements for notifying security she was coming.

Much of what Donald Trump Jr. has said and how much of how he has characterized the meeting is revealed to be untrue by his own e-mail chain. More important though is what today's revelation does to the long running, long -- larger narrative about Donald Trump Sr., people close to him and Russia.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This administration disagrees with all of the stories that claim that the president and his campaign colluded with Russia in any capacity.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course not. Why would there be any contacts between the campaign? Chris, the -- this is all a distraction.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Absolutely not. I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. These conversations never happened.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's no connection between the president or the staff here and anyone doing anything with Russia.

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: I mean, this is time and time again lie after lie. You notice, he won't say, well, I say this. We hear experts. You know, his house cat at home once said this is what's happening with the Russians. It's disgusting, it's so phony.


COOPER: That was Donald Trump Jr. after he had had that meeting.

Everything you just heard either gets dented or contradicted by these e-mails. No contact with Russians? Not true. No politically motivated contact with the Russians? Not true.

No politically motivated with Russians with ties to Russian government? Not true. At least Donald Trump Jr. believed this attorney had ties to the Russian government.

In fact, these e-mails, again, in very plain English lay out even more, politically motivated contact with a Russian individual with claims of ties to the Kremlin, promising information that would help achieve what is billed as the Russian goal of hurting Hillary Clinton and helping Donald Trump. It is the first such encounter that someone close to Donald Trump has acknowledged and the president's eldest son certainly qualifies as close. So does Jared Kushner, who's yet to comment, and Paul Manafort.

Now, it may turn out to be the only encounter or one of many. We don't know. And I think that's important to point out. We don't know if there's more to come.

One thing that's clear, though, the reaction from the White House is different this time. The president has not gone on a tweet storm so far. White House spokespeople have not vented their outrage at the media, haven't hollered fake news or even issued a formal denial at all. There's only this late today from spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders reading a statement from the president and, by the way, not doing it on camera. Cameras were not allowed to be on in the room.


SANDERS: My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency. And beyond that, I'm going to have to refer everything on this matter to Don Jr.'s counsel and outside counsel.


[20:05:01] COOPER: The White House says the president did not know about the meeting last year, which happened just one floor down from his office at Trump Tower where he happened to be at the time. And as you know, as you saw, the president denies getting help from the Russians.

However, critics of the "Washington Post's" Philip Bump for this, there's a moment from the stump that looks maybe a little different tonight in light of Trump Jr.'s e-mails. A speech his father gave on June 7th of last year, four days after that first e-mail promising dirt on Hillary Clinton and two days before the meeting actually took place.


TRUMP: I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you're going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.


COOPER: Now, was that a tease related to what his son was hoping to learn in this meeting? We don't know.

We do know he ended up delaying that speech more than a week. And when he did give it, he took the usual shots at Hillary Clinton but did not add anything new. This was on the 23rd, two weeks after the Trump Tower meeting in which his son says the Russian lawyer did not deliver any dirt. And Donald Trump Jr. has just spoken out, telling FOX's Sean Hannity

he did not discuss the meeting with his father and talking about his thoughts going into it.


TRUMP JR.: Things are going a million miles an hour again. And, hey, wait a minute, I've heard about all these things but maybe this is something. I should hear them about. This was, again, just basic information that was going to be possibly there -- I didn't know these guys well enough to understand if this talent manager from Miss Universe, you know, had this kind of thing. So, I wanted to hear him out.

In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently. Again, this is before the Russian mania. This is before they were building it up in the press.

For me, this was opposition research. They had something -- you know, maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I'd been hearing about, that they were probably underreported for, you know, years, not just during the campaign. So, I think I wanted to hear it out. But really, it went nowhere and it was apparent that that wasn't what the meeting was actually about.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Did you tell your father anything about this?

TRUMP JR.: No, it was such a nothing. There was nothing to tell.

Now, I wouldn't have even remembered it until you start scouring through the stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.


COOPER: More reaction now. CNN's Jim Acosta joins us from a very quiet 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Jim, what more can you tell us about the White House response today?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there wasn't much of a response today. As you said, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, was not at the briefing today. Sarah Huckabee Sanders did the briefing today and it was off camera, as you mentioned. And she only essentially had that statement, the very brief statement from the president on his son about all of this.

However, we should point out there were a couple other follow-up questions during the briefing. By and large, she tried to deflect the questions saying, well, you have to talk to Donald Trump Jr.'s attorney about all of this. But she did say in response to one question about, well, you know, there are people up on Capitol Hill talking about perjury and even using the word treason, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that that -- the use of those words would be, quote, ridiculous.

But we should point out for the third straight day tomorrow, the president will not have any public events on his schedule. That was the case today. He was behind closed doors, did not talk in front of cameras today. That was the case yesterday.

That's also going to be the case tomorrow. The only time we're going to see the president tomorrow is when he walks in front of the cameras to get on Marine One to start heading over to Paris for his trip over to France at the end of this week, where he is supposed to hold a news conference on Thursday.

COOPER: It's interesting to hear Donald Trump Jr. in that clip on Sean Hannity say that, you know, this was a nothing -- there was nothing to talk to his dad about. What is startling about in these e- mails, I mean, one of the many things is that this is as far as we know the first time although it doesn't sound like it's the first time Donald Trump Jr. is hearing about it because he sort of doesn't really seems to react to it, you have in the e-mail someone, this guy Goldstone, saying that this information came from the Russian government and the Russian government is backing his father.

The idea that he would never have had a conversation either before this meeting after receiving the e-mail or after the meeting, even though there was allegedly no there there, to point out to his dad, you know what, I got this thing that's claiming the Russian government is backing you, I mean, that's kind of a bombshell in these e-mails. And it doesn't sound like it's the first time he's heard it, because he doesn't really react to that.

ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. It raises all sorts of questions. One is, obviously, why did the president last week say that there may be other countries involved in the meddling in last year's election? I think if and when he's asked about this later on this week, he cannot say any more, I don't think, that there might have been other countries involved in the meddling in last year's election when you have these e-mails going back from his own son and this music producer talking about the Russian government's support for his campaign.

Now, I will tell you that I did talk to a former Trump campaign adviser earlier today, Anderson, who said you know what?

[20:10:02] We received a lot of opposition research from all sides during the course of the campaign. So, you know, you have to take into consideration that some of this just may be garbage in terms of what this person was offering Donald Trump Jr. and his friend Rob Goldstone.

But make no mistake: this is the president's own son, not some contact, not some associate, not some low level staffer who went on a trip to Moscow. This is the president's own son who sat down with an attorney from Russia under the assumption that she had some kind of damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Now, earlier today, one of the questions that Sara Huckabee Sanders was asked was, well, how does the president feel about this. Here's what she had to say.


SANDERS: I think that the president is, I would say frustrated with the process of the fact that this continues to be an issue, and he would love for us to be focused on things like Justin mentioned, the economy, on health care, on tax reform, on infrastructure. And that's the place that his mind is. That's what he'd like to be discussing.


ACOSTA: But, of course, Anderson, you know, tonight, the president cannot call any of this fake news. The news is coming from his own son. And there's just no other way to put it. It's pretty damning -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

We're also learning that details of the interactions between Trump Jr., Goldstone and the Russian attorney were not fully known to federal investigators until recently. That's according to three U.S. officials familiar with probe.

Our justice correspondent Evan Perez joins us now with that.

So, how much or how little did the special counsel know about these e- mails and about this meeting before the last few days? Do we know?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we don't know fully exactly what they knew. But we know that the full extent of this was not fully known at least until very, very recently. And now, of course, now, the special counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI agents who are doing this investigation are going to be taking a look at this. They're going to take a look at not only the meeting that Donald Trump Jr. has now disclosed, but also these e-mail interactions to see what exactly might have happened here.

Now, we don't know if this is it the full extent, if this is all the e-mails. That's certainly something that Robert Mueller would want to know.

We also know, Anderson, that the FBI investigators have in the past year they've been doing this investigation have spent time looking at the business dealings of Donald Trump Jr., as well as, you know, some of his associations with Russians, as part of the broader investigation into Russian meddling.

COOPER: Right. Also the question is, I mean, according to these e- mails, there's phone -- actual phone conversation between Donald Trump Jr. and this Russian pop star whose father was this very wealthy real estate developer.

PEREZ: Right.

COOPER: I talked to the attorney, and we're going to play some of that interview coming up, the attorney for the pop star and his father who say to his knowledge, he said, two things. In one, he said there was no phone call, and then he said to his knowledge there was no phone call.

But the meeting with Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer -- Jared Kushner only updated I understand his security form recently to reflect that he was there. Is that correct? And is that the second time he's had to update his security clearance form?

PEREZ: Right -- right, exactly. He has now filed a second amendment to his SF86, it's the form that he submitted to the FBI in order to get his security clearance which he is still, you know, working to get. He's got a temporary one at this point, Anderson. So, we know that Jared Kushner's lawyers filed this amended SF86 form in the last few weeks.

We also know that Paul Manafort however had the already disclosed the existence of this meeting. Some -- probably, I think it was about six weeks or so ago, when they submitted a bunch of information, 300 pages worth of information to Senate investigators. So, Manafort had disclosed the meeting. Jared Kushner did the same thing about three weeks ago, Anderson, to the FBI and so now, we have this information coming out publicly.

It should be -- it's also interesting to note, Anderson, that we contacted Jared Kushner's lawyers a couple weeks ago to tell them we were aware that they had update FS86 to note the existence of this meeting that had been organized by Donald Trump Jr. We didn't hear much from them until the story appeared in "New York Times" over the weekend.

COOPER: Wow. So, he -- I mean, it's amazing to me that Jared Kushner has now twice had to amend his security clearance application. I mean, that's unusual.

PEREZ: Right, and that's going to be part of the issue here. That's part of what you see is going to be part of the focus here because not only did you not disclose it the first time, but then the second time when you filed the information, you didn't include this meeting. Why was that?

COOPER: Evan, thanks very much. Good question.

I spoke about some of this and more with Senator Mark Warner, who's vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.


COOPER: Senator Warner, this report that the details of the interactions between the interactions between Donald Trump Jr. and this Russian attorney weren't fully known to the special counsel until recently, I'm wondering, were you -- was your committee aware of these emails before today or yesterday?

[20:15:03] SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Anderson, I'm not going to comment what the committee knew or didn't know and when we knew. But clearly, this is a dramatic step forward in the investigation and is the first time the public has seen clear evidence that not only was there an organized Russian government effort that the intelligence committee has already validated to reach out and try to downgrade Clinton and help Trump, but you've also then seen senior level officials from the Trump campaign, his son, his son- in-law and the campaign manager welcomed that kind of assistance.

COOPER: So, to you, these e-mails are critical?

WARNER: It absolutely is. I mean, we've seen a series of dots. I think those are starting to be connected now. I think there will be more to come. But it is a grave concern to me that you've got the senior most officials in the Trump campaign actively at least soliciting or being willing to accept at least information from a foreign government, in this case a foreign adversary, Russia, in a way that would be interference in our elections.

COOPER: Does it matter whether this Russian attorney really did work for the government or not, or is the key point that Donald Trump Jr., according to these e-mails, seemed to believe not only that this information whatever it was going to be came from the Russian government but also she was described as a Russian government lawyer?

WARNER: Well, it's interesting that not only was he excited to receive this information and the e-mail was explicitly clear that this was part of a Russian government effort, but it even seemed like he was trying to time the release to that information by saying it would be great if we got this late summer. And curiously enough, it was late summer when you saw much more of a DNC hacked e-mails come out. You started to see information that was saying that John Podesta's e- mails would be forthcoming.

The timing was curious in terms of the requests, in terms of what Mr. Trump Jr. said.

COOPER: Jared Kushner, according to CNN reporting, has had to recently amend his -- the information he gave to get his security clearance. Do you think he should have his clearance revoked?

WARNER: I'm not going to -- I want to give Mr. Kushner the chance to come in and talk to our committee before I reach those kind of conclusions. But I do think it is strange to me that a meeting of this type that had been -- and we don't know whether Mr. Kushner actually saw this e-mail traffic, but if he did see this e-mail traffic that indicated this meeting was going to be part of a campaign of the Russian government to provide information that would be helpful to Trump and hurtful to Clinton, that Mr. Kushner wouldn't remember that meeting.

COOPER: Yesterday, it seemed like a lot of surrogates for the president on air elsewhere were saying, well, you know, this kind of a meeting happens all the time. This is just standard operating procedure. And that Donald Trump Jr. didn't know the identity of the person that he was meeting with. Now, we have these e-mails in which this person is described as a Russian government attorney and that this information is coming from the Russian government. And now, we're hearing from Trump surrogates, well, Donald Trump Jr.

was naive to the ways of politics and didn't realize he shouldn't have had this meeting. Is that it? Is that an excuse?

WARNER: Baloney. Baloney. I got to tell you. You can't call a rookie mistake not having the knowledge that if you got an e-mail that acknowledges that at least on its face says we've got information that's part of a Russian government effort to try to help his father, anyone with a lick of sense would know that you don't take that kind of help from a foreign government and particularly a foreign adversary.

I would -- listen, I'm going to try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, but the idea that somehow that would be a rookie mistake, I find just not believable on any level.

COOPER: The president today in a statement praised his son's transparency was the word he used. Is that a word you would use to describe Donald Trump Jr.'s reaction to this? Because it seems like he's had a number of changes.

WARNER: He has changed his story repeatedly. But, again, this is a pattern that we've seen from a host of Trump officials where they deny any kind of contact with Russians until they see proof, until proof is shown. Then, they have to recant. They have to amend their filings, amend their reports.

Why in the heck this administration that says there's no there there, if there's no there there, why wouldn't they have come clean with all of this information to our committee when we started this investigation six months ago.

COOPER: Senator Warner, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

WARNER: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, a lot more to talk about tonight. The panel weighs in. Also, what the lawyer for the Russian pop star and his father has to say. It's a CNN exclusive. That's next.


[20:23:45] COOPER: As the Donald Trump Jr. story continues to unfold, we're continuing to seek out to talk to the principals. Late today in a CNN exclusive, I spoke with Scott Balber, the attorney for the Russian singer and his billionaire father mentioned in the e-mails.


COOPER: Did your clients -- either of your clients ever speak to Donald Trump, Jr. on the phone about this meeting? Because it seems like according to --

SCOTT BALBER, ATTORNEY FOR EMIN AND ARAS AGALAROV: No. COOPER: -- to one of -- you know, the June 6 e-mail, is there was, in

fact, some kind of conversation that Donald Trump, Jr. tells Goldstone in the email to have your client call him on a cell phone after he gets off stage performing.

BALBER: No such call occurred.

COOPER: So, there was never a phone conversation between Donald Trump, Jr. and either of your clients.

BALBER: Not that I'm aware of, no.

COOPER: OK. Not that you're aware of or -- I mean, have your clients denied that to you?

BALBER: As far as I know, no such communication took place.

COOPER: Have you asked your clients if a conversation took place?

BALBER: I'm not going to tell you exactly what I spoke to my clients about. But I've been obviously -- we're getting up to speed on the issues. We're addressing the questions as they come up. The answer is no, no such communication occurred.

COOPER: OK. So, flat out no such communication occurred, because you've said now, no such communication occurred and then you're not aware of it. Just no -- you're saying point blank no communication occurred?

BALBER: That's right.


COOPER: Well, another piece of the puzzle.

Here with the panel, Kirsten Powers, Carl Bernstein, Matt Lewis, Ryan Lizza, Steve Hall, Maggie Haberman and Jeffrey Toobin.

[20:25:04] Ryan, I mean, it's kind of hard to overstate just the importance of this just in terms of the progression of the story. There's still obviously a lot we don't know and it's important to point that out.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, look, if this were something that was just simply in isolation, that none of the events came after it, I could understand some of the defenses of it as no big deal, just meeting with someone to learn a little bit about the opponent's campaign.

But it becomes a much, much bigger deal when looked at in the broader tapestry of what we've learned. Weeks later at the Republican National Convention, the traditional view of the Republican Party was changed to be more pro-Russia, right? After the election was over, the repeated attempts of Trump advisers to hide, conceal meetings with Russian officials. Donald Trump's strange defense of Michael Flynn, him firing the FBI director, repeatedly defending Putin, repeatedly going to bat for Russia, repeatedly saying that the intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the election last year at the very least casting doubt on that assessment.

So, all of these facts put together make this meeting particularly explosive because, you know, the e-mail -- even if this lawyer didn't have any information and it was just a big setup to get in there to talk about sanctions, right, the fact that these campaign, senior campaign officials eagerly sought out this person and eagerly said saw an e-mail that described the Russian government trying to help Donald Trump's campaign and instead of saying, wait a second, this could be an issue for us to take to the FBI which is what several campaign officials told me today they would have done, they didn't do that.


LIZZA: They said love it. Let's set up the meeting.

COOPER: I mean, Kirsten, that's what's interesting. It doesn't matter really whether this Russian lawyer has connections with the Kremlin, as "The New York Times" reports it does, and doesn't matter whether she had information or they were disappointed with what they heard. What matters is that Donald Trump Jr. believed this was from the Russian government and believed that she was a Russian government lawyer.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. That's the important thing. And I actually think -- you know, I think that that's -- you know, you're right it does look worse with all of these other things. But, honestly, if this was the only thing that had happened, the fact that there is an e-mail that says refers to the Russian government supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump and this does not seem to be a shocking revelation to Donald Trump Jr., this is like a mid conversation. This is something --

COOPER: Right, it's almost like a second reference or there's no --

POWERS: Exactly. This is something he seems to have heard before. It doesn't seem remarkable to him in any way. You know, there isn't any kind of like what? Or --

COOPER: It's also interesting, Carl, that the attorney for the family says, look, there was no phone conversation. I mean, in the e-mails, Donald Trump Jr. says that's a prerequisite for having this meeting. He wants to talk to this Russian pop star who I guess he's met before and it's all about -- he gives him his cell phone and he has to wait until he gets off stage.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's real continuity to the tale. But most important, this is about the son, son-in-law and campaign manager of the president of the United States willingly engaging in an opportunity to subvert the interests of the United States to a foreign power, embracing it willingly and enthusiastically, according to the son of the president of the United States. The son of the president has cracked the cover-up. That is an extraordinary event. Now, we'll learn more about what the cover-up was really about. I

don't mean necessarily an obstruction of justice, but we now are at the question what did the president know about many of these events and when did he know it.

COOPER: Yes, Matt, Donald Trump Jr. has said and he said it again on Hannity tonight that he did not talk to his father about this. Do you buy that? I mean, if Donald Trump Jr.'s learning whether it's for the first time or he's heard it before that the Russian government, according to this e-mail is backing his father, and you know, according to his lawyer willing to provide dirt, does it -- is it credible that he wouldn't at some point say to his dad, the craziest thing happened today or last week, the Russian -- this person says the Russian government is backing you.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Well, one thing we know is that they've been prevaricating so far. So, the fact that he now says I didn't tell my dad is meaningless as far as I'm concerned. It's possible --

COOPER: Just in terms of his credibility.

LEWIS: Yes. He hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt, so to speak.

It's possible he didn't tell his father. That doesn't sound like their M.O., though. It doesn't -- he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would protect his father plausible deniability. It seems like my guess is, he would have told his father.

But I think the other --

COOPER: We've heard throughout the campaign how his kids are his closest advisers. He talks to them several times a day.

LEWIS: I think the other interesting thing that people keep bringing up and I think for very good reason is that we don't know that nothing came out of this meeting. We assume because, you know, Russian lawyer says nothing came out of it. Don Jr. says nothing came out of it. But he's been lying about other stuff. We don't know that nothing came out of that meeting.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Maggie Haberman, obviously, you know, from the times it broke the story, what -- just in terms of some process, I have two questions.

Donald Trump Jr. released all these e-mails. The President praised him for transparency. I should say all these e-mails. He has released a series of e-mails. The President praised him for his transparency. Was it -- had "The New York Times" contacted him and said we are going -- we have these e-mails and then he went forward with these e-mails?

And also Jared Kushner, my understanding is three weeks ago or so, he amended his security request to get a security clearance with this meeting. Had he -- can you say if he had been informed or questioned about this meeting or if he knew the "Times" was investigating? MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Whether Jared Kushner?


HABERMAN: Whether the "Times" is investigating? Well, to your first question, we have reached out to the lawyer for Donald Trump Jr. said that we were familiar with the contents of these e-mails and we're planning to publish. We gave her a deadline. Donald Trump Jr. pre- empted it.

I think that there has been some frustration on the part of Donald Trump Jr. and people close to him about how the last couple of days have gone in terms of the disclosures and in terms of sort of this slow roll, drip, drip.

You know, in terms of Kushner, forgive me, Anderson, I'm not entirely sure what you're asking me. You're asking me whether --

COOPER: Yes. Our understanding is that for a second time he has amended the information that he gave in order to get a security clearance. He did that once earlier and then more recently he did that to include this meeting that he hadn't previously disclosed. I guess my question is, was he aware that you were investigating and therefore that's why he amended this or was this just a coincidence?

HABERMAN: More broadly without getting into specifics about our reporting and the nature of it. Jared Kushner did amend, as we understand, it amended his security clearance form, his foreign contact disclosures. I believe it was for a second time, included some reference to this meeting.

Around the same time, Paul Manafort provided some more specifics to one of the congressional committees that is investigating whether there was any collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, and there was a reference to this meeting there, as well. And so the e-mails came up at some point during both of those processes.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, does Donald Trump Jr. have any potential legal exposure here?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Potentially, but it is not at all clear that he does. You know, collusion, which is something we've talked a lot about, is not a crime. There's no such crime as collusion.

Also, you know, all the lies that have been told to the American people, it's not a crime to lie to the American people. One possible offense that Donald Trump Jr. might be investigated for is violating the campaign finance laws. The laws say it is unlawful to solicit anything of value from a foreign government.

Now, the question is, did he solicit something of value? We don't know what went on in this meeting. I mean, I think, you know, we have Donald Trump's word that this was a 20-minute meeting. It was a big waste of time. But presumably there are e-mails describing what went on at this meeting.

And, you know, this is something that is certainly going to be of interest to Director Mueller and his team in determining what he, you know, what went on at this meeting is very important.

The other person who may have a problem is Jared Kushner because, you know, it is -- that form, the application for a security clearance is submitted under penalty of perjury. And if he only corrected it because he got caught omitting it, that is potentially a, you know, a legal problem for him. So I think Jared Kushner, who is the one who has senior job in the administration, he is the one who is at more risk frankly than Donald Trump Jr.

COOPER: Steve Hall, a long time CIA officer focusing in Russia. I want to ask you basically two questions. I'm not sure if you can or would answer them. But, A, how likely is it that U.S. intelligence would have been aware that potentially Kremlin linked individuals who are trying to connect with the son of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee?

And secondly, if there was a phone conversation between Donald Trump Jr., and this Russian pop star, is it likely or possible that that somewhere was picked up and is recorded somewhere, whether either in the U.S. or overseas?

[20:35:05] STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, taking your second question first, Anderson. Yes, it's certainly possible that the intelligence community may have intercepted, specifically NSA may have been intercepted such a call. Although of course being said that, it would have been involving a U.S. person.

You know, there would have been -- we get back to the old masking issue, you know. Was the name concealed? But that's certainly possible. I would say it's also possible that the intelligence community may have had some indication that the Russian government was attempting to arrange this meeting.

But from my reading on this, I think it would have come up sooner if the intelligence community had been aware of it. But, you know, if you sort of rewind back to when this all happened last year, I mean, what this looks very much to me like is the Russians at the time had a very successful influence operation going. They had already penetrated, you know, cyber fashion, the DNC databases.

And I think the Russian intelligence and the Russian government said, you know, we should try for the trifecta here. Let's see if we can't make a little bit of contact with somebody in the Trump team, just to see if they're willing to play ball. Just to have an initial conversation.

There's no doubt in my mind that the lawyer, Veselnitskaya, had to have been from the government because nobody else would have had the type of information that she would have claimed aside from somebody who had some sort of contact with the Russian government.

So to me, this sounds a little bit like the Russian is trying to go a little further in this operation and actually tried to get a human angle to it in addition to the other stuff if that they were up to.

COOPER: Just very briefly, the attorney for these two Russian guys, the pop star and his father, says that the pop star was basically making this connection to Goldstone for the Russian attorney, just -- she was an acquaintance of his and he was just doing a favor because that's how things work and people do business. Does that make sense to you or is it possible that, you know, that the father here has links to the Russian government or does business?

Obviously, he's very successful in real estate there. He has got the highest civilian order of merit given by Vladimir Putin. And that would it be normal that the Russian government would use other people who are not directly linked to the government?

HALL: Sure, absolutely. This is -- I mean, this has Russian government finger prints and intelligence all over it. I mean, a standard operating procedure for the Russian intelligence services in a situation like this is, you know, if you are indeed reaching out to somebody, a high-level person in the Trump team, you don't want to do it with an official person, you don't want to do with an intelligence officer or an official government person.

What you want to do is you want to have a cutout. You want to have a link to a link to a link so that you have deniability. You have some sort of plausible deniability to say sort of exactly what you're saying, Anderson. Well, maybe it was just somebody who was a friend of a friend of a friend.

The Russians know that we in the west have a tendency to want to think positively about, hey, this is just business. It's just another meeting and who knows what was going to happen. And yet this is exactly how the Russians, especially the intelligence services, operate.

COOPER: I want to thank everybody. When we come back, we're going to hear from political operatives about how they see the latest revelations about the Trump campaign meeting and what that means for the future of this administration.


[20:41:13] COOPER: After Donald Trump Jr. twitted his Russia meeting e-mails this morning igniting a firestorm critic from both sides of the aisle, White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders stayed mum in off camera press briefing. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you stand by a statement you made yesterday when you said that our position is that no one within the Trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, AMERICAN POLITICAL AIDE: I do, and again, I don't have -- beyond the statements yesterday and what I need today, I don't have anything else to add. I know you guys are going to get tired of it today and not to sound like a broken record, but on all questions related to this matter, I would refer you to Don Jr.'s counsel and the outside counsel.

To repeat myself, I'm going to refer you to the outside counsel and I don't have anything else to add. Look, the president gave a statement on the matter, which I read to you, and like I've said, I don't have anything else to add beyond that. Again, I'm not going to get into the details of anything surrounding this and would refer you to Don Jr.'s counsel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the President now aware of the Russian government effort to influence the campaign in his favor?

SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to answer any questions on that matter.


COOPER: And there's also a bit of late news from Capitol Hill. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is asking the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to look into how the Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump Jr. was allowed to enter the country.

Bringing in a new panel now, former Republican Congresswoman from New York, Nan Hayworth, Paul Begala, Jeffrey Lord, and Robby Mook.

Paul, you know, two things we've heard from Trump surrogates over the last couple of days is that this is just standard operating procedure. Every campaign looks for opposition research, nothing to see here. And that what we've heard more now since this e-mails is that, well, Donald Trump Jr. was politically naive and just, you know, made a mistake here or something he shouldn't done.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. If that's their story, they should stick to it. It's not going to hold. You know, Trump Jr. was the son of the -- presumed at that moment, Republican nominee. In that meeting also was Paul Manafort, decades of experience, including experienced with Russians.

When you get e-mail, you don't have to have a lot of experience. But in e-mail that says, I want to make a try, and so we'll try. That Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump.

When the Russian government is an adversary of the United States had always been in the eyes of the Republicans. In fact, the previous Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, was ridiculed by me and others wrongly for saying Russia was our chief geo-strategic adversary, right, at that time I was more upset about ISIS. ISIS is now largely not back, thanks to Obama. But they're saying this is -- it's not going to hold.

You can't -- by the way, the notion that every campaign does it, I've been in touch over Twitter publicly with Matthew Dowd who ran Bushes campaigns to Spencer or Romney's campaign. David Axelrod who ran Obama's campaign, none of us have ever heard of anything like this. I base this on 34 years of experienced in campaign.

COOPER: Congresswoman -- (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- when you were running, you had gotten e-mail from, you know, an intermediary saying that the Russian government is backing you and there's a Russian government attorney who'd like to meet with you to give you dirt on your opponent, would you have had that meeting?

NAN HAYWORTH, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I would have been absolutely shocked, because I was just running for Congress. Honestly, Anderson, but no. You know what --

COOPER: But would you have had that meeting?

HAYWORTH: No. Look, politics --

COOPER: Would you have had that meeting?

HAYWORTH: Well, it would shock no one, especially you, Paul. And if you were to know -- I know you, Anderson, you were sophisticated man. Politics is a tough and dirty business.

COOPER: You might have sat down with somebody who said they were from the Russian government with Russian government.

HAYWORTH: I do not fault Donald Trump Jr. for -- in his stage --

COOPER: Now with all due respect, you haven't answered the question.

HAYWORTH: It's a very high stage (ph) political campaign. I do not fault him for doing that. And this is a nothing pickle on, to use Van Jones his famous term, a nothing burger.

COOPER: I just wanted to give you one more opportunity to say would you have personally sat down with somebody?

HAYWORTH: That's Donald Trump Jr. --


COOPER: I'll take that as a no, but you're embarrassed to say no.

BEGALA: I think you can contrast from reality.

[20:45:03] HAYWORTH: Politics is full of all kinds of --

COOPER: But you would have sat down with a Russian government official?

HAYWORTH: -- interesting situation. If somebody said to anybody in politics, "I have information that might be of interest." I don't fault anybody for sitting down and hearing the information.


HAYWORTH: In this case it does nothing. BEGALA: In fact, here's the contra (ph) sample. Al Gore is running against George Bush. They're tied into the polls. They're going into the debates. Tom Downey, congressman from New York, the Gore path was going to play Bush in the debate preps. He receives, unsolicited, just opens the mailbox one day and there's the Bush debate briefing book. Somebody in the Bush campaign betrayed their boss ship it to Tom Downey. You know what Tom did, he called the FBI, right away.

HAYWORTH: Well, good for him.

BEGALA: Then he called Dan Evans, the Bush campaign chairman and said, "Hey, you have a traitor in your midst." Then he recused himself from the debate.


BEGALA: And I had to play.


BEGALA: That's what an honorable person does. Donald Trump Jr. is not an honorable person.

HAYWORTH: OK. So how come Don in Brazil did reject the information from the CNN debate of that question.


COOPER: She's been let --

HAYWORTH: But now is the time. It's the time she accepted it. It's the time.

COOPER: What she did was --


COOPER: Right. But, wait.

HAYWORTH: And she accepted the information.

COOPER: Right, but let me just point out. What she did was incredibly sleazy.

HAYWORTH: That she was supporting.

COOPER: Right. Yes, that was incredibly sleazy. You were recusing to characterize anything about Donald Trump Jr.

HAYWORTH: I'm saying that Donald Trump Jr. did nothing with that information.

COOPER: Robby, would you -- if for Russian, you know, somebody Russian from -- said they were from the Russian government, we're sending a Russian government attorney, is that business as usual? ROBBY MOOK, AMERICAN POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: No, it's not business as usual at all. Look, there's a lot of people who come up to campaigns with information. For example, when I was running Hillary's campaign, we had a lot of Donald Trump's former employees coming to us. Talk about how they didn't get paid. Contractors who he's, you know, didn't send -- didn't reply to their invoices. And we talked to them. But guess what, they were American citizens. And they were legitimately engaging in a debate about a candidate for office.

If someone claiming to represent the Russian government had reached out and said, first of all, we're supporting your candidate, and second of all, we dug up some (INAUDIBLE) to give to you, I'd be petrified that I'd be in trouble. I mean, that's what so crazy about this.

And then, you layer on top of that how Don Jr. -- look, he went on T.V. and called me disgusting for saying that the Russians were involved in the election at all, let alone meeting with him. They've lied so much. They have no credibility on this.

The other thing that's troubling me, I actually disagree a little bit with one of your experts earlier. I think this thing has been so -- it was so bold. It was in such plain sight the whole time. We don't put the pieces together.

This wasn't the Russians taking another little step. They've been working on this for a long time. You look at Carter Page who was Donald Trump's foreign policy advisor, the Russians were talking about the man one or two years earlier about potentially bringing him on as a spy. They were working on this for a long time and they were coming at it from every angle.

You know, Paul mentioned, Paul Manafort, long time working for Russian affiliates. So, they were coming from all angles on this. And I think we have been too small, and we've analyzed every little part. We've never pulled back and frankly noticed how big and how bold this really was.

COOPER: Jeffrey Lord, when President Trump praises his son's transparency, I mean do you believe that what Donald Trump Jr. has done over the last couple of days is being fully transparent because he does seem like --


COOPER: -- he released e-mail chain once he you knew "The Ney York Times" was prepared to publish.

LORD: Anderson, unequivocally.

COOPER: And his mission (ph) story was not what it is now. OK.

LORD: Unequivocally. I know Donald Trump Jr. unequivocally. I want to --

COOPER: So how is it transparent? How is it transparent to say initially, oh this was meeting --

LORD: Did he not release his e-mail chain? Anderson, look.

COOPER: Yes, we're taking their times --


LORD: Anderson, talking about transparency, I just posted an article with "The American Spectator." In doing my research I came across an interview with Dick Morris at "Newsmax" in September of 2016 in which he says that President Clinton personally in 1996 meddled and colluded, if you will, in the Russian election to elect Boris Yeltsin.


LORD: Now, one of the major backers of Yeltsin's opponents --

COOPER: All right, you're going by Dick Morris?

LORD: -- named Vladimir Putin.


COOPER: Dick Morris is your source on this?

LORD: Decades later, we find a situation where Bill Clinton's wife is the Democratic nominee for president. It had nothing to do with Donald Trump.

COOPER: Right. Dick Morris was the guy who --


COOPER: -- person shoe and then he got blown (ph) from the campaign. I mean, is he the best source on this?

LORD: Well, look, this is Dick Morris saying that President Clinton get out there.


MOOK: I got to jump in, Anderson. I got to jump in here.

LORD: Let's get them all out.

MOOK: What we are --

LORD: -- Donald Trump investigate.

COOPER: Robby, go ahead.

MOOK: What we're saying is it's OK to foreign powers to interject in our elections and back a certain candidate because a president took a foreign policy position, because I'm actually going to add on to this. It was Hillary Clinton --

[20:50:03] LORD: Wait, wait, you're saying it's OK to put American president --

HAYWORTH: Wait a minute.

MOOK: It was Hillary Clinton who called out Vladimir Putin for rigging his election in Russia. It was Hillary Clinton who called out Vladimir Putin for human rights abuses.

HAYWORTH: Wait a minute.

MOOK: And so we're saying that -- then if Putin chooses to get involved in our election that that's OK. That's crazy.


COOPER: Congresswoman.

HAYWORTH: Anderson, it was Hillary Clinton who signed of on 20 percent of our nation's uranium supply being sold to a Russian owned company.

MOOK: Congresswoman, that's false.

HAYWORTH: That to me --

MOOK: That's just been false. It is not true.

HAYWORTH: It is not false. There was --

MOOK: You might like to pedal fake news. That is not true.



HAYWORTH: And that's a real national security issue.

COOPER: Right. To paraphrase Kellyanne Conway --

HAYWORTH: It's genuine stuff.

COOPER: -- it's nice to take a trip down memory lane. But, can we refocus on actually what's happen today?

HAYWORTH: That's directly relevant.

BEGALA: First of all, I read Jeffrey's column and what he alleges my old boss did was phone up Yeltsin and say you should run ads on this because he is a kibitzer. The Russians hacked, they attacked. John McCain --


BEGALA: Excuse me, excuse me, Jeffrey, I'll let you talk. You got to let me. The Russians hacked our country. John McCain, a war hero called it an act of war. We have to retaliate. We need to join together. What Donald Trump is doing is trying to divide us and he is siding with the enemy, with Russia. The Russians came to his side, and to his son-in-law, and to his campaign chairman. He said we have dirt on your opponent and they said, great. They should have called the FBI.

COOPER: We've got to take a break. The investigation is certainly ongoing. We got to take a break.

In other perspective, Eric Trump's theory is that some people just can't stand that the Trump family is extremely close and always support each other. We talk about that, Trump family values with two Trump biographers, next.


COOPER: Donald Trump Jr. released his e-mails on Twitter. There's been a lot of response on Twitter, including from the British politician who led the Brexit movement. Nigel Farage tweeted, "Donald Trump Jr. is the best public supporter at POTUS in the business. No surprise he is under attack."

Also this from Eric Trump, "This is the exact reason they viciously attack our family. They can't stand that we are extremely close and will always support each other."

Joining us now, two men who wrote books on Donald Trump, Michael D'Antonio and Timothy O'Brien. You know, Michael, the President's initial statement today said that his -- "My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency." Were you surprised by that at all?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": Well, I was surprised that it was such a mild endorsement of his son. He said the same kind of things about Michael Flynn before he was out. And I think just saying he's a high quality person is almost throwing him under the bus.

I would have defended my own son far more vigorously. And the idea that he is transparent to me that was an attaboy. It's like you did the right thing. I think this is something he was directed to do. And --

[20:55:04] COOPER: Timothy, the White House has said now that the President knew nothing about this until recently. I mean, the -- in this e-mail chain, Donald Trump Jr. is being told that the Russian government is backing his father. There was no reaction really in the e-mail chain to that part of it?

TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMPNATION: THE ART OF BEING THE DONALD": He is told in the e-mail chain by Rob Goldstone, "Should we tell your father about this? I can't contact Rhona."

COOPER: Rhona being?

O'BRIEN: Rhona Graff who is Donald Trump's longtime gatekeeper.

COOPER: There had been articles about how -- if you really want to get to Donald Trump, Rhona Graff is sort the way to do it.

O'BRIEN: Right. So those e-mails have now exposed Rhona Graff's server and her calendar probably to subpoena requests from Robert Mueller. But beyond that, it also raises this question of when did the president know about the meeting? And is Donald Trump Jr. telling the truth today when he says he never knew. And I think there's good reason to believe that Donald Trump Jr. may not be being candid today about that fact.

COOPER: I mean one of the things Eric Trump saying that there is such a close family and they support each other, you know, always. Does it -- is it possible that Donald Trump Jr. would not have told his father that Russia -- that he has learned or been told that Russia is backing his campaign whether it was before this meeting or after this meeting?

D'ANTONIO: I guess highly unlikely. I'm 95 percent certain that this is a meeting that Donald Trump, now the president, understood was going to take place. I'm sure he was told what happened afterwards.

This is a man who's stock and trade his information. He loves to gossip. He loves to know exactly what's going on everywhere. And, you know, one of the things that Donald Jr. told me was that if you get 100 things right but one thing wrong, you're going to hear about it for the rest of your life from Donald Trump.

And I think that he is very much aware of pleasing his dad. And back then, there wouldn't have been any boundaries. This would have been very porous and I can't imagine he didn't inform his father right away.

COOPER: Tim, this was also during a time that is important around the context of all of this where there was a power struggle within the campaign between Corey Lewandowski --

O'BRIEN: And Paul Manafort.

COOPER: -- and Paul Manafort. And, you know, quoting all the reporting at the time of the Trump kids it kind of turned from Lewandowski toward Manafort.

O'BRIEN: And that Donald Trump Jr. played a leading role in pushing Lewandowski out. And of all this will get back probably to questions about who has been the source of some of the information that's gone to "The New York Times" through the great reporting they have been doing over the last few days.

COOPER: Right, because they cite three -- if I'm getting it correctly, if memory serves me correctly, in one of their reports, three people advised the White House. So it's not as if this is coming --

O'BRIEN: From law enforcement.

COOPER: Right.

O'BRIEN: Which a lot of the major leaks have so far. And the "Times" was very clear in it's reporting to say they clearly had White House sources. It's another example of how divided and porous this administration is. And it is a reflection how divided and porous the Trump campaign was.

COOPER: Why would somebody in the White House or connections to the White House supposedly supports the president leak stuff about Donald Trump Jr.?

O'BRIEN: Because it's the Keystone Cops. This isn't a team that's running as a disciplined, goal-oriented unit. It Trump's never run anything that way in his whole life and he certainly not running the White House that way. And I think they easily turn on one another.

D'ANTONIO: I think what Tim just said about the president having never operated anything in an orderly and deliberate fashion is absolutely true. The thing that mattered in the past was that the buck stopped with Donald Trump. And it was a matter of his celebrity and his profit. And I think now that --

O'BRIEN: And you had to make the boss look good.

D'ANTONIO: Yes, make him look good. And I think now that he is the President of the United States. There's a problem with not focusing on the business of the United States of America. What they're still focused on still is promoting Donald Trump's image and everyone is fighting for favored status within the administration.

O'BRIEN: And they're actually fighting a media war right now when they should be thinking about the legal battles they're facing. They're positioning themselves vis-a-vis the press about Donald Trump Jr. and his father and they're not thinking strategically about the legal the consequences that they're in now.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, even the fact that Donald Trump Jr. gave an interview tonight to Sean Hannity obviously a friendly outlet, but--

D'ANTONIO: Had to drive his lawyer's nuts.

COOPER: Yes. Micheal D'Antonion, Tim O'Brien, appreciate it. Thanks very much. Up more on today's big developments will bring into who is lawyering up and why, ahead.