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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Senate Investigators Want Trump Jr., Kushner Records; New Questions About Trump Jr. E-mail: Was There A Phone Call? Trump: Solving Health Care "More Difficult" Than Mideast Peace. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 13, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:13] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, breaking news, Senate investigators want answers tonight, demanding information from Donald Trump's son and son-in-law. Does Trump's defense of their meeting with a Russian lawyer add up?
And Donald Trump Jr.'s long history with Moscow. His father point man in doing business in Russia. He once said it is a scary place.
Plus, Trump's comments about the French first lady's figure. Yes. Did he cross the line? Let's go out front.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin OutFront tonight with the breaking news demanding answers. Senate investors want information from Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner. The top Democrat of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, says has requested documents from both man. One red flag according to Warner is Kushner's failure to disclose three meetings with Russians on his initial security clearance form.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRMAN: It seems strange to me that those meetings were at least conveniently forgotten at least by Mr. Kushner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This comes as President Trump speaks out today defending his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer, a meeting set up with the promise of, "information that would incriminate Hillary. Information the e-mail says was from the Russian government." Trump's explanation for the meeting is it's business as usual.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research. That's very standard in politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Except apparently it's not very standard. Trump's own nominee for FBI director testifying to Congress that anyone approached by a foreign national with that type of information should call the FBI first. But Trump did not stop there in his defense of his son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, the crucial thing here about what he just said is it actually contradicts the e-mails that Trump Jr. himself released after this meeting was exposed because in one of the e-mails to Trump Jr., the e-mail talks about scheduling a meeting between Trump Jr., and let me just quote so you can hear the exact words, "The Russian government attorney who was flying over from Moscow." So that's what was in the e-mail. That's what they thought they were doing. You hear the words, Russian government attorney. It doesn't appear there was any question who Trump Jr. thought he was meeting with. A lot of developments to get to tonight.
I want to begin with Manu Raju who has on Capitol Hill. He just spoke a moment ago to the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. And Manu, what more did Senator Warner tell you.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: He's requesting records from both Jared Kushner and from Donald Trump Jr. He made this request along with Senator Richard Burr the Republican chairman of the committee. He wants more information from Kushner raising concerns that Kushner did not disclose some key meetings in Warner's words three meetings with Russian officials left off some initial forms as well as information he is looking for from Donald Trump Jr., presumably information related to this, of course, now controversial newly revealed meeting from last year with this Russian lawyer.
Now, the question is when those two men will come before the committee. Warner would not say when that would happen. Either Richard Burr who I talked to about as well. But clearly, these two men of interest to the committee as they are demanding more records before they even decide whether to subpoena for them but do not get those responses, Erin.
BURNETT: And I know you also had a chance to speak with the top Republican in the Senate Judiciary Committee, of course, that's Chuck Grassley, and he had something important to say.
RAJU: Yes, he did. He actually wants to hear from Donald Trump Jr. in his own committee. This is the first time we've heard a Republican chairman, one of these key committees making this formal request for public testimony or some testimony from Donald Trump Jr. Grassley told me earlier today he is writing a letter along with Dianne Feinstein, the top Democratic committee to ask for Mr. Trump Jr. to testify before his committee. I asked him would you subpoena for his appearance? He said, well, let's see how he responds first. As we know Donald Trump Jr. said he is willing to testify. The question is does he agree to do that and does he agree to do it as soon as next week and that's when Dianne Feinstein would hope he does appear, Erin.
BURNETT: So obviously be very, very quick to see that happen. Thank you, Manu. And I want to go to Paris now. Sara Murray is there. That is where the president is this evening. And President Trump is there giving a bulnk (ph) for his defense of his son today during a joint press conference he gave with the French president. He also defended his son-in-law and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. If President Trump believes his aids or his son did anything wrong, he certainly was not letting on. In fact, at this press conference along side, the French president, Donald Trump was asked about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer. Here is a portion of what the president had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:00:11] TRUMP: It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast. Two other people were in the room. I guess one of them left almost immediately and the other was not really focused in the meeting. I do think this, I think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: So you could see him down playing that meeting. Most people would have taken it. He compared it to regular opposition research that you would see on any campaign and also on Air Force One flight to Paris, President Trump told reporters on board he just heard of this meeting a couple of days ago and suggested this was all new information to him.
But of course, Erin, the backdrop of this is, you know, a trip he was hoping to focus on stronger ties with the French president, hoping to celebrate Bastille Day and commemorate America's role in World War I but it's clear he did not escape questions about Russia.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sara, in Paris tonight. And now let's go to the Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley, who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thanks for being on the show. I appreciate it.
You just heard reporting from Capitol Hill. The top Democratic of the Senate Intelligence Committee, your colleague, Senator Mark Warner raising concerns about Jared Kushner's mission, right? He admitted meetings with Russians, three of them, on his security forms, security clearance forms. We know he only added to the form an amendment, a revision, this meeting with the Russian lawyer in recent weeks, right. Failed to so do. He revised it once. Failed to put this in, revised it again then put it in. Should he have security clearance at this point or not given that or not?
JEFF MERKLEY (D), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I believe it would be reviewed. There is so much about this that is just not right. You have the president's son, his son-in-law and his campaign manager setting up a meeting with a person who is described as a Russian government lawyer to discuss, to discuss undermining Hillary Clinton's campaign and helping Trump. And it is presented as part of an ongoing Russian program to support Trump. So this was clearly not the first instance and no one expressed surprise about this. So there is a lot more here to discover.
BURNETT: So when you say this is clearly not the first instance, you think there were other meetings or discussions? You don't think this is the first time this happened or the only time?
MERKLEY: No. There are two things that you should respond. If you get an e-mail saying that a member of your team is suggesting a meeting with a Russian operative, the first is, really? What the hell is this all about? The second is let's call the FBI. I mean, this is completely unacceptable, conspiring with a foreign nation to undermine the integrity of an American election.
BURNETT: All right. So I want to ask you about a couple points you made there. First this issue of calling the FBI, right? We know that the Christopher Wray, FBI director nominee has said that's exactly what he would have done. That's what anybody should have done. But maybe Donald Trump Jr. did not know to do that. At least that's what the president said today. He defended his son. He did nothing wrong. And I want to play again some of his defense for you, senator. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research or even research into your opponent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Senator, would most people have taken that meeting? I mean he's making the argument, look, someone comes to you. Say they have dirt on your opponent. If the biggest political race of your life, you are running for president of the United States. Wouldn't a normal person just want to check it out?
MERKLEY: Absolutely not. This thing has violation of law written all over it. You cannot take help from a foreign government in an American election. It's a violation of law. The reaction would be, first of all, you would -- to that whole e-mail string you would be, what, we're going to have our top three people, the son-in-law, the son and the campaign manager at this meeting with this Russian lawyer? No, no. Absolutely not.
I mean, it's clear that they didn't respond and say what is the background of this? They knew there was more background just from the fact that they didn't respond. This is -- all through this, Trump has maintained that there was no contact, no coordination, no collaboration. Clearly you have -- you have the mission. You have his Trump team. You have the Russians in the same room. You have the e-mail that lays out its part of an ongoing program. There is no surprise on the part of the Trump team and there is really very unlikely that with the campaign manager, the son and the son-in-law all there that Trump knew nothing about this.
BURNETT: There may be a very big difference, though, between a Russian and a Russian operative, which was a word you used a moment ago in this interview. Look, the president says the person his son met with was not connected to the Russian government. We heard him say earlier, "not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer."
[19:10:10] Now, we know the lawyer denies she is connected to the Kremlin so with the Kremlin. No surprise there. The e-mail of course to Don Jr. says she was a Russian government attorney. So, we don't know at this point. But I'm wondering from your perspective, senator, do you have any proof that when you use the word operative that she was an operative of the Russian government?
MERKLEY: What we know is the campaign manager, son and son-in-law all went into that meeting thinking they were meeting with a Russian government attorney. Now, if it was or wasn't, their expectation was this was somebody tied in to team Putin.
BURNETT: And you believe something you said a moment ago as well. You find it hard to believe that the president of the United States did not know about that meeting, even though of course he has directly denied knowing about it until just a few days ago?
MERKLEY: I'm sorry to say the president of the United States, President Trump, has great difficulty speaking accurately about the events in our country.
BURNETT: So is this meeting for you the smoking gun?
MERKLEY: This is absolutely, absolutely. I mean, the defense is that we didn't actually get anything good out of this meeting. That's been the defense. That's not the question. The question is whether you were aware of an ongoing Russian effort, which this e-mail lays out, whether you were meeting to obtain information, which they admit that they were. And, so, this is definitely the type of collaboration that other events made us think might exist, but we hadn't seen it laid out so crisply.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Senator Merkley, as always.
MERKLEY: You're welcome. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next Donald Trump Jr.'s damning e-mail chain. It's not just e-mails. Did a phone call actually take place in between two crucial e-mails? You're going to see this laid out. And Donald Trump Jr.'s long history with Moscow. Should he have known better than to meet with a Russian lawyer or a Russian government lawyer as the e- mail said. Plus an American in Paris. Trump commenting on the figure of France's first lady and taking a question about his good friend Jim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have mentioned a friend, Jim. We told you that Paris is no longer Paris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Who's Jim? Does he even exist?
[19:16: 24] BURNETT: New questions tonight about that e-mail chain between Donald Trump Jr. and the man setting up the meeting with a Russian lawyer. Did a separate phone call take place in between e- mails, a phone call that could be crucial because if you read closely, the e-mails seem to make it clear that could have happened. Trump junior was asked directly about a phone conversation. Now, here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: At any point were you told either in phone conversation or otherwise what they might tell you, what they -- what Goldstone seemed to be implying you would receive.
DONALD TRUMP JR, DONALD TRUMP'S OLDEST SON: No, as I recall, it was all basically this e-mail coordination, let's try to set up a meeting and see what happens. And that's going to be interesting information. And, you know, in the end it wasn't about that at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Pamela Brown is OutFront. Pam, you know, you have been going through these e-mails. Walk us through them and why there is one hour here on the time stamps in particular that could be crucial.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the e-mails released by Don Jr. earlier this week they do raise the question of whether a phone call ever took place between him and Emin Agalarov before that meeting with the Russian attorney.
So, during the exchange Agalarov (INAUDIBLE) drop Goldstone says, "Hi, Don, let me know when you are free to talk by phone about this Hillary (INAUDIBLE)." Don Jr. responded, "Rob, can we speak now." Goldstone writes, "Well, let me track him down in Moscow. What number can he call?" Don Jr. replied, "He can call his cell." And then Goldstone replied, "OK. He's on stage in Moscow, but should be off within 20 minutes, so I'm sure he could call."
So that was at 3:43 p.m. On June 6th, nearly an hour later Don Jr. replies, "Rob, thanks for the help." Raising the question whether a phone call took place during that time. Then around 24 hours later, Goldstone sent another e-mail saying, "Emin asked I schedule a meeting with you and the Russian government attorney." I believe you are aware of the meeting. So how else would he be aware of that meeting one might asked. Agalarov's lawyer denied the phone call ever happened. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BALBER, ATTORNEY FOR EMIN AND ARAS AGALAROV: I really can't speak to what Rob Goldstone was thinking or what he wrote or why. But I'll tell you again that that call didn't happen. I don't know if there was someone else who spoke to Donald Trump Jr. about this perspective meeting but it wasn't my client and again I don't know where Mr. Goldstone got his information from, but it's just categorically incorrect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And I spoke to him on the phone a minute ago and he also reiterated that. He said there was no phone call that took place before or after that meeting with either of the Agalarov's. And we have reached out to Don Jr.'s attorney and we are waiting to see if he will be testifying on Capitol Hill as was requested by lawmakers today. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Pamela. Of course as soon as possibly next week at least Dianne Feinstein wants. Let's go to Senior Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan, along with our Senior Political Analyst, Mark Preston. Jeff Toobin, let me start with you.
You have gone through all these e-mails. Pam laid it out very clearly. To me it sounds like there is a phone call. You're the lawyer. Does it sound that way to you?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well sure, it definitely seems that way. But we don't know for sure. And the only way to determine that and so much else about this meeting is to have a real investigation. You know, giving an interview to Sean Hannity is not an investigation. That's public relations. If he is going to really cooperate, he's going to talk to the FBI, he's going to produce his phone records and most importantly, he's going to produce any other e- mails that dealt with this subject.
So, you know, yes, we know a good deal about this meeting given these -- given these e-mails, but a thorough investigation would involve a lot more, including examining phone records to see if any such phone call -
TOOBIN: -- took place.
[19:20:18] BURNETT: Which of course you got lawyers coming out and directly saying it didn't. So if those records come out and they're proven to be liars, that's going to add a whole other level to this. I mean April, part of the reason this aspect of this call is getting attention is because of what Donald Trump Jr. told Sean Hannity during that PR interview the other night. So let me play that exchange again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: At any point were you told either in a phone conversation or otherwise what they might tell you, what Goldstone seemed to be implying you would receive?
TRUMP JR: As I recall it was all basically this e-mail coordination, let's try to set up a meeting and see what happens and that there was going to be interesting information. And, you know, in the end it wasn't about that at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, you heard him say, right, it was all basically e-mail coordination. You know, April, interesting way to answer this considering that not only did he say call on my cell that they would obviously they already had his cell and (INAUDIBLE) have it, and the guy that wanted to call him is a pop star on stage and it was important enough that he was going to call 20 minutes right when he stepped off the stage.
APRIL RYAN, W.H. CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, Erin, I'm going to say this, you're focussing on that, but there are a couple words at the very beginning that really strike me.
RYAN: "As I recall", that's what Donald Trump Jr. is saying and also the words "as I remember." These are words that the attorneys are making sure those who are involved in this investigation of possibly being eyed or in the microscope of the FBI, they are definitely using those words because it allows them the chance to omit, if you will, certain things. If I remember, as I recall, so those are very interesting terms that they are using. He's not saying quite definitely, yes, I did or didn't. So he gets out of the legalities of that, as I recall, as I remember.
BURNETT: Mark, how significant will it be if it turns out this phone call did happen? I'm going under the assumption here that investigators including Bob Mueller will get those phone records and we will know if a phone call happened and how long that phone call was.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple things. Let me answer it two ways. Let me answer it legally, but I won't go too far because that's Jeffrey's per view what I understand much more. A, we don't necessarily know what was said during the telephone call. But the fact that if it were to happen, if it were to have happened and he did not disclose it and he has to disclose it because he is testifying before Congress or before Robert Mueller during the investigation, then that is another effort or another way of Donald Trump Jr. trying to conceal what exactly happened.
Politically, I will tell you that Republicans right now are starting to get nervous and starting to get more frustrated. When I say that I mean elected Republicans because they see this as another straw that's put on the camel's back and by no means is the camel ready to collapse at this point. But it seems like more and more straw is being added to it. And at some point, you will start to see Republicans be on Ben Sasse, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, who will start to part with Donald Trump.
RYAN: Erin, Mark is absolutely right.
BURNETT: Go ahead, April. Go ahead.
RYAN: Mark is absolutely right. Hearing from my Republican sources that donors are concerned right now. They are very concerned with the "drip, drip, drip" of these e-mails, this scandal of the White House. And they're concerned at how the scandal with these e-mails, particularly this current situation, how it will affect the emerging scandals will effect Republican power and the power structure.
BURNETT: So, Jeffrey, when it comes to are we going to know whether there was a phone call, right, does Mueller have the ability to Senate investigators, House investigators to get those phone records, or is that a totally separate process here?
TOOBIN: Oh they all definitely have subpoena power and cell phone records are routinely obtained by prosecutors and investigators of all kinds. But, you know, I don't think people should get their hopes up for a dramatic piece of news. Let's say there is a phone call. Donald Jr. says --
BURNETT: We're still not going to know what was said on the call.
TOOBIN: Yes, exactly. He says well I guess I didn't speak for him for couple of minutes. I don't remember what was said. Pretty much the end of story. So, I think, you know, it's all part of a mosaic that investigators have to look at, but there are a lot of questions that they want to look at and one phone call, one e-mail is not going to determine -
TOOBIN: -- you know, the future of the Trump Administration.
BURNETT: You know because, Mark, here is what's interesting. You know, when they coming up with excuses for why this happened, which obviously is been an evolving set of excuses, but the most recent one is, you know, this is a guy I don't know well. This is an acquaintance and they have said that now several times. Let me just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:25:08] TRUMP JR: An acquaintance, you know, sent me this e-mail. I was basically sitting there listening as a courtesy to my acquaintance who had set up the meeting. This is a courtesy to acquaintances. Sometimes you do things differently for acquaintances and for friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Mark the point I want to make clear here is it doesn't matter whether it was your best friend, your brother or an acquaintance. The point is who did you think you were meeting with to get what kind of information. And on that the e-mails are very clear, a Russian government attorney because the Russian government supported Donald Trump.
PRESTON: It's in the subject line of the e-mail. It's in the body of the e-mail. And to your point, it doesn't matter if it is his best friend, which it doesn't seem, you know, like these are his best friends but they are more than acquaintances. If you look at the language, and quite frankly, the willingness to have a discussion about such a sensitive matter, that's more than somebody that you would just do it, you know, to help somebody out or to hear out a so- called acquaintance.
TOOBIN: And if I could add one point to that -
BURNETT: April --
TOOBIN: -- it's not just --
TOOBIN: -- that Donald Trump Jr. went to this meeting. He brought Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman. So, I mean, this was not just a casual meeting. I think everybody knows how busy people are in campaigns. To get those three people in one room, it's got to be something that they were pretty much looking forward to hearing.
BURNETT: You would think so, right. It's not saying, well, nothing came out. But again, that's not the point. The point is what did you expect. April, before we go, one more thing I wanted to ask you. The president today had that joint press conference of course with Emmanuel Macron, President of France. And then Macron at the end he calls for a final question from an American journalist. Trump did something unusual, calling on a man who said he was a journalist from Phoenix TV of China. How big of a break from protocol was this?
RYAN: It's a huge break because when it is 2-2, it is an American journalist or those traveling with the American press core and then someone from that home country. Now, I talked with some of the high ranking members of the White House Correspondent Association Board. People are not familiar. Some of the people the board talked with, some of the leadership of the Board, they are not familiar with the reporter who asked the question.
And really understanding the dynamics and what happens at the White House, it was an effort, basically, to stay away. He took that one question about his son and he answered it talking about, you know, yes, you know, many people would have take than meeting and it also talked about the opposition research.
He answered it and then he wanted to move on. It was clear it was strategy to move away from it. But we are not familiar. Many of us, I am not familiar, we are not familiar with the reporter who stood up and asked the question.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.
And next our special report on Donald Trump Jr.'s history with Russia. It is obviously crucial now in the context of what he really knew about a Russian government attorney. Why did he once warn about bribery in that scary place of Moscow?
And did President Trump cross the line with this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You're in such good shape. Beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:31:52] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: New tonight, President Trump telling reporters it would be a smart move to invite the Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House at the right time saying, quote, I only want to make great deals with Russia.
Now, the Trumps have quite the history when it comes to dealing with Russia, especially Donald Trump Jr., a man who in the past seemed to be quite fond of Moscow.
Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump has long played down his business ties with Russia.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to do with Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia. And even, for anything.
MARQUARDT: But, in fact, he made decades of efforts that are now at the core of how Donald Trump Jr. came to have that meeting with a supposed Russian government attorney.
Michael Isikoff has investigated the Trump family's business ties in Russia.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, YAHOO! NEWS: It's been clear that for years, the Trump Organization and Donald Trump Jr. in particular have been very interested in developing business in Russia. Donald Trump Jr. talked about it repeatedly over the years, flew to Moscow, made multiple trips.
MARQUARDT: All of the Trumps Russian projects fizzled out until 2013 when a deal was struck with Kremlin-tied real estate developers, the Agalarov family, to host the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
TRUMP: You're my partners. You're my very powerful, very rich, very nice. Great people.
MARQUARDT: Father Aras and son Emin, who is also a pop star who performed at the pageant. After, Trump tweeted I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a fantastic job. Trump Tower Moscow is next. Emin was wow.
The Trump Tower project in Moscow would become Donald Jr.'s baby.
ISIKOFF: The Trump Organization signs a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with the Crocus Group which is the company owned by Aras Agalarov, the billionaire oligarch very close to Vladimir Putin. And Donald Trump Jr. was put in charge of that project by his father.
MARQUARDT: But according to Isikoff, when the U.S. sanctions hit Russia in 2014, the deal began to fall apart, though Emin Agalarov told "Forbes" they would still be in track if Trump hadn't run for president. The Agalarovs were allegedly the ones trying to pass on the supposed incriminating information on Hillary Clinton and appeared to still view Donald Jr. as the Trump's point man on Russia.
Emin's publicist, Rob Goldstone, told him the Agalarovs got the documents from a Russian prosecutor, a claim they now denied.
ISIKOFF: When he writes to Donald Trump Jr. in the e-mail that this is coming from Emin, it obviously registers with Donald Trump Jr. because he immediately replies, says he'd love it.
MARQUARDT: Despite his apparent fondness for Russia, Donald Trump Jr. did once say it, quote, really is a scary place, telling a real estate conference in 2008, as much as we want to take our business over there, Russia is just a different world.
[19:35:01] A different world the Trumps had tried to break into without much success.
But when long-time friends came calling from that world with potential help to the campaign, Donald Jr. took it seriously.
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, I want to hear the information. I mean, that's what we do in business. If there's information out there, you want it and then you make what you do with it.
MARQUARDT: For so long, Russia was synonymous with business hopes for the Trumps. And even though they didn't have any real success in Russia, they did here in New York and elsewhere, according to Donald Trump Jr. He said in 2008, the Russians made up what he called a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.
And on a personal level, he seemed to be a big fan of Russia's capital, tweeting pictures when he was there on trips and once telling an audience, quote, I really prefer Moscow over all cities in the world -- Erin. BURNETT: Alex, thank you.
And let's go now to Jason Miller, the former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, and Kirsten Powers, "USA Today" columnist.
Jason, Trump Jr. in the past, you know, here's the thing -- he is saying now, look, I got this e-mail about a Russian government attorney and I'm a business guy. Of course, I wanted to hear what they had to say. He wouldn't have the first instinct to call the FBI.
But yet, he had done a lot of trips to Russia. He knew people there. He called it a, quote, scary place.
Are you surprised he would have gone ahead with a meeting like this with a Russian government attorney as he thought it was?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's important to take a look at where things were at the time that this e-mail came in. This was well before any of the Russian news came to the forefront. The introduction came from an acquaintance that they've known from the Miss Universe pageant.
And again, it's not like the e-mail said that somebody is going to depart the Kremlin, hop into Red October, drive it across the Atlantic, park it at Chelsea Piers, uber across town and come up to Trump Tower to present some information to you. It was a lawyer that was in town for some client matter that wanted to drop by and chat with them. It ended up being a 20 minute meeting.
BURNETT: A Russian government lawyer with highly sensitive information from the Russian government that supported Mr. Trump. That's what the email said.
MILLER: But it is referring to a simple oppo dump essentially which happens in every campaign. And again, my point being is this Russia cloud wasn't at all in existence then, and Donald Jr. is approaching this from a 15, 20-year background in business, not from a 15 or 20- year background in politics.
We saw Donald Jr. say when he was on another network in his interview the other night, he said in retrospect, he probably would have handled things a little bit differently. But again, the e-mail, if you go back and read it, said that this lawyer was coming over here for some kind of client meeting.
We know that that's backed up from the story that came out in "The Hill", saying that this lawyer was here on some special visa or some special waiver that Loretta Lynch had given to her. So, that seems to back up the case. And so --
BURNETT: Right. What does that have to do with the intent of what she's going to do or who she was? I mean, it doesn't really matter if she was meeting with anyone else.
MILLER: Well, I mean, Erin, the only news that was out there at that point had anything at all, the slightest bit with Russia was the Uranium One use dealing with Hillary Clinton from back during the secretary of state days. I have no idea if that was something that Donald Jr. was aware of or not. But frequently on campaigns, and again, this is --
MILLER: -- I have been doing this for 20 years and people always try to raise info and try to bring up oppo dumps. And it ended up being a 20-minute meeting and I think that Don Jr. is really unfairly getting hit here. I mean, he listened to someone for 20 minutes, nothing came of it, and he moved on.
BURNETT: Twenty to 30 minutes is, of course, what he said, as you point out. But I just want to be clear on the exact parameters here.
Kirsten, is he being unfairly judged?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I wish I could have taken notes and go point by point but I honestly can't keep track of all the things that Jason just said that are just not true, not accurate.
The -- I mean, first of all, Donald Jr. is not being mistreated here. That's absolutely absurd. This is not something that people do. It's not something that people in politics do. It's not something that people in business do, unless they are unethical or unless they like to break the law.
So, it's not -- you know, you say, like, well, he is this person who worked in business and he didn't work in politics, and so, therefore, we can't expect him to know that Russia is a hostile government that is actually not a friend of the United States and that actually should not be involved in American elections.
BURNETT: But, you know, if you're doing a lot of business with them, you would know that very well.
POWERS: I would say if you are at least have gone to high school, you probably should know that. I mean, this is very basic that Russia is an adversary of the United States.
This person clearly stated that they worked -- you just said it was a lawyer. It was a government lawyer identified as a government lawyer. It was somebody who made it very clear that the government of Russia was supporting president -- or then, you know, candidate Trump's run for the president.
I mean, there is just nothing about this that is gray. And anybody with any ethics would not have this meeting. It's just that simple.
BURNETT: So, Jason, let me ask you, in the context of what happened today, you know, the FBI, Christopher Wray, FBI director nominee, right, who was asked about this.
[19:40:02] He said that if anybody got this request, they should call the FBI. So, you're saying Donald Trump Jr. who did have extensive business
experience in Russia and therefore knew all these issues, he should have if he was business there, right, that would be just basic due diligence, that he didn't know, maybe he was naive.
But Paul Manafort was in that room. He's been working on campaigns for more than 30 years. Surely, he would know if you get a mail like this, you call the FBI. You don't go in a meeting to get the information, right?
MILLER: Well, we've publicly from Don Jr. We have not heard from Paul Manafort. I saw somebody close to Paul Manafort said that he hadn't read all the way through. I'm not going to pretend to speak for Paul Manafort. I'll allow him to do that in his context.
But going back to Don Jr., which is the focus of what we're talking about here -- look, he took a 20-minute meeting and then that was it. There was no further talk between them, or any further communication --
BURNETT: Jason, let me just be clear here, though, let me just be clear here, though, because I have to make this point. I understand you're saying that, right? But it seems a bit of a ridiculous point, because, obviously, he took the meeting because he was hoping there was information. If there was information in the meeting, I would be credulous to think she would have followed up, right?
BURNETT: They were really lucky that she didn't have anything to say.
MILLER: Well, let's go back. So, I'm going to --
BURNETT: So, you're saying they would have come with all this information and then they would have said, wait a minute, it's not appropriate. We're not going to use this information? Really?
MILLER: Well, this, now, I'm glad you bring this point up, Erin, because this very important distinction here or I guess a point of clarification. When this person came into the meeting, this lawyer, she sat down and started talking about some absolute gibberish nonsense about how the Russians were funding the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Now, I think all three of us would agree that theory or that concept is completely laughable on its face. And as it sounds from Don Jr. describing it that everyone in the room thought that was completely ridiculous or at least everyone on the campaign side. And so, and then after that, the lawyer immediately pivoted to talking about Russian adoptions which we know after this meeting the lawyer went down to D.C. and teamed up with a former Democratic congressman to lobby people on Democratic -- on Russian adoptions. (CROSSTALK)
POWERS: What's your point?
BURNETT: You're telling me they wouldn't have done anything with it? That just not add up.
MILLER: I'm saying in campaigns when people call up and say that they have oppo research or they have information or they have a tip or something like that, typically you sit down and you hear them out. Now, what's different here and what I would have done differently is go into a full vetting and figure out exactly who is coming in. I think that's probably the difference between my having a 20-year background in politics as opposed to 20-year background in business and you figure out the difference.
And so, that's where I think that would be --
MILLER: -- but people call up in every campaign and say I have some oppo.
BURNETT: Jason, I think you have a good job defending it, but I would hope any good business person would vet who is going to be on their calendar (INAUDIBLE)
Kirsten, let me give you the final word.
POWERS: Jason, you work on campaigns. You know perfectly well that when some random person calls up with opposition research, that the campaign chairman does not sit down with them. You know that. You have to admit that, that that is not the first person that they meet with on the campaign.
MILLER: Well, and again I hadn't started with the campaign yet, so I don't know the exact logistics to how that went down.
MILLER: So, it could have been a simple --
POWERS: No, no, no, any campaign. Any presidential campaign, that is not how you get in the door. You do not -- your first meeting is not with the campaign manager. I mean just please admit that.
MILLER: Kirsten, I mean, neither one of us were there. Neither one of us know the exactly way it played out.
POWERS: I don't need to be there. I'm just telling you like there's not a single presidential campaign in the history of the world that that's how -- you just walk in the door as some random person that claims they have opposition research and sits down with the campaign chairman. The fact you won't admit that is incredible.
MILLER: Well, again, I'm not going to go and speculate on something that I wasn't there and wasn't hearing it. But again, this is -- I mean, the only actual interference that we've seen from some outside entity was again we saw from the January "Politico" story where the DNC consultant went over to the Ukrainian embassy and got information about president Trump's campaign and used it to go and attack one of the people on his campaign. That's the only thing we have actually seen so far.
BURNETT: All right. We'll take a break. Thank you both.
And next, just moments ago, President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton talking politics, yes, together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: If all you deal with is the incoming fire, you can't keep the promises you made when you were running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Trump often talks about his friend Jim and his love for Paris. Jeanne Moos asks, who is Jim?
[19:48:17] BURNETT: Tonight, a new version of the Senate health care bill dangerously close to failing, this as President Trump is now telling reporters, and I quote him: I say the only thing more difficult than peace between Israel and Palestine is health care.
Well, it is difficult. In fact, the revised version of the bill might not have enough Republican support to get to the floor.
Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT with more.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hours after the release of the Senate GOP's new version of health care reform, the bill is already in jeopardy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes, and already two senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, are firm noes, but for different reasons.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Let's do clean repeal. That's what we promised the voters.
NOBLES: Collins tweeting, still deep cuts to Medicaid in Senate bill. Will vote no on MTP. Ready to work with GOP and Dem colleagues to fix flaws in ACA.
The 172-page bill is designed to fulfill the GOP campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. And there is no one with more at stake at this stage of the debate than Senate Majority Leader McConnell who was personally called out by President Trump on Wednesday.
TRUMP: He's got to pull it off. Mitch has to pull it off. He's working very hard. He's got to pull it off.
PAT ROBERTSON, CBN NEWS: What happens if they don't?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to talk about it. I think it will be very bad. I will be very angry about it. A lot of people will be very upset.
NOBLES: McConnell, the leader of the health care working group in the Senate today promised a revised plan would help bring the party together.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: After extensive consultations across the conference, numerous meeting with constituents and intensive conversations with members, our conference has updated the last month's better care discussion draft with additional provisions to make it stronger.
[19:50:00] NOBLES: But the plan is not the major overhaul that some senators were looking for. It keeps in place many of the sharp Medicaid cuts originally proposed. It includes a version of the so- called Cruz Amendment that allows insurers that sell Obamacare plans to also offer policies outside the confines of Affordable Care Act regulations. It adds more money to state stabilization funds to help lower premiums, particularly for the sick.
The bill also avoids repealing Obamacare taxes for wealthy Americans, a reversal from the previous GOP plan, and it boosts funding to combat the opioid crisis. While the mood coming out of an all GOP senators closed door meeting was positive, there are still concerns that the bill doesn't go far enough.
PAUL: It's worse. I mean, the old version repealed most of the Obamacare taxes. This repeals about half of the Obamacare taxes.
NOBLES: And we know for sure that there are two senators who are in the "no" camp right now, and that's Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky. But most senators tonight remain undecided. They're going to be waiting from that score from the Congressional Budget Office which is expected to be out early next week.
Erin, that will tell us how many people will lose coverage under this plan and ultimately how much it will cost -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Ryan.
And OUTFRONT now, let's go to Rick Santorum, our senior political commentator and former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, of course, also presidential candidate, health care important for him. He has been working closely with Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy on the issue.
And, Senator, you've been on the Hill all day. Does this revised health care bill have the support, in your view, to come to a vote?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it does yet. But as you mentioned, you know, Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham are working on an amendment that I think if added to the McConnell bill, I think Mitch McConnell made some improvements. I think he's trying to listen to his members.
Now, I would argue that he needs to listen to the nation's governors, and that's what Senator Graham and Senator Cassidy are doing. They're talking to governors. They're talking to Medicaid directors. They're trying to make sure that, you know, we can hand off the ball.
And this is what the Graham-Cassidy amendment does. It really changes one part of the McConnell bill. Instead of trying to fix -- you mentioned several things he's trying to fix with Obamacare, stop trying to fix something that can't and shouldn't be fixed at the federal level and really just send a large block grant back to the state, really try to mimic what Republicans successfully did with Bill Clinton, I might add, in 1996 on welfare reform which I worked on which was, let's get flexibility and lots of money.
I mean, this is a big tradeoff. You ought to give more money so states can deal with this problem. Give them the flexibility to design markets in each state. And end this federal stranglehold on health care laws.
BURNETT: So, in an interview yesterday, the president, as you know, Senator, said he'd be angry if Republicans can't get a bill to his desk, right, talking about Mitch McConnell specifically, saying he, quote, has to pull it off.
Is that rhetoric helping or hurting coming from the president?
SANTORUM: I -- I don't think it does either to be honest with you. I think every Republican in that room, I was in a couple of the meetings today. And every Republican in that room realizes that it's important to try to get something done.
But they want -- look, people want to make sure we're not re placing a very bad system with something that isn't going to cause as many or even more problems. And so, I think they take this very, very seriously. And a lot of senators are engaged in trying to work on things. And that's a good thing.
So, I'm very -- I'm very happy that we're seeing this engagement, and Mitch McConnell is listening, and I think there's more listening to be done.
BURNETT: All right. Senator Santorum, thank you.
Just moments ago, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush together in a public appearance. Bill Clinton talking about the current political environment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We might be less racist, homophobic and sexist and other things, but we don't want to be around very many people who disagree with us normally. And we get news in silos. And the truth is, in an interdependent complex world, diverse groups make better decisions than homogenous ones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel.
And, Jamie, how significant that a former president is calling out the current political climate like we just heard Bill Clinton do?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, those two men are very disciplined and determined not to talk about Donald Trump. They really don't want to do it. But if you're going to get close to it, look, that's -- that is where that was going, a very different climate.
And just watching the two of them together at this event, it feels like a completely different era. They talk about bipartisanship, they get along, they smile, they genuinely like each other.
But they have both been very careful not to -- they don't even say the words Donald Trump. They may do a policy criticism. Bill Clinton did on climate change. George Bush did on PEPFAR funding. But that's -- that is as close as they're going to get.
[19:55:00] BURNETT: Jamie, the two of them obviously getting along -- well, I mean, almost silly to say this, but much better than Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
GANGEL: Right, absolutely. Look, George Bush likes to joke that Bill Clinton is his brother from another mother. They genuinely get along. They like to laugh. They like to gossip.
If you ask one about the other, they get a twinkle in their eye. The camera doesn't lie. They like each other.
But what I thought was striking about today is just the different tenor. It's a completely different political time era.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much, Jamie.
And next, French twist. Donald Trump overheard commenting on the looks of France's first lady.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You're in such good shape. Beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: President Trump says he has a friend named Jim who lives in Paris. Who's Jim?
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump got the royal treatment. But whether he was wringing the hand of the first lady of France or complimenting her physique --
TRUMP: You're in such good shape. Beautiful.
MOOS: -- or getting chummy with her husband, the president, somebody was missing. Jim.
TRUMP: A friend of mine. He's a very, very substantial guy. He loves the City of Lights.
He's told me for years, Paris, Paris.
Jim, let me ask you a question? How is Paris doing? Paris? I don't go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris.
France is no longer France.
MOOS: He talked about Jim so often trying to make the point that France had succumbed to terrorism, that the New Yorker started hunting for Jim in vain.
He inspired memes and tweets like, just hanging out with #jim.
When the White House refused to say whether Jim actually exists, thus was born Jim, the president's imaginary friend. With his own Twitter account insisting, I exist.
"The View" dedicated a photo album to Jim.
A French reporter brought him up at the joint press conference.
REPORTER: You've mentioned a friend, Jim, who told you that Paris is no longer Paris.
TRUMP: That's a beauty. You know what? It's going to be just fine, because you have a great president.
MOOS (on camera): If Jim were imaginary, it wouldn't be the first time that an invisible character entered the political fray. Would it?
CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: What do you mean shut up?
MOOS (voice-over): Clint Eastwood wowed the Republican convention, riffing with an emergency Barack Obama.
EASTWOOD: What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to that. He can't do that to himself.
MOOS: Judging from their body language, Donald Trump's imaginary friend gets between the two presidents.
TRUMP: I'm coming back.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: And you are also welcome.
MOOS: But what about Jim? They're making him jealous.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
TRUMP: France is no longer France.
MOOS: -- New York.
TRUMP: They won't like me for saying that.
BURNETT: And thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. Just go to CNN Go.
"AC360" begins right now.