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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
Emails To Trump Jr. Russia Government Behind Anti Clinton Info; Trump Jr. Speaks Out About Russian meeting And Emails. Aired 11-12p ET
Aired July 11, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: We will be back here tomorrow, White House in crisis. Jake Tapper starts right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: Good evening. This is a CNN special report, White House in crisis. Breaking tonight, what an ally of the Trump White House is calling a category five hurricane to a story in Washington Post. The President's son, Donald Trump Jr. trying to defend himself and explain what is arguably the most incriminating piece of public evidence yet any investigation to the Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether there was any demonstrable collusion between the Trump team and the Kremlin. I am Jake Tapper and here is what we know this hour.
Emails preemptively released earlier today by Trump Jr. just before they were about to be published by The New York Times, in June 2016 Trump Jr. was explicitly offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton, the emails claiming to Trump Jr. that the incriminating information quote is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump unquote. In a new interview tonight Trump Jr. says he did not tell his father about a meeting with a Russian lawyer. He claimed there was nothing to tell but The New York Times is reporting this evening that President Trump was involved in the damage control about this story in recent days, signing off on his son's initial and incomplete account of his meeting with that Russian lawyer.
Tonight CNN has learned that special counsel Bob Mueller is planning to investigate that meeting and that Donald Trump Jr.'s email exchanges will be part of the investigation as well. The Times is also reporting the emails were only discovered after Jared Kushner updated his security clearance form after initially failing to disclose his involvement in the meeting. We'll ask President Trump's lawyer what Mr. Trump knew and when. Recover -- we're covering this breaking story from every angle. Let's begin with the breaking emails between Donald Trump Jr. and publicist Rob Goldstone. Goldstone spells out that the Russians were offering quote official documents and information's that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. Its part of Russia and its government's support Mr. Trump end quote. I can also send this info to your father via (inaudible), that is Trump's personal assistant. And if it's what you say, I love it especially later in the summer. This evening Donald Trump Jr. Speaking out about the emails saying in retrospect he would have done things differently. Let's listen just a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you tell your father anything about this?
DONALD TRUMP JR., OLDEST SON OF DONALD TRUMP: No. It was such a nothing. There was nothing to tell. I mean I wouldn't have even remembered it except you start scouring through the stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever meet with any other person from Russia that you know?
TRUMP JR: I don't know. I've probably met other people in Russia. Not in the form of a formalized meeting because why would I? How busy we were, this was a courtesy to an acquaintance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Our correspondence and analysts are here to help us to sort through tonight's new revelations and analyze Donald Trump Jr.'s interview. Let me start with you, Donald Trump Jr. stating unequivocally he did not tell his father about this meeting. Is that credible to you?
GLORIA BORGER, AMERICAN POLITICAL PUNDIT JOURNALIST AND COLUMNIST: It's difficult to say right now. I know the panel has talked to his lawyer who's also said the same thing. We know this is a family who had a personal relationship with the Trumps. The father was Donald Trump's partner in the miss universe contest in Russia.
TAPPER: The family that reached out through Rob Goldstone to Donald Trump Jr.?
BORGER: Exactly. Rob Goldstone's the intermediary here. Don Jr. didn't say what are you kidding? Clearly this is a familiar person. Both the intermediary and the family to him, so it would seem to me if he got this kind of email he might have told his father. In fact Rob Goldstone said I wanted to send it to you first and Don Jr. Never said don't pass it along to my father. But right now we have Don Jr.'s word and his attorney's word about this. So I think this is something the special counsel is going to have to get an answer to.
[23:05:18] TAPPER: And you spoke with Donald Trump Jr.'s attorney this evening. What did he have to say at them?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: He basically said his client didn't break any laws. The FBI has not reached out for an interview or documentation but said Don would do so. Don Jr. Would hand over anything that the FBI would like and said when it comes to these accusations he could have violated campaign finance law, there is an allegation that the Russian government wanted to hand over incriminating information. His argument was look we don't know what this was. We can't vouch for this email. You know are you telling me that when someone reaches out saying you have incriminating information about your opponent, you hang up? He said it was all puffery for the woman to get in the door and talk about adoption.
TAPPER: Take a listen to Donald Trump Jr. describing the email from Rob Goldstone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP JR: I didn't know if there was anything behind it. Someone sent me an email. I read it. I responded accordingly and if there was something interesting there. I think it's pretty common.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Obviously I don't think -- I assume he didn't mean getting an email getting information from the Russian government is pretty common. What is the response on Capitol Hill to what a lot of people who are in the national security field find a shocking admission?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: On the Republican side it's been mixed. You have Republicans who are dismissing it. I tried to ask if he had any concerns about this whatsoever and he said this is something the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to investigate. You have people raising concerns like Lindsey Graham. It's not that common. You shouldn't be meeting with a foreign adversary during the middle of the campaign and others want more information. The senate judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley sending a letter to two senior Trump officials tonight saying how did this Russian lawyer get into the country? I want more information into that. Almost certainly this is going to be part of the house and senate committee's investigations. The top two Democrats asking for at least private testimony from Don Jr. who said in that Fox interview he is willing to cooperate, testify under oath. As well as everybody else who set up that meeting. But the interesting thing Jake was that at the press conference with Adam Schiff, who is not there? The Republican leading the House Intelligence Committee investigation and the other person like Richard Burke. He said did not want to comment on Don Jr., the whole episodes he said there were quote very early in this investigation. He doesn't want to get in front of it.
TAPPER: One of the things Adam Schiff hypothesized earlier today was this might have been a trial run to see how interested the Trump team might be were they to be offered damaging information, that it's entirely possible Schiff to be saying that the meeting went exactly the way Trump Jr. and others say it did. But the point was to probe to find out would they be interested and this is exactly how Russia would do this, through this family friend of the Trumps. What are your sources in the national security community saying today?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The cutout model is the way Russia operates. If they're going to offer you something like this, they're not going to send somebody in a KGB uniform. In fact many of the meetings that we have been reporting for months have taken place between Trump aids and Russians were not official Russian intelligence officials. These were tycoons, businessman, etc. Like this lawyer who came in keep in mind this is a powerful lawyer tied to the Kremlin who is connected to the very rich people in Russia. The adoption issue rate which is the first explanation for this meeting, is always just talking about babies and so on. It's tied to the act which penalizes Russians accused of committing crimes, human rights abuses. Again, this is all tied to big picture issues. So, one -- this is the way Russians do this kind of thing. This is the way Russian intelligence operates.
[23:10:11] Two, even if both issues were consequential, the idea of incriminating evidence against Hillary Clinton, but also she dodge issues as she want Russian pushing for, they want to water down these sanctions. That is a consequential import. To have someone friendlier in the office, that is something they might raise. And the final thing is this is the first meeting of many meetings we have reported on and the intelligence committees on the hill and special counsel are looking into. It was set up to present this information. Now you have the special counsel and others. They have several meetings to look into between Trump world and Russia to see what and why, what was discussed. Why did Kushner seek secret back channel with the Russians? Why did Kushner meet with a connected Russian banker in Europe? All this are issue to be mind now by investigators, to see if you get similar evidence there was an attempted cooperation.
TAPPER: He kept repeating that meeting was a waste of time. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the meeting result said in information that you felt in any way was illegal or compromising or collusion to use the media's term.
TRUMP JR: I said it earlier 100 percent. I would bring it to the proper authorities. I think the reason we fought so hard during this campaign. Whether it was my father, the rest of my family and the efforts that we put into, you know those efforts well, because we would do anything for this country, we would never put that in jeopardy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I guess I'm a little confused by the answer, because one thing that to give Donald Trump Jr. credit. He is been completely candidate, at least in the last 24 hours is that he wanted opo on Hillary Clinton. That he would love it. Went there, expressed in the interview on Fox earlier several times what a waste it was and how disappointed he was. He confirmed the Russian lawyer's account to a degree when she said he kept asking where the information is. Where is the information? I guess I don't fully understand what he would have reported to the authorities given he wanted opo.
BORGER: Would it have been illegal opo that he would have reported to the authorities, I mean the fact that he came from the Russian, might be something one would think you would report to the authorities in the first place, if you had gotten this kind of emails, you might pick up the phone and call your counsel, say what do I do about this? Or should we report this to the FBI immediately because this is a country that doesn't have our best interest at heart and it's clear in this email they say that we have sensitive information as part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump. So when would he have reported something? I don't quite understand what he is saying there. I think he is speaking with hindsight here, not as he felt that time.
TAPPER: And you have reporting on how it came to be that this story even broke. You would think we would have learned about this a long time ago. Why is the story being reported now?
BROWN: I think this is a significant part of the story and committees on the hill will have a lot to look at, including this one and from our understanding the only reason it came to the attention of FBI investigators is because Jared Kushner six months after he filed his initial security clearance form, updated it, amended it with this meeting at Trump Tower with Don Jr. and Paul Manafort because he is going to be testifying on Capitol Hill. So essentially this was not something the FBI had on its radar up until late June when he put it on the security clearance form. And I think that can't be lost in all of this. I think investigators are particularly interested in Jared Kushner as well. What was he doing there? Remember he is the one in the White House. Don Jr. is a private citizen now. And it does raise questions why wasn't this put on his security clearance form sooner.
TAPPER: Gloria you have some pressure points as well.
BORGER: Right. And this came about as he was doing his review to get ready to testify before congress. Now there has been a report, I believe in Politico that Paul Manafort said he only read the first line of this email chain that said changed where the meeting was and where the meeting was, I wouldn't be surprised if Jared Kushner said the same thing. We don't know he hasn't comment on that yet. Especially Jared who has an interim security clearance right now but has not been officially gotten a full security clearance yet and I assume that this is perhaps run of the reasons.
[23:15:32] TAPPER: One of the hang-ups perhaps. Manu, I want to play another built of the interview where Donald Trump Jr. describes the meeting with this Russian lawyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go into the meeting. So you meet at Trump tower.
TRUMP JR: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The meeting was described earlier today on the "today" show. Did she describe it accurately?
TRUMP JR: Fairly accurately. I was a little taken back by her talking about me pressing for the information. But the pretext was we have information. And there was small talk I don't even remember what it was. It was sort of nonsensical and quickly went on to a story about Russian adoption and how we could possibly help and that is where we shut it down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know what the MagNitsky act was?
TRUMP JR: I'd never heard of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said that.
TRUMP JR: We were all there. I was there listening as a courtesy to my acquaintance who had had set up the meeting. And you can hear what he said and you played it earlier about it. He apologized to me walking out of the meeting basically for wasting my time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The act which was passed in 2012, I believe overwhelmingly enables the U.S. to sanction human rights abusers in Russia, people who have committed corruption, and horrible crimes against people there. And according to a lot of Russia experts, they are the sanctions Vladimir Putin hates the most. If this issue of adoption and the act was brought up, theoretically, this could be one of the things if this was in fact a meeting, one of the things they were probing for. Congress is relatively hawkish, especially Republican on the issue of Russia and Russian sanctions, but right now there's a bill enabling -- keeping sanctions even tougher against Russia and it's kind of in a little bit of limbo in the house.
RAJU: Even though it passed unanimously.
RAJU: You never see that in such a badly divided body. But the real concern is that Trump officials are raising concerns about a key provision that would essentially give congress the opportunity to veto any effort by the administration to loosen sanctions on Russia. And they said to reporters earlier this week they view it as 535 members of congress who believe they have greater commander and chief authority than the commander and chief himself. There's push back from senate Republicans. He said the White House is not reading that correctly but they are getting some receptiveness audience from members of the House of Republican leadership as well as others House Republican conference who are listening to the administration concerns. One reason why that is being held up right now in negotiations, but expect this pressure campaign to Senate Republican to intensify in the coming days.
TAPPER: An example of how many senate Republicans and how some house Republicans have a lot of concerns about President Trump and his views on Russia to say nothing about all this. Everyone stick around. We're going to come back to you in a bit. Coming back, I'm going to talk to one of the President's lawyers about one of President Trump's response to these meetings, to the emails and possible political and maybe legal consequences. We'll have a lot more is special report, White House in Crisis, stay with us.
[23:23:05] TAPPER: A few hours ago President Trump sent his first tweet defending Donald Trump Jr. over today's release of the email chain, about that meeting about the Russian attorney calling his son quote a great person who loves our country. Joining me is a member of Trump's legal team. Jay Sekulow, Jay thanks so much for being here. Just as a principal, if somebody says he wants to set up a meeting with your campaign because a foreign government wants to give information about arrival to that campaign, is that okay to do?
JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP' LAWYER: It's not illegal. I mean we had a situation with the DNC and the Ukrainians and the Ukrainian government was giving information about one of his campaign managers.
TAPPER: It was a little different. Nobody was meeting with any senior people of the Clinton campaign and the person that was --
SEKULOW: The lull wouldn't be any different. I mean the question is the legal question, is there anything wrong with the meeting that took place here. It's not illegal.
TAPPER: What about ethical?
SEKULOW: Look, you're in the middle of a campaign. So opposition research is very common.
TAPPER: Yeah, but not from Russians.
SEKULOW: Yeah, but, you look at the context to where it took place. This was the middle of the campaign, a meeting was setup, a meeting that ends up where they evidently, purportedly ends up not being the case, opposition research on Hillary Clinton. Don Jr. does the meeting, it's 20 minutes. Nothing transpires. It's on the whole adoption issue. And you look at the reality of what you're dealing with and what law has been violated here?
TAPPER: Let me ask you this. If Donald Trump Jr. had said to you I got this email the Russians say they want to help my dad. They have damaging information on Hillary Clinton. What would you advise him to do?
[23:25:00] SEKULOW: It's easy to go look back and say if Donald Trump lawyers were saying what should we do, but that is not what this is. This is the middle of campaign, the campaign is taking place. They're getting hundreds, thousands of people having information and by the way, it's the same thing on the Democratic side. This is not unique to Donald Trump's campaign. This is not unique to Republicans, Opposition research. Let's not forget there was a whole dossier that was reportedly done on President Trump that ended up being completely false. Where is that funded? Check where the money comes from on this.
TAPPER: My understanding to the dossier that was originally it was paid for by Republican opponents of President Trump in the primary, than Democratic wanted to President Trump, but that dossier.
SEKULOW: And then the FBI was going to buy it.
TAPPER: But I don't know of any instance of that individual who did it handing it over to the Clinton people.
SEKULOW: What happened here? Did any information get handed over, nothing?
TAPPER: If we take Donald Trump Jr.'s word for now.
SEKULOW: Look, here's the thing -- and I understand -- there's this whole Russia thing. Let us talk about what just happen here. Donald Trump Jr. today releases an entire email chain.
TAPPER: Pre-emotively because The New York Times was about to release it.
SEKULOW: Hillary Clinton erases 33,000 emails.
TAPPER: She shouldn't have done that.
SEKULOW: What's happening on that?
TAPPER: I believe that the FBI did an investigation about that.
SEKULOW: And decided it was okay.
TAPPER: You can talk to the FBI brought that.
SEKULOW: You have a meeting where nothing transpired. Donald Trump Jr. releases the information.
TAPPER: You're very good at the deflecting. But there was an FBI investigation.
SEKULOW: The law's the same.
TAPPER: I don't know what you're talking about.
SEKULOW: here is what I am talking about. Donald Trump Jr. released the email chain today, the complete email chain. You got it, everybody's got it. So Hillary Clinton erased 33,000. The irony of that is something I think you have - this is the middle of a political season --
TAPPER: It's not ironic and also the reason Donald Trump Jr. did it was because The New York Times was about to publish it. Donald Trump Jr. did what any good lawyer and maybe it was your advice for all I know --
SEKULOW: I don't represent Donald Trump but released was fine.
TAPPER: Let me ask you a question. It escaped none of our attention that President Trump has been very restrained in his twitter and public comments about this while his beloved son is in the middle of this and I'm not making light of this. It must be very tough. You have more than my son. So, here is the question. Is he taking your advice and other lawyers around him, are you telling him don't tweet? The best things you can do for Don Jr. is don't tweet.
SEKULOW: First of all, I'm not going to tell you. It's privileged. Here's what the President said today. He is supporting his son. You would do the same thing. I would do the same thing. Nobody wants to see their child going through this. The President's reaction, I think what he said is exactly what you or I would do.
TAPPER: I'm not criticizing. It has been very restrained.
SEKULOW: Look, Donald Trump Jr. put it all out today. It's all out there.
TAPPER: After several days of different stories.
SEKULOW: But there are a couple of key points. One, this is not a situation where the President was involved u did not attend.
TAPPER: Didn't know about this meeting until a couple of days ago?
SEKULOW: Yes, I swear.
TAPPER: Jared Kushner and his son have this really weird experience.
SEKULOW: For how many minutes?
TAPPER: 20 minutes.
SEKULOW: And how long did the Russian lawyer say? 15/20 minutes. So you would have report what? Nothing happened? You're not sitting in a room -- if they did that, they'd have meetings about meetings.
TAPPER: I think you're down playing the oddity of the Russian government saying they want to help us. Let me ask you this, the New York Times is reporting this evening that the President's lawyer Marc Kasowitz might resign, is threatening to resign over frustration with Jared Kushner, because the feeling in The New York Times story is that Kushner might not be working with the President's team.
SEKULOW: Let me be clear. That is categorically false. I speak with Marc Kasowitz and my other co counsel in this case, pretty much every day, spoke to Mark yesterday, spoke to his partners today, so I don't know where is this coming from, but let me be really clear, Marc Kasowitz is the lead lawyer in this case. I am one of the lawyers in the team, but Marc Kasowitz firm is the lead on this case. There is no dissension in the ranks. This is a completely false story. So I don't think I could be any clearer than that.
TAPPER: You're including Jared Kushner?
SEKULOW: Anybody. In a situation like this, there are multiple lawyers. People have lawyers, and different clients have different lawyers.
TAPPER: No frustration.
SEKULOW: And there are cooperative arrangements. Lawyers are working well together. You put a group of lawyers in the room, we work through issues. You work it out. You know the situation ultimately is? Like any legal case, you make strategy decision and they accept it. So this idea that Marc Kasowitz firm is out is completely false.
TAPPER: And The New York Times is reporting that he signed off on the original statement that Donald Trump Jr. issued on Saturday, that one that required a follow-up clarification because it didn't disclose the idea of opposition research.
SEKULOW: That is not true, first of all, the statement was issued by Donald Trump Jr., and the President was on his return from the g 20. These are stories out there. But the fact is that is just not true. So again, the situation as it developed, Donald Trump Jr. and he were very explicit tonight and very clear. He issued a statement. His lawyers decided to issue the emails. I'd advise the same thing. And that is the fact. We can look at it and say a year ago in the middle of a campaign, would you, should you, could you? That is really easy to say a year later but in the middle of a campaign -- think about it. They're going 20 hours a day and this is 20 minutes of one day and it ends up being nothing, so why would you go to the president and say we had a meeting and it results to nothing.
TAPPER: President Trump was asked directly in February if he was aware of any contacts on the campaign between any Russians and anyone affiliated with the campaign. Here is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether you are aware whether anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?
DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing, so that is one person, but he was dealing as he should have been.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the election?
TRUMP: No, nobody that I know of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you are not aware of any contacts during the course of the election?
TRUMP: How many times do I have to answer this question?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So it's true. Not that I know of, because he didn't know of it. So is it fair to say that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort put the president in a disadvantage by not telling him about that meeting, because that answer -- if you take out the not that I know of.
SEKULOW: You can't take out the not that I know of.
TAPPER: But shouldn't they have told him?
SEKULOW: It was a meeting that produces nothing. It's a 20-minute meeting out of a probably 18 or 20 hour-day. It produced no results, no information, and no knowledge of anything. It ends up being a false pretense and the meeting takes place. Nothing happens. We walk in to the Republican nominee's office. First of all, he is probably in another state. We had a meeting that didn't result in anything. Why would you do that, when they're having hundreds of meetings as I said, thousands of meetings over the course of the campaign?
TAPPER: The Washington Post this evening also reporting that it's quite tumultuous in the White House right now, a Republican who is allied with the president referring to it as a category 5 hurricane that some people are calling for Reince Priebus to step down. There are all sorts of dissatisfaction and back fighting.
SEKULOW: These over the United States is dealing with issues that include a situation with North Korea that we all know is quite serious. There are other situations and hot spots around the world. There is major action in Syria. So the idea that this has consumed the White House is false. And you started and I understand you're starting it this way but the White House under siege. They're operating and running the country. So if you want to agree with the policy, disagree, we live in America. So you can do that.
TAPPER: Last question and that is when did President Trump find out about this meeting, the full story of the meeting.
SEKULOW: The full story of the meeting?
You're talk very recently and I'm not going to give you the nature of the conversation. It was a conversation between the lawyer and the President until recently. The situation started coming out over the weekend.
TAPPER: That is when he found out.
SEKULOW: The President, by the way, never saw an email. Did not see an email until it was seen today.
[23:35:00] TAPPER: The first time he saw the email was today?
TAPPER: Jay Sekulow Attorney for President Trump thank you so much, really appreciates it.
SEKULOW: My pleasure.
TAPPER: Donald Trump Jr. says the meeting with the Russian lawyer was such a nothing. Coming up will prosecutors see it that way as well? Stay with us.
TAPPER: The onslaught of breaking news today, Donald Trump Jr. speaking out tonight trying to defend his decision to meet with a Russian attorney last year and admitting in retrospect he probably should have done things differently. CNN has learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller and investigators, they plan to examine the meeting and the email exchanges the President's son disclosed this morning. Let's dig deeper on these questions, legal and political. Jeffrey Toobin let me start with you, has anything that has been revealed so far that show that anyone Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, any of them violated any law.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not clear. And this is an unfolding investigation. It is not a crime under federal law to collude. That collusion is a big word but that is not a crime.
TAPPER: More of a political term than a legal term.
[23:40:00] TOOBIN: Right, but it is important a lot of people talk about collusion as if it's a crime and it's not. The only possible crime I see coming out of this particular event involving Donald Jr. is possibly a campaign finance violation where it's unlawful to solicit anything of value from a foreign government and perhaps, depending on what happened in this meeting and frankly, I don't necessarily credit Don Jr.'s description of this meeting since he is lies about so much already, whether he solicited some sort of aid from the government. That is long shot but to answer your question simply no, I don't think there is any crime that has been uncovered specifically regarding this meeting.
TAPPER: Jonathan Turley, you think that the media and some Democrats on Capitol Hill are a little breathless compared to the facts.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON SCHOOL OF LAW: I think instead of analysis, we're seeing rage. People are willing to take criminal codes and twist them to bag a Trump and that is a dangerous game to play. People suggesting this might be treason, which is facially ridiculous.
TAPPER: I agree with that. And to be clear, Senator Tim Kane said possibly this could be treason.
TURLEY: And that destroys his credibility and the credibility of his Party.
TAPPER: Well, I think that is ridiculous.
TURLEY: To keep the definition of treason narrow because they don't want it to be used as a political tool, they don't want it to be used in this Willy Nilly way. I disagree with Jeff, I don't see a viable federal election claim here and Jeff is right about that. But no court has taken information and said that is effectively a substitute for contributions and if they did, it would present a huge threat to the first amendment. It would encompass an enormous amount of political speech it would allow the federal government to investigate campaign just because they're receiving information from foreign sources like NGO's individuals. I don't think a court would sign off on that but that would be a particularly dangerous interpretation.
TAPPER: Carl Bernstein, there's the law, what's legal and what's not legal and what's right and not right. What mistakes do you think have been made in this episode?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Honest, earnest mistakes are one thing and we're talking about a malignant presidency of the United States and the reason, at the core of the malignancy has been lying throughout the presidency by the President, now we see by his son. We see his son in law has also lied or not filled out his forms correctly. And has had to redact them and change them twice. At this point the credibility of the President of the United States, members of his family and this is very much about his family and the Mr. Mueller is now focused in his investigation in part on Trump businesses and the family and the way the businesses are run. What we need to do is let these investigations go forward. Find out the facts. See whether or not the law has been violated by the President or those around him but meanwhile we have seen today the knowing subversion of the interest of the United States by the son and son in law of the President of the United States when they took this meeting enthusiastically as it says in that email. I love it. Donald Trump Jr. said. I'm paraphrasing a little bit. That is not about mistakes being made. That is about pursuing a kind of subversion that we should never, ever forget about and it needs to be thoroughly investigated.
TAPPER: Jonathan Turley let me ask you. It was Jared Kushner's legal team that initially found these emails which caused him to update his security clearance forms. Give us some insight into how this might have unfolded from there.
TURLEY: First of all many of us have filled out these forms and most of us write down even trivial meetings with foreign nationals. We look for anything that can cause further damage below the water line and this obviously came up in that review and they did notify that they had to amend. That is correct. Now this does happen. You do have people that have omissions. It's usually not prosecuted. If it there's a pattern, it can become quite serious and the thing that gets people nailed in Washington is false statements, it is -- this is a town filled with a-personality types that try to talk their way out of problems. It's that which usually the crime people get indicted with.
[23:45:38] TAPPER: And what is interesting is, this is obviously not the first time that we have seen somebody from the Trump team misrepresent a conversation with a Russian national. Mike Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. I know I'm forgetting others.
TOOBIN: Always Russia. It's always Russia. It's not Sweden, it's not China. Why are they not being fort forthcoming about their relationships with Russia?
TAPPER: Carter Page.
TOOBIN: And here we now have this concrete example of an attempt to have the Russian government to influence the election through the Trump campaign. Do we think this is the only time it happened? I think one of the most interesting things about Donald Trump Jr.'s reaction to the email is it's a non-reaction. What do you mean the Russian government is trying to sell -- that might be a normal reaction, but --
TAPPER: Unfortunately that is all the time we have. Jeffrey Toobin, Jonathan Turley, Carl Bernstein thank you so much, in a moment our correspondents are going to be looking ahead. What they think might be coming next in this Russia probe and in the White House. Stay with us.
[23:50:45] TAPPER: Welcome back. Our correspondents and analysts are back to give us their final thoughts and look ahead to where the story might go from here. Jim Sciutto, let me start with you. Where might the special counsel investigation and the senate and House Intelligence Committees their investigations go.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think this Donald Trump Jr. meeting if he thinks a friendly interview on Hannity and the released of the email is going to put a fork in this, he is mistaken. Certainly the special counsel will have far more questions to ask about this as will the house and Senate Intelligence Committees. His explanation, for instance, that well, there was nothing useful there. Is he saying had there been useful incriminating evidence that it would have been a worthwhile meeting? It raises a whole host of questions. That is just one meeting. There are many other meetings where hill investigators and the special counsel will have reasonable questions to see why did you meet? And what did you discuss? They'll have reasonable questions. There's also a lot of evidence they had have access to. Meetings that took place in Europe with Russians may well have been surveilled by U.S. Intelligence or our partners there. There are transcripts whole host of evidence still to be mined on that. That is a very important thing going forward. This is one meeting we learned about today of several meetings, and there's much further for investigators to go.
GLORIA BORGER, AMERICAN POLITICAL PUNDIT JOURNALIST AND COLUMNIST: You know this puts to rest the question of whether the Russians were trying to influence the election to help Donald Trump. I mean, I think Senator Warner said that today on the hill, man knew, and I think that we get in looking at what occurred a really a bird's eye view of just how they operate. And whether Donald Trump Jr. was played or whether the intermediary was played or whatever, the Russians were trying to get in and see how far they could get into this Trump campaign and low and behold, this woman ends up with a meeting with three of the top people closest to the President -- to the candidate. And I think that we're going to continue to peel the onion on there and see exactly how the Russians operated, to try and help Donald Trump.
TAPPER: And obviously, we're hearing a lot in the Washington Post and elsewhere about there being turmoil in the White House right now. Manu Raju, on Capitol Hill, how much does this story hurt the President's and the Republican Party's ability to get their agenda done?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Significantly because of the fact it is overshadowing everything. Right now they're trying to pass a major health care bill in the senate and having a very difficult time doing that. They're getting no support from the White House. There's no messaging operation coming out of the White House. Not a very different than in 2009, 2010 when they passed Obamacare and the White House had a huge megaphone. The reason why there is not one right now is because the White House is mired in this controversy and is struggling to defend itself. President Trump is going for a third day tomorrow not having any public events. There is no messaging operation. This is a real frustration right now talking to members who don't want to go out and criticize the President who are still tepidly behind him, their real concern he is causing so many distractions it's undercutting their one opportunity to get stuff done.
TAPPER: And Pamela is this likely going to be all we hear about this meeting? These e-mails it that have been released and Donald Trump Jr.'s and the lawyers word of it or do you think we'll hear more about this.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: When you think this could be it, more comes out. It's July, right? This investigation was opened up last July in the FBI. This has been going on for a year. It started off with looking at Russia's meddling when it came to hacking the DNC server releasing information. I'm told simultaneously, the FBI noticed there were individuals connected to Donald Trump talking to Russians. They wanted to figure out what's going on over here. At some point, the two investigations converged and they wanted to look at possible coordination. There were indications there was possible coordination. But at that time, Don junior wasn't even in the picture. Jared Kushner, the focus really was on Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Carter Page as we previously reported. They have all denied they've done anything wrong. It is amazing how this has unfolded and to Gloria's points how we continue to peel back layers of the onion in this investigation.
[23:55:15] TAPPER: Gloria, let's talk about the tumult that the "Washington Post" is reporting. We have 30 seconds left, is it considerable?
BORGER: Yeah, look, I think you have people inside the White House now trying to figure out how to get back on track, how to get off the Russia story. You have a President who is clearly concerned about his son, about how he is being represented. And about when this is going to end. This is a President who told James Comey if you believe James Comey, go easy on Michael Flynn. All of these revelations that we are hearing about now make his conversations with James Comey I think that much more important.
TAPPER: Very interesting. Manu Raju, Pamela Brown, Gloria Borger, Jim Sciutto and you at home, thank you so much. Thanks for joining us. We'll have much more on this breaking story after this quick break. I'll see you again at 4:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow on "the Lead." thanks for watching.