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CNN TONIGHT

Trump Defends his Son from Russia Controversy; President's Own lawyer in Hot Water Over E-mails. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 13, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST CNN: Quick programming note, tomorrow night at 9, a CNN special report, the first son, the life of Donald Trump, Jr. Time now to hand things over to Don Lemon and CNN tonight.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: President Trump says it's no big deal, anybody would have taken that Russia meeting.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

The president clearly has no problem defending his son's meeting with the Russian attorney, a meeting explicitly set up with the promise that Russia could supply dirt to incriminate Hillary Clinton.

Here's what he said in his news conference today with French President Emmanuel Macron.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing happened from the meeting. Zero happened from the meeting. And honestly, I think the press made a very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, the truth is that meeting is a very big deal. Not because the press is talking about it, but because the Trump campaign was clearly ready and willing to accept help from a foreign power. And that foreign power is Russia.

Donald Trump, Jr. insists months ago that no meeting with Russians were ever set up. He changed his story about the meeting five times. The president says it's nothing. He believes his son, but have they earned your trust?

Let's discuss tonight. I want to bring in now CNN's senior political analyst, Mark Preston. Senior political commentator, David Axelrod. Jennifer Jacobs, the White House reporter for Bloomberg News. And David Von Drehle, he's the editor at large at Time magazine who wrote a story on Donald Trump, Jr. read-handed.

Good evening to all of you. David Axelrod, I'm going to start with you. President Trump is defending his son. He's saying sort of meeting that Donald Trump, Jr. took with the Russian lawyer is typical in politics. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer. Not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer. It was a short meeting. It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast.

Two other people in the room, I guess one of them left almost immediately and the other one was not really focused on the meeting.

I do think this, 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)

LEMON: So, David, clearly he has no problem with what Donald Trump, Jr. did. He says it's typical opposition research.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes. Well, let me tell you, I've been involved in politics, covering it and as a strategist for four years. I've been at the highest levels of presidential campaigns. Four of them.

This is not standard. This is not normal. This is much different than opposition research. When you get tipped by someone you know who is close to people you know to be close to the Russian government, and you're told the Russian government wants to help you with information about your opponent, that is not opposition research.

That is very close to espionage, and the thing you should do is to not have the meeting. The thing you should do is get in touch with the FBI. And the fact that Donald Trump, Jr. didn't, the fact that the senior most people in the campaign were involved in that meeting, is an alarming fact.

LEMON: Yes. Mark, why is -- listen, why are we sitting here pretending that this is normal? That there might be some other excuse than what there actually was, that the president -- what the president said that he actually believes that anybody -- no one believes that.

This is clearly just a strategy, their last hope in trying to get everyone believe there is no other side. What he did was wrong and a foreign government should not be involved in our election. Do we have to sit here and pretend that there's anything other than that?

MARK PRESTON, POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CNN: Don, you and I and David Axelrod have been doing this now for months and months and months on this show where we try to explain and try to give some kind of credibility to why something happens that just seems to outrageous and we always come back time and time again is we can't.

I mean, we try to do our best, but we can't. You know, for our viewers out there who are wondering about opposition research, you knows, for the reporters here, we get this all the time. We get phone calls all the time, we get e-mails all the time.

And to David's point there, you have to figure out who it's coming from, what their motive is, where it's going, the whole nine yards. Now, in all the years that I've been in the game, and I'm sure everybody on the panel, I've never had somebody come from a foreign government to try to take down an American politician.

And if that were the case...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, if that were the case, if that were to happen, wouldn't -- what would you do? Wouldn't you get in touch with some -- with the FBI or -- I mean, that's what most rational, sane people would do. I don't understand how people are pretending like this is OK. This is not OK. And even the president is.

PRESTON: No, no, no. Look, it's such a complicated issue right here, but let me just say this very quickly, is that Don -- Donald Trump, Jr. might be naive to this. OK. We understand that. We could perhaps...

(CROSSTALK)

[22:05:02] LEMON: So then the New York Post is right about Donald Trump, Jr. is an idiot in their editorial then if he doesn't know? I mean.

PRESTON: Well, look, that's the New York Post's decision to call him that. However, when you look at the other folks involved in the meeting, specifically Paul Manafort who's been in politics a lot longer than probably any of us on this panel, he should have known in the very, very least. And he didn't say anything.

LEMON: Jennifer, what's your take? Why do we have to sit and pretend that there's any other excuse for what happened than actually what happened?

JENNIFER JACOBS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, I'm sure you notice, Don, he did take a couple of new tactics today that were interesting. During the press conference he used the word, young. He said, my son is a wonderful, young man. And he did a gaggle on Air Force One last night on the way over to Paris in which he called his son a good boy. He said he's a good kid.

And then today, he also, you know, equated him with a veteran campaign strategist in which he said, any campaign strategist would have taken this meeting. So it's just...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But you know what, Jennifer, before you finish, he's saying he's a kid, whatever. Does he realize the man he's standing on stage with, is about six months apart in age, one of them is the leader of France, and the other one is his son he's calling a kid.

JACOBS: Exactly. They're both 39 years old.

LEMON: Exactly. So, I mean...

JACOBS: Yes. He just was trying to argue. He was almost trying to say that Don Jr. was a little bit naive here. You know, he's a good kid, he's a wonderful kid, he didn't quite know what he was doing. But then he went on to say anybody would have done it.

LEMON: Yes. But their defense is that he's not, David, -- he's not -- Von Drehle, -- he is not naive, that anybody would have done this.

DAVID VON DREHLE, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, TIME MAGAZINE: Right. It's a profoundly mixed message, but what I'd like to focus on, two things, one, this is a big story because it's not an interpretation, it's not a guess, it's not from the outside looking in. This is Donald Trump, Jr.'s own language saying if it's true, what you, tipster, are telling me, that the Russian government wants to help elect my father by giving us dirt on Hillary Clinton, if that's true, I love it, I love it.

And then he schedules the meeting. He walks into it thinking he's going to get dirt. All of this is from his own words. And not just him, but as has been pointed out, basically the entire inner circle of the Trump campaign gathered for a meeting in the middle of a busy time to meet this person, expecting to get stuff from the Russian government to help elect Donald Trump.

That's them saying it, not us, and for the President of the United States to go out on worldwide TV and say, that's normal, that's the way we do things in America, anybody would do it, is really a shocking development.

LEMON: Is it -- is he inviting others to maybe do the same, other foreign adversaries to do the same? Instead of shutting it down on a foreign stage?

VON DREHLE: You know, I don't know. He -- if he's thought that far through. One of the things that's striking about this is that the president and his family still seem to think that this is a P.R. problem, that it's being ginned up by the press and that if they can get the right press message out that it will go a away.

But they are feeding into a large, independent special counsel's investigation that is going to follow this wherever it leads, whether the press follows it or not, whether it's on TV, whether it leads the news or not. It's not going away.

LEMON: Yes. Hey, mark, I want to ask you, the question now is whether there was a, whether a phone call took place in addition to the meeting because republicans disagree with the president.

Senate judiciary committee chairman Chuck Grassley sent a bipartisan letter to Donald Trump, Jr. requesting that he testify. Pamela Brown, our very own Pamela Brown, is reporting that they're curious whether a phone call ever took place between Donald Trump and Emin Agalarov before that meeting.

And here's why. In the e-mail exchange and we'll put it up. He writes, I won't read the whole thing because I want to get your response. He says "Hi, Don, let me know when you're free to talk." And then it goes on, they try to set up talking and meeting, whatever. "Thanks for your help." And it goes on.

You know, fast forward 24 hours, and gets more e-mails. They get more e-mails. The question is, how would he be aware, Agalarov's lawyer denied a call happened, but if a call happened, are we ever going to know about a call?

PRESTON: Well, yes. I mean, we could because you have the House of Representatives and the United States Senate who have subpoena power where they can go and get the phone records as can Robert Mueller. They can go get the phone records.

[22:09:56] However, we don't necessarily know what will have been said on that call if a call, in fact, did happen. There's not going to be a transcript of it. And you're not going to be able to subpoena others to come testify before Congress, specifically the Russians and this gentleman, the go-between, you know, from Great Britain.

So, look, how this could be damaging, Don, is two ways, just very quickly. One is it will erode the credibility of Donald Trump, Jr. even more because he hasn't been truthful about this so far. And it's going to cause more headaches for republicans because they are now getting very, very tired of this story here in Washington.

LEMON: Stick around, everyone. We have much more to talk about.

When we come back, President Trump changes his tune on Paris. Why he suddenly loves the city of light.

Plus, more e-mail trouble for team Trump. Why the president's lawyer is apologizing for threatening profanity-laden e-mails to a stranger.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump defending his sons meeting with a Russian lawyer calling it very standard and saying that most people would have taken it.

We're back with my panel now. Let's discuss. David Von Drehle, I want to put this up. This is a latest cover from Time magazine. It's pretty bold. The cover reads "Red Handed, the Russia Scandal Hits Home." Talk to me about this cover.

VON DREHLE: We -- as I say it's a -- if you look in the background of the image it's obviously Donald Jr. in the foreground but then sort of screened over him is the text of the e-mail chain.

[22:15:03] It's his own words. He's the one who said how excited he would be to have the opportunity to cooperate with the Russian government to affect his father's election. So, that's where red handed comes from, and obviously it's the story

of the week. We've talked about why that is the -- it needs to be the Time cover. We know that President Trump, in particular, has kind of got a thing about Time covers. I don't think this one's going to end up on the wall in any of his golf courses.

LEMON: Yes, he does. He likes to boast about how many times he's been on the cover of Time magazine, even has the fake cover of Time magazine that's hanging in a couple of his golf clubs for some reason.

But I mean, if we take a look at some of your recent covers, Donald Trump, Jr. now joins the ranks of Jared Kushner, special counsel Mueller, Steve Bannon. How do you think that's going to go over with the president?

VON DREHLE: He is said not to like it when people around him occupy that space, and, but on the other hand, you know, there was a lot of talk after the Steve Bannon cover that Bannon was in the doghouse, that he was going to be on the way out, and, yet, we see that, in fact, he continues to have an enormous influence over the president and his strategies and his policies. So, I wouldn't make too much of that.

LEMON: Yes. I want to talk a bit more now about President Trump on the international stage. Do you remember how he used to knock Paris by referencing his friend, Jim? Here's President Trump then and now. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I have a friend, every year he goes to Paris. I haven't seen him in a while. Paris, the city of lights, he used to tell me, for years, Paris, Paris. I see him, like, a month ago, how is Paris this summer? I don't go to Paris, you kidding me? It's no longer Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've mentioned a friend, Jim. We told you that Paris is no longer Paris.

TRUMP: You better let me answer that one first. That's a beauty. He's the one that asked the question. That wasn't even one of my picks. You know what, it's going to be just fine because you have a great president. You have somebody that's going to run this country right. And I'm coming back. You better do a good job, please, otherwise you're going to make me look very bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, David Axelrod, we still don't know who Jim is or even if he exists. I don't -- may have to rethink his options on Paris right now. What do you think of that moment?

AXELROD: Well, I think the most interesting thing about it is how Macron handled Trump. He obviously had a strategy. He proffered the invitation for Trump to come to Paris. He knows that Trump is warring with most of Europe. He's at odds with Chancellor Merkel in Germany. And clearly Macron has seized the opportunity here to try and forge a

relationship and he knows that the way to do that is to tone down conflict and tone up the flattery. And if you looked at that press conference, you could see a lot of that in action.

It's a little bit of what Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada has done. These young guys have figured out how to game the president and understand that if you treat him well, he will respond, he will heal as he did today.

LEMON: Jennifer, what did you make of President Trump taking a question from a Chinese reporter instead of an American journalist, as is customary, even after he was prompted by Macron to take a question from an American?

JACOBS: Well, the most striking thing about that exchange was the fact of what the president didn't say. As you know, today was the death -- the day that, you know, Liu Xiaobo, I believe you pronounced his name, died in China. The U.S. government had been advocating for him. He had cancer. They'd been advocating for the Chinese government to release him. He was a political prisoner. Jailed for fighting -- for the end of one-party rule in China, fighting for free speech for decades. Very much admired.

The U.S. government had been pushing for the Chinese government to release him and to leave China, to get better care and instead of saying something, you know, all these world leaders today made comments about Mr. Liu, and the president lost an opportunity to honor him, to mourn him, to say something to recognize him.

LEMON: Mark...

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: Goes wrong that, actually.

LEMON: Go ahead.

AXELROD: Don, it was beyond that because he praised Xi of China as a good friend. He attested to his character. He had not a word to say, not just about a dead martyr for freedom and democracy, but also about the Chinese policies that kept him in prison until his death.

LEMON: Mark, President Trump was asked, was also asked by reporters on Air Force one about his G20 meeting with Putin and suggested if he challenged him more on that, twice -- then twice on hacking, that would have ended up in a fistfight.

[22:20:06] And here's a quote. He says "I told him, I said, look, we can -- we can't have -- now we have -- so hard to read, his quotes. We can't have now he said absolutely not twice. What do you do, end up in a fistfight with somebody, OK?" a fistfight?

PRESTON: Just bravado on his part, you know, I mean, he's not -- gosh, who am I to say this, because I'm certainly I'm not the most eloquent person in the world. But that's not a very eloquent way to respond to a person when you're the leader of the free world when you're talking about the biggest issue right now that we're talking about here in the United States.

But what I do think is interesting, and just to follow up on what David Axelrod said about Macron, this is how he responded to it, specifically today when during the news conference when they were talking about Russia.

He said, basically, can we answer your question? I will not interfere in u. S. domestic policy and I think it's always good and important between allies not interfere in the others domestic life. To which Trump said, what a good answer that is.

And Macron was very, very smart to kind of give Trump that little bit of, you know, not a poke, but a little bit of a boost because it's certainly going to help him down the road. I agree with David Axelrod, he did play this very, very well today.

LEMON: Jennifer, one of the pool reporters on the plane put out another excerpt that was put on record about Donald Trump, Jr. meeting -- Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting saying, "They talked about the adoption stuff which was actually a big thing at the time, but nothing happened.

He added, "In fact, maybe it was mentioned at some point, but then when asked if he had been told that it was about Hillary Clinton, and dirt against her, he said no."

So President Trump is saying that the meeting may have been mentioned but just yesterday President Trump said he told Reuters that he only learned about it just a couple days ago. So, what's -- how do you jive that?

JACOBS: Right. That's unclear. It's unclear exactly what he means there. That's definitely going to need some follow-up questions because he has said a couple of times that he just learned about this meeting in the last two or three days and Sarah Huckabee Sanders has repeated that at the podium at the press briefings.

LEMON: Yes. I mean, when you listen to, David Von Drehle, so many explanations, does it really matter?

VON DREHLE: This is...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Go on.

VON DREHLE: This is the thing with covering the Trump administration and covering the president. Whether it's intentional, strategic, for him to speak the way he does or not. The fact he is often inarticulate and at other times reverses himself, says things that are 180 degrees opposite of what he said an hour before or day before does give them a lot of wiggle room, at least with their base.

They don't hold him to any kind of standard of consistency or honesty. And so they continue to do it. We in the media have to kind of figure out how much of our time we're going to spend running around trying to, you know, nail this mercury to a board and how much time we spend trying to advance the ball rather than hold him to, you know, what do you mean, what did you say?

This is, again, to go back to why the e-mail chain is so important, it's them talking. It's them acting. It's their thinking. And there's no walking away from it.

LEMON: Mark and David are often on the program. It's good to have you.

AXELROD: Hey, Don...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I'm sorry, I have to go, David. But I'm going to promote your theme.

AXELROD: All right, please do that.

LEMON: Jennifer and David Von Drehle, thank you for coming on. It's good to have you, fairly new to the panel.

So David Axelrod sits down with civil rights leader and American hero Congressman John Lewis. That's on the Axe Files tomorrow night at 10 Eastern and Pacific. You won't want to miss that.

Again, thanks to the panel.

Just ahead, President Trump's personal attorney a apologizing tonight for sending threatening e-mails laced with profanity. We got that story when we come right back.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump's personal lawyer in hot water tonight and promising an apology. Marc Kasowitz represents the president in the Russia investigation. He's accused of sending threatening profanity- laced e-mails to a stranger.

CNN's senior national correspondent Kyung Lah has the story. And I want to warn you, some of the language is obviously offensive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, MSNBC: It's got a lot of disparaging, personal information about Mr. Kasowitz.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KYUNG LAH, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The e-mail tirade began from a segment on cable TV. The unnamed viewer was watching MSNBC's Rachel Maddow she was talking about an article published by ProPublica on President Trump's lawyer Marc Kasowitz and why he doesn't have security clearance. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: ProPublica with this very damning sourcing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: The viewers sourced out Kasowitz on his company web site and e- mailed him at 9.28 p.m. Eastern Time, according to e-mails published by ProPublica. The viewer wrote, "Marc, you don't know me, I don't know you, but I believe it is in your interest and the long-term interest of your firm for you to resign from your position."

Five minutes later, Kasowitz replied with two words, "f-you." Fifteen minutes later, Kasowitz e-mailed again, "And You don't know me, but I will know you. How dare you send me an e-mail like that? I'm on you now. You are expletive with me now."

He continues to berate the writer ending the e-mail, "watch your back." then an expletive. The unnamed viewer replied writing, "thank you." To which Kasowitz wrote two more e-mails. "Call me. Don't be afraid. You piece of expletive." The last e-mail, "I already know where you live. I'm on you. You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise. Bro."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL CALLAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, they're shockingly inappropriate e-mails for a person of Mr. Kasowitz' stature in the legal profession and as counsel to President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: CNN legal analyst and prosecutor Paul Callan is also a New York attorney, aware of Kasowitz's aggressive take no prisoners reputation which is infamous in New York's legal circles.

[22:30:07] Shortly after fired FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee, Kasowitz swung hard on behalf of the president.

HERE

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

[22:30:00] KYUNG LAH, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: ... attorney, aware of Kasowitz's aggressive take no prisoners reputation which is infamous in New York's legal circles.

Shortly after fired FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee, Kasowitz swung hard on behalf of the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC KASOWITZ, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: The president never in form or substance directed or subjected that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: Back then, just like in this e-mail tirade, Callan sees echoes of team Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL CALLAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Lawyers often become like their clients when they represent clients over a lifetime. And, of course, Donald Trump brags about the fact that he's aggressive, he takes no prisoners, as Melania once said, I think, you know, if you hit him once, he'll hit you back 10 times harder and it seems like Mr. Kasowitz engages in similar tactics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: Whether Kasowitz will face disciplinary action because of the e- mails, Callan doesn't think so saying they're not a direct far of the legpart of the le al case.

Kasowitz perhaps realizing the implications released a statement, saying "I should not have replied in that inappropriate manner. This is one of times where one wishes he could reverse the clock, but of course I can't." He promised to send an apology to the target of his e-mail rage.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Classy. Thank you, Kyung. I want to bring in now CNN contributor John Dean. The former White House counsel for President Nixon and author of "Conservatives Without Conscience." Good evening, Mr. Dean. Good to have you on.

So we know that Mr. Kasowitz since expressed remorse about all of this. But still, I must ask you, is this appropriate behave for the lawyer representing the President of the United States?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, trial lawyers are pretty good at controlling their emotions, Don. This is a very seasoned trial lawyer. He just decided to let his inner bully go out and run roughshod over this guy. It's really quite surprising. It might have been the end of a long day, as he said, but he had control of himself and he just decided to go after him and be abusive which is what bullies do.

LEMON: Do you think Mr. Kasowitz is going to face any repercussions for his behavior?

DEAN: There are -- in the American Bar Association's model code does have a provision that says attorneys should not do anything to embarrass the profession. So this depends on the New York bar and what -- how their view of it. They may cut him some slack as a first time, but if he has this problem again, I suspect they might give him a call. LEMON: I wonder if just -- I wonder if it shows the amount of

pressure that he's under to have, as you said, a seasoned trial attorney respond that way. I mean, do you -- what does it say that he has such an aggressive reaction?

DEAN: Well, there have been stories also that he's having some trouble with his client and his client and he are having some differences of opinion about how the defense is being handled and whether it's being handled appropriately since Kasowitz is the head of the Russian defense.

So there may be some underlying some tension there. He's obviously working long days. If he got this e-mail at 10 o'clock at night and responded to it. So pressure could well be showing.

LEMON: Yes. I want to ask you about -- let's talk more about this e- mail controversy surrounding Donald Trump, Jr.'s e-mails. What role do you think that this new development will play in the overall Russia investigation?

DEAN: Well, I think it certainly shows an attitude and a mentality. The fact that the e-mails were exchanged with other people who were at the meeting, who are clearly within the ambit and being looked at by the special counsel, it shows kind of a collective mindset that they were certainly prepared to take negative information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government and were actually looking forward to it in the person of this lawyer who came in.

Also, the fact that they all forgot the meeting on their -- on their security clearance form is very striking.

LEMON: Yes. This is Yahoo News who's reporting that President Trump's legal team was informed more than three weeks ago about Donald Trump, Jr., the e-mail, arranging that June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer.

And just yesterday, Donald Trump told Reuters he learned about the meeting, quote, "a couple of days ago." But he said on the plane last night that maybe it was mentioned at some point. And now we learn his legal team knew about it weeks ago, so what gives here?

DEAN: Well, it's hard -- we don't know what his lawyers were or were not telling him. I think when it first came up is when Jared Kushner registered and acknowledged the meeting to his amended FS-86 form, the clearance form. That would have alerted everybody at that point that he was going to put that out there.

[22:35:04] So I would be surprised, in fact, if Trump didn't know contemporaneously about the meeting. It'd be shocking if his son had this, what they thought was going to be a hot source from Russia tell him some negative stuff about Hillary. I'm sure that buzz went around the campaign headquarters which were kind of small and intimate.

LEMON: Right on. You know, you served as White House counsel for President Nixon during Watergate. What must be going through the minds of the attorneys representing and advising the Trump family right now? DEAN: Well, there are two sets of attorneys. One is the White House

counsel now, unlike during Watergate, it's been cleared up. The client is the Office of the President and not necessarily the officeholder. So, that office, the entire White House office, does not represent Trump, per se.

That's why he has Kasowitz as his private counsel who is sort of the head of a whole team of private lawyers. I think that they're all seasoned lawyers and they probably don't muse a lot on what their client is or not thinking or trying to give him the best advice they can.

He's somebody who we all know apparently has a history of not following the advice of his lawyer. That's a standard operating procedure and one of the reasons he chooses the lawyers he selects. Because they're not offended by it.

LEMON: Yes. John Dean, always a pleasure. Thank you.

DEAN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: When we come back, in the midst of all this controversy, an awkward moment in Paris today when President Trump said to the French president's wife and why people are buzzing about it.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

President Trump is in France tonight, but his son's Russia trouble followed him overseas. The president quick to defend Donald Trump, Jr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a son who's a great young man. He's a fine person. He took a meeting with a lawyer from Russia. It lasted for a very short period and nothing came of the meeting. And I think it's a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So let's discuss now. CNN senior political commentator Jennifer Granholm, as well as, political commentators Alice Stewart and Matt Lewis. Can you guys just retrack it? Don't play the audio. Did you see macron's face as he was saying that? He's talking about this son. Look at his reaction.

So, listen, the president is trying to normalize something that no one thinks is OK or normal, Alice.

ALICE STEWART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, yes. The key to what he said is most people would have taken that meeting. News flash, most people in politics would not have taken that meeting.

Look, oppo is a great thing, it's a beautiful thing, and campaigns thrive on it oftentimes and they will welcome oppo but when you are told you are being set up with a meeting with someone that's bringing information from the Russian government that will provide incriminating evidence about your opponent, and say that they want to help your campaign and hurt your opponent, you don't take that meeting.

You pick up the phone and you call the FBI because that just sets up a scenario where you could be accused of being in coordination. I'm not saying they are, I'm not saying they've done anything wrong or against the law. I'm just saying this stinks to high heaven...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It wasn't smart to take it.

STEWART: ... to say everyone does it is an insult to everyone else.

LEMON: Yes. Governor, would most people have taken the meeting as the president says?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: No. Of course not. And you know, but here's the weird thing, OK? So, Don Trump, Jr. is a neophyte, a young man then you've got Kushner who is not been working necessarily on campaigns.

But Paul Manafort, he's been around the block. He knows this stuff. He was in the meeting. He was forwarded that e-mail. Don't tell me he didn't know what this was. It was very clear in the e-mail. And he knows very well he shouldn't be taking that meeting. So I don't think anybody gets off the hook.

LEMON: Look, so, Matt, if this was a standard meeting as he says, why, then, the drip, drip, drip of details, well, then they didn't have a meaning, then it was about adoption. And then, well, it was this. Why not just disclose everything from the start?

MATT LEWIS, COMMENTATOR, CNN: Because they're hiding it, because either they did something really bad or they knew that it'd appear -- at the very least, it would be the appearance of impropriety.

But it's funny, this actually -- I never thought of Donald Trump this way, but it's starting to actually remind me of Bill Clinton a little bit. Remember the -- you know, the parsing of language.

GRANHOLM: No. No.

LEWIS: The parsing of -- I'm talking not about the behavior specifically but the communications.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: There's been so much definition of is -is, is that what you're talking about?

LEWIS: That woman, yes. That women, Ms. Lewinsky. Or he was -- remember there was a time where he was counseling this young lady for a while, like that was the spin. So you know, it's obviously a very different story but it's sort of

Clintonian. The last thing I'll say, the Paul Manafort thing, this is part and parcel -- and the attorney who -- you know, his attorney who used that vulgar language in an e-mail, Trump just like the Clintons I think has surrounded himself with a bunch of very shady...

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: Don't do that.

LEWIS: Very shady -- this is history.

LEMON: He's on the Clinton - he's on the Clinton territory.

LEWIS: I'm not attacking Hillary. I'm not -- this is not about Hillary.

GRANHOLM: Clinton wasn't surrounding himself with shady characters. I mean, it's just -- I mean, you've got a point that you're making about this particular case. Make that point.

LEWIS: My point is...

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: But to say, I mean, really to go back to the '90s about the Clintons, Bill Clinton was not surrounding himself with vulgar attorneys.

LEWIS: I'm just citing the last guy -- the last guy who got impeached as president as a precedent for some similarities here. I'm not trying to detract from Donald Trump's sins.

GRANHOLM: OK.

LEMON: It was a good try, though, Matt. Yes, you are. That's OK.

GRANHOLM: He was.

LEMON: It depends on what your definition of is is, Matt.

LEWIS: There you go.

LEMON: That is not or is not is. OK, so, listen, I want to play President Trump's awkward greeting with the French president's wife. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You're in such good shape. Beautiful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:45:06] LEMON: Alice? We've had this -- have we had this conversation before? Was that appropriate? STEWART: Yes, I think it's like Groundhog Day I think with the

inappropriate comments by the president. Look, I'll say, that is his nature. I don't see that as one of the more gross comments that he's made in the past, but it is something that normally you wouldn't say in a situation like that, but that's part of his nature.

I don't -- I'm not going to beat him up over that. I think he was being good natured. I think he was being complimentary. And while it's awkward, I'm sure, for her, that's part of his nature.

LEMON: I wonder if Melania, governor, would have walked up to President Macron and said, wow, you're in good shape.

GRANHOLM: Yes, you've got a good body.

LEMON: Yes, you got a good body.

GRANHOLM: First of all, I don't slip it and say it's the same thing in terms of men and women.

LEMON: Yes.

GRANHOLM: This -- his comments are out of the 50's, right? This is not madman. And I would say I agree with Alice that I do think that's sort of who he is. And I'm sure he was thinking he was being complimentary.

But let me just say to everybody, right here and now, women do not want to be judged upon having a -- how their physical attributes are in a professional setting. It's one thing if you're dating somebody and if he's trying to hit on her, I don't think he was, that would be a different thing and really inappropriate.

But this is not the place or the time for that kind of thing, ever, in a work setting, certainly on the presidential stage. Guys, do not comment on a woman's body. Comment on what's happening. This is not the definition of bilateral relations, I think, that he was looking for.

LEMON: I'm looking at you, Matt. Are you sure you want to get in on this?

LEWIS: What's the line but when you're the president, they let you do, they let you get away with that.

LEMON: No, he said when you're a star.

LEWIS: When you're -- you can say whatever you want.

LEMON: You can say -- you can grab them by the, you know what.

LEWIS: I think he's technically a dirty old man by the old -- by standards what we would maybe use to consider, but I think this is his nature. I think he likes -- he likes the ladies. I think it's obviously like wildly out of fashion. It is madman.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's different than he likes the ladies, but that's -- he can't help himself and that's not a good thing. He can't help himself.

GRANHOLM: But it's embarrassing.

LEWIS: I do want to go back to -- I want to go back to former president.

GRANHOLM: I know. He can't help himself for lying. He's embarrassing.

LEMON: Are you going to go back to Bill Clinton?

LEWIS: I don't want to compare him to any past presidents who might have had those proclivities.

LEMON: All right, Matt. We'll be right back.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Senate republicans unveil their revised health care bill today but it may already be in trouble.

Back now with my panel. Let's talk about this, Matt Lewis. The Washington Post reports tonight that Senator John McCain opposes the bill, saying "This is not what the American people expect of us and not what they deserve." Senator Rand Paul says it still fails to repeal Obamacare so he want support it. And Senator Susan Collins says she won't vote for the deep cuts to Medicaid. Is this bill dead on arrival?

LEWIS: If they -- if they stick to their guns, it is, right? They can't afford to lose anymore. They're going to need Mike Pence at this point, the vice president to cast the deciding vote.

So, I think that one of the interesting things is, you know, the House bill of course died the first time and then they had all these amendments and they basically were able to pass it in the House.

Now the question is this going to happen again in the Senate? It's going to be a bad bill, like they're not going to be able to fix it through the amendment process but can they fix it politically? If I had to bet my bet is this will not pass. But I think it's very, very much on the bubble right now.

LEMON: Alice, my behind the scenes republican whisperer, do they really want this bill to pass given how controversial it is?

STEWART: They do want a bill to pass that repeals and replaces Obamacare, whether it's this version or one after they've continued negotiations. Look, they've come a long way from the original bill that was first introduced there in the Senate. I think with the input from Senator Cruz which offers more choices for insurers and those purchasing health insurance for lower premiums is important.

There's also the new version that came out today or the new amendment with the Graham, Cassidy amendment that Senator Santorum has been working with them on. That is a good idea and that it return a lot of the money back to the states and works with GOP governors.

And getting GOP governors on board will go a long way to getting some of these senators who are standing at no getting them to yes.

LEMON: Let's talk...

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: But right now we've got three confirmed no's and that's not going to cut it.

LEMON: Yes. That's not good. So, governor, let's talk about, this is the latest version. Let's tell people what's in the bill, OK, and how it differs from the original Senate version. It includes more health to cover out of pocket expenses, allows health savings accounts to pay premiums. Adds $45 billion to fight opioid epidemic, it provides more options for lower premium plans but it maintains significant cuts to Medicaid.

Do you think these revisions are improved the chances of republicans getting a bill passed?

GRANHOLM: Well, as you know if you -- if you help one side of the republican contingent, you're going to hurt the other side. And so the fact, for example, that they are not repealing the tax cut in this particular version it's going to get the conservatives all up in arms.

The fact they're adding money for opioids are going to, you know, is going to get the conservatives all up and arms. The fact that they're still cutting $780 billion worth of Medicaid it's going to get the more moderates all up in arms.

This is not going to go anywhere. Why -- I'm not sure when they're going to get to it. But for how many years they've been working on this they cannot come together with a package that is as good as Obamacare has been and to help -- I mean, you don't even have to call it Obamacare. You can repackage it as John Boehner said way back then.

Let's shore up the markets, let's keep the Medicaid expansion, let's just make sure people covered and we keep the markets strong. That's what going to happen.

LEMON: All right.

GRANHOLM: But they just, you know, continue to beat their head against the wall.

LEMON: I got to go. I appreciate it. Thank you, all.

And remember when you send your e-mails and your tweets and all of that...

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: You bet.

[22:55:00] LEMON: ... it was Matt Lewis, a republican who uttered the words, dirty old man. None of us.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: He's a dirty middle age man.

STEWART: He's a dirty middle age man.

LEMON: Thank you all. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In Los Angeles hundreds of at-risk youth look to one man to help find the right path. They come from juvenile detention centers, from foster care, many are high school dropouts. The man they connect with can relate. Growing up, he spent five years on juvenile probation. His name is Harry Grammer and he's this week's CNN hero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY GRAMMER, CNN HERO: Bottom line is everybody in this room, including myself, we got a story to tell. You're going to tell the world about who you are. I want to see what you have inside of you that want to come out.

We need to listen to our young people. We need to find out what it is that they're longing for, what they want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: To find out how Harry transforms the lives of these young people, you can watch his story right now on cnnheroes.com. And while you're there nominate someone you think should be the 2017 CNN hero.

[23:00:00] That's if for us tonight. Thanks for watching. White House in crisis with Jim Sciutto and Pamela Brown is next.