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Questions Surround Trump Jr. Meeting with Russians; Health Care Bill May Come Down to Just One Vote. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 16, 2017 - 08:00   ET



NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Everywhere he goes, the Russia story follows. The president's son now caught in its current.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: This is all of it?

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT: This is everything. This is everything.

HENDERSON: Shifting explanations and a growing number inside the room at a meeting with Russians.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken.

HENDERSON: And after a long good-bye, the president returns home to a stalled Senate and unfulfilled health care campaign promise.

[08:00:02] PRESIDENT TRUMP: I am sitting in the oval office with a pen in hand waiting for our senators to give it to me.

HENDERSON: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


HENDERSON: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia Malika Henderson, filling in for John King. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thanks for sharing a bit of your Sunday with us.

The Russian revelations keep coming from the White House. First came last weekend story about a 2016 meeting involving Donald Trump Jr., other members of team Trump and a Russian lawyer. Trump Jr. then releases a statement, and claims the meeting was about Russian adoption. And a few days later, historic changes with the release of Trump Jr.'s e-mails with publicist Rob Goldstone who set up the meeting.

The emails revealed the president's son took the meeting after being told that the lawyer had Kremlin ties and would offer up dirt on Hillary Clinton. The same day the e-mails come out this, from Donald Trump Jr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: So, as far as you know, as far as this incident is concerned, this is all of it?

DONALD TRUMP: This is everything. This is everything.


HENDERSON: But it wasn't everything. CNN has now learned there were more people in that meeting than previously reported, perhaps at least eight. We now know the meeting included Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Also in the room, the Russian lawyer and publicist Rob Goldstone who helped set up the encounter.

On Friday, a Russian-American lobbyist revealed he was also present, and a source tells CNN possibly two others were there as well, a translator and representative of a Russian family that asked Goldstone to reach out to the Trump campaign. President Trump has called the idea of collusion between his team and Russia a hoax and a witch hunt.

But on Thursday, he took a somewhat different approach while defending his son.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: I have a son who is a great young man. He is 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.


HENDERSON: The president is awake this morning and tweeting about fake news again. But this isn't a fake poll. The latest "Washington Post"/ABC News survey shows the president's approval rating has fallen to a dismal 39 percent among registered voters. And it's even lower, 36 percent, among all Americans.

With us to share their reporting and insights, CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post," Margaret Talev of "Bloomberg", and CNN's Manu Raju.

Thanks for being with us this morning.

Jeff, I'm going to start with you. It feels like in some ways, the word bombshell may have been overused in terms of this Russia story. But in this instance, bombshell might be an appropriate word to use when you think about the meeting, the contents of the meeting and the shifting stories about the substance of the meeting and who was in there.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And I think it probably is appropriate. And, you know, there'd be so many incremental developments in this entire Russia story. But I think let's take stock of the last week. And this, indeed, is a different moment, a different -- a different set of information we've learned, because we've learned for the first time, if you go a week ago to what we were discussing, we didn't have the contents of the e-mails.

Really what you think about that's come up in the last week is extraordinary. It marks the first time that someone from the Trump campaign accepted a meeting with someone from the Russian government or someone who is representing them. Now, this is something we still do not know if there was actually any information that was exchanged. But it shows the willingness to open the door to do that.

And it shows the fact that no one thought there was anything wrong with doing that, and it also shows that it's taken this Trump inner circle. This is what frustrates people inside the White House so much, many people, that it's taken them day after day after day after day to explain this. There have been four different versions of events, and now, we're still finding out at least eight people in the room. That's not what the president's oldest son said when he was on FOX earlier this week.

So, this is why investigators on Capitol Hill, Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican --


ZELENY: -- of Iowa, wants to talk to the president's oldest son. So, this week is a -- it marks a turning point in this.

And it's only -- we're only June 9th, 2016, in the campaign. We do not know if they had other meetings. We don't know what other e-mails are out there.

It's showed that they were willing to listen, and that is unusual, despite what the president says it's standard practice, it's not standard practice.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: And we're still learning more about --


RAJU: -- what happened here, too, because two weeks ago, our colleague at CNN, Evan Perez, reached out to the White House, informed them that he was aware about what happened here.

[08:05:01] And then what happened the next day? There was a $50,000 payment from the Trump campaign to Donald Trump Jr.'s attorney, that we're learning more about that information as well, but --

ZELENY: Which means he hired him on that day.

RAJU: Exactly. And we're seeing from the president, who said he only learned a couple of days ago. Did he learn at that point? We don't know exactly, we don't know the full story about what the president knew and when he knew it, to use -- to coin a phrase.


RAJU: But there are -- when I interviewed Adam Schiff on Friday, the top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, he did not know who's in the meeting. He did not know whether or not this Russian- American lobbyist had ties to Russian intelligence.

These are key questions that are going to be continued to probe, that investigators are going to continue to look at. So, even as the White House wants to downplay it and say there's nothing there, there's a lot more focus on this going forward.

HENDERSON: And in terms of how the public sees it, "The Washington Post" out with a poll among registered voters. Sixty-three percent think this meeting that Don Jr. had was inappropriate, 27 percent think it was appropriate. There's, of course, a partisan breakdown, 33 percent of GOPers think it was inappropriate, 85 percent of Democrats think it was inappropriate.

Margaret, in some ways, you have the president using some -- sort of like babe in the woods excuse for his son, right? Calling him a kid, a good boy, stretching the definition of who is considered a boy. Donald Trump Jr. is 39 years old.

And so, I mean, what do you make of the White House's messaging of this, particularly from the president?

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: It's been a tremendous challenge for the White House to figure out how to message this. And it's still hard to tell whether it's because they knew a lot more than they were letting on to or because they didn't know everything they needed to know and are now trying to play catch up.

There are some legal complications with the White House trying to figure out what Don Jr. knew, since Don Jr. doesn't actually work for the administration. But there are two elements that happened in the past week that demonstrates why this is a turning point. One is the decision or the revelation of how much of the campaign, of the re- election funds are now being used or sequestered away for legal fees.

And the second is the White House's decision to bring on Ty Cobb, to curb dysfunction inside the counsel shop. So, you now have attorneys now who do, you know, ethics issues, national security issues, and now a specialized attorney in the counsel's office for Russia, so that Don McGahn, the general counsel, doesn't have to juggle everything else plus this.

What this shows me is that they are prepared now to dig in for a much longer fight and duration of issues related to this than they initially thought they might need to.

HENDERSON: And one of the lawyers is Jay Sekulow, who will be on air, on lots of programs --

TALEV: And the private attorney.

HENDERSON: And the private attorney. He was on our air. And here's what he had to say in terms of the framing of what he thinks went on here.


JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: What law was violated by that meeting? And your experts have said it, too, nothing. At the end of the day, that's what this is about.


KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICS ANALYST: I mean, OK. So, when you're talking about coordination and collusion, it has to be to do something. But the open question is still open about what was the something, right? Is it to -- even if it's adoption thing, which does seem very possible, that is maybe to talk about sanctions, because that's what the adoption response from the Moscow as a response to when we passed the Magnitsky Act. That would be technically a violation of the Logan Act, even though nobody enforces it. But that's actually a thing.

Was it collusion to get actually the dirt on Hillary Clinton in the way that we thought, that it seems to be presented in the e-mails? That is potentially a thing that people have said, look, if that is the case, then you're talking about maybe violating federal election law, which says you can't take anything of value, which usually is a financial donation, but could be argued by a good lawyer that is -- you know, a dirt on a candidate on your opposing candidate is something of value from a foreign entity or source.

So, all these open questions, still, we cannot say at this point, absolutely nothing went wrong. At this point, there's not a full case be brought up in front of a court. But that's what people are investigating is, what was the goal of this meeting? Because this clearly shows some sort of intent to work together, which could help stabilize some --


HENDERSON: And one of the things that's complicating, I think, the messaging, is the fact that this is family, right?


HENDERSON: And you have "The New Yorker" taking note of that with this magazine cover. And, of course, it shows Don Jr. there, as well as Jared Kushner.

And a Republican, Bill Flores out of Texas. Here is what he had to say about the family ties around this -- in this White House.


REP. BILL FLORES (R), TEXAS: I would say, I would think it would be in the president's best interest if he removed all of his children from the White House. Not only Donald Trump but Ivanka and Jared Kushner. So, I wish that he would get them out of the way so that we could have professional staff at the White House.

(END AUDIO CLIP) [08:10:03] ZELENY: I think that's pretty interesting, because it also -- this is the first it really has come home to the president's inner circle and family. Now, I think it's important to have pointed out that the president's son does not work in the administration.


ZELENY: He is not subject to the same security implications and regulations.

But the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is at the center of most of this. And that is the potential issue here, and I heard more Republicans this week and supporters of this president, people who want him to succeed, who are more alarmed now than they were a week ago, because for the last year we've been hearing, there was no Russia meeting. It's absolutely not -- you know, it's all being made up.

Now, it's not being made up. He released the meetings.

But the son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who's still operating with an interim security clearance, as a senior adviser to the White House, you have to wonder if he's sort of questioning his decision to come into the administration now, because he is in the thick of it. And that is where some of the real concern lies.

RAJU: This is going to undercut him in so many --


RAJU: I mean, he's so important to this administration.

HENDERSON: To everything, yes.

RAJU: To everything, and this cloud continues to hangover him. But this is one reason why they created the anti-nepotism statutes is because they did not want someone who is compromised who is a relative, sometimes harder for a president to fire someone you're related to.

But, of course, the Trump White House said that does not apply within the White House. But this makes it harder to remove someone who is family.

HENDERSON: And you have Democrats, particularly Nancy Pelosi, saying that Jared Kushner shouldn't have a security clearance. And you imagine, you'll start to hear that more from Democrats, possibly some Republicans as well.

Up next, one step forward, two steps back. The Senate majority leader puts out his new health care plan, then puts off a key vote. Will the extra time help him or hurt him?

But, first, politicians say and do the darnedest things. President Obama went "Between Two Ferns". Now, former President Bill Clinton brings us between two Bushes. Clinton and George W. Bush paired up for a talk on leadership offering this wise advice. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think he would tell you the best thing can happen to you in your politics is to be consistently underestimated.

GREGORY W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I was pretty good at that.



[08:16:46] HENDERSON: The Senate showdown over repealing and replacing Obamacare suddenly is on hold. Republican leader Mitch McConnell abruptly put off a key vote after learning that Senator John McCain will spend this week in Arizona, recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot. After seven years of promises, Leader McConnell can't afford to lose even one vote as he tries to wrangle the 50 votes needed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Here is what's in this new version of the GOP bill: $45 billion for opioid addiction, $70 billion to stabilize insurance markets, there are similar cuts to Medicaid compared to the old Senate proposal, and this version keeps some taxes on wealthy Americans as well.

The White House says it's all in on getting this bill to the finish line and on Friday a White House team spent the afternoon with Senate leadership and President Obama -- President Trump and Vice President Pence worked the phones this weekend, pushing reluctant Republicans for a yes vote.

Pence also took his sales pitch on the road, addressing the nation's governors.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But the Senate health care bill gives states the freedom to redesign your health insurance markets and, most significantly under this legislation, states across the country will have an unprecedented level of flexibility to reform Medicaid and bring better coverage, better care and better outcomes to the most vulnerable in your states.


HENDERSON: So, Manu, what are we going to see this week on the Hill? Obviously, it's different from what we expected because of what happened with John McCain.

So, what are we looking for?

RAJU: A lot of hand wringing.


RAJU: I think delay of this vote is problematic for the Republicans. This is not going to get easier. It's going to get harder.

And there are already a number of members who represent states who rely on Medicaid coverage, senators who represent Ohio, West Virginia, Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito, who are concerned about this bill, have not said how they would vote. There are people like Dean Heller of Nevada, who is the most vulnerable Republican in the Senate, he could kill this bill, too. There are -- Lisa Murkowski, a moderate, also uncertain what she would do.

There are already a number of votes were hanging out there. Opposition always built over health care legislation. It's almost certainly going to build now. And one key reason why, because included in this plan that Mitch McConnell released last week is a proposal by Senator Ted Cruz that essentially would allow insurers provide health coverage outside of rules in Obamacare, ensuring that, you know, giving -- provide coverage even not covering pre-existing conditions.

That Cruz proposal was not going to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office in time for this vote on Tuesday.

HENDERSON: And now will be?

RAJU: And now, it could presumably be scored, get a cost estimate by the time this vote does come forward and it could be a very negative proposal in terms of the headlines by saying, you know, this many more people will lose coverage. This will affect people presumably in a more negative way if that's what the CBO says, that could be harder for a lot of senators to vote for at the end of the day.

HENDERSON: And in terms of where the public stands now, how they feel registered voters, at least, about Obamacare versus the GOP proposal, according to "The Washington Post", 47 percent like the current law, 26 percent like the GOP proposal, 13 percent neither, 4 percent something else.

[08:20:16] Karoun, one of the things that Manu touched on was Dean Heller. The folks who are also going to be important on this and you saw Pence talking them all this past weekend, these governors who, from what we're hearing out of this national governors association meeting, they were balking at a lot of the presentation and a lot of the messaging out of this White House.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, there's been a handful of Republican governors that have come out early on, actually. I believe it's Kasich in Ohio, Sandoval in Nevada and Baker in Massachusetts who came out over a month ago saying we don't like this because of the Medicaid cuts, which is one of the things that the change in the bill has not fixed.

You have other Republican governors who have not been as vocal or as, you know, ahead of this game on this, but also are uneasy about this. It's why you have people like Lindsey Graham coming up with this kind of last-minute proposal last week to say, well, we want to defer to the states. Why does he want to defer the states? Because he wants to up the pressure on, you know, Republicans through the Republican governors who might like the idea of having more control and -- excuse me, up the pressure on Democrats who represent states with Republican governors and give Republicans who represent those states kind of an easier out to do this. But that doesn't seem like it's going anywhere right now.

So, the situation you've got is one where, yes, people have to worry about the national party heading into a national election season, people like Dean Heller. But they also have to worry about what clearly plays well at home. He's got a very popular Republican governor in Carson City who has said I do not like this and who has been fine thinking somewhat liberal positions, I suppose, for a Republican on these sorts of matters. So, is he going to buck that?

And also, just, you know, in -- back in Washington, D.C., in order to pick up some of these people, as Manu said, you know, there's no incentive for everybody to just change their mind after a week of more pressure coming from home. But McConnell and the leadership team would have to totally change tact, like they have been appeasing the Ted Cruz's of this world, not the Susan Collins, the Dean Hellers.

If they want to pick up people who will be under even more pressure to stick to their no, they have to completely rethink this strategy. I don't see how they can do that in just a week.

HENDERSON: And a question as to what role Trump play, Margaret, here is what he had to say in terms of his expectations in what he sees his role as.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: I am sitting in the Oval Office with a pen in hand, waiting for our senators to give it to me.

PAT ROBERTSON, CBN NEWS: What will happen if they don't?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I don't even want to talk about it. I think it would be very bad. I will be very angry about it. And a lot of people will be very upset.

TALEV: Right. We have no idea what --

HENDERSON: Right. Well, we hear he has been making phone calls and --

TALEV: Absolutely.


TALEV: They certainly have. And I spoke with White House official yesterday. This is shortly before sort of the full recovery span of John McCain's situation was out. But they still were expressing confidence that there could be a vote to pass this but acknowledging that it would be a razor thin. So, a best case scenario is razor thin.

This poll out today, the ABC News and "Washington Post" poll is really revelatory, because it shows almost a 2-1 preference for Obamacare over the Republican plan. And that's just not a good place to be, you know, if you're trying to pass this legislation. If -- throwing in the opioid coverage is a tip of the hat to a lot of Trump country, a lot of these sort of --

HENDERSON: Yes, these Midwestern states. Ohio.

TALEV: Midwestern states where this is a problem. But, you know, there's not 20-plus million people with opioid addictions. There are 20-plus million people who are under a previous CBO score are at risk of losing coverage under this. That's really a problem.

ZELENY: What's so interesting about this, the approval rating for this Republican health care plan should be basically the same as what Trump's approval rating is. It shouldn't be lower than that.

This shows that the president has not sold this bill. He is doing one interview there with Pat Robertson in the White House, but he barely talked about health care. You know, what happened to all those rallies, all the things he was going to do? I've covered --

HENDERSON: What we saw from Obama, right, when he was selling it. And you covered Obama. Yes.

ZELENY: Right. During those Obama years, they were -- it was a longer process. They brought in people from the outside. So, they got the hospitals and doctors to support it.

But I think with this president it's been fascinating to watch how he is not all in on this. The vice president is, without a doubt. This is basically his only job right now, his top job. The president simply has not used his bully pulpit. He's not been traveling out there. He's not been, you know, sort of reminding voters that this plan is OK. I mean, he doesn't know the details necessarily, but that -- even not knowing the details, I've been struck by how he has not sold this plan.

HENDERSON: And is that by design, though? Did they -- I mean, if you're Mitch McConnell, do you want him out there or do you want him tweeting? Or what do you want from this president?

RAJU: You know, that's a good question, because he is a liability in some areas. He's an asset, providing cover.

[08:25:01] I think he could provide cover for some Republicans in their districts, in the House side, more than so in the Senate, where Trump is a little bit different. But I think, writ large, though, the Republican Party has not had a messaging, pro active message to put push this bill. Not just the White House but outside groups. Where are they?

HENDERSON: Yes, and one of the things they're trying to say is already say, pay no attention to the CBO score that we'll get probably on Monday. So, we'll see how that changes the conversation.

Even members of President Trump's own party admit Russia is overshadowing the GOP agenda. Next, what Republicans are saying now about those collusion allegations?


HENDERSON: Welcome back.

Thursday marks the president's first six months in office. Now, among his campaign promises, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, building a wall that Mexico would end up paying for, and big, historic tax reform and tax cuts.

But the Russia revelations keep coming, making it difficult for the White House to set the agenda and make good on Trump's promises.

On Saturday, President Trump acknowledged the Russia drag in a way, tweeting that the stock market hit another all-time high yesterday despite the Russia hoax story and also jobs numbers are starting to look very good.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway claims the collusion talking point is plain old tired. And to make her case, she actually turned to props.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I just want to leave you in case you've run out of time, and this is how I see it so far. This is to help all the people at home.

What's the conclusion? Collusion? No, we don't have that yet. I see illusion and delusion. So, just so we're clear, everyone. Four words, conclusion, collusion. No. Illusion, delusion, yes. I just thought we'd have some fun with words. Sesame's Grover word of the day perhaps, Sean.


HENDERSON: Margaret, fun with words there. She's talking about Sesame Street in Grover. And collusion and delusion.

One of the things she said here, which seemed to be maybe a slip of the tongue, she said, no, we don't have collusion yet, which seems to not be a great message.



TALEV: I mean, look, the threshold for why the past week was so important is not that it proved something specific happened, it's that it opened up a revelation that had been off the table for months now.

Consistently, the president and all the top aides and staff said there's nothing here, there's nothing - no one met with anyone. Nobody knows any of these people. This is all just made up. And this proves that that wasn't right. And so, there's a whole lot that isn't known now, including what the intelligence - what the US intelligence agencies knew about any of this and when they knew it. We still don't know yet. Who else was involved? What were these discussions?

But the reason why this week is so pivotal is that the entire Republican majority in Congress has been asked to stand by the president and support him through some very difficult times and has made the calculation that it behooves them to do this.

Number one, because there was no evidence of anything to the contrary. Just a lot of smoke and no fire, right?

And number two because of the belief - the strategic belief that the president's fortunes and their fortunes kind of rise or fall together.

This has shaken that very fundamentally in terms of what they can believe, what they want to attach their name to, not for everyone in the majority, but for enough people that it could become problematic for the White House.

The White House needs to be able to keep the confidence of the key number of important Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate. And fundamentally, the revelations this week, because they were a surprise, foundationally shook some of those relations.

HENDERSON: And one of the things some of these - the poll out of the "Washington Post" shows in terms of how registered voters are seeing this. Sixty percent believe that Russia tried to influence the election and 40 percent believe that the Trump campaign intentionally aided Russia to influence the election.

And among the GOP, there's something of a difference. The believers are - 33 percent believe that Russia tried to influence the election. Thirty-three percent, not a small amount for the GOP.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: That's right. And, of course, the intelligence committee has said that Russia did in fact try to meddle in the election. The question is whether or not any Trump associates did work and coordinate in any way.

Getting back to Margaret's point, I think it's an important one, that the number of Republicans on the Hill for months dismissed the calls or the suggestion that there was collusion, saying there's no evidence, there is no evidence.

This Don Jr. meeting doesn't mean that they are rushing to say that there was collusion, a number of them said we need to investigate, need to look into it. Now, they're being a little bit less definitive on the conclusion.

Even the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, earlier this summer, I had asked him about collusion, do you see any evidence there. Said, at this point, I haven't seen a lot of it publicly.

I asked him about it in light of the Don Jr. meeting, he said, we are still - we need to investigate this further and we are at the beginning of our investigation.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's significant. For all of Kellyanne Conway and other advisors to say there's no collusion, Republicans on Capitol Hill say we need to investigate this to see if there is.

But this drip, drip, drip sort of situation for the last - all these weeks, we're at the six-month point this week, everyone knows the best time to get anything done in an administration is out of the gate - on tax reform, on infrastructure and healthcare. They have - do not have any significant accomplishments.

That's why all of this matters here. The sense that there's not been a full sort of sense of all these meetings, you would - a lot of Republicans wish they would just sort of come together. If there are other meetings, let's get them all out there this summer right now. Just hasn't happened.

[08:35:00] HENDERSON: And this is what we heard from John McCain as well as Trey Gowdy last week on this while Russia story.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's sucking the oxygen out of the room, everybody knows that. I think it's very difficult when you have this overwhelming barrage of new information that unfolds every few days.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The amnesia of people that are in the Trump orbit, someone close to the president needs to get everyone connected with that campaign in a room and say, from the time you saw Doctor Zhivago until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single one of those and we're going to turn them over to the special counsel because this drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration.


HENDERSON: And, Karoun, this criticism has been expressed privately as we all know among Republicans, but it's spilling out into the public here with Trey Gowdy.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, DEFENSE AND FOREIGN POLICY REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. And Trey Gowdy is especially important because he's not only one of the triumvirate of Republicans that was named to take over the investigation from Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee, he also has the gavel now on House Oversight and had been holding back. He will change his mind about that in terms of looking into this stuff.

I think that the poll also reflected something that is unfortunate. We're talking about the Russia probe taking attention away from things like healthcare and other agenda issues.

What about just from the issue of Russia and election meddling in general? It's like a willful - only 33 percent of Republicans say that they believe Russia even tried to meddle not successfully, but tried to, is a willful ignoring of what Russia does all over the world.

This is kind of how they choose to project power. They do not have the military power we do. They do not have the economic power we do. They do have the ability to do messaging. And they've been doing it in satellite former Soviet Union - former Iron Curtain states, pushing into Europe. Now, pushing into United States.

And it's become such a Trump story that no one is talking about the fact that this is actually a very big concern for the upcoming elections.

And, yes, (INAUDIBLE) Kellyanne Conway is that somebody is going to screenshot that picture of her holding those two words -

HENDERSON: And change it -

RAJU: (INAUDIBLE) of the White House.


DEMIRJIAN: Bringing a red Sharpie to cross out the collusion thing, otherwise everyone's going to use that.

TALEV: I do want to throw in two caveats. So, one is that if the president were someone else, without the sort of cloud of Russia questions over him and they were dealing with cyber concerns or meddling or hacking concerns, only part of it would be a public campaign.

Of course, most of what they were doing would be classified, would never be discussed, would never be discussed with Putin in a meeting, would never be threatened.

It's important to kind of remember that. It doesn't mean we don't really know what they're doing. Doesn't mean they're doing nothing.

But the second is that I do think that this move to bring - to beef up the legal team both on the outside and on the inside with the naming of Ty Cobb to part of the White House is, obviously, the White House's effort to get their head around this and begin managing it. It probably should have happened several -

HENDERSON: And you've got Republicans - some Republicans, Dave Brat, for instance, here he is talking about Democrats and saying essentially they're getting way ahead of their skies in terms of talking about this.


REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: You've got to separate out the political. We have a probe going forward on the Russia piece.

On the political piece, if you find a statute that's been violated, then you've got it. But my senators in Virginia are getting apoplectic. Mark Warner seeing smoke everywhere. He goes like he's in a Cheech & Chong movie. And Kaine now thinks the son is worse than Benedict Arnold. We've gotten a little hysterical and we should just get grounded.


RAJU: Well, that's a great line.

HENDERSON: Cheech & Chong.

RAJU: (INAUDIBLE) think of it. So, that just shows you that even as some Republicans want to look at this further, there are still a number who say there's still nothing there and Democrats may be going too far in pushing this line.

DEMIRJIAN: Also, Mark Warner is so straight-laced with the idea (INAUDIBLE).

HENDERSON: Next, from frenemies to besties. Presidents Trump and Macron shake on it for a long, long, long, long time. How France's leader moved Trump on the world stage.


[08:42:10] HENDERSON: Their handshakes have become the GIFs that keep on giving. But this time, President Trump and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, took handshaking to a whole another level. And it was epic.

Twenty-nine seconds of handshaking that also included hand patting, backslapping, check patting and close talking. Even Macron's wife got mixed up in this display.

And before that GIFable goodbye, there was the slinky dinner at the restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower and the pageantry of Friday's Bastille Day.

Jeff, you were there. What was this all about? Kind of what were the deliverables out of this other than that amazing handshake?

ZELENY: The tough duty of covering President Trump in Bastille Day fell to me (INAUDIBLE).

It was really an extraordinary moment. And I think flattery was the word of the day. A lot of world leaders have gotten the sense that the way to get to President Trump is by flattering him and giving him this bigger welcome. That's exactly what happened in Paris.

The president was on the ground for 30 hours. He spent at least six of it one-on-one with Macron. This was a - he's never spent more time with any other world leader.

And I think, yes, they have differences on climate, on trade, on immigration, but on military and other things, there are many alliances there. And you got the sense that the young French president, a different generation, the age of his sons actually, wanted to give the American president a history lesson of sorts as well about isolationism and they're watching all the military might roll down the Champs-Elysees.

HENDERSON: And, Margaret, some people were like, was Trump getting played or duped by Macron in coming over for Bastille Day for 30 hours or so.

TALEV: If Trump wanted to do this, to an extent as a way to kind of mend fences a little bit with Europe - I'm not sure that's what he wanted to do - he may just not have been able to resist the invitation. So much gold and pomp and circumstance and parade.

But by going, what you're saying inherently, embedded in your messages, I believe in the alliance, I believe in our Western allies, that actually that alliance is more important than the -

DEMIRJIAN: The kind of the easiest person for Trump to do this within Europe, though. Because remember, the two of them are not that different. They were both the upstart candidates in their elections. They both kind of beat the expectations.

HENDERSON: Sort of new to the world stage.

DEMIRJIAN: Very different approaches to the world, right? Very, very different.

But everybody else in Europe misses Obama a lot and Trump knows that. And he really hates that. He hates (INAUDIBLE). He loves measuring himself up with Obama, but he hates when people don't like him and would have - miss the guy who used to be there.

Macron doesn't have that baggage because he's also new. And Macron very much wants to establish himself as the new phenom on the European stage, to speak for Europe in a way which is right now Angela Merkel's mantle, but Macron kind of wants to be as big as France is on that stage.

And being the person to be able to bring Trump back into the fold -

HENDERSON: Right, the Trump whisperer. That is the value that -

DEMIRJIAN: With Theresa May sidelined and -

[08:45:00] RAJU: And to that point too, it was interesting. I think one thing that is overlooked, that press conference, was Trump seems to suggest - leave the door open at reentering the Paris Accord.

HENDERSON: We'll go that sound now. Here's Trump on the Paris Climate Accord.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord. We'll see what happens. But we will talk about that over the coming period of time. And if it happens, it will be wonderful. And if it doesn't, that'll be OK too, but we'll see what happens.


RAJU: I mean, I'm skeptical if that actually were to happen.

HENDERSON: Yes. It seems to be Trump just kind of playing nice.

RAJU: That's right. Which is the - I guess, you'll have to do it on the world stage because he - no question about it. He infuriated a lot of these European countries by walking away from this climate agreement. He wanted to strike clearly a more moderate tone there.

HENDERSON: Interesting to see Trump enjoy sort of the symbolism and the pageantry of it. He doesn't necessarily get here, he certainly gets it abroad. He enjoys it.

TALEV: But the takeaway if you're Angela Merkel or Macron or any of the leaders in Western Europe from that clip of Paris is keep planning and keep pushing for what you want, maybe he will come along, maybe he won't, it doesn't matter. We'll see.

ZELENY: Trump might like to travel more than he first led on.

HENDERSON: That's true. No, it's true. He seems to enjoy that.

ZELENY: Things abroad are sometimes better than things back here in Washington.

HENDERSON: Thank you. Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including a heads-up about an upcoming presidential visit to an aircraft carrier.


[08:51:00] HENDERSON: Let's close by asking our reporters to share a little something from their notebooks and help keep you ahead of the curve on big political news next week.

ZELENY: Well, you know it's summertime, so a lot of us are drinking things out of aluminum. Maybe beer, maybe soda, maybe other things.

But all this may be coming home this week in a political side of the equation here. There's a huge steel fight going on inside the White House. The Commerce Department is set this week potentially to issue a report on exactly the national security implications for importing steel.

But the president and the Trump administration is really having quite a fight inside the West Wing on what they should do to limit the amount of steel coming in.

But a lot of companies, manufacturers, are sounding the alarm here saying, look, this could increase the price of everything, from the aluminum - as I said, those cans of soda and beer, other things, aluminum in sunscreen, other things. So, this is something that hasn't gotten a ton of attention inside Washington with so much else going on, but watch for that steel decision this week. Very controversial. And it's going to affect your bottom line.

HENDERSON: Yes. And it was a big campaign promise from Donald Trump. Karoun?

DEMIRJIAN: (INAUDIBLE) item, but the congressional committees looking into the Russia probe are starting to kick into much higher gear. They've all said now that the two main ones, the intelligence and senate judiciary, want to interview people that were in that room for the Don Jr. meeting.

Manafort could show up very, very soon. And if he does - if he speaks publicly, the question is, will he start to turn the narrative? And will anybody start to turn the narrative because now there's almost a race on for cooperation and for who's going to speak first.

You talk to people on these committees, they say Manafort is cooperating. They expect Kushner will be cooperating too, but Don Jr. is an open question.

And so, as the pressure grows on these principals that were in this meeting, the question is, are they going to start to protect themselves and will their stories start to collide and change and whose will dominate.

Granted, Mueller has the most important investigation going on. But if some of these interviews end up being public testimony or becoming part of the news record, that could really change the way that the country sees things, and thus members of Congress see it.

HENDERSON: What's to be learned from all of this? Margaret?

TALEV: Late in the coming week, look for President Trump himself to star in the commissioning - the official commissioning of the USS Gerald Ford in Norfolk. This will actually be his second visit to the newest debut next generation aircraft carrier.

But sort of in classic Trump, he has both praised this project effusively and the great American military members who will serve on it, but also criticized it for cost overruns. He was going to make it cheaper.

He's sort of classically attacked the technology - I'm a little out of my depth here, but the Ford generation is going to be using electromagnetic catapults.

HENDERSON: Of course.

TALEV: Of course, it is. And Trump earlier this year, in an interview with "TIME" said, he told them to go back to steam because this is still - so, it's a combination of it's a great technological advancement, but maybe we should just do it the old way, which is cheaper. But there's two things to look for. Number one is just sort of the magnificence of this project - 90,000 tons. It's a $13 billion project. It'll hold 4,500 personnel and 70 aircraft.

But number two is whenever a president goes to an aircraft carrier, it's an opportunity to talk about defense, the military and kind of the national posture on foreign policy vis-a-vis both our allies and challenges and threats. So, it could be an interesting performance.

HENDERSON: We'll look for that. Manu?

RAJU: So, the House Intelligence Committee announced last week abruptly that it was canceling this testimony for Roger Stone that was scheduled for July 24. This is the second Trump associate whose testimony has been canceled. J.D. Gordon before.

Speaks to the slow nature of this investigation on the House side. Karoun was talking about the Senate side.

The Republican who is leading that investigation, Mike Conaway said on Friday, he's growing increasingly frustrated by the slow pace of this investigation.

[08:55:04] Adam Schiff, the top Democrat, told me this investigation is global in scope and it could take a while to get through everything. This comes as this panel is still facing a lot of partisan strife internally about the witnesses they're interviewing.

This was supposed to go away when Devin Nunes stepped away from this investigation, but it's pretty clear that a lot of the partisan disagreements about the direction of investigation still remain.

HENDERSON: Yes. In some ways, no surprise about that. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again, thanks for sharing your Sunday morning. John King will be back in the anchor chair tomorrow at noon Eastern.

Up next, "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper.