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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  July 10, 2017 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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thanks so much for joining us. don't forget, you can watch "outfront" any time, anywhere. have a good night. "ac 360" starts right now. good evening. thanks for joining us. we begin with today's admission by donald trump, jr., a whanld it does to his father's claims about the 2016 campaign. the argument from the white house has always been no collusion. well, today we got the first suggestion of a russian offer of he will top the trump campaign and the campaign's willingness to meet about it. in a tweet today in a "new york times" story yesterday, the president's oldest son acknowledged meeting with a russian attorney who was promising dirt on hillary clinton. obviously, he tweeted, i'm the first person on the campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent. went nowhere, but had to listen. i'm keeping them honest before getting further into the meat of the story, there's ethics professionals, most notably republicans who say no, he didn't have to listen.
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richard painter joins us later, who tweeted, when a russian agent calls to off a dirt, a loyal american will call the fbi. now, to be accurate and fair, we don't know that the russian lawyer trump jr. met with is a russian agent, only that she was on the fbi's radar and has ties to vladamir putin. cnn has not been able to independently verify that. she does represent the russians that want the sanctions against russia lifted. a a number of former campaign managers say that not all campaigns do this. today, an episode was counted when someone sent the gore people information and the gore people called the fbi. don, jr. is responding that he was promised damaging information about hillary clinton. it was interesting enough that he asked two other top campaign insiders into the meeting. presidential son-in-law jared
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kushner, who is now a top adviser and campaign chairman paul manafort. but explanations have changed since he was approach fwid "new york times." that's important here, because it shows we weren't getting the full story initially. and frankly, we still don't know iffer right now. on saturday, when the meeting was reported, trump jr. said it was about americans adopting russian orphans and volunteered nothing about hillary clinton. just a day later on sunday, when confronted or approached again by "the new york times" with their new reports about the dirt on the clinton campaign dangled in front of trump, jr., he released a statement saying -- >> two days, two different
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statements. now, you can make of that what you want. we'll talk more about it with the panel, whether it makes any sense on its own terms. what it represents is a contradiction of a line from his father on down have been saying about the campaign and russia. we don't know if this russian attorney is an agent of the kremlin. what is more important is what did the trump campaign know about when they met. here is kellyanne conway in december. >> absolutely not. i discussed that with the president-elect last night. those conversations never happened. i hear people saying it like it's a fact on television. that is just not only false, but it's dangerous. and it does undermine our democracy. >> and here's the vice president in january. >> of course not. why would there be any contacts between the campaign? chris, the -- this is all a distraction, and it's all a part of a narrative to delegitimize the election and to question the legitimacy of this presidency. >> the president has also
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weighed in several times. here's the q and a from february. >> can you say whether you are aware that anyone had contact with russia during the course of the election? >> i told you, general flynn also had dealings. so that's one person. and he should have. >> during the election if >> no, nobody that i know of. >> you're not aware of any contacts? >> how many times have i answered this question? russia is the reuuse. to the midwebest of my knowledg one did. >> it's unclear how much donald trump, jr. knew about this russian person going into the meeting. the meeting was june 9 at trump tower. several weeks later in july, having met with this woman, he did find time to belittle clinton campaign charges of hacking. >> it shows you their moral compass. they'll say anything to win this. this is time and time again, lie
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after lie. he won't say, well, i say this. we hear experts, this is what's happening with the russians. it's disgusting, so phony. >> so tonight, we know that several weeks before making that statement, he had the meeting with the russian offering dirt on the opposition. we also know this is the late nest a string of trump associates who have had contact with russians and lied about it, as did michael flynn. jared kushner has had to amend his security clearance forms. donald trump, jr., has no security clearance and no forms to amend. what he does have is the distinction of being the first member of the campaign inner circle to directly tie the campaign to a russian national with ties to the russian leadership. let's check in with jeff zeleny. the breaking news that donald trump, jr. has hired a lawyer, what have you learned about that? >> reporter: he's hired a new york lawyer to represent him in
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these matters here, and he sent out a statement to cnn staying this, i am representing him with respect to the ongoing matters in washington, d.c. but to date, he's received no request from any government committee or agency. however, anderson, that could be about to change. senator mark warner, the vice chairman of the intelligence committee, told cnn and other reporters not long ago this evening, that he absolutely wants to hear from the president's son. they plan to call him before the committee to ask them questions specifically about that meeting in june of 2016. but he has hired a lawyer. and for donald trump jr.'s part, he said i'm happy to work with congress on that. anderson, that is a change of tone from earlier in the day when he sent out a flippant rock saying surely i'm not the only operative to discuss some opposition research with an opponent. the difference, it was a russian lawyer, not simply a rival. >> what did the white house say
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at the briefing today about all this? >> reporter: anderson, simply that there's nothing to see here. sarah huckabee sanders was giving the press briefing. it was off camera, again as has become the practice here. she said the president did not know about this until the last couple of days. he was not aware of this meeting at the time. he didn't learn about it until he was flying back from the u.s. to germany when "the new york times" posted. but she said look, there's no evidence of collusion here and tried to simply again say this is a democratic conspiracy, a hoax here. and it's standard practice and procedure to accept opposition research on your rival. but did not draw a distinction at all that the rival may have been a hostile actor. it may have been an adversary. i talked to several campaign practitioners who worked on both sides of the isaisle. they say when you do receive something like this, you call the fbi. the white house presented it as
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business as usual. but the white house thought theyer trying to move beyond this. they wanted to talk about the forward relationship with vladamir putin going forward. they thought they had turned somewhat of a corner. that was a controversial meeting last friday, as well. but now they're stuck again with what happened during the campaign. i think it's important to point out, the reason this is different, this happened during the campaign two days after he clinched the nomination. and the president, as a candidate at that point, was in new york city on that day, was in trump tower. we don't know if he was involved in the meeting or not. we have no evidence, but he was in new york that day. but again, this is something this white house will have to answer. this will come out in those congressional testimonies. >> jeff, just to be clear. during the campaign, donald trump, jr. was a top adviser. we've heard time and time again how donald trump's children are the ones he talks to several times a day. those are the people he's closest to. it was also paul manafort, his
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campaign manager, and jared kushner, who is now a top adviser. so three significant people in the campaign in on this meeting. >> reporter: there are no three people who are closer to president trump than these three, with the exception of ivanka trump. these are the closest people around him, working in the small confines of trump tower there. so donald trump, jr. was one of the biggest surrogates, one of the most active advisers there. so that was the moment there on june 9, 2016, two days after that california primary, hillary clinton had just accepted the democratic nomination, as well. that's when the race was fully joined. so if you go back to that period, difficult to believe they wouldn't have discussed it. we'll find that out in the days ahead. >> jeff, thank you very much. joining me now, david chalian, kirsten powers, brian lanza, matt whittaker and jason miller. david, how important is this news? >> i think it's pretty significant, because i think we have moved to a different place now. throughout the last six months
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when donald trump said no collusion, he had some sense that there was no data point out there that people could say hey, during the campaign, x talked to y. this is connected to russia and trying to damage hillary clinton. now we have that. now for the first time we actually have those data points, and it is donald trump, jr., as you were just discussing with jeff, anderson. nobody closer. this is something that was in senior strategy meetings, traveling the country as a surrogate. we know at that time, around june 9 last year is when staff shakeups were happening inside the trump orbit. because of the trump children's involvement with that. this is now central to the candidate, talking about damaging information to hillary clinton, which would be helpful to donald trump, from somebody who is a russian national, or foreign adversary, who "the times" is reporting has ties to the kremlin. >> kirsten, the pushback from the white house look, this is nothing unusual. people offer opposition research
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and you meet with them. >> okay. i think it is a little unusual, actually. it certainly is what a lot of republicans are pointing to ukraine offering information about paul manafort. and the problem here is that ukraine and russia are very different countries. we have very different relationships with them. so you can't put them in the same category. and the fact that russia was interfering in our election, right? so there's another layer to this that makes it more complicated. and then also just the fact that he says that he met with this person not even knowing who she was. so he was clearly open to meeting with pretty much anybody. he wasn't looking for any assurances that she wasn't tied to the russian government. all he knew is that she's a russian lawyer who probably does have ties to the russian government. but he didn't even bother -- he didn't care one way or the other, or he would have asked. >> it's also interesting, if he didn't know who he's meeting with, why call paul manafort and
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jared kushner, two key people on the campaign, to come in and sit in on the meeting. >> not just key people, the guy who is running the campaign, and kushner, who was sort of the de facto campaign manager. we knew three things before this weekend. we knew that the trump campaign, in 2016, had no problem taking advantage of the russian hacking and dutmping of the material frm the dnc. we knew also that during the transition and subsequent to the campaign that many trump advisers tried to hide and not disclose their contacts with russians, right? and we knew that president trump has gone to tremendous lengths to down play the intelligence assessment of russia's interference in the election. what we didn't know until this weekend was any hard evidence of a senior trump administration official saying -- sitting down with someone that seems to be
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going to bat for the kremlin and inviting the proffering of negative information about hillary clinton. so i think that's why it is so substantial. at the very least, it suggests that at the highest levels of the campaign, they were okay with sitting down with someone like that. even if this meeting didn't get that kind of information. >> anderson, you just said to ryan, you said, well, he didn't know her name, but he invited paul manafort and jared kushner in a meeting. this is what is so crucial. by his own admission, he knew what the context of the meeting was. he has said he knew he was going into a meeting to get negative information about hillary clinton there this russian. so also i think paul manafort and jared kushner, you're calling them into a meeting that you know you're anticipating on get thing information, according to his own words. >> trump tower is a highly secure place. by june, they had full-on secret service protection there. i don't see how you get a
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meeting with jared kushner, paul manafort and donald trump, jr. at trump tower, that is the most secure building in the world, without knowing who you're meeting with. >> jason miller, what about that? it does seem hard to imagine that somebody can get into trump tower without their name being -- i went there to do interviews. you've got to give your name in advance. >> well, to answer your most immediate question, look, this was a period in the campaign. i think i joined two weeks later. i think brian joined a month later or so, where they had not ramped up and there wasn't the level of sophistication you would expect at that point there would be for a general election candidate. i have to take a step back. there are a couple of things with all the hubbub surrounding this. if the time when don, jr. was approached here, there was zero narrative about any of this russia talk. there wasn't even a peep of it. not even the -- >> this meeting was early june. >> right, there wasn't the slight esz thiest thing.
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every single campaign has been approached by people saying i have dirt on your opponents. i'm sure the clinton campaign was approached on a daily basis and probably sat down with people on a daily basis who wanted to dish dirt on the president. the third thing, and i think this is a very important here, anderson, is immediately, or almost immediately, they realized this person had nothing to offer. and let's talk about the lunacy of what they were talking about. this lawyer was saying that the russians were somehow funding the dnc and secretary clinton's campaign, which is silly. so they didn't walk in with an oppo binder. so that's what is so disingenuous of people saying oh, we called the fbi. this lawyer started stewing nonsense, they wrapped it up and they have had a conversation ever again. so i think if you see today really where the fire and the intensity is coming from, it's from the political left and they're doing to try to step on the president who has had a good run lately. >> brian fallon, you've worked on campaigns.
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is this standard procedure in a campaign? >> no. and jason is making an argument i can't imagine he believes. there's a difference between going out and hiring opposition firms that work in the united states of america, and soliciting information from a foreign national. >> they weren't soliciting up. >> donald trump, jr. has criminal exposure here. there is a campaign finance statute that bars people working in support of a candidate from accepting donations, campaign finance donations, but also other things of value that can be ke fidefined nonmonetary -- >> a little bit of a stretch here to apply that statute. >> goods and services that you would normally pay for, to seek them out, may implicate this statute. that's why i suspect he has a lawyer now. >> we have to take a quick break. we'll talk more about this russian story as well as what went on with the president's
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meeting with vladamir putin and how sharply the president confronted him on russian meddling or not sharply, ahead. here's to the safety first...
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we're back with the panel, talking about donald trump jr.'s meeting with a russian attorney last year. the question is how normal or abnormal that meeting was, and how it meshes with the trump administration saying no one colluded with the russians. back with the panel. brian fallon was saying the idea of meeting with the russians is anything but normal. to that you say what? >> i would say that don, jr. with the statement he put out, he didn't know who he was sitting down and meeting with. when you're promised information, you don't know what someone is going to say. usually you want to bring someone else into the meeting. >> is that possible he didn't know who he was sitting down with and brings paul manafort and jared kushner in, all i would assume have a lot of stuff to do? >> absolutely. don, jr. is someone who has been successful in business. he's not someone who has been a traditional political operative. so someone says they have
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information about your opponent, of course you're going to grab someone else. the reality is there weren't a bunch of junior staffers or other people. so he probably grabbed whoever the closest folks were to him and pulled them in. so the most honest answer is the most direct and straightforward one. >> it's not like he's in a mcdonald's and someone comes up and says i have this information. this was through a contact who worked on the miss universe pageant in russia. so there must have been an e-mail or phone confidence wen d.o. donald trump, jr. and this person with an explanation of yeah, there is this attorney with russia. he must have known to some degree, no? >> well, to someone who has maybe worked on a number of campaigns and be a part of this over the past 20 years of campaigns that i've done, i can't think of a single campaign where i didn't have someone approach the campaign and say, we have information on your opponent. again, 90% of the time, they're crack pots. that's why you always bring
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someone else along to see what kind of crazy stuff they might say. >> brian lanza, to counter that, though, i've seen quotes from donald trump, jr., talking about the difficulty of doing business in russia. and one of the problems is, you never know who you're meeting with and you never know their agenda. he's savvy enough, to jason's point, but he knew enough about russia to know that it's kind of a murky area and you don't know who you're meeting with. >> i don't think it's murky. he had a casual acquaintance, somebody said i want you to meet somebody that has information you might want to have. we always run information down. jason is right, it was a small campaign at that time. >> and you don't believe he would say to his dad at some point, hey, i had a meeting with someone, they had some opposition stuff, turned out to be nothing.
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>> why waste his timesome >> matt, do you think donald trump, jr. has any legal exposure here? >> i don't. and here's why. somebody mentioned the idea of a thing of value that was given here. this is what obviously happened is this russian lawyer used a ruse or a pretext to get this meeting, saying i had all this great dirt. gave worthless information. we would all agree on this panel that the russians did not fund the dnc and hillary clinton's campaign. so she got the meeting and she talked about what she really wanted to talk about, which was this law that prevent ascertain human rights violators from coming into the united states and has been matched by the russians with a ban on adoptions by u.s. citizens of russian babies. so i think there is no criminal exposure here. if this is the story. again, all the facts, i think we know now, because of donald trump, jr. has issued two statements now -- >> wait a minute. you think because he's issued two statements, one which --
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when you issue a first statement and then you have to correct the statement with a second statement, you believe the credibility is iron clad there? >> i've read both statements and i don't see they're inconsistent. certainly the facts are additional in the second one about the opposition research that was being offered. >> if i told you i had a meeting with someone about adoption in russia, and then it turns out it was about dirt on hillary clinton and sanctions, i mean, i -- >> listen, anderson, i'm not suggesting this looks good. but we heard from the music producer who was in the meeting, as well. he corroborates the substance of the discussion. >> every music producer -- [ overlapping speakers ] >> anderson, there's plenty of lawyers that disagree. the usefulness of the information that donald trump, jr. was provided is besides the point. it's merely the fact that you could be solicited something that could be of value.
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>> donald trump wasn't soliciting. >> he accepted a meeting. >> what was the solicitation? >> he showed up at the meeting and asked for the information -- >> no, that's -- now you're changing it. he didn't solicit anything. >> showing up -- >> how do we know? we have no actual fact. [ overlapping speakers ] we don't know who solicited what. this is all from a statement of donald trump, jr. >> so brian can't say that he was soliciting, and therefore it was breaking some law when he wasn't soliciting. none of us were there. >> why was he at the meeting? because he thought that the lawyer was going to proffer some information that's correct ben -- benefit the trump campaign. >> and there was nothing. >> he showed up because he had been promised dirt on hillary clinton, and he showed up in order to be in receipt of it and he brought his brother-in-law and the chairman of the
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campaign. >> this is one who reached out and wanted to talk to him. this whole solicitation -- >> this idea he had no idea who the person was is a smoke screen. >> how do you know that, brian? >> because, jason, give me a second. we know a lot about the person that reached out to him and tried to set up the meeting, the person, his top client is a pop star in russia, whose father is a billionaire and close putin ally and it was on his behalf that donald trump made an appearance on his music video in moscow. the idea that this is a mystery of who this person was is fake. the idea that donald trump, sr. couldn't have known about what happened at this meeting is also bogus when you consider he was at trump tower the day of the meeting. >> you're entitled to your opinion, but not your own set of the facts. the fact is, don, jr. didn't know who this person was. he showed up and she started spew thing nonsense about the dnc. >> we haven't seen any e-mails. that's one of the things --
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>> i want to ask jason something. you worked at trump tower, right, jason? >> yeah, of course. >> can you get into trump tower without showing abtemperatu ini identificati identification? >> not anymore. >> as of june of 2016 when that place was locked down by the secret service, you could walk in there without showing i.d.? >> there's plenty of times i entered without an i.d. >> wait a minute, jason. the secret service in june, when he's the candidate would allow a random stranger to come to the office? >> if you're escorted by someone. but this was an acquaintance that made the introduction -- he sat down with them, tavis it wa 20-minute meeting. i don't understand how you're trying to get away -- >> you can't even answer the
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question. >> the thing that struck me about in whole story is it doesn't make sense. when it's a building like trump tower, one of the most secure buildings in america in june of 2016. so the idea that she could walk in there without identifying herself to the person she was meeting with doesn't pass the smell test. you worked there. you tell me that people got in there without identifying themselves? >> i'm saying i don't remember when i would show the i.d. but again -- >> do you ever remember anyone you met with bringing that person up and that person didn't have to show identification if they were going to a meeting with you? [ overlapping speakers ] >> i don't understand the point. >> the point is he didn't -- >> let me go down your rabbit hole, brian. >> it's not a rabbit hole. >> it is a rabbit hole. so say somebody shows an i.d. when they're coming into trump tower. i'm playing your game for a moment. >> it's just a question. >> they don't go and check it at the door and the elevator.
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that's not like a five-step i.d. check. that's just the reality of it. maybe there was at brian's campaign, there was a different setup. at trump tower, at that point in june or so after the president had captured the nomination, there wasn't as structured a setup. >> but the secret service didn't ask for names or social security numbers, people coming to the office? >> i can't speak to the exact background of every single -- the way that the secret service did this every single time. again, i think it's a little ironic that you guys are trying to make this big issue about whether you show i.d. at no point in that was don, jr. checking somebody's i.d. the fact is, he had an acquaintance that said i want to chat with you. they're talking nonsense. 20 minutes later, they're gone. >> we have to take a break. we'll ponder all that. up next, what we know about the russian attorney that met with the president's son-in-law and son last summer. phone with our allstate agent,
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donald trump, jr.'s story about his meeting with a russian attorney in june of last year has changed a number of times. in the latest version, he said the meeting came about because someone he knew said the lawyer might have information that could help the campaign, and he wasn't told the lawyer's name before the meeting. we all know her name now. randi kaye has details.
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>> reporter: this is the russian lawyer donald trump, jr. says he met with in june 2016 at trump tower. her name is natalia veselnitskaya. and this was her on russian tv back in 2014. she doesn't appear to have any official links to the kremlin. but is a managing partner at the russia based law firm. years ago, one of her client's companies had been investigated by the u.s. justice department, after he have client's company was linked to a massive corruption scandal. magnitzky died a mysterious death in 2009. >> translator: of course i'm proud of him because he was proud enough to talk about it. but it's painful because it cost his life. >> reporter: the official cause of death was untreated health problems, though he was badly
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beaten and denied medical treatment. following his death, the u.s. in 2012 passed the magnitzky act, which allows the united states to withhold visas of russians believed to have violated human rights. in retaliation for that law, russian president vladamir putin banned all u.s. adoptions of russian children. that's where natalia veselnitskaya enters the picture. she was working to have the magnitzky act overturned, meeting with anyone in the u.s. who might listen, perhaps thinking that could be donald trump, jr. natalia veselnitskaya was once married to a former russian deputy transportation minister, postings on her facebook page show she does have an interest in american politics. at least one posting is anti-president obama. others are against former deputy attorney general sally yates, who refused to support president trump's travel ban. and another post is critical of the women's march. meanwhile, "the new york times," citing an anonymous source, reports her activities and those
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she associated with, have caught the attention of the fbi. though cnn has not confirmed that. it's unclear where natalia veselnitskaya is right now. though she said in a statement to "the new york times" that "nothing at all about the presidential campaign was discussed at the trump tower meeting." she said she never acted on behalf of the russian government. randi kaye, cnn, new york. >> we wanted to talk to two experts on all things russia. steve hall joins us. and jill dougherty is here. steve, a kremlin spokesman says they can't be expected to track russian lawyers and movements overseas. they don't know who this person is. "the new york times" is saying this person is connected to the kremlin. you know, people watching this would say why would the u.s. government be able to track every american lawyer overseas. sit different in russia? >> absolutely, it's different. this is one of the big problems with trying to transpose how
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things work in the west with how things work in russia, specifically moscow. ms. veselnitskaya is somebody who almost certainly would have been somebody who would have been usable by putin and the kremlin. the way i look at this whole situation is, you know, the russian intelligence officer who was tasked with trying to figure out whether the trump campaign was interested in cooperating. we already know that the putin -- that putin's position was, we need to try to arrange this american election so trump wins. i would tell my guys, let's cast a wide net. then i think i would be reporting back to the kremlin, we've had guys like donald trump, jr., we've had guys like michael flynn, we've had folks like kushneragreed to meetings. that's the approach i would be taking as the russian government. using somebody like natalia veselnitskaya is consistent with how the russian government would do these things.
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>> yjill, do you agree, that ths was sort of a probe into the campaign just to see what the structure is, who is dealable as one option? >> you know, i think that i would be a little bit more conservative. that certainly is an operative theory, but i think it's very clear, if you just take it on the face of what she was trying to do, sanctions, the magnitzky bill is something the kremlin truly hates, because it put on a blacklist russians who were accused of human rights violations. and that is why vladamir putin decided to have the ban on adoptions. so it sounds kind of innocent, adoptions, children, et cetera. it is highly political. and it is highly personable with vladamir putin. so even the mere fact that she wanted to talk about that is quite, i would argue, a political issue. so it's not -- i don't think
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it's as simple as it seems. >> steve, a political issue to the kremlin? >> absolutely. jill is right, the magnitzky act was a big deal. this is exactly the kind of thing that gets vladamir putin going. he sees this as unilateral meddling. >> that's why he canceled the adoptions, anger over the act. >> yes, exactly. but what makes this one a little bit different, if i understand the reporting correctly, is that the topic of having information on the opposition campaign, in this case hillary clinton, was one of the reasons for the meeting. if you accept a meet bring you know that's going to come up or that does come up in the context of the meeting, that's different from the meetings we've seen between kushner and the russian foreign minister. that's different. >> and jill, it is according to the reporting by "the new york
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times," what the pitch to get the meeting was, although donald trump, jr. said no, it was about adoption. now it seems based on his comments and "the new york times" reporting, the initial pitch was dirt on hillary clinton. that gets you in the door. and then she changed the topic to sanctions and through the idea of adoptions. >> exactly. and you know, the thing that i keep thinking about is, all right, she was russian. even at that point in the campaign, russia was kind of an issue. i mean, we already know that donald trump, jr. had experience before, as you pointed out. he was kind of wary of what the russians do when they get into negotiations, et cetera. i think it's totally legitimate to say why didn't a red flag go up at that point? you add to that the fact that they obviously were interested in getting something, as the
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russians would call it, on hillary clinton. so those two are worrisome and notable things. also, look at some of her clients. one of her clients, as was pointed out in the piece that kind of set this up, one of her clients was involved in real estate -- using real estate, reportedly, and he settled on this, but to launder money. so this is -- i think there are a lot of very important aspects of this that really are very unclear and should be clarified. >> yeah. again, all we know from "the new york times" reporting and now donald trump's revised statement. jill dougherty, thanks, steve hall, as well. up next, president trump announced a cyber security initiative with vladamir putin and then shuttered the idea after intense opposition. more on that ahead.
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in fact, 4 out of 10 even achieved completely clear skin. do not use if you are allergic to taltz. before starting you should be checked for tuberculosis. taltz may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them. tell your doctor if you are being treated for an infection or have symptoms. or if you have received a vaccine or plan to. inflammatory bowel disease can happen with taltz. including worsening of symptoms. serious allergic reactions can occur. now's your chance at completely clear skin. just ask your doctor about taltz. from day two two days after his meeting with vladamir putin, president trump announced his plans to work with russia on cyber security. the president tweeted "putin and i discussed forming a cyber security unit so that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded."
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the president faced a swift backlash from members of both parties. >> it's not the dumbest idea i've ever heard, but it's close. >> we might as well mail our ballot boxes to moscow. >> i am sure that vladamir putin could be of enormous assistance this that effort, since he's doing the hacking. >> others took to twitter. ben sase wrote, this should not happen and will not happen. why the president of the united states will tweet it is bizarre. republican senator marco rubio tweeted, partnering with putin on a cyber security unit is akin to partnering with assad on a chemical weapons unit. after the criticism about 13 hours later, president trump walked back the idea with a tweet, the fact that we discussed a cyber security unit doesn't mean i think it can happen. it can't. but a cease-fire can and did. i want to bring back my panel now with one new face.
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jason, why did the president believe that a cyber security unit with russia was a good idea to begin with, when it was russia who meddled in the u.s. election, does it make sense to you? >> anderson, i like where the president ended up on this answer, and that's the fact that i don't think we're going to put something, a task force like this together with the russians. i was not fan of the president's initial position, but i'm glad he got to the right spot and he did bring up the election meddling issue with vladamir putin in person. i think this does speak to the fact that we do need to have some kind of international body or some form where we can address these signer security issues. this isn't specific to the russians. there are different things going on all around the entire world. so this is a very serious issue. it's growing, but look, i'm glad where the president ended up on this answer. >> do you think the white house would be standing by the idea if the backlash hadn't been so
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severe. steve mnuchin called it a very significant accomplishment for president trump before president trump himself backed away from the idea. >> so i can't speak to internal white house thinking on this particular matter. again, i'm glad where the president ended up. but where the spirit of the president is on this, having addressed the election meddling with vladamir putin and going into place where is i think he was able to get more constructive agreements like the syrian cease-fire, there is a desire from the president to find areas where we can work together with the russians. but on the cyber security issue, i don't think that's one of them. >> matthew, does it make any sense that the u.s. would want to work with russia on cyber security and do you see president trump's meeting with vladamir putin as the president standing up on the issue of hacking? >> so i think the problem with this general term of cyber security is that it lumps two things together. one is attacks that happened to
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use signer mechanisms on critical infrastructure. you could count in that our lector call mechanisms, you could count the power grid, our financial infrastructure and military systems that now defend on networked capabilities. the other thing that's essentially constant signer probing, espionage, gathering of illicit information, which isn't per se an attack. when it comes to the former, direct attacks on critical infrastructure, there's not really a kind of beat the russians at their own game solution. this is something where at the end of the day, and we've known this for decades going back to the cold war, you've got to have basic rules of the game. if you do this, we're going to do this back to you, so we're going to deter one another and have rules about what's acceptable and not. when it comes to the other, this is a new reality. this is simply a new technology, with which we're going live and defend ourselves.
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so these russian attacks, probing is going to keep going. it's a question of what kind of defenses and what kind of punishment we're willing to dole out and i think the president inched in that direction but suggested that we're going to cooperate with the russians is probably not going to work. >> david, the backlash was pretty loud and pretty quick. >> oh, there's no doubt about it. as you said, he flipped on this. remember the context of how it started. rex tillerson, the secretary of state, was sent from that meeting with putin into the briefing room with reporters in h hamburg and this was the thing he was touting in response to a question about consequences. this was the thing that he went and said, look, we're going to start this dialogue and engage in this constructive ability for russia and the u.s. to work together to stop this kind of cyber attack. i mean it wasn't just a presidential tweet out of somewhere. this was the deliverable that they went in with to tout, and
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he threw rex tillerson under the bus as soon as he tweeted out and faced all that backlash. he didn't mind that his secretary of state was out there sort of touting this. >> secretary mnuchin as well. >> you don't have to be a foreign policy expert to see right away this is a bad idea. so you do wonder how it ever got to the point where anyone thought this was a good idea, let alone the president comes out and touts it. so the next question is, okay, so the president raised the issue with putin. he didn't raise it as well as he could have. he could it was americans that were upset about it, not him. and this was the solution to the problem, right? so if this isn't it, then what is he doing? what is he doing to hold them accountable, because this was a bad idea. he recognizes it was a bad idea, but what's he doing instead. when we come back, how and why the president's son met with a russian attorney. tom freedman weighs in and says where he thinks the president is
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well, the russia story and all the day-by-day revelations that go with it are unfolding against a backdrop that our next guest pays a lot of attention to. tom friedman likes to look at the grand sweep of history, backlash and all. he's the author of "thank you for being late." and it's always good to be on the broadcast. tom, what do you make the story of donald trump jr., jared
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kushner, and paul manafort meeting with the russian lawyer. obviously the story has shifted. >> obviously the big message for me in that story, anderson, is from the very beginning the russians have tried to impact this election and tried to do it through a number of ways. obviously in sending a probe to the trump campaign and more specifically as our intelligence agencies have reported by actually hacking the e-mail of the democratic national committee and john podesta. why did they do that? i think for two reasons, and one was revealed in the trump meeting. they are under sanctions because of their invasion of ukraine and seizure of crime crimea and th wanted to get those sanctions lifted and they thought they'd have a much better chance of doing that if donald trump were president. number two, putin wants to fracture the west. he thought if donald trump were president, he would be a chaos candidate and no longer be able to lead the western alliance in
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a coherent way around russia and, therefore, they wanted to tilt the election his way. i would say that was a pretty good bet. when you think about it, anderson, to say one other thing, for less than the cost of a mig-29 fighter jet, look what putin bought. >> the president talking about sort of aligning with russia on some sort of cyber initiative and then now clearly back tracking from that because the reaction to it has been understandably people are saying it's ludicrous. does it surprise you that the president at this stage would suggest something like that? >> well, you know, i think that really senator lindsey graham got it best. if that isn't the dumbest idea that i've ever heard of, it's surely right up there in the top three. and the notion that the president of the united states would talk about collaborating on a kind of somehow cyber security unit with a country that just hacked our democratic election, which uses secret
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agents to poke poison umbrellas into people, which in its own country does not operate free and fair elections, just even mentioning it in anything other than a joking way is ridiculous and really easy to question once again the judgment of the president of the united states. >> you've written recently in the past about the president and i think at one point, i'm not sure if the term was pathological liar but you pointed out a number of the inconsistencies that have come from this president. just one of the things that came out of this meeting with putin, secretary of state tillerson on friday said sanctions had come up in the conversation. then you have the president tweeting yesterday that sanctions were not discussed in the conversation. then this afternoon sarah huckabee sanders contradicted the president saying sanctions did come up. >> you know, it's -- it's funny if it weren't about our own country, anderson. you know, the president, i don't know what to say, i'm not a doctor, but he doesn't behave as
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an adult, let alone as a president. and this kind of loose back and forth about what happened in a meeting, there were no note takers, just tillerson and the russian foreign minister and two translators. and so here we had a meeting between two world leaders, an extremely important meeting, and even the american side can't agree what happened. >> you know, one of the things you said recently in a column really has stuck in my mind. and it sort of relates to this because i think people now on different sides of the aisle or different parts of the country, you know, have different truths. and one of the things you wrote, you said sectarianism that has destroyed nation states in the middle east is now infecting us. comparing it essentially democrats versus republicans to sunni versus shia. that's a terrifying prospect. >> it is a terrifying prospect if you lived, as i have, through the lebanese civil war. but that is what's happening. you know, you hear people literally saying i wouldn't want my kids to marry one of them.
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and them they're referring to is not someone of a different race or religion, bad enough, but now it's of a different party. in washington, you hear people say i hope none of them are going to be at the meeting or the dinner or the conference. and what's so terrifying about it is that, you know, it's the doing we do together, anderson, that matters most. we have so many big heart challenges before us. infrastructure, taxes, education, health care. and these are big, hard problems and big, hard problems can only be done together. right now we are simply incapable of doing anything together. what would a rational donald trump have done. he would have come into office and said to chuck schumer, the democratic leader, you send your top three health care experts, i'll send my top three. we'll tell them they can't come down until they forge a compromise. they'll come down, we'll announce it together. i'll get more credit because i'll outtweet you and the country will be better off.
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the notion that the republicans on their own will come up with a solution to this problem, a good solution, a rational solution, not just a win for the president, is ludicrous, but that's how we're facing every problem. >> i had general michael hayden on a couple of months ago and one of the things he said also stuck with me. he talked about the thin veneer civilization and we like to think that it's set in stone but it's really not. it really is that fragile. do you see it as fragile? >> oh, absolutely. if you've lived in the middle east as i did for nearly a decade, you really see how fragile it is. you know, we talked in the past once, i quoted a friend of mine from zimbabwe who said you americans kick around this country like it's a football. it's actually not a football. it's a faberge egg. you could actually drop it, you could break it. right now we're really just kicking around our country. the thing that people have to remember is that we are the world. i don't say