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President's Son in Hot Water; Trump's Personal Attorney Defends President; More Cities in Iraq to be Liberated; Trump to Visit France on Thursday; Qatar Disagrees with Conditions; South Korea Raises Doubts on New Missiles. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired July 12, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. President's oldest son reveals e-mails that show he was offered information on Hillary Clinton from a lawyer tied to the Russian government.
The battle to deliver Raqqa from ISIS is intensifying. We have an exclusive report from inside the Syrian city.
Plus, the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf. Qatar signs a counterterrorism agreement, but its neighbors say it's not enough.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Max Foster, and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
The special counsel looking into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia has a new angle to investigate. A U.S. official says Robert Mueller will examine last year's meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and the Russian lawyer.
The president's son released e-mails leading up to the meeting which promise incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. They said it was part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump. U.S. congressional leaders are also demanding more information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: We need to get to the bottom of exactly what happened, what was said in that meeting, any of the information that went into organizing that meeting, as well as if that meeting was just the beginning or that was a testing of the waters by the Russians to see whether the campaign would be receptive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Donald Trump, Jr. released the e-mails but only after the New York Times said it would publish them.
We'll get more now from CNN's Jessica Schneider.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The year old e-mails released on Twitter by the president's son appear to provide more damning evidence that the Russian government was trying to interfere with the election by offering to provide what one person said was damaging information about Hillary Clinton that was, quote, "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
The e-mail exchange with Donald Trump, Jr. was initiated by a British music promoter named Rob Goldstone. Goldstone said the information came from his client, a Russian pop singer named Emin Agalarov, and that man's father, Aras Agaralov.
The men, both of whom have connections to the Kremlin had worked with the Trumps to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013 and were friendly with the Trump family.
The crown prosecutor of Russia met with Emin's father, Aras this morning. Goldstone wrote to Trump, Jr., "And in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and very sensitive information. But it's part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump."
Goldstone ended the e-mail saying, "I can also send this info to your father via Rona, but it is ultra-sensitive." Less than 20 minutes later Donald Trump, Jr. responded expressing interest in the information, writing, "If it's what you say, I love it."
CNN has learned the bomb shells e-mails were released by Trump Jr. Tuesday morning shortly after he was told by the New York Times the paper was about to quote from them.
The e-mails along with the statement represent the third time the president's son has tried to explain what happened during a meeting last June with this woman, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer and Trump Junior, his brother-in-law Jared Kushner who is now senior advisor to the president, and Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman at the time.
Trump Junior first said on Saturday that the meeting was about American adoptions of Russian babies, but after the New York Times was said to report the meeting was about getting dirt on Clinton.
Trump Junior released a second explanation Sunday, saying "Veselnitskaya stated that had she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. My father knew nothing of the meetings or these events."
Today Trump said he was releasing the e-mails to be, quote, "totally transparent," writing, "the woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official." Today in an interview with NBC News, Veselnitskaya denied any connection to the Kremlin.
KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Have you ever worked for the Russian government? Do you have connections to the Russian government?
NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN LAWYER (through translator): No. SCHNEIDER: But in one of the e-mails released today from two days
before the meeting, Goldstone described Veselnitskaya differently. "Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and the Russian government attorney who is flying over," he wrote.
SIMMONS: They had the impression, it appears, that they were going to be told some information that you had about the DNC. How did they get that impression?
VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): It's quite possible that maybe they were looking for such information. They wanted it so badly.
SCHNEIDER: Now with the release of the e-mails documenting in black and white, the Russian effort to assist Trump's campaign for president, lawmakers including republicans say it raises the stakes of their investigations.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: On its face, this is very problematic. We cannot allow foreign governments to reach out to anybody's campaign and say, we'd like to help you. That is a nonstarter.
[03:05:00] I know Donald Trump, Jr. is new to politics. I know that Jared Kushner is new to politics, but this is going to require a lot of questions to be asked.
SCHNEIDER: Hillary Clinton's former running mate Senator Tim Kaine is going even further.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: We are now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what's being investigated. This is moving into perjury, false statements, and even into potentially treason.
SCHNEIDER: Donald Trump, Jr. has hired New York City attorney Alan Futerfas. And while Futerfas issued a statement on Monday night saying this was much ado about nothing, now Don Junior's lawyer is not commenting at all. We know the FBI has also scrutinized some of Donald Trump, Jr.'s business deals before this latest meeting with the Russian lawyer was actually disclosed.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
FOSTER: Now, his lawyer may not be talking, but Donald Trump, Jr. is. He says the e-mail promising dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government didn't set off any alarm bells for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: Things were going a million miles an hour again. Hey, wait a minute, I've heard about all these things, maybe this is something. I should hear them out. This was again just basic information that was going to be possibly there.
I didn't know these guys well enough to understand if this talent manager from Miss Universe had this kind of thing. So, I wanted to hear him out. In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.
And again, this is before the Russia mania. This is before they were building it up in the press. For me this was opposition research. They had something, you know, maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I had been hearing about that were probably under reported for years, not just during the campaign. So, I think I wanted to hear it out, but really it went nowhere, it was apparent that wasn't what the meeting was actually about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Well, CNN's Matthew Chance spoke to the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Junior and filed this report from Moscow.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump's son says she offered no compromising information about Hillary Clinton despite e-mails showing that Donald Trump, Jr. was keen to accept sensitive information from her.
Natalia Veselnitskaya says she arranged the meeting which took place at Trump Tower in New York last June to lobby for the repeal of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which targets Russian officials accused of corruption and human rights abuses. The Kremlin banned U.S. adoptions of Russian children in retaliation, which she also wants overturned.
We caught up with Veselnitskaya as the explosive e-mails sent to Trump Junior by a British music publicist to arrange the meeting were made public. Take a listen.
CHANCE: Was it real it the Kremlin that sent you to lobby to Trump?
VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): Just a second. When it was suggested that I meet with Donald Trump, Jr., I met him in a private situation. It was a private meeting, not related at all to the fact that he was the son of the candidate.
And the whole story which I had was spelled out. It was the same for everyone, including for Donald Trump, Jr., who having listened to my story didn't understand based on our conversation how he could help me.
CHANCE: Is that what it was? It was a way, is that why?
CHANCE: So, Veselnitskaya denies offering compromising information to the Trump campaign, and being sent to New York on the orders of the Russian government. The Kremlin also denies any connection with this lawyer, saying they don't even know who she is.
Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: Well, Donald Trump's personal attorney says the president only found out about the e-mails and the meeting in the past few days. He spoke to CNN's Jake Tapper about what Trump Junior may have done wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: The question is the legal question. Is there any illegality, anything wrong with the meeting that took place here?
So, the meeting takes place. It's not illegal.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: What about -- what about ethical?
SEKULOW: Look, you're in the middle of a campaign. So, opposition research is very common. We've been covering these from a long time.
TAPPER: Sure, but not from Russians or...
SEKULOW: Well, but, I mean, the fact is you look at the context of where this took place. This was in the middle of a campaign. A meeting is set up. It's a meeting that ends up where they said they had, you know, evidently purportedly which ends up not being the case of course, opposition research on Hillary Clinton.
The meeting is set up. Don Junior does the meeting. It's 20 minutes, nothing transpires, ends up being on the whole adoption issue and the Magnitsky Act. And you look at the reality of what you're dealing with. And I go back to the same, what law has been violated here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: We'll have much more on the story ahead this hour including a look at the Russian pop star at the center of that controversy.
Meanwhile, the battle for Mosul, Iraq ended ISIS defeat but now another fight is raging on. Human rights organization Amnesty International is calling for an investigation into civilian deaths during the battle for the city.
[03:10:04] In a new report the groups says ISIS deliberately trapped families to use as human shields and says Iraqi forces and the U.S.- led coalition used unnecessary and excessive force costing human lives, which may have resulted in war crimes. A U.S. general involved in the battle rejects the accusations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN TOWNSEND, COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE COMMANDER: Certainly there are civilian casualties in Mosul, no doubt about it. I reject any notion that coalition fires were in any way imprecise, unlawful, or excessively targeted civilians.
(END VIDEO CLIP) FOSTER: Well, U.N. officials say rebuilding Mosul will be long and expensive. According to initial estimates, it will take more than $1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in the city including water, sewage, and electricity.
Stabilizing eastern Mosul could be done in several months, but rebuilding the western part of the city which is heavily damaged during months of fighting could take more than a year.
Meanwhile, the international coalition fighting the terrorists is now focused on reclaiming the other ISIS stronghold of Raqqa and Syria. The alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters called the SDF has encircled the city and breached its ancient wall. A CNN team were the first journalists to get inside.
And Nick Paton Walsh has this exclusive report for you.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is where it ends. ISIS's twisted idea was built on claiming their own state. For now ahead of us, there's just a few square miles of old city streets, an urban sprawl left of their capital Raqqa. The major threat on this street, we are being told, is from snipers, although these Syrian, Arab and Kurdish forces have pushed further inside the old city and now have positions past its historic old wall.
A few days he earlier, surgical coalition air strikes punched holes through these 1300 year old defenses. They say that I move forward in daylight because of ISIS snipers, but here they are literally 20 meters away from the historic old city wall of Raqqa, a milestone in the war to rid the Middle East of ISIS.
American Special Forces providing precision fire power from two miles down the road. Marked here where civilians were trapped perhaps as human shields.
"Some days ISIS has cut off water and everything," he says. They told them to stay inside. If they go out they'll slaughter them.
We're the first journalists they take in. Over this side they said they're safe from sniper cover. And there is the old city wall right there. Something we just hear regularly throughout the time we're here. Targeting ISIS positions deeper inside Raqqa.
They are the foot soldiers in the global fight against ISIS fueled by hope of U.S. support for a Kurdish homeland nearby afterwards.
He didn't vote Trump here, but the White House has led this assault gather pace, whisking through three miles of Raqqa's outskirts in as many weeks to here. It is eerily empty. The one civilian we do see further out unable to speak, yet her story is in her blood shot eyes.
At least 50,000 other stories of loss and horror are now encircled inside Raqqa. Hostage to the question, when does ISIS's resolve to die finally break? Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Raqqa, Syria.
FOSTER: Joining me now is Fawaz Gerges, he is a professor of international relations of London School of Economics and political science. He's also written extensively about ISIS, haven't you, sir?
How are you going to put all of this into context? You know, once Mosul and Raqqa have fallen, what state does that leave ISIS in?
FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: I mean, the first point is that the territorial physical caliphate is almost dismantled now. The fall of Mosul and Raqqa is going to take several months in Raqqa. But even though is, Max, is critically injured, it's not fatally injured. It has thousands of fighters that are willing to fight to the last man.
As it has happened in Mosul and other places. Even in Iraq, we still have major towns controlled by ISIS. You have Hawija, you have Tal Afar, you have other towns in the desert. So, Iraq, also you have a year of fierce fighting in Iraq and Syria as well.
[03:15:01] Raqqa, the battle for Raqqa, the capital of ISIS has already started. You still have Medellin; you still have Deir-Ezzor. Deir-Ezzor is as big as Mosul. So even though we should celebrate the liberation of Mosul, the second largest city of Iraq, and the culture capital of ISIS is still a great deal of fighting.
Not to mention how do you reconstruct, because look what has happened, Max, in Mosul. ISIS has left behind a devastated city and traumatized population. A great deal of work needs to be done, in fact, the morning after.
FOSTER: If progress continues as it does, those other pockets of ISIS, those other ISIS strong holds, will fall, won't they? But ISIS doesn't die, does it?
GERGES: Absolutely. I mean, ultimately we are beginning to see the beginning of the end of the so-called Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. Give and take about a year. The reality is ISIS, Max, as a terrorist organization, is not going away. Probably hundreds if not thousands of fighters have mounted away with the civilian population in Iraq.
Remember what has happened or what happened between 2007 and 2011 in Iraq. Al Qaeda and Iraq was almost defeated. By the time the Americans left Iraq in 2011, they were almost 200, only 200 Al Qaeda and Iraq fighters. In 2013, 40,000 fighters. So, the 200 basically bid their time and fought for another day.
And also you have hundreds if not thousands of fighters of ISIS who have returned to their home countries. Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, London here, Belgium, France. What do you do with the returnees? So again, the challenge facing the Middle East government and western government is not just security. It's also about social and economic reconstruction. FOSTER: And how do they organize themselves in this new way, then? Do
they become a virtual state, in a way, working through the internet and organizing that way? How does it work?
GERGES: I think it's back to what Al Qaeda used to be, a borderless, a borderless organization, and it's now based on small attacks and insurgency. The question in the next year or so you're going to see insurgency. ISIS is going to carry out dozens of attacks whether you're talking about Syria or Iraq or Egypt or Yemen, or, you know, North Africa and even in western countries, the small attacks.
In the short term, Max, we expect -- I expect, I hope I'm wrong, some really an increase in attacks overseas because ISIS is going to project capacity. In the midterm, if the reconstruction takes place in Iraq and other places, we might really see the lasting defeat of ISIS as opposed to a temporary defeat of ISIS.
FOSTER: And the challenge there is a cultural one, isn't it? Because ISIS has created such divisiveness in society. How do you get people to move back into Raqqa and Mosul and work as one community?
GERGES: You know, Max, if you really ask me what's the biggest challenge facing the international community and the Middle East governments, it's not security. Security is important. It's social and economic reconstructions.
How do you rebuild the bridges of trust with, I mean, the various communities in Syria and Iraq? You have 900,000 refugees in Iraq. How do you provide them with basic necessities? The Sunni community and I'm sorry to use such term. The Sunni community in Iraq does not really, I mean, basically suspects the minority based government in Iraq.
So again, not only you need to reconstruct economically and socially, you need to reassure the communities in Raqqa and Mosul that the central government represent their interests. So, you need also -- so you need -- and the Iraqi government is basically overwhelmed. It does not have the resources, the responsibility, the international community is both moral and political, particularly the United States.
I mean, think what the United States did by its invasion. I hope that the international community will come to the help of the Iraqi government and help it to construct and basically allay the fears and the suspicions of the local communities.
FOSTER: Fawaz, as always, thank you very much indeed.
Well, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, is heading to Paris. He'll try to improve his tense relationship with the French president, but problems at home could follow Mr. Trump abroad.
Plus, crisis averted, an Air Canada flight comes awfully close to landing on a crowded taxi way. We'll hear audio of how the event unfolded coming up.
[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) FOSTER: Donald Trump's visit to the United Kingdom which has expected this year has been delayed. The White House says dates in 2018 are now being considered. The day comes after Prime Minister Theresa May was harshly criticized for inviting the American president.
More than 1.8 million people signed the petition to block his visit and protest against Mr. Trump have also been planned. Well, President Trump is going ahead, though, with the plans of a different trip.
He arrives in Paris on Thursday when he could be asked publicly about the son's meeting with the Russian lawyer. Mr. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to seek common ground, though, after disagreeing on such issues as climate change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): We will talk about all the issues which are of interest to us both, including those about which we have disagreements when we have them. But also a lot of the issues on which we are working together, the terrorism threat, the crisis in Syria and Libya, and a lot of issues which are of interest to us both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Well, we can speak now to Jim Bittermann. he joins us from Paris. We'll talk about the common ground in just a moment, but all eyes obviously on this White House story right now and Donald Trump, Jr. Will Donald Trump, Sr., as it were, be facing questions there? Will he face journalists and take whatever questions are thrown at him?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to the program, he certainly will, Max. Basically the two presidents are going to hold a joint news conference after their meeting tomorrow afternoon.
And almost certainly the (Inaudible) of the White House press core along with the president traveling along with the president, they are almost certainly going to ask about this story, which is of course the big news in the United States.
But as far as Macron is concerned, this is a trip which, in which he hopes to convince the president that he's wrong about things like climate change and his policies towards Iran and other areas of disagreement.
And at the same time, the Elysee Palace has made it clear they would like to convince Donald Trump that he's not so isolated on the world stage, not to feel like he's being backed into a corner by the world's nations. So, there is going to be a very lavish ceremony here, ceremonial visit including a dinner at one of the most prestigious addresses in France, the Eiffel Tower.
The second floor of the Eiffel Tower restaurant up there where the presidents and their first ladies will have dinner. And then, of course, a host, President Macron will in fact host Donald Trump at the Bastille Day parade on the 14th of Friday which is one of the big events here, one of the big ceremonial events here. Max?
FOSTER: And they have something in common, haven't they? They both sort of had a ticket during their campaigns on confronting the establishment and offering a new path. They have that in common. But actually on politics, they're worlds apart.
BITTERMANN: Totally worlds apart. In fact, Macron has been called the anti-Trump. Basically because of the fact that their world approach is totally different. Macron believes in being all-inclusive, bringing people in, multi-lateral frameworks, that sort of thing.
Whereas, Donald Trump has stated over and over again, he believes in bilateral and transactional kind of dealings with the rest of the world. So, that sort of global outlook is totally different than between these two men.
[03:25:02] Macron is the youngest President France has ever had. Donald Trump is the oldest President the United States has ever had. So, you know, you have a real mirror image across the Atlantic.
On the other hand, I think both kind of see an advantage to this meeting that's going to take place. Perhaps Donald Trump getting a little reflective glory from his younger presidential colleague and Macron perhaps getting -- seeing a chance to convince and maybe change the direction of U.S. policy. Max?
FOSTER: OK, Jim Bittermann in Paris, thank you very much indeed. We'll follow that closely.
U.S. aviation authorities are looking into a near collision at San Francisco International Airport. It happened on Friday when an Air Canada flight approached a taxi way crowded with planes. Investigators say the pilot inadvertently headed for the taxi way instead. Rather than the nearby runway.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to confirm, 759 lights on the runway there are on the left.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, 759 confirm land when see right there is no one out there. Back to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is this guy going? He's on the taxi way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the go around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, 759 it looked like you were lined up for Charlie there, flying 2-8-0 climb maintain 3,000.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this United One, Air Canada flew directly over us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I saw that guy. (END VOICE CLIP)
FOSTER: Well, there were four jets lined up on the taxi way at the time. The Air Canada flight landed safely, though, on its second approach.
Investigators are trying to connect the dots around Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer of course. How the timing of just released e-mails is proving interesting. It is providing new clues.
The U.S. strikes a deal to try to resolve the diplomatic crisis around Qatar. More on that maneuver later this hour.
FOSTER: Welcome back. I'm Max Foster. Let's update you on our top stories this hour.
Donald Trump, Jr. is defending his meeting with the Russian lawyer last year to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton. He released e-mails on Tuesday which claimed the information was part of Russia and its government support for his father, now the U.S. President.
The coalition fighting ISIS says the top priority right now is driving the terror group out of Raqqa, Syria. Military officials are declining to say how long the battle could take. The offensive comes just days after ISIS was defeated in Mosul, Iraq.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking opposition support as she prepares to publish a key piece of Brexit legislation Thursday. The great repeal bill begins the process of replacing European law into U.K. law.
[03:30:02] It is a speech on Tuesday or in a speech on Tuesday, Mrs. May reiterated the need for hard Brexit. This follows a major upset in Britain's general election that weakened her conservative party.
Now, the time line around Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer last year is raising a lot of new questions for critics. First, listen to part of the e-mail and the intermediary who proposed the meeting.
Music promoter Rob Goldstone wrote, "This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump. It would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."
Trump junior's response, "If it's what you say, I love it."
A few days later, candidate Donald Trump promised to make a speech revealing dirt on Hillary Clinton and within a few weeks, the Clinton camp accused Russians of hacking democrats' e-mail. Trump Junior was indignant about the claims when he spoke with CNN's Jake Tapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I asked him about the DNC leak and he suggested that experts are saying that Russians were behind both the leak -- the hacking of the DNC e-mails and their release. He seemed to be suggesting that this is part of a plot to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Your response?
TRUMP, JR.: Well, it just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean, they'll say anything to be able to win this. I mean, this is time and time again, lie after lie. You notice he won't say, well, I say this. We hear experts. You know, his house cat at home once said that this is what's happening with the Russians. It's disgusting. It's so phony.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Well, former CIA Director Michael Hayden says he's skeptical about the explanations coming from Donald Trump, Jr. and the White House. He spoke with CNN's Erin Burnett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: If there was one line in the e- mail that struck me, the kind of soft collusion that we might see, as the story rolls forward. Lord knows where it ends. But the kind of soft collusion I'm referring to here was the line in the e-mail that simply suggested, if you got bad stuff, August or September, late summer is the time we'll really need it.
I mean, that's a member of the campaign, perhaps unwittingly informally carelessly, at least suggesting when this kind of information would be most useful.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I mean, it is pretty stunning when you put all this together. The Russian lawyer at the center of this, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has come out today and defended herself, general. She actually spoke to CNN. She says, look, I'm not tied to the Russian government.
Our Matthew Chance caught up with her in Moscow where she is late today and here is part of what she said.
VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): When it was suggested that I meet with Donald Trump, Jr., I met him in a private situation. It was a private meeting, not related at all to the fact that he was the son of the candidate.
BURNETT: I mean, in a sense that sounds absurd on the face of it, not related at all to the fact he was the son of the candidate?
HAYDEN: Yes, I think we can dismiss that and frankly my going in position, we can dismiss her claim that she has nothing to do with the Russian government either. Look, Erin, this feels like part of that extended synchronized massive Russian covert influence effort to affect the American electoral process. BURNETT: Now, we know that President Trump was in Trump Tower where
the meeting took place at the time of the meeting. Now, look, general, I've been in Trump Tower. The Trump offices there are actually fairly small. You usually see members of the Trump family walking by. It isn't some big cavernous place where someone can be in the other corner and you wouldn't have any idea.
In the e-mails, Rob Goldstone who was trying to set this meeting up and to communicating with Donald Junior says, "I can also send," again quoting from the e-mail, "I can also send this information to your father via Rona, but it is ultra-sensitive so wanted to send to you first."
Now, general, Rona is the long-time assistant in New York. Anybody who needed to get something to Donald Trump has gone through her for years. So clearly Goldstone was connected enough to know that, and yet the White House says the president just found out about the meeting this week. Do you believe him?
HAYDEN: Look, I don't know what to believe. And frankly, sadly, Erin, I have to say the White House denial is not sufficient in itself for me not to entertain multiple possibilities.
Look, the campaign was indeed chaotic. I can believe in one scenario, yes, word didn't get to the boss. On the other hand, two of the three people in the room from the campaign were family members, intimate family members, on whom the president relied a great deal during the campaign. So, it cuts both ways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[03:34:59] FOSTER: Michael Hayden there. Let's bring in Scott Lucas, though. He's a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham. Just wondering how you're explaining this to your students right now. Because there's no smoking gun really yet, is there? There's just lots of stories which are pointing the same direction.
SCOTT LUCAS, POLITICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM SHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL: Yes, but if I was talking to students, I'd say that when a skunk tells me I don't smell, I'm real skeptical as I take a big whiff.
It's all part of putting pieces into a jigsaw puzzle. And Donald Trump, Jr. just handed a really big piece. Let's be very clear here. He was told when this meeting was set up that information was coming from the Russian government, which would be damaging to Hillary Clinton because the Russian government wanted to support his father in the campaign.
He eagerly accepted a meeting with an envoy from the Russian government, the lawyer, Ms. Veselnitskaya, in Trump Tower in early June. There were, as you heard in the clip, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, and campaign manager Paul Manafort were brought into this meeting by Trump Junior. So, this was at the highest levels. We do not yet have the direct connection that it is from that meeting
that the Russians, as they hacked the computers of the Democratic National Committee, as they leaked that when information went out, that they were doing that in collusion with the Trump campaign. That is the piece of the puzzle that remains to be established.
And there is a second piece that we have to look at. The White House is desperately trying to set up the firewall, the "I know nothing defense." Just as Richard Nixon said in the 1970s, I don't know these men who broke into the National Democratic Committee offices in Watergate.
Donald Trump, Sr., knew nothing about this meeting just a few feet away in Trump Tower. Is that a tenable defense when only a few days later Trump is promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton, a huge bombshell? Well, I'm not sure that will hold up.
But, of course, the man who holds the keys to this is special counsel Robert Mueller and he has not spoken in the last two months while we get all these revelation after revelation around him.
FOSTER: Trump Junior was just saying, though, wasn't he yesterday, that he was there to hear them out. This was a topical issue. He needed to hear it. They were in the middle of a campaign. It's not that unusual to see legal teams representing evidence, as it were, to downplay the other side.
LUCAS: But unfortunately the e-mails don't back up that story because what the e-mail says is this wasn't just simply a legal team from the other side. This was coming from the chief prosecutor of Russia who had the material.
In other words, it was coming, effectively, from the Kremlin. That's point one. Point two, Trump Junior didn't just say I want to hear what they have. He said, "I love it, I love this possibility." What he should have done at that point, under probably U.S. law as well as politically, was notify the FBI that he was being approached by the agent of a foreign power about possible interference in the U.S. election. He chose not to do so.
FOSTER: The Kremlin saying they never heard of this lawyer, though. So, is it fair to say this information was coming directly from the Kremlin?
LUCAS: Again, go back to the e-mails. She is identified as a Russian government attorney. And the other thing that needs to be face down is the e-mails make clear that it is the chief prosecutor, the highest legal prosecutorial official in Russia who is providing this information. To say the Kremlin says I don't know this woman, and I don't know our own chief prosecutor, even that's a stretch for Mr. Putin's office.
FOSTER: What a lot of people are wondering what the Justice Department has right now because they're wondering if the New York times has had access to this sort of information, you can only wonder what the Justice Department has got. And that's going to come out at some point. And the Trump administration will know they'll have a good sense of what they've got.
LUCAS: Well, I'm not sure. I mean, as I've mentioned at the start of this interview, special counsel Robert Mueller has been very careful not to say anything. We know he's assembled a team of I believe 15 attorneys. We know that they are investigating meetings not just the Trump meeting. They are investigating financial records, such as that of Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law.
They are investigating other meetings that might be related to those financial matters involving Russian Banks such as Kushner's meeting in December with the head of one of the largest Russian banks.
All of that is being put together. And what we get while that's being done is we sort of get the preview on a day-to-day basis. Here is a revelation, here's another one, here's the big one from Trump Junior. But to be honest with you, this is act one of the drama. And as you noted the White House has to be scared, has to wonder what comes in acts 2, 3 and 4.
FOSTER: Scott Lucas, as ever, thank you very much indeed for your analysis.
LUCAS: Thank you.
FOSTER: Now, with the reality TV star in the White House, perhaps it's not entirely a surprise a Russian pop singer is playing a key role in the latest Trump controversy.
[03:40:02] His name is Emin Agalarov and he and his father have been in the news quite a bit for their ties to the U.S. President.
CNN's Ivan Watson has more on that.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Believe or not, this pop musical video is at the center of a political controversy that is riling Washington. A Russian pop star, Miss Universe contestants and a celebrity cameo.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's wrong with you, Emin? You're fired.
WATSON: The Russian pop star Emin is now one of a colorful collection of Trump associates linked to a controversial meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and a Russian lawyer. Trump Junior says he met the lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya for the first time on June 9, 2016 in New York.
She spent years lobbying against the Magnitsky Act, U.S. legislation that punishes Russians implicated in human rights abuses and corruption. She promoted this documentary film aimed at undermining the law. The Veselnitskaya meeting with Trump Junior organized by Robb Goldstone, a British P.R. agent in the music industry and once a judge on the Trump-owned Miss USA beauty pageant.
Goldstone told CNN Veselnitskaya stated she quote, "had some information regarding illegal campaign contributions to the DNC which she believed Mr. Trump Junior might find important."
In an interview Tuesday, Veselnitskaya denied working for the Russian government. Goldstone says he set up the meeting at the request of his client, the singer named Emin. Emin partnered with Trump in hosting the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Moscow in 2013. A year later, Trump sent Emin a video message on his birthday.
D. TRUMP: You're a winner. You're a champ. You're great at real estate and boy, can you entertain.
WATSON: Emin boasted of his close ties to the Trumps last year on Russian state TV.
EMIN AGALAROV, RUSSIAN POP STAR (through translator): His daughter Ivanka was in this office two years ago when we discussed the Trump Tower project. I met many times with the sons Eric and Donald. We message each other constantly.
WATSON: In addition to music, Emin is an executive at Krokas Group, a real estate company run by his billionaire father Aras Agalarov. The patriarch is an associate of Trump. This Trump tweet in 2013 suggests they had plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The billionaire Russian businessman also has ties to the Kremlin. In 2013, he received a Medal of Honor from Vladimir Putin. In e-mails published by Trump Junior, Goldstone wrote that the father met with a Russian prosecutor and wanted to share sensitive information to help Trump's campaign.
Now, these alleged attempts to meddle in U.S. politics may have landed these Russian businessmen in hot water.
D. TRUMP: What's wrong with you, what's wrong with you, Emin? Emin, let's get with it.
FOSTER: Well, the U.S. takes action to try to resolve the isolation of Qatar meanwhile. We'll look at the deal they sign to go after terrorists. And their money next.
[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
FOSTER: Qatar signed an agreement outlining ways for Qatar to fight terrorism and its financiers.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Doha to make things official. Several Arab Gulf states have isolated Qatar both diplomatically and economically since early June, accusing the county of supporting terrorism. They say this new agreement is welcome progress but not enough to reopen relations.
Our Jomana Karadsheh joins us live from Amman in Jordan. What do you understand the to-ing and fro-ing to be at this point? Is Qatar still in the same position it was? JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's
interesting, Max, you mention this memorandum of understanding. According to Secretary Tillerson, the Secretary of State, they have been working on this for the past year. Now, the timing of signing this agreement perhaps not so much a coincidence.
This is coming at a time during this crisis. Maybe it's a message to the Saudi-led quartet that the United States is working with Qatar, trying to combat terrorist financing, something that the Qataris has been accused of by the other side. But the Qataris have of course denied all along.
Now, you know, Secretary Tillerson has a very tough task. He's visiting the Gulf. He's in Saudi Arabia today to meet with the foreign ministers of the Saudi-led block. This is at a time when you're seeing this crisis at a real stalemate. Both sides really not backing down.
You've got the Saudi-led block with their list of 13 demands that they want Qatar to fulfill. You have the Qataris on the other side saying well, this is not about combatting terrorism. This is about changing their foreign policy and, you know, it's an infringement of their sovereignty.
So, a very tough position. But take a listen to what Secretary Tillerson said he's trying to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm hopeful we can make some progress to begin to bring this a point of resolution. I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions and I think those have been very reasonable and we want to talk. Now how do we take things forward? And that's my purpose in coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARADSHEH: Very, very reasonable is how he described Qatar's response. This would come as a surprise to many who have been following this crisis, especially a surprise to the Saudi-led alliance. You know, the U.S. position has been one of the most confusing aspects of this crisis. You've had Secretary Tillerson from the start really pushing towards a resolution trying to end this crisis and calling for calm.
And on the other hand, you had the U.S. President, President Trump in tweets earlier during the crisis and also in statements, where he basically sided with the Saudis in this, seen as basically emboldening the other side of this crisis and really not helping resolve it.
And as one Qatar expert told me during my time in Doha recently, Max, if this was left to Secretary Tillerson, we could perhaps see this coming to an end soon.
FOSTER: OK, Jomana, thank you.
South Korea is raising new doubts about missile technology after its test launch last week. North Korea said its intercontinental ballistic missile is capable of reaching anywhere in the world. But South Korea intelligence says they're not quite there yet.
Our Brian Todd has more from Washington.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A key claim from Kim Jong-un's regime about one of his most dangerous missiles is now being contradicted by his arch enemy. That intercontinental ballistic missile which North Korea test fired on July 4th does not have the capability of surviving the heat of reentry into the earth's atmosphere.
That's according to South Korean lawmakers briefed by the country's intelligence service. Kim's regime had claimed that missile could survive reentry which would have enabled it to strike targets in the U.S. carrying a nuclear war head.
A missile expert told us what the North Koreans would have to do to make that
THOMAS KARAKO, DIRECTOR OF THE MISSILE DEFENSE PROJECT, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Within this nose cone shroud would be the warhead is going to enter the atmosphere very fast and it's going to get very hot. So, it is going to be shielded.
Within that nose, within that delivery vehicle would be presumably a nuclear weapon of some kind. So it has to survive all the heat and bouncing around of the reentry.
TODD: U.S. Military and intelligence officials tell CNN they are still analyzing the North Korean missile test and won't comment on the South Korean's assessment. At a minimum, we know North Korea is trying to perfect reentry. Ground testing nose cone heat shields under simulated reentry conditions.
[03:49:54] The newly raised doubts about reentry have not stopped Kim from celebrating that long-range missile test. A concert in Pyongyang featuring dancers and several bands lauded Kim's leadership and so- called guidance of the test firing.
Kim's glamorous wife Ri Sol-ju even made a rare appearance at a banquet to join in the festivities.
In the United States a different response. A long scheduled missile defense test conducted overnight in Alaska. The Pentagon says the THAAD system which intercepts intermediate range missiles had its 14th successful test.
And from China, a complaint. Stop suggesting that it is entirely up to China to pressure North Korea.
GENG SHUANG, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Recently certain people have been exaggerating and giving prominence to the so-called China responsibility theory. I think this either shows lack of a full correct knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it. Trying to shift responsibility.
TODD: Is there validity to the claim here?
MICHAEL GREEN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: No, not really. The Chinese provide about 90 percent food and fuel for the North Koreans. They have the ability to put an economic squeeze on them. They don't want to because if the North collapses that's calamitous for China in several respects. But they are not doing some, you know, basic things they could do to help.
TODD: But there are now indications that President Trump and his team may not be waiting around for China to act and may be imposing more pressure on Beijing.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Trump administration is moving towards imposing its own sanctions on Chinese banks and companies that U.S. officials say help fund Kim Jong-un's weapons program, we got no comment on that report from the White House.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
FOSTER: Now, the internet is finally keen with Donald Trump's defense of his son. Meanwhile, a couple of his president's best words twisted just ahead.
FOSTER: U.S. President Donald Trump saying he has, and this is a quote, "the best words," and that would seem to include a certain phrase that he's using to defend his son Don Junior. In fact, he couldn't resist having quality time with it.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The two sons America has trouble keeping straight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eric and Donald Trump, Jr.
MOOS: Now one of them Donald Junior may long be remembered in the words of his dad.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: My son is a high-quality person.
MOOS: Tweeted screenwriter John Levitt, "high-quality is how you talk about wood flooring, not your son." "As if he was made well in a German auto plant." Tweeted someone else. But to those who say that's a profoundly weird way to compliment someone, it's actually not weird for Donald Trump. He said it of his H.P.
D. TRUMP: High-quality person, wonderful guy. MOOS: He said it of Sarah Palin. She is a friend of a high-quality person. He said it of Jerry Falwell, Jr.
D. TRUMP: I shouldn't say this in front of Jerry, because he's such a quality...
MOOS: It makes a slightly pathetic greeting card. Every year on my birthday my dad mails me a cared telling me I'm a high-quality person. Twitter couldn't get enough of the fake praise. You don't understand, I could have had class.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't understand. I could have had class. I could have been a contender.
[03:54:57] MOOS: I could have been a high-quality person. For the president it's the highest quality compliment one he even lavishes on his wife.
D. TRUMP: She was always the highest quality that you'll ever find.
It is a very high quality woman.
MOOS: And we did say very high quality about Melania, and merely high quality about his son. In the words of the Washington Post theater critic, "I would say that Donald Trump, Jr. is a high-quality person of interest."
Jeanne Moos, CNN.
D. TRUMP: High-quality person. Such a quality. The highest quality that you'll ever find.
MOOS: New York.
FOSTER: Well, as expected, the American late night hosts are also making fun of this latest saga with Donald Trump, Jr. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, TV HOST: Donald Junior is like the guy at work who opens the obviously fake document and now everyone in the office has a virus on their computer.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Seventeen minutes later Don Junior responded, thanks, Rob, I appreciate that. If it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer. Just to make it clear, he also attached this picture, I love crime in the summertime.
TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN: You could not write a clearer more knocking e- mail than that. It's like getting an e-mail that says, would you like by your own choice to smoke some illegal weed marijuana drugs in violation of local statute 22 section 3?
KIMMEL: Did you see Hillary Clinton today? So, this afternoon Hillary Clinton made a short statement in front of a group of her supporters in upstate New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: They're having fun. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. Back with more news in just a moment. So stay with us.
FOSTER: Disclosing what he has, Donald Trump Jr. releases e-mails which set up his meeting with a Russian lawyer and he comes to his own defense on camera.
Meanwhile, his father, President Trump is headed to Paris in the coming hours. A visit that Emmanuel Macron hope goes a little smoother the last time.
And a CNN exclusive on the front lines, the battle rages for the Syrian city Raqqa. Coalition forces pushing ISIS from their self- declared capital.
Thanks for joining us. I'm Max Foster in London. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
[03:59:59] Donald Trump, Jr. is defending his meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign, saying he just wanted to hear what she had to say. Criticism has been harsh since the president's son met with the attorney in June of 2016 after he received and e-mail promising incriminating...