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At Least Eight People In Trump Jr.'s Russia Meeting; Russian- American Lobbyist Confirms He Was At June Meeting; Krauthammer: "Bungled Collusion Is Still Collusion"; Trump Making Calls Throughout The Weekend On GOP Bill; Shooting By Louisiana Deputy Leaves Man Dead; Lawmakers Call For Probe Of GOP Operative Suicide. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired July 15, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDERICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right, back from France and into crisis control, President Trump is spending the day at the U.S. Women's Open in New Jersey, which is being held in his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. There he is standing with his son, Eric Trump.
But as the president attends the tournament, he is also back to business of making calls to senators in a make or break effort to save a new GOP health care bill. The White House is trying to navigate a growing crisis centered on his son's meeting back in June with a number of people tied to Russia, his son, Donald Trump Jr.
So Donald Trump Jr.'s account of his secret meeting during the campaign continues to change. First, the president's son claimed he met with a Russian lawyer along with his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.
Today, we know at least eight people were in the room, including a Russian-American lobbyist, who is a former Soviet military officer. CNN's Boris Sanchez is covering all of this for us near Bedminster, New Jersey. So Boris, what more can we expect from the president and the White House as it pertains to that meeting today?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the White House responds to these new revelations, there hasn't really been a White House response to these new revelations. We haven't had an official statement from the White House.
The president hasn't tweeted anything about the specifics of who was in that meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and he is not holding any public events today where reporters can at least shout questions at the president to get some kind of response from him.
Sources inside the White House privately do tell CNN, though, that they are frustrated by the fact that the story continues to change. One telling my colleague, Jim Acosta, that it is, quote, "not a good thing that the story has changed so many times."
You'll remember, Fred, initially, we were told that there were no contacts between any Russian officials and the Trump campaign. Then last week when the story broke, we were told that there this was one meeting and then it was strictly about adoption.
Then later in the week, as Donald Trump Jr. released his e-mails, we found out that the intent of the meeting was to try to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton in the midst of that campaign.
And just yesterday, we found out that there was this potential Russian intelligence officer, someone who Senator Chuck Grassley, said has ties to Russian intelligence.
Despite all of this, the president's attorney, Jay Sekulow, told Anderson Cooper last night that the president was unaware of this meeting altogether and only found out about it just a few days before that story broke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: The president wasn't aware, did not participate. He learned recently of the e- mails. He learned recently of the meetings and that was it. There was no discussion with the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: As you said, Fred, the president today is attending the U.S. Women's Open golf championship. We saw him for a few moments yesterday with his son, Eric. There is no word on whether or not he is going to respond to these new revelations. He does have a public event tomorrow. Until then, we eagerly await a potential tweet -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, and when we get that, Boris, bring it to us. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.
All right, so we are also learning more about that Russian-American lobbyist who was at that June 2016 meeting. CNN's senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, is in Moscow for us. So Ivan, what is the Russian government saying about this lobbyist connections to the kremlin?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Russian government is saying they do not know who this man is and they deny any links to this meeting in general, of course, which was promoted to Donald Trump Jr. as an effort by the Russian government to help Donald Trump get elected to office.
We saw in his e-mails that he accepted that offer. Rinat Akhmetshin is one of eight people that were in the room. He is born in the Soviet Union and has been in the U.S. for more than 20 years. He was a naturalized American citizen as of 2009.
He had been lobbying in various circles. At one point, lobbying for the opposition of the former Soviet Republican of Kazakhstan, according to one man I know, who met him at several kind of human rights type conferences.
More recently he was the focus of a letter from the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, who wrote to the Department of Homeland Security. He asked for information regarding Rinat Akhmetshin, described as Russian immigration to the United States who has been accused of acting as an unregistered agent for Russian interests, and apparently has tied to Russian intelligence.
[12:05:01]Now Akhmetshin has denied that recently to both "The Washington Post" and the "Associated Press." We also know that he worked with an organization called the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation.
He worked with the Russian lawyer who was at that same meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya. They both were lobbying against the Magnitsky Act. It's a U.S. legislation that punished Russians implicated in human rights abuses and government corruption -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And then Ivan, you know, the -- we keep hearing little details that kind of fill the picture a little bit more. The original connection for this meeting was this Russian pop star, Emin Agalarov, and his publicist who apparently know the Trump family. So what else have you learned about the Agalarov family and the ties to the kremlin?
WATSON: That's right. Rob Goldstone, the British music promoter, when he initially contacted Donald Trump Jr., according to the e-mails Donald Trump Jr. released, he said he was acting on behalf of Emin Agalarov.
This is this Russian pop star, who had been a business partner with the Trumps for holding the 2013 Miss Universe contest here in Moscow. The Agalarove family has denied basically that they were trying to meddle in the U.S. election, denied the e-mails that said they were trying to help Trump get elected in 2016.
We know that the father, Aras Agalarov, was bestowed with an award of honor from President Putin, himself. We have also learned a little bit more about some pretty serious business interests tied to the Russian government.
There was an agreement signed between the Russian government and a former Soviet republic called Kirgizstan a couple of years ago and in that bilateral agreement, a customs agreement, the Agalarov's company, (inaudible) Group, was granted a contract of about $129 million to help with infrastructure work to integrate the two countries and their customs agreement.
That's a lot of money and it shows some of the cooperation that you had between this pop star and his dad, the billionaire real estate developer and the kremlin.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ivan Watson in Moscow, thank you so much. All right, let's talk more about all of these latest developments from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Right now, Mike Shields is a CNN political commentator and former chief of staff for Reince Priebus. Mustafa Tameez is a Democratic strategist and former Homeland Security consultant.
All right, good to see both of you. All right, so Mike, you first. We have heard from Dems and many have said it is Jared Kushner, who is the top adviser for the White House who should lose his security clearance, being that he was part of this meeting and didn't reveal it. Should there be more outcry from Republicans over this?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There is an investigation that I think what everyone should do in the media, Democrats, Republicans is wait and actually find out what happened. This is what happens over and over again.
When it gets into partisan politics, you start jumping to conclusions. He should lose his clearance. People should be thrown out of office, whatever. Those are things that you reach as a conclusion after the investigation is over, not while it is going on.
And look, the fact of the matter is we have no evidence of actual collusion. We have evidence of sloppiness and a campaign that didn't vet people correctly and keep proper records of who was in meetings.
You know, Don Jr. has said he shouldn't have taken this meeting. The fact that you had high-level people coming in and out of a campaign meeting shows that the campaign was at a stage last June, I mean, keep in mind, this is the same week that the campaign actually switched campaign managers.
This is a campaign that went through three campaign managers. They had just won the nomination. They were getting ready for the convention. That's the very week that Paul Manafort came in and replaced Corey Lewandowski.
This is not exactly a campaign that's actually I think even capable of colluding with somebody.
WHITFIELD: So Mike, are those excuses, explanations, you know, ways in which to try to tell people that there is really nothing there?
SHIELDS: Well, what I'm saying is there's ways to tell people you should wait until you have an investigation and find out what the evidence is before you take sloppiness and try and turn that into something illegal. There is actually no evidence of collusion here.
There is no evidence of anyone cleared it. There is evidence that the Russian government wanted to play in American politics and tried to get involved in our election. We know that's a fact.
There isn't any evidence that the Trump campaign colluded back with them or in my opinion even had the ability to collude back with them. I don't think they were organized enough to do that. I mean, we are talking about some kind of conspiracy that people want to put together here. When you see the way these stories come out, it actually tells you that it would have been very difficult for a conspiracy to be pulled off because they weren't really organized enough at that stage of the campaign to even do anything like that.
[12:10:00]So I think they are guilty of sloppiness. They've admitted that. They didn't keep the proper records for things, but to jump to the conclusion that something illegal happened.
Don Jr. and Jared Kushner both said that they are willing to go and testify, and I think that speaks to how transparent they want to be and how much they know that they didn't get involved in this.
And the way that people are accusing of them. So we will wait until that testimony comes out and then we can make see, you know, sort of makes some kind of conclusion out of it.
WHITFIELD: All right. So, Mustafa, your response to that?
MUSTAFA TAMEEZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, the argument that Mike is making is that the president of the United States, his adviser, Jared Kushner, his son, and his former campaign manager, are too incompetent to be corrupt. That's just absolutely ridiculous on its face.
When there is an investigation, this ongoing FBI investigation, you usually take somebody's security clearance and you hold them. You allow that investigation to occur, but you remove them away from intelligence information. That's standard operating process.
This notion that these people just didn't know what they were doing. They got up really high into presidential politics. They didn't know what was going on. This Russian stuff is nothing. On the one hand, you are saying you don't know what they are doing.
On the other hand, you are making the argument that there was no Russian collusion. Maybe they were pawns of the Russian government and they didn't know it because they were so incompetent, maybe that's the argument you should look at.
WHITFIELD: So a conservative commentator, you know, wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" with the headline, "Bungled, collusion is still collusion," he writes. The evidence is now shown this is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks.
This is an e-mail chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. So the imprints there, you spoke, Mike, you know, there is no smoking gun. There have been some who say the smoking gun is that there was a meeting, an intent or willingness to get information from an adversary of another country.
SHIELDS: Yes. I have great respect for Charles Krauthammer, but I just disagree with him. He's himself jumping to conclusions. There was no substance in the meeting that bears any evidence of that there was collusioin. There was no follow-up or any attempt to have collusion.
Donald Trump Jr. responded to an e-mail. There no -- you know, we may learn that he didn't even realized this was -- he didn't read the e- mail and see this was a government official or that that was discussed in the meeting. We don't know that.
And so yes, he said he shouldn't have taken this meeting. I think any campaign professional, and that's one of the interesting things to me is how few people that have worked on campaigns are sort of talking about this.
A campaign professional -- we have seen well-organized campaigns, you know how to act and you may bring your counsel to a meeting. You are seeing campaigns that are just kind of coming together and aren't organized the way they should be and you know this sort of thing can slip through when you are not paying attention.
And so I think those are two very different realities. For Charles to jump to that conclusion I think is pretty extreme. It is clear that the Russian government was trying to get involved in our politics. I don't think, you know --
WHITFIELD: But wouldn't that be the inference. If you were to receive an e-mail that would infer we Russians may have something against your opponent, wouldn't you know that it was an adversary and this is a threat to democracy?
SHIELDS: Yes. Keep in mind that the story of Russians involving themselves in the elections came after this. So if at this time it wasn't clear to people. There wasn't a lot of knowledge out there that there was a huge effort by the Russians to do this.
This was actually probably something that they thought might have pertained to Hillary Clinton's sort of pay for play stuff at her foundation when she was secretary of state, in which case, there was a Russian connection there as well.
And so look, in retrospect, I think Don Jr. would have read his e-mail more carefully and his friend is talking about high crown magistrates and government officials, this isn't emissive from kremlin that says the government that is clear this is a government person.
That's the kind of thing that you have an investigation for and seek testimony of to see exactly who was in the meeting and what they knew, not jump to the conclusion that he knew this was the government of Russia trying to get involved --
WHITFIELD: He knew that it's Russia. I think everyone reading the e- mail for the first time knows it was Russian-based. So Mustafa, respond to that one. You get the last word on that one.
TAMEEZ: Look, it is absolutely ludicrous to say, forget about being a campaign professional and being in politics. As an American, if someone says the Russian government has information about your opponent and we want to give it to you to support your father's bid for the president of the United States. If you are a base level human being with basic understanding of life, you know that's a problem. The response you get from Don Jr., I love it. Maybe we should release it. He does know what's going on. He understands the timing of a campaign.
So this notion that he is too stupid to understand the basics of the campaign is irrelevant. We are asking whether he is an American and he puts America's interest first just like the campaign slogans say.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it right there. Mustafa Tameez and Mike Shields, good to see both of you. Thanks so much.
[12:15:07]All right, next, President Trump and Vice-President Pence making calls all weekend long to rally support for the Senate health care bill. There are already two "no" votes and governors on both sides have come out in opposition to the bill as well. The current governor of Virginia joining me live to discuss his concerns right after this.
WHITFIELD: President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence are making calls throughout the weekend on health care, and will pick-up lobbying efforts on Monday when Congress is back in session.
It is part of an aggressive push on Twitter, by phone, behind closed doors for the president to net a major legislative achievement ahead of the Senate August recess in just two weeks.
[12:20:03]The White House is also trying to win over governors skeptical of the Senate's bill and hope that they will help sway undecided lawmakers from their states. Here is what Vice-President Pence told them at the National Governor's Association on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand and appreciate as the president does the concerns many of you have as we talk about Medicaid in the future going forward. Our administration has paid very close attention to this issue.
We have had discussions with governors around this room and around the country. So let me be clear. President Trump and I believe the Senate health care bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is a critic of the GOP health care plan. He joins me right now. Good to see you from Rhode Island. So do you agree with what the vice-president just said that he and the president do think that this plan will help strengthen Medicaid?
GOVERNOR TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: From what we have seen so far, we are all up here, the governor is here. The National Governor's Association, which I am the chairman of, we have been discussing this for about three days up here.
The numbers that we have in front of us show that we'll have dramatic cuts to our state budgets and many millions of individuals lose their health care. We (inaudible) and will take the president's word during the campaign that everybody should have coverage. That it will be cheaper and it will be better results.
The plans we have seen today and every governor today was presented an independent analysis that shows it literally is going to cost their state in Virginia. I lose $1.4 billion over the next seven years. We are willing to work with anybody. This unfortunately has been done in secret.
I wish the governors had been at the table. It needs to be done in a bipartisan way just like the governor's work, Democrat, Republican. This has been done in secret. We ought to go to regular orders in the Senate, hearings, amendments, bills ought to be introduced and we all ought to work together.
This is the single most important policy initiative facing Americans today is health care and it needs to be done comprehensively.
WHITFIELD: And why don't you believe you were called prior or got a visit prior to Friday during the convention prior to the potential unveiling, whether there is a vote or not?
MCAULIFFE: That's a great question. I speak to many of the Republican governors as well, there was just no outreach. This was done in the Senate. It was done secretly. Listen, we run these programs. The governors run the Medicaid programs in our state.
So what they do in Washington, we have to implement. It falls on our desk. So what we have consistently said is let us at the table and bring our best practices together, what we do in our different states and our communities. Let us come to the table. We will work with anybody.
We have to make sure that we get this right on health care. I can't, as a governor, support a plan that costs $1.4 billion to my budget over the next seven years and literally thousands and thousands of Virginians lose health care coverage.
I can't. I have to fight for my citizens. We need a healthy work force. Everybody is entitled to health care. It is a right.
WHITFIELD: You introduced your vice president in fact yesterday before that speech. I want to play a little clip of something that you said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCAULIFFE: We want to work together on health care so that we can provide the best quality health care for our citizens. I thank Vice- President Pence. He showed true backbone himself in Indiana when he expanded Medicaid for his citizens. So he understands the challenges that we as governors face to make sure that we are providing quality care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So were those rather delicate words of encouragement, was that a jab, what was that?
MCAULIFFE: It is the truth. I think it's important that while he was the governor, that was the point I wanted to introduce, he was sitting in this room a year ago with the governors administering plans. He expanded for Indiana because he knew it was right in (inaudible) state for his fellow folks in Indiana.
That expanding Medicaid brought quality care to so many thousands of folks in Indiana. I wanted everybody to know, this is what he did. It was the truth. I was very diplomatic in my introduction. That was just a fact.
And it is important that he knows that all these new people got included in health care coverage and sitting around that table, 31 states have done this, we can't have a program that will eliminate those folks that were part of the Medicaid expansion.
WHITFIELD: You were also very critical after the House vote. You said at the time that lawmakers were having too much fun. You are reminding -- you have been reminding just as you reminded the vice- president, this is about American lives. Is it your concern that politics has come before people?
[12:25:00]MCAULIFFE: Fredricka, you hit it right on the head. This is the single, biggest policy initiative that we are dealing with, people taking care of their families, making sure they are healthy, diagnosing problems early on saves lives and builds a better workforce. This has become about politics.
This is about they made a pledge that they were going to repeal Obamacare on day one. That's what they are promised. Now, they are dealt with the reality is. They are really playing a game of twister trying to figure out how they do this and how they need a political objective.
But this isn't about politics, it's really not. This is policy. This is the biggest policy initiative we have. That's why I am saying, like the governors, Democrats, Republicans, we are all here together. We put our politics aside when we come to this room.
What's in the best interest of our citizens, and I just wish Congress would do the same thing. This is not about political scoring points. People will die. I don't say like if we do not get this right, and we cannot eliminate folks and take them off.
I have been very critical because the plans today, millions and millions of Americans will lose health coverage, many will die and become sick. We are the greatest nation on earth. That's not who we are as a country.
WHITFIELD: Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it.
All right, don't miss "STATE OF THE UNION" tomorrow morning with Jake Tapper, one of the "no" votes on health care, Senator Susan Collins, will discuss the alternative bill she introduced to make changes to health care.
All right, next, the former chair of the House Intel Committee weighs in on whether the Donald Trump Jr. meeting violated any laws and where the congressional investigation goes from here. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[12:30:58] WHITFIELD: The saga surrounding a June 2016 meeting between senior Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer took another turn Friday when it was revealed that there were additional participants including a Russian-American lobbyist who served in the soviet military. And now, promote Kremlin aligned interest in Washington.
The closed-door meeting was first made public this month by "The New York Times." Donald Trump Jr. said, the meeting was a waste of time and nothing was disclosed because there was nothing to disclose. But some critics are calling it collusion. So, which is it?
I asked the former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a CNN national security commentator, Mike Rogers.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It is certainly not a crime. The lack of transparency to me is the biggest part of this issue. I think you had -- they all made an interesting decision. Apparently three of them did know that this information was at least purported to come from the Russian government.
You know, the first reaction to that is if any foreign government tries to come here and provide information on your opponent of any stripe, I don't care what party you are, what your philosophical bent is. The first call ought to be to the FBI. And that didn't happen.
And so, it's a little bit concerning to me that their judgment allowed them to go and sit in the meeting. And then the notion that they just were not consistent in disclosing and transparent about the meeting and who was in the meeting and what was talked about in the meeting. That's all very concerning to me.
WHITFIELD: And so, there are some of that circle who are saying, well, it's just not being part of the political scene, being very naive. And that anyone, the president said it himself, anyone would do it, would take that meeting to get dirt on an opponent, in this case, Hillary Clinton. Is that justifiable in your view?
ROGERS: No. I don't think we can normalize foreign governments trying to, I don't know, influence a candidate by providing information. And so, any time a foreign government -- and by the way, most people have a pretty good understanding that the Russian Intelligence Service is not -- is hostile to the United States. There's no way around that.
They do lots of hostile operations. They target Americans both here and overseas. They target people who work in the defense industry or work for government operations trying to recruit them. They use blackmail like they use to do 20 years ago. They still do that. They use things called the honey pots where they get, you know, put people in compromising positions in order to blackmail them, to get information that they shouldn't be giving.
This is a hostile intelligence service to the United States. Most people know that. If the Russian government calls and says, hey, we have information on your opponent, the first reaction should not be and we should not normalize this behavior. Opposition research is a real thing. And it happens in politics every day. And people throw things at each other, you know, in an awful way in our politics every single election cycle. This is very different. And we should not normalize it. They should have -- I'm not sure what their reaction should have been.
But hiding it and not talking to the FBI right away, they say, hey, the Russians are trying to give us information. This doesn't smell right. That should have been their reaction.
WHITFIELD: And now, you have the possible testimonies of the former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, of Adviser Jared Kushner, of Donald Trump Jr. Will this be a set of legal problems for all of these three or will they be strictly political ones particularly for Kushner, since he is the White House adviser.
ROGERS: Yes. I mean certainly, I think it's going to cause political problems either way. I mean you have these folks up there talking about it. It's not -- it's going to be a hostile questioning environment at those hearings.
You know, my concern would be if I were advising them legal advice, there is an FBI investigation or department, excuse me, Department of Justice investigation supported by the FBI with Bob Mueller. Do you really want somebody that, you know, could be implicated or might say something that they didn't say to the FBI?
[12:35:09] I was a little surprised to see that they're going to actually testify on the hill. Because remember, they're under oath. They could be charged with perjury if they lie. And if they tell the FBI one thing and the Senate another thing, they've got trouble ahead of them, legal trouble where they might now only be in political trouble.
So, I was a little surprised to see it. It's going to be interesting to watch. And I guarantee you, there's going to be folks watching from Department of Justice watching as eager as anyone -- any other viewer of those -- that testimony.
WHITFIELD: So, the former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is real the vet here, you know, among the three there in terms of politics, being involved in many political arenas. So, how much will he be pressed on knowing how this proposed meeting with Russians, you know, should have been handled? He wouldn't be able to proclaim being naive.
ROGERS: Yes. Well, I'm not -- it was -- if a foreign government says that, I don't buy that argument as a former FBI agent. I'm not buying it. You know, if you've been in the business world and you understand how all that works with the foreign government contacts you and says, I have information. That should have sent up a red flag all day long.
But Manafort, you're right, he had dealings in Ukraine. So, he should understand the length and effort of the Russian Intelligence Service. So, just to have the meeting itself, you know, he's going to have a lot of explaining to do.
And remember, Fredricka, the investigators are going to look at this meeting and say, OK, no harm, no foul. No crime was committed. And I believe that's right in having the meeting. You know, it could be a judgment issue. But there's no crime committed. But what happened next?
So, this is where you have to understand that there where -- I think the investigators are going to start asking questions. So, was there a subsequent meeting? Was -- did they offer up a name for someone else on the campaign to go talk to? All of those things are now going to be trying to be determined by the FBI and the investigation with DOJ because that's how you would know if the Russians were actually recruiting somebody.
You know, again, their whole look at this is, you know, it's going to be to try to find, hey, were there financial transactions in the future? Did they recruit someone? Was this is just a one-time gig that didn't work? Well, that Russians do that a lot. That in and of it self is not is a crime.
WHITFIELD: Interesting, and now talk about timing. How about those Russian compounds. Russia wants access now to the compounds in Maryland and New York, the Obama administration of course, kicking a number of the Russians out of that property. How detrimental potentially would it be if President Trump were determine that they can now have access again to those compounds?
ROGERS: Well, I won't do it Fredricka. You know, when the Russians left, they were in a hurry. And they took lots and lots of equipment out of those compounds. I wouldn't be in a hurry to give it back to them for sure. I don't think that they were pure vacation spots for the Russians. I think they used them as collection facilities. And I wouldn't give them back candidly.
WHITFIELD: Mike Rogers, thanks so much. Good to see you.
ROGERS: Yes. Thanks, great to see you Fredricka.
[12:38:18] WHITFIELD: All right coming up next, a Republican operative who admitted, he tried to get access to Hillary Clinton's personal e-mails. Well, he turns up dead just days after speaking to a reporter. Police are calling it suicide, new details from the note that was left.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Today, a mother is burying her son after he was shot by a sheriff's deputy in Louisiana last week. The death of the 27-year-old man has left the town reeling and several unanswered questions about what started the fatal altercation.
The only people who know exactly what happened, the sheriff's deputy and the girlfriend of the now deceased man, who is now charged with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is here with me now. You've spent some time in this very small town earlier in the week. This is a rather complicated story.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Fred. And this town of Mamou, Louisiana, it's a one stop light town in a rural area just surrounded by rice fields and gravel roads and the texture of it is complex of the story and of this town. So, as Dejuan Guillory's family buries him today, a lot of questions remain answered.
But here is what we know. So, it was the early morning hours of July 6th that Dejuan Guillory and his girlfriend, Dequince Brown, were ridding a four-wheeler. They were going hunting for frogs. Not an usual activity in this part of Louisiana.
Well, down one of those gravel roads, three miles from the one spotlight in town. They encountered Deputy Sheriff Holden LaFleur. Now, LaFleur was out on a burglary call for an ATV. He saw this couple on an ATV, so he pulled them over. Well, then a struggling sued and the deputy shot and killed Guillory.
Now, what led to that fatal moment, this is where the story widely differ. The officer said that it was Guillory who threw the first punch and then he says Brown jumped on his back and tried to grab his gun as he attempted to subdue Guillory. But Brown's attorney says that authorities are misrepresenting his client's version of events. They say the officer started the fight.
Now, Fred, the big key here though, Louisiana State Police as they are investigating this case, they are reviewing dash cam footage from the patrol car, you would like to think that that video if seen could answer a lot of our unanswered questions right now.
WHITFIELD: And now what other details do we know about the deputy and even the victim?
HARTUNG: Really complicated past for both of these men, both in their late 20s. Let's start with deceased Dejuan Guillory. He is known to law enforcement officials in the area most notably from a 2015 incident in which he allegedly stole an ATM with a stolen back hoe and then fired shots at the responding officers. He was initially charged with attempted first-degree murder but pled out to lesser charges.
[12:45:10] And as for Deputy LaFleur, he was actually supposed to appear in a trial last week for a civil lawsuit. That trial has been suspended indefinitely because of security concerns stemming from his involvement in this incident. He was one of four officers who are in this wrongful death suit stemming from a 2014 arrest gone wrong.
So, Fred, this Investigation on going as a lot of layers exists in this complicated situation.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much Kaylee. Appreciate it.
All right, still ahead, governors on both sides of the aisle have come out in opposition to the Republican health care bill even after a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. Congressman and former Florida governor, Charlie Crist, joining me live to discuss the potential impact for millions of Americans.
But first, this week's Start Small Think Big, one woman in Colorado couldn't find a restaurant that worked with her diet. So, she opened her own.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Booming beads is boulder's 100 percent grain- free and gluten-free paleo restaurant that was opened in 2014. We basically cater to people who try to live a very healthy lifestyle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I noticed recently as I'm turning older how gluten is really affecting me in how I feel. There is a real need in the community.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While the movement is growing, the industry isn't catching up as fast as it should. My ambition is to make it possible for people who are trying to be healthy to have those options.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cashew grain-free waffles are ridiculously good and some of the main reasons I come here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have no dairy, no processed sugar and no grain, so no flour. So, how do you make that happen?
We wound up with raw, ground-up cashews and it took 300 different attempts to get that batter down. It is unbelievably difficult. But once you get it down, it's amazing. We have a lot of customers that just like to come here because they love the flavors.
[12:51:47] WHITFIELD: All right. We're now getting new details about the apparent suicide of Republican operative Peter Smith. Days before his death, he told a newspaper reporter that he tried to acquire e- mails stolen from Hillary Clinton's personal server.
CNN correspondent Brian Todd explains.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Peter Smith reportedly moved around under mysterious circumstances. And now, there are questions over whether he died under them. Smith, a Republican operative, was found dead in his room in this hotel near the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in mid-May.
Police tell CNN it was suicide, asphyxiation. The medical examiner's report saying the victim quote, placed bag overhead and attached helium source.
JAMES GAGLIANA, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: This isn't, you know, shooting yourself or impaling yourself or something that I think people would see as more violent. It's a more peaceable method if you will.
(voice-over): Police say in his hotel room, the 81-year-old left a road map, documents indicating he had been in ill health recently and that his insurance policy was about to expire.
The police report says quote, the documents included a note that there was no foul play. That odd suicide note combined with what he told "Wall Street Journal" reporter, Shane Harris just ten days before he died is putting his death into the spotlight.
SHANE HARRIS, WALL STREET JOURNAL: So Peter's has told me that he put together a group of lawyers and technology experts and a private investigator in Europe to get in contact with hackers which he believe would be in Russia who they suspected may have obtained Hillary Clinton's private e-mails from her server.
(voice-over): Smith he told "The Wall Street Journal" he had done this during the late stages of the 2016 presidential campaign.
HARRIS: He wanted to get those e-mails, acquire them and then publish them so that it would be politically damaging to Secretary Clinton.
(voice-over): Computer security analyst Matt Tait says, Smith told him quote, about having been contacted by someone from the dark web claiming to have Clinton's personal e-mails and said he might need help authenticating them. Tait wrote that Smith quote, had a reckless lack of interest in whether the e-mails came from a Russian cutout.
Peter Smith told "The Journal" that General Michael Flynn then serving as National Security Advisor to the Trump campaign was aware of Smith's operations.
(on camera): Was there any legitimacy to that? Was Flynn aware? Did he have any ties to the campaign?
HARRIS: Well, Flynn has not commented in the story. The campaign has said that if Peter Smith was doing something with General Flynn that was in General Flynn's private capacity. So, it's still not entirely clear to what extent Mike Flynn was involved in this. There's no doubt that these two men knew each other.
(voice-over): An attorney for Michael Flynn didn't return our calls or e-mails seeking comment. In the end, Shane Harris says, Peter Smith believes he had gathered those private Hillary Clinton e-mails but couldn't completely verify their accuracy. So he never put them out.
Now, some on Capitol Hill including one member of the House Intelligence Committee thinks Smith's efforts are one more avenue that should be investigated in the Russia probe.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It is something that should be probed further. And I hope it now gets folded into what we are doing.
(on camera): Aside from Michael Flynn's attorney never getting back to us about peter smith, the White House also didn't return our calls or e-mails. But a senior official from the Trump presidential campaign told me, he had never heard of Peter Smith or of Smith's reported attempts to gather Hillary Clinton's e-mails during the campaign.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
[12:55:00] WHITFIELD: All right, coming up next. We now know there were eight people in the room when Donald Trump Jr. took that campaign meeting with a Russian lawyer back in 2016, new details about the Russian lobbyist and former soviet intelligence officer who were there.
WHITFIELD: Hello, again everyone. And thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Just a day after returning from France, President Trump is facing a major legislative challenge and a growing controversy over Russia. He is spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey which hosting the U.S. Women's Open. But a senior White House official says he will be busy working making call to senators in a make or break effort to save a new GOP health care bill.
At the same time, the White House is trying to navigate a growing crisis centered on his son's meeting back in June with a number of people tied to Russia in 2016. Donald Trump Jr.'s account of his secret meeting during the campaign continues to change.
[13:00:11] First, the President son claimed he met with a Russia lawyer.