MTP Daily, Transcript 7/11/2017

Guests:
Susan Page, Chris Coons, Susan Glasser, Katie Jackson, Kasie Hunt, Nathaniel Persily, Evelyn Farkas
Transcript:

Show: MTP DAILY
Date: July 11, 2017
Guest: Susan Page, Chris Coons, Susan Glasser, Katie Jackson, Kasie Hunt,
Nathaniel Persily, Evelyn Farkas

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC HOST: That does it for this hour. I`m Mike Barnicle
in for Nicole Wallace. “MTP DAILY” starts now with one of my favorite
people, Katy Tur, in for Chuck. Katy, how`re you doing?

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Mike, I`m great. I was going to say you are a
wonderful man. That`s my compliment to you. At the top of the hour.
Thank you very much.

If it is Tuesday, it is clear Don Jr. was eager to accept Russian help to
hurt Clinton.

(voice-over): Tonight, the e-mail trail. The president stands by his
son`s e-mail release but no reply on any other questions on Russian
connections.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, U.S. WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I would
refer you to Don Jr.`s counsel and the outside counsel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Plus, deny, recant, repeat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: We see, again, a kind of shifting
defense from the Trump administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Where does this leave the congressional investigations?

And the August rush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m less concerned about the timing and more concerned
about getting it right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Leader McConnell delays the Senate`s summer vacation. So, will
Republicans now be able to check off health care or anything else from
their agenda this summer?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Listen, I`ll compromise with anybody.
Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Martian, if we`re moving
the ball forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Katy Tur in New York in for Chuck Todd.
Welcome to MTP DAILY.

We now have hard evidence that the Trump campaign wanted to coordinate with
kremlin-linked associates who they were told were acting on behalf of a
Putin-backed effort to support Trump`s candidacy and, quote, “incriminate
Hillary Clinton.” There was also discussion about telling Mr. Trump about
it.

Let that all sink in for a moment. Got it? Good.

Donald Trump Jr. today published a conversation he had over e-mail with his
associate, Rob Goldstone. Goldstone told him that he`d received some
stunning information from an associate in Moscow whose father is a Russian
billionaire, Aras Agalarov, seen right here.

Agalarov acted as a liaison between Mr. Trump and Putin when the two tried
to meet at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

Here`s what Goldstone told Trump Jr. in early June about what he had
learned. The crown prosecutor of Russia offered to provide the Trump
campaign with some official documents and information that would
incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful
to your father. This is obviously very high-level and sensitive
information but is part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump.

That wasn`t all. He went on to say, I can also send you this info to your
father via Rhona Graff, Trump`s secretary, but it is ultra-sensitive so I
wanted to send to you first.

Trump Jr. Signals to Goldstone to hold off on telling Trump until they
learn more.

And let that all sink in. Trump Jr. has just been told that there is a
Russian government effort to use the campaign as a vehicle to potentially
incriminate their political opponent, Hillary Clinton.

His reaction, he loves it. He`s seemingly already thinking about when to
dump the oppo (ph) even.

Here`s part of what he writes back. If it`s what you say, I love it,
especially later in the summer. Goldstone then tells Trump Jr. that at his
associate`s request, a Russian government attorney wants to meet with him
to start a dialogue with the campaign. She`s flying over from Moscow.

Trump Jr. then cc`s campaign chief, Paul Manafort, and Trump`s son-in-law,
Jared Kushner, on this entire exchange the day before they all met with
her. Trump Jr. insists that the information she gave them in that meeting
was vague and nonsensical. He says there was no further contact or any
follow-up of any kind.

He`s also suggested that the whole thing may have been a ruse so she could
push a pet project related to U.S.-Russia foreign policy.

Even if that is accurate, and there`s ample reason to doubt that it is,
this e-mail chain clearly indicates that the Trump campaign was willing to
coordinate with Russia to gain an edge.

Trump Jr. says today that he released these documents in order to be
totally transparent. And hours later the president put out a statement
through his press office saying, my son is a high-quality person and I
applaud his transparency.

There are so many questions that this bombshell raises. First off, what
did the campaign do with the knowledge that the Russian government might
want to coordinate with them to defeat Clinton?

We don`t know the answer to that but it makes you wonder about a statement
like this made by Mr. Trump the following month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you`re listening,
I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

[17:05:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you call on Putin to stay out of this
election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not going to tell Putin
what to do. Why should I tell Putin what to do? They probably have them.
I`d like to have them released.

TUR: Does that not give you pause?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it gives me no pause.
We might as well – here`s what gives me – be quiet. I know you want to,
you know, save her. That a person in our government, Katy, who would
delete or get rid of 33,000 e-mails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Also consider the timing of when the Trump campaign got tipped off
about Russia`s potential motivations. It happened after Russian hackers
had penetrated both the DNC and Clinton campaign chief John Podesta`s e-
mail accounts but before any of that public oppo was publicly released.

Here are more questions. Was this meeting really the end of this
conversation? Were there really zero follow-ups with anyone involved? Was
Trump really never told? And what about the contradictions?

These e-mails also are inconsistent with a whole host of denials and
explanations we`ve been given by the president, the White House, Trump Jr.,
the Russian lawyer and the campaign.

But perhaps the biggest question is this. Is this hard evidence that the
Trump campaign broke the law or is it not?

Let`s bring in a couple of our NBC News reporters. Kasie Hunt is on
Capitol Hill and Hallie Jackson, our Chief White House Correspondent, is
here with me on set. Hallie, it is wonderful to see you –

HALLIE JACKSON, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Three
dimensions, I know.

TUR: – in person. In person, Hallie.

I want to talk about the White House`s game plan right now. I was talking
to somebody close to the White House a moment ago. And they were trying to
say that, listen, this is just – we believe this is Democrats pushing this
on –

JACKSON: Of course.

TUR: – some of the intel committees. Is this the way they`re going to go
about it?

JACKSON: The accusation that it`s just playing politics?

TUR: Yes.

JACKSON: The accusation that nothing really happened? The argument that
this is more of the media making a story out of something that`s not really
a story, as you have already been hearing from sources both publicly and
privately. That is – that is going to be the game plan.

The other part of the game plan is to kick it to the outside counsel and to
say, we`re not going to answer any questions about this. We`re going to
let Don Jr.`s lawyer, his new lawyer, handle some of these questions.
We`re going to let our outside legal team handle some of these questions.

They have said that the president was not aware of this meeting, did not
attend this meeting. You know that the president was in New York at the
time. That is what his lawyers are currently telling us, that the
president didn`t go. I think you`re right that it raises some questions
here.

And I think that you are seeing publicly some of the strategy coming out
now. We listen to Sarah Huckabee Sanders and we listen to what she had to
say at today`s White House press briefing, talking about the frustration of
the president.

He is frustrated. His team is frustrated. They don`t like the fact that
there are Russia stories coming out constantly almost every day.

But the bottom line is this. Donald Trump Jr. accepted a meeting with
somebody explicitly named as a Russian government lawyer and said yes to
that meeting and then got Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner on board.

TUR: So, they might want to push this off on they think Democrats and the
intel committees. But a lot of these sources are named as advisers –

JACKSON: White House advisers.

TUR: – to the White House, White House officials. Who could they be? Do
they have an agenda to get Don Jr.? And what would be the problem that
people might have with Donald Trump`s son?

JACKSON: So, that – I think that`s a huge question (INAUDIBLE) and people
inside the White House are also speculating about, right? It`s my sense
that there is a big question of, like, who is it, at this point. Because
when you have “The New York Times” saying three advisers to the White House

TUR: And who has access to the e-mails?

JACKSON: Well, the point about the access to the disclosure form, right,
is one thing of who might see that and where does it go? Because once it
leaves the confines of the west wing, there is not a lot of – you know,
not a lot but in the relative scheme of things, there`s more than one
person who would have had their hands on that.

So, I do think that you have always seen factions with people close to
Donald Trump. That`s how he does his thing. It`s how he ran his business.
You know it`s how he ran his campaign. It`s how he runs his
administration. And this is another very vivid example of that.

TUR: Of those competing factions within the White House, within the
campaign, within the transition, all trying to one-up each other and take
down the other to gain and curry favor with Donald Trump.

Hallie Jackson, wonderful to see you in person.

Kasie Hunt, let`s talk about the investigations on Capitol Hill. What is
this latest revelation going to do with those?

KASIE HUNT, CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, Katy, I think that
the central issue for the investigators that has come out of the course of
the last 24, 48 hours is the changing story out of the White House. And
you did a nice job of walking through what that means.

But I also want to point you to something that Mark Warner said earlier
today. He told reporters, listen, this excuse of naivete, of rookie
attitudes, look, lying is not a rookie mistake. Now, that is a pretty
serious charge to hear from the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence
Committee.

The reality is they have been very careful about being bipartisan. Members
on both sides have been very careful to say, look, we trust Richard Burr,
the Republican Chairman. We trust Mark Warner.

This, I think, has been a display of bad faith that has undermined, you
know, whatever case the White House was going to make to these committees.
Their job is now going to be harder.

And I think they are entering a new phase of this investigation. They`re
going to start interviewing people this week, so that means they`re moving
past, kind of, the evidence-gathering phase and the question-writing phase.
And to actually trying to dig some new information out of these people.

[17:10:11] And I think, look, antagonizing Congress, and this is I think
what this amounts to, is not usually productive for this White House. And
I think, in this case, there`s some real potential teeth that could bite
the Trump administration.

TUR: And a quick note. Senator Warner will be on with Chuck Todd tomorrow
on this program. He`s back in the seat.

Kasie Hunt, thank you very much, joining me now from Capitol Hill.

And joining me now here on set for a look at this from the legal angle is
an election law expert, Nathaniel Persily. He`s a professor at Stanford
Law School. He was the research director for the Election Integrity
Commission under President Obama, although he is not a member of either
political party. I want to make that point pretty clear.

Nathaniel, thank you so much for joining us. I want to talk about this, in
terms of a legal matter. Are there any legal issues here and do you see
evidence, hard evidence, of collusion from this e-mail chain that Don Jr.
released earlier today?

NATHANIEL PERSILY, PROFESSOR, STANFORD LAW SCHOOL: Well, there`s no
question that there were laws that were broken by the Russians. The
question is whether the Trump campaign or any individual within it either
solicited or contributed to this breaking of the law or coordinated, as you
said before. Because that – those are the languages that we see in the
law. Did they act in concert with the Russians in order to break the law?

TUR: Do you see any solicitation here from those e-mails?

PERSILY: Well, what you can – even before these e-mails, you could see
some actions in which they were encouraging Russian involvement in the
election. That, in and of itself, could be a breaking of the campaign
finance law.

TUR: That July 27th press conference where he said, Russia, if you have
Hillary Clinton`s e-mails, I want to see them?

PERSILY: That would be one example. There are others after that.

But the question, again, is whether something of value was given to the
Trump campaign or they sought something of value that would help them in
their election.

TUR: Could this information be considered something of value?

PERSILY: It could. As you know, campaigns do opposition research all the
time. Certainly, if the Trump campaign hired Russian operatives in order
to do opposition research, that would be illegal. That`s not what was –
what is being alleged here, of course.

But the question is does it push up to the edge? Was there coordination?
Was there solicitation? Was there aiding and abetting in the violation of
the campaign finance laws?

TUR: What is the difference between coordination and collusion? Because
we hear those words used interchangeably.

PERSILY: So, collusion is now becoming sort of the generic term we`re
using to describe this sort of affair. Coordination is a term of art in
the campaign finance realm.

Was there, sort of, an agreement or action between the Russians and the
Trump campaign in order to break the law that bans foreign contributions or
expenditures related to a federal election?

TUR: So, what you`re seeing in these e-mails is the Russians have
information on Hillary Clinton that could be used to help your father.
They`re on your father`s side.

Don Jr. Says, yes, I`d love to see it, and I – and I think I`m going to
use it later this summer if it is what you say it is. What does that
amount to? Any one of those things coordination, collusion? What was the
other –

PERSILY: Aiding and abetting.

TUR: Aiding and abetting, solicitation.

PERSILY: And solicitation, right. So, let me just be clear that we are
walking in completely new snow here. This has never happened before. This
set of facts is really new for campaign finance experts to wrestle with.
So, there`s no set of facts previously that`s comparable.

Nevertheless, if you look – reason by analogy to other types of situations
we`ve dealt with, yes, if you have a plan in order to jointly try to defeat
an opponent. But, yes, that would be the kind of coordination that would
run afoul of the campaign finance laws.

If, for example, that you are trying to coordinate the release of e-mails
at a particular date, which again is not alleged in these – in this
particular exchange, but there is some timing element when they talked
about releasing things later in the summer, that all of those facts are the
kinds of things a prosecutor reviews in order to prove coordination.

TUR: So, on the face of it, just have a meeting with somebody who claims
to be a Russian official, who claims to have information from the kremlin
that is damaging to your political opponent, on the face of it, that
meeting alone isn`t necessarily illegal?

PERSILY: Right. If you knew nothing else about what was happening in this
context, the meeting –

TUR: It`s untoward.

PERSILY: Well – but we have all the facts leading up to it. And so, as
well as, as you were saying, all the solicitations or –

TUR: This didn`t happen in a vacuum.

PERSILY: So, it`s all of that together that leads to the circumstantial
case of coordination.

TUR: OK. So, if you are looking at this case, say you`re Robert Mueller,
what are you looking for next?

PERSILY: Well, I think you want to know whether what happened in that
meeting is what they say happened. Whether it was really about adoptions.
Was it maybe about e-mails? Was it about, sort of, quid pro quos that
might go on later in the summer? You also want to know whether the meeting
ended there or were there follow-up conversations after the fact?

TUR: They say crown prosecutor. In Russia that`s not quite a term of art,
right?

PERSILY: Well, it doesn`t – we know it`s a Russian official. And let me
be clear also. Whether it was the Russian government or a Russian
national, it is still illegal under the campaign finance laws because they
prevent foreign nationals from spending money related to a federal election
or contributing anything of value to a campaign.

[17:15:05] TUR: Does this look fishy to you?

PERSILY: It`s looked fishy for some time.

TUR: Thank you very much. Nathaniel Persily, appreciate your time, sir.

And let`s turn now to Evelyn Farkas, who`s an NBC National Security Analyst
and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and
Eurasia. She was the Pentagon`s top expert on Russia.

Evelyn, I`m curious about how this all went down. Would – is there a
scenario where Vladimir Putin would say, hey, we`ve got to get into the
Trump campaign. We`ve got to figure out a way to get – curry favor with
them. Why don`t we send this promoter who is a representative – who is a
representative of a pop star in Russia to try to get a meeting with Don Jr.
through this lawyer.

EVELYN FARKAS, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, NBC NEWS: Sure, it`s possible.
Katy, remember, Donald Trump had a relationship with the pop star and his
father going back years, at least to 2013 and the Miss USA or Miss America,
I don`t remember which one, anyway, pageant.

TUR: Miss Universe.

FARKAS: Miss Universe, thank you.

But the bigger point is I think – I mean, inside those e-mails was that
sentence about this is part of Russia`s support and the Russian
government`s support to Mr. Trump. I would like that sentence to be
explained. Because what does that mean? What support from Russia and
Russia`s government –

TUR: Getting –

FARKAS: – and the Russian government?

TUR: – an e-mail like this and having Don Jr. say, I would love it.
Maybe we could use it later in the summer. What was your immediate
reaction when you read this?

FARKAS: Well, my immediate reaction was that they were going to weaponize
it. If it was good, they`d weaponize it. They`d use it against Hillary
Clinton. They didn`t think twice about whether this was legal or illegal,
seemingly. I mean, again, I`m reading just an incomplete e-mail.

But I think, Katy, this gets to the bigger picture. You know, we`re here
now talking about meeting that they said never took place a couple months
ago. And, you know, a lot of people have been talking about Nixon and the
drip, drip, the drip, the deny, the drip, the deny.

You know, I just was reading a book about chiefs of staffs that came out
recently and there`s a chapter in there about Ronald Reagan. And during
Iran-contra, he first – of course, he knew we were selling arms to the
Iranians in order to get hostages freed.

But once he found out some extra money was being given to the contras in
Nicaragua and that was illegal, what Ronald Reagan did was he went on
national television and he explained to the American people. And he said
we did something that was wrong and please forgive me.

And I think it`s high time for President Trump to come out with the full
story. Because enough with the drip, drip and the denial. I mean,
clearly, they`re lying and then they`re explaining their lies. And we
don`t trust them with this incomplete story.

TUR: Well, what should they have done if they were given a heads-up that
the Russians might have information that`s damaging to Hillary Clinton or
information that might prove that Hillary Clinton was somehow working or
getting aid from the Russian government?

FARKAS: Well, I think what most people would have done would be to consult
a lawyer. You know, we know this is a foreign government. There probably
are laws about this. We`re in a presidential campaign which is a national
event, not an international event. So, I think that would have been the
first step.

And a lawyer probably would have said to them, don`t take the meeting or
maybe take the meeting. But, you know, maybe you need to tell the FBI.

TUR: What about take the meeting, see what they have, if anything`s there,
then you can decide whether to go to the FBI if something is there. That`s
when we should – that`s when we should do it.

FARKAS: Sure. And they didn`t do that – and they didn`t do that either.
Even if there was nothing, they still could have reported it to the FBI.
They still could have reported this attempt to bring them in.

But, again, as your earlier guest said, the lawyer, the professor who was
just on. You know, this is happening in a context of multiple meetings by
multiple Trump people with Russians.

So, clearly, there`s a really – I mean, cavalier is probably an
oversimplification. But there`s a cavalier attitude to dealing with
Russians.

And, again, I cannot help but emphasize these are not French officials.
These are not British officials. These are Russians. And they have an
adversarial relationship with the United States, by this point, that`s very
clear and very public.

TUR: And it`s not just meetings with the Russians. There is the changing
of the platform at the convention. There`s a whole host of things that
just – there hasn`t been any coherent answer for that we`ve gotten from
either the campaign, the transition, the White House. No one`s been able
to clear that up.

Evelyn Farkas, thank you very much.

FARKAS: Thanks, Katy. Thank you.

TUR: And Donald Trump Jr.`s e-mail release contradicts a whole lot of what
we`ve heard from the White House when it comes to Russia so far. That is
ahead.

[17:19:33]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back.

The e-mails released by Donald Trump Jr. today seemed to reveal a number of
possible contradictions to previous statements we`ve seen. First of all,
here`s what the Russian lawyer he met with told NBC`s Keir Simmons this
morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEIR SIMMONS, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: 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?

NATALIA VESILNITSKAYA, ATTORNEY (translator): It`s quite possible that
maybe they were looking for such information, they wanted so badly.

SIMMONS: Have you ever worked for the Russian government? Do you have
connections to the Russian government?

VESILNITSKAYA: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: But as we saw in Don Jr.`s e-mails, that same lawyer was introduced
as a, quote “Russian government attorney” who would have information as,
quote, “part of Russia” and its government support for Mr. Trump.

And here`s former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was in the
meeting with the Russian lawyer speaking in July 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your
campaign and Putin and his regime?

PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER CHAIRMAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: No, there are not. It`s
absurd. And, you know, there`s no basis to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Of course, it depends how you define ties. But then, there`s this
from Don Jr. the same day back in July 2016. He was responding to a
suggestion from Clinton campaign manager, Robby Mook, that Russia was
behind the hacked DNC e-mails and a plot to hurt Hillary Clinton and help
Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I mean, they`ll say anything to be able
to win this. I mean, this is time and time again, lie after lie. It`s
disgusting. It`s so phony. I can`t think of bigger lies.

But that exactly goes to show you what the DNC and what the Clinton camp
will do. They will lie and do anything to win. I don`t mind a fair fight
but these lies and the perpetuating of that kind of nonsense to try to, you
know, gain some political capital is just outrageous. And he should be
ashamed of himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: That right there a month – a month and a half, excuse me, after his
meeting with the Russian lawyer apparently took place.

We`re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back.

Let`s bring in our panel. Susan Page, “USA Today” Washington bureau chief.
“The New York Times” national political reporter and MSNBC Contributor
Yamiche Alcindor. And “Politico`s” chief international affairs columnist,
Susan Glasser. Welcome, guys.

We`ve got two Susans today so I`m going to try to be specific.

[17:25:02] Susan Page, I`ll start with you. We`ve got a lot of questions
about whether or not this was illegal. There`s debate about if this was
treason. There`s debate if this was collusion, coordination, solicitation.
Politically, what does this mean?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “USA TODAY”: Politically, this is a
very serious development that we`ve seen today with these e-mails. Because
the e-mails are so blunt about what is being offered and Donald Trump Jr.`s
response to it.

So, I don`t know. I`m not a lawyer. I don`t know if this will violate the
law. What the criminal penalties might prospectively be.

But I think it does meet a new – it does cross a political line that says
that the – that Donald Trump Jr., despite his protestations for months
afterwards, for a year afterwards, did indeed have a meeting that was
presented to him as one at the behest of the Russian government, offering
him dirt on Hillary Clinton. And his response was, I`d love that.

TUR: Susan Glasser, if it crosses political lines, what does that mean for
Republicans?

SUSAN GLASSER, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, “POLITICO”: Well,
look, as you saw earlier today with Senator Cruz, they are trying every
which way to avoid talking about this, understandably. And for Democrats,
there`s peril in talking too much about Russia and not about their agenda
as well.

But, you know, the bottom line is there is an investigation that`s going on
with former FBI Director Bob Mueller, and that`s going to dictate the
political outcome ultimately which is to say, you know, are there ever
going to be charges that are brought as a result of this? What is the
context and additional information we don`t yet have to help us understand
these extraordinary e-mails that Donald Trump Jr. has released today.

And I think it is important to underscore, this is extraordinary by any
measure. It`s hard. We`re desensitized to disclosures but I`m blown away
by the brazenness of putting something like that in writing which goes hand
in hand, frankly, with the fairly brazen effort by the Russian government
to interfere in the election hacking.

If you talk to experts, they will tell you that the Russians didn`t work
very hard to hide the fact that it was them who was responsible for the
hacking. And I think this e-mail goes hand in hand with that kind of
behavior.

TUR: You know what`s so interesting about the e-mail to me? Donald Trump
said over and over again on the trail about how he never uses e-mail. He
never wants to put anything in writing because putting things in writing is
what gets you in trouble. And lo and behold, his son, his namesake puts
something in writing.

Yamiche, what do you think would be the best-case scenario for this
administration right now? What is the – what is the most generous
explanation for this Don Jr. meeting?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: The most generous explanation is that
Don Jr. did not understand that this was part of a violation of some sort
of international and, of course, domestic laws. That he didn`t really
understand that colluding with a foreign government, that the foreign –
that the Russian government offering you information about a political
opponent is somehow a violation of law.

Because that`s the only reason you would think you would even put this in
writing. I mean, this is something that is so blunt and so obvious that
you – that reading that e-mail chain, I was blown away, as I`m sure most
of Washington was, that they would actually write this is going to be for
your political opponent. This is a government official. This is a
prosecutor tied to Russia.

So, that`s the only thing that they can say. That can just – Don Jr. can
just say, hey, I didn`t realize that I was doing this. I didn`t realize
that there was a problem in meeting with someone who had opposition
information about Hillary Clinton.

TUR: There`s one constant here, that they have been consistently
inconsistent about revealing information and what exactly happened when it
comes to Russia.

Take a listen, though, to all the denials from Trump`s team about whether
or not anybody met with Russia during the transition or the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to do with
Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: Was there any contact in any way between
Trump or his associates and the kremlin or cutouts they had?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course not. Why would
there be any contacts between the campaign?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, NBC NEWS, “TODAY”: Can you say with 100 percent
confidence that Mr. Trump or anybody in his campaign had no conversations
with anybody in Russia during the campaign?

REINCE PRIEBUS, U.S. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF-OF-STAFF: No. I mean, I`m just
telling you, it`s all phony baloney garbage.

JOHN DICKERSON, ANCHOR, CBS, “FACE THE NATION”: Did anyone involved in the
Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the
election?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR COUNSELOR, DONALD TRUMP: Absolutely not. And I
discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those
conversations never happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Susan Page, we have Republicans who have stood by Donald Trump. And
part of the reason people explain that away is that he has this rock hard
base of support that Republicans don`t necessarily want to antagonize.

What will it take for that base of support to start to diminish? I mean,
do these inconsistencies fall on deaf ears with them? Are they opening to
hearing it? Especially when they see administration official after
official after official come out and say there have been no meetings.

And then, we have a day like today where we find out not only has there
been a meeting, but Trump Jr. was highly anticipating and looking forward
to getting information that could denigrate Hillary Clinton.

PAGE: You know, one of the interesting academic studies that came out just
a few weeks ago showed that for those who were very dedicated to Donald
Trump, they understood that he was saying things not on this particularly
but generally things that were untrue, that fact checkers would take him to
task force and they would recognize these things were incorrect, it did not
shake their support of him.

And I think there`s a question about whether this affects that 40 percent
core of support that he has had since election day. But this does cost him
on Capitol Hill and it does cost him I think also when you see those string
of denial that`s have now been called into serious question. I think it
does make it harder for him to make their arguments going forward and have
people believe what they`re saying. That`s one reason this investigation by
Robert Mueller just looms as such a huge issue, such a huge cloud for this
administration.

TUR: One thing we should note is that we had Congressman Lee Zeldin on this
program yesterday, he sat right next to me, and he called this story a
nothing-burger. He also tweeted the same today after Don Jr. released his
e-mails. He tweeted something different just 24 hours later. New e-mails
from Donald Trump Jr. contradict a lot of prior story from yesterday and
before. This is not the same thing.

“I voted for POTUS last November and want him and USA to succeed but that
meeting given that e-mail chain just released is a big no-no.” Guys, this
was just 24 hours later. And as my colleague Benjy Sarlin said, man, life
comes at you fast. Susan, Yamiche, Susan, stay with us. We`ll come back to
you a little bit later. And still ahead, Capitol Hill reacts to the new
revelations in the Trump-Russia saga.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Next on “MTP Daily,” Senator Chris Coons on how the latest revelations
from Donald Trump Jr. impact the ongoing Russia investigations on Capitol
Hill. But first, Hampton Pearson has the CNBC Market Wrap. Hi, Hampton.

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Katy. While
stocks closed mostly flat after those e-mails released by the president`s
son, sent Wall Street on a wild ride as traders digested the impact to the
Russian controversy. At the close, the Dow gaining just half a point.

The S&P lost a point. The Nasdaq adding 16. Oil rebounded after dipping
earlier in the day. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 66 cents or 1-1/2 percent.
Twitter names intuit executive Ned Segal as its new chief financial
officer. Shares of Twitter were up 3 percent in after-hours trading. That`s
it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(START VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM ARIZONA: I`ve said many times in the
past there`s another shoe that will drop and there will be other shoes that
will drop.

JAMES LANKFORD, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM OKLAHOMA: This constant drip,
drip, drip to be able to get one more piece from one more story or
something doesn`t help the White House, doesn`t help our investigation.
Let`s get it all.

KAMALA HARRIS, SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA: It`s really significant that it
doesn`t appear that when they had information that this person might be
connected with the Russian government or a Russian national that they
didn`t immediately call the FBI.

LINDSEY GRAHAM, SENATOR FROM SOUTH CAROLINA: If there was an e-mail
suggesting the Russian government wanted to help you and you took the
meeting, that`s problematic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Some reaction from Capitol Hill to today`s bombshell revelation that
Donald Trump Jr. was seemingly eager to accept “incriminating information”
about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Joining me now is
Delaware Democratic senator Chris Coons who`s a member of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, so lovely to see you. Thank you for
joining us. What was your initial reaction to this news? Do you want to see
Don Jr. come testify on Capitol Hill?

CHRIS COONS, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM DELAWARE: Absolutely. Katy, I thought
this was jaw-dropping. When I was shown these tweets by Donald Trump Jr.
earlier today, I was floored. First the idea that he would publicly choose
to share these e-mails and then what those e-mails said. That he was
offered the opportunity to have a meeting with someone to get incriminating
information about President Trump`s opponent, the former Secretary Hillary
Clinton.

That in those e-mails it was made clear that this offer was on behalf of
the Russian government and their alleged ongoing effort to support his
father`s campaign, and that he would be meeting with a Russian government
lawyer. That`s what the e-mail suggested. And that his response wasn`t to
be shocked or concerned or alarmed. His response wasn`t to say, I need to
hand this over to the FBI, but to say that sounds great, where and when can
we meet?

And that he then subsequently organized a meeting with Donald Trump`s
campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law joining Donald Trump
Jr. This is really striking and it puts to bed allegations that there was
no collusion, there was no attempts, there was no efforts at connecting
with the Russians. It`s clearly now fact that Donald Trump Jr. when offered
an opportunity to have a meeting with a Russian attorney who represented
herself as having these materials, he gleefully accepted that opportunity.

TUR: Senator, it seems like you`re agreeing with your colleague Ron Wyden
about how this is – it`s no longer a question that Donald Trump`s campaign
sought to collude with Russia. One, do you think that is the case? And two,
is it a crime if they did?

COONS: Well, I think it`s a legal conclusion that we should leave to Bob
Mueller to reach whether or not this makes out the element of a crime and
it`s something that`s a chargeable offense. But this is exactly why it is
so important that we continue to have a well-resourced independent
investigation led by someone who is a respected long-term federal law
enforcement leader like Bob Mueller.

And it`s why I think it`s so important and valuable that we have a
genuinely bipartisan investigation moving forward by the Senate
Intelligence Committee and by the Senate Judiciary Committee on which I
serve. I think that`s important so that the general public can have
confidence that we`ll get to the bottom of this.

TUR: Tim Kaine.

COONS: Earlier today, I saw Kellyanne Conway suggesting on television that
this is the sort of thing every campaign does, that this is opposition
research, and that there`s really nothing to be concerned about here
because no valuable information was exchanged.

As someone who has stood for election several times, I`ll say that`s not
the case, that opposition research is typically done by campaigns.
Embracing information offered by a hostile foreign power, that`s not
typically part of campaigns.

TUR: Senator, I`m sorry for interrupting you a couple times. But your
colleague Tim Kaine went further. He said this could potentially be moving
towards treason. Do you agree with that?

COONS: Well, I think that`s a legal conclusion that I wouldn`t yet reach. I
think there`s a lot of investigating yet to do. And I think the elements
that would make up a charge that serious, I don`t yet see. But I think it`s
important that we recognize this is exactly why we have to have thorough,
bipartisan investigations.

This is a moment for senators, for elected leaders in the house and senate
to put aside partisanship, to think about what`s in the best interests of
the country and to make sure that we get to the bottom of all this. It is
striking to me how many different senior officials who were either leaders
in the Trump campaign or the Trump administration had meetings with senior
Republican – excuse me, with senior Russians or Russian individuals,
forgot to disclose that as they were required to. In the case of Mike
Flynn.

TUR: Speaking of that.

COONS: . or Jeff Sessions or Jared Kushner. And that this seems to me to be
a pattern where if this group has nothing to hide, they`ve hidden a fair
amount.

TUR: Speaking of that, and I want to get a couple more questions in, so I`m
going to be quick. Jared Kushner was also in that meeting. He left this off
his disclosure form. Do you think he should still have security clearance?

COONS: I think it would be high time to review that as to whether or not he
deserves ongoing security clearance.

TUR: And then the other question I have, is Donald Trump was in the
building at the time? This meeting happened on the 25th floor. Donald
trump`s office is on the 26th floor. We know he was in Trump Tower at 4:00
p.m. that day. Are you thinking that maybe there should be some sort of
senate subpoena request to find out whether or not Donald Trump went to
that meeting?

COONS: Well, I think we need to have document requests go out that are wide
in their scope. I think this takes us back to a fundamental question in a
previous similar matter. Core question here is what did the president know
and when did he know it?

Did he know about this meeting? Was he aware of this proffer? And I`m
struck at how unsurprised Donald Trump Jr. seemed to be to get an e-mail
saying that the Russian government was trying to help his father`s
campaign.

TUR: And let us note that Donald Trump`s lawyer has said that he was not in
that meeting and he only learned about it a few days ago. Senator Chris
Coons, appreciate your time, sir.

COONS: Thank you, Katy.

TUR: And still ahead, Mitch McConnell delays the senate`s August recess as
Republicans try to make progress on health care. We`ll have the latest from
the hill on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back. Some big developments today on the health care front.
First, we now know a new draft of the Republican bill will be out Thursday
morning. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told members that they
won`t be going home for the August recess, at least not as soon as they
planned. In a rare move, McConnell pushed back the recess for two weeks,
keeping folks in town to work on the floundering bill. Meanwhile, some
Republicans voiced their skepticism about that bill.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you satisfied with what you`ve seen of the changes
that are being made to it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll see it on Thursday I`m told.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have not seen the final bill and have not committed
to voting for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m very pessimistic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: But as for whether their constituents care about this, it depends on
who you ask.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

TED CRUZ, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM TEXAS: When I go back to Texas, nobody
asked about Russia. You know, I held town halls all over the state of
Texas. You know how many questions I got on Russia? Zero. They`re focused
on Obamacare.

RON WYDEN, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM OREGON: I just had eight town hall
meetings at home. Five in counties Donald Trump won. Three in counties
Hillary Clinton won. This is a story that matters to people because Russia
attacked our institutions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: It is time for “The Lid.” The panel is back. Susan Page, Yamiche
Alcindor, Susan Glasser. Guys, you just heard a moment ago depending on who
you speak to, which senator you speak to, either everybody in the country
is talking about Russia or no one in the country is talking about Russia.
Yamiche, what`s the reality here? Is it both?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think the
reality is it`s both. Mainly from my reporting, I`ve found that Trump
supporters aren`t that concerned about Russia. They think it`s a
politically motivated thing. But for independents, for Democrats, for some
moderate Republicans, this is real issue mainly because it`s holding up the
Republicans from getting things done.

Health care is a really big issue that got a lot of the Republicans their
seats in congress, and they haven`t really had that much movement on it.
They are still obviously in the middle of revising that bill. So I think a
lot of people are thinking about Russia.

TUR: So they are in the middle of revising the bill, but there`s a lot of
folks thinking about Russia. Susan, McConnell has delayed the August
recess. Do you think that`s enough time to keep the focus on – sorry,
Susan Page, I should say, to keep the focus on health care? Just amid the
Republican congress to get things done or is this Russia drama going just
going to drown that out?

PAGE: You know, I think it`s going to be hard to get health care done, even
with an additional two weeks just because health care is so hard to do
because he has trouble on his left and his right. It is hard to see how he
can negotiate that. The thing that might be helpful is not time to work it
out here, but time not to spend in your district where there will be
protesters against whatever the Republican plan is.

That`s been one of the problems that Mitch McConnell has had is that
Republicans, particularly in state like Ohio, for instance, Rob Portman,
you showed just a moment ago, who go home and hear from constituents who
are very concerned about changes in the Affordable Care Act.

TUR: Susan Glasser, what about Ted Cruz? Suddenly he`s talking about
compromise.

SUSAN GLASSER, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS COLUMNIST FOR POLITICO: Right.
He said he`d compromise with anybody, even Martians, you know. The problem
is people always define compromise as like you accept my bill and he has a
version that he owes out there promoting and then I`ll compromise with you.
So I think that`s an important point. On the Russia point, how much do
people care about this?

Everyone knows, Susan Page has been here, Iran-Contra, the Monica Lewinsky
scandal, the Clinton fund-raising scandal, Watergate going all the way back
to that, people don`t pay attention to it until they do, and that`s because
prosecutors don`t really care what the polls say about whether people care
about Russia or not, and they are going to build a case. Then it will
matter and if there is a case to be brought against anybody, that`s when
you`ll see public opinion shift more dramatically than it has so far.

TUR: Here`s my question about that, Susan Glasser. Say Mueller comes back
and he has the assessment that something nefarious did happen, what happens
next? Will that – will that conclusion be accepted by Trump`s supporters?

GLASSER: Well, you know, Katy, I have to say that`s the question I`ve been
wondering about all day, but we`re so far away from there. Remember, Trump
and his administration have leaked at various points along the way. Maybe
he`ll fire Mueller. Will we ever get to the point? And if we do, who will
be the prosecutor? What will the process be? How – how much does it go
directly to President Trump himself? That`s one kind of process.

Will there be lesser people indicted? In previous presidential scandals, by
the way, not just Watergate, but Iran-Contra as well, you had other White
House officials, you had other people close to the president who were
brought into legal processes that stopped short until the very end, of
course, of Nixon, of reaching the president himself, so we just don`t know
the answers to any of those questions, but believe me, those are the
precedents that people are poring over in various quarters of Washington
right now.

TUR: Yeah.

GLASSER: And I think that`s really going to change the public opinion
polls. Those are lagging indicators in many ways rather than leading
indicators of whether the Russia story matters or not.

TUR: And Senator Blumenthal a moment ago was saying that, you know, to look
at warning, to look for alarm bells, alarm lights that Trump might fire
Mueller, so people are raising that as a possibility again. Yamiche, on the
other side of the coin, if Mueller comes back and he says, no, there was no
collusion, it looks bad but nothing nefarious happen, will liberals, will
Democrats accept that conclusion?

ALCINDOR: I think Democrats will accept that conclusion mainly because they
realize that their message can`t be anti-Trump if they want to take back
the White House and want to have control of the congress. So I think if
Trump actually gets cleared and there`s nothing going on and his son gets
cleared and all of of this was smoke and there`s no fire, it`s going to
hurt Democrats if they continue to talk about Russia and they can`t talk
about their own plans for health care and jobs and all the other reasons
why Trump won in the first place.

TUR: So many variables, so many what ifs, so much more time, but not enough
time left in this program. Susan, Yamiche, and Susan again, guys, thank you
very much. After the break, a major reporting scoop from a very unexpected
place. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: In case you missed it, and there is a good chance you did, a high
school newspaper in Washington state just got the scoop of the year. An
interview with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. I`m going to have to explain
how all this went down. Mercer Island high school student reporter Teddy
Fisher came across this “Washington Post” article which accidentally
published a photo where Mattis` name and phone number were visible on a
post–it note.

The photo was taken down but Fisher, an enterprising young reporter, texted
the number asking Mattis for an interview for his student newspaper “The
Islander.” Mattis agreed. A few weeks later, Teddy published his big scoop
along with a transcript of the nearly 6,000-word interview. Our NBC
affiliate in Seattle talked to him about it.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

TEDDY FISHER, STUDENT AT MERCER ISLAND: He started off saying that he only
had a couple of minutes. He could talk to me and then I think I was on the
phone with him for 45 minutes.

What advice would you give to a current high schooler that`s scared about
what they see in the news and concerned for future of our country?

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Probably the most important thing
is to get involved. You`ll gain courage when you get involved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Congrats to Teddy and the whole team at the Islander for their dogged
reporting. And Teddy, please let us know when you get your next big
interview. That`s all for tonight. Chuck will be back tomorrow. I know you
guys missed him. He`ll have exclusive interviews with two senate intel
members, Mark Warner and Roy Blunt.

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

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