MTP Daily, Transcript 7/10/2017

Guests: Molly Ball, Lanhee Chen, Richard Painter, Sam Nunberg, Jennifer Jacobs

Show: MTP DAILY Date: July 10, 2017 Guest: Molly Ball, Lanhee Chen, Richard Painter, Sam Nunberg, Molly Ball, Jennifer Jacobs, Lanhee Chen

HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC HOST: -- see you again back in D.C. where I am headed tomorrow. I`ll see you in New York tomorrow morning at 10:00 for my show.

I`m Hallie Jackson in for Nicole Wallace. "MTP DAILY" starts now. Katy Tur in for Chuck. Hey, Katy.

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Hey there, Hallie. Good to see you in person for once.

And if it is Monday, Trump Junior lawyer`s up.

(voice-over): Tonight, defining collusion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, U.S. WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I would certainly say done Don Junior did not collude with anybody to influence the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: The Trump campaign met with a Russia lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Are there any consequences?

Plus, what happens if the Republican health care bill isn`t revived soon?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very, very difficult when you can only lose two votes, and there may only be two that are retrievable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: And victory in Mosul. What it means for the international fight to stop ISIS.

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.

It`s been called everything from a nothing burger to bordering on treason. Last June, three of Mr. Trump`s closest advisers, his son Don Jr., his campaign chief, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower seemingly hoping for a bombshell, maybe about Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr. says the lawyer, whose client include Russian state-owned businesses, claim to have information about Russians aiding the DNC and Hillary Clinton. He says her statements on the matter didn`t make sense and the matter was dropped.

But the mere confirmation that a meeting like that happened at all has reignited a firestorm of accusations and allegations surrounding President Trump and his inner circle as investigators try to determine whether or not they colluded with Russia during the campaign.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is now interested in speaking with Don Jr. about the meeting and he is now lawyering up. He says he`s happy to cooperate. Today, the White House was pressed on how his latest revelation under cuts its previous denials involving contact with Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are we to take all of these blanket denials that occurred through the transition and now when it has been proven and recognized by the president`s attorney and Don Jr. that those blanket denials were not factual?

SANDERS: Look, I think the point is that we`ve tried to make every single time today and then and will continue to make in those statements is that there was simply no collusion that they keep trying to create that there was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Collusion is hard to prove. It is even harder to prosecute. Lawyers tell NBC News that absent an exchange of money, collusion with a foreign power is not a crime, legally speaking. But, politically, it`s not quite that simple.

The news comes just days after President Trump`s one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin which, itself, has prompted an intense backlash. Rather than punishing Russia for meddling in the election. The president says he told Putin is he might partner with him on cyber-security and election integrity. Mr. Trump today ditched the idea after Republicans pulled the fire alarm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort since he`s doing the hacking.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It`s not the dumbest idea I`ve ever heard but it`s pretty close.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST: What the what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That it`s a good idea for the fox to guard the hen house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. So, I take it you agree with John McCain and everybody else. Lindsey Graham thought it was a terrible idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought Lindsey put it well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Chuck on "MEET THE PRESS" yesterday that president -- that the president has a blind spot on Russian matters. The million-dollar question, both politically and perhaps legally, is why?

Donald Trump Jr. says he didn`t even know the Russian lawyer`s name when he agreed to meet with her. Heck, we`re not even sure he knew she was Russian or a lawyer.

And let`s be real here. If Putin had damaging intel on Hillary Clinton, would he really deliver it to Trump by having a Russian popstar reach out to a publicist to contact Don Jr. to arrange a meeting with Paul Manafort? Because that, ultimately, is exactly the chain that was apparently involved in setting up this meeting.

But the episode illustrates how easy it might have been to gain access or even curry favor with the campaign in its quest for victory.

We know Russia hacked up dirt so Clinton. We also know that the campaign was eager to find dirt and use it against her. In the end, they got it, thanks to WikiLeaks, and they did use it. How and why is a matter of federal investigation.

But now, there seems to be a very real concern within the GOP that Trump`s blind spot could put American interests and future elections at risk.

Joining me now is New York Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin. He`s a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

[17:05:00] Congressman, it is wonderful to see you in person for once and not over that satellite we usually have.

Let`s talk about Trump and Russia. This meeting that will Donald Jr. had with Manafort and Kushner and this lawyer. There is -- people are calling it a nothing burger. The ethics tsar at the Bush White House, Richard Painter, says it is nearly treason, borders on treason. Where do you stand on it?

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: I would fall in the nothing burger category on this one. I`m someone who does believe Russia meddled in our elections last year. I do believe Russia is an adversary to the United States. I`m concerned with Russia`s activities in North Korea and Syria.

And we should -- I`m a Republican, but I`m upset to see the DNC, DCCC, John Podesta`s e-mail accounts get hacked because in 2016 the Democrats may be the victim and who knows in 2017, 2018, 2019, it could flip. And we need to come together as Americans.

As far as, you know, this one particular meeting, it`s not evidenced that the Russian government was colluding with the Trump campaign and providing info -- damaging information.

You know, we know that the Russians, you know, they did -- they were involved in these hacks. So, if this was Russian government colluding with the Trump campaign, they would have been providing information and the Russian government would know who -- you know, this meeting was taking place.

TUR: Yes.

ZELDIN: And there`s just so many facts missing.

TUR: Well, what about Don Jr. saying that, well, she had information about Hillary Clinton and we wanted to hear it. This is a Russian coming to Trump Tower, meeting with Don Jr. And you have two of the senior advisers, in addition to him, in that room. And it`s ultimately a Russian lawyer saying, I`ve got information about Hillary Clinton. Should that not have raised a red flag?

ZELDIN: Well, that`s exactly what it was. It seems like someone had told Don Jr. that if you have this meeting, that you would be getting some information about Hillary Clinton that can be useful for the campaign.

We don`t know, as you mentioned just now, whether or not they knew that he was -- that she -- that the -- that she was an attorney and she was Russian and had connection to the Russian government. This was before all of these stories started breaking about the hacks, who is responsible for some of these hacks. So, they`re -- at that particular moment in time, this particular fact pattern is so different than --

TUR: Doesn`t it, at the very least, though, express a willingness to collude?

ZELDIN: I think it`s a willingness for anyone who wants to sit down to provide information to the campaign that might be helpful with them winning the presidency of the United States if they`re willing to sit down. I don`t -- I don`t believe that this is evidence of collusion. It`s -- I take it for what it is. It was someone contacted Don Jr. and said, hey, you should take this meeting.

TUR: But the willingness to take that information about -- shouldn`t he have called the FBI, at the very least, if she`s coming in and saying, hey, I have evidence that the -- that the Clintons or the DNC is being aided by Russia? Isn`t that a phone call that should -- isn`t that I meeting that should lead to a phone call to the FBI?

ZELDIN: Well, I mean, as far as the meeting, itself, from the information that we`ve come in contact --

TUR: Yes.

ZELDIN: -- with so far, we don`t know of -- all we`ve come in contact with was that there was no information that the woman that used this to be able to discuss what her real agenda was, which were -- you know, is other topics unrelated to actually the information.

So, certainly after the meeting, there is no reason to contact the FBI about this -- what this woman is saying about Hillary Clinton. Because at the meeting supposedly, this woman didn`t even have any of that to talk about.

TUR: What about larger context here? You have -- and you just said that you`re concerned about Russian hacking into the election. You believe they did it. The president, himself, has been not so clear about that. His advisers say that he brought it up with Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump, though, and his advisers all say that they should move on.

You know where I stand, he said, in a tweet. And where he stood only 24 hours before that meeting was that he wasn`t quite sure if it was Russia. Yes, probably but it maybe could have been some others which is what he told our own Hallie Jackson.

So, given all of that, can you trust this White House to be on the front end of making sure that this doesn`t happen again? Do you want to just move on?

ZELDIN: I would want to be able to move on knowing that a very clear message was sent to Russia that there are consequences, that they will never be able to do this again to us. That we take the breach seriously as Americans. We come together regardless --

TUR: Sanctions?

ZELDIN: -- of party and stripes (ph). Sanctions, absolutely. And it`s broader. The sanction component is one that I support. And part of that has to do with what happened with regards to last year`s election. Part of it has to do with what`s going on in Ukraine, North Korea.

We`re losing -- North Korea, they cannot have the ability to put a nuclear warhead on an ICBM. And we don`t want to have to use a military option so the diplomat -- the diplomacy and the economic piece, the economic pressure on the North Koreans, that`s all related to the sanction debate.

[17:10:00] TUR: But, Congressman, this White House is trying to hold up this sanctions bill. They don`t want this sanctions bill because they say they want more ability to negotiate with Vladimir Putin. Can you trust this White House, given how loose they`ve been with Russia to be able to wield sanctions whenever they please? Why are they getting involved in this bill in the -- in the House which is -- just got passed in the Senate?

ZELDIN: Well, the executive branch and the president of the United States has a primary -- the primary role, as it relates to the foreign policy. And that the United States Congress is not --

TUR: Do you trust them?

ZELDIN: Yes. Yes, and Congress needs to maintain oversight. It`s -- when we enact congressional sanctions, it`s with a particular intent. We`re enacting sanctions because of A, B and C that we just discussed.

Now, going forward, if the president of the United States, whoever that is, and our State Department and at the United Nations, if those conversations are taking place and we`re making progress, I absolutely understand the need for flexibility. But congressional intent and oversight, that`s very important as well.

TUR: This is the last question. Do you believe, though, that this White House, given that this election turned out well for them, that ultimately these hacks probably could have or maybe could have benefited them, that they have an appetite to actually put sanctions on Russia?

ZELDIN: I believe that they could.

TUR: Punish them for hacking into our election?

ZELDIN: I don`t -- I don`t -- you know, obviously they`re not going to feel like --

TUR: Believe that they should. Do you believe and trust that they will?

ZELDIN: Yes. I don`t believe that they feel --

TUR: Are they?

ZELDIN: -- the victim, you know, like Hillary Clinton would or the Democrats would. But the message is that, you know, the president, and those in his administration who have been sounding off on this topic, especially around the G20, that`s the right message and it should continue.

TUR: Yes, but they haven`t done anything. They`ve said, let`s move forward. There`s been no consequences.

ZELDIN: Well, you do have a different administration, officials weighing in on this topic --

TUR: But the president has not said there will be consequences for this.

ZELDIN: Yes, I don`t know the --

TUR: You would -- I mean, if this was President Obama, I imagine you`d be on a different side of this issue.

ZELDIN: Well, the key is --

TUR: Or Hillary Clinton.

ZELDIN: -- the key is whether it`s a President Obama, a president Hillary Clinton, a President Donald Trump, that they are successful.

And an important -- most important message is having a long game. And I think that our long game is one that`s thinking 10, 15, 20 steps ahead. That`s why the sanction piece is important. That`s why the consistency is important.

Even if you don`t feel like you`re the victim. Because you won, it`s still an important message to send as Americans.

TUR: Congressman Lee Zeldin, it is wonderful to see you in person. Sorry, I could keep talking to you about this forever. Thank you very much for coming on.

ZELDIN: Good to see you.

TUR: And let`s bring in Richard Painter who I just mentioned. He was the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush. He now serves as the vice chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Richard, thank you very much. You said earlier that this borders on treason.

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Well, let`s cut the bologna here. We know what the Russians have been doing. They`ve been doing this ever since the 1917 Russian revolution when the communists started to want to destabilize all the western democracies, including the United States and Western Europe. And they`ve been conducting espionage inside the United States and that is continued up through 2017. It`s going on right now.

And when the Russians call or someone calls on behalf of the Russians and offers derogatory information about a former secretary of state who is a presidential candidate, the first person you call is the FBI. I don`t care if you`re a Republican as I am or a Democrat. You call the FBI. The last thing you do is go meet with the Russians to try and get the derogatory information.

They`re only trying to do that in order to use you to accomplish some purpose and we know what that is. It is undermining our system of representative democracy.

And, once again, they`ve been doing this in western countries for over a hundred years. It`s a very, very serious problem. That a high ranking, several high-ranking representatives of the Trump campaign would not call the FBI about this. Would go and meet with the Russians in order to obtain derogatory information about Secretary Clinton. That`s not how we win elections in the United States.

We don`t use Russian agents, Russian spies to gather information on our opponents. We do not accept such information from Russian agents or the agents of any other adversary.

TUR: I want to get another question in. Given that you say this meeting could border on treason, I want to broaden that out. Does that mean that Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner are bordering on treason as well, along with Don Jr.?

And then, also, that Michael Flynn is bordering on treason and that the president, himself, is bordering on treason because all of them have sought out damaging information when it -- about Hillary Clinton from the Russias -- from Russian. Excuse me. Michael Flynn did it.

Don Jr. -- Donald Trump did it in that July 27th press conference in 2016 where he invited Russia to find Hillary Clinton`s deleted e-mails? So, are they all bordering on treason, according to you?

PAINTER: Well, I think the president`s remarks are public remarks. We do not have evidence that the president, himself, met with the Russians or authorized meetings with the Russians. At this point in time, we do not have that information.

[17:15:11] We need to focus on the facts we have. And what is treason would be assisting Russia in an attack on the United States. Russia did conduct an attack on the United States in 2016 through computer hacking to disrupt our Democratic election process just as they did in France a few weeks ago.

And anyone who assisted in that or wanted to help the Russians disseminate that information, even for their own partisan political ends, I believe, engaged in treasonous conduct in assisting an attack on the United States on our representative democracy.

But we need to get the facts. All I`m saying is the facts reported in "The New York Times" article come very close if not crossing the line with respect to treason, if those facts are true. We need to find out what`s true.

TUR: Richard Painter, thank you very much for joining me, sir.

And joining me now --

PAINTER: Thank you.

TUR: -- is Sam Nunberg, a long-time Donald Trump aide and a confidant who was fired early on in the presidential campaign. Sam, thank you very much for joining us.

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER AIDE, DONALD TRUMP: Thank you.

TUR: You were an advisor early on. You have been in Donald Trump`s circle for a long.

NUNBERG: Yes.

TUR: Is this a meeting that you would have taken?

NUNBERG: It`s problematic but probably I would have taken the meeting because of the context of when you hear Don Jr. say that it involved someone they knew from the 2013 Miss Universe. I know that that was something that they had worked on for many years. They had worked on trying to get the Miss Universe over to Moscow. It was my understanding it had nothing to do with it and it seemed a little innocuous.

You know, Maggie Haberman, who worked on the second article that came out over the weekend, she`s even said, we all love (ph) Maggie, that this was something where Don had, like, an open-door policy and this was a friend of his.

On the other hand, though, what I would say is when you look at the lawyer and the background of the lawyer, --

TUR: Yes.

NUNBERG: -- there were some issues where --

TUR: Well, why isn`t the campaign looking at the lawyer and the background of the lawyer? Why was this a campaign when you would have an open-door policy, where you could have unnamed meetings with -- or unplanned meetings with unnamed people? This is a presidential campaign.

NUNBERG: Well, I -- well, this was a weird presidential campaign. It was a weird presidential cycle, as you know. I mean, when this first started, it was a skeleton campaign. You know, people like Don Jr., they had a lot of contacts of people coming in.

I would tell you, though, at the end of the day here, when you look at this and you look at the context of the meeting, is this something that amounts to treason? Is this something that amounts to collusion such as something that Mr. Painter, your previous guy? I would say that -- I would say I`m one of those people where it says it`s a nothing burger. And it`s even a nothing burger even if they would have brought in information that would have been negative towards Hillary Clinton.

TUR: Why -- but why so many meetings with the Russians that they don`t disclose. They have to amend their disclosure forms? Why are there so many revelations about people that are questionable that this campaign met with?

NUNBERG: Well, I don`t know if this -- well, I don`t know that there are so many of these meetings.

TUR: There`s quite a few.

NUNBERG: But this meeting in particular, Don Jr. was under no -- was under no -- you know, he had no reason to report it.

TUR: Well, there`s this meeting.

NUNBERG: Jared subsequently reported it.

TUR: There`s Flynn`s meeting with Kislyak. There`s Flynn`s meeting with Kislyak--

NUNBERG: Those are during the transition. There is -- those are during the transition. Let`s also be honest. This isn`t as if -- this -- we`re not at the point yet where this is something where it`s, like --

TUR: There`s a question surrounding the convention and Russia and changing the platform.

NUNBERG: There could be but this is nothing like -- this is nothing where it`s, let say, like a blue stained dress or something where we know now that`s something you can show direct collusion between the kremlin and between the Trump campaign.

And even if you could, by the way, people like Alan Dershowitz have said that there may not even be a law violated. And I find it pretty sweet when you have some people, Katy -- and I`m -- Katy, I`m not attacking you brought him (ph) somebody like Richard Painter (INAUDIBLE). Somebody from a -- you talk about ethics during the Bush administration. Give me a break.

You`re talking about the same administration, you know, they had plenty of ethical problems during (ph) themselves. I`d like to see where he, you know -- let`s not use everybody as an expert on things like --

TUR: Let`s move back.

NUNBERG: Yes.

TUR: So, Donald Jr. has a meeting with --

NUNBERG: Right.

TUR: -- a Russian lawyer who says, hey, --

NUNBERG: Who`s arranged by a colleague of his (INAUDIBLE.) Right?

TUR: -- I might have dirt on Hillary Clinton. And then, I -- then, he says he sat there and he realized very quickly that she didn`t have anything which implies that he would have wanted something.

NUNBERG: Sure.

TUR: So, does that actually express, at the very least, an openness to collude or to get information about Hillary Clinton from anybody and to collude with maybe a Russian if they had that information?

NUNBERG: From a Russian? Sure.

TUR: From somebody who was connected to Putin or Moscow.

NUNBERG: Well, we don`t know -- well, first of all, you`re saying that the lawyer may have been connected with -- I don`t want to parse -- but this is a private lawyer.

TUR: Well, the lawyer has connections to Moscow. The lawyer has connections to Putin.

NUNBERG: The lawyer has connections to represent -- the lawyer is a private practicing attorney who has represented people that are connected to Putin.

TUR: The lawyer lobbies heavily to get sanctions --

NUNBERG: Perhaps --

TUR: -- or to get the -- this Magnitsky law.

NUNBERG: Let me ask you -- let me ask some -- I don`t want to turn it around on you. But let`s say somebody had approached the Clinton campaign and said, I have information that Donald Trump is having people from his foreign investments, let`s say in Ireland or in England, let`s say. Do you know what I mean? It`s the same kind of thing.

[17:20:00] What is the difference here on that? What is the difference?

TUR: Well, at the bottom --

NUNBERG: What is the difference?

TUR: -- at the bottom, what is the -- what is the deal with this campaign and Russia? What`s the deal with the friendliness towards Russia? What`s the deal with all the contacts between Russia? Is it a real estate thing? And why is Donald Trump -- why is he willing to go after everybody, Sam, --

NUNBERG: Well, here`s what I feel.

TUR: except for Vladimir Putin?

NUNBERG: OK. So, that`s a very big question here. So, let`s go -- why would the Trump campaign want to get information any way that they could? Look, this was a very, very dirty campaign. OK? He had his own taxes released. Remember, they were leaked out to the New York Times. This own network leaked out videos, right, that he had from 2007.

TUR: We didn`t leak out any videos.

NUNBERG: "Access Hollywood"?

TUR: This network is not "Access Hollywood". It`s on NBC News.

NUNBERG: NBC News. Well, NBC News colluded with "Washington Post." No, did you leak that?

TUR: No, we did not.

NUNBERG: No? OK. Well, somebody colluded to leak that out before -- I mean, this was something where they had to get a lot of information out. This wasn`t a -- they felt -- if I had to guess, and remember, I was being sued, at that point. I wasn`t exactly in direct contact with them. But they had -- all the advantages seemed to be for Hillary Clinton. They wanted to get anything that they could get.

TUR: Why is Donald Trump willing to go after everybody except Vladimir Putin?

NUNBERG: How do you know he`s willing -- he`s signing a sanctions bill. Aren`t they going through a sanctions bill with Congress right now?

TUR: He has not said he`d sign a sanctions bill.

NUNBERG: He bombed Syria.

TUR: They were against that sanctions bill.

NUNBERG: He bombed Syria.

TUR: That`s not the question. Why is he willing to go after everybody --

NUNBERG: What do you mean? How is he --

TUR: Well, no, why is he willing to go after everybody but not Vladimir Putin?

NUNBERG: What -- if you were Vladimir Putin right now, I would --

TUR: Sam, he was willing to go after you and you were a long-time confidant of his. Seriously, you worked there for a long time.

NUNBERG: What has he done? But, Katy, what has he done in his presidency --

TUR: He`s willing to go after everybody. But he hasn`t gone after Putin. And Vladimir Putin directed hacks into our electoral system.

NUNBERG: First of all, one, I agree with you.

TUR: That is (INAUDIBLE) by the intelligence community.

NUNBERG: I agree with you, one.

TUR: Yes.

NUNBERG: Two, I don`t want it to come out like a Russian file or a Putin file. I think Putin is a direct enemy of the American state. I don`t think he`s in our -- he -- excuse me, he`s an adversary of ours.

But you show me where, during this current administration, where Donald Trump has done anything that has been positive or proactive or productive or Vladimir Putin? If anything -- if Vladimir Putin thought he was helping elect Donald Trump, he must feel as if he got scammed so far. Show me something. I don`t know where -- what has he gotten?

TUR: Sam, I`ve got to leave it here.

NUNBERG: He hasn`t gotten anything.

TUR: I`ve got to leave it here. Thank you so much for coming on and giving your insight. I appreciate your time.

When we come back, what else may be out there on the Trump campaign`s relationship with Russian sources?

And later, the Republican health care bill is in even more trouble today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: Kill the bill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t kill us.

CROWD: Don`t kill us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kill the bill.

CROWD: Kill the bill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t kill us.

CROWD: Don`t kill us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back.

The president is again lashing out at former FBI Director James Comey on Twitter. This time apparently in response to a misleading report by "The Hill" newspaper that more than half of Comey`s memos, detailing his interactions with the president, contain classified information. President Trump tweeted, quote, "James Comey leaked classified information to the media. That is so illegal."

Comey gave some of those memos to his friend, Daniel Richman, a Columbia Law Professor, asking him to share with reporters. Three of Comey`s memos were classified from the beginning and were never shared with him.

[17:25:10] Rickman tells NBC News the contents of the one document he did share are not classified. A congressional source familiar with the matter says a small portion of one of the other memos Rickman received has been retroactively classified.

If that phrase sounds familiar it was because of retroactive classification that caused trouble for Hillary Clinton during her campaign. And it was, of course, James Comey who accused Clinton of being, quote, "extremely careless" in handling classified information. We`re back with more MTP DAILY in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back. Excuse me.

Let`s bring in our panel. Jennifer Jacobs is the White House Reporter for "Blumberg News." Lanhee Chen and a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a former advisor to Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio. And Molly Ball is the politics writer at "The Atlantic."

Molly, let`s start with you. This meeting with Don Jr. and this lawyer with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, what does this add to this Russian narrative? Where do we stand today?

MOLLY BALL, POLITICS WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, it`s just a continuing dripping and dripping of revelations. I don`t think we know yet what the significance of this is fully.

As with so many developments in this investigation, they`re highly suggestive. They could be nothing. And, you know, it is a, potentially, significant fact. And it`s something that we know the investigators are looking at.

And, you know, it`s odd that the story seems to have changed or evolved as more details have come out. But there`s -- we don`t know what we don`t know. And these investigations are in progress so I don`t think we know the full significance.

TUR: Jennifer, why does the story change so many times, when it comes to folks around Donald Trump?

JENNIFER JACOBS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "BLUMBERG NEWS": Yes, exactly. I mean, Don Jr. said his story, of course, didn`t change. He just was offering up more information.

But I had a couple GOP campaign operatives today say, listen, you know, we`re eight months in. It couldn`t -- these people have gotten together a list of every single, you know, Russian or foreign national that they ever had any communication with during the campaign or transition and presented that to the public, to the press.

You know, in these last eight months, why couldn`t they have already presented that? And that would have made things a lot better for them. So, you`re right, the changing story is the thing that raises a lot of questions.

TUR: Jen, I know that you have a lot of contacts within the White House now. Is there anyone talking about maybe finding a way to compile that list, get that done so that they can head off any future revelations?

JACOBS: They feel like they have released as much information as they would like to right now. That`s all I know.

TUR: That`s what they`ve said repeatedly in the past, I guess.

Lanhee, you worked on the Mitt Romney campaign. Is this a meeting that you would have taken?

LANHEE CHEN, RESEARCH FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: Probably not a meeting I would have taken, and certainly, if anybody on the campaign wanted to take the meeting, we would have expected them to let us know so we could do some vetting.

Now, let me just say, it`s not unusual for a campaign to want to gather opposition research on one`s opponent. Certainly, there has been reporting that the Democrats in the Clinton campaign had some working the Ukrainian government or agents of the Ukrainian government. That`s not unusual.

But I do think that with this meeting in particular, it would have been important to at least vet who this person was. Why are we meeting with her? What is she offering? What ties does she have? And to go in with our eyes wide open to avoid precisely the kind of situation that the Trump team is in now.

TUR: And, Molly, you wrote a big article about Don Jr. I believe it was last year, a big profile. From your sense of him, why do you think he was the one that would organize a meeting like this?

BALL: Well, he`s a highly social person. He`s got a lot of friends. He`s, sort of, an operator. And, at the point that I wrote the profile which was May of last year, Trump wasn`t even the nominee yet.

But it was already clear that Don Jr. was very much a trusted advisor to him. He was a high-profile campaign surrogate. This was before he had given that very well-received speech at the Republican National Convention.

But he was, sort of, coming into the spotlight, and very much an operative for the campaign.

As we know, the campaign, much like the White House, was very much a family affair, also like the Trump business. And Don Jr., although not necessarily as high profile as perhaps Ivanka has always been very much at his father`s side and a part of the effort.

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, the power was all among the kids especially around that time because Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort were infighting and ultimately the kids were trying to push out Lewandowski so the kids were the access of power especially at that moment.

Jen, there is a lot of talk about sanctions, the bill for sanctions is stalled right now in the house. The White House is not a fan of it. If it does make it to Donald Trump`s desk, is he likely to sign it?

JENNIFER JACOBS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER FOR BLOOMBERG COVERING THE WHITE HOUSE: It sounds like it. I mean, I am serious about that. You had Mark Short (ph) at the briefing today and talk a little bit about that. I think there would be so much pressure. Obviously, it was brought up in that meeting between Trump and Putin. They stressed that.

They said listen, there`s a lot of anger and mistrust in congress right now. These sanctions are on the table. It sounds like the president and Putin didn`t maybe hash overall the details of the sanctions, but it was brought up as a point to say this is how serious it is in the United States. So, yeah, I think there would be a lot of pressure to get that passed. I do think he would sign it.

TUR: Lanhee, the president has said that he doesn`t necessarily believe that -- or he doesn`t know if Russia was the one behind the hacking definitively. But then he also goes back and he blames President Obama for not doing enough.

So wouldn`t it follow -- at the very least follow from blaming President Obama for not doing enough that he would want to be on the front lines of making sure that the sanctions were as tough and as stringent as possible? After all, he`s a guy who campaigned on making sure that he was going to be the protector of the American voter.

LANHEE CHEN, POLICY EXPERT, COMMENTATOR, AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I sure hope so. I mean, I think that is an easy step for this administration to be able to take to draw contrast not just with the Obama administration by the way but with the Bush administration. I think the mistake that we have made over the last two administrations is trying to think that we can have a friendly relationship with Vladimir Putin.

This is not a guy, frankly, who cares at all about American interests or about American leadership. So we have to view Putin in a clear eye fashion. If President Trump is able to get these sanctions in place, I think that would go a long way toward clarifying where we stand with Russia and approaching the situation with the realism it deserves.

TUR: Jennifer, Lanhee, Molly. Guys, stay with us. We`ll come back to you a little bit later. And still ahead, senate Republicans try to rehab their health care bill, but are they facing an even greater uphill battle than before?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Still ahead, President Trump puts pressure on senate Republicans to fix their health care bill ahead of their August recess. But can they deliver? That`s next. But first, here is Hampton Pearson with the "CNBC Market Wrap." Hi, Hampton.

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Katy. The Nasdaq and S&P closed higher led by gains in technology stocks. And investor confidence ahead of Friday`s earnings season kickoff. The Dow lost 5 points. The S&P gaining just 2 points. The Nasdaq added 23 points.

Amazon rose 1.8 percent as the company got ready for its so-called prime day sale event tonight. Shares of Tesla rebounded from last week`s sell off climbing .9 percent. Abercrombie plunged 21 percent after the retailer terminated a potential buyout of that company. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back. Members of congress are returning to D.C. today and here is what they found waiting for them.

(START VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE/UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kill this bill! Kill this bill! Kill this bill!

TUR: Capitol police say 80 people were arrested this afternoon between the house and the senate. These protests against the senate`s health care bill are happening even as we expect to see a new version of the bill very soon. Republicans are still splintered as they try to come up with some kind of repeal and replace for Obamacare that can attract at least 50 votes.

And the situation actually got more complicated over the July 4th break as a number of lawmakers faced demonstrations and tough questions on health care from their constituents at home. Over the weekend, two more senate Republicans said they are not in favor of the original draft of the bill. That brings the total number of Republicans against the original bill to 10.

Congress only has three weeks left before that August recess, and President Trump tweeted today that he, quote, cannot imagine that congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new health care bill fully approved and ready to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Earlier today, one of the bill`s advocates, Senator Pat Toomey indicated that he has not given up yet.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

PAT TOOMEY, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA: I think there`s still a path. I`m not pollyannaish about this. It`s very, very difficult when you can only lose two votes and there may be already two that are irretrievable. And I think there is still a shot at getting to 50. Mike Pence breaks a tie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Joining me now from Capitol Hill is MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake. Garrett, thanks for joining us. What can we expect if anything to happen this week?

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Katy, Republican senators seem to think they will see the bill this week. The theory was that we might see it in the earlier part of the week. I talked to John Cornyn a little while ago. Now we`re thinking maybe later in the week we might actually see the text of this new bill.

I don`t think we`ll see a CBO score this week and I don`t think there`s any chance that there will be a vote until next week at the earliest. But I think the big thing is we`re going to find out what changes they made to this bill. I mean, he talked about the bill that 10 Republican senators are ready to say no on. I think that we have to think about that as almost the separate thing. I think the bill that`s going to come back here is going to have at least a couple of these changes.

Big increase in the money for opioids to bring some of the moderates on board, allowing people to use their HSA spending accounts to pay their premiums. And then sort of maybe the most controversial item and the thing that could swing at least get some of these conservatives back is this Ted Cruz amendment that would allow people to buy essentially stripped down cheaper plans with the thinking being you could at least get more people insured, get premiums down.

Potentially creates all host of other problems down the road but that might be enough to bring some of these conservatives back on board too.

TUR: Will that be enough, though, to get this thing passed? Are there enough conservatives that would say yes to this Cruz amendment for Mitch McConnell to be able to bring this to the floor for a vote?

HAAKE: Well, that`s the million dollar question because you can bring all the conservatives who are opposed to this back on board and still be in trouble because you don`t have the moderates. Dean Heller of Nevada seems like a very hard no, unless his governor who is far more popular than he is in the state of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, decides to back this bill.

Susan Collins still sounds like she is a very hard no. Someone like Rob Portman or Shelley Moore Capito are going to be tricky to bring back on. So if you`ve got those two moderates, that`s it. I don`t think that the Cruz amendment in itself will be enough. We have to see what other changes Mitch McConnell and his team will be able to make in this bill to potentially attract those moderates back.

TUR: At what point we will see makings of a bipartisan deal on health care?

HAAKE: The sense I get here, Katy, is that that`s probably going to be the last ditch effort here. There doesn`t seem to be any appetite for that for Mitch McConnell and there doesn`t seem to be any appetite for that from the White House. From the White House, you`re still hearing that they would rather see this sort of split repeal and then replace as the option before they would go to work with Democrats.

And Democrats who have said they want to work with Republicans on fixing the Affordable Care Act, I think will never get there as long as that repeal, that "R" word is on the table. No senate Democrat wants to be part or party to undoing President Obama`s sort of legacy achievement.

TUR: Politics, sometimes just an issue of semantics. Garrett Haake, thank you very so much, sir. Just ahead, Iraqi forces declare a major victory over ISIS. We`ll have a report from the front lines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back. This U.S. military today is congratulating the U.S. military -- excuse me, today is congratulating the Iraqis for a, quote, historic victory. And they say Mosul is back in control of Iraqi security forces.

After nine months of battling ISIS to retake the city, Iraq`s prime minister met with commanders on Sunday and declared victory in the country`s second largest city. But the fighting is not over yet. Small pockets of the terror group remain in the city`s historic neighborhoods. NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has this report from Mosul.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC`S CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: We are in the old city of Mosul. This is the front line. This is the place where ISIS has made its last stand in this city. And we`re not just anywhere in the old city. Behind these buildings to my left is the Tigris River. For the Iraqi troops who have been doing the ground fighting here, for their American advisers who have been helping calling in air strikes, the Tigris River has always been their main objective because the old city, this hold out for ISIS ends at the Tigris.

So the fact that the troops are here, the fact that we were able to reach this area means the main thrust of the operation is more or less over. You can hear there`s still some gunfire, there`s still been some air strikes. There are pockets of fighting ongoing in this city as some ISIS hold outs remain. But the big push, the push to get here, a push that has taken nine months of Iraq effort backed up by U.S. troops is now more effectively at its end. Richard Engel, NBC News, Mosul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: And you can catch more of Richard Engel as he reports from Northern Iraq this Friday at 9 p.m. eastern for "On Assignment." We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: It is time for "The Lid." Let`s bring back our panel. Jennifer Jacobs, Lanhee Chen, and Molly Ball. Molly, starting with you again, health care. Republicans are facing a bit of a tough battle when it comes to health care. What`s the likelihood that they`re going to be able to get a vote to the floor?

BALL: You know, the Republicans that I`ve talked to are increasingly pessimistic. And they were pessimistic to start with. So, you know, things only seem to be getting worse for this bill. Mitch McConnell has not found a rabbit in the magical hat of his. There was an expectation that he would find a way to pull this off at the beginning.

But, you know, as the senators were back in their home districts, heard nothing but negative feedback for the most part. And as Garrett was saying just a couple of segments ago, they just keep getting more and more nose on the bill and there isn`t even a bill yet. So, it just doesn`t look good.

TUR: Let`s take a listen to a couple of those skeptics, Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATOR FROM SOUTH CAROLINA: Obamacare is going to fail. My advice is if it does fail, work together in a bipartisan fashion to replace it. I don`t know what the outcome will be, but Mitch is trying really hard.

JOHN MCCAIN, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM ARIZONA: My view is it`s probably going to be dead. But I`ve been wrong. I thought I would be president of the United States.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: But I think -- I fear that it`s going to fail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Lanhee, what`s the problem with Mitch McConnell just saying, hey, you know what, this is too tough, let`s find a way to work with Democrats. What would be the political risk of doing that? And would the American public be happy and welcoming of congress finding a way to work together?

CHEN: I think it`s a tremendous political risk after seven years of talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare, to not at least have fought for a vote, to have fought this all the way through, to have consideration of some alternative, I think is absolutely imperative for Mitch McConnell and for the senate Republicans.

Now, if that effort fails, the next order of question then becomes what kind of a bipartisan solution might there be. Democrats have drawn their line in the sand. They say, look, we`re not willing to work with Republicans so long as they`re talking about repeat. This vote is going to have to happen first before there`s further talk of any kind of bipartisan action on health care.

TUR: Listen to Senator Jerry Moran talking about why he is not in favor of this bill.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY MORAN, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM KANSAS: With the Affordable Care Act, premiums are going up. And my concern is, with the plan in front of the senate, that was in front of the senate a week ago, I`m not convinced the premiums are going down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Jennifer, Donald Trump campaigned on the premiums going down. You`re going to have better coverage for less money. Why does the White House back the senate on this?

JACOBS: Well, it does sound like the White House is expecting to see the bill this week. Like Garrett said, it does sound like they`re really counting on a vote next week. But you`re still seeing that push and pull between conservatives and moderates.

Interestingly, Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine, in an interview with Bloomberg this morning was talking about how encouraged she was about Mitch McConnell talking last week about possibly, you know, doing something bipartisan if this fails and not repeating the mistakes that Democrats made by passing this with just one party.

She was urging Republicans to work together with Democrats. But then, Mike Pence, the vice president, in an interview on Rush Limbaugh`s radio show today signaled just the opposite. He was critical of Republicans who have been talking about wanting to work together with Democrats. So I think that`s a pretty strong signal that if there are changes to this legislation, the White House wants to move to a more conservative direction rather than to try to soothe the people in the middle.

Another interesting thing that you heard from Pence today was, you know, that whole argument that he`s trying to make that there are victories, little victories in this bill for various people, that understand that maybe you`re not getting everything you want, but this bill does do a lot and people need to declare a victory.

TUR: Jen, is there anybody in the White House that is pushing for maybe something bipartisan, any of the moderate factions in the White House, Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, someone like that, Jared Kushner?

JACOBS: If they are, they`re not winning. It does sound like that they`re leaning at the more conservative faction.

TUR: Molly, if they can`t get this done, the White House will have another piece of legislation that they were not able to pass. Which points to what major legislation have they been able to pass? What does it mean for the White House?

BALL: Yeah, I mean, I think they would say that the regulatory bills that passed in the congress very early on were major pieces of legislation. But the big ticket things that they promised to do, besides just repealing regulations, those have not been done and the timeline keeps slipping.

And so they are in this box where they made all these promises that they haven`t kept because of all these divisions. It is going to be hard for them to explain to their constituents both in the Republican Party and in the general electorate.

TUR: Molly Ball, Jennifer Jacobs, Lanhee Chen. Guys, thank you very much. After the break, members of congress get creative in their criticism.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: In case you missed it, some folks in Washington aren`t thrilled with President Trump`s short-lived hypothetical plan to partner on cyber security with Russia, and in case you missed it, it seems like they`re all trying to one up each other with comparisons to show just how upset they are by this idea. Congressman Adam Schiff said it would be akin to inviting the North Koreans to participate in a commission on nonproliferation.

Senator Marco Rubio used the different hot spots of choice, partnering with Putin on a cyber security unit is akin to partnering with Assad on chemical weapons. Senator Amy Klobuchar, however, got a little more folksy, suggesting it would like the fox guarding the hen house or the bear guarding the honey. She wasn`t the only one.

(START VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s beyond puzzling. That`s like tweeting out that he would like to fight drug abuse in America by starting a new drug interdiction conference with El Chapo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not a good idea for the fox to guard the hen house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But this is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: You know, what I think Congressman Adam Kinzinger actually deserves the last word here.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM KINZINGER, CONGRESSMAN FOR ILLINOIS: I use the analogy of letting the fox guard the hen house, but I also think it`s like the roadrunner working with the coyote to ban dangerous acne products.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: PSA, watch out for those (inaudible). That will do it for me tonight. We`ll be back again tomorrow with more "MTP Daily."

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