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MTP Daily, Transcript 7/11/2017

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

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.


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


TUR: Plus, deny, recant, repeat.


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


TUR: Where does this leave the congressional investigations?

And the August rush.


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


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?


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


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.


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.


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 --


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.



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.


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?



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.