Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Deadline For Trump's Wiretap Evidence; Bharara Booted By Trump; Tax Cut For The Wealthy: $165B; Rep. King Under Fire For "Muslim Children" Remark. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 13, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:30:25] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: With the White House mum on the president's wiretapping claims, what information will the Justice Department hand over to the House Intelligence Committee? The deadline is here. Lawmakers demanding answers by today.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A powerful U.S. attorney out of a job but not staying silent after being fired by President Trump. Why did the president reverse course on Preet Bharara's job?

ROMANS: The House Speaker softening expectations ahead of the Congressional Budget Office's score on the Obamacare repeal plan. Now, Senate Republicans are venting in Paul Ryan's direction. Good morning, everybody.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 5:30 Eastern Time. We are eagerly awaiting a CBO score? Has there even been so much --

ROMANS: Yes, I'm such a nerd.

BRIGGS: -- anticipation? Very exciting. This morning, as much as the White House may want to advance its agenda on health care and other issues the spotlight returns, for today at least, to President Trump's unfounded wiretapping claims. The House Intelligence Committee has asked the Trump Justice Department to hand over any evidence that backs up the president's allegation that President Obama ordered his phones tapped during the campaign.

ROMANS: More than a week, now, after President Trump tweeted out that claim, the White House has still offered zero evidence to support it. Ahead of today's deadline at least one key lawmaker is demanding an explanation. Our White House correspondent Athena Jones has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. An important deadline looms today. The House Intelligence Committee sent a letter to the Department of Justice last week asking the agency to provide all relevant documents regarding the president's explosive wiretapping allegations against his predecessor, President Obama. There is no indication that the White House or the Department of Justice is prepared to offer up any such evidence but this is something that members of Congress, not just Democrats but also Republicans, very much want to see.

Here's what Arizona Senator John McCain had to say about all of this on "STATE OF THE UNION" -- listen.

SEN. JON MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Our Director of National Intelligence, General Clapper, testified that there was absolutely no truth to that allegation, so I think the president has one of two choices. Either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve.

JONES: And one thing that's interesting to note here is that it's the Department of Justice being asked to provide these documents. It was only about a week ago that the FBI director, James Comey, asked the Department of Justice to publicly refute the president's baseless claims, saying that they were simply not true. While the Department of Justice has declined to do that -- but it is noteworthy that this is the agency that's being tasked with providing this evidence, evidence that several officials say simply doesn't exist -- Christine, Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Athena at the White House. Thank you for that. Growing resentment over the Trump administration's abrupt firing of 46 U.S. Attorneys. Many of those officials finding out they had been dismissed through media reports. Law enforcement sources telling CNN the firings could not have been handled worse, with dozens of sensitive court cases now hanging in the balance.

The case of New York's Preet Bharara, a U.S. Attorney for the district that includes Manhattan, this one is getting the most attention and surprise, really. He refused to resign, instead engaging in a standoff with the president. He was finally told by the administration, on Saturday, he was fired. Listen to Bharara talking to reporters back in November after meeting with the president and being told he would keep his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We had a good meeting. I said I would absolutely consider staying on, so I expect that I'll be continuing the work at the southern district of New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: An administration source tells CNN the president originally offered to keep Bharara on as a favor to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer but the White House now views Schumer as an obstructionist. Joining us now is CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett with us in the studio.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Nice to have you. LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Hi.

BRIGGS: Let's first talk about context here. Is this atypical to get rid of these attorneys or it's something we've seen by recent presidents?

JARRETT: This is something we've seen before, so President Bush did it, President Clinton did it. The issue here is how President Trump went about it and the fact that Bharara says he was promised that he could stay on. Back in November we saw him at Trump Tower, going out in front of the cameras saying I plan to stay on. And this just wasn't any U.S. Attorney, this is probably the most high-profile U.S. Attorney we have in the country. He does terrorism cases, he does securities fraud cases, so this is somebody everyone knows.

ROMANS: Would he be, for example -- his jurisdiction include any kind of a case involving spying by Russia on the U.S. election?

JARRETT: Well, it could, depending on where exactly that happened.

[05:35:03] ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: And so, his reach is really broad and he was known as somebody who was nonpartisan. He went after Democrats --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- and Republicans, alike.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: Some have suggested he may have been looking into potential violations of the Emoluments Clause. Look, there are a lot of theories being thrown out there about things he may have been investigating, even a television network that we shall not mention this morning. But, he mentioned the Moreland Commission in a tweet. Why is that so important? Here it is. "By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like."

JARRETT: That's right. And so, in 2013, this commission was set up in New York to investigative public corruption. And so when he says I know what that must have felt like, the question is are you talking about the process of being abruptly shut down by Gov. Cuomo or are you talking about a specific case? No one can really tell.

ROMANS: It certainly was sort of obscure enough that a lot of people were really chattering about it. What's the process now for selecting the replacements here?

JARRETT: Well, that's going to be in Trump's court. He has the say on who to put in in these 46 positions. But the question is, what does that Senate confirmation hearing look like, right? How this went down is being really not well received by Senate Democrats --

BRIGGS: Yes.

JARRETT: -- and so that could be a fight to watch later on.

BRIGGS: Can I backtrack a little onto Preet Bharara and all these other attorneys who were let go? Do you have to sign a massive confidentiality clause when you leave or are you able to talk about what you were investigating once you're out?

JARRETT: That's a good question. So, you don't have to sign anything but there is an ethos of confidentiality when you're a federal prosecutor and so you don't typically talk about active investigations. You can talk about things after they've closed or someone's been convicted --

BRIGGS: OK.

JARRETT: -- but you're really not supposed to talk about things that happen --

BRIGGS: Would you be disbarred for doing something like that or --

JARRETT: It could be, depending on the severity of it. But in most people, typically, when they leave stay quiet.

ROMANS: The travel ban rolls out -- version two -- version two rolls out on Thursday and there are already some racing to the courthouse, you call it.

JARRETT: Yes, absolutely. So this is something we've been watching since it came down last week. People have had a flurry of activity in federal court and now we're going to see two different hearings, one in Maryland and one in Hawaii where they're asking for essentially this entire ban to be put on hold.

BRIGGS: It should be fascinating later this week. Grab your snow shovel, winter coat. You're going to hang out in the city for a while. Great to have you in the studio, Laura Jarrett.

JARRETT: Thanks, guys.

ROMANS: Laura Jarrett, nice to see you. Republicans moving full steam ahead trying to get their health care bill passed. Could a bad score from the Congressional Budget Office slow them down?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:41:45] ROMANS: All right. What is the score -- the official score from the Congressional Budget Office on that Republican health plan? There are new numbers showing the huge tax cuts that could be coming to the wealthiest Americans. This is a score we think we know for sure. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation finds this. American making more than $1 million annually would save an estimated $165 billion in taxes. That will take place over 10 years.

Why? Why the big tax cut for the rich? Well, Obamacare taxed the rich to pay for Obamacare -- put two taxes on the wealthy. They covered individuals making more than $200,000 a year, families making more than $250,000. The first is a 0.9 percent tax on income earned about these thresholds. That helps pay for Medicare. The second is a 3.8 percent surcharge on investment income. Both of these taxes were used to pay for subsidies. The GOP plan gets rid of the subsidies and uses tax credits instead.

We'll have to wait for the CBO analysis to see just how much the tax cuts will cost the government and how the replacement plan will pay for those credits.

We want to bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Eugene Scott. Good morning, good morning, how are you?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, great.

BRIGGS: Good morning, my friend.

ROMANS: First of all, on this health care stuff. We're going to the CBO number, maybe today --

SCOTT: Yes.

ROMANS: -- and already, you've seen folks sort of downplaying how important it's going to be. They -- maybe they know that there are going to be more people uninsured and they're going to be some -- maybe some benefits cuts for the -- for the poor and elderly people.

SCOTT: That's been a common attack against the current plan and no one has responded saying that that isn't true. What the major response has been is that choice has been provided, there will be more access to health care. There's been no promise or guarantee that people are going to not -- that people won't lose their health care, and that's been a major concern.

BRIGGS: The complication here has been the opposition from the right, not just from the left, that they've got friendly fire here. "Breitbart," in fact, calling what Tom Price said yesterday, "an early frontrunner for lie of the year." Here's what he told Chuck Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM PRICE, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through, understanding that they'll have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and their family, not the government forces them to buy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: AARP running a big hashtag, #AgeTax --

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: -- saying that for older Americans -- for baby boomers, they will worse off financially. That's --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- completely at odds with Tom Price.

SCOTT: Absolutely, and we're also having insurers saying that that just won't be the case. That if there are cuts to Medicaid, low- income Americans will -- can also be worse off and could be hurt by this new plan, as well. So there seems to be different messages coming from different people about the impact of this replacement plan.

BRIGGS: Well, the notion being that you would have access to more affordable --

SCOTT: Sure.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- health care. So they do have an argument to make, do they not, that it's going to be more affordable, a better plan, more tailored, more customized to your needs.

SCOTT: That's certainly the argument that's being made. Whether or not people from the insurance community and these organizations that have studied this, including like the American Medical Association, agree with that, it just doesn't seem to be the case now.

ROMANS: Yes. The risk is a sound bite like that comes back to haunt you in four years.

BRIGGS: Well, that's the Obama pick your doctor or keep your doctor --

SCOTT: Yes.

ROMANS: Yes, just a disaster. Let's switch gears here to the House Intelligence Committee.

SCOTT: Yes.

ROMANS: It's supposed to get today, right?

SCOTT: Supposed to.

ROMANS: It's supposed to get today whatever this evidence is the White House has about wiretapping -- the wiretapping claim on Obama. What happens if they don't -- we don't get that today?

[05:45:05] SCOTT: Well, I mean, Adam Schiff, who is one of the people who met with Jim Comey to discuss this whole situation has said if it doesn't present any evidence, it just exposes Donald Trump as making a really huge accusation against President Barack Obama that's just not true. Whether or not that's going to have any huge impact on his support and his approval ratings with his base is not yet clear, but I think we have to remember how huge the president's original statement was. He called this bigger than Watergate.

BRIGGS: Yes. ROMANS: Yes, and so many people say this is the president who cried wolf. I mean, you get -- at some point, if you can't back up these claims, what happens when you really do need to be taken at your word?

BRIGGS: What happens when you need to convince America that Iran has broken the nuclear deal --

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: -- and you need to suggest why you need nuclear action? But I want to ask you about the president's role -- fact-check a little bit to health care.

ROMANS: OK.

BRIGGS: A lot of meetings with congressional leaders, OK?

SCOTT: Sure.

BRIGGS: A lot of backdoor meetings and that's what President Obama didn't do a lot of.

SCOTT: Right.

BRIGGS: He has that personal touch with lawmakers. He's been bringing them in, negotiating, but he's almost nothing public. No tweeting, no big rallies. What does it say to you about his embrace of this bill? It's hard to figure out.

SCOTT: Yes. I mean, he has said I, 100 percent, embrace it but he hasn't responded often to the criticism that has come after that. What he has said that I think we need to pay a lot of attention to, that I feel interesting, is like if this plan does pass we're just going to let Obamacare stay in place and if it fails, we're going to blame the Democrats. Whether the American people are going to actually buy that is just doubtful because if this plan doesn't pass it seems like, right now, some of the most vocal criticism of it is actually coming from Republicans, not just Democrats.

ROMANS: Yes. Rand Paul saying, you know, this is not a -- they've been told this is a binary choice -- it's my way or the highway. That's what -- that's the way he characterizes Paul Ryan's choice. He says he just doesn't -- he rejects that.

SCOTT: Yes. It will be interesting to see, to your point, what comes after the bowling (ph) summit, if there are any changes.

ROMANS: Oh, the bowling summit.

SCOTT: A bowling piece, it's going to accomplish a lot. Steve King will be on "NEW DAY" later today and Chris Cuomo is certainly geared up --

ROMANS: Oh, is he in the news today? Is Chris going to --

SCOTT: -- for this interview. ROMANS: Did he say something or hear something?

BRIGGS: Here's a tweet from the Iowa congressman. "What exactly do you mean" --

ROMANS: No -- there you go.

BRIGGS: This is referring to --"Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization" -- here's the problem -- "with somebody else's babies." Now, this is about a far-right, some say, white nationalist political leader and he got into a squabble with Chelsea Clinton on Twitter.

SCOTT: Yes.

BRIGGS: How will he come out and try to defend these remarks later today? How might it hurt him with his constituents?

SCOTT: Well, it's not only going to hurt him with his constituents, it's going to hurt him with people beyond.

ROMANS: Do you think it will? I mean, he's got conservative -- he's got conservative constituents. I mean, he goes to some these rallies in Iowa and he is there -- you know, his meetings in Iowa and he is beloved by folks who think that he's the only truthteller out there.

SCOTT: Yes, I mean, there's certainly people, though, who support his worldview and that's why he keeps continuing to get elected. But, I think what we're seeing in the Republican Party is people approaching this issue very differently. We had Carlos Curbelo on "NEW DAY" Friday, a Republican lawmaker from Florida, who said he actually is introducing a piece of legislation what would give citizenship to undocumented children. And so it will be interesting to see how different people within the Republican Party respond to this.

BRIGGS: And there's Carlos Curbelo's tweet. "Do I qualify as someone else's baby?"

SCOTT: Yes.

BRIGGS: But you don't think this necessarily crushes him with his own constituents?

ROMANS: Well, you know, look, there are Democrats in Iowa who feel as though they're in the wilderness. They've got a Republican governor. They've got, you know, a lot -- they went -- they voted, you know, enthusiastically for Donald Trump. So the Democrats feel like they just, you know -- of course, they don't like it.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: They don't like it all. They don't -- everything he says. I mean, they even have a whole -- there a whole -- there's a whole bunch of t-shirts, you know, in Iowa.

SCOTT: Yes, he's quotable. We'll see what he says this morning. BRIGGS: All right. Well, CBO score expected today and some evidence, perhaps --

SCOTT: Perhaps.

BRIGGS: -- from the DOJ. Eugene Scott, thank you, sir.

SCOTT: Thank YOU.

ROMANS: All right. A crucial decision -- the stock market and your money and a passing later this week. A lot of exciting things happening on CNN Money Stream. We'll bring it to you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:53:35] BRIGGS: Christine Romans, we were duped, we were fooled. We thought spring was here. The Crocuses --

ROMANS: Those little Crocuses were coming out.

BRIGGS: -- they were popping up. You were getting excited for spring and now a huge winter storm is on the way to the East Coast. Winter weather rolling into the Northeast, starting tonight. It extends into Tuesday. You've got winter storm warnings on much of the East Coast, from Virginia to Massachusetts, with a blizzard watch for four Northeastern states.

ROMANS: Wow, that's 12 or 18 inches they're looking at there in --

BRIGGS: Which means school closings, my friend. Flight cancellations, delays, rough commutes. For the latest let's bring in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine. Conditions around parts of the country here where over 100 million people are underneath winter weather advisories and alerts. Pretty impressive here. That's one in every three people dealing with these conditions over the next 24 or so hours.

Of course, we have snow coming down in Chicago at this hour, which is among the first times all year we've seen some decent snow come down, but the arctic blast is in place. The storm system coming out of the Plains is going to eventually push in and interact with a storm system coming out the Southeast. So you put the energy together here, you bring the timing into sometime Monday night into early Tuesday morning, the potential for a significant amount of snow coming down is very high across this region. In fact, over 50 million people could see at least a foot of snow on Tuesday afternoon.

And you take a look -- parts of New York City, potentially, could see some of the higher totals, and points just to the East there that expand on into parts of Connecticut, on into Massachusetts as well. Over 18 inches possible as we going in towards Tuesday afternoon. And, of course, what is making this the most impressive is when you consider how March began. About 70 degrees there in Central Park on the first of March. Twelve to 20 inches depending on which model you choose as we go in towards Tuesday afternoon. So definitely a very interesting 24 to 36 hours ahead of us here, guys.

[05:55:20] ROMANS: All right, that's going to be some commute. Thanks so much for that, Pedram.

Twenty-six-year-old Jonathan Tran, of California, faces arraignment in U.S. District Court this afternoon after allegedly breaching White House security Friday night, carrying a backpack with mace and a letter to President Trump. He was discovered by a Secret Service agent near the south entrance of the executive residence just before midnight. He was also carrying a laptop, a passport, and a book written by Trump.

His letter to the president claimed he had relevant information about Russian hackers. The president calling the situation sad. He praised the efforts of the Secret Service. This, despite the fact that Tran was able to scale a fence adjacent to the White House undetected, Dave -- undetected.

BRIGGS: All right, it's time to break out the brackets, folks. Selection Sunday is now in the books. The NCAA Tournament field is all set. Defending champ Villanova, the number one overall seed for the third time in school history, joining them as top seeds Kansas, North Carolina, Gonzaga. The first four games begin play tomorrow night in Dayton, Ohio. Who's cutting down the nets?

ROMANS: Well, I just picked Iowa State and that's as far as I got.

BRIGGS: OK.

ROMANS: I just --

BRIGGS: That's a very good team.

ROMANS: It's an emotional play.

BRIGGS: They're a good sleeper. I'm a Duke fan. They're cutting down the nets.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. Stock futures -- I don't even know what the means, cutting down the nets, by the way. I don't even know what that -- it's some kind of a sports phrase. I know stocks, I know money. OK, they're edging lower. Wall Street gearing up for a big week. Stock markets in Europe mixed ahead of a Dutch general election and a big vote on Brexit, both of which are happening this week. Shares in Asia finishing with gains overnight.

The Federal Reserve starts a two-day policy meeting tomorrow and this will be a major test for the stock market. The Trump rally has slowed a little since the start of the month. Major averages are up just slightly over the past two weeks.

Higher interest rates will boost profits for banks and we've seen those profits reflected in the stock market. But average Americans -- are they ready for a rate hike? It's going to matter to millions of people. It will make things like new mortgages and adjustable rate loans more expensive. The cost of taking out a car loan will rise. Some interest rates on credit cards will also increase.

The Fed looking at two main things -- this is why the Fed is comfortable raising interest rates -- the labor market and inflation. Both of those have been steadily improving in recent months so many believe this is now the time to hike rates. An increase could give the Fed more leeway, also, in dealing with a slowing economy in the future.

All right, all that controversy over Ivanka Trump's fashion brand, it has translated into a big boost in sales. In the first two months of the year, U.S. sales of Ivanka Trump products on Amazon -- look at this, Dave -- up 332 percent from the same time last year. That's according to Slice Intelligence. At Macy's, sales jumping 148 percent.

Analysts tell us this brand will likely continue to do well, especially overseas. It is firmly associated now with the glamour and prestige of the White House. And in Asia, it's so interesting. Brand managers say in Asia she is so popular, especially among millennial women. Hundreds of millions of millennial women who, frankly, think that she is -- she is what they want to be.

BRIGGS: Kellyanne Conway, well done.

ROMANS: Yes. I guess thank Kellyanne -- you're right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: If he's making that up it's a real problem. If it's true it's an even bigger problem.

MCCAIN: All he has to do is pick up the phone. They certainly should know whether the former President of the United States was wiretapping the Trump Tower.

ROMANS: Trump adviser Roger Stone admits messaging with the alleged DNC hacker.

DMITRY PESKOV, SPOKESMAN FOR RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Whom would you like better? The one who says that Russia is evil or the one who says let's talk?

MCCAIN: The relationship with the Russians cries out for investigation.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: When you're a governing party, everybody doesn't get what they want.

PRICE: I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're looking at about 15 million Americans losing their insurance.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: If they vote for this bill they're going to put the House majority at risk next year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, March 13th, 6:00 here in New York. Alisyn is off. Our friend, Poppy Harlow, is with us. Always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's good to get up early for you.

CUOMO: Yes, every day. All right. So, up first, lawmakers demanding evidence of President Trump's claim he was wiretapped by former President Obama. Republican Sen. John McCain calling on Mr. Trump to prove his claim that phones at Trump Tower were tapped during the campaign or retract that claim.

HARLOW: Right, and the House Intelligence Committee is giving the Justice Department until today -- that's their deadline -- for the DOJ to provide any evidence of this claim. All of this as the battle over Obamacare heats up. Are any Republicans willing to say, at this point, how many Americans will lose coverage with their replacement plan? Paul Ryan certainly wouldn't yesterday.