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Trump-Russia Mystery Deepens; Kushner Met With Top Russian Banker; Trump: "Russia Story Is A Hoax"; U.S., Iraq Probe Civilian Casualties Ties In Mosul. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 28, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:10] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Will the chair of the House Intel committee recuse himself on the Trump, Russia investigation? Of course the Democrats say Devin Nunes needs to step aside following revelation of his whereabouts before a private meeting with the president.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Now, a word of another previously an announced meeting between a Trump, a top Trump aid, and a Russian official. This time it is Trump's son-in-law with the question this morning about why he met with the banker appointed by Vladimir Putin.

BRIGGS: And the president is preparing to wipe out his predecessors record on climate change. We have the details on this president next executive order coming today. Good morning, thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you all this morning. Good morning. I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, March 28th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the east. Let's begin here with two top Democrats saying, the time has come for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation and the contacts between Russia in the Trump campaign.

The demand comes after a series of revelations, the latest that Nunes was on White House rounds the night before he told President Trump that his aide's communications were picked up in surveillance by U.S. intelligence.

BRIGGS: Now, house minority leader Nancy Pelosi and ranking Intel Committee Democrat Adam Schiff both say Nunes must step aside. Pelosi saying in his statement, "The Chair of the House Intelligence Committee has a serious responsibility to the Congress and to the country, Chairman Nunes discredited behavior has tarnished that offer -- office, rather in. Here is what Schiff told CNN.


ADAM SCHIFF, DEMOCRAT INTEL COMMITTEE: It would be very difficult to maintain the credibility of the investigation if the chairman did not recuse himself formatters involving either the Trump campaign or the Trump transition team. There's just no legitimate reason to have gone to the White House at night to obtain information. And then later, share it with the White House instead of sharing it with his own committee. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Right, all these just hours after Trump advisor and first son-in-law Jared Kushner volunteered to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And now, the latest development on that front, Kushner is facing questions about a previously undisclosed meeting with a Russian banking official, more on that in the moment. Our covers now begin this morning with Senior Congressional Reporter Manu Raju on Capital Hill.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Good morning, Christine and Dave. Now, the partisans standup on the House Intelligence Committee has intensify this after David Nunes the chairman of the committee made the surprising revelation yesterday saying, that he met with a source on White House grounds to discuss information pertaining to the incidental collection of information regarding President Trump's associate during the private transition with foreign officials.

Now, this came of course as the House Intelligence Committee has been investigating any Trump ties with Russian officials. And Democrats were outraged by Nunes's move to brief the president of the United States on this issue. And now, the revelation that some of the discussions happen on White House grounds has led some Democrats including Adam Schiff, a top Democratic committee to call on Nunes to recuse himself.

Now, Nunes is suggests he's not going anywhere telling Wolf Blitzer yesterday, "This is all very common".


REP. DAVID NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: I've been working this for a long time with many different sources. I needed a place that I could actually finally go, because I knew what I was looking for. And I could actually get access to what I needed to see. I'm quite sure that many people in the west wing had no idea that I was there. Look, I go over there a lot. I go over there often for meetings and briefings.


RAJU: Speaker Paul Ryan, fully supports David Nunes staying in his position. He saying, he's got full confidence in Nunes moving forward. But Nunes also came under fire from Democrats for abruptly canceling the Tuesday public hearing on the issue of Russia and Russia meddling in the elections, instead wanting to have a private briefing with James Comey, the FBI director and Mike Rogers the NSA director. But that Tuesday briefing abruptly cancelled itself. Now, nothing will happen today as the committee try to struggles and find its way forward after a very partisan and bitter several days. Christine and Dave?

BRIGGS: Might have had some more information today, but not. Manu also asked Chairman Nunes, whether he plans to recuse himself from the investigation, and has declined to comment. Earlier Monday, he reiterated to CNN that, "This has nothing to do with Russia".

But there are loose ends in Nunes explanation of event. He says, he was at the White House Complex though not in the White House itself. And you just heard him say, he's "Quite sure no one in the west wing even knew he was there."

ROMANS: But a former Government Intelligence Official says, members of Congress are treated like anyone else. And Nunes must have been cleared in and escorted in by a current White House staffer. Nunes also says, he was on White House grounds, because he needed a secure facility to view information. There are dozens of such facilities in Washington, many of them not at the White House Complex. White House official's mean time, are punting all questions about that meeting back to the congressman.

[04:05:16] BRIGGS: Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner under scrutiny this morning after the revelation of a meeting with a top Russian banking official appointed by Vladimir Putin. Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov in December. Gorkov is the Chairman of VEB. That's a state run bank that's under U.S. sanctions over Russia's Meddling in Ukraine.

ROMANS: The meeting raises a number of questions most notably, what capacities of Kushner meet with Gorkov? The White House says the meeting was a routine part of Kushner's job during the transition.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Jared did a job during the transition and the campaign where he was a conduit into to leaders. And that's until we had a state department a functioning in place for people to go. Remember we had a delay in some of these things in that, that was his role.


BRIGGS: The Russians however have a different view. VEB says, Kushner met Gorcov in his role as head of Kushner real estate Empire not as a Trump aide. Kushner has been trying to attract financing for a building project in Manhattan. All this raises the prospect that Kushner used his purge on the transition to conduct private business with a sanction company in this case.

ROMANS: This all came out after Kushner agreed to testify to senators investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, because of his role arranging meetings between top campaign advisors and the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. The timing of that testimony is still being worked out. We already knew Kushner himself met once with the ambassador, the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But now, learn Kislyak asks for second sit down. Kushner sent an aid in his place.

BRIGGS: In here should had a little bit, right, just trying to connect the dots Romans. Even at noon let alone 4:00 a.m.

ROMANS: It's so interesting, I mean, you know, the sanctioned banks though have been very well known as a long list of banks and individuals have been sanctioned by the U.S. government for the Ukraine situation.


ROMANS: I mean that's an interesting development to me, why meeting with the sanctioned bank?

BRIGGS: Right. There maybe a perfectly proper excuse. But why would you meet with a sanctioned bank? For more contacts on the Trump Administrations widening entanglement with Russia, let's go live to Moscow and bring in CNN's Senior International Correspondent Frederick Pleitgen. Good morning to you Fred. A few back, a few of the layers for us if you can on who exactly this bank is.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the bank is called the Vnesheconombank. And it really is the -- first of all, good morning. It's the Vnesheconombank. And it really is the economic development bank of Russia. And it is a bank very, very close to the Kremlin and very close to Vladimir Putin.

First of all the bank is state owned. The bank financed a lot of Russia's very big and very glitzy projects. Like for instance the entire infrastructure around the Sochi Olympics in 2014. The chairman of the bank Sergey Gorkov was appointed personally by Vladimir Putin. The bank also in the past couple years had apparently bailed out some oligarchs who are fairly close to Putin as well.

So, this is really an institution that is very much aligned with the Kremlin, very much under the control of the Kremlin. And one, that's been under sanctions since 2014. It has as a lot of financial assets or had them in the east Ukraine of course where a lot of fighting is taking place. And it was heavily hit by sanctions through the Obama Administration in 2014. Really, one of the first entities that was slapped with sanctions when they were put in place when the Ukraine crisis started to really escalate there in that part of the country.

So, it's interesting, because we actually got in touched with the bank late last night. And to add a little bit to what apparently took place in that meeting. They claim that the meeting between Sergey Gorkov and Jared Kushner was part of what they call an economic road show that they were conducting at that time. They say, they also met with other business and financial executive. And that one of the people they also met with was Jared Kushner. However, they didn't want to elaborate any more as to what exactly was said in that meeting, Dave.

BRIGGS: Thank you, Fred.

ROMANS: What just fascinating developments. I'm so lucky to have Fred there in Moscow trying to unravel it for us.

BRIGGS: It's difficult to soak through it.

ROMAS: All right, President Trump is firing up a Twitter account insisting the latest revelations about his son-in-laws meetings with the Russians are a hoax. And now, dragging the Clintons into his fight, Mr. Trump tweeting this, it's about 9:30, I think last night. "Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill and Hillary deal that allowed big uranium to go to Russia? Russian speech money to Bill, the Hillary Russian reset phrase that Russian by Hillary or Podesta-Russian company. Trump-Russia story is a hoax".

BRIGGS: Reading tweets at 140 characters can be difficult. Some context under Hillary Clinton state department was one of nine agencies participating in a deal that allowed states any uranium company with U.S. holdings to be sold to Russia at the time of Russian investment bank tied in a deal, paid Bill Clinton for a speech. The non-partisan in fact checking organization PolitiFact rates President's Trump claim of pay to play as mostly false, siding Hillary Clinton's lack of power to approve or reject this deal by herself.

[04:10:24] ROMANS: All right, new details about the executive order President Trump plans to sign later today dramatically rolling back the climate change regulation. The measure was seen at least the fix Obama executive orders designed to curve climate change and regulate carbon emissions. It ends a moratorium on coal mining on federal lands a removes the requirement. The federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.

BRIGGS: The White House says the order prioritizes is jobs over the fight against global warming adding the executive order focuses more on clean air and clean water and less on regulating global warming. And move may signal Americas exit from the land mark Paris climate agreement.

ROMANS: All right a Democratic lawmaker says Secretary Steven Mnuchin may have violated ethics rules by plugging one of his own movies. Listen to this exchange from a recent interview.


UNIDENTIDIED MALE: Well, what's a movie that we should see?

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Well, I'm not allowed to promote anything that I'm involved in. So, I just want to have the legal disclosure. You've asked me the question and I am not promoting any product. But you should send all your kids to "Lego Batman."


ROMANS: All right, so, Mnuchin was an executive on that film "Lego Batman". It's a popular spin off of the 2014 hit the Lego movie. A very good film by the way.

BRIGGS: I've seen that thing. I want to see it.

ROMANS: Your kids love it. Mnuchin's media company financed the production. His ethics agreement states, he would invest his holding in the company within four months of being confirmed. I guess a pledge to not knowingly participate in anything that would affect the company's financial interest until he has sold that share. So, Senator Ron Wyden is crying foul asking the office government ethics to review Mnuchin's comments. Wyden says the remark the show a blatant disregard and disrespect to the office Mnuchin serve. The Treasury Department tells CNN Mnuchin, "It was a light hearted moment and comment. Secretary Mnuchin directly acknowledged and understood the ethics law involved.

I know. Not that at all. What do you think? He was asked specifically.

BRIGGS: Right. It's still been on the question from Mike Allen (ph). And it was an odd interview for those of you that have watched it or read about it. It was an odd moment through out this interview. But why ask that question?

ROMANS: I don't know. I'm more interested in tax reform, what to see at the movie theater this moment. But that's just me.

BRIGGS: No question. I'm looking forward to seeing that film anyway. The secretary of defense mean while with a staunch defense amid accusations that coalition air strike killed innocent civilians in Mosul. Now, the death toll is rising a live report is next.


[04:16:57] BRIGGS: The death toll growing in Mosul where 112 bodies have been recovered from the site of what Iraqi officials was a coalition air strike. U.S Secretary Defense James Mattis is weighing in as other world leaders call for an investigation.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman who is recently in Mosul joins us live with more. Good morning to you Ben. International attention being focused on the story, any more answers than we had yesterday as to what happened?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not really Dave. At this point, the facts seem to be fairly clear. At least nobody is denying anything. The United States acknowledges that on the 17th of March it did conduct an air strike and that area so called, Mosul. It should be the -- and the Iraqis concede that they requested an air strike.

Now, the question is their target which was an ISIS truck bomb was it hit by an air strike or did it go off that netted by ISIS itself? But as you say the net result of course is that at least 112 people were killed in a home in that neighborhood.

Now, we did hear the U.S. Secretary of State James rather Defense James Mattis coming out. He put out a statement. He said, "We go out of our way to always do everything humanly possible to reduce the loss of life and injury among innocent people. The same cannot be said", he concluded, "for our adversaries."

Now, Amnesty International has put out a report on this incident. He did say that the Iraqi government perhaps over did it when it told civilians in Mosul to stay in their homes if they felt safe. The whole purpose of that was to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe with hundred of thousands of people fleeing the city.

At this point, 220, 000 people have fled the east -- their western part of this city. And Amnesty International also however did condemn ISIS for using civilians as human shields. Dave?

BRIGGS: So, the search for answer continues. Thank you, Ben.

ROMANS: Right, a powerful cyclone has hit Australia causing widespread damage. Check out the degree being turn out but the storm's fierce winds. Officials say more than 50, 000 homes along the Queensland coast and outlying areas do not have electricity, thousands of people have been evacuated, no deaths have been reported. This satellite images tells the story there as you can see the huge area this category four storm covers. Wow.

[04:19:38] All right, breaking overnight, two police officers in the hospitals after being shot in Miami just hours after an Oklahoma officer lost his life in the line of duty. We got details on that next.


ROMANS: Breaking overnight, two under cover police officers from Miami Dade, a homicide task force shot, in what officials called an "Ambush style attack". The director of the Police Department says both officers were taken to the hospitals and are in stable condition. He will not comment on extent of their injuries until their families are notified. The suspects in this attack on the officers still at large.

BRIGGS: Oklahoma police have named the suspect. They plan to charge in the shooting death of a police officer. Authority say Byron Shepard was a vehicle pulled over in traffic stop Sunday night. He took off on foot firing several shot to Officer Justin Terney.

Terney also shot Shepard who was recovering on the hospital. Terney was 22 years old and had only been on the job for a year. The driver of the vehicle is in custody.

[04:25:01] ROMANS: A murder suspect from Baltimore now facing upgraded charges after he admits to come into New York in tending to kill black people. James Harris Jackson now charged with terrorism and hate crime related murder. Police say the 28-year-old army vet plunged a sword into Timothy Kaufman's chest last Monday killing him. Authority says he picks Kaufman at random. They say Jackson had been prowling the streets for three days in search of a black person to assassinate.

BRIGGS: Disturbing. The State of Michigan set to pay $97 million to settle the lawsuit over Flint's contaminated water. They agreements stipulate that the state must replaced that or stir waterlines for 18, 000 for a household by 2020. An independent third party will also be hired to test the water quality at least 100 homes for three years. Today, the settlement will be reviewed by a U.S. district judge.

ROMANS: All right. Twenty six pass in the hours and this questions this morning after this revealed, President Trump's top aide and son- in-law met with a Putin appointed Russian bank chief. Now, was this the transition official or was a private developer? What was this for government or business? Is there a difference?