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Montana Candidate Body Slams Reporter; Can Trump Win Over NATO?; Health Care CBO Concerns; Obama & Trump Grab Face Time With Merkel. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 25, 2017 - 04:30   ET





BEN JACOBS, THE GUARDIAN: But, you got to --

GIANFORTE: I'm sick and tired of you guys! The last guy that came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here!

JACOBS: Jesus!

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here!


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, big drama in a special election in Montana. A violent outburst that you heard there by the Republican candidate caught on a recording and facing charges hours before polls open.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump embarking on another day of diplomacy on his foreign trip. Today the focus is on NATO. Can he win over leaders from an alliance he took aim at during the campaign?

KOSIK: And a new congressional budget score doing little to ease concerns about the Republican-passed health bill. Who gets hit the hardest and how it impacts the future of health care.

Welcome back and good morning to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Thanks for joining us.

The special election in Montana today is now a white-hot national spotlight after audio came out seeming to show the Republican candidate for the state's one house seat body-slamming a reporter. Greg Gianforte charged overnight with misdemeanor assault by the county sheriff. The alleged attack took place at Gianforte headquarters in Bozeman. KOSIK: Now, so far, the candidate has held off taking a stance on the

health care bill waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to weigh in on its effects.

"Guardian" reporter Ben Jacobs, he tried to press Gianforte for his stance now that the CBO released its score.

So, I want you to listen to what happened.


JACOBS: -- the CBO score. Because, you know, you've been waiting to make your decision about health care until you saw the bill, and it just came out --

GIANFORTE: Speak with Shane, please.

JACOBS: But, you got to --

GIANFORTE: I'm sick and tired of you guys! The last guy that came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here!

JACOBS: Jesus!

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing. You with "The Guardian"?

JACOBS: Yes, and you just broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: The last guy did the same damn thing.

JACOBS: You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here.

JACOBS: You'd like me to get the hell out of here? I'd also like to call the police. Can I get you guys' names?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you got to leave.

JACOBS: He just body-slammed me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to leave.


[04:35:00] BRIGGS: Gianforte himself hasn't said anything publicly since the incident, but a statement from his campaign says Jacobs entered Gianforte's office without permission, quote: aggressively shoved a recorder in his face and began asking badgering questions.

The statement adds that Gianforte asked Jacobs to lower the recorder and that Jacobs declined, and it blames Jacobs for pushing them both to the ground.

KOSIK: But note here that the recording has no indication that Jacobs was asked to lower the recorder. With polls opening in just hours, the fallout for Gianforte has been swift. Three of the state's biggest newspapers have rescinded their endorsements, and Democrats, they've already rolled out Facebook ads attacking Gianforte for the alleged body-slam.

BRIGGS: The Democratic candidate, Rob Quist, so far declining to comment. One other thing worth noting, the sheriff, Bryan Gootkin, has confirmed he gave Gianforte's campaign $250 but says it will have no bearing on his investigation.

Early voting has been under way for weeks, and hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots have already been returned.

To be clear, more than 250,000 votes have already been cast in this election. You could expect anywhere between 350,000 and 500,000 total votes in this election, so it may already be over.

KOSIK: And some Republicans who were looking to vote for Gianforte, this may not even alter their stance.

BRIGGS: But, true --

KOSIK: This may be something that --

BRIGGS: As for Gianforte's case, though, it's not helped by the fact that a FOX News reporter --

KOSIK: Said that he saw two hands around the neck.

BRIGGS: Witnessed the whole thing and confirmed the reporter's side of the incident and said there was no aggression on behalf of the reporter.

KOSIK: All right. Today, the president's first foreign trip takes him to Brussels, where events are just now getting under way. The main focus of his day is NATO. Candidate Trump once disparaged the military alliance as obsolete on the campaign trail.

BRIGGS: Since taking office, he reversed that stance after NATO made a few adjustments, although he still wants other countries to contribute more.

White House correspondent Sara Murray joins us live from Brussels.

Sara, what's ahead for the president today?


Today, President Trump's foreign trip moves from style to substance. He began his day meeting with leaders of the European Union. He's in that meeting now. Later on this afternoon, he'll have a working lunch with the newly minted French president. And then after that, he heads over here to the NATO summit where there will be a number of pressing issues on the agenda.

Now, of course, on the campaign trail, Trump called NATO obsolete. Since coming into the White House, he's since begun to walk that back, but his advisers still say he'll be pressing our allies to contribute more towards defense spending.

Now, another issue that's going to be high on that agenda is this question of whether President Trump is going to be sending additional troops to Afghanistan. He'll be getting input from our allies on that and whether NATO would be willing to contribute to that military effort. And he could face sharp questions about whether adding a few thousand troops on the ground there will really make a difference in this 16-year-long war.

Now, this is all against the backdrop of some allies who are a little wary of the U.S. right now. There is, of course, the incident where President Trump shared highly classified intelligence from our Israeli ally with Russian officials in the Oval Office. So, there may be some questions about whether the U.S. is still a trustworthy intelligence partner.

And to that end, we expect terrorism to be a huge topic of discussion here, especially in the wake of that Manchester attack. We've noticed over the last couple of days, U.K. officials are growing increasingly frustrated with the U.S. government because they see that leaks seem to be emerging related to this investigation with U.S. officials. Theresa May will be here today, as will President Trump, so we'll be looking for any sign that she might raise that issue with him in person.

Back to you guys.

BRIGGS: Indeed. Sara Murray live for us in Brussels. Just past 10:30 there. Thank you, Sara.

KOSIK: The House GOP health care bill would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured. That's according to a report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO predicts 51 million Americans won't have health coverage by 2026. Compare that to 28 million under Obamacare with 14 million fewer enrolled in Medicaid.

Americans losing health insurance creates a lot of ammunition for critics of the bill, and it's the main objection that's being raised by moderate Republicans. But conservatives like that it lowers both the deficit and premiums for many people. Average costs do go down after initial spike, but the sickest Americans, they end up paying more.

Prices also depend on where you live. Under the bill, states can waive protections for pre-existing conditions. The analysis winds up dividing the market in three. Premiums fall 4 percent in states that don't lose protections and 20 percent lower in states with moderate changes, but that's because insurers cover fewer benefits, such as maternity care, mental health and substance abuse, so that could cost customers thousands of dollars out of pocket.

And for states that get rid of protections, those premiums are very different everywhere. The CBO couldn't calculate exact increases, but it did say they would be extremely high for the less healthy. [04:40:07] Premiums also depend on age and income. Younger and richer

Americans fair better than older or poorer people. The White House disputes this report, saying in a statement that the CBO is, quote, totally incapable of accurate predictions.

Look, they're obviously getting lots of criticism for good reason, many would say. Obamacare, on the other hand, it's not perfect either. We're just hearing that the biggest insurer in this country, Blue Cross Blue Shield is pulling out of Kansas City, Missouri, next year. That could leave them 19,000 people in Missouri out -- with no option at all, no health care. So, health care lost.

So, none of these is perfect, but at the same time, this House bill will go through a rewrite in the Senate.

BRIGGS: Yes, the Senate essentially starting from scratch, it appears. So we'll stay --

KOSIK: Good way to phrase it.

BRIGGS: -- abreast of all that with the CBO score out.

More raids and arrests, though, in England, following the terror attack in Manchester. Now, Manchester's mayor taking a dig at the U.S. over leaks on the investigation. We're live in the U.K. next on EARLY START.


[04:45:21] BRIGGS: In the U.K., new police raids and arrests overnight in connection with the Manchester terror attack. A total of eight people now in custody. In addition, the brother of the suspected suicide bomber arrested in Libya. Police are targeting a terror network linked to the bomber.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is following developments. She's live in Manchester, England.

Good morning to you, Erin.


That's right, multiple raids in the Manchester area overnight, which included a controlled explosion by police as well as two new arrests, bringing the total number in police custody to eight, all men, as authorities work furiously to unravel what they describe as a wider terror network responsible for the attack at the arena. The investigation crossing some at least two countries, the United Kingdom as well as Libya.

In Libya, a local militia arrested the 20-year-old brother of the alleged bomber. They say that he had links to ISIS, was also planning a further attack. That information from the militia has yet to be corroborated, though, by Libyan authorities.

Meanwhile, back here in the U.K., growing anger among British officials about leaks they say are coming from the United States, the latest of which from "The New York Times" published a series of photos, crime scene photos taken of the detonator, the battery of the bomb, as well as shrapnel, as well as a piece of the backpack.

British authorities saying these kind of leaks they say coming from the United States compromising the investigation. British media reporting that Prime Minister Theresa May plans to talk to President Trump about this at the NATO summit in Brussels today.

BRIGGS: Erin, thank you.

KOSIK: All right. Let's go ahead and bring in Paul Cruickshank. He's the CNN terrorism analyst and co-author of "Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda." He's in our London bureau this morning.

Paul, good morning. Thanks for joining us.

You know, we're seeing authorities round up more and more terror suspects. What do you think that tells us? And does this, indeed, mean that there's a terror ring right there in Manchester?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It means that they are attempting to dismantle this network. They believe there were potentially co-conspirators involved here. They are concerned that the bomb-maker may still be at large. And so, this is a very aggressive, fast-paced investigation using the entire apparatus of British security services to try to understand this threat and to try to work quickly before anybody else in this network has the chance to launch more attacks.

There's also a significant international dimension to this because of the travel of Abedi to Libya in the three or four weeks before the attack. The British are also trying to understand what he was trying -- what he trying to do in Libya, who he might have met in Libya.

It's not clear at this point exactly why he went to Libya, but family, friends telling CNN that it was actually the father who wanted to get him out of a sort of troubling situation related to gangs in Manchester and to get him out of the country, to get him over to Libya. And then he then sort of made up a pretext to his family about going to pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia to get back to the U.K.

So, not clear whether he went to Libya to get any sort of terror training or anything like that. A lot of unknowns at this point.

BRIGGS: The relative sophistication, though, of this bomb, does that suggest to you a much wider network, and perhaps an ISIS link?

CRUICKSHANK: Possibly, and Abedi was somebody who flunked out of university, didn't have any technical or chemistry background. And so, difficult to believe that he could have had the sort of skill set necessary to build what looks like a relatively sort of sophisticated device, at least not a crude device, so they are very concerned that there could be a bomb-maker at large.

[04:50:02] But it's not impossible that he could have got some training at a certain point in order to make a device like this. I don't think we should rule that out completely, because I can tell you that British investigators have not ruled out the possibility that he indeed managed to build the bomb. And we've seen them in past cases lone bomb-makers who haven't had that international training, managing to put together some pretty sophisticated or pretty powerful devices.

We saw that in New York City in September of last year with the devices planted in the Chelsea neighborhood. Those were very powerful, high-explosive devices, and the suspect in that case, who's now going to be put on trial, isn't thought to have gone and got training overseas in that case.

So, a lot of questions still unanswered, but things are progressing at a very high rate from the investigatory point of view, focusing first of all on people suspected to be radical associates of Abedi and then sort of moving out and trying to map out the entire network, looking at associates of associates and so on and so forth, as is classically the case in these investigations.

KOSIK: Paul, very quickly, got to ask you about these leaks that are becoming a huge frustration for investigators. Where are these leaks specifically coming from?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, the British are clearly pointing the finger at the United States law enforcement agencies. That is not clear at this point whether that was indeed actually the case. I've read "The New York Times" article on the devices, all those images, and they don't say where their source, which country their source comes from, but what is clear is this is causing a lot of heartache in the transatlantic intelligence-sharing relationship right now.

There are multiple reports in British news that police in Manchester have suspended sharing information with their U.S. counterparts. That doesn't mean that all U.K. agencies have suspended that cooperation, but it is -- if it's true, and we haven't confirmed it at CNN -- a notable kind of breakdown in the relationship, because that intelligence-sharing is absolutely vital across the Atlantic, and without it, the united kingdom really would be much less able to understand the international scope of the threat, given the sheer capacity of U.S. counterterrorism agencies right across the Middle East and beyond.

KOSIK: All right.

BRIGGS: That's some big news, if true. Thank you, Paul.

KOSIK: Thanks, Paul.

All right. We'll be right back.


[04:57:07] BRIGGS: Former President Obama finds himself a warm-up act of sorts this morning. Obama about to join German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a speech at Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate. It comes only hours before Merkel meets with President Trump in Brussels. Fascinating dynamic.

CNN's Michelle Kosinski live in Berlin with more on the contrasting snapshot of U.S./German relations.

Good morning to you, Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dave. Yeah, in fact, they're introducing President Obama and Merkel as we speak, so we should see him walk out here any minute. Of course, he's made multiple appearances in Berlin over the years. We just saw him here speaking with Merkel in November, right after the election.

And back then, they talked about moving forward, trying to work together to defeat terrorism. And of course, right after that, remember there was a terrorist attack here in Berlin at a Christmas market.

Now, it will be interesting to hear what he has to say about this horrible attack in Manchester. And, of course, everybody wants to hear what he'll say about politics in America right now and around the world.

When you think back to the appearances he's made with Merkel, talking about crude populism that has swept multiple parts of the world, worrying about people making simplistic decisions and explanations for things, trying to warn people about going in that direction. Now how things have changed, especially when you look back to his first speech here in Berlin when he was just a candidate in 2008. I mean, that speech was full of this optimism, saying now is our time.

So, this is a crowd of an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 people, many of them young people. They're hugely enthusiastic to see President Obama. In fact, when we talked to some German people, they feel like even though the purpose for being here is a celebration of the Protestant Church, they feel like a lot of people came here because President Obama's going to be here. They want to hear what he has to say.

The Obama Foundation says they don't expect him to get particularly political. He's not going to be taking random questions from the crowd or anything like that. They think he's going to focus on trying to engage young people to get involved and pay attention to their civic duty, basically. But this should be interesting, especially considering that he is here with Chancellor Merkel just hours before she's going to be in the same place in Brussels with President Trump.

BRIGGS: Yes, and certainly even body language will be in focus after that awkward meeting between Merkel and President Trump in the White House when there was no handshake. It will be a fascinating day. Michelle Kosinski, thank you.

KOSIK: All right. Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global markets mixed this morning while U.S. futures are higher after the fifth day of gains on Wall Street. The S&P 500 hitting a record high and Dow gains back all the points it lost last week.