Return to Transcripts main page


Trump-Russia Investigation; Trump White House; Trump crashes wedding; Gianforte Will Plead Guilty In Body-Slam Case; Macron's Party Poised For Landslide; Record Heat Highs In The 90s; Global Markets Lower; Uber CEO To Take Possible Leave Of Absence; Gas Prices Lowest Since 2005; Will Sessions Testify Tomorrow. Aired 4:30 5a ET

Aired June 12, 2017 - 04:30   ET



CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: ...did he interfere with the Russian investigation before he recused himself? Second, what safeguards are there now so that he doesn't interfere? Third, he says he was involved in the firing of Comey, and the president said Comey was fired because of Russia. How does that fit in with his recusal? It doesn't seem to stand up well to me. And fourth, he's been involved in the selection of the new FBI director. Did he talk about the Russian Investigation with them?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, "EARLY START" HOST: Sessions' letter offering to testify before the Senate Intel Committee caught many off-guard including members of the committee, CNNs Athena Jones is traveling with the president at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. She has the latest for us.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. It's up to the Senate-Select Intelligence Committee to decide whether to allow the attorney general to testify on Tuesday and whether that session will be open to the public or closed to the public. This request by the attorney general took the committee by surprise. This is according to reporting by my colleague, Manu Raju. That is why they've been slow to give definitive answers about their plans.

There are also concerns among some members of the committee that Sessions maybe trying to avoid testifying publicly. Among those concerned are the vice-chairman, who is the top Democrat on the committee, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. Another Democrat on the committee who's expressed concern about this is Oregon's, Ron Wyden. Wyden has sent a letter to the chairman and vice-chairman asking that any session with Sessions be open to the public.

And of course, we know that congressional investigators have a lot of questions for the attorney general. Among them, we could expect them to touch on the issue of his involvement in the firing of James Comey as FBI Director. Comey has said he believes he was fired because of his handling of the Russia Investigation and Sessions, of course, was supposed to have recused himself from the Russia Investigation or anything related to investigating the campaign of which he was a part. So, we're still waiting for answers on whether we'll see Sessions testify, but we know there are going to be a lot of questions for him if and when he does, back to you guys.

ROMANS: All right, Athena, thank you for that. President Trump escalating his already defiant response to Former FBI Director Comey's testimony that the president asked him to drop the Michael Flynn investigation, the president tweeting on Sunday, "I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible, totally, illegal? Very cowardly!

The president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. defending his father on Fox News, but also be possibly backing up James Comey's claim the president discussed ending the FBI Investigation into Michael Flynn. You listen.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: When I hear the Flynn comment, you and I both know my father a long time.


TRUMP: When he tells you to do something...


TRUMP: ...guess what, there's no ambiguity in it. There's no, hey, I'm hoping. You and I are friends, hey, I hope this happens, but you've got to do your job. That's what he told Comey. And for this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo, oh, I felt -- he felt so threatened. He felt that -- but, he didn't do anything.


DAVE BRIGGS, "EARLY START" HOST: President Trump has also refused to say whether or not tapes exist of those private conversations with Comey. Now, the president's lawyer saying, "We'll find out soon".


JAY SEKULOW, DONALD TRUMP LAWYER: The president said he's going to address the issue of the tapes whether the tapes exist or not next week. That's a decision that the president will make in consultation with his Chief Lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, and that the president said he'll address it next week.


BRIGGS: A response from Republican Party to all this has been mixed. One leading Republican saying the president should just stop talking.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, REPUBLICAN SENATOR SOUTH CAROLINA: What the president did was inappropriate, but here's what's so frustrating for Republicans like me. You may be the first president in history to go down because you can't stop inappropriately talking about an investigation that if you just were quiet would clear you.


ROMANS: Former U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara spoke out Sunday, offering his take on President Trump's decision to fire him. Bharara says that when he was the federal prosecutor for the New York City area, Mr. Trump called him three times. He says less than 24 hours after he refused the third call or to return the third call, the president abruptly fired him. Listen.


PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: So, they're very unusual phone calls and it's sort of when I've been reading the stories about how the president has been contacting Jim Comey over time, it felt a little bit like deja vu. I said it appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship.

It's a very weird and peculiar thing for a one-on-one conversation without the attorney general, without warning, between the president and me or any United States attorney who has been asked to investigate various things.


ROMANS: Bharara says he felt it was important to keep at arm's length from the president given his jurisdiction over business interests in New York includes the Trump Organization.

[04:35:00] BRIGGS: Two new residents in the White House this morning, Melania and Barron Trump, they just moved in 4-1/2 months into Donald Trump's Presidency. The first lady chose to stay in New York with their 11-year-old son until they finished up the school year. Barron, actually, becomes the first boy to live in the White House since 1963, when John F. Kennedy Jr. was just 3 years old.

After getting settled in, Melania tweeted "looking forward to the memories we'll make in our new home #movingday," and of course, so many people wonder if this will moderate the president a little bit...

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: least his twitter habit. I doubt it.


BRIGGS: But, don't hold your breath plus nose.

ROMANS: No, we're told it's always good to have your family around very close...

BRIGGS: Indeed.

ROMANS: ...when making these decisions. Now, you can pop-in and have all dinner together. But, we're told that they've been working on the private rooms for some time getting them prepared. They found a school for Barron for the -- for the fall and a lot of folks are making, you know, they got up (ph) Melania yesterday. Her parents were with them, by the way, when they arrived today.

BRIGGS: So they're moving in.

ROMANS: I don't know if they're moving in, but they -- her parents were with them and it would not be unusual to have a first grandma because there was the first grandma, you know...

BRIGGS: Michelle Obama's.

ROMANS: ...Michelle Obama's mom was there, but he was wearing a cool t shirt that said, you know, "The Expert" is what the two pieces (ph). Everyone is making a big deal about this t-shirt.

BRIGGS: We're all better having our families around...

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: ...all of us men.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: Let me just say that on behalf of, you know, all of us.


ROMANS: All right, billionaire real estate mogul, reality TV star, president, now you can add a new title to Donald Trump's resume, "wedding crasher". And while he had a little downtime, it is at New Jersey Golf Club over the weekend, he dropped in on a wedding reception of Tucker Gladhill and his bride, Kristen. The president was not on the guest list. He posed for pictures of the newly wed. He signed the "Make America Again" hats before moving on.

"The New York Times" reports President Trump has been selling point for weddings at the club, by the way, with a brochure saying, "If he is on site for your big day, he will likely stop in and congratulate the happy couple". That brochure has, by the way, since been discontinued.

BRIGGS: Nonetheless, you can imagine many are clamoring to book a wedding at his properties after seeing this.


BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, the Montana Congressman-elect accused of body slamming a reporter has agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault this morning. Witnesses say Greg Gianforte tackled Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs last month, putting his hands around Jacobs's neck. Gianforter has apologized to Jacobs and pledged to $50,000 donation to the committee to protect journalists. The county prosecutor says he'll reveal this morning sentencing recommendations at a hearing. Gianforte faces up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500.

ROMANS: Candidate Trump bashed the economy on his way to the White House, but President Trump is taking credit for the "great numbers" on the economy since Election Day tweeting about the rise of financial markets, the energy sector and jobs. And while his stats are mostly correct, some trends took root long before President Trump took office.

For example, the president touted the rise in stock market. And the Trump rally is real thanks to the promise of tax reform, but the current full market is eight years old and while it has been good news for the investor class it hasn't helped the working class at least not yet. And, unfortunately, oil and drilling jobs aren't way up as the president said.

Oil and gas employment has grown 11,000 jobs since Election Day, while coal added only about 1,300. How about the overall jobs market? There you go, the president tweeted the U.S. added 600,000 new jobs while unemployment dropped to 4.3%, both of those numbers are correct as you know. The U.S. adding 594,000 new jobs since inauguration day, but job growth during that time is the slowest in three years.

And while the jobless rate is at a 16-year low, unemployment has been falling now for the past seven. A lot of folks who cover markets -- watching markets thought it was interesting the president is touting and being a cheerleader for these great numbers and taking credit for them when these trends have been kind of well-established here.

BRIGGS: Well, that's the question though is how does he help the Trump voters, the middle class. The Dow and NASDAQ...

ROMANS: Right, exactly.

BRIGGS: ...doesn't really trickle down to their pockets.

ROMANS: Exactly.

BRIGGS: But, they have workforce development week starting this week...

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS:, maybe they'll speak to that desire to help...

ROMANS: I think the structure week is last week.

BRIGGS: ...this week.

ROMANS: All right...

BRIGGS: Yes, a huge success, it was.

ROMANS: Yes, British Prime Minister Theresa May is clinging to power despite calls for her to resign. What does this mean for Brexit? We go to London next.


[04:40:00] BRIGGS: Critics are calling her dead woman walking. British Prime Minister Theresa May barely clinging to power after losing her majority in Parliament during last week's stunning snap election an agreement to unite her Conservative Party with the Minority Party would keep her in power but the deal has not materialized yet.

Let's go live to London bringing in CNN, Oren Liebermann. Oren, good to see you my friend. The prime minister facing calls to resign. How likely is that to happen?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave not likely in the immediate future. The question is how immediate is that future and how long can she hang on? She's had to make a number of concessions already. First to that small party from Northern Ireland that she'll have to bring in to form some sort of working majority to stay in power but then also concessions to her rivals within her own party.

They haven't called on her to step down yet, those chief rivals, but that's because of how disastrous this election was for the Conservative Party and for Prime Minister, Theresa May. The assumption is or the assessment is that introducing more instability, more insecurity by suddenly creating a leadership fight right after the snap election would only hurt the party more.

So, that is part of what's keeping Prime Minister May in power at the moment, but she faces only challenges ahead. She's a week away from Brexit negotiations. The whole idea behind the snap elections was to increase her majority, to give her more power and more leverage in these negotiations, but that has backfired.

She finds her position weaker in the party and in these negotiations with the EU which can now make more demands of her heading into the Brexit negotiations in just one week, so all of that is the pressure that's mounting on her right now. So, although she has the support of the chief rivals within her party now, any misstep in any direction as she tries to balance all these different pressures could lead to the end of her premiership.

And, Dave, think of this, now in two successive elections, that would be the Brexit vote, a year ago...

BRIGGS: Right.

[04:45:00] LIEBERMANN: ...and this snap election now in two successive elections designed to introduce stability into the UK, the exact opposite happened.

BRIGGS: Yes, two of the great political miscalculations of our time back to-back, great point. Oren Liebermann, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, today marks one year since the horrific pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Memorial services are scheduled across the country on what's being called Orlando United Day. The city is urging churches to ring their bells 49 times at noon in honor of the 49 people killed in the worst mass shooting in U.S. History.

BRIGGS: Washington, D.C. and the State of Maryland are suing President Trump for allegedly violating anti-corruption clauses in the constitution. The lawsuit is the first of its kind filed by government entities. It claims that president has accepted millions of dollars in payments and benefits from foreign governments since taking office and has not kept his promise to shift his assets into a trust managed by his sons.

If the lawsuit is allowed to proceed, attorneys general for D.C. and Maryland plan to demand copies of the president's tax returns through the discovery process. We'll get the latest from Laura Jarrett, ahead in the show.

ROMANS: Later today, the Supreme Court may announce whether it will take up a critical case on Partisan, Gerrymandering. In 2011, newly elected Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker reconfigured the state's voting districts and the following year Republicans captured a 60/39 advantage in the assembly.

In 2016, a Federal Court ruled the districts were unconstitutional redrawn to favor Republicans and Marginalized Minority voters. Now, the Supreme Court will affirm or reverse that ruling or order full briefing so it can hear the case this fall.

BRIGGS: All right, a night to honor Broadway's Best In Show, the big winner at the 71st Tony Awards, "Dear Evan Hansen" taking home six Tony's including the Top Prize for Best New Musical. Also, a big night for "Hello, Dolly," named Best Musical Revival and its star Bette Midler who won the Tony for Best Leading Actress in a Musical and outlasted the playoff music with all her thank you's and her memorable acceptance speech.


BETTE MIDLER, TONY WINNER, BEST LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL: me out here! Melanie -- Melanie Moore, Taylor Trench, Amy Feldstein. Oh, my God, I'm losing it. Wait a second, I have teachers just like you do, Owen Wilburton, I mustn't forgot him. I had teachers just like you do and way back in the '60s before all this stuff happened, Mrs. Merna Ishimoto, Mrs. Betty Blank Rise...



BRIGGS: Cut off music of being damned.


ROMANS: Get the hook.

BRIGGS: Osland Drama telling the largely unknown backstory between the 1993 Middle East peace talks won for Best New Play and James Earl Jones was honored with a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in theater, Mufasa to me or to some... ROMANS: "This is CNN".



BRIGGS: We can't do justice to his voice.

ROMANS: I know. Oh, I'm like -- it's, actually embarrassing to even try.

BRIGGS: No, no one stands (ph).

ROMANS: All right, 48 minutes past the hour. Our big shakeup for Uber -- Uber and the results...

BRIGGS: Another.

ROMANS: ...could spell trouble for the CEO, we'll tell you why on "CNN Money Stream" next.


[04:50:00] ROMANS: A Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, a leading nationwide protest today. Organizers say the rallies are taking place in more than 200 Russian cities whether or not the government allows it, thousands of people are expected to join protests in both St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Want to bring in CNN, Former Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty. Jill, the opposition leader plans to run against President Vladimir Putin next year's election. Will today's protests rattle the Kremlin? Do we expect a response?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FORMER MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: You know, on many levels they could, because after all the theme of these protests and they're taking place across the country, in fact, they've already begun in the east which is about, you know, nine hours ahead of Moscow time. The theme is corruption. And that is something that the Kremlin has talked about, President Putin has talked about, but Navalny -- Mr. Navalny says nothing is happening that it's one of the key problems and we have to get out there and demonstrate.

So, that is what the people who are going on to the streets today are officially talking about. Now, in some of the cities, people -- it's been peaceful. Some cities, these demonstrations have been allowed. In other cities, they haven't and there have been some scattered arrests, not a whole lot of them. The situation here in Moscow is a bit complex, because it will be taking place in about two hours.

And it was supposed to be held in one location where there was a stage, but Navalny says the government wouldn't allow companies to rent them audio-visual equipment, so they can't be heard. So, what they are doing is they moved it to another location, which is not official. And the government, the police are saying, they are going to keep order. So, we don't know how it's going to turn out in Moscow. And this, of course, is kind of the main show, this and the St. Petersburg, Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Jill Dougherty, thank you so much for that from Moscow this morning.

Bill Cosby's indecent assault trial entering its second week with the defense set to call its first witness this morning. Prosecutors rested their case Friday after calling a dozen witnesses including Cosby's accuser, Andrea Constand and her mother. Constand alleges that Cosby drugged him and molested her at his home in 2004. The 79-year-old comedian faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He's not expected to testify in his own defense.

BRIGGS: U.S. and Somali Forces conducting precision strikes against the al-Shabaab terror group in Somalia. Pentagon officials say the joint operation is the first under new expanded authority approved by President Trump back in March. It designates part of Somalia as an area of active hostility, giving the U.S. Military more power to strike targets believed to be linked to al-Shabaab. According to the U.S.-Africa command, eight al Shabaab terrorists were killed in the attack.

[04:55:00] ROMANS: Newly elected President Emmanuel Macron of France and his Centrist Party are on course to seize the overwhelming majority in the French Parliament. Despite a record low voter turnout of 49% on Sunday, Macron's Republic on the move party won over 32% of the vote in France's 577-seat Parliament, as many as 445 seats could go to Macron's 1-year-old party. The final round of voting is scheduled for this Sunday.

BRIGGS: Fascinating politician, not just a personal story but being a Centrist and will we see that spread?

All right, if you missed spring, you're not alone...


BRIGGS: ...record-breaking temperature is expected across the Midwest, the northeast. Derek Van Dam has our forecast.

DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST: Dave, Christine you're probably going to be looking for the closest pool the second you get out of work today because temperatures are going to be soaring from the big apple to the nation's capital approaching a record-breaking territory for D.C. today and it's going to continue, at least for the next foreseeable future, but there are big changes in store which I'll show you in just one second.

Heads up, we've got about the potential to break 15 record high temperatures along in the New England Coastline. One just outside of Chicago as well heat continues for the Midwest. Look at the change, though New York 80 on Wednesday, 70 for the day Thursday, more of the same for D.C. Atlanta, you warm up a few degrees over the next few days. With this stagnant air mass in place, we have an air quality alert in place for Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Look out, keep an eye to the sky, we have a chance of severe weather later today across the Midwest stretching towards the plain states. We've got a bull's-eye with a moderate risk of damaging winds, hail, isolated tornados for parts of Wyoming, South Dakota, and into Nebraska. Back to you.

ROMANS: All right, that's your weather. Here's your money this Monday morning. Global Markets are lower after U.S. Tech stocks tanked. U.S. Futures are also down right now as investors wait on a Federal Reserve meeting one Wednesday. The fed is expected to raise interest rates again. It would be the fourth interest rate hike since December 2015. The last one in March brought the current rate to a range just below 1%. But, rate hikes have not cooled Wall Street's hot streak overall. Stocks are still near record highs.

A report on workplace culture means big changes at Uber and it could spell trouble for the CEO. The company will adopt all recommendations from an internal investigation led by Former DOJ Chief, Eric Holder. The -- the report looked into claims of sexual harassment and it may mean Uber's CEO will take a leave of absence. Uber has had a tough few months.

The company fired 20 employees over public complaints about sexism and a top executive left after it was reported he obtained the medical files of a woman in India who claimed she was raped by an Uber driver, obtained those medical files and shared them with other managers and talked about them.

Good news for drivers, some of the gas prices the cheapest since 2005. The national average dropped to $2.35 a gallon, that's the lowest price in 11 years. What's behind the drop? Low demand for gas and a large supply of oil. A rising U.S. Inventory has sent crude prices down 10% in the past two weeks.

BRIGGS: That's some nice news.

[05:00:00] ROMANS: That's good, Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, right. "Early Start" continues right now.

ROMANS: Will Jeff Sessions testify in public tomorrow? That's the big question this morning as the attorney general faces tough questions about his role in the Russia Investigation.

BRIGGS: And President Trump slamming James Comey again on twitter and refusing to admit whether tapes exist of their private conversations. Will the Russia Cloud threaten to wreck another week for the White House?

ROMANS: And, it's moving day at the White House, Melania Trump and Barron Trump have finally made the move from the big apple. What a cool t-shirt, "The Expert." You need a t-shirt that says "The Expert."

BRIGGS: I'm not an expert... (LAUGHTER)

BRIGGS: ...yes, but Barron Trump is. Moving day, that's a big day.

ROMANS: Moving day and, you know, we're told by folks who have done this move before, they will move in. All of their things will be in the closets, unpacked in the drawers...

BRIGGS: Can you imagine that?

ROMANS: ...the soap and toiletries they like will be in the bathroom.

BRIGGS: Not like the rest of us move in...


BRIGGS: ...when nothing is there...



BRIGGS: ...and it's all a mess. Good morning, everybody.

ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome to "Early Start." I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs, Monday, June 12th, it's 5:00 a.m. in the east. This morning, the Senate Intelligence Committee still has not confirmed whether Attorney General, Jeff Sessions will testify tomorrow in an open or a closed session, whether the hearing will actually happen tomorrow, as Sessions himself said in a letter, or whether it will happen at all. Since some senators are concerned this is just a play behind Sessions to avoid testifying in public about Russian Election meddling.

BRIGGS: If and when the hearing does happen it should be another pivotal day of congressional testimony. Democratic Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer says Sessions has four key questions to answer.


CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: First, did he interfere with the Russian Investigation before he recused himself? Second, what safeguards are there now so that he doesn't interfere? Third, it says, he was involved in the firing of Comey and the president said, Comey...