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EARLY START

NYT: Kremlin Tried to Help Trump; Senate Republicans Huddling on Health Care; Deadly Military Plane Crash; Iraqi Government Declares Mosul "Liberated". Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 11, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:10] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump Jr. was told the Russian government was providing damaging information about Hillary Clinton. A stunning new report this morning from "The New York Times", ahead.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And 16 people dead after a Marine Corps plane crash in Mississippi. There are no survivors. The FBI is on site. The latest information we have just moments away.

Just a military tragedy there. We're following that very, very closely.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Tuesday, July 11th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

Up first, not only did Donald Trump Jr. meet with a lawyer linked to the Kremlin, there's no reporting that Don Jr. was told the Russian government was directing her efforts to spread damaging information about Hillary Clinton. That's according to "The New York Times", citing three sources familiar with an e-mail sent to Trump Jr. That e-mail reportedly says the information about Clinton was part of a Kremlin effort to help the Trump campaign.

ROMANS: Now, the e-mail was written by British publicist Rob Goldstone, an entertainment business associate of Trump Sr., with connections to Moscow. Although Goldstone suggested the damaging material originated with the Russian government, there is no evidence it was related to the Russian hacking of the DNC.

Late last night, Don Jr.'s newly hired attorney dismissed "The Times" report, calling it much ado about nothing. His statement reiterating that don Jr. didn't do anything wrong by taking the meeting and that nothing came of it.

BRIGGS: The White House consumed on Monday by questions about this meeting. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisting the campaign did not collude, describing the meeting as, quote, very short, with absolutely no follow-up. Sanders had fewer answers about the White House pattern of denying any possible wrongdoing only to backtrack and offer amended answers when presented with contrary evidence. We don't have on-camera video because this was once again off camera. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REPORTER: How are we to take all of these blanket denials that occurred through the transition and now when it has been proven and recognized by the president's attorney and Don Jr. that those blanket denials were not factual?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN: Look, I think the point is that we've tried to make every single time today and then and will continue to make in those statements that there was simply no collusion, that they keep trying to make that there was.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: Sanders adds that President Trump only learned of his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer in the last few days. The president himself has been staying largely out of sight. Today is the second straight day with no public events on his schedule.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, the White House is still facing a new round of questions here over a meeting that happened in 2016 about Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, his oldest son, as well as Jared Kushner, and the former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

Now, the White House spent a lot of time on Monday devoted to this question -- what happened at that meeting, what happened with that Russian lawyer they were talking to. Now, the White House wants to talk about anything but this. They wanted to turn the page on this, of course.

But there's word from the Senate that they want to talk to the president's son. Take a listen to Senator Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), VICE CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's also a continuing pattern that we've seen since the election of Trump campaign and Trump administration officials who have conveniently forgotten meetings with Russians only when they are then presented with evidence they have to recant and acknowledge those kind of meetings. It is why we've got to continue this investigation.

ZELENY: Now Donald Trump Jr. has retained a New York lawyer to represent him in these matters here in Washington. It is also Jared Kushner as well as Paul Manafort. So, what this does is sort of adds more fuel to the fire, adds more questions here on what exactly were the relationships, was there any collusion at all between the Trump campaign officials and the Russian lawyer operatives here.

Now, this is all going to come to a head later this week. The Senate Intelligence Committee will be meeting for the first time interviewing some Trump campaign officials -- Christine and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

More questions this morning about the players involved in setting up the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and this Russian lawyer. The latest additions to the growing to the cast of characters, music publicist Rob Goldstone and his client Emin Agalarov, a pop star who asked Goldstone to make this meeting happen.

Helping us sort out who's who, here's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance live in Moscow.

Good morning to you, Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. That's right. It is a sort of new cast of characters into this drama being played out in reality on the political front in the United States.

[04:05:10] Rob Goldstone is the British national who is I think at the center of this, according to "The New York Times". He sent the e-mail to Donald Trump Jr. saying that this person, this lawyer who he wanted him to meet had information that was coming from the Russian government. Rob Goldstone is a music publicist that works for Emin Agalarov.

Emin, you probably never heard of him, but he's an Azeri pop star. He's been based in Russia since he was 4 years old. He sold more than a million records here and is popular in the former Soviet Union. Donald Trump Sr., the president of the United States now, actually appeared in one of his pop videos sort of play acting, you know, saying, I'm tired of you, Emin, you're fired, that kind of thing, acting that Donald Trump "Apprentice" role.

Interestingly, Emin is the son of one of Russia's richest man, Aras Agalarov. He's the big property developer here in Russia, also Azeri national, and owns Moscow's biggest shopping center. And it was Aras Agalarov who was the partner of Donald Trump when Trump staged the Miss Universe competition in Russia in 2013.

So, that's the line of connection that goes straight from the president of the United States to Russia's -- one of Russia's biggest property developers through these various other pop stars and publicists along the way. So, a very complicated picture. The implication, the suggestion is that this is the Russian government through its surrogates in the business community in Russia trying to make contact with the candidate, then, Donald Trump. Although, of course, that's still a matter for investigation.

BRIGGS: Wow, that is -- once again a tangled web we weave.

Matthew Chance live for us in Moscow -- thank you.

ROMANS: That flow chart was helpful actually.

BRIGGS: It was indeed. ROMANS: That's what we need there.

All right. A potential make-or-break day for Senate Republicans in their health care reform efforts. All of them are back from the holiday recess and they are getting their first opportunity to discuss the status of their measure to repeal and replace Obamacare. It could give us our first real idea when a new bill could emerge.

BRIGGS: Lawmakers didn't exactly receive a warm welcome back to Washington. Eighty people arrested on Capitol Hill, protesting the GOP health care plan. Demonstrations breaking out in 13 different locations in House and Senate office buildings.

We get more now from CNN's Ryan Nobles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, good morning from Capitol Hill.

And there's no doubt that the trip that most of these senators took to their home states during the July 4th recess was not very helpful to the overall debate as it relates to this health care bill. Many of these senators getting an earful from their constituents about the progress of this bill. And that's made the debate here and the negotiations even more complicated.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to offer tweaks to the bill, fixes here and there. But there are many senators, both conservative and moderate, who feel that tweaks are just not enough.

Listen to what Susan Collins of Maine told me yesterday.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I do need a complete overhaul in order to get to yes. I hope that our colleagues will take another look at the bill that Senator Cassidy and I introduced earlier this year. I'm not claiming that bill's perfect, but it provides a foundation from which we could proceed.

NOBLES: So, the big question is, as these senators continue to deal behind closed doors, are they making subtle fixes to their original plan, or are they doing a major rewrite? It could potentially be a combination of both. We still haven't seen this new bill. In fact, many of the senators haven't even seen this new bill.

So, it's likely that the earliest that we'll see any kind of vote on health care could be sometime next week. And there are many here who wonder if even that will happen as the prospects for this current bill seem to be very bleak -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Ryan, thank you for that.

Columbia University Law School professor Daniel Rickman says that President Trump is wrong when he accuses former FBI Director James Comey of leaking classified information to the media. He has a friend who shared with "The New York Times" at least one of Comey's memos with his meetings with President Trump. He tells CNN none of the memos given to him by the former FBI director were marked classified. In June, Comey testified he wrote the memos to avoid using classified information.

BRIGGS: The dispute boiled over when President Trump tweeted, quote, James Comey leaked classified information to the media. That is so illegal.

That tweet was based on a "Fox and Friends" story that incorrectly summarized a report by "The Hill" claiming some of Comey's memos contained top-secret information. "Fox and Friends" later issued a correction say, Comey's memos did not have top-secret info. The report says half were classified as secret or confident level, not top secret.

[04:10:05] ROMANS: All right. Ten minutes past the hour.

Breaking news: 16 people killed when a Marine Corps plane crashed in Mississippi. The FBI is at the scene investigating. We are told it is a huge debris field. We are told no one survived this crash.

At this hour, it is not clear what went wrong. It's a KC130. It went down in rural Leflore County, Mississippi, late Monday afternoon. It is one of the military's most widely used aircraft. A local fire chief says the debris from the crash is five miles in radius and 4,000 gallons of foam were needed to put out that fire.

All right. Ten minutes past the hour. A new rule restores the rights of millions of Americans to sue their bank or credit card company. And it could cost Wall Street billions. Details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:15:04] ROMANS: Suing your bank just got easier. I bet you didn't know the fine print prevented you from being able to sue your bank. But this new regulation could change things and it will likely face some big political backlash.

The Consumer Financial Production Bureau, the CFPB, is adopting a new rule to prevent banks from stopping class action lawsuits. Most banks and credit card contracts have arbitration clauses, forcing consumers to resolve problems in private mediation instead.

Companies say it's a faster process, but critics argue it's less effective. Still, introducing my regulation is a bold move for the CFPB. The Treasury Department accuses the department of overreach. It's part of the administration's plan to trim financial regulations.

President Trump just named his point man for the job, nominating investment fund manager Randall Quarles for Fed regulatory chief. If confirmed, Quarles would be the first Fed vice chair of supervision. The job was created under Dodd-Frank, but never filled.

Quarles is a former Republican Treasury official and has publicly criticized some of the Fed's decisions. For example, he wants to set interest rates with a formula, instead of policy. That puts him at odds with the current Fed Chief Janet Yellen.

However, Janet Yellen's term is up in February. And the president has not said if he'll nominate her for a second term.

BRIGGS: A U.S. Army soldier in custody this morning, arrested by a SWAT team in Hawaii for allegedly trying to provide material support to ISIS. The FBI confirming 34-year-old sergeant first-class Ikaika Kang was taken into custody late Saturday after a year-long investigation conducted with the Army. Kang served in Iraq and Afghanistan, received a number of awards for his service, including the prestigious Army Commendation Medal.

ROMANS: His attorney says he may suffer from mental health issues. The criminal complaint alleges Kang swore allegiance to ISIS in conversations with undercover agents and trying to provide them with military documents and training.

BRIGGS: New Jersey voters refusing to let Governor Chris Christie off the hook for sunning himself on a beach he closed to the public. The governor was auditioning for his next potential gig as a sports radio host on New York's WFAN Radio when the angry calls began pouring in -- especially from this guy, Mike in Montclair.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HOST: What's up, Mike?

CALLER: Governor, next time you want to sit on a beach that is closed to the entire world except you --

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Yes?

CALLER: -- you put your fat ass in a car and go to one that's open to all your constituents. Not just and yours.

CHRISTIE: Interesting, Mike. You know what --

CALLER: What's that? What's that, Gov?

CHRISTIE: You know, Mike, I love -- I love getting calls from communists in Montclair.

CALLER: Communists in Montclair? You're a bully, Governor. I don't like bullies.

CHRISTIE: You know what -- listen, I'm not the one who came on the air -- hey, hold on, Mike --

CALLER: Your entire career --

CHRISTIE: Mike, I'm not the guy who came on the air, swore on the air, and --

CALLER: Who swore? CHRISTIE: You did.

CALLER: Get the heck out of here.

CHRISTIE: You know, you're swearing on the air, Mike. You're a bum. So, let's --

CALLER: You know, you got bad optics and you're a bull.

CHRISTIE: Oh, bad optics. Mike, I'd love to come look at your optics every day, buddy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Communist in Montclair, Romans.

ROMANS: Stephen Colbert is from Montclair, by the way.

BRIGGS: Is he?

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: All right. Well, despite Christie's historically low 15 percent approval rating in New Jersey, WFAN confirms he is a candidate to take over the afternoon time slot of the legendary Mike Francesa who's retiring later this year. Boy, will that be an entertaining drive time if in fact Christie gets the job.

ROMANS: I was entertained. I couldn't --

BRIGGS: I don't know what his sports knowledge is, but it would be interesting.

ROMANS: All right. Eighteen minutes past the hour.

This morning, Mosul at last finally free of the grip of ISIS. But what's next for the city, and is the ISIS stronghold in Syria next to fall? We're live in the Middle East.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:23:16] ROMANS: Iraq's prime minister declaring victory after troops recaptured Mosul from ISIS. The move marks an end to a nine- month-long operation which began when fighters of varying ethnic and religious backgrounds made a coordinated push toward the city as U.S.- led air strikes helped pave the way.

BRIGGS: Two questions now -- what's next for this liberated city and what's next in the battle against ISIS? The commander of the international coalition group fighting the terrorist group says the focus now shifts to Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GEN. STEPHEN J. TOWNSEND, COMMANDER, OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE: Well, as of about an hour ago, what was job number two for us, Raqqa, Syria, is now job number one. And we're prosecuting that fight there just like we did here by with and through our local partners. We're performing the same kind of missions. The coalition is performing the same kind of missions there. We'll take Raqqa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: CNN correspondent Jomana Karadsheh live in Amman, Jordan, with more.

Good morning, Jomana.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. Of course, the recapture of Mosul a great victory for the Iraqis and a major blow for ISIS. But there still is a tough task ahead for the Iraqis when it comes to securing and stabilizing and holding those areas where they pushed ISIS out of. There's also the reconstruction effort to try and rebuild that devastated city, Mosul. That is an effort that is probably going to cost them billions and it's unclear at this point where Iraq is going to get the money for that.

And ISIS still does control several towns in Iraq, some key towns in the north, and also to the west in Anbar province. They still hold some territory, not as significant as Mosul. But the Iraqis will be moving on next to try and push them out of there. With that comes the concern that when ISIS loses territory, it's going to revert to its insurgent roots carrying out attacks in urban centers like Baghdad, for example.

[04:25:10] But when it comes to the international coalition, their main focus there turns to Syria, specifically that self-declared capital of ISIS, Raqqa, where we have seen fighting going on now for weeks. And it's expected that it could go on for months, perhaps. It's a different terrain, different kind of fighting force that is on the ground. The local partners of the coalition are different.

But perhaps one thing that is going to be similar and we would expect ISIS to fight until the end, as they did in Mosul. And there's really -- it's not clear at this point how many civilians are trapped in Raqqa -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Jomana Karadsheh live for us in Jordan -- thank you.

We got Mosul now secure, but what's left of it is a pile of rubble. How they begin to rebuild is a massive undertaking.

OK. Donald Trump Jr. was told the Russian government was behind efforts to get damaging details about Hillary Clinton directly to the Trump family. That's according to a big report in "The New York Times." We'll have full details ahead on EARLY START.

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