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EARLY START

White House: Trump 'Weighed In' On Son's Misleading Statement;Bipartisan Team Spearheads New Health Care Effort; NYT: Justice Department Targeting Affirmative Action. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 2, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


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[05:32:43]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.

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ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: The White House forced to admit the president did have a hand in crafting the response to the Don, Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer, but how far did his involvement go?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And, Republicans are starting to defy President Trump on health care and a few other issues. The GOP now pushing back against his call for Obamacare cuts that could hurt millions.

Also, some pushback on changing the Senate rules, as well.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik sitting in for Christine Romans.

A direct contradiction between President Trump's personal lawyer and the White House. The White House now conceding Mr. Trump did weigh in on the response to revelations his son met with a Russian lawyer. That flies in the face of what Trump's lawyer had said, that the president had no involvement.

BRIGGS: This just the latest example of Trump aides and officials forced to shift that Russian narrative and the lack of clarity not inspiring confidence on Capitol Hill.

We get more from CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

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JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, we're learning for the first time that President Trump was involved in helping to shape the narrative about that meeting back at Trump Tower on June 9th, 2016.

The White House acknowledged on Tuesday, for the very first time, the president, in their words, weighed in on that statement saying that that meeting was about a discussion about Russian adoptions. It was not about anything else. Well, as we learned, of course, it was about a Russian operative trying to give dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign.

But we learned on Tuesday with White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that yes, the president added his voice to that first statement. This is what she said.

SANDERS: The statement that Don, Jr. issued is true. There's no inaccuracy in the statement. The president weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.

He certainly didn't dictate but, you know, he -- like I said, he weighed in and offered suggestion like any father would do.

ZELENY: Now, that would all be fine except it flies in the face of what the president's own lawyer, Jay Sekulow, has said repeated times. He went on television last month saying the president was not involved in the crafting of that statement, saying the meeting was about Russian adoptions.

[05:35:08] Now, the reason it matters is this. As they talk about this investigation, as the investigators look into whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia -- we still don't know that yet but they are investigating that -- they will look at this meeting.

Was there a cover-up of any kind? Was he trying to obstruct justice in any way? We don't know the answers to that yet -- important to keep that in mind.

But for the first time on Tuesday, the White House contradicting what the president's own lawyer said, Dave and Alison.

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KOSIK: OK, Jeff Zeleny. Thanks for that.

Let's bring back Chris Deaton. He's with "The Weekly Standard," a reporter.

There's so much to talk about. Let's dig in again and sort of dovetail off of what Jeff had in his story there about Sanders saying that, you know, the president did weigh in on this statement.

But then you have his personal attorney, for days, going on different networks saying very different. Listen to what the personal attorney said over a course of several days.

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JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: The president didn't sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G20.

The president wasn't involved in it.

I wasn't involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the president.

But I do want to be clear the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: OK. So this direct contradiction weighing heavily, pardon the pun, on many.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRIS DEATON, REPORTER, WEEKLY STANDARD: I want to be clear, those are words that I don't think apply to anything that has gone on in Washington, D.C. the last 200-plus days.

You know, there are a couple of things here.

Sarah Sanders first said yesterday -- she kept deflecting to this idea of there was nothing in the original Don, Jr. statement that was misleading. That really, for the most part, really looks like it's true. It's just important to remember that that statement, in and of itself, was released after a spin of other misleading statements. That statement was issued and it was precipitated by other things.

Now, we have this current situation, Alison, where you pointed out some of the comments that Jay Sekulow has made.

You know, who knows whether or not -- you know, you have the "Post" reporting about the president not just weighing in on the statement but actually dictating it during that flight. You have Sarah Sanders saying that well, he weighed in on it in some sort of paternal fashion.

I don't want to say it's splitting hairs but it does fly in the face of the original point the president was not involved and this type of stuff just keeps raising more questions as we go along.

BRIGGS: Yes, and as Lindsey Graham said yesterday, quote, "When you get caught in a lie about one thing it makes it harder to let the other stuff go."

All right. Let's turn now to health care and on the front page of "The New York Times" the story "Trump's Party Bypasses Him on Health Act."

Just a few days ago he tweeted, "Don't give up Republican senators, the world is watching. Repeal and replace."

They're not exactly going to do that, Chris, are they? What are they going to do instead and what does it reveal about the president's leadership of his party? DEATON: Sure, yes. It looks like the Senate right now, especially the Senate health committee which is one of the two major committees of jurisdiction over some of this health care stuff -- it's chaired by a Tennessee Republican named Lamar Alexander.

They announced yesterday that they are going to move forward with hearings in September about stabilizing the insurance markets with respect to this jargon term that a lot of people might have heard, cost-sharing reduction payments.

Conservative opponents have called them insurance bailouts. What they're kind of designed to do is reduce the total out-of-pocket costs for a lot of people on the exchange. Not just premiums but things like deductibles, co-insurance, total medical costs and such.

If the Trump administration decided to stop issuing those payments there's a lot of concern that the insurance market could spiral out of control and sort of lead to the Obamacare implosion that the president himself has sort of promised a lot of times. So there's expected legislation -- or an expected plan that the committee wants coming up in September as a result of that.

I think what that indicates is that the Republican Party, right now, has its eyes much more toward this idea of repairing the current health care law as it is. It's clear that they cannot move forward on repealing and replacing the law, certainly to the extent that they had hoped for earlier this year.

It's going to be a huge issue inside of the Republican Party. A lot of people like the president, himself, still wanting full repeal.

KOSIK: Well, what about -- speaking more broadly about the relationship between the president and Senate Republicans, let's just say.

You know, the president's got a legislative agenda he needs to put forward but if he's not playing nice in the sandbox with Senate Republicans they're not going to go out on a limb for him. They want to cater to their constituents and not the president.

DEATON: That's a great point, Alison. I think that Tim Scott, a South Carolina senator, a Republican, made this very clearly the other day when he said look, we work for the people, we do not work for the president.

[05:40:00] And you're going to hear those kinds of comments made more and more, I think, given the president's sinking approval ratings; the inability to kind of push an agenda.

Look, one of the key criticisms of President Trump throughout this entire health care process was the fact that he didn't really have a hand in the details. There were a lot of Republican leaders who said otherwise but it's pretty evident the president, himself, wasn't actually going out and shilling for the law. He wasn't really going out there and arguing for it on the merits. Didn't get to that granular level of detail. And so, when you kind of have a bit more of a removed executive in that fashion and he's not that popular to begin with, you're not going to get a whole lot of buy-in from the Republican Senate allies that you need to push an ambitious agenda like the one he has.

BRIGGS: And not going anywhere on changing the Senate rules, said Mitch McConnell. There are not the votes to change the rules in the Senate.

Chris Deaton from "The Weekly Standard," thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

KOSIK: Thanks so much.

DEATON: Thanks, guys. Have a good morning.

KOSIK: You, too.

BRIGGS: And, you.

All right. The Trump administration preparing to challenge affirmative action policies that it believes discriminate against white people in the college admission process. That's according to a report in "The New York Times."

The newspaper obtained an internal document from the civil rights division of the Justice Department seeking staff lawyers interested in working on a new project involving, quote, "intentional race-based discrimination."

The project appears to target school admission policies that prioritize minority students. The administration reportedly plans to redirect Justice Department resources and investigate and sue what it considers offending universities.

KOSIK: All right. Here's some must-see video from Texas.

A police officer hit head-on by a driver. Police say he was drunk. We're going to tell you what the officer managed to do after he was hit.

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[05:45:55] BRIGGS: Breaking news from Afghanistan.

A NATO convoy coming under attack in Kandahar. A statement from the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission confirming there are casualties but giving no further details. Reuters reporting a suicide bomber targeted the convoy. We'll have more details right here on CNN as we get them.

KOSIK: That breaking story among other stories coming up on "NEW DAY."

BRIGGS: Yes.

KOSIK: Alisyn Camerota joins us right now. Good morning.

BRIGGS: Morning.

KOSIK: Can you hear us?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": (audio gap) -- as I so often say.

It appears that some leading Republicans are beginning to break ranks with President Trump. They're beginning to take things up on their own, such as how to save Obamacare rather than repeal and replace it. So we'll tell you who these people are and why they feel -- they appear to have reached the tipping point.

Also, the very strange and tragic story of Seth Rich. This has been revealed to have been a fake news story. Fox retracted -- Fox News covered it and retracted their story so we have the insiders to tell us how this conspiracy theory all started.

And we also have a spokesperson for the Rich family to tell us how they have been grappling with their grief and dealing with this fake news at the same time.

So all of that when Chris and I see you at the top of the hour.

BRIGGS: And somehow you'll caffeinate Cuomo enough to get him through this despite filling in for Don Lemon last night. So I --

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's right, but he had that wildly powerful interview with Ed Butowosky --

BRIGGS: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- who was at the center of all this Seth Rich conspiracy.

KOSIK: Such an intense interview.

CAMEROTA: So we will recap all of that for everyone.

BRIGGS: Good stuff.

KOSIK: Thank you, Alisyn.

BRIGGS: All right. They'll also have Mick Mulvaney and John Podesta.

Thanks, Ali.

KOSIK: All right.

Apple shares hitting an all-time high overnight and that could help the Dow reach a new milestone. "CNN Money Stream" up next.

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[05:51:53] KOSIK: President Trump condemning the actions of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after two opposition leaders were taken from their homes following Sunday's vote.

The president says Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma are political prisoners being held illegally, and the U.S. holds Maduro personally responsible for their health and safety.

BRIGGS: Venezuela's Supreme Court revoked their house arrest privileges after intelligence officials determined they were planning to flee. And now, a high-ranking member of the Venezuelan Electoral Council says he cannot endorse the vote because the electoral practices were relaxed and, in some cases, non-existent.

Britain's Prince Philip flying solo one last time. He'll meet the Royal Marines today in his final public engagement before retiring from royal duties.

The 96-year-old Duke of Edinburgh attending a parade to mark the finale of a 1,664 strength and endurance challenge undertaken by servicemen to raise money for charity.

Buckingham Palace says the Duke may still decide to attend certain events alongside the queen in the future.

KOSIK: OK. My favorite story of the morning.

The one remaining inmate who was still at large after escaping from an Alabama jail Sunday now back behind bars. Authorities say the 12th escapee, Brady Kilpatrick, was found 600 miles away in South Florida.

We're also now learning how the prisoners busted out of the Walker County Jail. Peanut butter, what else? Officials say the used peanut butter, of all things, to change the number above a cell to the number that identified a door leading to the outside. Then they tricked a new, inexperienced jailer into opening the door and made their escape.

Most of the inmates were caught quickly. I don't understand how the power of peanut butter could have done that, but that's for another --

BRIGGS: No.

KOSIK: -- discussion.

BRIGGS: And another Scooby Doo episode.

Some incredible video to show you out of Fort Worth, Texas.

A police officer pulls a car over for a traffic stop when suddenly another car crashes right into him and the car he pulled over. Somehow, this officer able to walk away from the violent collision and detain the driver who plowed into him until backup units arrived on the scene.

Fort Worth police say the driver was arrested and charged with intoxicated assault.

And some more incredible video far less painful.

Indians' centerfielder Austin Jackson turning in what has to be baseball's play of the year. Check this out.

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ANNOUNCER: It's also gotten into the bullpen. There's a high fly, right center, hit well. Jackson back, triangle, he's there reaching. He goes over. He went over and he holds onto the baseball.

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BRIGGS: Still don't believe it. Jackson goes airborne over the fence at Fenway, robbing Boston's Hanley Ramirez of a home run. The Red Sox challenged the catch. It was upheld, though, because Jackson's feet were over the field of play when he caught the ball.

The amazing grab came in a losing effort because the Red Sox got a walk-off three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, 12-10. All told, just the game of the year in Major League Baseball.

[05:55:04] KOSIK: I love that. I love that.

BRIGGS: What a show it was.

KOSIK: Oh, yes.

All right, let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stocks are mixed after the Dow hit its fifth straight record close. That makes it 31 record closes for the year and it puts less than 40 points away -- the Dow -- from its next milestone of 22,000. The Nasdaq and S&P also closed higher yesterday.

You look at all the three major indices, they're actually coming off their strongest month since February, notching record highs as investors continue to shrug off the turmoil that we're seeing in Washington.

Thanks to big corporate profits that are coming in, earnings seasons -- the second quarter well underway and more than 70 percent of the companies reporting so far, they have big expectations.

Shares of Apple surging six percent overnight to an all-time high after delivering surprisingly strong earnings. The June quarter is usually its weakest but profits rose 12 percent.

iPhone sales were steady as consumers anticipate a new iPhone coming out this fall for the first time in three years. iPad shipments actually increased, rising 15 percent. Those iPads mainly going to schools and businesses.

And any move in Apple stock moves the whole market because Apple's not just in the Dow, it's in the Nasdaq and S&P 500 as well. It is the most valuable company in the world and the push -- the push on Apple stock could push the Dow over that 22,000 mark.

Amazon may have violated U.S. sanctions on Iran and its most recent SEC filing. The company disclosed it's under investigation for selling tens of thousands of dollars in products to an Iranian Embassy since 2012. It also sold to individuals with ties to the Iranian government and that may have violated 2012 sanctions placed on Iran.

Amazon didn't immediately respond to comment but the filing says it no longer does business with those accounts and is cooperating fully with the government's investigation.

KOSIK: All right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

Republicans starting to rebel on the president on health care and more. Has the GOP finally hit a tipping point?

"NEW DAY" will discuss right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

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SANDERS: I think what's hurting the legislative agenda is Congress' inability to get things passed.

BRIGGS: A rift is growing between President Trump and Senate Republicans.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm not going to vote to change the rules of the Senate. I think a minority voice is probably good for the country.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The American people need a president who puts their interests first, not someone who plays political games with their health care.

SANDERS: The president weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.

SEKULOW: The president didn't sign off on anything. The president wasn't involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is hard for me to keep track of this ever- widening web of lies that is coming from this administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It potentially is another piece of evidence of obstruction of justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, August second, 6:00 here in New York.

Here is our "Starting Line."

A growing number of Senate Republicans are defying President Trump's push to dismantle Obamacare and instead, his own party is working with Democrats to stabilize insurance markets and to chart their own course to focus on tax reform and the debt ceiling.

Meanwhile, a bill to slap Russia with new sanctions is still sitting on the president's desk without his signature. The Kremlin is blasting the contradictory statements coming from the White House. What is fueling President Trump's reluctance to sign that bill?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And, what is fueling the White House's apparent inability to tell the truth? Another change to the story on our president's role in the Don, Jr. statement about his meeting with Russians.

The White House now conceding that President Trump did weigh in on his son's misleading initial statement. This admission comes after repeated denials from the president's legal team.

The truth, also the subject of anexplosive lawsuit claiming that Fox News concocted a fake news story about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich with oversight from the White House. Did President Trump or his staff pedal this bogus story to distract from the cloud of Russia?

We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House. Good morning, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.

After tweeting over the weekend that Senate Republicans look like fools because they won't change the rules, the president is now facing a growing number of Republicans who are bucking him and his legislative priorities, even as the president's credibility continues to fade over the Russia investigation.

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JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump's response to the collapse of the health care bill exacerbating growing tensions between Senate Republicans and the White House.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: We've got to get away from this attitude that you have to agree with the president and that a senator should be a rubber stamp for everything the president wants at all times.

JOHNS: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bypassing requests to hold another repeal vote and rejecting the president's demand that the Senate change their rules to pass bills by a simple majority.