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EARLY START

Robert Mueller's Grand Jury; Mueller Follows the Money; Trump Call With Mexico's President Leaked; Colin Kaepernick to Get a Shot with Miami?. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 4, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That's all it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: We even saw the return of the "lock her up" chants, Alison, they were back.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, they were. And that is President Trump fighting back after reports emerged that grand jury subpoenas have been issued in the Russia investigation.

BRIGGS: And CNN has learned special counsel Robert Mueller following the money, investigating possible financial crimes as part of the ongoing probe into the Trump campaign. He was all fired up in West Virginia last night. And the base, boy, they sure do love him. They wait in line hours to see the speech. It was -- a lot of the campaign rhetoric.

KOSIK: Maybe he needed the distraction, you think? A lot going on.

BRIGGS: He needed the energy, that's clear.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Friday, August 4th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And a major advance in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A source familiar with the matter telling CNN a grand jury has issued subpoenas relating to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. CNN has learned the subpoenas seek both documents and testimony from people involved in that meeting. Mueller's team continuing to probe whether the president or any of his campaign associates colluded with Russia during the president's campaign.

[05:00:05] BRIGGS: A spokesman for Mueller's office declined to comment on the reports which were first posted by the "Wall Street Journal" and "Reuters". The White House response coming from special counsel to the president, Ty Cobb, noting in a statement that grand jury matters are typically secret, but adding the White House favors adding anything that acceleration conclusion of Mueller's work, quote, fairly.

The president's outside lawyer, Jay Sekulow, downplaying the importance of the subpoenas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: This is not a surprise because the impaneling of a grand jury in situations like this, when you've got an investigation, is typically how they move forward. That's -- it is really very much a standard operating procedure when you've got a situation like this. But with respect to the impaneling of the grand jury, we have no reason to believe that the president's under investigation here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Sekulow also added to FOX that the president is not looking into firing Mueller at this point.

CNN's Athena Jones on the road with the president in West Virginia. She has more on his reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison and Dave.

In the wake of news that special counsel Robert Mueller has issued grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting last summer at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer, the president's team out swinging here in Huntington, West Virginia, in a state he won by more than 40 points in November. The president spent five minutes blasting the Russia story as a, quote, total fabrication and a hoax, and blasting Democrats for what he called their obsession with it.

Listen --

TRUMP: Are there any Russians here tonight, any Russians?

They can't beat us at the voting booths, so they're trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want. They're trying to cheat out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us.

JONES: President Trump's latest tirade signaling he has no plans to stop talking about this ongoing investigation which he has repeatedly termed a witch hunt -- Alison, Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSIK: OK, Athena Jones, thank you very much.

And with the FBI Russia investigation now at the one-year mark, special counsel Robert Mueller is following President Trump's money. People familiar with the investigation tell CNN federal investigators have seized on President Trump and his associates' financial ties to Russia as potentially fertile ground for the probe. The sources describe an investigation that has now widened to include possible financial crimes.

BRIGGS: The turn in the investigation seems to cross the red line that "The New York Times" suggested. President Trump warned special counsel Mueller about that in an interview last month with "The Times."

Pamela Brown has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: Does anyone really believe that story?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Russia investigation continues to widen, as federal investigators explore the potential financial ties with President Trump and associates to Russia. Sources tell CNN financial links could offer a more concrete path to any potential prosecution. Investigators are delving into possible financial crimes including some unconnected to the election.

For the president, that's going too far. He's warned that delving into his businesses is a, quote, violation.

Trump has maintained there's no collusion and he has no financial ties to Russia.

TRUMP: And I can tell you speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.

BROWN: Now, one year into this complex probe, the FBI has reviewed financial records related to the Trump Organization, the president himself as well as his family members and campaign associates. CNN has told investigators have combed through the list of shell companies and buyers of Trump branded real estate properties. They scrutinized the roster of tenants at Trump Tower in Manhattan, reaching back several years.

And officials familiar with the investigation tells CNN special counsel Robert Mueller's team has examined the backgrounds of Russian business associates connected to Trump --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Moscow, it's Miss Universe 2013.

BROWN: -- dating back to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant he hosted in Moscow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you to Aras Agalarov and the Crocus Group for their amazing hospitality.

BROWN: CNN could not determine whether the review has included Trump's tax returns.

But even investigative leads that have nothing to do with Russia, but involve Trump associates, are being referred to the special counsel to encourage subjects of the investigation to cooperate.

TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt.

BROWN: President Trump keenly aware of the increased financial focus, regularly denounces the investigation.

TRUMP: Russia is fake news. This is fake news put out by the media.

BROWN: Trump's team seeking to limit Mueller's investigation.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's point is that he doesn't want the special counsel to move beyond the scope and outside of its mission.

[05:05:05] And the president's been very clear as have his accountants and team that he has no financial dealings with Russia. And so, I think we've been extremely clear on that.

BROWN: CNN has learned new details about how Mueller is running his special counsel team. More than three dozen attorneys, FBI agents and support staff, experts in investigating fraud and financial crimes broken into groups, focused separately on collusion and obstruction of justice. There is also focus on targets like Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, and General Michael Flynn, his fired national security adviser.

CNN has learned that investigators became more suspicious of Manafort when they turned up intercepted communications that U.S. intelligence agencies collected amongst suspected Russian operatives, discussing their efforts to work with Manafort to coordinate information that could hurt Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House, according to U.S. officials.

In Flynn's case, the focus is now on his lobbying work for the Turkish government which he failed to disclose as required by law.

While both deny any wrongdoing, the approach to the Manafort and Flynn probes may offer a template for how the focus by investigators on possible financial crimes could help gain leverage and cooperation in the investigation.

(on camera): The president's attorney, Jay Sekulow, said to CNN in a statement, quote: The president's outside counsel has not received requests for documentation or information about this. Any inquiry from the special counsel that goes beyond the mandate specified in the appointment, we would object to.

And for context, investigators don't have to go directly to the president's lawyers to get financial information. Investigators can issue subpoenas to financial institutions and get records from the Treasury Department.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: All right. Thanks much, Pam.

Joining us to sort all of this out, CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott.

KOSIK: And there's a lot to sort out --

BRIGGS: There is, indeed.

Look, I think people can get bogged down with the developments in this Russia investigation and the daily details. So, how significant is this, that now special counsel Robert Mueller is utilizing a grand jury? What's it mean?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, what it means is that what Mueller's trying to do is expand the investigation and look into various areas that could have somehow influenced the election or the relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign. And this is very important because now we're looking at financial ties, which is something that critics have wanted to pay close attention to throughout the campaign, considering that Trump campaigned mostly on being this effective businessman.

And so, he brought in people who also were in the business world. And what this investigation is hoping to reveal is whether or not some of those dealings were inappropriate.

KOSIK: And the financial dealings is what the president pointed out is going too far, that Mueller would be going too far if he delved into his finances, with the Trump Organization, with his family members.

I want to play you a little segment, because he talks about during a "New York Times" interview where "the New York Times" called this crossing a red line.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, NEW YORK TIMES: Mueller was looking at your finances and your family's finances, unrelated to Russia. Is that a red line?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yes. I would say yes. Over the years, I've looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia. But I never did one. You know, other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there, eight, nine years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: So, if the Mueller investigation seems to be going too far to what President Trump likes, what do you think he's going to do? Do you think he's going to push to fire Mueller?

SCOTT: Well, certainly, if he wants negative feedback from people in his party, that is what he would get if he made that decision. But what we know with this president is that throughout the campaign, he hasn't been incredibly forthcoming about his own finances. And he wants that privacy protected.

And perhaps even if this doesn't reveal what some critics think it could bring out, Trump I think is mindful that it could make more public some information about his finances, that he doesn't want, perhaps such as maybe his net worth isn't as high as he has said it is in the past.

BRIGGS: Well, a couple of things on firing Mueller. One, Jay Sekulow said he's not looking into firing Mueller. And two, as Congress goes into recess today, Republicans in the Senate took concrete steps to say, no, you will not make any recess appointments during this break, preventing him essentially from firing his A.G. or the special counsel.

Let's move on to the leaked transcripts, though. Conversations between President Trump and the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Pena Nieto, Mexican president, and we could get into the details. But one of the big takeaways was that he essentially told Pena Nieto that it's an important that you don't pay for the wall, but at least don't say it publicly. That would make me look back.

What's the big takeaway here? Is it details from the conversation or the fact that conversations, one on one with world leaders, were leaked?

[05:10:00] And today, the A.G. will announce an investigation looking into leaks.

SCOTT: Well, I think it's both, right? We obviously know that leaking has been unprecedented issue with this administration. But it is very important to pay attention what Donald Trump has said with other world leaders in the conversations, specifically among the base that has relied on some of these campaign promises to support the president.

It seems as if one of these big issues such as the border wall is not coming to pass with the ease that he said it was, and I think that's something that his supporters have to pay attention to as concerns about trust in the president continue.

KOSIK: Eugene --

BRIGGS: Sixty-two percent said he was dishonest, according to the latest polling, Quinnipiac.

KOSIK: Before we go -- I know we have to go -- I just have to ask you though this: how does the president govern in this environment? The environment of leaks, the environment of the Russia investigation, and this -- the grand jury, everything ramping up? How do you govern in this environment?

SCOTT: Well, I think what he's certainly trying to do -- we saw this last night in West Virginia -- is pivot in who he's attacking, attacking the Democrats, making this about something that is related to sore losers and not wanting to trust the American people who actually ended up backing Trump ultimately. Whether or not that's going to lead to legislation is not clear because it really hasn't done so thus far, not to the level that he said it would when he was campaigning. But they're certainly trying to figure it out and I think that's a good question for John Kelly.

BRIGGS: But first things first, a 17-day vacation to go play this golf for the president.

SCOTT: Which he's been doing a lot of.

BRIGGS: He's played a little bit of golf. We'll see you in about 30 minutes. Thanks, sir.

KOSIK: Thanks, Eugene.

OK. Trump's new immigration plan aims to help American jobs by curbing immigration. But economists say that will mean fewer workers risking long-term growth. Now, one of the economy's biggest challenges is baby-boomers are retiring, and there aren't enough young Americans to replace them.

Currently, 44 million Americans are retired, up 36 percent since 2000. Meantime, the labor force has only grown 12 percent. The U.S. relies on immigrants to fill that gap.

And currently, more foreigners participate in the labor force. Seventy-three percent of foreign born adults versus 62 percent of U.S. born.

But if more immigrants are working, does that hurt blue collar Americans? Well, maybe not. Workers for low-skill, labor-intensive jobs are actually in short supply.

Give you an example here -- California farmers lost $13 million in crops last year because of a shortage of workers. And it's not just agriculture seeing this. Restaurants, the service industry, they all depend on cheap legal workers to stay in business. Those workers are valuable, no doubt about it.

BRIGGS: Yes. This legislation, the RAISE Act going to have an uphill climb in Congress to say the least. But they are going on vacation, as well, starting today.

A stunning leak. Transcripts obtained by the "Washington Post" suggest President Trump may never have intended to deliver on a campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the border wall. We'll go live to Mexico for reaction, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[05:17:11] TRUMP: We will build the wall, 100 percent. I promise, we will build the wall.

And who's going to pay for the wall?

AUDIENCE: Mexico!

TRUMP: Who's going to pay for the wall?

AUDIENCE: Mexico!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Oh, yes, it was a rallying cry and a central theme for president Trump's campaign -- build the wall along the southern U.S. border and make Mexico pay for it.

But leaked transcripts published by the "Washington Post" suggest Trump never intended to follow through on that promise.

In a January 27th phone call, Trump tells Mexico's president this: It will work out in a formula somehow. I am willing to say that we will work it out. But you cannot say any more that the United States is going to pay for the wall. I am just going to say that we are going to work it out. In terms of dollars or pesos, it is the least important thing.

For more on the fallout from the explosive transcripts, let's bring in CNN's Patrick Oppmann, live for us from Mexico City.

You know, some of the things that President Trump says on this call are just jaw-dropping. How is it being received in Mexico City?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jaw-dropping no matter what side of the border you are on.

Mexicans are riveted by this. Just like people in the U.S., these transcripts have been translated into Spanish. People are reading them line by line.

Enrique Pena Nieto is getting credit for by patient with Donald Trump, by some for being firm. Others say he should have stood up to Donald Trump and are really disappointed that he did not. Of course, it's very tough for Mexico's president because the economies between the U.S. and Mexico are so closely aligned. And we have seen that when this issue of the walls come up, the Mexican peso has dropped.

But Mexicans are getting a glimmer of hope with some of the comments that show some flexibility on the part of Donald Trump that perhaps the wall might not be built, it is not the most important issue between these countries.

But just last month, Pena Nieto and Trump met in Germany. A reporter asked Trump if Mexico would build the wall. Trump said yes, Pena Nieto did not respond. So, even if he's ignoring questions about the wall, they are not going away, Alison.

KOSIK: You know, it was really interesting to watch Donald Trump's negotiation tactics during these phone calls, also with Australia's leader, as well. You know, this is a guy who wrote "The Art of the Deal." I don't know if this was really negotiation.

Anyway, CNN's Patrick Oppmann live for us from Mexico City -- thanks.

BRIGGS: Yes. One of my favorite lines was this one: We do not have to worry about Canada. We do not even think about them. That was from President Trump.

KOSIK: Ouch.

BRIGGS: If you need summer reading, peruse the transcripts all weekend long.

Ahead, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill may have a season- ending knee injury.

[05:20:02] If he's out, could Colin Kaepernick be in?

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report", next. Peruse the transcripts all weekend long.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Well, it is every NFL fan's nightmare -- your starting quarterback suffering an injury during the preseason. The Miami Dolphins now are in that tough spot.

KOSIK: My hometown. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.

You know, this is always pretty much the worst thing that could happen to an NFL team, losing your quarterback in the preseason. The Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill going down on a noncontact play yesterday, hurting his knee. The team fears that he's going to be lost now for the entire season.

That means the Dolphins are in the market for a quarterback. And many are wondering if Colin Kaepernick will now get a shot with the Dolphins. But Miami's where he received many of the coldest reception from fans. Many were not happy with him because earlier in the season last year, he wore a shirt with Malcolm X and Fidel Castro on it. Miami, of course, has a huge Cuban population.

Jay Cutler is another option for the Dolphins. He's currently retired and planning on calling games for Fox this season.

[05:25:00] All right. Finally, Diamondbacks/Cubs had a rain delay yesterday, so the guys in the bullpen decided to play charades against one another. And, guys, tell you what, this was epic. The Diamondbacks going with the bobsled together, then the Cubs countered with Carl Edwards Jr. fishing. It looked like he caught one.

Then Arizona goes bowling. Ruby de la Rosa knocking off the 7-10 split. The Cubs conceding to the Diamondbacks with the win there, guys. The bowling there was the best.

I don't know. I think to me -- I liked the fishing. What about you guys?

BRIGGS: Jamaican bobsled team, man. That was the winner, the Dbacks. I've never been so happy for a rain delay.

SCHOLES: Great.

BRIGGS: Scholes, thanks. That is fantastic video.

KOSIK: Thanks. OK.

A major development in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A grand jury has issued subpoenas. We're going to discuss all this next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We didn't win because of Russia. We won because of you, that I can tell you.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)