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EARLY START

Former Trump Aide Refuses To Comply With Subpoena; Trump Faces Pushback On Tariffs; Jon Stewart Helps 9/11 Responders; Kim Jong Un Wants To Write "New History." Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 6, 2018 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:30:19] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER AIDE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: They want me over at the grand jury. Screw that! Why do I have to go? Donald Trump caused it because he's an idiot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Dizzying, defiant, and potentially damaging in a series of interviews from a former Trump adviser raises the question is Sam Nunberg unhinged or did he just blow up the Russia investigation?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Top opposition from allies, foreign and domestic, about the president's plan for new tariffs. A former treasury secretary now calls it the most irrational economic policy from a president in the last half-century.

That's from Democrats. Republicans are saying Mr. President, don't do it.

BRIGGS: A big day on trade today.

ROMANS: Yes, it really is. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

Not clear what was more bizarre, the three-hour "BACHELOR" finale or the five-hour tour de farce that Sam Nunberg put on. That's where we start this morning.

One-time Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg has three days to decide if he'll stick to his word and refuse to comply with the grand jury subpoena in the special counsel's Russia investigation. Now, it's a matter of great interest not only because of the cable news circus Nunberg whipped up but because claims he made could have a real impact on Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Now, he's supposed to appear Friday but in a series of interviews that could be called defiant, erratic, bizarre or all three, Nunberg said no, sir. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NUNBERG: They want me over -- they want me over at the grand jury. Screw that!

Why do I have to go? Why? For what?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. This week's whirlwind started when Mueller sent Nunberg a grand jury subpoena seeking documents related to the president and top campaign officials. Nunberg has already spent more than five hours being interviewed by the special counsel's team.

Yesterday, he seemed to dare Mueller to come after him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NUNBERG: You know what?

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN "THE LEADER WITH JAKE TAPPER": You're actually willing going to go --

NUNBERG: You know what?

TAPPER: -- to jail for this? Sam?

NUNBERG: I'm not cooperating. Arrest me.

TAPPER: You're not cooperating -- arrest you.

NUNBERG: Yes, I'm not cooperating. You're more than happy -- if you want to arrest me, arrest me because you know what? I've been -- and since -- and I'm not a fan of Donald Trump, Jake, and you know that.

TAPPER: I know. You had a big falling out.

NUNBERG: I'm not a fan of his. You know what? When they start asking for stuff like this Trump is right, it's a witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: That falling out Jake mentions -- well, Nunberg was repeatedly hired and fired by the Trump team, even sued the last time he was fired in 2015 for racially-charged Facebook posts which he says weren't him.

Throughout the day Nunberg leveled a series of allegations, most damning if true. Well, Nunberg says he thinks Mr. Trump was aware during the campaign of the Trump Tower meeting between Russians and campaign officials, including Don, Jr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: President Trump says he knew nothing about the meeting. Do you -- do you think that that's true? NUNBERG: No.

TAPPER: You don't think that's true?

NUNBERG: No. It doesn't -- and Jake, I've watched your news reports. You know it's not true. He talked about it for a week before and I don't why he did this.

All he had to say was yes, we met with the Russians. The Russians offered us something and we thought they had something, and that was it. I don't know why he went around trying to hide and he shouldn't have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Both President Trump and Don, Jr. have denied the president knew about that meeting.

Nunberg also says he believes Trump quote "may very well have done something" with the Russians during the election, with no evidence.

Inside the West Wing, officials were stunned, calling these interviews nuts. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed the significance of Nunberg's remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we've said many times before there was no collusion with the Trump campaign. Anything further on what his actions are, he hasn't worked at the White House so I certainly can't speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Rounding out all the interviews, Nunberg told our Erin Burnett that he hadn't been drinking and he had an idea for a compromise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NUNBERG: I was thinking to save time -- I've been advised against this -- maybe I'll just give them my password -- my e-mail password because why do I have to go --

ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": So then, you're going to comply?

NUNBERG: Then I would comply, yes.

BURNETT: So now you're saying you might comply?

NUNBERG: I have no problem complying, in itself. What I'm not going to do is sit, Erin, for 15 hours after I sat with them --

BURNETT: So, you'll -- NUNBERG: I have no problem --

BURNETT: Yes.

NUNBERG: -- if they get the e-mails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: If Nunberg does not hand over documents and show up at the grand jury Friday he could be held in contempt punishable by a fine or jail time.

[05:35:05] ROMANS: All right.

House Speaker Paul Ryan pushing back against President Trump's new tariffs, joining a long list of aides, allies, and fellow Republicans. Trump wants to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports -- the biggest source of those imports, Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Trump yesterday to warn the president his tariffs would hurt NAFTA negotiations. Trudeau made a case for Canada's exemption from those tariffs.

The fear here, a trade war, but the president told reporters he's not worried.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No trade war?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think so. I don't think you're going to have a trade war, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Ryan is not so sure. Ryan's spokeswoman says he is extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and is urging the White House to not advance with this plan.

That was enough to ease Wall Street's fears about a trade war, at least for now. The Dow rebounded yesterday jumping more than 300 points -- the "Paul Ryan Bounce."

What's next? Economic adviser Gary Cohn plans to set up a meeting between the president and companies hurt by the tariffs -- companies like Ford and GM. They import lots of steel and the new tariff could cost both companies $1 billion per year according to Goldman Sachs.

It's one reason former treasury secretary Larry Summers calls this quote "the most irrational economic policy any president has introduced in the last half-century."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER SECRETARY, U.S. TREASURY: There are 50 times as many people in the United States who work in steel-using industries as there are in steel-producing industries -- 50 times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.

SUMMERS: And all of them are losing because the firms they work are now going to have 25 percent more expensive inputs. That can't be rational policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Carmakers and other manufacturers buy most of that imported metal. Higher costs could force companies to raise prices or cut jobs.

The top five states that depend on manufacturing jobs the most, they all voted for President Trump. Retaliation also threatens U.S. exports, particularly harmful to Midwest farmers.

And again, one narrow set of tariffs in and of itself is not a trade war. It happens when you have the E.U. retaliating --

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: -- and then Canada retaliating. Then you start to see a trade war when you have retaliation. The most important word there is retaliation.

BRIGGS: We'll see if there are exemptions carved out.

Joining us now, "Washington Examiner" White House correspondent Sarah Westwood. Good to see you, Sarah.

ROMANS: Hi, Sarah.

BRIGGS: So, Christine mentioned there the spokesperson for Paul Ryan. Today, he speaks as does Mitch McConnell.

How strong will that pushback be from Republican leadership and will the president follow through?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": There are a lot of concerns about Republicans that this could start to erase the gains that they think they've notched from tax cuts, from deregulation that's going to be the foundation of the GOP's pitch in the midterms and so they're very wary of any policies that could diminish that. So I think you are going to see a strong pushback from the likes of Speaker Ryan.

And it will be interesting to see what approach they use to try to talk the president off the ledge of imposing these tariffs, though. If they go the route of arguing that economic experts, at least, don't like this policy, the GOP establishment is against it, I don't know that that's going to be an effective argument against Trump when he's held these beliefs that we should impose these kinds of tariffs --

ROMANS: True.

WESTWOOD: -- for decades before he became president.

What could be an effective argument is the approach that it seems like Gary Cohn is taking, highlighting the fact that steel-using industries which also employ Trump supporters -- blue-collar workers -- could be hurt by these tariffs. That might get President Trump to reconsider how he'll implement these policies.

ROMANS: And we showed that map -- the five-biggest manufacturing states. Then you add in the Midwest which would have retaliation to soybean exports. That's a real connection that Cohn and company could try to draw from those tariffs directly to the people who voted for Donald Trump.

Now, Donald Trump, Sarah, said the tariffs will come off if he gets what he wants on NAFTA. Is this the president brilliantly playing 47- dimensional chess --

BRIGGS: Dimensional chess?

ROMANS: -- here, trying to get what he wants on NAFTA by threatening these tariffs?

WESTWOOD: We don't know. Yesterday was the first that we heard that this -- a position that tariffs could be a negotiating tactic with regards to NAFTA.

We know that President Trump has been dissatisfied with the pace of NAFTA negotiations. That's why we've heard rumblings that potentially Trump is unhappy with commerce secretary Wilbur Ross. That this is not moving fast enough. That the U.S. is not being aggressive enough.

Remember, on the campaign trail Trump threatened to tear up NAFTA --

ROMANS: Yes.

WESTWOOD: -- if he didn't get what he wanted and we're nowhere close to reaching the kinds of changes that Trump has proposed. So potentially, this is a way to break the logjam when it comes to NAFTA negotiations and maybe start to see some movement there.

And maybe we will see an exemption for Canada that would make this more like a policy that you might see any other Republican president impose.

ROMANS: You certainly do not want to alienate your allies at a time when the Chinese juggernaut gets more --

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: I mean, a leader for life and a strategy from China for dominance in that region while the United States is angering its allies just seems so silly.

[05:40:06] BRIGGS: The president will take two questions from the press corps. One will certainly be about trade. Perhaps another could be about Russia and whatever played out last night on cable news related to Sam Nunberg.

So, there was "THE BACHELOR" finale that I've mentioned where bachelor Arie, I'm told, chose one girl and then changed his mind and chose another.

ROMANS: Spoiler.

BRIGGS: And it was topped by this guy, Sam Nunberg, who was all over the map on will he or will he not comply with special counsel Bob Mueller on Friday.

If anything, through these five national interviews, what did we learn?

WESTWOOD: I think that we learned that Sam Nunberg is potentially a wildcard that's been sort of sitting on the periphery of Trump world for a while. It would be sort of malpractice if Mueller didn't contact Nunberg given that at one time he was in very close proximity to the president. That he was in the upper echelons of the Trump campaign.

Obviously, he's been outside the loop for a long time so it's not clear how much new information he could provide, but it's Mueller's mandate to contact everyone that could have any knowledge related to activities that took place during the campaign. It doesn't necessarily mean that Nunberg is really that much of interest to Mueller, just that it's been clear for months now that Mueller is going to overturn every rock and make sure that --

ROMANS: Yes.

WESTWOOD: -- this is a really thorough investigation.

ROMANS: I heard him contradict himself in that -- in those interviews, too. He said this is a witch hunt --

BRIGGS: Throughout.

ROMANS: -- and then he said no, he did know about the meeting. I mean, I just --

BRIGGS: And he did do something wrong within the campaign.

ROMANS: Yes, and so -- you know, without evidence but with all -- it was just bizarre -- bizarre.

BRIGGS: It certainly calls into question Sam Nunberg's law degree, to say the least.

ROMANS: It calls into question the people that the president was surrounding himself with also in the early days of this -- of this campaign. All right.

Nice to see you Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent, "Washington Examiner."

BRIGGS: Thanks, Sarah.

WESTWOOD: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. People still sick from working at the World Trade Center after 9/11 getting a little from Jon Stewart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, FORMER HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": They'll have to rewrite "SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK" as to how a bill becomes a law and one guy screws everything up. That will be known forever as "pulling a Mulvaney."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: No laugh line there.

ROMANS: Yes. He's talking about Mick Mulvaney. We'll explain why this comedian is getting involved in this issue again, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:26] BRIGGS: All right, 5:46 eastern time.

The 2018 election season officially kicks off today in Texas and Democrats showing some signs of being competitive in the deep red state. Early voting for Democrats more than doubled from 2014.

In today's primaries, Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz expected to breeze through. Cruz expected to face a stiff challenge in the fall from Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke who is expected to win the Democratic primary today.

A lot of the focus will be contests in north Texas. With several Republican retirements in Congress, Democrats are trying to build a momentum since President Trump took office.

Some breaking news overnight. Washington State will be the first in the nation to have a law protecting net neutrality. Governor Jay Inslee signed the bill even as the FCC tries to overturn federal net neutrality.

Those policies require Internet providers to treat all online content the same. That means they can't deliberately speed up or slow down specific sites to hurt their business rivals.

The new law had bipartisan support in Washington State. It takes effect June sixth.

ROMANS: With their teachers still out on strike, nearly 277,000 West Virginia students are home for a ninth day today.

A newly-assembled conference committee of state lawmakers meeting later this morning. They got to try to resolve these differences between bills in the state and the house -- the State House and the Senate, rather. Efforts at a compromise failed two different committees last night. Union leaders insist teachers will not return to work until they get

that five percent raised that was promised by the governor. If the conference committee can hammer out a plan, it goes directly to the governor. Otherwise, the process starts all over again.

BRIGGS: Boy.

Comedian Jon Stewart accusing the Trump administration of trying to quote "screw 9/11 first responders." On Monday, Stewart joined three bipartisan New York lawmakers on Capitol Hill to call out White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.

Now, they want him to abandon a proposal they believe threatens health treatments for thousands who got sick working at Ground Zero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: It is a special kind of incompetence that takes a program that was fought for, for 15 years, by firefighters, police officers, first responders, veterans, and survivors that has finally come to fruition and is finally working well. It's a special kind of incompetence to want to turn that upside down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: He feels really strongly about this as you can see.

The World Trade Health -- the World Trade Center Health Program is what it call -- is what it's called. It provides treatment to more than 80,000 people.

As part of a bureaucratic reshuffling, Mulvaney wants to separate the program -- Mick Mulvaney wants to separate the program from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

The White House has not responded to CNN's request for comment.

All right, 49 minutes the past the hour this Tuesday morning.

Would you do your banking at the First National Bank of Amazon? They might be looking into starting some checking accounts. Details on "CNN Money," next.

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[05:53:47] BRIGGS: Kim Jong Un telling a delegation from South Korea he wants to quote "write a new history of national reunification." So after an unprecedented meeting between the two Koreas in Pyongyang Monday, are possible talks between North Korea and the United States any more likely?

Let's ask Will Ripley. He's live in Beijing. Good morning, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Dave, yes.

Well, talks are one thing but action is another and the United States and North Korea both seem willing to engage with each other but what those talks could actually achieve, given the fact that North Korea says they're not giving up their nukes and the U.S. and South Korea say they must denuclearize -- well, that's the million-dollar question.

And even today, 38 North -- the North Korea watchdog group put out these new images showing increased activity at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor. That's where they produce plutonium to make nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong Un said on January first he was going to mass produce nuclear weapons. He also said he was going to try to improve relations with South Korea, and he's doing both of those things just as he said.

President Trump has said that if diplomacy doesn't work -- if it doesn't stop North Korea's nuclear program then the United States will seriously consider a military action, which means that these talks are crucial.

But again, the big question. What are they actually going to achieve?

That delegation from South Korea arrived back in Seoul just in the last couple of hours. They'll be holding a press conference very soon. We expect to learn more about what they said to Kim Jong Un. What was he like, what did they learn from their meeting with him, and what are the next steps from here -- Dave.

[05:55:10] BRIGGS: All right, really good to hear about that. Thank you, Will.

Meanwhile, back here at home, a new winter storm warning is issued ahead of yet another nor'easter. Portions of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont all affected. Heavy snow and coastal flooding expected tonight into tomorrow.

We get more from meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey guys, good morning.

Another nor'easter. We've been talking about this potential now for a couple of days. Pretty much set in stone, right? It's just how much snow are we going to get and how windy it's going to get.

Winter storm watches -- these will becoming warnings rather shortly here. The main event will be occurring Wednesday and through the day on Thursday.

Where is this storm now? Well, it's still west of us here. We haven't even had a coastal low developing. The parent low, we call it, is over Minneapolis across the Midwest. There is the boundary with showers and thunderstorms across the southeast.

It's when this low pushes east and then hits the water -- that's when we're going to get that coastal low really cranking up. That's when the winds will become an issue and that's when the snow will be coming down heavily. And as I mentioned, that will be Wednesday and into Thursday so we have about 24 hours to get ready for what could be a pretty blockbuster of a storm.

As far as the totals this will not be like the last one. This will be much colder and so then I think the snow totals will be six to 12 inches. Nearing the coast we'll have lesser amounts because there will be a little bit of rainfall there but this is what we're thinking right now heading into the next 72 hours.

So we have got shovable snow, once again, on the way -- guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: That's really --

BRIGGS: Not plowable, shovable.

ROMANS: Plowable snow.

BRIGGS: Too much for the shovel.

ROMANS: I know.

After stealing the show at the Oscars, Frances McDormand had her Best Actress Oscar stolen. Her representative telling CNN someone walked off with the statue while she was at the Governor's Ball following the ceremony. McDormand had just won for her role in "THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI." Her spokesperson says Frances and her Oscar were reunited.

Police arrested a suspect and booked him on suspicion of grand theft.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning.

Wall Street's trade war fears easing, at least for the time being. The S&P jumped one percent, the Dow rose 336 points ending a four-day trade-inspired losing streak.

What happened here? You can thank House Speaker Paul Ryan -- the "Paul Ryan Bounce." He's pushing back against President Trump's new tariffs on aluminum and steel. Ryan is extremely worried about a trade war and is urging the White House to not advance with this plan.

Why is the market freaked out by trade? Well, the president's protectionism threatens to undo his pro-business work and a trade war could lead to more inflation and faster interest rate hikes.

The Dow rose thanks mainly to Caterpillar, by the way. Caterpillar up 3.2 percent. It would be hurt by steel -- higher steel prices. It's a consumer of steel to make its construction equipment.

Right now, futures are higher.

Would you do your banking at the First National Bank of Amazon? Amazon in talks with JPMorgan Chase, Capital One and other banks to set up Amazon checking accounts. That's according to "The Wall Street Journal" and talks are in the early stages. But, Amazon aims to appeal to younger customers or those who don't have bank accounts.

JPMorgan Chase and Capital One declined to comment.

United Airlines backtracking plans to replace employee bonuses with a lottery prize. United's 90,000 workers hated this idea.

The idea was to instead of giving quarterly bonuses to everyone, United planned to award one employee $100,000 via a lottery system. That meant the majority of workers would lose up to $1,500 a year.

Compensation experts say they have never heard of something like this -- a company of United's size trying this kind of program. It's over, it's done. They're not going to do it.

BRIGGS: Generally speaking, lotteries work because you only have to risk five-10 bucks.

ROMANS: Yes, you don't want to risk your whole --

BRIGGS: That's your entire yearly bonus.

ROMANS: You want your bonus.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

Guess who joins "NEW DAY"? Sam Nunberg -- you're welcome.

We'll see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: A grand jury subpoena is not an invitation to a birthday party.

NUNBERG: I have no problem complying. What I'm not going to do is sit for 15 hours.

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: He's going to look at this and say you don't show up, we will, and you're going to go to jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not concerned about his testimony because he has proven himself to be unstable.

NUNBERG: Trump may have very well done something during the election with the Russians.

SANDERS: I certainly can't speak to the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.

REP. MIKE CONAWAY (R), TEXAS: I think we've pretty explored that to death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican Party is not willing to follow him on tariffs.

TRUMP: Our country, on trade, has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are real consequences and he doesn't seem to appreciate that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, March sixth, 6:00 here in New York.

So, here's our "Starting Line."

How will President Trump respond today to claims made by one of his former campaign aides, Sam Nunberg, in a series of bizarre interviews yesterday? Nunberg is angry over a grand jury subpoena requiring him to turn over thousands of e-mails with former campaign officials.