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Trump & Cabinet on Same Page?; Comey Talked to Trump; VP Biden Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom; Chargers Announce Move to Los Angeles. Aired 5-5:30a ET
Aired January 13, 2017 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: In 2011, the company added 30,000 employees. Last year, it had 180,000 employees. That tally is expected to jump to 280,000 by mid-2018.
[05:00:04] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it's interesting. Amazon is adding 100,000 jobs. Amazon Prime is going to add 100,000 in two days. Just saying.
ROMANS: Very funny.
BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.
BERMAN: The divide between the President-elect Donald Trump and the people that he has chosen for his cabinet. Why are they not on the same page with the president-elect on issue after issue?
ROMANS: New clarity this morning on the intelligence report that Russia compromising information on the President-elect. The director of the FBI himself shared this information summary with Donald Trump.
BERMAN: All right. Pull out the handkerchiefs. An honor of a lifetime for Vice President Joe Biden. A surprise at the White House, an unbelievable surprise and an emotional moment you want to see.
ROMANS: A three hanky afternoon at the White House.
BERMAN: All right. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.
ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday. It's January 13th.
BERMAN: Friday the 13th.
ROMANS: Friday the 13th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.
BERMAN: What could possibly go wrong?
ROMANS: I'm going to focus on the Friday part of that. No more cabinet confirmation hearings today, but the hearings over the past four days of the week had enough very unusual moments to last a month, I'd say a month, mainly because again and again, the president-elect's nominees contradicted the man they hope will be their boss.
Earlier in the week, it was Mr. Trump's nominees for homeland security and secretary of state who seemed to veer off script. Then, yesterday, defense nominee General James Mattis and Trump's nominee to head the CIA, Mike Pompeo, they demonstrated some big differences, some daylight between them and Donald Trump, including on Russia.
National security reporter Ryan Browne joins us again this morning with the latest on the hearings.
Good morning, Ryan.
RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Good morning, Christine.
You're absolutely right. You know, there was definitely some moments where Trump's picks for some of his most important national security positions differed from him significantly.
Now, when it came to General James Mattis, his pick for defense secretary, those differences came on the areas of NATO. Trump has called NATO at times obsolete. Mattis said he wanted a strongest possible relationship with the military alliance, also on the issue of the Iran nuclear deal. Mattis called it imperfect arms control agreement, but said that the U.S. should stick with. Trump has promised to tear it up on day one, and also on the issue of where the U.S. embassy will be.
Mattis said he recognized Tel Aviv as the embassy of Israel, or the capital of Israel. While Donald Trump has pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem, a very controversial issue there.
And then going on to Mike Pompeo, the congressman from Kansas for CIA, he pledged to not do things like waterboarding or enhanced interrogation techniques, which is sometimes refer to as torture, something Donald Trump would seek to bring back.
And both men, Mattis and Pompeo, struck very tougher lines on Russia and Russia's role in cyberattacks during the U.S. presidential election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: Russia, to quote the chairman's opening statement, has chosen to be a strategic competitor. They're adversary in key areas. I'm all for engagement, but we also have to recognize reality and what Russia is up to. And there's a decreasing number of areas where we can engage cooperatively.
The most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we deal with, with Mr. Putin, and we recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance.
REP. MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: It's pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement and efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy. As we continue to develop the facts, I will relay those, not only to the president, but the team around him, and to you all, so that we all can have a robust discussion about how to take on what is an enormous threat from cyber.
This is very real. It is growing. It is not new in that sense. But this was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership in Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWNE: Now, their testimony comes after two other cabinet picks, General John Kelly for homeland security, and Secretary of State pick, Rex Tillerson, also expressed views that contrasted with Trump. Tillerson talking about the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that Trump has opposed. He said he wasn't opposed to it, and Kelly talking about waterboarding and being opposed to that, as well as the southern border wall not sufficient to stop immigration and drugs. This may ease their confirmation process in the Senate, but setting up serious policy clashes in the administration.
ROMANS: And raises the question who influences whom once they are around the big table making actual policy.
All right. Ryan, nice to see you this morning bright and early, 5:04 a.m. Eastern Time in D.C. Thanks.
BROWNE: Happy to be here.
BERMAN: New information this morning on the intelligence summary containing unverified claims that Russia may have compromising information on President-elect Donald Trump. New reporting was directly contradicts statements from the Trump team.
CNN has learned the summary was not just handed to Trump as part of the documents.
[05:05:00] Multiple U.S. officials tell CNN that FBI Director James Comey personally briefed the president-elect on the intelligence. Not only that, Vice President Joe Biden now confirms that he and President Obama were also briefed on the same information.
Let's get the latest from CNN's Evan Perez in Washington.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, FBI Director James Comey and President-elect Donald Trump had a brief one and one conversation last Friday's intelligence briefing. Multiple U.S. officials briefed on the matter tell CNN that it is during that pull aside that Comey briefed the president-elect on the two-page synopsis of unverified Russian claims that have comprising personal and financial information on the president-elect.
Four of the nation's top intelligence chiefs briefed Mr. Trump on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. And they decided Comey would be the one who would handle the sensitive discussion with Mr. Trump. The discussion was described as cordial to us. The FBI declined to comment on this account. And reporters also heard
Thursday from Vice President Joe Biden. That he and President Obama were briefed on the unproven allegations about Mr. Trump.
Biden said that he read the 35-page opposition research document that was put together by a former British intelligence operative. Republican and Democratic political opponents of President-elect Donald Trump had hired the operative to put together the dossier -- John and Christine.
ROMANS: All right. Evan Perez, thank you for that.
Breaking overnight, FBI Director Comey reacting to news the Justice Department internal watchdog has launched a probe into how the FBI handled its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mails server. Comey has been sharply criticized for announcing two weeks before the election that the FBI had discovered e-mails, possibly relevant to the e-mail probe. Some Democrats think Comey's decision cost Clinton the election.
Last night, Comey responded to the review with a statement. He said this, "I'm grateful to the Department of Justice's inspector general for taking on this review. I hope very much he is able to share his conclusions and observations with the public because everyone will benefit from thoughtful evaluation and transparency regarding this matter."
BERMAN: The House votes this afternoon on the budget resolution which will launch the dismantling of Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan laid out his vision for repealing the Affordable Care Act in a town hall last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We want to do this at the same time and in some cases, in the same bill.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: OK.
RYAN: So, we want to advance repealing this law with its replacement at the same time. I don't have a date, but that's something we're working on right now and it's going to take us a little bit of time. But we're working on this as fast as possible.
TAPPER: The first 100 days?
RYAN: Yes, oh, yes. It's something -- definitely is a plan within the first 100 days to get moving on this legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. There are Republicans on the hill who are on the fence about the vote. Some are concerned about the cost of repealing the Affordable Care Act and the fact there is no one single plan right now to replace it. A straight repeal, if it were to be enacted instantaneously would affect coverage for millions of Americans. And there are some see it as a possible tax credit to more wealthy Americans who are currently paying for some of the provisions with a couple of surcharges.
ROMANS: All right. The Trump transition team is already laying the groundwork to help parents pay for college. Transition officials held a call with the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday, making it clear President-elect Trump and his daughter Ivanka want to push child care reform through a broader tax reform package. That's according to a Trump transition source. The source tells us this is a top priority for the president-elect.
Now, the proposal includes a child care tax credit and six weeks of unemployment benefits for mothers who don't get paid leave through work. It comes with a hefty $300 billion price tag. One reason the incoming administration will try to build it into a broader package. The transition team wants House members to find ways to pay for it and making it budget neutral.
And there are some who said, look, the idea of making sure that women get paid leave is increasingly important, incredibly popular. But using it through jobless benefits which wouldn't even 100 percent reimburse your pay, maybe the president-elect could use the bully pulpit and push companies to provide this.
I mean, this is not a developing nation. This is the most developed nation in the world. Companies should pay for people to have a baby.
BERMAN: It's a good point. Let's see if he uses his influence on Twitter on this subject, as well as he does as many others.
President Obama, he pulled a fast one on his friend and his vice president, Joe Biden, in a White House ceremony. The president had a special honor and gratitude for the vice president's eight years of service. It was a pretty emotional moment for Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self regard and to live life fully. As one of his longtime colleagues in the Senate who happened to be a Republican once said, if you can't admire Joe Biden as a person, you've got a problem. He is as good a man as God ever created.
[05:10:01] So, Joe, for your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I'd like to ask the military aide to join us on stage. For the final time as president, I am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
(APPLAUSE) And for the first and only time in my presidency, I will bestow this medal with an additional level of veneration, an honor my three most recent successors reserved for only three others, Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan and General Colin Powell.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction to my brother, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, this honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it's a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit. I don't deserve this, but I know it came from the president's heart. There's a Talmudic saying that says what comes from the heart enters the heart.
Mr. President, you have creeped into our heart, you and your whole family, including mom. And you occupy it. It's an amazing thing that happened.
I knew how smart you were. I knew how honorable you were. I knew how decent you were from the couple years you worked in the Senate. I knew what you were capable of.
But I never fully expected that you occupy the Bidens' heart, from Hunter and Ashley, my sister, and all of us, all of us. And, Mr. President, I -- I -- I'm indebted to you. I'm indebted to your friendship. I'm indebted to your family.
And as -- I'll tell you on a humorous note, we're having lunches and mostly whatever in our minds. We talk about family an awful lot. And about six months in, the president looked at me, he said, you know, Joe, you know what surprised me? How we've become such good friends.
I said, surprised you?
But that is candid Obama. And it's real.
Mr. President, you know as long as there's breath in me, I'll be there for you. My whole family will be. And I know, I know it is reciprocal.
I want to thank you all so very, very, very much. All of you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: That's the surprise.
BERMAN: That is what I call a big blanking deal, to quote Joe Biden on that.
Look, it's a wonderful thing. Decades and decades of service and recognition of his service and friendship of these two men have shared.
[05:15:05] A moment of genuine emotion at the White House.
ROMANS: I mean, somebody spent his entire life helping others. That is what politics is supposed to be about, right, holding others. Before he was 30 years old, he was senator of the United States, wow. It's really something. OK.
BERMAN: Coming up for us. So, the president-elect and his nominees have differences that they need to work out. We're going to break it down with one of CNN's best, coming up next.
BERMAN: We want to hold up some headlines for you right now. This is "The Wall Street Journal", nominees diverge from Trump on Russia security. "The New York Times" says, latest to agree with Trump --
BERMAN: Sorry, I can't read. Disagree with Donald Trump. His nominees, that's the whole point.
CNN politics reporter, Tal Kopan, joins us now live from Washington.
It has been interesting, Tal, to listen to this last week, to the confirmation hearings and hear how some of the president-elect's nominees don't agree with him on some of the issues he campaigned on.
TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, absolutely. You know, there's a lot of parsing that you have to do this week as you listen to some of these nominees.
Russia is an obvious example where you heard nominees time and time again say they do not view Russia as a friend to the U.S. You know, yesterday, I was watching the confirmation hearing of General Mattis who's up for defense secretary, looks very much like he is sailing towards confirmation.
And he was saying, you know, he was asked by John McCain, a Russia hawk, I have seen three presidents try to reestablish relationships with Vladimir Putin. All had failures. Mattis had this great quote about looking to history and saying how low his expectations are. That is not at all what we heard from Donald Trump.
You know, at the same time, on a lot of other issues where perhaps the political cover is not as clear as how much senators are really looking for tough language on Russia, some of the other issues, I heard a lot of nominees say things like I haven't researched that issue or I'm not current on it. So, there's some dodging happening as well on some of the questions about where this policy is going to come from the administration. [05:20:04] ROMANS: I've heard that on climate change a couple of
times now, you know, about whether you agree with NASA scientists. Well, I haven't heard all the NASA science on that.
Let's talk about this intel story from the week which dovetails nicely with what we're talking about, about Russia, and what kind of relationship the United States is going to have with Russia and the adversarial actions of Vladimir Putin. Joe Biden yesterday talking to NBC about intel he has received and why he had received sort of a briefing on what some people say is Vladimir Putin and the Russians trying to play the American political system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: They would be -- they used the word derelict. It was their obligation to inform not only us but the president-elect that this was out there, so that it didn't come out of the blue and have any impact on the conduct of our foreign policy. They were clear that they just mentioned it. They made no judgment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: He is talking about the intel community, their thinking on informing him and the president-elect about that noise you could call it, unverified information that was out there, and how its context in the idea of Putin and the Russian infrastructure trying to play this president.
KOPAN: Yes, absolutely. You know, the biggest question and the -- let's be clear. The reason why this is an issue is how many times Donald Trump has been asked about it and sort of went out of his way to deny what almost everyone else was coming to agreement on. You know, since his intelligence briefing as most recent press conference, he has agreed Russia want behind the hacking and misinformation campaign that was waged to influence the election.
But, you know, it is big news to know that this document was not just floating out there, but the intelligence community decided it was important enough that at least our leader should be aware of the existence although we cannot verify any of it. It is something adding to the noise as you call it.
BERMAN: The vice president now confirming the CNN report, DNI James Clapper confirming the report, and overnight, CNN reporting that Director James Comey himself briefed the president-elect on this, in contradiction what the Trump team says.
Tal Kopan, thanks so much. We'll see you in a little bit.
KOPAN: Thank you.
BERMAN: It is the end of an era in the NFL. The San Diego Chargers, they are in San Diego no more. They're leaving town. Their fans letting the team's owner no know how they feel. Coy Wire with this morning's "Bleacher Report", that's next.
[05:26:08] BERMAN: The bolts are bolting. The San Diego Chargers made it official yesterday. They are moving up the coast to Los Angeles.
ROMANS: Coy Wire joins us. Not a fun time to be a fan in San Diego right now.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christine.
Good morning to you and John.
Chargers has been over a century in San Diego for the 15 years. The team and the city couldn't come to agreement on the taxpayer-funded stadium. So, fans in San Diego are rightfully upset. Some lashing out while gathering at Chargers park piling up the gear and setting it up on fire.
San Diego's mayor, Kevin Faulconer, put the blame on the Chargers owner Dean Spanos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN FAULCONER, SAN DIEGO MAYOR: Dean Spanos was never willing to work with us on a stadium solution, and demanded a lot more money than we could have ever agreed to. We live in a great city and we will move forward. San Diego didn't lose the Chargers. The Chargers just lost San Diego.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: The Chargers unveiled the new logo on Twitter moments after Dean Spanos press conference. It was the most trending topic. It's incredibly similar to the L.A. Dodgers logo and some folks started to realize it looked like the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dodgers had a love child.
So, the Lightning said they are not the father after tweeting, "For the record, us and the Dodgers are just friends."
All right. The L.A. Rams, the other team in L.A., hired their youngest head coach in modern NFL history. Sean McVay, he's just 30 years old. He served as Washington's offensive coordinator last years, where the offense gained the fifth most yards in the NFL over that span.
He grew up around football. His grandfather was in 49ers Hall of Fame as an executive, winning five Super Bowls with the team. It is incredible to think several players are older than the head coach.
ROMANS: That's cool. I wish you could have heard him giggling during the Tampa Bay tweet. Giggling.
BERMAN: It was the love child. You had me at love child.
ROMANS: All right. Coy, nice to see you.
WIRE: Happy Friday.
ROMANS: One week from his inauguration, the president-elect and some of his top nominees appear to have some daylight between their positions. What confirmation hearings revealed.