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Cabinet Nominees Contradict Trump;Comey Briefed Trump On Russian Intel; VP Biden Awarded Presidential Medal Of Freedom; Speaker Paul Ryan Faces Tough Questions at CNN Town Hall.Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 13, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:31:20] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: One week until Donald Trump assumes the Oval Office and new questions emerge about whether he and his would-be advisers agree on key issues. How the confirmation hearings will establish daylight between Trump and his nominees.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The intelligence report with claims that Russia had compromising information about the president-elect, it was shared directly with Donald Trump. We have details on the FBI director's talk with the president-elect.

ROMANS: And a surprise, heartfelt send-off for Vice President Joe Biden. President Obama conferred the rarest of honors on Biden at the White House. We're going to show you the emotional moments. A three- of four-hankie moment at the White House yesterday. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Nice to see you. Thirty-two minutes after the hour right now. Well, this morning, the newest debate in Washington is between the president-elect and the people he has chosen to be in his cabinet. In confirmation hearings this week, nominee after nominee seemed to take opposing positions from Donald Trump on issue after issue, again and again.

The nominee for Defense Secretary, Gen. James Mattis, and Mr. Trump's nominee for CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, demonstrated some big differences with the president-elect, including on Russia. We're joined now by national security reporter Ryan Browne. And, Ryan, you know, a team of rivals is one thing when you come in with challenging views to the chief executive. That's one thing I think people think is a positive development with any administration. On the other hand, if they're not on the same page that could be a problem.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: And that's absolutely right, John, and they definitely weren't on the same page on a couple of issues raised during the hearings.

Now, we heard from Gen. Mattis who is appearing for the confirmation for Defense Secretary, and he laid out some definitely different views on a couple -- on a range of issues.One was on Iran -- on the Iran nuclear agreement. He talked that he didn't think it was a great deal but he said that the U.S. had to stick with it for the time being. On the issue of Israel, he talked about whether or not the embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He deferred on that but said he saw the capital of Jerusalem as being in Tel Aviv. And with Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas, he laid out some issues

that also were contrasted to campaigns statements from Trump on waterboarding and enhanced interrogation, something Trump had backed. He said he would never do that. And he also promised to protect the Intelligence Community from any interference.

Both men struck tougher lines on Russia on the issue of Russian involvement in the U.S. elections, with Gen. Mattis promising strong alliances with NATO and particularly aggressive towards Vladimir Putin and his actions.


GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: Russia, to quote the chairman's opening statement, has chosen to be a strategic competitor. They're an 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.


BROWNE: And now, Trump's picks for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Department of Homeland Security, Gen. John Kelly, also expressed views during their hearings that clash with Trump on things like trade, climate change, the border wall, and the issue of targeting and surveilling Muslim-Americans.

So this is setting up -- you know, it might ease their confirmation process in the Senate but it's setting up some serious potential for policy clashes with the White House once the administration comes into power.

BERMAN: You know, if they do continue pushing those positions there could be clashes. That remains to be seen. Ryan Browne, thanks so much for being with us.

BROWNE: You got it.

ROMANS: All right, 35 minutes past the hour. New information this morning on the intelligence summary containing those unverified claims Russia may have compromising information on President-elect Trump. New reporting which directly contradicts statements from the Trump team. We can now report that the summary was not just handed to Trump as part of a package of documents. Multiple U.S. officials tell CNN FBI Director James Comey personally briefed Trump on this intelligence.

[05:35:22] Not only that. Vice President Biden now confirms he and President Obama were also briefed on the same information. Let's get the latest now from CNN's Evan Perez in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, FBI Director James Comey and President-elect Donald Trump had a brief one- on-one conversation at 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 a two-page synopsis of unverified Russian claims to have compromising 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 had decided that Comey would be the one who would handle the sensitive discussion with Mr. Trump. Now, 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 entire 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.


BERMAN: All right. Evan Perez, thanks so much. Breaking overnight, FBI Director James Comey is reacting to the news that the Justice Department internal watchdog has launched a probe into how the FBI handled this investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. Director Comey has been sharply criticized for announcing less than two weeks before the election that the FBI had discovered emails possibly relevant to its Clinton email probe. Some Democrats think that the FBI director's decision cost Hillary Clinton the election.

Last night, Comey responded to the announcement of the review. This was the statement. "I am 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 the matter."

All right. If you missed the heartfelt send-off that the vice president got from President Obama, this is worth watching. Get the hankies ready, next.


[05:40:15] BERMAN: President Obama pulled a fast one on his friend and his vice president, Joe Biden, at a White House ceremony. The president had a special honor for Joe Biden in gratitude for his eight years of service. This was a pretty emotional moment for the vice president -- watch this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To know Joe Biden is to know that 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's as good a man as God ever created." 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 aid 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.


And for -- for the first - 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 a -- isn't only well beyond what I deserve, but it's a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit. I don't deserve this. I -- I'm indebted to you.I'm indebted to your friendship. I'm indebted to your family and as -- I'll tell you -- I'll end on a humorous note. We're having lunches and mostly -- and it's whatever's on either one of our minds. We talk about family an awful lot. And about six months in, the president looked at me and he said "you know, Joe -- you know what surprised me? How we've become such good friends."


[05:45:03] And I said, "Surprised you?" But that is candid Obama.


And it's real. And 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 -- and I want to thank you all so very, very, very much. All of you. Thank you.



ROMANS: A truly warm moment in Washington yesterday. This was a man with a lifetime of public service, a senator before he was 30. Really something to see there.

BERMAN: And bipartisan praise --

ROMANS: Absolutely.

BERMAN: -- if you were on Twitter yesterday, for this honor that was bestowed on the vice president for his service and for everything he has done and all he's faced with courage and grace over the years.

ROMANS: How they kept it a secret -- remarkable, huh? All right, a wonderful moment there. "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan live in Washington. And the front page of the headlines -- or the front page of the paper have Joe Biden, and then right below it back to politics of the day -- "Nominees Diverge From Trump On Russia Security". Paper after paper noting that there is daylight between President-elect Donald Trump's nominees for top positions in his cabinet and the president-elect himself.

What do -- what's the going thinking in Washington that these nominees are going to pull the president-elect their way or it's the other way around?

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, let's be clear about one thing. I'm not sure any of these nominees would pass Senate confirmation if they didn't say what they said in these confirmation hearings, you know. The Senate has been very clear that they view Russia as a threat, not a potential friend. And they would have lost several Republican senators if these nominees had not taken this line.

That's not to say that I don't think it's honest. I'm not questioning whether or not they actually truly believe it, but it does remain an open question. How exactly -- you know, there's talk of sort of a team of rivals and we're still sort of watching to see what Trump's strategy is going to be here. How much he's going to listen to these advisers telling him things, and then what he's going to say back to them in terms of instructions.

ROMANS: You know, to be clear, it's not just on Russia. It was on waterboarding, on the Iran nuclear deal, on building a border wall, and a lot of -- a host of different issues, including Russia.

BERMAN: And you're right. I mean, they answered what they answered. We'll see what they do when they get in that cabinet -- when they are the head of their agencies that may be different than what they said on Capitol Hill.

Tal -- and it's not just the cabinet who is creating space between themselves and the president-elect, you know, but Congress also. And this has been the case for some time with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was part of a really interesting CNN town hall last night with Jake Tapper. And the speaker faced questions from a family -- parents who had come here undocumented who are concerned that if Donald Trump repeals some of the executive actions that the president took that they could be deported -- listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that I should be deported and many other families in my situation --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- should? RYAN: No, no way in hell because -- first of all, I can see that you love your daughter and you're a nice person who has a great future ahead of you and I hope your future's here. But what we have to do is find a way to make sure that you can get right with the law and we've got to do this in a good way so that the rug doesn't get pulled out from under you and your family gets separated. But if you're worried about, you know, some deportation, you know, force coming and knocking on your door this year, don't worry about that.


BERMAN: Interesting to hear that from the House Speaker who, by the way, in the past had been a proponent of immigration reform.

KOPAN: Yes, and I believe we followed up and said, you know, but Trump had mentioned actually a deportation force early in the campaign trail. He did sort of back away from that as the campaign progressed. You know, the Republican thinking on this has long been that they want to sort of get the border right first. They want to enforce the laws that are on the books first, and then they'll start to consider some of these dreamer issues.

You know, Jeff Sessions, the nominee for Attorney General, was asked about this quite a bit during his confirmation hearings and he was a little bit non-committal. But he essentially said that there are more pressing prosecutorial concerns. There are badder people out there that the Justice Department is going to want to go after. Of course, DHS handles immigration enforcement, but there are badder people out there that they're going to try to go after first.

So, Republicans are not saying, you know, we're going to extend DOCA, but they are saying this is not our priority to round these people up.

ROMANS: One is the border piece that fits in with that because so often you hear from, you know, advocates for immigration reform that -- you know, you deport the bad guys, the bad guys come right back. So that's where the border piece comes in. All right, so much -- so nice to see you, Tal. Have a great weekend.

KOPAN: You, too.

ROMANS: It's Friday the 13th. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". Alisyn Camerota joins us now. Hi, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hi, guys. Great to see you. Forgive the parka. It's a little chilly in the studio this morning. So, as you know, the House is going to, possibly today, take the next step towards repealing Obamacare. They do not have a replacement plan yet. So we're going to have the architect of Obamacare, Zeke Emanuel, on to ask him what he believes should happen next.

[05:50:05] You also know the inspector general of the Department of Justice is looking into the decisions made by Jim Comey, the director of the FBI, about Hillary Clinton's emails. This feels a little late to some people, including the old Hillary Clinton campaign. So we are going to have her former press person Brian Fallon on about how everyone on that side is feeling about this pending investigation, when Chris and I see you at the top of the hour.

BERMAN: All right, Alisyn. Looking forward to that. And I should say, Donald Trump writing about this difference between himself and some of his cabinet nominees. Just now, he posted on Twitter "All my cabinet nominees are looking good and doing a great job. I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine."

ROMANS: All right, there you have it. Another big automaker accused of cheating on emissions. I'm going to show you the incredible drop in its stock price when we get a check on CNN Money Stream, next.


ROMANS: An Arizona trooper is alive this morning thanks to a gun- toting good Samaritan who showed up just in time to save him. The drama unfolded on Interstate 10 early Thursday morning, 50 miles west of Phoenix. An unidentified veteran trooper was at the scene of a fatal car accident when suddenly a gunman opened fire, shot the trooper in the shoulder, and began beating him. That's when a motorist pulled up and ordered the attacker to stop. When the beating continued, the good Samaritan pulled out his handgun and fatally shot the attacker, saving the wounded trooper's life.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE TROOPER: He's just a tough guy because he literally has got a very severe gunshot wound to his right shoulder. They were a lot of abrasions and cuts. They were stitching up his head from where he had been impacted with the pavement. Unbelievably, his first words to me were sir, you don't need to be here. You don't need to make such a fuss of this.


ROMANS: The ambushed officer is in serious but stable condition this morning. The good Samaritan -- the passerby is cooperating fully with investigators and has been thanked by law enforcement officers for saving that trooper's life.

[05:55:03] BERMAN: All right. A heartfelt letter of advice to Sasha and Malia Obama from the twin daughters of former president George W. Bush. Barbara and Jenna Bush visited the Obama girls in 2008 to help them acclimate to life in the White House. Now they've written an open letter to the first daughters published in "TIME" magazine and it's sort of advice for what to do in the post-presidency.

It says, "We have watched you grow from girls to impressive young women with grace and ease, and through it all you had each other, just like we did. You have so much to look forward to. You will be writing the story of your lives beyond the shadow of your famous parents, yet, you will always carry with you the experiences of the past eight years." Such a nice sentiment. The Bush daughters also urged Sasha and Malia to never forget the people they met at the White House. And urged them with tongue in cheek to "enjoy college as most of the world knows we did."

ROMANS: Ba-da-bum.

BERMAN: Look, it was a lovely gesture to write that letter.

ROMANS: It was -- it really was. All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. The global markets higher ahead of earnings reports from three big U.S. banks -- JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America. They unofficially kick off earnings season today. U.S. stock futures higher right now. Stock markets in Europe rising. Shares in Asia closed mixed.

The environmental protection agency says Fiat Chrysler cheated on emissions tests. Regulators claim the automaker put software on 100,000 diesel SUV's and trucks that could have altered results of emission tests and, basically, poison the environment. These vehicles include the last three model years of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Dodge Ram model.

Fiat Chrysler says the software on its engines is allowable. It's a way to meet emissions rules. It's not there to cheat emissions tests but to improve engine performance. The EPA says the software was never disclosed. The secret software is a violation of the Clean Air Act.

Even if Fiat Chrysler says it was not cheating, investors did not like this at all, John. Look at shares of Fiat Chrysler, down 18 percent before being halted by the New York Stock Exchange. It then recovered but it's still down 10 percent on the day. A very bad day for Fiat Chrysler shareholders.

Amazon extending an olive branch to President-elect Donald Trump. The company says it will create 100,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next year and one-half. Amazon says these are full-time, full-benefit positions. Keep in mind, much of its current and future workforce is made up of employees working warehouse jobs and answering phones. Huge explosion in those jobs. Analysts say though Amazon would have added the jobs regardless of who won the election, but the timing is pretty good if you're trying to let President Trump know that you are creating jobs.

Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer says, "The president-elect was pleased to have played a role in the decision by Amazon." I want you to look at the explosive growth in employment at Amazon before Donald Trump was even a candidate for office. This, as malls and big retail chains, by the way, are struggling. They call it creative destruction in economics. In 2011, Amazon had 30,000 employees. Last year it had 180,000. It's supposed to be like 280,000 by mid-2018.

But I -- this is the new world where companies -- they add three jobs and they're going to say President Trump, we're adding three jobs.

BERMAN: Just to give you an update on what the president-elect was talking about this morning. The headlines in all the papers and here on EARLY START, the latest to disagree with Trump, his nominees. Talking about how many of these comments by nominees in confirmation hearings have differed from the president-elect. Donald Trump just writing, "All of my cabinet nominees are looking good and doing a great job. I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine." So thanks for watching, Donald Trump.

ROMANS: Thanks for watching us. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: They said repeal and replace. Instead, what they're doing is cut and run.

RYAN: The law is collapsed. We've got to rescue people.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: We're at a very fraught time. We have leaks on sensitive information for political purposes.

BIDEN: It was their obligation to inform not only us but the president-elect that this was out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Policy is dictated by the president, not by the people that he appoints.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: If we could have a good relationship with Russia that would be a good thing, not a bad thing.

MATTIS: I would consider the principal threat to start with Russia.

BERMAN: The Justice Department investigating the FBI over its probe of Clinton's emails.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad that someone has finally spoken up and is looking into this.

OBAMA: As my final time as president, I am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


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's Friday, January 13th, 6:00 here in New York. Up first, House Republicans pressing forward with plans to quickly dismantle Obamacare. A procedural vote in the House today, the first step to try to get rid of the law. House Speaker Paul Ryan vowing on CNN last night to repeal and replace the law simultaneously.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: But replacement would require, or should require a solution and help from a handful of Democrats to pass it. All this as President-elect Donald Trump is responding to criticism that his cabinet nominees are disagreeing with him on key issues.

We're just one week away Inauguration Day. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns, live in Washington -- Joe.