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Flynn On Thin Ice; North Korea Confirms Missile Test;S tars Shine On Grammy Night. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 13, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:30] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: How much longer will the national security adviser be the national security adviser? That seems to be an open question with controversy swirling around Michael Flynn.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea says a test of the newest weapon in its arsenal. How will the Trump administration respond to the first big challenge --

BERMAN: Lawyers --

ROMANS: -- of Pyongyang?

BERMAN: Lawyers going back to court today over the president's travel ban. What will the administration team do to try to get his executive order back in place?

ROMANS: Are you talking over me already? It's 5:31 in the morning. You know, Monday morning, you're already talking --

BERMAN: I know. Bad form is bad form.

ROMANS: It's just beginning.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm "a chastens" (ph) John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans -- an emboldened Christine Romans. It's 31 minutes past the hour. Up first, the pressure building on embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn and not a peep from the White House. The retired general is under fire for speaking to the Russians about U.S. sanctions before President Trump was sworn into office, then misleading the administration about those conversations.

Now, we are told Flynn has no plans to resign and has no expectation of being fired, but an official tells CNN there's "a lot of unhappiness about this" and acknowledged Flynn's future in the White House is no sure thing. And, Democrats, no surprise, are piling on.


SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Now, either he was lying about not having discussed that or he forgot.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": You don't believe that -- your smile says you don't believe that he forgot.

FRANKEN: I don't think you want a guy who would forget that (laughs).


BERMAN: So, the most glaring words coming the White House are the ones not coming from the White House in support of Gen. Flynn. White House policy director Stephen Miller seemed to go out of his way to withhold official support this weekend.


CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST, "MEET THE PRESS": Well, the White House did not give you anything to say other than that on --


TODD: -- Gen. Flynn.

MILLER: -- anything to say.

TODD: You cannot -- so, you cannot say whether or not --

MILLER: Ask and answer, Chuck.

TODD: -- the president still has confidence in his national security adviser?

MILLER: It's not for me to tell you what's in the president's mind. That's a question for the president.

TODD: Well, let me --

MILLER: It's a question for our chief of staff. Ask and answer, Chuck.

TODD: Let me ask --


BERMAN: The textbook definition of letting someone twist in the wind there. Stephen Miller giving no support to Gen. Michael Flynn. Let's get a different perspective on this -- sort of the Russian perspective. Remember, they were the other end of that conversation with Gen. Flynn. I want to bring in CNN's Matthew Chance, live from Moscow this morning. Matthew, what are you hearing over there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, there's a lot of confusion from the -- from the Flynn side of that conversation, if you like, about whether sanctions were discussed or not. Although the Kremlin have come out again just a few minutes ago and said look, you know, we have had no conversations about sanctions with Michael Flynn or with any other U.S. official -- any other Trump team member. And so, you know, that's something that they're saying.

There was an allegation, of course, that the conversation between Michael Flynn, which is acknowledged, and the Russian ambassador to the United States resulted in that very magnanimousdecision by Vladimir Putin in December not to respond, you may remember, to President Obama's last set of sanctions in which he expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the United States over allegations of Russian hacking into the U.S. election. He decided not to act and to wait for the incoming Trump administration. And the Kremlin denies that was anything to do with any conversation that may have been -- that was had with Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the United States.

So, a categorical denial here from the Kremlin that these conversations had taken place, but it all adds to the sense of confusion about what the Trump policy is going to be, or is, when it comes to Russia and sanctions. There have been mixed messages. Donald Trump, of course, famously in his campaign said he would look again at recognizing the annexation of Crimea, over which many of these sanctions are imposed. It was annexed from Ukraine in 2014 -- look again at recognizing it as being a legitimate part of Russia.

And, of course, Nikki Haley, recently, in the United Nations, saying that Crimea-related sanctions that the U.N. ambassador, of course, to the United States would remain in place until Russia returns control of Crimea to the Ukraine. So very mixed messages from a Russian point of view.

BERMAN: All right. Matthew Chance for us in Moscow. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Let's drill down on all of this with "CNN POLITICS" reporter Eugene Scott. And, Eugene, is Flynn damaged by all of this? You know, we know somebody close to the situation say that -- said there's a lot of unhappiness about this. But at the same time, the White House doesn't want to look like it's in disarray. They don't want to boot somebody four weeks in -- not even four weeks in.

[05:35:00] EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: He's certainly damaged. I mean, there are people who from Mike Pence's camp feel like he made Mike Pence look bad. Mike Pence went out and defended some information given to him by Flynn that wasn't accurate. Now, Flynn's been an early supporter of the Trump campaign. Gave the president national security credibility. Was even considered as a candidate for the vice presidency before eventually going with Mike Pence.

But there's some genuine concern about his ability to do what it is that he is there to do. I mean, we even saw some Democrats calling for his national security clearance to be removed. And this isn't the first time since even being in the White House that people have looked at his performance and been unpleased.

BERMAN: Look, I've got to say, I was watching Stephen Miller -- you saw that clip there before with Chuck Todd. Stephen Miller, White House policy adviser, not defending Michael Flynn at all.

SCOTT: Right.

BERMAN: Not saying the White House has confidence in Michael Flynn at all. Not saying the president has confidence in Michael Flynn at all. He avoided the question completely.

SCOTT: He did.

BERMAN: I have not seen anything quite like that before. That's cutting Flynn off at the knees, seemingly deliberately so.

SCOTT: I certainly haven't seen that either, but part of me wonders how much of that had to do with the White House's internal politics, right? So, Flynn's been a bit concerned that he is not having -- he won't be able to have the access to Trump that he has had in the campaign. Miller is more from the Bannon camp and so there's some kind of conflict there in terms of who has power and who has influence in shaping policy. And I don't know right there if Miller was trying to suggest that Flynn, perhaps, should not be in a position that Flynn hopes to be in.

ROMANS: Can we listen to a little bit more of Stephen Miller with George Stephanopoulos about voter fraud.

BERMAN: Alleged.

ROMANS: Alleged voter fraud. Something that there's no evidence of voter fraud. Let's listen to this.


MILLER: Voter fraud is a serious problem in this country. You have millions of people who are registered in two states, who are dead who are registered to vote.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST, "THIS WEEK": You can't make a -- hold on a second. You just claimed again that there was illegal voting in New Hampshire from people bussed in from the state of Massachusetts. Do you have any evidence of that?

MILLER: I'm saying anybody -- George, go to New Hampshire, talk to anybody who's worked in politics there for a long time. Everybody's aware of the problem in New Hampshire with respect to bringing in voters and with respect to --

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm asking you if any White House senior -- hold on a second. I'm asking you as the White House senior policy adviser, the president made a statement saying he was the victim of voter fraud. People being bussed from Massachusetts --

MILLER: But the president -- the president was --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any evidence?

MILLER: -- and if this is an issue -- if this is an issue that interests you then we can talk it more in the future.


ROMANS: So, you know, people who have been in New Hampshire for a long time basically say that's poppycock.

SCOTT: Sure.

ROMANS: You've covered New Hampshire a lot.

BERMAN: I mean, look, I mean, I've heard the charge --

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: -- before but I've never seen any evidence of it, you know, in my 44 years. No, in the business there isn't any evidence of it, at least that we've seen and certainly not in the scale that they're claiming.

SCOTT: Right. I mean, this is just a new face from the Trump administration putting out allegations that cannot be proven. And this is very dangerous, some of his critics say, because they're always ongoing concerns about whether or not people will have the right to vote scaled back. And seeing these allegations being made about --

ROMANS: Right.

SCOTT: -- support, they fear will give the Justice Department some power to scale these things back, despite the need to see them expanded.

ROMANS: Why do they keep banging on this? That's what I don't get. What is the political advantage to bang on it when then all of these reporters go out there and say that's actually just not true?

SCOTT: Well, I think it's a continuation of the Trump administration's approach to immigration issues and concerns about legitimacy in the United States -- I think the voter rights allegations. They mention people -- about dead people being registered, but one of the things that they harp on most consistently is that there are undocumented immigrations voting. And I think that is part of their broader strategy in how they want the American people to approach immigration policy.

BERMAN: And again, for which there is no evidence or --

SCOTT: None.

BERMAN: -- certainly not at the level that they say it is.

SCOTT: Well, he didn't present any yesterday.

BERMAN: No. All right. Eugene Scott, great to have you with us this morning.

SCOTT: Thank you, guys.

BERMAN: All right, we'll be right back.


[05:43:00] BERMAN: New developments from North Korea in its missile launch over the weekend. It now claims it was a successful launch of a new type of medium-range ballistic missile. The government's Central News Agency says the test firing was guided personally by supreme leader Kim Jong-un. This is an early test, obviously, from North Korea of the Trump administration and now the U.N. is stepping in today.

I want to go live to Seoul and get the very latest from CNN's Paula Hancocks. An emergency meeting of the Security Council today on this issue. We see that when North Korea does this type of thing. What are the latest developments?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we haven'tseen a missile from North Korea in almost four months. That's relative restraint from North Korea when you consider what we had last year, more than 20 missile launches. As you say, this is the first one since the U.S. president took control of the country and certainly it is the first test for Donald Trump.

Now, it is an intermediate-range missile. We're being told by Joint Chiefs of Staff here in South Korea that it's an improved version in the way that it's fueled. It used to be liquid fuel, it's now solid fuel which the JCS says is faster to launch, and it also means that it can be launched from a mobile launcher as well. So, certainly concerning improvements there if that is the case. Now, North Korea has hailed it as great success. We have vision from the North Korean television showing Kim Jong-un looking absolutely delighted with this launch. Widespread condemnation in the region.

Now when this happened, Donald Trump was actually hosting the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Florida. We heard Shinzo Abe call it absolutely intolerable, but the U.S. president was far more restrained, just saying that the U.S. stands behind Japan 100 percent. So we still have no more indication of what exactly the Trump administration and North Korean policy will be. So, certainly that is one thing that they're watching very closely for here in South Korea.

BERMAN: And, of course, we hear from President Trump later today. He holds a news conference with the Canadian prime minister so, no doubt, he will be asked about this at that moment. All right. Paula Hancocks for us in Seoul. Thanks so much.

[05:45:05] ROMANS: All right. Adele with a literally show-stopping performance at the 59th Grammy Awards.


ADELE, GRAMMY WINNER: I know it's live T.V. I'm sorry, I can't do it again like last year. I'm sorry for swearing and I'm sorry for starting again. Can we please start it again? I'm sorry. I can't mess this up again. I'm sorry. (Singing)


ROMANS: She wanted to get it just right and they loved it.

BERMAN: To her credit, she did get it just right.


BERMAN: She sounds amazing.

ROMANS: She was trying to pay tribute to the late George Michael. She stopped mid-song, asked to start again to the delight of the crowd. You know, it was just one highlight in a night of highs for Adele, who swept the top honors and paid a rousing tribute to Beyonce. CNN's Stephanie Elam was at the show. She has the latest from Los Angeles.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, Adele reigned at the Grammy's winning five awards including the three top prizes, Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. Later, when accepting Album of the Year for "25" Adele said she thought Beyonce should have won.

ADELE: The "Lemonade" album was just so monumental, Beyonce. It was so monumental, and so well thought out, and so beautiful, and soul- bearing, and we all got to see another side to you that you don't always let us see, and we appreciate that. All of us adore you. You are our light.

ELAM: Beyonce's performance was a visual feast and a tribute to motherhood, with her own mom introducing her. Daughter Blue Ivy in the audience and, of course, her baby bump on full display. Also making a statement on stage, Katy Perry, who ended her performance with an image of the constitution. But the most overt political statement came from A Tribe Called Quest, Anderson Paak, and Busta Rhymes, who referred to POTUS as "President Agent Orange."

But in a show of support for President Trump, singer Joy Villa wore a gown that read "Make America Great Again" down the front and "Trump" along the back -- Christine and John.


ROMANS: All right, Stephanie. You look awesome.

BERMAN: Yes, Stephanie wins the fashion award.

ROMANS: I know, I know, and class. She's got so much class and she stayed up late last night.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

ROMANS: She stayed up late so I don't have to. BERMAN: And she didn't have to restart like Adele did. It should be said. Stephanie got it right the first time, unlike Adele.

ROMANS: All right, 47 minutes past the hour. More stores are dropping Trump's brand of products. Sears and Kmart stores have stopped selling Trump home merchandise online. According to one report the items are not on the store websites anymore. They can still be bought from third party vendors. Trump items were not sold in stores but on their online. So far, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and the parent company TJ Maxx and Marshalls have either dropped the brand or moved to make it less prominent.

Much of that surrounds the Ivanka Trump clothing line. Online sales of her brand dipped 26 percent in January compared to a year earlier. That's according to Slice Intelligence. That's a retail analysis firm. It studied the brand's sales on five online stores -- Nordstrom, Amazon, Zappos, Macy's, and Bloomingdale's. A report in "The Wall Street Journal" claimed Ivanka Trump's clothing sales at Nordstrom plunged 70 percent during the last three weeks of October, leading up to the election.

BERMAN: You know, Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump. Donald Trump got very mad about that.

ROMANS: And dropped a tweet about Nordstrom.

BERMAN: But it might have been a business decision after all that.

ROMANS: It might have been. It might have been.

BERMAN: All right, let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Alisyn Camerota joins us now. Good morning, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Hi, guys. Great to see you. So we have some great guests coming up on "NEW DAY" to tell you about. We have the husband of the woman who -- the Mexican woman who was deported back to Mexico. Mother of two, the first Arizona woman to be deported back to Mexico under President Trump's executive order. What was her crime? We're going to talk to her husband about that.

We also have the author of the study on voter fraud -- the study that President Trump cites as evidence of there being voter fraud in 2016. The author of the study is on to explain how the president and his team are misrepresenting the findings. So we will see you at the top of the hour with all of that.

BERMAN: All right, looking forward to it.

ROMANS: That's great. Happy Monday.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

ROMANS: The stock market rally is back on. All three major averages have never been higher. Records all around. We're going to tell you the one thing that got investors excited and I'll tell you if the beans (ph) are going to continue today. BERMAN: Oh, good.

ROMANS: You are, I know.


[05:53:25] BERMAN: New evacuations ordered overnight in Northern California. This is over structural concerns at the Oroville dam. (Video playing) Officials moved nearly 200,000 residents to higher ground after finding a hole in the dam's spillway -- look at that. There are serious concerns this morning about intense flooding downstream.


KEVIN LAWSON, INCIDENT COMMANDER: When we had water coming over the top of the emergency spillway it was beginning to erode the ground, right, and when you start to erode the ground then the dirt and everything else starts to roll off the hill. It starts to undermine itself. If that is not addressed and we don't take care of that and mitigate it properly, essentially what we're looking at is approximately a 30-foot wall of water.


BERMAN: Officials are waiting for first light this morning to better assess the situation and decide when it is safe for residents to return.

ROMANS: On the opposite coast, much of New England is buried under snow this morning, and ice here, up to two feet or more in some places. Let's get the latest from meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, John and Christine. After a weekend of over a foot coming down in much of the Northeast, we're going to see conditions improve. And notice, still some very wintry weather in places around the extreme eastern corner of Maine where over 300,000 people underneath a blizzard warning this morning. And also, about 20 million people dealing with the winter weather alerts that are in place.

And this storm system, we think, by about 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., it is all out of the picture. The snow showers with it begin to taper off, but the winds are going to feel through much of this afternoon around New York City. And, of course, you work your way into where it's snowing and that's where the blizzard conditions come in where the forecast for the extreme eastern corner of the state of Maine, there, could still bring down another 10 to maybe 18 inches of fresh snow through tonight before this is all done with.

[05:55:06] And notice Boston and points southward, not much left in the forecast there as far as snow. We're looking at 37 today in New York City, 34 in Boston. Temps in Chicago in the mid-forties. In Atlanta, in the lower sixties. But notice this, a trend that you might like which by the end of the week, at least, takes us back into the mid-forties and potentially into the mid-fifties there by Sunday afternoon around New York City.


BERMAN: My sister's school is outside Boston. They had Thursday, Friday, and Monday off.


BERMAN: Sooner or later they're going to have to go to school there.

ROMANS: Parents are going crazy.

BERMAN: Sooner or later. And you know why you need to go to school?


BERMAN: So you can learn how to spell --

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

BERMAN: -- right? It's a lesson being learned right now by the social media team at the Department of Education -- the Department of Education. The folks there misspelled the name of prominent educator, author, and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois. In a tweet on Sunday, the tweet contained a notable quote of importance -- on the importance of education but it misspelled his name with an "e" instead of a "u" in Du Bois.

When they noticed the mistake hours later they messed up the apology. They wrote, "Post updated -- our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo." The Department of Education -- I could take this from Transportation or Energy or somewhere else, but it's the Department of Education. The third time they actually did get the apology right.

ROMANS: I feel bad for whoever did it. I know you're having a lot of fun with it but I feel bad.

BERMAN: I'm not. I mean, it's not fun at all for me. I -- really. It's scary to me.

ROMANS: All right, let's talk about --

BERMAN: It's the future.

ROMANS: Let's talk about -- children are our future. Teach them well and they will lead the way. The stock market is sitting at its highest level in history. The Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P 500, even the Russell 2000, which measures small-cap stocks, all closing last week at records. President Trump's comments about a tax reform package helped put the rally back on track. He said you're going to hear his plan in two to three weeks for tax reform -- cutting taxes big league, he said.

Futures ticking higher this morning, as well. Stock markets in Europe are rising. Shares in Asia finishing with gains overnight. Just six weeks into trading here, look at the Nasdaq. It's up more than five percent, the biggest winner of the major three averages. The S&P 500 up 3.5 percent. Dow up more than two.

Verizon is bringing back something customers used to love and I'm not talking about the Motorola Razr. Unlimited data plans will be available at Verizon starting today. Unlimited --

BERMAN: Can you get them to bring back -- can you get them to bring back the Razr?

ROMANS: I don't think so. You probably want to get back --

BERMAN: All right, sorry, sorry, I digress.

ROMANS: Customers can switch to the unlimited plan for $80 a month. That covers one line and the account must be set to autopay and paperless billing. Verizon scrapped this unlimited plan in 2011 despite huge customer backlash, but this move shows how stiff the competition is getting. Rivals Sprint and T-Mobile are basically forcing Verizon and AT&T to provide better value to customers. Verizon is the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. More than 144 million subscribers. AT&T is number two. T-Mobile and Sprint are well behind but they've been gaining market share in recent years, mostly due to big promotions and cheaper data plans.

BERMAN: Do you have a favorite cell phone? Can you look back on your 20 years in cell phones and you had a favorite, say, in cell phones?

ROMANS: Has it been 20 years of cell phones?

BERMAN: It has.

ROMANS: I can remember -- I mean, the first cell phone I ever got was, you know, at the assignment desk. You know, they gave it to you to run to cover a story with a cell phone and it was big --

BERMAN: I had a --

ROMANS: -- and clunky, and had like a battery of an hour.

BERMAN: I had an orange Nokia phone that played Copacabana whenever it rang. That was -- that was my favorite, and I had a burnt orange case for it.

ROMANS: He's wistful.

BERMAN: I get nostalgic about cell phones.

ROMANS: I used an old PalmPilot. That was my first favorite device. All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: If you're still watching, "NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Flynn's comments just add to our concern about the relationship with Russia.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those conversations had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.

FRANKEN: I don't think you'd want a guy who would forget that.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Defending against a North Korean missile and nuclear threat, I consider very high priority.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: North Korea is testing President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are massive numbers of non-citizens in this country who are registered to vote.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Nobody believes that. It's a lie, it's a delusion.

TRUMP: We are going to keep our country safe.

SCHUMER: This executive order is so bad he ought to just throw it in the trash can.


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 Monday, February 13th, 6:00 here in New York.

Up first, the president, Donald Trump's, embattled national security adviser, is he on thin ice? White House officials dodging repeated chances to defend Michael Flynn after reports that Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before President Trump took office.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The president is also facing his first foreign policy test. North Korea test launched a ballistic missile. What will President Trump do to respond to Kim Jong-un? He also has a growing list of challenges. We're on day 25 of the Trump presidency. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House. Good morning, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Unsure footing here at the White House this morning as this new administration tries to slog its way through multiple controversies.