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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Trump Focuses On Job Creation In Boeing Visit; Comey Gives Senators Closed Door Briefing On Russia; Pence On NATO: "U.S. Will Be Unwavering In Its Commitment"; German Defense Chief Slams Trump's Attitudes On Europe; Honeymoon May Be Over For Trump And Russian Media; Trump Presidency Creates Betting Frenzy In U.K.; Dems Blast Pruitt As "Pro-Industry," Unfit For EPA; Mark Cuban Uses Jersey To Send A Message To Trump; Russian Foreign Minister Speaking In Munich. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired February 18, 2017 - 06:00   ET

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


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[06:00:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is in Munich, Germany for a security summit. He's trying to reassure U.S. allies about the Trump administration's commitment to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president's behavior's undermined the image of the United States among the broader European population.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee had briefing from FBI Director James Comey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This briefing was about Russia. Likely the most effective investigation into the Russian meddling into the 2016 election.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there are significant dysfunction in the national security apparatus.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: America's going to start winning again. Winning like never, ever before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning and happy Saturday to you. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

PAUL: Talking about Vice President Mike Pence, he is a man with a mission this morning traveling overseas to reassure European friends and allies that despite some of President Trump's pledge to put America first, the U.S. values its counterparts abroad as well as its role in NATO.

BLACKWELL: And the vice president offered a bit of a warning that other nations in the transatlantic alliance needed to follow the U.S. lead and pay for the protection membership gives them.

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MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As of this moment, the United States and only four other NATO members meet this basic standard. Now, while we commend the few nations that are on track to achieve that goal, the truth is that many others, including some of our largest allies still lack a clear and credible path to meeting this minimum goal.

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PAUL: Now, back in the U.S., President Trump going to familiar stomping grounds today. He's holding a rally later this afternoon in an airplane hangar in Melbourne, Florida. This is President Trump's first campaign rally full week into his presidency.

We'll get to that in a minute. First, we do have to deal with some deadly storms that we've been watching in Southern California.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Heavy rains and flooding are responsible for killing at least two people. The roads look -- you can see it here, the water rushing there and emergency crews were out overnight working to rescue stranded drivers.

PAUL: North of Los Angeles, you can believe that? Officials are warning residents to take precautions after this river took over parts of Santa Clarita.

BLACKWELL: And a driver had to be rescued after a giant sinkhole swallowed her car. Later this hour, we'll hear from that woman after firefighters. The firefighters pulled her from that hole. We'll get an update on the storm from the CNN Severe Weather Center where they are watching this system very closely.

PAUL: Meanwhile, it is going to be a working weekend for President Trump. For the third weekend in a row, he will be at his Florida estate with his top advisers. This time, he'll be interviewing his candidates for the role of national security adviser and then returning to a familiar part of the presidency, the campaign podium. Here is CNN's Sara Murray.

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PRESIDENT TRUMP: I love South Carolina. I love it.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Less than a month into his presidency, Donald Trump is breaking out of the bubble and getting back into campaign mode.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: This was going to be a place that was tough to win and we won in a landslide. MURRAY: Trump reliving his South Carolina primary win in a visit to a Boeing plant today. The president trying to get back to his sweet spot as he touted his goal to revive American manufacturing.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: When American workers win, America as a country wins big league wins. That's my message here today. America's going to start winning again, winning like never ever before.

MURRAY: With the administration under fire over its Russian connection, the botched travel ban and the ouster of Trump's national security adviser. Trump's allies say he's been feeling cooped up. So, he jumped at the chance to get out of Washington and try to turn the focus to job creation instead.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: My focus has been all about jobs and jobs is one of the primary reasons I'm standing here today as your president, and I will never, ever disappoint you, believe me. I will not disappoint you.

MURRAY: While Trump vowed to prevent jobs from moving overseas --

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't want companies leaving our country, making their product, selling it back, no tax, no nothing, firing everybody in our country. We're not letting that happen anymore, folks, believe me.

[06:05:03]MURRAY: He offered few details about how he would do so, as Capitol Hill is still waiting to see the framework of a Trump tax plan. It's an item on the president's agenda this weekend when he and top aides are slated to huddle with newly confirmed Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

The president hitting the road as a key White House position remains unfilled. Trump fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn earlier this week and retired Vice Admiral Bob Howard also turned down the job. Now Trump says he has a handful of candidates on his short list including acting National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg.

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BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this now and bring in two of our political reporters, Tom LoBianco and Eric Bradner. Gentlemen, good morning to you.

So Tom, let me start with you. Is that unusual for a president to take his case on the road, but this is a campaign event paid for and organized by Donald J. Trump for president, well, news flash, Donald J. Trump is president. Why is this a campaign event?

TOM LOBIANCO, CNN POLITICAL REPORTERS: Well, kind of feels like what he used to do on the campaign trail, right? When things would get rocky he would go back to his people, right. He would turn back to the base. He would have these giant rallies and his speeches where he would kind of go off on tangents about poll numbers and kind of go off on tangents making fun of Hillary Clinton and whatnot. And it kind of energized him and it energized his base. He's

had a rocky start here this first month inside official Washington. So it's a return to helm for him. There are those thinking this will energize his supporters and maybe help him get back on track a little bit.

BLACKWELL: All right, so Eric, now to you, the president yesterday at South Carolina, North Charleston at Boeing was praised for his delivery, for being relaxed, staying on message there. Do we have an idea of what we're going to hear today? Are we going to hear what Tom just suggested quite possibly may be more tax on the media?

ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, absolutely. This is going to be sort of vintage Trump. He's going to be talking about jobs, complaining about companies moving overseas. Taking credit for some of the announcements we've seen earlier in his tenure, even before he took office of companies realizing that they got good PR out of the president being able to tout them staying in the country.

He's going to be bashing the media. He's obviously been doing that a lot lately with the press conference a couple of days ago where he spent 75 minutes lashing into journalists. This is going to be sort of his vintage grievance-style campaigning.

This is what he draws his energy from. He likes doing this. It lets him feel like he's out of this sort of bubble that he gets stuck in, whether it's in Trump tower or in the White House, either way, he really can't leave. He doesn't have anywhere to go.

He's sort of stuck in there. He's disconnected from his people. This allows them to get back in touch with him. At the same time, he's watching these images of Democrats showing up at town halls giving Republicans a hard time about his agenda. This lets him feel like he's getting into the mix too.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and maybe we'll see more of these, maybe we'll see them on a regular basis. This is the first month of the administration, maybe there will be monthly. We do not know that yet.

Let's move on to something else, the FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill, briefing senators behind closed doors on Friday. This was about Russia. This is a tweet that came out from Senate Intelligence Committee Member Senator Marco Rubio, who tweeted this, "I am now very confident that Senate Intel Committee I serve on will conduct thorough bipartisan investigation of Putin interference and influence."

Now this was a classified briefing. No one said anything about what came out of that meeting, but Tom to you, what do you make of that tweet from Rubio?

LOBIANCO: Well, what they're doing right now is they're setting the parameters of this investigation. You talk with Republican senators and Democratic senators on there, and talked with Mark Warner yesterday, the top Democrat on the committee about this. And what they're trying to do they're trying to craft this

Russia investigation, you know in a way that, appears bipartisan, and gets to the bottom of this. You know, and there seems to be some hope, Senator Rubio and some of these guys, a lot of these Republicans very hawkish on Russia.

They want do get these answers out, too. One thing I heard from Republican senators during the week was that they are really disappointed that all of the information about this is coming out in the media.

So, they see this as kind of a way to get things back on track and control some of that information while getting to the bottom of what's going on. So, you know, again, we don't have the explicit details of what came out of that briefing, but it's clear, we do know from one attendee that it was about Russia.

[06:10:06]So this is - they're heading in that direction. This is setting the parameters of that investigation.

BLACKWELL: All right, Eric, Tom, stay with us. We've got a lot more to talk about in just a moment. Thanks so much for being with us -- Christi.

PAUL: Vice President Pence is in Europe, right now, reassuring European allies of the U.S. support in NATO, among other things. But even though he reaffirms that commitment, he's calling on allies to contribute their fair share.

BLACKWELL: Plus --

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PENCE: When even one ally fails to do their part, it undermines our ability to come to each other's aid.

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BLACKWELL: Take a look at this, the heavy rains pounding Southern California. This parking garage, the rain just pouring off in sheets. We'll have an update on this deadly storm and where the system is headed, coming up.

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PENCE: (Inaudible) the United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this transatlantic alliance.

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PAUL: Vice President Mike Pence there wrapping up a speech at the security conference in Munich just a short time ago. He reaffirmed the U.S.' commits to NATO as you heard. He's in Europe to try to ease some concerns about President Trump's foreign policy agenda.

In the meantime, some tough talk from the Germany's defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, she slammed President Trump's attitude toward the European allies at the security conference yesterday. Railing on everything from the president's relationship with Russia to his position on torture.

[06:15:08]Here with me to discuss CNN politics reporters, Tom Bobianco and Eric Bradner. Thank you both, Gentlemen, for sticking around with us. First of all, Tom, do you think that anything Mike Pence has said thus far today has truly reassured anyone in that audience?

LOBIANCO: Well, you have to think that what he's done is -- what he's always does, is taken Trump's sort of, you know, off-the-wall comments and turn them into, I don't know, politicalese, maybe? I don't know, this sounds like policy what he's talking about.

You know, he took the Trump idea of he wants NATO members to pay more in. They think America's been paying too much over the years and he wants more from the other member states. He took that and put it out there a good strong message.

Again, he reassured Baltic States that NATO will support them as Russia keeps on trying to go to the borders westward. So you know, these are things that are sound policy and were delivered clearly. That's kind of what Pence is there to do.

PAUL: Eric, I want to read to you. He also said in response to what Tom was saying about NATO. He did say, "The promise to share the burden of our defense has gone unfulfilled for too many for too long and erodes the foundation of our alliance. Is he able, do you think, to entice, to inspire anyone who has not paid to actually do so?

BRADNER: Christi, he's really mixing messages here, isn't he? I mean, he's really pushing this Trump idea that NATO countries need to pay into the alliance, while at the same time, trying to offer reassurances and it's unclear at this point how this is going to be received.

We know he's sort of been rebuked by Germany. It's tough to guess whether he is conducting a sort of diplomacy while he's there, behind the scenes to sort of advance things along. You have to remember that other countries are well aware that this trip comes at the same time President Trump is having his own struggles at home with the National Security Council with General Flynn, his national security adviser now having been fired.

And Trump really trying to still shape his national security apparatus at home that seems to be in a bit of chaos right now. So, other countries realize that Pence's comments don't come in a vacuum and they're waiting to see how that sort of shakes out as well, as they figure out how to deal with this new administration.

PAUL: And, Tom, I wanted to ask you about that. In the shadow of the Michael Flynn chaos, has the vice president lost any credence or credibility? LOBIANCO: Yes, you know, I was talking with some lawmakers about this, you got to remember that he is viewed as the kind of normal Republican that you can talk to among official Washington when you do have concerns about what Trump is doing.

And there were some concerns about this that, you know, hey, here's the guy that was the connection for them and he was frozen out of this incredibly important thing for two weeks. It was a little concerning for some of them.

Now, there's still pretty confident that he can deliver messages from them back and forth and that he does speak for the administration, but it shook up that confidence a little bit.

PAUL: I want to play some sound from the vice president a short time ago in the speech as he was talking about Russia. Let's listen.

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PENCE: Know this, the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable. Even as we search for new common ground, which as you know President Trump believes can be found.

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PAUL: It doesn't necessarily correspond with what we have heard from Donald Trump, Eric. So, how do you believe the world leaders who are listening to this may take in some of what he's saying when it comes to Russia?

BRADNER: Right. The vice president's job is to translate Donald Trump into Republicanese. Now, that seems to work, but how he can translate Trump into international diplomacy is another matter entirely. Again, there's no real indication that Trump is backing away from his rhetoric on Russia, and we've seen that just in the last couple of days.

And so it's really not clear here whether the vice president speaks for any sort of shift in the administration's approach. It seems like he's sort of recasting, rebranding the Trump message without changing it much at all. And that's something that, again, Pence is good at, but it does seem that Trump himself has not had a change in approach on Russia.

[06:20:01]PAUL: Real quickly, Tom, do you that President Trump saw the speech beforehand? He has said that he wants the people he appoints, that he chooses in his administration to speak from their minds, but because there is a difference from what we're hearing from Vice President Pence and President Trump, we may be wondering how the president may react to this speech.

LOBIANCO: Well, I mean, look, you have to think that they're going to be of the same mind on this thing. Like Bradner said earlier that what they're doing is he is taking what the Trump message is and trying to make it a little more cogent. You know, it's a big question, what do they mean when they're

talking about easing relations with Russia, what exactly does that mean? This is a big question. That's why you saw the pushback from the German defense minister. You know, there are some huge concerns in the international community and domestically about what exactly will come of this.

BRADNER: And Christi, remember, that the U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has been at odds with President Trump a bit in terms of language as well on Russia. So it's not the first time we've seen this.

PAUL: Very much so. Tom LoBianco and Eric Bradner, we appreciate it so much. Thank you, Gentlemen.

BLACKWELL: Big troubles out on the west coast. Take a look at your screen, these deadly storms slamming Southern California. Major problems for drivers. That car swallowed by a sinkhole, the woman trapped there. We're going to hear from that woman -- next.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We called them right now. They should be here any second.

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BLACKWELL: You hear the woman screaming for help, trapped after this giant sinkhole swallowed her car. This is in Southern California last night. If you look into the hole, you can see the water rushing in to fill her car, but firefighters were able to pull her out.

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STEPHANIE SCOTT, RESCUED FROM SINKHOLE: My car kept turning upside down. I just -- I've got to stay calm. I felt the water coming up and I reached for the door and I climbed her out. It's a miracle, thank you, God.

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PAUL: Look at her. I can't believe she had the wherewithal to even speak to a reporter at that point right after they pulled her out. The sinkhole, by the way, one of the many serious issues that region is facing this hour. At least two people have died in severe storms there.

That's turning roads into rivers. Rivers are rushing into cities. Just some of what we're watching this morning there in California. CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar, is in the Severe Weather Center. Where are the biggest issues right now?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I wish I could narrow it down for you. At the moment, it's in Southern California, but that's going to shift back to Northern California as we go through the weekend. So, really, the entire state is going to get some impacts at some point this weekend.

Right now, you're looking at all of the areas under a flood watch or advisory. We have over 40 million people under some form of that. Again, you see most of the heavy rain is mainly over Los Angeles and east of Las Vegas.

But Northern California is also starting to see some of the heavier bands moving. Now as we go through the day, notice that most of it begins to shift east. We start to get at least a little bit of relief.

But notice over here, this is actually the beginning of the next system. Yes, you heard me, the next system, because we're actually looking at getting multiple systems out of this particular storm.

Here you can see numerous. The first one already over California, but then we start to get the next wave, and then yet again the next wave. So this is going to be a series of events for portions of California with unfortunately the next event really taking aim at Northern California.

And that's going to be a big issue because that's where we expect to have the majority of the real heavy rain. We're talking 6 inches to 10 inches of rain in portion of Northern California.

Now you remember earlier in this week, we talked heavily about Lake Oroville, this is where that dam and some of those emergency spillways had to be used. But both of them already have substantial damage to them and now we're talking about the particular area where the lake is.

Which by the way, that watershed, is 3200 square miles, Victor, Christi, this is actually where the bull's-eye of some of the heaviest rain is actually going to be. That's causing some concerns for a lot of those residents there that were already evacuated earlier this week, that now are likely going to have to go through the same thing as we into the weekend.

PAUL: My goodness, all right, Allison Chinchar, thank you so much for the heads-up.

BLACKWELL: All right, for months now, first Candidate Trump and then President-elect Trump and now President Trump has enjoyed some really positive TV coverage in Russia, but that could be changing. Is Russia falling out of love with the U.S. president?

PAUL: Also, the president finally getting his pick for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, but there is a battle brewing here. A judge is ordering Scott Pruitt to turn over 3,000 e-mails.

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[06:32:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: So good to see you. 32 minutes past the hour on this Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

PAUL: So, after hearing Vice President Mike Pence say the U.S. would hold Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine, an outspoken Russian lawmaker said, the U.S. is "returning to tradition" on its Russia policy. And now, we're waiting to hear an official response from Russia's foreign minister at any minute. He is taking the podium there at the U.N. Security Conference. Going to listen to what he's going to say, but the first international trip the Vice President has taken since entering office, is what we're looking at here. He's there to reassure key U.S. allies, who may have been rattled in the first few weeks of the Trump administration. The Vice President is scheduled to meet this hour with the President of Afghanistan. Now, if you think Donald Trump gets a lot of T.V. coverage here in the U.S., you should see what it's like in Russia.

BLACKWELL: Yes. President Trump has been described as a "media darling" -- their phrase there. At times enjoying around-the-clock positive coverage, but as Matthew Chance reports that could be changing.

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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For months, he's been the darling of the Kremlin-controlled media. Russian State television fawning over Donald Trump and his pro-Moscow promises.

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn't that be - wouldn't that be nice?

CHANCE: But the mood is starting to change. Now, even Russians here protesting in Moscow with the amount of Trump coverage on their television screens are becoming disillusioned. Our President is Putin, one of the placards reads.

"We're all against 'Trumpomania' here," says this woman. "We want to hear about the decisions of our own president, not about the Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE)"

The Kremlin said it never had any rose-tinted view of what President Trump could bring to the U.S.-Russian relationship. But ever since he was elected, expectations here have soared. Trump's criticism of NATO, his calls for security cooperation with Russia and his early hints of recognizing Crimea all gave Russians hope that here was a U.S. President who saw the world the Kremlin's way.

But with Russia looming over U.S. politics, that vision is proving tricky to implement. Russian officials say the first meeting between Trump's new Secretary of State and Russia's veteran Foreign Minister produced no real breakthrough. There have also been mixed messages on Crimea, NATO, and sanctions, not a good sign say analysts for those waiting for a rapid improvement in U.S.-Russian relations. SERGEY KARAGANOV, FORMER PUTIN ADVISER: I'm not optimistic in the short term. Along two years, but maybe if Trump survives and wins, it is in the interest of the United States, as well as in the interest of Russia, to have a more cooperative relationship.

[06:05:09] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The office of President of United States.

CHANCE: On inauguration night, just a month ago, there were parties in Moscow to celebrate. The mood now is increasingly one of disillusionment, as Russians seek President Trump's idea of a diplomatic fall, slip away. Matthew Chance, CNN Moscow.

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PAUL: Well, the Environmental Protection Agency is praising its new chief, blasting its own mission at the same time. The unusual news release and this contentious battle that is still in front of Scott Pruitt.

BLACKWELL: Plus, vetting on President Trump. We'll show you how his unconventional presidency is big business in England.

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BLACKWELL: 21 minutes to the top of the hour now. The Environmental Protection Agency is praising its new leader, but in some ways, we are getting some criticism back from members of the EPA. The senate confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt Friday on party lines. Shortly afterwards, the EPA released a new release welcoming Pruitt.

PAUL: But the agency also released statements from republican stakeholders, criticizing the agency's purpose, calling the EPA 'tone- deaf, adversarial, and a runaway bureaucracy out of touch. His confirmation is another blow to congressional democrats, speaking to delay some of President Trump's most controversial nominees. But as Rene Marsh reports here, the controversy surrounding Pruitt is still right in front of them.

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[06:40:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nomination is confirmed.

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Scott Pruitt confirmed to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, the same agency he fought against as Oklahoma's Attorney General. The confirmation coming as Pruitt faces a new court order.

LISA GRAVES, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: The American people have a right to know what Scott Pruitt is hiding.

MARSH: A watchdog group filed a lawsuit to get access to Pruitt's e- mail communications with the fossil fuel agency. Thursday, an Oklahoma district judge ruled Pruitt must turn over 3,000 e-mails by next Tuesday. GRAVES: He's been hiding information from the senate and from the American people, about the true extent of that relationship. How deep his ties go to the industries that he would be basically charged with regulating.

MARSH: He's filed at least a dozen lawsuits against the EPA. And in his confirmation hearing, senators revealed Pruitt used Oklahoma State stationary and signed his name to letters drafted by energy lobbyists, those letters were then sent to federal agencies, criticizing environmental regulations. Democrats pushed to delay Pruitt's confirmation vote to allow time to review the e-mails.

CHUCK SCHUMER, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM NEW YORK AND SENATE MINORITY LEADER: It's not the worst thing in the world to take a few extra days to properly vet someone who will have immense power.

MARSH: But senate republicans refused to delay.

MITCH MCCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM KENTUCKY AND SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: It's pretty clear what's happening, they want to move them as slowly as possible. And on the ones they have deemed controversial, they want to give their left-wing agitators enough time to get up and get organized.

MARSH: Democrats accused Pruitt of being pro-industry.

TRUMP: Our plan will end the EPA.

MARSH: Pruitt's track record makes him attractive to Trump and republicans who are desperate to rein in an agency they say is wasting taxpayer dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get no joy being one of those states at the end of America's tailpipe.

MARSH: From an all-nighter on the senate floor to protests outside the EPA, and the union urging its EPA members to tell their senators to vote no, despite the resistance of fresh tweets from the agency for the first time in weeks, welcoming Scott Pruitt. I'm Rene Marsh reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Rene. Let's bring in Tom Lobianco, a CNN politics reporter. I want to pick up right on the tail of these e-mails here, Tom. On the tail end of this Andrew Puzder withdrawal from labor and that embarrassment for the administration, is there any concern from senate republicans that these unknowns of these e-mails could offer more embarrassment? Why not wait until they had some clarity, what's in these e-mails potentially before confirming him?

TOM LOBIANCO, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, I mean, I think that's the answer right there, Puzder. You can't wait for these things anymore. That's kind of what the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was saying there earlier, is that the longer these things stay out there, the longer these nominees hanging out there, the easier it is for the critics, for protesters to organize, and fight this. Now, the other thing, too, and this kind of goes to the problems of the Trump transition and the problems that they've had with all of these nominees, is that they weren't well-vetted.

And, you know, the court - the court coming out and forcing the release of these e-mails. You know, this is very fascinating about Pruitt. Pruitt is the one who actually oversees whether or not his e- mails get released. He is - which is - I mean, which is fascinating, it's clear conflict of interest, but this is -- goes back to the dynamic. Democrats trying to run out the clock, hope that you get another Puzder, right? The more that these damming stories come out there, the harder it is for anyone to support these people.

BLACKWELL: But let's look at the converse of that premise that if you wait to see what's in the e-mails then you have an Andrew Puzder situation. But if you confirm him and then something big comes out of these e-mails, that maybe there's nothing there, but then, the argument could be made that you confirmed a man you did not know nearly enough about, and did not wait for the information that would have given you what you needed to know to make an educated decision on a vote up or down?

LOBIANCO: Absolutely. And that absolutely is the argument. You know, I think that's kind of a gamble, right? If it's - if it's absolutely damning stuff, then you know, if it's -- it ends up being criminal in some way, then, yes, that's a huge problem. I don't have any indication that it would be criminal. But, of course, you know, as we point out here that would be a huge problem, and that's kind of a gamble that you take there. But I think, you know, it's not -- when you look at the entire dynamic, it's not a terrible gamble to tick, because I remember that the president himself keeps on pulling the focus away, all right, with a 75-minute press conference in the middle of the week unprompted, you know? I mean, he takes the focus away from his own cabinet members there. So, you know, the heat that would develop can't as easily develop.

[06:44:58] BLACKWELL: Yes, that's Thursday news conference started with the announcement of Alex Acosta who wasn't even there, and then went on for an hour and a half about something else. All right. Tom Lobianco, thanks so much.

LOBIANCO: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right. Christi?

PAUL: All righty. So, did Mark Cuban taunt President Trump with a basketball jersey? Andy Scholes got an answer right from the Mavericks owner himself.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christi. Mark Cuban wearing the number 46 during the celebrity game last night here in New Orleans. That mean he's contemplating a run for president? (INAUDIBLE) for Mark Cuban coming up on the "BLEACHER REPORT".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: So, one of the big headlines from last night's NBA All-

Star Celebrity Game was not on the court, but in fact on Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's jersey.

PAUL: Andy Scholes has more on the significance of the number 46 in this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT". And of course, he's in New Orleans. Have you slept at all?

SCHOLES: I did get some sleep. I don't know about some of these people who are still walking up at down Bourbon Street, though, guys. But, you know, President Trump earlier this week actually tweeted out that Mark Cuban was not smart enough to run for president. Well, in a series of tweets, Cuban kind of responded to that yesterday. Then, in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game which Cuban was playing in, he wore the number 46. So, is that signifying that maybe he's considering running for president next time around? Well, I spoke to Cuban on the court and asked him that exact question.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[06:50:07] MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: Someone said - I was like, "Can I get 23?" No. "Can I get 2?" No. So, why you picked 46? I'm like, "2 x 23". I'm like, "That's beautiful, I'll take 46. No one ever wears 46.

SCHOLES: So, is it - what are the chances of you jumping into the political arena, you know, three years from now?

CUBAN: About as much chance I have dunking in this game. Probably closer to me to have chance of dunking with my elbows.

SCHOLES: So, there's not going to be a Mark Cuban for president?

CUBAN: Unless you see a three-foot basket around here somewhere.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHOLES: There you go. And then, he also added to say, "Never say, never," so who knows? The big story line on Sunday -- for Sunday's game, of course, is Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant once again playing on the same team, on the Western Conference All-Star roster. Of course, Durant leading Westbrook and the Thunder this past off season to go to the Warriors. These two guys, they don't speak anymore. They've had a couple of heated exchanges already during the regular season, when they met, playing one another. And I asked Russell Westbrook, "What is it going to be like playing with Kevin Durant and the rest of the Warriors on Sunday?" And this is the answer he gave me.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSSELL WESTBROOK, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER POINT GUARD: Man, you know what, fashion week has been great. You've seen fashion week? The many things in the fashion week.

SCHOLES: A little bit. WESTBROOK: Man, there's a lot of great looking things at fashion

week, man, looking forward to new collections. It's been good, man.

SCHOLES: If I ask a fashion question, will you talk about Durant?

WESTBROOK: Well, you got to -- you ask a question and I'll give an answer.

SCHOLES: What's your favorite shoe brand?

WESTBROOK: Shoe brand? Jordan, obviously.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHOLES: So, when we asked about Durant and the Warriors, Westbrook would talk about fashion. I tried to do reverse psychology and asked about fashion, hoping he'd talk about Durant and the Warriors. As you can see, guys, though, that did not work. Now with all the festivities, they continue tonight. You can watch it on TNT, all the dunk contest, action, the three-point competition, gets going, 8:00 Eastern. And then, of course, the 66th NBA All-Star Game, Sunday, 8:30 Eastern. Make sure to watch CNN later on this afternoon for "ALL ACCESS" all -- at the All-Star Game, a CNN "BLEACHER REPORT SPECIAL" with Fredricka Whitfield and Steve Smith. That's at 2:30 Eastern. And guys, I tell you what, I'm really looking forward to Sunday's game and actually practice later this morning to see Westbrook and Durant on the same court. Because they have not done well putting it in to this drama, because neither one of them will address the issue when asked about it.

PAUL: It's a good try. It's a good try, though, Andy.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We'll see if anybody comes up with the cupcake signs or anything at the game after this.

SCHOLES: We will see about that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thanks, Andy.

PAUL: Thank you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

PAUL: So, from the -- from the length of his presidency to the 2020 election, Donald Trump means big business for betting houses in the U.K.

BLACKWELL: So then, what are the odds here? We're going to break them down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: All right. Live look here for you on the right of your screen. This is the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Munich Security Conference. We heard just a few moments ago from the Vice President Pence promising and U.S. reassurance and unwavering support of NATO. But we're hearing from minister -- Foreign Minister Lavrov that the post-Cold war order has come to an end and NATO's, what he called, "extension," is the aggression that makes it difficult to bring Europe and the world together. He's wrapping up his comments there. We will bring the highlights to you at the next hour. But again, from Foreign Minister Lavrov, post-Cold war order has come to an end. We'll dissect that in just a few moments.

PAUL: Meanwhile, how much money will you be willing to bet on Donald Trump? Well, guess what, it turns out in the United Kingdom, the answer is a lot.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the Trump presidency has business booming there at betting houses across Britain. And people can bet on everything from, I mean, sales of Ivanka trump's clothing line, to whether or not the president be -- is impeached. CNNMoney Europe Editor Nina dos Santos has a look at (INAUDIBLE).

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: I don't know. I was just given -- we had a very, very big march. It's all fake news. It's all fake news.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: Each time Donald Trump talks, he makes news. And across the Atlantic, he's also talk of the town.

TRUMP: I do get good ratings, you have to admit that.

DOS SANTOS: As U.K. lawmakers prepare to debate whether Donald Trump's state visit to the country, should go ahead book makers are seeing a veritable flurry in activity of any bets related to Donald Trump's name. One of the biggest in the country is Ladbrokes' Alex Donohue, he works there. How significant is Trump at the bet these days?

ALEX DONOHUE, LADBROKES NEWS HEAD: Business is absolutely booming. It's remarkable to think, but in total now, including the election, we've actually taken more money on things to do with Donald Trump than we have on Brexit, which is absolutely remarkable, really. And I just think it's because we're thousands of miles away over here, but you cannot escape Donald Trump whether you look at social media or in the newspapers. And it's that unpredictability, which is -- which is driving everyone to come have a bet, because people are all questioning what he's going to do next.

DOS SANTOS: So, what are people betting on?

DONOHUE: So, I think we should start seeing as we're outside of the Palace Of Westminster, the bet at the moment is the state visit to the council this year, that's five to two, that means you have to place two dollars, you'd win five. But the bet that we think is the most likely top of them all, is for Donald Trump to be impeached or to resign within his first term. Some people think the replacement might come even quicker, three to one, hence replaced in 2017.

One of the most popular bets that people place at the moment, very short (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump to visit Russia this year, five to four, you bet four, you win five.

DOS SANTOS: Mind you, four to one to serve two full terms, which doesn't look that bad, does it?

DONOHUE: No, not at all. So, that's the longest odds on my board, but 4 to 1 means about 25 percent chance, so by no means are the British bookmaker is dismissing the prospects of Donald Trump's serving two terms.

DOS SANTOS: Of course, U.S. voters placed the biggest bet of all on Donald Trump by electing him as president. One month into his term, here in Britain, bookmakers are seeing their Trump-related takings sow. Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Nina, thank you so much. And whoa, we got a lot to talk to you about this morning.

BLACKWELL: The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is in Munich, Germany, for a security summit. He's trying to reassure U.S. allies about the Trump administration's commitment to them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president's behavior has undermined the image of the United States among the broader European population. They -

BLACKWELL: Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee got a briefing from FBI Director James Comey.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: This briefing was about Russia, likely most effective investigation into the Russian meddling into the 2016 election.

TRUMP: This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.

JOHN MCCAIN, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM ARIZONA: I think there's a significant dysfunction in the National Security apparatus.

TRUMP: America is going to start winning again.