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Trump's Bogus Sweden Claim; VP Pence Speaking In Brussels; Defense Secretary Mattis Lands In Baghdad. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 20, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Suggestion of a terror attack that never happened prompting new questions for President Trump. Why did he tell his supporters about an attack in Sweden that never took place?

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: A warning from the Senate Intelligence Committee, if you have papers related to Russian interference in the election keep them safe. They are wanted as part of a probe into Moscow.

SANCHEZ: And, a new executive order on immigration expected this week. But first, Homeland Security is outlining who could be impacted the most and how law enforcement will abide by the new order.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Boris Sanchez in with the lovely Ana Cabrera.

CABRERA: Good to see you and hello on this Monday, this President's Day. Half past the hour now. Thanks for being with us. Let's begin with the surprising comment made by the president over the weekend. At the same campaign-style rally in Tampa where the president slammed the media for spreading falsehoods, he made a comment that is drawing questions about where he gets his facts and how he forms his worldview. President Trump was trying to back up a claim that unchecked immigration poses a threat. Listen to what he said here.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You look at what's happening last night in Sweden -- Sweden. Who would believe this -- Sweden? They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible.


SANCHEZ: The main problem with that claim, as you know, Ana, is that there was no attack Friday in Sweden. Mr. Trump, in his remarks, also mentioned Germany, Brussels, Nice, and Paris, so the context of his statement was clear. It turns out the remark came just one day after "FOX NEWS" aired an interview with a controversial filmmaker who has tried to tie Sweden taking in refugees to an increase in violent crimes there.

Now, Mr. Trump is trying to clarify his point. The White House is trying to clean up the mess and Sweden is contradicting the president's claim. CNN's Athena Jones is traveling with the president. She joins us now with more from Florida.


ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ana and Boris. The president's comments at that Melbourne rally on Saturday suggesting there may have been some sort of terror incident in Sweden on Friday night left a lot of people all around the world scratching their heads. The president later, Sunday, tweeting that he was referring to a "FOX NEWS" report that aired on Friday night. Here's some of what that report had to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps no nation on earth is more committed to accepting foreign migrants and refugees than Sweden. In 2016 alone, the country accepted more than 160,000 asylum seekers despite having a population of less than 10 million people. Only 500 of these migrants were able to get jobs in Sweden but if these arrivals aren't able to work they're at least about to commit crimes.

AMI HOROWITZ, FILMMAKER: There was an absolute surge in both gun violence and rape in Sweden --


HOROWITZ: -- once they began this open-door policy. So they now that this crime has happened and they can feel it -- the statistics are clear -- but they would refer to what is the root cause behind it and say oh, it's just happening -- more violence. It's men who are raping people, not the refugees, and make excuses for it. I think that's kind of what they're referring to, that the government has gone out of its way to try to cover up some of these problems.

JONES: What's clear here is that the president is an avid watcher of cable news. It's where he gets a lot of his information from. And this lack of precision -- the fact that he said something that made it sound like he was referring to terror incident left a lot of people scratching their heads. You had the former Swedish prime minister, Carl Bildt, taking to Twitter to say, "Sweden's terror attack? What has he been smoking?"

Questions abound. The fact of the matter is that the president often repeats things that he's heard or read without checking and this has become a problem. It shows that the president's words matter and that a lot of people all around the world are listening very, very closely to what the president says -- Boris, Ana.


SANCHEZ: All right, Athena. Thank you. Really important to make this point. Swedish government figures show the overall crime rate there has changed very little over the last 10 years, something that Stockholm, no doubt, had in mind when it sent out this tweet. "We look forward to informing the U.S. administration about Swedish immigration and integration policies." That's from the Swedish Embassy of the United States in Washington.

With us to help break down the latest from Washington and Mar-a-Lago, of course, "CNN POLITICS" reporter Eugene Scott with us here in New York. Eugene, good morning to you.


SANCHEZ: Thanks so much for ringing the alarm so early for us. This isn't the first time that we've seen this White House talk about terrorist attacks that never happened.


SANCHEZ: Kellyanne Conway talked about the Bowling Green massacre.

SCOTT: Sure.

SANCHEZ: There was this nebulous reference to some kind of incident in Atlanta that never happened. And now, he talks about Sweden in context with reference to Brussels, and Nice, and Paris. Why is it so important to this administration to make the claim that there's a constant threat to the United States? I mean, it seems like -- obviously, before, they said that the press wasn't reporting on some terrorist attacks --

[05:35:05] SCOTT: Sure.

SANCHEZ: -- so why is it so important for them to bring these terror attacks, real and imagined, to light?

SCOTT: I was actually in North Carolina this weekend speaking with voters -- North Carolina being a state that went for Donald Trump -- and national security is a major concern for many of them. That's an issue that resonates with much of his base. The reality is he can make those claims by using some facts. The challenge is can he enforce the policies he wants to solely focus on the facts?

That's one of the things that the judges who rejected the travel ban were asking. They wanted to see more information regarding national security, regarding whether things were as big of a threat as he was claiming them to be. So, whether or not his supporters will press him on these issues and ask for him to do more we don't know yet, but it certainly is something that people who are more critical of his policies have been doing.

CABRERA: The world is watching to see what the president is going to do about Russia and his relationship with Russia.


CABRERA: And this all comes on the heels of Mike Flynn, his national security adviser, resigning -- essentially, being fired because of some talks that he had with Russia prior to the election and prior to Trump's inauguration.

SCOTT: Sure.

CABRERA: And now we've learned that the FBI was meeting with some of the lawmakers in Washington on Friday and coming out of that we saw from Sen. Marco Rubio in a tweet saying that there will most likely -- almost certainly be an investigation now --

SCOTT: Sure.

CABRERA: -- into the connections. Where does the investigation go from here? Where do things stand and how will it proceed?

SCOTT: Well, many Republican lawmakers are hoping that it's a broad investigation of the Trump administration and Trump team, meaning the campaign's, as well, involvement with Russia, like you said, before the inauguration and even before the election. What we have right now is multiple people in the House and in the Senate with different opinions on where the next step is. Some don't want an investigation at all. Some want to see an investigation into the leaks only coming from the Intelligence Community.

But what we have seen is that they were all asked to put a hold on their communications on all of the information that could suggest that they were in communication with Russia before the investigation is complete.

SANCHEZ: Yes, you were talking about the Senate Intelligence Committee --


SANCHEZ: -- saying do not shred any --

SCOTT: Sure.

SANCHEZ: -- documents that pertain to Russia. What do you make of that? That's a really hefty order.

SCOTT: Sure. I think what that is about is that we have seen there be concerns that it just wasn't Michael Flynn -- that is Trump associates and that includes people on the campaign. That even includes some people in the business world related to the Trump family. What we also know is that there are people in Congress who were Trump associates during the election, during the campaign, and so it's not limited to just people in the White House in terms of people's concern. It could stretch into Congress as well.

CABRERA: Real quick, I want to just mention we are watching the vice president. Mike Pence is in Europe right now speaking with the E.U. (Video playing) This is Donald Tusk of the E.U. And so, I just want to draw our attention for a brief moment here to Brussels. We are expecting to hear from the vice president here shortly and so we will, of course, be monitoring any remarks there.

Meantime, Eugene, I want to bring it back closer to home now. We heard John McCain, a senator, a Republican obviously, come out with some strong words about all the criticism Donald Trump has been making of the media.

SCOTT: Sure.

CABRERA: Let's listen to what he had to say on "Meet The Press." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I hate the press. I hate you, especially.


MCCAIN: But the fact is I -- we need you. We need a free press. If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and, many times, adversarial press. And without it, I'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.


CABRERA: He makes a strong point there about the press being such a huge piece of our democracy.

SCOTT: Sure.

CABRERA: Why does the president continue to try to pick at the credibility of the free press, do you think?

SCOTT: Well, I think the president is seeing criticism that he just isn't used to seeing from the press. We have to remember that Donald Trump's had a long relationship with the media, primarily as an entertainer, right? But the reality is the political press is very different and he's being asked questions and being held accountable in a way that I don't think he's used to. But the reality that Sen. McCain was trying to make is that it really is in the best interest of all of the American people.

And something that's really important for his supporters to know is that many of the liberties they enjoy, many of the things they like most about their life have been made clear to them because of the work of the press, and it would be in the best interest of everyone to hold the government accountable to make this country and this world as best as possible.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It also riles up his base. I mean, he's in perpetual campaign mode, right?

SCOTT: Yes, he is, and we saw that in Florida. The reality is, you know, despite approval ratings for Trump being among the lowest that we've seen of a president, it's pretty high among Republicans. And so, whether or not they will shift despite his ongoing challenges remains to be seen.

[05:40:10] SANCHEZ: Right. So, we have to get to this because now, February 20th, a month ago was the inauguration.

SCOTT: Sure.

SANCHEZ: I want to show you some of what Donald Trump has accomplished and not accomplished. Take a look here. These are the promises that he's kept. Hiring freeze on all federal employees, except folks in the military. He named Judge Gorsuch as a potential replacement --

SCOTT: Sure.

SANCHEZ: -- for Justice Scalia. Withdrew from the TPP. Of course, not on this list, we should note, is the proposed travel ban, right --

SCOTT: Right.

SANCHEZ: -- that in some way he says he --

CABRERA: It got shot down, of course.

SANCHEZ: Right, that got shot down.

SCOTT: Right.

SANCHEZ: What do you expect that he might try to do next from the list of --

SCOTT: Sure.

SANCHEZ: -- things that he hasn't completed?

SCOTT: I was going to say what's noticeably absent from that list is Obamacare, right?

CABRERA: Right, and that was what he said was going to be --

SCOTT: Day one.

CABRERA: -- numero uno.

SANCHEZ: On day one.

SCOTT: Day one. And the reality is what it has highlighted is that despite Republican lawmakers criticizing the Obama administration for eight years, during that time period they weren't able to come up with a plan themselves. And we saw maybe about half a month ago Donald Trump himself say his individual plan was almost ready.

I think what Americans want because healthcare is a concern for all Americans regardless of what part of the aisle -- side of the aisle they fall on, is that they want to see something. They want to see something soon. And people voted for Donald Trump with the hope that he would deliver.

CABRERA: And late last week he was saying at the beginning of March is when there will be --


CABRERA: -- something really for us to dig into.


CABRERA: Thank you so much, Eugene. SANCHEZ: Thanks, Eugene. Appreciate it.

CABRERA: Nice to see you this morning. It's time for an early start on your money. Markets closed today, of course, for President's Day. But investors are going to keep a close eye this week on earnings from big-name retailers, especially if any executives offer commentary on President Trump's proposal to tax imports. Now, the last major companies to report earnings are big consumer names including Walmart, Macy's, and Home Depot.

And retails execs, some of whom met with President Trump last week, oppose an import tax. Big retailers import a large number of their products and many argue that a tax will raise prices and hurt their business.Trump has not yet said if he'll include this controversial import tax in his plan, however, the revenue raised by it would help pay for many of the tax cuts in the current GOP proposal.

SANCHEZ: "We are not there to take your oil" -- an important message from the Secretary of Defense as he lands in Baghdad overnight to assess the situation in Iraq, himself. It comes right as Iraqi forces are trying to reclaim Mosul from ISIS. A live report from the Mideast, next.


[05:46:40] (VIDEO PLAYING)

CABRERA: In Brussels right now, you see Vice President Mike Pence making some remarks at the meeting of European leaders there. He says he is coming there with a message from the president of sticking with the E.U. Now, this is a message many European leaders have said they want to hear directly from the president himself, especially after some of his harsh rhetoric on NATO and trade. We're going to keep a close eye on what the vice president says. We'll bring you updates as he makes news throughout the morning.

Meantime, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has landed in Baghdad this morning as Iraqi forces launch an offensive to recapture the western part of the city of Mosul. Now, this move comes after Iraq regained control of eastern Mosul in a months' long battle.

Let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman on the ground there in Iraq. So, Ben, talk to us a little bit more about this visit from the Defense Secretary Mattis and what he's hoping to accomplish.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think he's hoping to just touch base with Iraqi leaders. This is a country he's well familiar with, having served in the first Gulf War and the second Gulf War, and fought during the U.S. occupation as well. Obviously, this offensive to retake Mosul is something the United States is very interested in because it's very involved in it. There are more than 5,000 U.S. military personnel on the ground assisting Iraqi forces in the offensive to drive ISIS out of Mosul. U.S.-led coalition aircraft are also playing a key role in hitting ISIS targets within the city. And also, given that Sec. Mattis is well familiar with the sensitivities on the ground, before arriving he stressed that the United States, unlike what we heard from President Trump during the campaign and even after his inauguration, is not interested in Iraq's oil.


JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along and I'm sure that we will continue to do so in the future. We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil.


WEDEMAN: And, of course, this offensive is expected to take quite some time. It took more than three months to take the eastern part of the city. In the west, the challenges are even more serious in terms of the kind of weaponry ISIS is using. They're now using a lot of armed drones. They've dug tunnels and other means of defense. There are about 2,000 to 3,000 ISIS fighters within the city and it's expected it's going to be a long, difficult, and bloody battle.

CABRERA: And all those civilians there receiving those pamphlets that were dropped but, I guess, taking shelter and hoping for the best. Ben Wedeman, thanks for staying on top of it for us.

SANCHEZ: Well, Ana, it's almost that time of morning so let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." The Chris Cuomo joins us now. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": It is good to see you both. Happy Monday. I hope you got a little -- you know, a little special time with the family this weekend over President's weekend.

CABRERA: You, too.

CUOMO: We are going to take on the president and some policy on a deeper level. Yes, we're going to deal with what happened when he was talking about Sweden. What is the real situation there? The truth of this proposition is much more than about a gotcha. You'll see on your screen right now it's a Sweden gaffe. Why does this matter? It matters because the way we project the reality of what happens with refugees and this influx of migrants matters. So we're going to take you through the facts, OK?

[05:50:15] And, another day, another shot at the media. This time the president going even far for him. The enemy of the American people. There's lots of reaction to that. We're going to give you the facts of the morning so you can get your day going the right way.

CABRERA: All right, we'll see you soon, Chris. Thanks. Adios. All right, some money news here. Kraft Heinz walking away from a massive takeover bid for Unilever. We'll tell you why on CNN Money, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CABRERA: Cleanup is underway after a powerful storm swept through south Texas overnight leaving tens of thousands in the dark. The strong winds, drenching rains also knocked out power to nearly 40,000 customers in San Antonio and more than 100 homes were hit by what may have been a tornado. Now, the storm also caused a partial train derailment outside of Austin. We're still getting more information about exactly what happened and as those details become available we, of course, will pass them along.

[05:55:22] SANCHEZ: All right, to the West Coast now. More storms are headed to waterlogged northern California after five people died in California over the weekend. Power was knocked out and cars were submerged in the southern part of that state, as you can see in this picture, as the region experienced one of its most drenching storms in recent years.

Meantime, forecasters expect heavy rain throughout the day for much of northern California and it could impact the area around the Oroville dam where, as you recall, residents had to evacuate over flooding concerns before the order was lifted late last week. There's actually another storm that's expected to hit the region mid-week.

A bit of sports now. A blockbuster trade overshadowed the NBA's All- Star game yesterday. The boogie is headed to New Orleans. Multiple reports say the Sacramento Kings have agreed to trade big man Demarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for a package of three players and several draft picks. Cousins is one of the premier players in the NBA but some constant trouble on and off the court have made him a lightning rod around the league.

The deal pairs Cousins with superstar Anthony Davis, who stole the show in the All-Star game last night. Playing on the home court in New Orleans, Davis scored a game-record 52 points. He, of course, took home the MVP award as the Western Conference beat the East in a modest, low-scoring affair -- 192 to 182. No defense, all dunks, all fun.

CABRERA: Didn't you say that was the highest score ever for an All- Star game?

SANCHEZ: Yes, it broke Wilt Chamberlain's old record.

CABRERA: Those guys are just beasts. They're just amazing. Let's get an early start on your money now. Global markets mostly higher today after Wall Street saw another record close on Friday, the seventh straight for the Dow. Today, of course, here in the U.S. markets are closed for President's Day.

Now, the biggest ever brand mashup, no more. Kraft Heinz withdrew its $143 billion takeover bid for consumer products giant Unilever after the company announced the offer Friday and Unilever immediately turned it down. It was a $50 per share price and Unilever said it was undervaluing the company. The merger would have been the largest in the food and beverage industry, trumping the $125 billion deal between beer makers Anheuser-Busch, InBev, and SABMiller back in 2016. OK, the CEO of Uber is vowing to fire employees who mistreat women. CEO Travis Kalanick is calling for an urgent investigation into sexism at the company. The statement is in response to a former female engineer's blogpost describing systemic sexual harassment at Uber. Kalanick tweeted Sunday that the account "is abhorrent and against everything" Uber believes in.

SpaceX is back in action. The company successfully launched a rocket bound for the International Space Station after an initial delay. This launch went very smoothly. The rocket returned to earth safely. This is the first successful SpaceX launch since an explosion destroyed a rocket last September. It also is the first launch from Kennedy Space Center's main launch complex since the NASA Shuttle program was retired back in 2011.

SANCHEZ: Always fascinating to watch.

CABRERA: Yes, yes. Those astronauts up there at the International Space Station that they're delivering all that gear to.

SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CABRERA: I'm Ana Cabrera. Have a wonderful Monday. "NEW DAY" starts now.


TRUMP: We are here today to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

SANCHEZ: A new credibility problem for President Trump.

TRUMP: You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. They're having problems like they never thought possible.

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president believes in the first amendment.

TRUMP: The media lies. I will never let them get away with it.

MCCAIN: We need a free press. That's how dictators get started.

CABRERA: The Senate committee will conduct a full-fledged investigation into the Trump-Russia connection.

PRIEBUS: We don't know of any contacts with Russian agents.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump is interviewing contenders for national security adviser.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: It is really critical that they speak with one voice.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota. CUOMO: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY, Monday, February 20th, 6:00 here in New York. Alisyn is off. Brooke Baldwin joining us this morning. Thank you, appreciate it, as always.


CUOMO: And up first, last night in Sweden. The fact that the president flagged a terror incident that never happened, an example of all the problems that come with not knowing the facts. Did he really put what he sees on T.V. over what he should be learning from intel briefings?

BALDWIN: All of this as the Senate Intelligence Committee asks federal agencies to keep all records, all communications related to the Russian hacking investigation. Meantime, President Trump continues his search for a new national security adviser. We are now at day 32 of the Trump administration on this day, this Monday morning, President's Day.