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House Intelligence Committee Deadline Is Up And The White House Is Silent On The Wiretapping Allegations Of President Trump; Preet Bharara Not Keeping Silent After Being Fired By Trump; Congressional Budget Office To Weigh On The Obamacare Repeal Plan; Security Breach At The White House; President Trump's First Cabinet Meeting; Turkey's President Compares The Dutch To Nazis. Aired 4:00-4:30a ET

Aired March 13, 2017 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN EARLY START SHOW HOST: Good morning. It is deadline day for the House Intelligence Committee. What information will the Justice Department hand over about the president's wiretapping claims.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN EARLY START SHOW HOST: And a powerful U.S. Attorney not going quietly after being fired by President Trump. Why did the president go back on his word to Preet Bharara.

ROMANS: The Congressional Budget Office is set to weigh in on the Obamacare repeal plan. We'll show you how the house speaker is softening expectations and dealing with anger among his colleagues. Good Monday morning everybody. Welcome to "Early Start." I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. It is Monday, March 13th, 4:00 a.m. in the east. Time to get your brackets filled out.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. I'm going to start working on that.

BRIGGS: We here at Turner have to get on board, I mean, as an American, you should anyway.

ROMANS: Yes. It is time honored tradition.


BRIGGS: You need tips? Don't ask me. I always leave the (INAUDIBLE), but it's great fun.

All right, this morning, also much of the White House. They want to advance on health care and other issues, the spotlight returns for today at least to President Trump's unfounded wiretapping claims. The House Intelligence Committee has asked the Trump Justice Department to hand over any evidence that backs up the president's allegation that President Obama ordered his phones tapped during the campaign.

ROMANS: More than a week after President Trump twitted out that claim. The White House still offered zero evidence to support it. Ahead of today's deadline, at least one key lawmaker is demanding an explanation. Our White House correspondent Athena Jones has the latest.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Christine and Dave. An important deadline looms today. The House Intelligence Committee sent a letter to the Department of Justice last week asking the agency to provide all relevant documents regarding the president's explosive wiretapping allegations against his predecessor, President Obama.

There is no indication that the White House or the Department of Justice is prepared to offer any such evidence. But this is something that members of Congress, not just Democrats, but also Republicans very much want to see. Here is what Arizona Senator John McCain had to say about all of this on "State of the Union." Listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Our director of National Intelligence, General Clapper testified that there was absolutely no truth to that allegation. So, I think the President has one of two choices, either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve.


JONES: And one thing that's interesting to note here, is that it's the Department of Justice being asked to provide these documents. It was only about a week ago that he FBI Director James Comey asked the Department of Justice to publicly refute the president's baseless claims saying that they were simply not true. Well, the Department of Justice has declined to do that, but it is noteworthy that this is the agency that's being tasked with providing this evidence. Evidence that several officials say simply doesn't exist. Christine. Dave.

ROMANS: All right, Athena at the White House. Trump Advisor Kellyanne Conway with another explosive allegation, again, offered without any proof. Speaking to the record of Bergen County, New Jersey, Conway suggest surveillance at Trump Tower may have been broader than just wiretapping.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP ADVISOR: Would you surveil each other now, unfortunately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that?

CONWAY: There was an article this week and it talked about how you can surveil one through their phones, certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways and microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So, we know that that is just a fact of modern life.


ROMANS: You should note Conway can place Trump's claims of wiretapping in the WikiLeaks documents that surfaced last week suggesting the CIA is using text devices to spy. Again, Conway offering no proof for that suggestion.

BRIGGS: Long time Trump associate, Roger Stone not only admits having contact with Guccifer 2.0. He's defending it. Why does that matter? Well, Guccifer 2.0 is the the shadowy online persona claiming responsibility for hacking the DNC. Stone says he did have a few innocuous brief exchanges and insist they occurred last August after the DNC had already been hacked. Stone claims the timing proves he did not collude with the Russians to influence the election.

ROMANS: Growing resentment over the Trump administrations abrupt firing of 46 U.S. Attorneys. Many of those officials finding out they had been dismissed through media reports. Law enforcement sources telling CNN the firings could not have been handled worst with dozens of sensitive court cases now hanging in the balance. The case of New York's Preet Bharara, that U.S. Attorney for the district that includes Manhattan, that was getting the most attention.

He refused to resign instead engaging in a standoff with the president. He was told by the administration on Saturday he was fired. Listen to Bharara talking to reporters in November after meeting with the president and being told he could keep his job.


[04:05:00] PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We had a good meeting. I said I would absolutely consider staying on but I expect that I'll be continuing to work at the (INAUDIBLE)


BRIGGS: An administration source tells CNN the president originally offered to keep Bharara on as a favor to New York Senator Chuck Schumer, but the White House now knew Schumer as an obstructionist. Bharara adding to the intrigue by tweeting, "By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like."

That, a reference to the New York State Commission that was setup to look into public corruption before being abruptly shut down. Now it's not clear whether Bharara is suggesting he was investigating Mr. Trump.

ROMANS: Certainly has a powerful office and he is known as the sheriff of Wall Street. Really some very important cases. All right, both sides in the Obamacare repeal battle anxiously awaited the official announcement by the Congressional Budget Office, the CBO score is expected to see them today.

It will hold a trove of closely watched estimates including the overall cost of the Republican bill and how many people could lose their insurance and the effect on premiums. Republicans have been busy minimizing the importance of the CBO score. Among them, the House Speaker Paul Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The one thing I'm certain will

happen is CBO will say, well gosh, not as many people will get covered, you know why, because this isn't a government mandate. This is not the government makes you buy what we say you should buy and therefore the government thinks you're all going to buy it so there's no way you can compete with on paper a government mandate with coverage.


ROMANS: There is growing frustration with Speaker Ryan among many in congress especially senators like Rand Paul. He accuses Ryan of being misleading.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You know what I hear from Pau Ryan? It's a binary choice young man. And what does a binary choice mean? His way or the high way. It's the Ryan plan or the status quo. And when he's rammed through his committee is his without amendment and that's the question. If we get what we got from Ryan, Obamacare-lite, he will not have the votes.


BRIGGS: Another top Republican senator sounding the alarm warning his house colleagues of dire consequences for passing the current bill.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R) ARKANSAS: Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass a senate and then have to face the consequences. I'm afraid if they vote for this bill, they will put the house majority at risk next year.


BRIGGS: The House Budget Committee is expected to take up the repeal bill on Wednesday. Former chair of that committee current Health And Human Services Secretary Tom Price making this bold declaration.


TOM PRICE, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through, understanding that they'll have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their families. Not the government forcing them to buy.


BRIGGS: Price's claim that, quote, "again, nobody will be worse off financially," drawing fierce fire from the right. Conservative web site Breitbart declaring his statement and early candidate for the lie of the year. CNN hosts a town hall with Secretary Price on Wednesday night, presume that would come up. A senior White House official tells us the West Wing will focus heavily on health care this week both the president and vice president engaged on the subject.

ROMANS: All right, after months of calling the government's jobs data fake, phony and hoax. The first monthly reading under president Trump comes in strong for president Trump. The Trump administration officials and the president himself offer a somewhat confusing analysis of the data.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I talked to the president prior to this. He said to quote them very clearly. They may have been phony in the past, but it's very real now.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The economy is doing very, very well and generally speaking, we're doing very well. We're going to get back on track. We really had a -- we had a mess. Believe me, it getting straightened out.


MICK MULVANEY, OMB DIRECTOR: We thought for a long time. I did, that the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers in terms of the number of people in the workforce to make the unemployment rate, that percentage rate, look smaller than it actually was.


ROMANS: Wow. All right, you get all that? Budget Director Mick Mulvaney went on to say that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has not changed its methodology since Trump has taken office. In fact, the agency has used the same method for calculating the unemployment rate since 1940. Economists debate the best way they calculate statistics, but there's no evidence, and they offer a lot of different statistics by the way. There is no evidence that the Bureau Of Labor and Statistics (INAUDIBLE) its unemployment data and quite frankly such an insult to the people who work there.

It's the labor department. I mean, it's just really -- anyway, hopefully we will put that to rest. (INAUDIBLE) are we going to put this whole phony, fake, hoax stuff to rest now that they're going well? Now the number are going well. The president is going to need them to count his 25 million jobs over the next 10 years so.

BRIGGS: Gary Cohen I think with some sane words on the jobs data on Friday saying look, this is right in line with what it has been the last couple of years.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. I mean, I heard a lot of people saying oh, this is the Trump momentum but it was exactly this last February and exactly February before. They didn't believe those February's but they believe this one.

[04:10:00] BRIGGS: It is keeping with the economic growth we've seen. Anyway, a first for President Trump today at 3:00 p.m. eastern, he meets with his cabinet for the first time. Many of his appointees only recently confirmed with agriculture and labor secretary still unfilled. After his cabinet meeting, the president is still scheduled to sign an executive entitled comprehensive plan for re-organizing the executive the branch. The White House not releasing any details.

ROMANS: New details this morning about that intruder who breached White House security Friday night carrying a backpack with mace and a letter to President Trump, 26-year-old Jonathan Tran of California faces arraignment in a U.S. District court this afternoon. He was discovered by Secret Service agent near the south entrance of the executive residence just before midnight.

He was also carrying a laptop, a passport and a book written by the president. The letter to the president claims he had relevant information about Russian hackers. Mr. Trump calling the situation sad while praising the efforts of the Secret Service. This despite the fact that Tran was able to scale the fence adjacent to the white house undetected.

BRIGGS: It's unbelievable how far he mad it.

ROMANS: I know. I know, He really got really far. All right, an escalating diplomatic crisis overseas. What is the Netherlands and Turkey at odds? As both countries prepare for major votes. We go live to Amsterdam.


ROMANS: The rift deepening between Turkey and the Netherlands after Turkey's president compares the Dutch to Nazis. Denmark now postponing a meeting with the Turkish prime minister in light of the attacks, all comes as both countries prepare for a major election. CNN international correspondent Atika Shubert is live in Amsterdam. This is quite a dust-up, Atika.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well yes, I mean this was, it should have been a minor diplomatic incident. It's blown into a full blown crisis diplomatically and basically, you know, the Netherlands canceled a bunch of Turkish political rally.

This has become (INAUDIBLE) because of contentious folks in Turkey and here in the Netherlands. In Turkey, President Erdogan wants to whip up support for his referendum that would give him a lot more power that's why it's critical for him to have these political rallies in Europe where there are millions of Turkish rotors.

On the other hand, the Netherlands has the contentious vote on Wednesday, the elections and there, it's a much more nationalistic tone that's taken holding the country here and so as a result the Netherlands canceled the Turkish political rallies and refused to allow its ministers to land here.

Turkey has responded by saying that Netherlands is fascist and will pay somehow (INAUDIBLE). It's not clear exactly how, but as a result, these are 2,000 people in front of the Turkish consulate, Rotterdam on Saturday night. It had to be disbursed violently.

And this is the end result this morning as you can see here, riot police arresting a protester with a headline, "We're In Charge" This is exactly the kind of sentiment that this whole incident plays into here in the Netherlands whether or not this weighs in the minds of voters when they go to the polling booths on Wednesday, we'll have to find out.

ROMANS: All right, Atika Shubert for us in Amsterdam this morning. Thank you.

BRIGGS: Iraqi troops are charting progress in the push to drive ISIS out of the Iraqi City of Mosul. The military says 60 percent of western Mosul has now been liberated even though nearly 100,000 residents have been displaced. We are not getting a look at the museum left barren in the city after ISIS destroyed countless ancient relics, or so we thought. CNN's international correspondent Ben Wedeman live Erbil, Iraq, just about 50 miles east of Mosul with a closer look. Good to see you, Ben. They did not necessarily destroy everything, from what we're learming, correct?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct. ISIS put out a video on social media in February of 2015 which showed some of their members with sledgehammers, jackhammers destroying a variety of statues in the Mosul museum, but in turns out that in early of 2014, before ISIS took over Mosul, the Mosul museum was slated for renovation so they moved about 1,700 out of the 2200 items in their collection to Baghdad for safe keeping and made a variety of cheap plaster of paris replicas.

And that's what we see in this video of the ISIS members toppling these statues over so, even though ISIS has really gone on a rampage throughout northern Iraq, an area with 3,100 archaeological sites. Some of them they've utterly destroyed, bulldozing, dynamiting and what not. This is the one story where it seems that the archaeological treasures escaped their madness, Dave.

BRIGGS: What a fascinating development. Thank you Ben.

ROMANS: All right, are you enjoying the extra hour of daylight or did it totally screw you up.


ROMANS: I'm screwed up.

BRIGGS: I'm upside down.

ROMANS: It's going to be an extra hour of shoveling snow if you live in the north east. A big storm heading this way. Details next.


BRIGS: Well, it turns out that warm weather past couple of weeks, that was a massive head fake. A huge winter storm rolling into the northeast starting tonight extending into Tuesday. Winter storm warnings posted for much of the East Coast from Virginia to Massachusetts with a blizzard watch for four north eastern states.

ROMANS: Sorry, you should expect school closures, flight cancellations and delays and rough commutes. It's 87 and sunny in L.A. with the latest, let's bring in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine. The conditions in all parts of the country here where over 100 million people underneath winter weather advisories and alerts. Pretty impressive here, that's 1 in every 3 people dealing with these conditions over the next 24 hours. Of course we have snow coming out in Chicago at this hour, which is among the first times all year.

We've seen some decent snow come down but the arctic blast is in place. The storm system coming out of the plains will eventually push in and interact with the storm system coming out of the southeast. So, you put the energy together here and you bring the timing in to sometime Monday night into early Tuesday morning.

The potential for a significant amount of snow coming down is very high across this region. In fact, over 50 million people could see at least a foot of snow on Tuesday afternoon. And you take a look. Parts of New York City potentially could see some of the higher totals and points just to the east there expands to the points of Connecticut and Massachusetts as well.

Over 18 inches possible as we go on towards Tuesday afternoon and of course what is making the most impressive is when you consider how March began, about 70 degrees there in Central Park on the 1st of March,

[04:25:00] 12 to 20 inches depending on which model you choose as we go in towards Tuesday afternoon. So definitely a very interesting 24 to 36 hours ahead of us here guys.

ROMANS: Very interesting.

BRIGGS: Hunker (ph) down. Snow days ahead.

ROMANS: Crazy kids climbing the walls.

BRIGS: Well, President Trump ready to make a big push for this Republican health care bill this week, but could today's congressional deadline for information on his wiretapping claims derail the whole agenda?


BRIGGS: With the White House mum on the president's wiretapping claims, what information will the Justice Department hand over to the House Intelligence Committee today? Lawmakers demanding answers.

ROMANS: A powerful U.S. Attorney out of a job, but not staying silent after being fired by President Trump. Why did the president reverse course on Preet Bharara's job?

[04:30:00] BRIGGS: The House Speaker softening expectations ahead of the Congressional Budget Office score on the Obamacare repeal plan. Now, senate Republicans are venting in his direction.

Welcome back to "Early Start" everybody, I'm Dave Briggs. ROMANS: Nice to see you got your snow shovel and snow boots everything ready for tonight.

BRIGGS: The calm before the storm --