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Calls for Nunes Recusal Grow; Jared Kushner Volunteers to Testify; Trump Targets Climate Change; U.S., Iraq Probe Civilian Casualties in Mosul. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 28, 2017 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:26] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Will Devin Nunes recuse himself as chair of the House and Intel Communities Investigations into Trump-Russian connections. A growing number of Democrats say he must following new revelations, new revelations about his own intelligence gathering.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And this morning, questions emerging after a word of a meeting between the President's son-in-law and a Russian official, was Jared Kushner's meeting about the transition or his private real estate?

ROMANS: And major changes to American policy on climate change being rolled out today with details on the President's next executive order, another rejection of Obama era policy.

BRIGGS: Trying hard to wipe out the entirely Obama administration.

ROMANS: Welcome back to Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm David Briggs and it's 31 minutes past the hour.

Two top Democrats say the time has come for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump's campaign. And the demand comes after a serious of revelation. The latest that Nunes was on the White House grounds before he told President Trump that he's aides communications were picked up in surveillance by U.S. Intelligence.

ROMANS: Now, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Ranking Intel Committee of Democrats Adam Schiff both say Nunes was set side from that role. Pelosi is saying in a statement, "The Chair of the House Intelligence Committee has a serious responsibility to the Congress and to the country. Chairman Nunes is discredited behavior has tarnish that office." And here's what Schiff said to CNN.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE: It would be very difficult to maintain the credible investigation if the chairman did not recuse himself from matters involving either the Trump campaign or the Trump transition team. There's just no legitimate reason to have gone to the White House at night to obtain information, and then later share it with the White House instead of sharing it with his own committee.

BRIGGS: All this came just hours after Trump advisor and first son- in-law Jared Kushner volunteered this testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and now, the latest development on that front. Kushner is facing questions about a previously undisclosed meeting with a Russian banking official, more on that in a moment. Our coverage begins this morning.

The Senior Congressional Reporter Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Good morning Christine and Dave. Now, the partisans stand up on the House Intelligence Committee having intensified this after Devin Nunes, the chairman of that committee made the surprising revelation yesterday saying that he met with a source on White House grounds to discuss information pertaining to the incidental collection of information regarding President Trump's associates during the time of the transition with foreign officials.

Now, this came of course as the House Intelligence Committee has been investigating any Trump ties with Russian officials and democrats were outraged by Nunes as move to brief the president of the United States on this issue. And now, the revelation of some of the discussions happened on White House ground has led some Democrats including Adam Schiff, the top Democratic committee to call on Nunes to recuse himself.

Now, Nunes is suggesting he's not going anywhere telling Wolf Blitzer yesterday, "This is all very common."


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: I've been working this a long time with many different sources and needed a place that I could actually finally go because I knew what I was looking for. And I could actually get access to what I needed today see. I'm quite sure that I think people in west wing had no idea that I was there. Look, I go over there a lot. I go over there often for meetings and briefings.


RAJU: Our Speaker Paul Ryan full supports Devin Nunes staying in this position saying he's got full confidence and Nunes moving forward. But, Nunes also came under some fire from Democrats for abruptly canceling the Tuesday public hearing on the issue of Russia and Russia meddling in the elections.

Instead, wanting to have a private briefing with James Comey, the FBI director and Mike Rogers, the NASI director but that Tuesday briefing abruptly canceled itself. Now, nothing will happen today as the committee tries to struggle and find its way forward after a very partisan in better several days. Christine and Dave?

ROMANS: All right. Manu asked Chairman Nunes whether he plans to recuse himself from the investigation. Nunes declined to comment.

Earlier Monday he reiterated to CNN that, "This has nothing to do with Russia." But, there are loose ends in Nunes' explanation of events, loosen the big holes actually.

BRIGGS: Indeed, there are. You just heard Nunes say he's quite sure no one in the west wing even knew he was there. But a former government intelligence official says member of Congress are treated like anyone else. Nunes must have been cleared in and escorted by a current White House staffer.

[04:35:09] Nunes also says he was on the White House grounds because he needed a secure facility to view these documents, but there are dozens of such facilities in and around Washington, many not at the White House complexes.

ROMANS: Lots of questions still and very few answers. Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner under scrutiny this morning after the revelation of a meeting with a top Russian banking official appointed directly by Vladimir Putin. Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov in December. Gorkov is chairman of VEB. That is a state run bank that is under U.S. sanctions over Russian's meddling in Ukraine.

BRIGGS: A meeting raises a number of questions but most notably in what capacity did Kushner meet with Gorkov? Now the White House says the meeting was a routine part of Kushner's job during the transition.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Jared did a job during the transition and the campaign where he was a conduit into leaders. And that's until we had a State Department of function place for people to go. Remember, we had a delay in some of these things and that was his role.


ROMANS: The Russians have a different view. VEB says Kushner met Gorkorv in his roles as Head of Kushner Real Estate Empire. It was a business meeting not a political meeting. He wasn't meeting with him a Trump's aid. Kushner has been trying to attract the financing for a building project in Manhattan.

All this raises the prospect that Kushner users Trump the transition to protect with private business with companies sanctions, a Russian state owned company sanctioned by the U.S. government.

BRIGGS: This all came hours after Kushner agreed to testify two senators investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, because of his role, arranging meetings between top campaign advisers and the Russian ambassador to the U.S, the timing of that testimony still being worked out.

We've already knew Kushner himself once met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. We've now learned that Kislyak asked for a second sit down. Kushner sent an aide in his place. ROMANS: And we're contact some of Trump administration wining in tangles that with Russian. I want to go back to Moscow and bring in CNN Senior International Correspondent Frederick Pleitgen. And there's a lot of parts to this story this drip, drip, drip of Russian connections here. And a lot of questions we just can't answers.

So, tell us about this VEB Bank and this, you know, this -- the characters here so closely tied to Vladimir Putin.

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORREPONDENT: Yes. It's interesting. I'm sure some of the characteristics of that bank and Sergey Gorkov will raise a lot of eyebrows in Washington D.C. The bank itself is fully owned by the Russian governments and the chairman of that bank is appointed by Vladimir Putin.

So, Sergey Gorkov was the currently the chairman of that bank was himself appoint by Vladimir Putin. And before that, he was actually in senior management at Spare Bank which is Russia's biggest government owned bank.

So, certainly, this is someone who's very close to the Russian state, someone's who's very close to Vladimir Putin. And the bank itself, the Russian Development Bank is one that funds big projects here in Russia. For instance, it funded a lot of the infrastructure building that went around the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

Also, apparently, it bailed out some oligarchs over the past couple of years, who were also quite close to Vladimir Putin. So, this is a bank that is very close to the state and very often it does things for the state here when it comes to larger projects.

Now, Sergey Gorkov himself is also an interesting figure. He is actually graduated from the Intelligence Academy of the FSB here in Russia in 1994. He then went on to a banking career, and then, at some point in time worked his way all the way up to the top of the Economic Development Bank.

And then, as far as this meeting is concerned, the bank itself says yes, that meeting took place but they say that it was part of a road show that the bank was conducting at the time, Christine.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right. Thanks for that, Fred the view to Moscow. They're quite in banks (inaudible).

BRIGGS: So, in what role was that meeting? That's a question will be. President Trump meanwhile firing up the old Twitter account insisting these latest revelations about his son-in-law's meeting with the Russians are "Hoax". And now, he's dragging the Clintons into these fights. Mr. Trumps twitting, "Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill and Hillary deal that allowed figuring and they go to Russian. Russian's speech money to bill that Hillary- Russian reset praise of Russia by Hillary or Podesta-Russian Company." Trump-Russia's story is a "Hoax."

ROMANS: So, some context here about all those things that the President is twitting about. Under Hillary Clinton the State Department was one of nine agencies participating in a deal that allowed stakes in a Uranium company with U.S holdings to be sold to Russian.

[04:40:05] At that time, our Russian investment banks tied to the deal paid Bill Clinton for a speech. The nonpartisan sect checking organization upgrades. President Trump's claim of pay to play here as mostly false citing Hillary Clinton's lack of power to approve over or reject the deal with nine agencies together a review of that deal, was in a committee of nine agencies. It wasn't her alone.

BRIGGS: New details about the executive order, President Trump plans to sign later today dramatically rolling back climate change regulations. The measure resends at least six Obama executive orders to designed to curve climate change and regulate carbon emissions. It ends a moratorium of coal mining on federal land and removes requirement that federal officials considered the impact of climate change when making decisions.

ROMANS: The White House says they were to prioritize job over the fights against global warming adding the executive order focuses more on clean air and clean water less on regulating global warming. The move may signal America's exit from the landmark pair's climate agreement. We haven't word on that specifically yet. But, it shows the direction that moving here.

BRIGGS: Certainly appears to. While the Trump administration is also threatening to cut off funding for sanctuary cities. Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisting they put "Dangerous criminals on the streets and make the nation less safe."

Sanctuary cities are communities that limit cooperation with federal immigrations officials. Sessions warns a crack down is coming soon with billions of dollars in funding being pulled. But, he did not specify which cities will be targeted.

The nuclear option is looking more and more likely in the battle over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Right now, 14 Democrats say they will participate in a filibuster when a senate judiciary committee votes on Monday. Six other Democrats say they will not support Gorsuch but are not committing to a filibuster.

Right now, the Senate needs 60 votes to confirm Judge Gorsuch. If Democrats filibusters, GOP leaders say they will invoke the nuclear option, change the rules in the Senate so, only 51 votes are needed to push the nomination through.

ROMANS: The White House and Republican lawmakers are looking to quickly move on some health care from the failure of health care. And the next big thing they're pushing is tax reform. But, from the President on down the terms tax reforms is often used interchangeably with tax cuts. Want to break this out for you there, two very different things, tax cuts are an easier sale.

It usually they proposed along with some cost saving measure to cover the last revenue. The last time that happened was under George W. Bush in 2001, tax cut in 2001. President Obama kept those tax cut in place those some aspects were change during budget negotiations.

Real tax reform is different. It's harder. It's basically restructures or rewrites the entire tax code. Experts say the goal is to make it simpler, fair and more efficient. Oh, when that be nice. That may include removing deductions or credits. Some of which specials interest groups will loudly defend. Over the last time Congress pulled off real reform was in 1986.

Regardless, of what lawmakers decide, the general rule is that the plan has to be revenue neutral over ten years without the cut to Obamancare that the administration was helping for. That will be difficulty and now they're back to the drawing board trying to figure out what kind of tax reform they can do.

There's also those money sitting in over profits, sitting in over series bank accounts ...


ROMANS: Want to figure out how they get back and maybe you do see American economy with that. It's going to be a lot of work to do.

BRIGGS: And it's interesting, its looks like there's plan emerging out at the House and one out of the White House and they're very different. How do they merge those before, you know, got learn from what happen with health care?


[04:43:38] BRIGGS: Meanwhile, the Secretary of Defense fighting back criticism amid acquisitions in coalition air strike killed civilians in Mosul. We're live next.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the death toll growing in Mosul where 112 bodies have been recovered from the sight what Iraqi officials say was a coalition air strike, just devastating images there from Mosul.

CNN, Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon, we have there. She is on the ground for us live from Mosul.

And we could see some of the devastation behind you from a different air strike. It just shows you the urgency in this fight against ISIS and the big questions American officials are facing right now about civilian casualties. Bring us up to speed Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that effort to try to get bodies out of the location of the air strike. As they investigated by both the American and the Iraqis is still underway at this stage.

And people that we have been talking to bearing in mind that there are not that many civilians that have stayed behind given all the destruction that you can see around us, are saying that the fighting was very intense. They're saying that as Iraqi forces there advance into this area in particular there was a number of air strike. There was a lot of artillery. There are a lot of suicide car bombs, car bombs going off.

You can see the crater right there presumably caused by an air strike. Also and possibly could have been some sort of car or truck bomb. We still have explosions that are happening on the other streets around us. But even this area that is an area that is considered to be liberated. You can imagine being a civilian trying to stay here under there conditions. It's still absolutely terrifying. And nothing is guaranteed.

At this stage we spoke to one woman, Christine, who stayed behind. And when asked her why, she said it was because the day before this area was liberated her husband was taken away by ISIS. These are families, civilians, a city that's been through so much.

And as the forces have been advancing through this western part of Mosul you do really get the sense that, not only is the fighting more intense and more challenging, because the roads here, the roads that go off to the safe road (ph) for example.

[04:50:05] There has also been quite a few attach helicopters over ahead in those various different burst of gun fire that you hear. But the roads off of the main road here, they are very narrow alley ways that make it very difficult for the troops to begin to navigate. You do see some of them down the street going out on patrol at this stage.

But the fight for Western Mosul has been much more intensive, they much more compact part of the city. And just imagine that in most of these buildings that you see. Most of the homes on the side streets they still had civilians in them, because even though the Iraqi government did, yes, tell civilians to stay put. Even if they wanted to leave, ISIS would not allow them to leave.

And the destruction in Western Mosul does feel as if it is much more vast and widespread than it was in the east, because of the nature of the fight.

Now, due to these various different incidents that are being investigated both by the U.S. and the Iraqi military, the Iraqis are saying that they are beginning to change their tactics. They are going to be calling in less air strikes, asking for less air strikes and trying to move more forward more on foot. There going to be trying to use their sniper teams. There going to be trying to use their drones to try to push forward.

And if not minimize the destruction to this city itself, at least try to minimize the civilian casualties.

ROMANS: Such a densely packed area. It just shows how the strategy is just fraught with peril for those folks. And Arwa they don't know who to trust. You know, one day there ISIS is in control taking away husbands and sons. And the next day are the military is rolling in.

All right, Arwa Damon, stay safe, just dramatic pictures there. We really appreciate you taking time and keeping us informed on what's happening there in the ground of Mosul, Arwa Damon for us this morning. Thanks.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, the White House leading nearly 40 nations in a boycott of U.N. talks to ban nuclear weapons. The talks are scheduled to begin Monday. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley calling attempts to pass an international treaty on nuclear weapons "unrealistic".

She was joined by ambassadors in the U.K. and France. Haley says, "As a mother she would welcome a world with no nukes". But asked, is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?

ROMANS: All right, 52 minutes past the hour. The girl by the bull, she's staying put --.

BRIGGS: Your girl.

ROMANS: -- at least for now. There she is, the fearless girl staring down capitalism. We're going to check on CNN MoneyStream, next.


BRIGGS: The Oakland Raiders are Vegas bound. NFL owners voting 31 to 1 to improve the deal. Only the Miami Dolphins opposed it. The Raiders expected to remain in Oakland for the next two seasons until a new 65,000 seat dome stadium in Vegas is ready. Raider's owner Mark Davis calling the move bitter sweet. Insisting the city of Oakland will the always be in the teams DNA.

Quarterback Derek Carr, also expressing mixed emotions. He says, "He feels there pain of Oakland fans, but also sees joy on the faces on new Raider's fans in Las Vegas". That is so tough for the people of Oakland this morning, tough pill to swallow.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN MoneyStream this morning. One month ago today, it was tell me that the Dow hit 12 record closing highs in the row, tying the all time record. Might how things have changed. Right now the Dow is in eight session losing streak. It's longest since 2011, when a sluggish recovery was causing lots of volatile in the stock market right now.

The worries are coming from Washington. Tax reform is priced into the stock market along with hopes that more deregulation and a big spend on infrastructure. The question now, is the Trump bump slowly turning into the Trump slump? It might be a little relief today if future is taken a little bit higher right now. Global markets are rising as well.

OK. The fearless girl. She'll be staring down the Wall Street bull for at least the next 11 months. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing the statue will stay. There she is, after her temporary permit expires until at least February 2018.

The mayor says, it's a fit impact for a girl who refuses to quit. Safety street global advisors put up the statue earlier this month to advocate for getting more women on corporate board. Since she appeared more than 28,000 people have signed the petition to keep her there.

We told you yesterday about the tweeter backlash United Airline states after removing two teenage girls from a flight for wearing leggings. That was against company policies for traveler on United Passes. Those United Passes, they let employees and their families fly for free. But there's a dress code. You have to be representing the company well, a lot of tweet on both sides of the issue.

But this one might sting United the most, right. Well, Delta tweeting, "Flying Delta means comfort". That means you can wear you leggings, 25,000 people have since re-tweeted that.

Oh, a little --

BRIGGS: I'm pro-leggings. It's a different world.

ROMANS: Inter Airline. I know. I'm sure when those rules are written. You know, you were meant to represent the company and that you couldn't that, you know.

BRIGGS: Right. Would that be wearing yoga pants to church? And it's just a different world.

ROMANS: You do not wear yoga pants to church.

BRIGGS: Well, I don't. But I've seen it happen. I have seen it happen in my town. I almost lost my mind. But I've come full circle. It's just the women which we live.

ROMANS: I can not get the picture of Dave taking communion in yoga pants.

BRIGGS: I do wear yoga pants to work. But that's because its 2:00 in the morning, with all do respect, Early Start continues right now. Yoga pants on right now.

ROMANS: Will the chair to have House Intel Committee recuse himself on the Trump, Russia investigation? Of course the Democrats say, Devin Nunes needs to step aside following revelation of his whereabouts before a private meeting with the President.

BRIGGS: Now, a word of another previously an announced meeting between a top Trump aid and a Russian official. This time it's Trump's son-in-law with the big question about why he met with the banker appointed by Vladimir Putin.

[05:00:06] ROMANS: And the President is preparing to wipe out his predecessors record on climate change. We have the details on that, President Trump's next executive order coming today.

Good morning everyone, welcome to Early Start, I'm Christine --