Return to Transcripts main page


Funding Bill Deal Would Avert Government Shutdown; Trump Invites Philippines Leader To White House; Trump "Never Spoke" To Mnuchin About Taxes; Trump National Security Team Shakeup. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired May 1, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: We've got a deal to fund the government but many of the president's priorities aren't in this deal. We'll show you what made the cut in a critical spending bill.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And some big-time pushback over the president's decision to invite the authoritarian strongman president of the Philippines to the White House. Why is the White House defending it?

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. This is a controversial visit, right?


BRIGGS: I mean, this is a guy who has admitted to once being a killer. This is a guy who's offered himself up to brides in the Philippines as a gift.

ROMANS: And the Americans have officially been upset with his extrajudicial killings. You know, killing people before they have been convicted and gone through the judicial process, but he has just nabbed one of the most coveted invitations in the world. He will get to go to the White House.

BRIGGS: Yes, and what are the optics --

ROMANS: I know.

BRIGGS: -- of Rodrigo Duterte --

ROMANS: The White House is defending it --

BRIGGS: -- at the White House?

ROMANS: -- so we'll talk about it a little bit with Salena Zito in a minute, who just interviewed the president.


ROMANS: And also breaking overnight, Congressional lawmakers in both parties making a deal on a huge spending bill that, if approved, will fund the government through the end of September. The deal includes several significant wins for Democrats. It would add billions for the Pentagon and Border Security, but nothing for President Trump's promised wall along the Mexican border. Democrats rejected border wall spending as premature since the president has not detailed plans for building the multi-billion dollar barrier which he has vowed Mexico is going to pay for anyway.

BRIGGS: Also, the bill has no money for a deportation force or federal cuts to sanctuary cities, there is no funding cut for Planned Parenthood, and there's a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health. Votes in the House and Senate are expected by the end of the week. No response to the agreement yet from the White House but the deal is the product of steady negotiation between this administration and both parties on Capitol Hill to avoid a government shutdown.

ROMANS: The authoritarian strongman leader of the Philippines now invited to the White House and there's plenty of pushback against President Trump's invitation to President Rodrigo Duterte. In less than a year in office, Duterte has been accused of major human rights abuses. He once called President Barack Obama a "son of a whore." He has encouraged -- encouraged the extrajudicial killings of some 7,000 Filipinos suspected of using or dealing drugs.

BRIGGS: He's also moved to realign the Philippines away from the U.S. and toward China, saying "America has lost." White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus says human rights do matter but cooperating with Asian partners to deal with the North Korean threat takes precedence here.


REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: This is a different level of a problem that we need cooperation among our partners in Southeast Asia. But the issues facing us developing out North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure that we have our ducks in a row so that if something does happen in North Korea that we have everyone in line backing up a plan of action that may need to be put together.


BRIGGS: All right. CNN's Ivan Watson live for us in Hong Kong with some perspective on who Rodrigo Duterte is and what exactly is the Filipino influence over North Korea and their nuclear threat. Do they have any influence, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty debatable whether there's any military, economic, or political influence the Philippines has over North Korea. It's never really considered one of the big players in that very potentially dangerous conflict. The discussion that the two presidents had was described as warm and friendly and, yes, North Korea was discussed.

[05:35:00] But also, one of the topics of conversation was Duterte's deadly and very controversial war on drugs which, by many estimates, has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people in his first 10 months in office, with the police claiming responsibility for killing more than 2,500 suspected drug offenders during that period, all, if you can believe it, in self-defense. Duterte stands by his war on drugs and he is also a self-confessed killer. Listen to him describing his term in office as a mayor in the eighties.


RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT, PHILIPPINES: I did kill. I was only three months mayor in 1988. At least I kill to protect people. I am not here a dictator killing my political opponents to stay in power.


WATSON: Of course, human rights activists and the Democrats have -- they have criticized this invitation to Duterte to visit the White House. Chris Murphy, Senate Democrat from Connecticut, tweeting, "We are watching in real time as the American human rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash."

Duterte seems to admire Trump. He famously said, "We both like to swear. We curse right away." So this strongman seems to have a lot more respect for Trump than he had for former President Obama, who he called a "son of a whore" -- Dave.

ROMANS: He also told him, I think, to go to hell.

BRIGGS: Ivan, thanks.

ROMANS: He's said a lot of choice words. All right, let's bring in -- thanks, Ivan. Let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Eugene Scott and CNN contributor Salena Zito, who has a new interview with President Trump, out this morning in the "Washington Examiner." Good morning to both of you. Salena, we'll get to your interview in a moment.

I want to first ask Eugene, though, about the news overnight that there is a spending bill. There's no money for a border wall in there, there's no money for a deportation force, no cuts for sanctuary cities. We have a whole list we can put up here for you. No cuts for Planned Parenthood. These are some Democratic priorities overall. But then, on Saturday night, the president, in Pennsylvania at his 100-day rally, he's still assuring his base there will be a wall -- listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need the wall and we will build the wall as sure as you are standing there tonight. We need the wall. We'll build the wall, folks. Don't even worry about it. Go to sleep. Go home, go to sleep, rest assured.


ROMANS: Is there a campaign President Trump and there is a Washington Oval Office President Trump, and they are different things happening in these places?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, when I watched that speech Saturday night, quite frankly, I couldn't tell. I didn't know if it was April 2016 or April 2017, but I think one of the reasons he gets so much support from his base on that issue is because at that moment we were still just 100 days in.

I don't think the people backing him thought that this was something that he would have definitely had completed within the first 100 days, even though there were times on the campaign trail where he said this was one of the first things that he was going to do, but his supporters are a bit patient. Whether or not Republicans and, especially, Democrats are going to get behind federal funding for a border wall remains to be seen, but I don't think it's likely.

BRIGGS: All right. So, some very insightful things in Salena's piece -- a long interview with the president. But, Salena, I want to ask you about some things other people said about the president over the weekend. Reince Priebus said that they have looked at overturning libel laws allowing the administration to sue news organizations like this one. And then, John McCain said this to Jon Carl about the president's words versus his actions. Excuse me, this is to Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION."


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I tell them that he is surrounding himself with an outstanding national security team. I can't guarantee to world leaders that he will always listen to them but he has, so far. Sometimes it's important to watch what the president does rather than what he says.


BRIGGS: Salena, those words, that world leaders should pay attention to what he does, not what he says -- you sat with this man. What do you make of those words from John McCain?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, in -- you know, he -- it's like we said in the beginning of the campaign, voters take him seriously but not literally and we, as reporters and politicians, take him literally and a lot of times not seriously. He doesn't place the same value on words that politicians or journalists do. He's not polished, he is flippant with his words, and he'll sometimes admit that he is.

Also, McCain is right. I mean, no one has ever seen anything like this from someone who is sitting in the Oval Office but I suspect that this is not anything that's ever going to change about him and I think McCain has it right. What is -- pay attention to what he's doing. Pay attention to the things that he's trying to accomplish. Pay attention to the back channels that he uses to -- with diplomacy. Some of the harsher or more strident words are just part of his outsized personality that he has always had since he's been in the public eye since the eighties.

[05:40:05] ROMANS: So if we look at, Salena and Eugene, what he has done -- and he's invited Duterte to the White House but insulted the South Korean people by saying they should pay for the defense that the U.S. is insisting is there in the first place, right, and his -- and his national security adviser had to go clean that up. He's had, you know, kind words or humanizing words for both Putin and for -- and for the North Korean leader and others, yet our own allies, Angela Merkel and others, have kind of walked away feeling a little bit sort of slighted and confused by this man, Salena. So, at some point his words do matter if his actions are just so kind of confounding to the international community.

ZITO: Well, I think -- I would argue that words always matter but the American people -- the people that voted for him bought in an understanding that they wanted someone that was not a typical politician. Part of what goes with that is not using polished, slick talking points. I think that is part of sort of what got him elected because people were tired of very smooth words. Having said that, it's -- you know, I suspect when it comes to diplomacy you will see him get more of a footing when it comes to how he speaks about world leaders as he measures the impact that it -- that it has, with feedback from their diplomats to our diplomats.

BRIGGS: Eugene, when you tie it all together and calling Kim Jong Un a "very smart cookie" can this somehow be effective for the president?

SCOTT: Maybe with his base -- people who are already on board -- but if Donald Trump is trying to get people who aren't already on the Trump train he's going to have to adopt some polished, slick words or at least words that are actually true and sensitive to the fact that it doesn't matter to some degree that so many people -- that 96 percent of the people who voted for you will vote for you again. You have to remember that the majority of people did not vote for you and if you want to have -- work with them and lead all of this country, your words are going to have matter, your actions are going to have to matter, and they're going to have to be clear.

ROMANS: And meanwhile, the Democrats are still out in the wilderness --

BRIGGS: Right now.

ROMANS: -- looking at the place when he was no real -- nobody really emerging there.

SCOTT: Not yet.

BRIGGS: Yes. Well, read Salena's interview. Read it in the "Washington Examiner."

ROMANS: Very good.

BRIGGS: It's out today. We will tweet that out, as well. Thanks to both of you.

ROMANS: Nice to see you guys.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, he's one of the president's most outspoken supporters so why is Sebastian Gorka set to leave a top national security job in the White House?


[05:46:50] ROMANS: All right. Could the president release his tax returns soon? Speaking on "CBS News Sunday" President Trump said he never told the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin he had "no intention of releasing them" as the Treasury secretary reported last week. In fact, when asked about the timing the president said this.


JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST, "FACE THE NATION": You first said that you were under audit and was going to wait until that was done about 14 months ago. That seems like a long time. When do you think this might happen? Are you asking them?

TRUMP: It could happen soon, I don't know. I mean, I think it's --

DICKERSON: Let's -- give me a --

TRUMP: I think it's pretty routine, to be honest with you, but then I'll make a decision.


ROMANS: Releasing the president's tax returns are increasingly important. The administration released the first outline of a tax plan last week and while it lacked details experts say a few items could save the presidents tens of millions of dollars on his own personal taxes. For example, if the administration repeals the alternative minimum tax which prevents the wealthiest Americans from paying no taxes, the president would have saved $31 million in 2005, according to his leaked tax returns. That was 80 percent of the taxes me made -- he paid that year. Also, the new business tax rate would have saved Trump $27 million in 2005. So, a big reversal. The president saying in the CBS interview that he --


ROMANS: -- could release his taxes. I think most --

BRIGGS: Are you optimistic?

ROMANS: No. Most observers think absolutely not because there's no upside for him.

BRIGGS: Don't hold your breath, folks. Another shakeup in President Trump's national security team. Sebastian Gorka is on his way out. Administration officials tell CNN the controversial deputy assistant to the president has been generating too much controversy. He's been linked to far-right extremists and is a former national security editor for "Breitbart." Gorka has been serving on the National Security Council.

His expected departure following the firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the removal of Steve Bannon from the NSC's Principals Committee. Current deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland also reportedly leaving for another post.

Time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Alisyn Camerota joining us this morning.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good to see you, my friend.


ROMANS: You, too.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you. So, while everyone has been sleeping, as you both know, Congress has agreed on a spending bill. So what's in it, what's out? Obviously, this affects every one of us so we'll also take (audio gap) a win for (audio gap). Of course, we'll talk about the controversial invitation that President Trump has extended to the president of the Philippines, Duterte, who is a known human rights violator. So, what the president is thinking and what that invitation and that visit might look like. So we have all sorts of people on both sides of the aisle coming in to share their opinions when Chris and I see you at the top of the hour.

ROMANS: Can't wait. Talk to you soon.

BRIGGS: Sounds good. See you in a bit.

ROMANS: All right. Amazon found Jeff Bezos -- you know, he had a really good day Friday -- a really good -- how would you like --

BRIGGS: Not by our standards, but by --

ROMANS: You know, you just can't believe how good. We'll tell you in a minute.

BRIGGS: Astronomical.

ROMANS: CNN Money Stream is next.


[05:53:55] BRIGGS: Right now, U.S. troops are conducting patrols along Syria's central and northeastern border with Turkey. According to a U.S. official, armored vehicles flying American flags are being manned by mostly special ops forces. They are monitoring potential attacks by Turkish military units against U.S.-backed forces.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is monitoring the latest developments for us. She joins us live from Amman, Jordan. What is the latest and what do these have to do with those airstrikes we heard about last week?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, what we're seeing, basically, is you have U.S. Special Forces essentially creating this buffer zone along the border between Turkey and Syria. They're trying to stop an all-out conflict from breaking out between two main U.S. allies in that region. You've got the Kurdish YPG militia, on the one hand. This is one of the United States' most trusted, most reliable partners whenit comes to the fight against ISIS on the ground there in Syria. And on the other hand, you have Turkey, a key U.S. ally and also a NATO member state, like the United States.

[05:55:00] And, of course, tensions really spiked between these two last week after Turkey carried out airstrikes targeting the YPG. And Turkey did that because it considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization because of its affiliation with a designated terrorist group -- that is the Turkish Kurdish separatist group, the PKK -- considered a terrorist group by both the United States and Turkey.

And, of course, tensions are continuing to rise. Turkey is saying that it is going to continue to target the YPG and it wants the United States to reconsider its support and backing of the YPG Kurdish militia, and that is something that President Erdogan is saying that he is going to bring up during his meeting with President Trump on May 16th, really presenting President Trump with a very complex and a very delicate foreign policy issue for him to try and navigate through. The United States really can't afford to lose any of these two key U.S. allies, Dave.

BRIGGS: Interesting backdrop for that meeting two weeks away. Appreciate the live report, Jomana Karadsheh.

New details from the Pentagon on civilian casualties in the fight against ISIS. Officials say at least 352 civilians have been killed in coalition strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since the start of the "Operation Inherent Resolve" nearly three years go. It's a significant increase from last months' civilian casualty report of 229 deaths. More than three dozen other reports of civilian deaths are being reviewed, including several last month in Mosul.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. U.S. futures in Asia markets are higher this morning. European markets are closed today for May Day to honor workers. Wall Street closed slightly lower Friday after a disappointing report on economic growth, really the slowest economic growth in the first part of the year in three years. Still, April was a solid month for stock investors. The three major averages up about one percent. The Dow had its best weekly gain of the year.

Corporate America has been on a roll. Earnings have been very strong this season, the strongest earnings since 2011. Excitement over tax reform and possible deregulation has kept the so-called 'Trump Bump' going strong through the president's first 100 days.

Coming this week, more big tech names like Apple report. The big reveal for Apple will be exactly how much cash the tech giant has overseas. We're talking about more than 200 -- maybe $250 billion -- more cash on hand sitting overseas than any U.S. company.

A major strike possible today. Twenty-one thousand AT&T wireless workers could walk off the job was early as this morning. Since February, the Communication Workers of America union has been negotiating its contract. The union is looking to stop AT&T from sending jobs overseas, among other demands. The company said in a statement it remains confident a deal will be reached. AT&T, of course, has agreed to purchase Time Warner, which owns CNN.

Move over Bill Gates. You might lose the title of world's wealthiest person. The net worth of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos rose nearly $2 billion in one little day. The company reported strong earnings and it sent the stock up. He is now worth about $80 billion -- wow. Just behind, the Spanish retail magnate Amancio Ortega, and just above, Warren Buffett. You know, I get excited if I find like a $20 bill in my jeans pocket.

BRIGGS: Yes, that's a good financial Friday for me.

ROMANS: That's a good -- that's a good winning for me but, wow, what a day for Jeff Bezos. All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. See you tomorrow.


TRUMP: In many cases, you're forced to make deals that are not the deal you'd make.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he wants to reach out we're all ears.

BRIGGS: Washington lawmakers reaching a deal to avoid a government shutdown.

TRUMP: We need the wall to stop the drugs and the human trafficking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has given us a graveyard of broken promises.

TRUMP: They say we don't cover preexisting conditions. We cover it beautifully.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: He said he'd cover more people at less cost. His bill does just the opposite.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think health care reform is just around the corner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scheduling Duterte is not appropriate.

PRIEBUS: It doesn't mean human rights don't matter. We need cooperation among our partners in Southeast Asia.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, May 1st, 6:00 here in New York and we begin with breaking news. No government shutdown. Congress has a deal to keep the U.S. government funded not just through next week but through September. The bipartisan deal has a lot to discuss, notably money for President Trump's border wall not there. Funding for Planned Parenthood is there.

CAMEROTA: And, the White House extending a controversial invitation to a world leader with an abysmal human rights record. Plus, another member of the president's national security team is on the way out, so we have it all covered for you. Let's begin with Suzanne Malveaux live on Capitol Hill. What's the latest, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, really surprising news to wake up to on a Monday morning. Lawmakers working over the weekend -- those negotiations -- to make sure that the government is funded beyond this Friday.