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Sources: Yates Told White House Flynn Had Lied; Clinton: Comey Cost Me; Trump Tackles Health Care; Trump Hosting Abbas at White House; Adam Jones Gets Standing Ovation at Fenway Park. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 3, 2017 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The former acting attorney general set to contradict the White House on who knew what and when about Michael Flynn's talks with the Russian ambassador.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And Hillary Clinton and her return to the spotlight said she accepts full responsibility for her election loss, while also pinning it on the Russians and FBI Director James Comey. How did the president respond?

ROMANS: And President Trump summons key House members to the White House to talk health care. Can he finally get this repeal and replace bill through the House? Here we go again.

Good morning again. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's Wednesday, May 3rd, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Interesting comments from Hillary Clinton, right, that she would win the election if it were held on October 27th.

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: Christiane Amanpour will join us shortly. We'll talk about all of this. She's the one who sat alongside Hillary Clinton.

But, first, President Trump and his administration facing major public rebuke from an official fired by Trump himself. Sources tell CNN, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates is prepared to testify she warned the White House, Michael Flynn was lying about talking to the Russian ambassador. A warning that came three weeks before Flynn was fired as national security adviser.

Yates expected to tell a Senate Judiciary Committee she expressed grave concerns, Flynn could potentially be compromised, refuting the White House account that Yates gave officials a simple head's up.

[05:00:06] With Yates testimony set for Monday, Russia returns to center stage on Capitol Hill today.

ROMANS: FBI Director James Comey goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee where he'll likely be grilled about his announcement just before election that the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails was back on.

Secretary Clinton now with her most pointed comments on Comey and the Russians and President Trump unleashes a late night tweet storm venting his frustration about that.

We've got all of this wrapped up together. We begin with our national security correspondent Jim Sciutto in Washington.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Sources familiar with her account tell CNN that former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates is prepared to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week that she gave a forceful warning to the White House regarding then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn nearly three weeks before he was fired. This contradicting the administration's version of events.

In a private meeting January 26th, Yates told White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was lying when he denied in public and private that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia in conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. His misleading comments, Yates explained, made him potentially vulnerable to being compromised by Russia. The Yates-McGahn meeting took place January 26th.

On February 10th, more than two weeks later, President Trump said he was unaware of reports on Flynn. Three days after that, on February 13th, "The Washington Post" published a story that Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Flynn resigned that night.

Yates testimony on May 8th will be the first time the former acting attorney general will publicly speak about that White House meeting. A source familiar with the situation says that Yates will be limited on what she can tell the committee because many of the details involving Flynn remain classified. Yates previously scheduled appearance in front of the House Intelligence Committee was cancelled by Chairman Nunez. That news sparking outcry from Democrats who believes he was trying to shield the White House from damaging new revelations.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


BRIGGS: Thank you, Jim.

Hillary Clinton meanwhile says she would have won the election if it were held on October 27th. Speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, the former candidate said she didn't let up on FBI Director James Comey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey's letter on October 28th and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off.


BRIGGS: Interviewed by Amanpour at a Women For Women International event in New York, Secretary Clinton did take what she called absolute personal responsibility for her loss.

ROMANS: But she said she's now back to being an activist citizen and part of the, quote, "resistance". She also took a swipe that's sure to irk President Trump.


CLINTON: I did win more than 3 million votes than my opponent. So, it's like, really?



CLINTON: Well -- fine. You know, better that than interfering in foreign affairs if he wants to tweet about me. I'm happy to be the, you know, the diversion.


ROMANS: So, what is behind her re-entry into the spotlight? A confidant telling CNN, quote, "She's not running for anything, she's just not hiding."

Christiane Amanpour, who you see there on the stage with her, will join us at 5:30 this morning to discuss her conversation with Clinton and more.

BRIGGS: Helping us to break this down, let's join Zach Wolf from Washington, managing editor for

Great to see you, sir.

All right. Let's start with Hillary Clinton there taking what she calls responsibility for her loss. She mentioned misogyny. She mentioned Comey. She mentioned WikiLeaks, as reasons for her loss. I didn't hear Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin mentioned.

Did she take responsibility for the loss?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL, MANAGING EDITOR: Yes, taking responsibility, but James Comey and the Russians and all that. Hey, I think at the end of the day, if what Democrats take away from this election, is that it was James Comey and Russians fault that's probably not going to be something that helps them grow into the future.

So, I mean, here we have this kind of stunning electoral defeat at the hands of Donald Trump. You can pin that solely in the arms of James Comey and the Russians. There are real fundamental problems with the Democrats message in the Rust Belt and how people there felt, and that's probably I think at the end of the day a more important message for them to internalize.

Now, at the same time, this Russian stuff continues to be very interesting and we're going to hear from James Comey later today. So, none of these conversations are going to go anywhere. But, you know, I think Democrats just need to be careful in what they take away here.

[05:05:03] ROMANS: When you look at that tweet storm from the president last night about 11:00 p.m., it didn't sound like he was a big fan of James Comey by any stretch of the imagination. So, one wonders what the relationship is like there.

I want to ask real quickly about -- in fact, you can see it right there, "Trump-Russia story was an excuse used by Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign." And he says FBI director a free pass on a bunch of bad deeds.

I want to listen quickly to what Hillary Clinton said about being an activist and I want to talk on the other side about who is emerging from this Democratic Party as a leader here if she's going to write books, give some speeches and just be an activist. What is that? Let's listen.


CLINTON: I'm now back to being an activist citizen and part of the resistance.



ROMANS: Part of the resistance. It's almost like a "Star Wars" thing. So who is going to run this resistance?

WOLF: That's a great question. I think they are trying to figure it out. As long as she's out there on that stage, giving big speeches, you know, appearing, she will take up some of the oxygen I think for Democrats. I don't think it's something she's necessarily running into, trying to take up oxygen but she will take some of it up.

Now, that said, I think there are a lot of Democrats out there, some folks in the Senate, you know, Joe Biden is out there giving speeches, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, these are kind of the obvious names. They are also some of the older names.

I think Democrats might want to look to their bench and cultivate there, you know, some people in the Senate, some governors out there. They need to get the next level up, I think. BRIGGS: Meanwhile, it's all eyes on Sally Yates, the former acting

attorney general who was fired by President Trump. According to our reporting, she did warn the White House about Michael Flynn but let's go back a little before that. Here's Sean Spicer, February 14th, on Sally Yates and Michael Flynn.

Let's play this.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So just to be clear, the acting attorney general informed the White House counsel that they wanted to give quote a heads up to us on some comments that may have seemed in conflict with what he had sent the vice president out in particular. The White House counsel informed the president immediately, the president asked him to conduct a review of whether there was a legal situation there. That was immediately determined that there wasn't.


BRIGGS: All right. Zach, what's the problem with what Sean Spicer said there and where is this story headed next?

WOLF: Well, the story is headed back to the headlines. Michael Flynn, you know, he's been gone from the White House for some time now. But the controversy around him and his contacts with the Russians and the lies I think that he apparently told to his bosses and publicly are something that continue to sort of be hung around the neck of the White House, especially, you know, going back to Hillary Clinton.

All this stuff is tied in together with the issue of Russians and meddling is somewhat separate. But then there are all these contacts that we have with Russians and people working at the White House. So, it's -- this whole, you know, creeping, you know -- I don't even know how -- the roots of this thing are ensnared around everyone in such a way having Sally Yates basically coming up saying, oh, no, no, no, Sean Spicer was not completely accurate there if that is in fact she does end up saying is not something the White House is going to want to hear.

ROMANS: Dr. Wolf, what is your prognosis for health care reform?

WOLF: It's been on life support for a good long while. Some signs of life maybe so to speak, every single week. We talked about this in the last month or so, ever since it failed. Every week, is it coming back? Is it coming back?

Look, I think Republicans, it's clear because they keep trying to bring it back that they really need this to happen. So, it wouldn't surprise me if at some point, it does that they are able to sort of repeal Obamacare, at least in the House. Then they have to move on in the Senate. But I'll believe it when I see it.

ROMANS: All right. Zach Wolf, thank you, sir. It has a pulse, to keep the metaphor alive.


ROMANS: It has a pulse.

All right. Thanks, Zach. Talk to you in a few minutes.

BRIGGS: All right. President Trump set to host Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Can the pair find common ground on the Middle East conflict? We're live with a preview.


BRIGGS: President Trump hosts Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House today. Palestinian officials describe Abbas as hopeful and eager to engage Mr. Trump despite the president's divisive rhetoric about Muslims on the campaign trail. So, what's on the agenda?

Let's bring in CNN's Ian Lee live from Ramallah on the West Bank.

What are they hopeful and eager about, Ian?

IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Dave. One thing they're going to do is just get to know each other. This is the first time the two leaders have met. So, expect that, that period.

But one thing that the Palestinians say they like from President Trump is the direct diplomacy. Not going through the State Department, but talking directly to the White House.

There is a laundry list by President Abbas for President Trump and that includes settlements. President Abbas wants more pressure from the White House to the Israeli to stop settlement construction.

Another thing is going to be embassy, moving it from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which is deeply unpopular with the Palestinians, although yesterday Vice President Mike Pence said that there's still serious considerations about that move. It's deeply unpopular with the Palestinians, but also key regional allies like Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

And, also, of course, expect them to talk about the peace process, something that President Trump has called the ultimate deal.

[05:15:05] When it comes to President Trump, there's the possibility that he'll bring up the Palestinians paying money to the family members of those who were either killed or jailed by the Israeli. Now, the Israelis say that this is just the sponsorship of terrorism, so there's a lot on the table today -- Dave.

BRIGGS: I wonder if Jared Kushner will re-emerge in the spotlight. Haven't heard that name in a while, but we thought he would be in the middle of Middle East negotiations.

Ian Lee, thank you. ROMANS: During election, candidate Trump swept into the office as champion of the working class, promising to crackdown on Wall Street excesses. But here's President Trump's treasury secretary reminding bankers at an elite conference in Beverly Hills, he's focused on relaxing financial regulation.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I know there's a few people in this room that care a lot about that. You should all thank me for your bank stocks doing better.


ROMANS: Treasury secretary of the United States telling bankers to thank him for personally enriching their stocks. Very rare. Very rare. In fact, I've never heard a treasury secretary boasting about enriching bankers.

In fact, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, a Democrat, wrote in a blog post, "I cannot conceive any of the 11 other secretaries I have known making such a statement."

True, by the way. Bank stocks have had a great run under Trump soaring between 20 percent and 40 percent since the election. Take a look at the right side of that screen. It shows you just how much money bankers are making because Wall Street likes Trump's talk about tax reform and deregulation and especially the promise to, quote, "do a big number on Dodd-Frank."

In fact, the House Financial Services Committee is expected to vote on a GOP bill today that would scale back the Obama era financial reform. Democrats fiercely oppose this, obviously, and delayed voting overnight. Republicans blame Dodd-Frank for the country's anemic growth. Democrats say repealing it would help Wall Street at the cost of Main Street.

I just remember so much of the election was about how Hillary Clinton was in the pocket of Goldman Sachs and the bankers and for an American treasury secretary to sit in front of an elite audience of bankers in Beverly Hills and say, "You can thank me for making you richer", it's not something I can ever conceive of as a financial reporter.

BRIGGS: With Goldman Sachs in the center of his administration certainly did not do the president any favors, counters his entire narrative during the campaign.

ROMANS: It does. But will it matter? That's what I wonder.

BRIGGS: Nothing has. Nothing has moved the supporters one bit. We shall see.

Meanwhile, one day after being subjected to racial slurs at Fenway Park, Baltimore's Adam Jones gets a very different kind of reception from Red Sox fans. Andy Scholes here this morning with the "Bleacher Report". That's next.


[05:22:13] BRIGGS: Let's talk some sports.

Night after being taunted with racial slurs, Orioles outfielder Adams Jones receiving a much different reception at Fenway Park.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. Andy Scholes has much more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.


Monday night, Adam Jones said fans at Fenway used the N-word towards him, end through peanuts at him. After that news spread, other African-American players said they too have been subject to racial slurs by fans in Boston. And before last night's game, Jones spoke about the racial tension at Fenway Park.


ADAM JONES, ORIOLES OUTFIELDER: People still live in their own world. They still have their own views, obviously. And some people like to express hatred towards another person and other groups. It's a long history of these kind of incidents in Boston, and, you know, I spoke with various players of different eras, and a lot of the things they told me I can't say.


SCHOLES: Now, three of the Red Sox four outfielders are African- American and one of them, Mookie Betts encouraged Red Sox fans to cheer on Jones last night. That's exactly what they did. Jones getting a stand ovation before his first at-bat.


JONES: Much appreciated by Boston Red Sox and MLB head of it. Just appreciative that action was taken and that not everybody feels the same way as select people.


SCHOLES: As for the Red Sox-Orioles game, we had fireworks. Chris Dale throwing behind Manny Machado, and the Orioles third baseman, the Red Sox, they do have some history. Machado didn't hold back after the game.


MANNY MACHADO, ORIOLES 3RD BASEMAN: Do something about (EXPLETIVE DELETED) pitchers out there (EXPLETIVE DELETED) with ball in their hands with 100 miles per hour trying to hit people. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I can go up and crush somebody if I wanted to. But you know what? I would get suspended for a year and a pitcher gets suspended for two games. That's not cool.


SCHOLES: Few miles away from Fenway, Isaiah Thomas coming through with an inspiring performance in game two against the wizards. Thomas pouring in 53 points leading Boston 129-119 overtime win, 53 points, second highest total in Celtics playoff history. Thomas dedicating the performance to his sister who died in a car accident a few weeks ago. Yesterday would have been her 21st birthday.


ISAIAH THOMAS, CELTICS POINT GUARD: My sister wouldn't want me to stop. Only thing about it is once I leave this gym, the reality is she's not here. So, that's the tough part. When I'm in this arena, I can lock in and I know everything I do is for her.


SCHOLES: Finally, bad news for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their star Sidney Crosby missed game for you against the Capitals tonight with a concussion. He suffered it after that brutal hit in the first period Monday night.

[05:25:01] Now, Crosby has a history of concussion, missing time earlier this season. He's now in the concussion protocol and listed as day-to-day, guys. It would be a crushing blow for the Penguins if he misses some time. It would be like LeBron being out for the Cavs. Completely changes the complexion of the playoff.

BRIGGS: Yes, that's the only equivalent. And this guy is a warrior. But he's had a history of concussions. You wonder what he's starting to think about his career. Hard to root against Sid, no longer the kid, but Crosby is a warrior.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right. Have a good one, guys.

ROMANS: OK. Did Sally Yates give a stern warning to the White House that Michael Flynn was compromised because of talks with the Russians? Her new testimony that will conflict with the White House. Let's break it down, next.


BRIGGS: White House says it was only given a heads up about Michael Flynn's talks with the Russians but the former acting attorney general is set to contradict that with new testimony.