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Yates To Testify: I Warned About Flynn; GOP Health Care Bill On Shaky Ground; Clinton Pins Loss On Russians, Comey. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 3, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Acting attorney general is set to contradict that with new testimony.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton says she would have won the election if it were held October 27th. She's calling out James Comey's letter that said -- that she says cost her everything. And now, President Trump, he has a few things to say about it.

BRIGGS: And, key members of the House summoned to meet with President Trump this morning. Can he sway them to support the latest bill to repeal and replace Obamacare? That is the question in Capitol Hill this morning. Can they get this through the House? They need 216.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour this Wednesday, halfway through the week. President Trump and his administration facing a major public rebuke from an official fired by the president, himself. Sources tell CNN the former acting attorney general Sally Yates is prepared to testify that 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 is expected to tell a Senate Judiciary subcommittee she expressed grave concerns Flynn could potentially be compromised, refuting a White House account that Yates gave officials a simple heads up. With Yates testimony set for Monday, Russia returns to center stage on Capitol Hill today.

BRIGGS: FBI Director James Comey goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee where he'll likely be grilled about his announcement just before the 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 unleashing a late-night tweet storm venting his frustration about that. We begin our coverage with 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 said 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, you may remember, was canceled by Chairman Devin Nunes. That news sparking outcry from Democrats who believed he was trying to shield the White House from damaging new revelations.


ROMANS: All right, Jim Sciutto. Thanks, Jim. Let's break this down. A very busy day in Washington. "CNN POLITICS" digital managing editor Zachary Wolf is with us again this morning. Good morning. You say the Yates -- the Yates testimony is just going to be enormous.

ZACHARY WOLF, DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR, CNN POLITICS: Yes, I think so. You know, this Michael Flynn issue and the issue of Russian contacts keeps coming back again and again to this White House. And this is going to be somebody who has not spoken -- clearly has not tried to seize her moment in the limelight but has sort of kept below the radar, and she's coming out and will apparently tell this subcommittee that it wasn't just a 'hey, White House, he may have said some wrong things.' It was a full-throated warning about Michael Flynn, and that's probably not what they want to -- you know, as the White House tries to put them -- put this behind them.

BRIGGS: That's what they want to put behind them but right ahead of them, of course, is this health care battle and it looks like it is a razor-thin margin as they try to get 216 for this new health care plan. Zach, the undecideds are obviously the key here -- 16. They cannot lose but one Republican vote before they lose this bill in the House. What's next in this narrative?

WOLF: Well, what's next, it depends a lot on what happens with that one vote. If they're able to keep it, they can pass something and maybe get it over to the Senate where we start all over again with a whole new cast of characters as they try to fight over this and come up with their own version of the bill or pass this one. And if they don't get it, you know, at some point Republicans are going to have to move on to their other priorities. They've spent weeks and weeks since their initial failure trying to somehow make this bill work but, at the same time, it's one of their main campaign promises so they're going to have to find a way to do something about it.

[05:35:12] ROMANS: And they're going to have to find a way to talk about preexisting conditions or to include preexisting condition coverage in a way that will satisfy the moderates and all those people who don't like the Affordable Care Act because it doesn't go far enough.

Let's talk a little bit about the shutdown option. The president, yesterday, dropping this bombshell that, you know, maybe everybody just needs a good shutdown to get its act together. Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, standing in front of the podium kind of walking that back. Let's listen to what he said.


MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: It's not a goal, OK, and it's not a negotiating tool --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president advocated for it.

MULVANEY: -- but to the extent the president advocated for one today. If you wanted to imagine what a good shutdown was, it would be one that fixes this town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what would the president --

MULVANEY: One that drives a message back home to people that it really was as broken as they thought that it was when they voted for Donald Trump.


ROMANS: And the reporters had a lot more questions when Sean Spicer took the podium and you can see -- we're going to show this video, I think. Let's play a little bit of Sean Spicer's non-response.


REPORTERS: Hey, Sean. Sean, come on, Sean.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the Putin call?



ROMANS: What about the Putin call?

BRIGGS: Poor White House Press Corps.

ROMANS: Poor Sean. He's going to have that be like the ringtone on his phone. He's going to now -- Sean, Sean. That would be funny. What do you make of that moment?

WOLF: Well, I mean, you know, the president -- answering for the president's tweets, I think, is one of the most difficult parts of Sean Spicer's job. You saw Mick Mulvaney there maybe do a little bit more -- a better job of it, saying we're not trying to shut down the government but if that's what needs to happen in order to fix this town, I guess, so be it. I don't think any Republican out there really wants to have a shutdown except for maybe Donald Trump, apparently, if you're going to believe that tweet.

But, you know, you can't really see how they will achieve a lot of their policy objectives unless they can unify as a party and also start to peel off some Democrats, too. Democrats were sort of crowing and claiming victory about this latest short-term spending bill because it didn't do a lot of the things that Republicans said it was going to do.


WOLF: But the numbers just aren't there for Republicans right now, so they're going to have to figure out a way to shake things up somehow.

BRIGGS: Yes. Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray really took a victory lap regarding that spending bill, but you mention Republicans and they were very clear about how they thought about the presidency. Tweets quote for John Cornyn. He's the Senate Majority Whip. "I don't think the American people elected President Trump and Republican majorities in both houses to shut down the government. I think they expected us to govern." Jeff Flake also said, "No, we don't need a government shutdown. No, we shouldn't change Senate rules on a legislative filibuster."

Because the president also suggested that we do away with the Senate filibuster for major legislation and they passed things with 51, how does that complicate the mission for Republicans in the House and in the Senate?

WOLF: Well, I mean, their mission is so complicated on so many different fronts. They have to try and reach 60 votes on major pieces of legislation and spending bills and they don't have 60 votes, and Democrats are clearly not going to help them ever, it seems -- it's pretty clear. So, you know, something's going to have to give here in some way and it's just not clear at this point what it's going to be.

ROMANS: All right, Zach Wolf, nice to see you this morning. Thanks for coming on so early for us and walking us through all that.

WOLF: Thanks.

BRIGGS: Yes, sir.

ROMANS: All right. The U.S. auto boom might be over. Has it peaked just at President Trump is counting on it to add more jobs? Car sales saw a big drop in April. Take a look at the big three Detroit companies. Sales fell as much as seven percent from last year. Overall, U.S. sales were down almost five percent. The industry has been on a winning streak since those bailouts rescued it in 2009, helped by a recovering economy, of course, and by cheap gas prices, but demand has now cooled after seven straight years of big gains. Now, consumer sentiment is high but spending is down this year,

especially on big-ticket items like cars. In fact, many analysts forecast auto sales will decline this year. An estimated 17.2 million in 2017 after that record 17.5 million last year. It's still a lot of cars but it shows you that this trend has peaked.

The slowdown in sales raises the prospect many companies may slow production. That runs counter to the president's plans. He's been pushing carmakers to produce more cars in the U.S. in an effort to create jobs. The White House has vowed to create 25 million new jobs in the next 10 years. The auto industry is a big part of that.

BRIGGS: Yes. Consumer spending and consumer confidence, do they usually match up?

ROMANS: Sometimes they don't. What we're looking for here, is there some reason why consumers maybe feel like things have peaked or is this just temporary?

BRIGGS: Yes, they feel good, but not good enough to spend. All right, ahead, would Hillary Clinton really have won if the election were just days earlier? That and more of what she told our very own Christiane Amanpour when she joins us next.



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: Hillary Clinton taking, well, responsibility for her election loss but still not letting the FBI director off the hook. She says she would have won the election if it were held before that letter was released.

ROMANS: Those comments came in a wide-ranging interview with CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, and she joins us here in New York this morning. It was riveting, actually, to see her kind of come out of the shadows and sit down, and you say she came to talk.

[05:45:05] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, she really did. You didn't have to push very hard on that door. But it was really, really vital because, you know, she has this persona that's been endlessly dissected, certainly on the campaign trail, and here she was in a room full of supporters, obviously, on an issue that she cared about. This was the annual gala for women -- for Women International -- all about empowering women around the world for important economic peace and security reasons.

And so, she came to tell the story, not just of the election but of what it means to be a woman in this world and how she believed, also, that the lingering, very deep misogyny in this country had quite a lot to do with her -- with her loss, as well.

BRIGGS: Yes. She says that if that election were held on October 27th she would have won. Now, I understand a certain distrust of polls given what happened, but a poll on April 23rd -- that's a week ago -- showed that she would lose the popular vote today because more of her supporters have abandoned ship. Eighty-five percent of them said that they would support her versus 96 for Donald Trump. Has she not yet put her finger on why people haven't related to her?

AMANPOUR: Well look, I mean, today compared with September, they're two different realities.


BRIGGS: Right.

AMANPOUR: We live in a completely different reality right now.

BRIGGS: But do you think more people would have supported her today?

AMANPOUR: I don't know. Look, I don't cover American politics. I really don't. All I know is that she came to talk about his. Obviously, there are many questions. This wasn't a political interview. Hillary Clinton was not coming to enter the political fray again and I didn't ask her whether she was going to run again. It would have gotten me absolutely nowhere. She actually came with a very interesting 20/20 hindsight vision of what did go wrong. Had I had more opportunityI would have pressed her more on it. You know, Mrs. Clinton, in 2008 during the primaries you won all those big, white, working-class --


AMANPOUR: -- states.


AMANPOUR: You lost the primaries to Obama because of the very -- you know, the ground game. Were you fighting the last war?

ROMANS: Right.

AMANPOUR: You know, the "W" word. What about Wisconsin? The fact of the matter is that she also came to play with some very important messages for women in this country that there still -- we still have a problem where women are structurally impeded from equal pay for equal pay. That those kind of laws in cities and states where women are asked what is your last salary and they'd only make like tiny little --

ROMANS: Right.

AMANPOUR: -- jumps from there have to be, you know, reorganized. And then she had incredibly trenchant and important things to say about how we deal with North Korea right now. What about Russia? What about Syria? I mean, we really are on the brink of multiple crises and she had a laser-like, you know, prescription for how to deal with those issues.

ROMANS: That was -- and that was interesting. I know that there are plenty of Clinton supporters who were watching those moments heartbroken because they thought that would be their president and she's not. You asked her specifically about misogyny. This was a women's conference and these are some of the things that you -- you know, obviously, this is what they're talking about at this conference. Let's listen to that exchange.


AMANPOUR: Were you a victim of misogyny and why do you think you lost the majority of the white female vote?

CLINTON: Yes, I do think it played a role. I think other things did, as well. Every day that goes by we learn more about some of the unprecedented interference, including from a foreign power whose leader is not a member of my fan club. And so, I think it is -- it is real. It is very much a part of the landscape politically, and socially, and economically.


ROMANS: You could see that flash where we cut away from the laughter of the audience --


ROMANS: -- who were like Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Because I asked a question and it was like yes, really, Christiane? You don't think -- you know, so people in that room who have been working for women's issues all their lives, who themselves have probably had to yank themselves up by their bootstraps in this, entered the fray only to have a series in inequalities thrown at them, totally related. And this is a major thing that as you know, again, for the health of our societies, for the health of GDP, for the health of peace and security, you have to bring gender equity to play in an absolute way. You know, she's going to speak to Wellesley, her --

ROMANS: Right.

AMANPOUR: She's going to do the commencement at the end of this month and that's where people say that she launched her political career as the first-ever graduate commencement speaker. So it's going to be very interesting to hear what she says to the girls there.

ROMANS: Right.

AMANPOUR: The young women going into this world.

ROMANS: You mention that about, you know, asking salary history. It's one of the things of people who study why women on average make less than men for even the same job. It's because women are asked salary -- so are men -- a salary history. Some of the -- some states are starting to ban that.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's what she said. It has to happen, more of that --

ROMANS: Right.

AMANPOUR: -- because there's already -- you put a disadvantage right on the table before the job has even been taken, has even been started. And you know that -- I think it's an extra three months a year women have to work to make the same as a man made at the end of that particular year. So, it's up until April what a man would make in the same job at the end of the year.

[05:50:06] ROMANS: Yes, but that issue didn't resonate on the campaign trail for her. That's not what -- that's not -- you know, it just --

BRIGGS: Well, she won the white women vote --

ROMANS: Right, right.

BRIGGS: -- as you talked to her about that. She told you she wants to be part of the resistance.


BRIGGS: What is her goal moving forward if she's not going to run, which --

AMANPOUR: Look, you know what, that's for another day, another week, and a different interview.

BRIGGS: What has she said she really wants to accomplish?

AMANPOUR: I think that she really wants to accomplish women's rights. I think she really wants to accomplish, as she said, part of the resistance. And I think, you know, she means -- again, I'm not a pop psychologist, but you know, when women's issues are being pushed to the backburner.

For instance, she brought up the notion that the president may make very severe cuts in the State Department budget, including issues that the U.S. has historically done to help women abroad and it's not just, as she said, little luxury items. This is to bring women up. This is to try to alleviate some of the poverty, try to alleviate some of the disaster areas that they go through in order to bring them into the, you know, mainstream so they can affect the security of their country. So they can, you know, be empowered to look at their son or their nephew or whoever who might say that I'm going to go off and kill an American in Afghanistan or whatever, but give the women the platform to be able to either report the son or you know what I mean.


AMANPOUR: Just to make sure that society is more secure by empowering women.

BRIGGS: Some felt that that Hillary Clinton you spoke to would have won the election. It's interesting. It seemed to be a different woman --

AMANPOUR: As you know, you can imagine.

BRIGGS: -- you spoke with.

AMANPOUR: She definitely was a different sort of --


AMANPOUR: -- yes. But she did keep saying yes, well you know I did get three million more votes.



ROMANS: All right. Christiane Amanpour, thank you. Great job yesterday.

BRIGGS: Great to have you.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

ROMANS: Nice to have you. All right, bad news for Apple. iPhone sales aren't looking so hot but, boy, there -- Apple's almost a bank. We'll tell you how much money it's got just sitting there in cash. That's next.


[05:56:10] BRIGGS: The Justice Department will reportedly not pursue federal civil rights charges against two white officers in the shooting death of a black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last summer. "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" reporting authorities have decided to close their investigation into the shooting of Alton Sterling captured on video. It set off days of protests. The officers were placed on administrative leave. The Baton Rouge mayor expressing outrage that this decision was leaked without being relayed to the Sterling family first.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. U.S. futures lower as are most global markets. Wall Street closed pretty flat yesterday but it was enough for the Nasdaq to eke out its second straight record high. The market is being helped by a robust earning season. Wall Street keeping an eye on the conclusion of the Fed's two-day policy meeting today. We'll get that before the closing bell. We don't expect a rate hike but analysts are looking for any comments about the recent sort of slowdown in economic growth.

Apple's iPhone sales are down again, too. The tech giant reported earnings after the close. You know, while overall sales rose, iPhone sales fell one percent from last year. Apple CEO Tim Cook blames rumors of an upcoming iPhone 8. Sales for the smartphone, they slumped last year, earning Apple its first yearly decline in sales since 2001. There's still plenty of good news for Apple. A reported $256 billion in its cash stockpile, the majority of that sitting in bank accounts overseas. That's more than the entire value of companies like Walmart, Coca-Cola, and Disney and one of the reasons we're talking about tax reform.

Airline passengers paid $1 million more per day in baggage fees last year. That's according to the Department of Transportation. U.S. airlines collected $4.2 billion in baggage fees in 2016. This news came as the heads of several airlines -- that's the United CEO right there -- testified before Congress about customer service. Among the complaints, overbooking and high fees. The airlines said those fees are what helped keep fares low but, perhaps, legroom should have been added to the list of grievances because American Airlines just announced it's cutting two inches of legroom from its economy class seats. There you go.

BRIGGS: They're too tall. People like ourselves --

ROMANS: I know. Sad news.

BRIGGS: -- are most concerned.

ROMANS: We can never fly together. We're going to be like crunched in.

BRIGGS: Never.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

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


CLINTON: If the election had been on October 27th, I'd be your president.

BRIGGS: President Trump lashing out as his former opponent ahead of FBI Director Comey's testimony.

CLINTON: I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate.

SCIUTTO: Sally Yates is prepared to testify that she gave a forceful warning to the White House regarding Michael Flynn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a big difference between a forceful warning versus a heads-up.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And how is health care coming? Well, I think it's time now, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've supported not allowing preexisting illnesses to be discriminated against. This amendment torpedoes that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been making important progress on this bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president cut a tremendous deal for the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was not winning in the Republican point of view.


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 Wednesday, May 3rd, 6:00 here in New York.

And up first, boy, President Trump and Hillary Clinton trading jabs over the outcome of the 2016 election. The president responding on Twitter late last night after Clinton blamed sexism, Russia, and the FBI for playing a role in her defeat.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So, in just hours, the FBI director will face tough questions from Senate Democrats about Russia and, of course, his own actions in the final days of the campaign. Meanwhile, CNN is learning that a former Obama official will contradict the Trump White House about Michael Flynn when she testifies next week. All this, as President Trump continues to push for a vote on repealing Obamacare, so we have it all covered for you.

Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He is live at the White House. What's the latest, Joe?