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Dow Suffer Biggest Drop Since September; Former FBI Chief Named Special Counsel in Russia Probe; LeBron & Cavs Dominate Celtics in Game 1; Trump to Embark on First Overseas Trip Amid White House Crises. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 18, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:32:24] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The turmoil in the Trump White House rattling markets all around the world. The Dow on Wednesday taking its biggest hit since last September. Will the special counsel quell fears?

We have our CNN money chief business correspondent Christine Romans with us with more.

I haven't wanted to look my 401k after what we saw yesterday. What's going on?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it doesn't look like those fears are quelled, at least not yet. What happened yesterday? The calm broken on Wall Street. Reports of a Comey memo finally cracked what has been an impenetrable optimism in markets about the Trump presidency. The Dow down 373 points. The harshest sell-off since September.

The dollar erasing all of its post-election gains. Money flowed into so-called safe havens like gold and bonds. The scaredy cat investments while Wall Street's fear gauge, the VIX index spiked 42 percent for the lowest level in decades.

Now, until now, markets ignored Washington headlines high on the promise of tax cuts and deregulation, but that changed yesterday.


PETER TUCHMAN, FLOOR BROKER, QUATTRO M. SECURITIES: I kind of think, though, we're at a point where it seems like his presidency is starting to crackle and become vulnerable. And I think Wall Street is feeling that for the first time.


ROMANS: Not the agenda. The presidency. That was the difference. So, what now? Well, futures are down again. Well, corporate profits are strong and we'll have to just see whether

cooler heads will prevail here. So far, the Dow down. Down futures at about 85 points right now, Chris.

So, it looks like it could be another day of weakness here for the stock market.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Look, as you teach us all the time, sometimes, it's fear. Sometimes, it's volatility that creates opportunity for them on Wall Street. We'll see how it plays out, and we know you'll keep us a step ahead. Christine, thank you very much.

So, Democrats and Republicans in Washington agree. Full stop. Let's appreciate the moment and hope it is contagious.

Now, why they agree, the big news. Robert Mueller, former head of the FBI, is going to be the special counsel. They say he is the right man for the job.

What kind of independence does he have? The attorney general, the DOJ, very capable. This was all about keeping something separate. What's the ability?

We discuss.


[06:38:13] CUOMO: Former FBI Director Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russia's election meddling. For a start, as part of the mandate of special counsel, one of the concerns of political types is that really he can look at anything that may, quote, arise.

Now, Mueller is regarded as an investigator and prosecutor with an impeccable reputation. So much so that he has the Republicans and Democrats in Washington in this current environment that's so toxic agreeing this was a good choice.

Let's discuss why. CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes and CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd. Let's start with the man and then get to the mandate.

Phil Mudd, Mueller, tell me about him. Right guy for a job like this?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Best I ever saw. Hands down. Thirty-one years I've been around government, in government, and outside, I never saw anybody like this guy. Integrity, brains, drive, commitment.

He also -- he would kill me for saying this -- has a heart and he does have a sense of humor. You won't see it.

By the way, he is not anti-media. He doesn't do media. He is not going to talk, and he won't leak.

So, when I saw this announcement, I was thinking about the variety of people I have worked with in my life -- presidents, kings, secretaries of state, national security advisors, CIA directors, FBI directors. All of them I've worked with, including presidents, never saw any better.

If you have got a kid, this is who you want to point that kid to and say, if you want an American hero, I know it sounds Pollyannaish, but it's Robert Mueller. He was great.

CUOMO: So, the strength of the positivity coming from mud gives me pause, Tom Fuentes. So, I come to you.

When you think of the assessment of Mueller and the amount of power and if you look -- you know, if anybody wants to Google, we'll put it up on the screen here, what the order is from the A.G.

[06:40:07] This is his bio, these are his hot points. Obviously, you know, the headline is he was appointed by Bush and he was at the FBI during and after the 9/11 stuff for about 13 years. But he can look at anything he wants to, it's a tremendous amount of power. He can pick his own staff.

Fuentes, why do trust him with this responsibility?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I agree with everything Phil just said, Chris. And, you know, I worked directly for him. My last 11 years in the bureau as a member of senior executive service, my last seven under Director Mueller, and my last five running international operations where I was down the hall and with Director Mueller almost every single day on a number of issues. So, I know him to have the integrity and the skill to do a great job at this.

I would like to also add, there's no other I think living human being in history that has overseen as many cases as Director Mueller. Twelve years as the director of the FBI, probably 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 cases during that time. No one else since J. Edgar Hoover has been director that long, and even back then, the number of cases were minuscule, compared to the global operation of the FBI today.

So, I think that he has the experience, and I think he will be able to come into this job and probably the first day figure out from the briefings and looking at the files exactly what's been done, especially in the Russian collusion case, what leads are outstanding, that they're waiting to conclude the case, and he will be able to make that call.

Now, as you said, everybody loves him today, but all glory is fleeting. So, when he makes the call, half of the people that are cheering him today if it goes against the president, the Democrats will be thrilled. The Republicans won't. If it favors the president --

CUOMO: The vice president.

FUENTES: -- he recommends closing it, it will be the other way around. So, we'll see how that goes. CUOMO: So, we have the character, the confidence. Now let's get to

the third C, Phil Mudd. The cojones.

We know the president does not like this investigation. He thinks it's a hoax. James Comey was also until the Hillary Clinton stuff seen as a man of impeccable reputation and integrity, and he is out because the president didn't want him there. Here a little bit of a different mechanism, only Rosenstein legally can remove a special counsel, but who is Rosenstein's boss? The president of the United States.

Can Mueller deal with the particular politics of this situation?

MUDD: Absolutely. I saw him maybe 1,000 times, 2,000 times. I don't know how many, around the table doing personnel decisions, threat briefings, strategic direction for the FBI. We met every morning in my tenure for four and a half years. I sat down the hall from him on what they call Mahogany Row in the FBI.

I saw him make decisions with three different attorneys general. Some Democrats, some Republicans. In private, I never heard him make a political statement ever. I saw him -- I can't tell you how many times discussing sensitive issues.

One thing I'm going to tell you about him as you watch him, when I saw him in public forums, including with students when he would do student conversations or speeches, people would ask him, including students, what defines you? He would often say, I was U.S. marine.

You can expect him to identify an objective, pursue the objective. I know people have talked about Whitewater and how Whitewater sort of got off the rails over time. He will never swerve ever.

CUOMO: All right. Can't ask for -- go ahead, last point, Tom.

FUENTES: He is not going to be intimidated by the president or anybody else, and as Phil mentioned, he was a marine. He wasn't just a marine. He won two Bronze Stars in the Vietnam War doing his two tours as a captain. So, he is not going to be intimidated by anybody.

CUOMO: Well, we will see him, the uniquely tested this time around.

Fellows, appreciate the perspective. Very needed this morning.


BALDWIN: OK, Chris. Thank you for your C-words.

CUOMO: That's actually -- you know, people usually use different combinations, but I felt those fit. You can have that, by the way.

BALDWIN: OK, let's move on to Tom Brady's wife, Giselle Bundchen, from perhaps speaking too freely about concussions. It has the NFL investigating her husband again. The "Bleacher Report" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:48:01] CUOMO: The King, King James, and the Cavs remain undefeated in the playoffs. They take game one against the Celtics.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report".

LeBron had that look in his eye, my brother.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: He certainly did, Chris. You know, I'm not sure why they even held layoffs. The NBA should have fast forwarded to the NBA finals between the Cavs and the Warriors. Neither team has lost in the playoffs thus far.

Like I said, LeBron looking great in game one against the Celtics after more than a week off. He poured in 38 points in this one. LeBron is now three wins away from going to his seventh straight NBA finals, which is pretty incredible. Cavs would win this 117-104. Game two of the Eastern Conference Finals tomorrow night on TNT.

All right. According to the official record, Tom Brady has never had a concussion during his NFL playing career. That's not what his wife Giselle told "CBS This Morning" yesterday.


GISELE BUNDCHEN, TOM BRADY'S WIFE: As you know, it's not the most, like -- let's say unaggressive sport, right? Football, like, he had a concussion last year. I mean, he has concussions pretty much every -- I mean, we don't talk about-- but he does have concussions.


SCHOLES: Now, again, there is no record of Brady having a concussion last season or ever. The NFL releasing a statement saying nothing they reviewed indicates Brady suffered a concussion, but, Brooke, they said they will continue to look into the matter.

BALDWIN: All right, Andy. Thank you so much.

We want to go back to the White House. The White House today bogged down in the multiple crises as the president prepares for his first overseas trip. What's at stake? We discuss next.


[06:53:32] BALDWIN: All right. So, President Trump leaves tomorrow for his first overseas trip as his administration battles multiple controversies here at home.

Our next guest Richard Haass, president of the Council of Foreign Relations believes there is reason to worry the president's trip won't go smoothly. Richard Haass is with us now. He is the author of "A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy in Crisis of the World Order."

Good to see you. And we'll talk about this presidential improv tour, to quote you, in a second. But just on the news of the day, noting that Robert Mueller has been named as a special counsel here overseeing this investigation. Your response, your thoughts?

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, I actually think in the short run it's good for the country. In some ways, it parks this issue. We now have a grown-up in charge of investigating it. He has tremendous credibility. It might take months or even years to get to the bottom of it, but people know it's in safe hands.

Now, it's almost like a mortgage. I don't know what comes at the end of it, and it could be a balloon for the administration.

BALDWIN: You feel good in the beginning?

HAASS: Oh, absolutely. There's no other institution that has credibility to do this. Congress doesn't -- people don't quite trust to look into this. So, giving it to someone who has got this track record -- sure, this is a good thing.

CUOMO: So, the politics of it line up for you right now. How about the policy consideration? You understand the Russia threat as well as anyone. Do you believe this is a worthwhile endeavor looking into the interference, how far it went, how it was done, and any issues of collusion between Trump's staff, campaign aides, current staff, and those efforts?

[06:55;02] HAASS: Absolutely, and it's not because I have some secret evidence that the collusion actually happen. But enough people think it might have, that we've got to clear it up. So, either it didn't, or it did, but you've got to get to the bottom of it.

And it's cast a pall over the administration. It's raised all sorts of questions about U.S. policy towards Russia.

It's complicated enough without every day asking what's motivating it rather than simply looking into the policy and policy terms. So, you've got to deal with this just to clear the air and clear the decks.

BALDWIN: He leaves tomorrow -- Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Vatican, NATO conference. This is the first time he has headed overseas. It's the first time we'll be seeing pictures of him meeting with these foreign leaders. We talk about Russia and this cloud of Russia hanging over the White House.

Does it follow him overseas? What do you anticipate from this trip and these meetings?

HAASS: To some extent, it will follow him more when he gets to Europe. There's already a lot of discomfort with Donald Trump in Europe. This is not the kind of American president they were used to.

The Germans in particular are suspicious of this benign, sanguine approach towards Russia. The intelligence release the other day didn't help matters. His statements during the campaign, what, that NATO is obsolete, his opposition to the European Union, his support from Brexit. He is coming into the European part of the trip with lots of baggage.

BALDWIN: Do you think, just quickly, on the disclosure in the Oval Office with the Russians, will that have a chilling effect do you think on intelligence from other allies?

HAASS: Sure.

BALDWIN: You do?

HAASS: Particularly when he gets to Israel. It raises all sorts of questions. And again, it's not an isolation. The fact that he promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, now seems that he is not going to do it. It raises, again, what exactly can you rely on?

Reliability and predictability are essential for relations with allies. Mr. Trump has been described as many things. I don't think reliable and predictable are high on the list.

CUOMO: And yet, we see opportunity for positives here, right? First in context, if it's true that Israel was the conveyor of the information that got wrongly divulged in that meeting, they haven't said anything about it. That's not a shy political apparatus they have there. So, maybe there's something about that.

And also, Donald Trump has been known to surprise people one-on-one, especially other world leaders. Is there a potential here for a boost for him?

HAASS: Absolutely. First of all, particularly with Israel and Saudi Arabia. They are so glad he is not Barack Obama. Just not being Obama gives him certain advantages because the relations there were very bad.

To be -- I don't mean to be insulting or something, but the fact that the bar is relatively low. Donald Trump simply has a normal visit and does the normal things and visits Israel and gives an OK speech in Saudi Arabia and nothing bad happens, it's just a good old-fashioned presidential visit, he will get fairly high marks.

So, in a funny sort of way, the trip is set up for him to do OK. He has to go stay on script, stick to the speeches, stick to the plan on meetings, and not basically improv along the way. That's the risky ones.

BALDWIN: On the improve, you know, we just got news that Steven Miller who will be writing the speech on Islam, his first speech in Saudi Arabia, what are the opportunities for him and where could this go wrong?

CUOMO: The idea that Steven Miller is going to be the one who is writing the speech. HAASS: But presumably other people will vet it, so even if he does

the draft -- I'm less worried about his speech because traditionally speeches, not always -- but traditionally speeches go through several pairs of eyes.

BALDWIN: You're worried about the riffing.

HAASS: The riffing and what is he going to say about Iran? They want to hear muscular stuff about with Iran. Is he going to say what they want to hear, which we may come to regret?

Saudis are involved in this big war in Yemen. United States has been getting increasingly involved. It's a potential, I think, to be a real quagmire. Is he going to say what his hosted want to hear? Is he going to be basically say, no, this is not a wise thing to be doing?

CUOMO: But he's got one trick we know for sure going into it, other than having to be nice to the pope. In one of my early interviews with him --

BALDWIN: Too nice.

CUOMO: -- he threatened the pope, you know? And I said, you would threaten the pope? He's like, yes, ISIS is coming for you next. So, we'll see how he handles that.

But the idea of letting this majority Muslim population who is going to be listening to him satisfy their concerns that he thinks they're all bad people, he has said as much as that many times before, and not give discomfort to the Israelis who feel that he is going soft on the menace that they face, how tricky a balance?

HAASS: It's a tricky balance, but I think he can pull it off. I think he will say very positive things about Islam and then what he will do is say we have a problem, though, and you have a problem as well, which is these people who are perverting your religion, what he will call radical Islam and so forth. I actually think he can say the right respectful things and at the same time say we have a cancer here and we all have to deal with.

Israelis won't mind that because they actually agree that's a major problem for us all. They can live with that.

BALDWIN: OK, wheels up tomorrow.

CUOMO: And, Richard, will you do us a favor? As we start going through the trip and we see how it's being made manifest, come back and give us your take on where the opportunities are and what the concerns are.

HAASS: Thanks for asking.

CUOMO: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you. CUOMO: And thank you, our international viewers, for watching us. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, how the president and Congress are reacting to this huge news, there will be a special counsel, who it is, what they are capable of?

NEW DAY is going to get after it. Come with us.