Return to Transcripts main page
President Trump Meets Pope Francis; Brennan: Russia Made Contact; Manchester Mourning the Victims. Aired 4:30-5a ET
Aired May 24, 2017 - 04:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[04:30:33] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican. We're live in Rome with more on a very busy day ahead for the president.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The former head of the CIA goes public. John Brennan says the Russians did, in fact, make contact with the Trump campaign.
ROMANS: And Manchester. Remembering the 22 victims who lost their lives at a concert bombing. What police are now saying about the investigation as the threat level is increased, on alert for potential new alerts.
Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.
BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.
Learning a lot about that terror attack overnight. First, a historic moment at the Vatican. In just the last few minutes, President Trump and Pope Francis face to face, shaking hands, exchanging pleasantries and gifts at the Apostolic Palace. The two leaders meeting in private and seeming to put their differences aside after disagreeing on several issues throughout the campaign.
ROMANS: It's the latest stop for this president on his foreign trip, a trip that will take him to Brussels later today.
CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray live in Rome with more of the president's visit and the rest of today's agenda.
Good morning, Sara.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine.
Well, the pope is actually behind me right now. He's delivering his weekly address. That is after he said, as you mentioned, he met privately with President Trump. Now, it did seem to be a little bit of a warmer meeting between the two of them.
During that meeting, President Trump told the pope he wouldn't forget what he said to him privately. He said let me know if there's anything I can do for you. The president also shared with the pope a couple of gifts, including a first edition set of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s writing.
So, obviously, a very different tone in this sit-down, very different images in this sit-down in what we saw between these two gentlemen during the campaign trail. Remember, at one point during the campaign, the pope said that it was not Christian for someone to talk about building barriers and not bridges. President Trump called that rhetoric disgraceful.
So, a very different tone in what is sure to be a busy day not just for President Trump but also for his wife Melania Trump. The two of them together were touring Saint Peter's Basilica, as well as the Sistine Chapel. After that, Melania Trump is going to be over. She's going to be visiting a children's hospital that's owned by the Vatican.
As for President Trump, he is a member of diplomatic meetings here in Italy later this afternoon. He'll be meeting with the Italian president, as well as the Italian prime minister, all of this before the two of them hop back on to Air Force One, this time, they will be headed over to Brussels ahead of those meetings with NATO leaders tomorrow.
Back to you, guys.
BRIGGS: Sara, let's talk about where this trip shifts from here.
BRIGGS: It's so much about style. And it seems like it might shift to substance now as we go to G7 and NATO, so many photo ops. How might the feeling of this trip change beginning later today and into tomorrow?
MURRAY: Well, the tone does change because remember this foreign trip was originally scheduled around the NATO meeting, around the G7, and then President Trump and his advisers decided to add essentially a tour of major religions on to the beginning. That's why we saw him in Riyadh. That's why we saw him in Israel, and that's why we're now seeing him here at the Vatican.
That shifts. We're now getting into diplomatic meetings with world leaders and like you said, more substance. So, you could see, for instance, just one issue off the bat is a broader conversation about the president mulling over whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan. That's something that's moved to the back burner of our attention in recent weeks, but it's certainly something that President Trump and his advisers are considering and particularly at this NATO meeting, I'm sure the president is going to get questions from other leaders there about whether he's going to increase the troop presence and their skin in the game, essentially, what the deliverable is, what they can accomplish by sending more troops to Afghanistan at this juncture.
So, I think you're going to see more of a shift to actual substance, more of a shift to the actual issues that are confronting the president and the world, not just abroad, but also President Trump when returns to the United States.
ROMANS: And we know there's been so much reporting, Sara, from inside some of these other governments about how they are going to deal with President Trump, you know? How they want to talk to him about the big issues but they will have to put in a dose of flattery. They'll have to listen to the president, but also, you know, be very brief but very pointed in what it is they want from the United States.
MURRAY: There is a style component to this and we've seen it so prominently when foreign leaders have trekked in and out of the White House.
[04:35:03] Those ones that have been briefed, who seemed to feel like they know the president a little bit well, start with flattery immediately. That will get you every where with President Trump is what they seem to have realized. So, I think you're going to see a number of leaders complimenting his amazing electoral victory. We've seen that.
And, yes, one of the things leaders have been apprised of is that this is not a president with a particularly long attention span. You should make your point quickly. You should talk about sort of what common interests you guys have and what you're going to bring to the table and what the United States has already done on your behalf. That's sort of how you get your way in with Trump.
So, it will be interesting to see how these things are a little bit different stylistically with President Trump at the NATO meeting than we've seen with past presidents.
BRIGGS: Fascinating shifts ahead with this trip. Sara Murray live for us at the Vatican, thanks so much.
It should be really interesting, right? And in particular, look at Angela Merkel, the German leader who the president will meet with and then President Obama will give a speech the following day in Berlin.
ROMANS: Oh, wow.
BRIGGS: So, look at those two days for Angela Merkel and not just the optics of it, but that dramatic shift as well.
ROMANS: All right.
BRIGGS: All right. So for the first time, a U.S. official is publicly citing direct knowledge of communications between the Trump campaign and Russia. Former CIA Director John Brennan telling a House panel, Russia, quote, brazenly interfered in U.S. elections, going so far as to actively contact members of the Trump campaign.
But Brennan stopped short of calling that collusion, saying only that it raised questions the FBI should pursue.
ROMANS: Meantime, President Trump is now expected to hire a private attorney to handle matters related to the Russian probe. Mark Kasowitz has represented Trump for more than 15 years. And I guess worth nothing, he also represents a Russian billionaire well-known to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
BRIGGS: This comes as House investigators vow to keep pushing for critical documents from former national security adviser Michael Flynn, even issuing two new subpoenas.
For the latest, let's go to CNN's Manu Raju in Washington.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Good morning, Christine and Dave.
Now, Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser for Donald Trump hardly out of hot water now that the Senate Intelligence Committee plans to move forward with two more subpoenas, two more, targeting Michael Flynn's businesses in an attempt to get him to turn over some records related to his relationship with Russia over the last couple of years, and after Flynn pleaded the Fifth and said he would not provide documents related to his own personal contacts with Russian officials.
Now, the committee is trying to get him to explain why simply turning over record of anything to do with the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. The committee chairman, Richard Burr, and the top Democrat in the committee, Mark Warner not ruling out holding Michael Flynn in contempt of Congress for not complying with their request.
Now, that would take some time to play out. But it's a threat not just to Flynn but to other Trump associates who may not want to comply.
Now, on the House side, the House moving forward after that stunning testimony yesterday with John Brennan, the former CIA director, raised concerns about contacts that occurred between Trump officials and Russian officials during the campaign season, something that he turned over to the FBI and appears to be part of this ongoing investigation.
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons. I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion. It should be clear to everyone Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 election process and they undertook these activities despite our strong protests and explicit warning that they not do so.
RAJU: Bob Mueller, the special counsel, also slated this week to talk to James Comey before his own testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. That's a critical meeting because it will determine exactly what James Comey can say publicly, not just about the investigation but about whether President Trump interfered in anyway to try to squelch the investigation into Donald Trump's associates and Russian officials -- Christine and Dave. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ROMANS: All right. Manu Raju, thanks for that.
A bit of a surprise over on Capitol Hill over something that did not happen. The head of the NSA, Admiral Mike Rogers, was not asked about a bombshell report that President Trump asked him to publicly deny evidence. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia.
Admiral Rogers testified to a House Armed Services panel less than a day after the story broke, but he was not asked about it once by Republicans or Democrats during 75 minutes of testimony. Now, hours earlier, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, he was also named in that story, was grilled repeatedly about it during a Senate hearing. He would not directly answer whether he was asked to go public with the denial on collusion.
BRIGGS: CNN has also learned president's team has restarted the search for a new FBI director. We're told the president wants to see a broader range of candidates. Former Senator Joe Lieberman, once a leading contender, works at the same firm as Mark Kasowitz who we told you Trump is expected to bring in to advise him on the Russian probe.
[04:40:10] But CNN is told that is not the reason Trump is changing course. Stay tuned for that.
ROMANS: All right. The White House plans to balance the budget in ten years. But critics say it's simply unrealistic the way the numbers add up.
The president released his 2018 budget. It boosts money for defense, and infrastructure, slashes safety net programs. The administration says that will cut spending by $3.6 trillion by the year 2027.
But that is based on economic assumptions that the experts have sharpened their pencils, they say, well, it's just not rational. In fact, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, a Democrat, says it's like believing in tooth fairies and the logic would justify failing a student in an intro economic course.
ROMANS: One big issue, the budget projects continuous 3 percent economic growth. That's better than in the 1990s. Most experts predict about 1.8 percent over the next decade.
Another problem the administration says growth will be fueled by massive tax cuts. But it doesn't account for any new debt.
Finally, it assumes the controversial GOP health care bill becomes law. Many think it won't pass in its currents form. If it does, that means at least $600 billion cut from Medicaid, a program 70 million low-income Americans rely on. In fact, the budget helps the poor, such as food stamps and disability benefits.
And many remarked that it's, in fact, Trump country where some of these programs are heavily used but the White House wants to get out of the business of counting success they say by who's on this program and instead grow jobs and get people off of them.
BRIGGS: Seven of the top ten foot stamp states were Trump states and certainly Medicaid cuts cut to the center of Trump country as well.
But meanwhile, Congressional Budget Office set to release it's updated analysis of the House-passed health care bill today. The CBO score will reveal the number of people left uninsured by the Republican's health care overhaul. Also, the bill's overall price tag for the GOP is $2 billion question.
If the bill doesn't save $2 billion often years Republicans won't be able to use the so-called budget reconciliation process, which would allow passage in the Senate by 51 votes instead of 60. But you really have to watch out for that CBO score in terms of Republicans going home to town halls and what they're going to hear from their constituents, right?
BRIGGS: Can be dangerous for them.
The injury count in Manchester attack is rising today as friends and family remember 22 victims who lost their lives. We'll tell you why a top British official is now angry with the United States.
[04:46:59] ROMANS: Welcome back.
The United Kingdom on high alert this morning, raising its terror threat level from severe to critical, the nation's highest, for the first time in ten years. The change indicates another terrorist attack may be imminent.
BRIGGS: It comes a day after the Manchester concert attack that killed 22 people. The suspected suicide bomber has been identified. We're also learning more about the young people killed in this brutal attack.
CNN's Erin McLaughlin joins us live from Manchester, England.
Good morning to you, Erin. We're learning more about the home secretary critical of the United States. What are you hearing?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dave.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd was very critical of U.S. officials in an interview that she gave to the BBC earlier this morning, specifically in regard to the leaking of information about the investigation in the wake of the attack to the U.S. media. She called the leaks, quote, irritating and said it should not happen again. This is in reference to immediately following the attack, a news that was carried out by a suicide bomber emerged from the U.S. press prior to British authorities making that official announcement. Rudd in that interview also putting numbers to the military
deployment, some 3,800 armed military personnel are expected to be deployed across key sites here in the United Kingdom, including Downing Street as well as Buckingham Palace. Authorities have not discounted the possibility that the suicide bomber was part of a larger network, a larger plot.
We're also learning from Rudd more about him, that he was a 22-year- old, a college student. But also that he was known to intelligence and had just returned from Libya.
We're also learning about the victims of this attack, some 22 killed. Many of them very, very young. Their names: 8-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, 18-year-old Georgina Callander, 15-year-old Olivia Campbell, as well as John Atkinson.
Also, this morning, the chief of the local area hospitals, briefing the media saying that the number of injured being treated by the hospitals has risen from 59 to 64. Of those 64, 20 critically wounded, possibility that the death toll could rise.
BRIGGS: Heartbreaking. More than a dozen under the age of 16 of those injured.
Erin, thank you.
ROMANS: Yes, primary school children too. It's just really a tragedy.
BRIGGS: Yes, the more you learn, the more heartbreaking this is.
ROMANS: All right. Forty-nine minutes past the hour.
Uber fessing up to a mistake and it's going to cost the company millions. That's on CNN "Money Stream" next.
[04:53:55] BRIGGS: All right. Welcome back, everybody.
The Internet having a little fun with the body language with President Trump and the first lady on this foreign trip.
You be the judge. See for yourself. This is Monday in Tel Aviv. You see the president went for the hand of Melania, maybe a little holding hands with Melania. Slaps him away.
ROMANS: Then yesterday on arrival in Rome. If we have that one, this is on arrival in Rome and this is what --
BRIGGS: Got to fix my hair.
ROMANS: But it was windy.
BRIGGS: It was windy. Her hair was in her face.
ROMANS: Now, we can show you, they do -- they have, they are affectionate. They hold hands. We have a stream of photos --
BRIGGS: That was at the inauguration.
ROMANS: That's right. There they are holding hands again on another tarmac.
So, the Internet really having a lot of fun with this, saying Melania Trump is just like forget it. What I think sometimes is a very brief piece of video that's isolated and repeated over and over again on Facebook and social media can look, I guess --
Pete Souza is the former photographer for President Obama and has become troll in chief.
[04:55:01] That was his Instagram post with the caption very simple: holding hands.
If you follow Pete Souza on Twitter and Instagram, you know, he really has become the very simple troll of President Trump with these very simple captions and photos of the president contrasting the two images.
Look, we don't know. They might be completely happy. But this is 2017. We're going to zoom in on video. The Internet is going to have memes about all these things. And you be the judge. Let us know what you think on the EARLY START Twitter handle.
ROMANS: All right. The entertainment world this morning paying tribute -- to Roger Moore, the beloved Bond actor. Roger Moore died at 89 after a battle with cancer. He's best known for his portrayal of James Bond in seven films in the 1970s and '80s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've missed, Mr. Bond.
ROGER MOORE AS JAMES BOND: Did I?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: So smooth.
ROMANS: I know. He had the longest run of anyone playing the British spy with a license kill after replacing Sean Connery. Off screen, he worked for years as a U.N. goodwill ambassador. He was knighted for his work in 2003.
BRIGGS: Fans also paying tribute with flowers, adorning Roger Moore's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And the latest Bond actor, Daniel Craig, tweeting this, nobody does it better. Love Daniel.
The family says there will be a private funeral for Moore in Monaco, just as he wished. I have to agree with Craig. I think Roger Moore was the consummate James Bond, for me at least, for our generation. So cool, so smooth.
ROMANS: You asked me who was my James Bond. I think James Bond is James Bond and all these people inhabited him. I think they're all James Bond.
BRIGGS: Our Twitter feed is saying either Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan. They apparently disagree with me.
Always the maverick, Tom Cruise confirming a sequel to "Top Gun." This is overnight on Australian TV. Cruise says he will start shooting next year, more than three decades after the release of the original, which became the highest grossing picture of 1986. If that doesn't make you feel old, Romans.
Cruise has been in talks about follow-ups with the original film's producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, for more than a year. How about maybe Russian hacking of the election as a backdrop for "Top Gun 2"?
ROMANS: Yes. I feel the need for speed. And what a soundtrack, right? I mean, that was at the time iconic.
BRIGGS: "Danger Zone", "Playing with the Boys", "Take My Breath Away".
ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.
BRIGGS: Great film.
ROMANS: You're right.
Global markets mixed after China's credit rating was downgraded for the first time since 1989. Wall Street is over Washington's chaos. Why do I say that? Because futures are up. Stocks have been up for four days in a row.
The Dow earned back all of its points it lost last week. Today, investors waiting on the release of minutes from the last meeting of the Federal Reserve. We're going to be looking for clues for the next rate hike. And Netflix is celebrating 15 years as a public company. If you invested, Dave, 1,000 bucks then, 1,000 bucks in Netflix 15 year ago, it would be worth 140 grand today. Would have, could have, should have.
The U.S. Justice Department taking Fiat Chrysler to court. The DOJ is accusing the company of cheating on emissions tests. Its pickup trucks and SUVs have software that violate tests for diesel engines. The EPA first accused Fiat Chrysler in January. The company says it is disappointed in this lawsuit and it bows to fight it.
Uber stiff driver in New York City, and now, the company is paying for it. Uber will may every driver 900 bucks. That's because it took higher commissions than it was owed. This is a multimillion dollar mistake for Uber. Uber has more than 50,000 drivers in New York. The company said it's committed to pay every driver every penny they are owed plus interest as quickly as possible.
BRIGGS: It has and about brutal year for Uber. I mean, just PR nightmare after PR nightmare.
BRIGGS: EARLY START continues right now.
ROMANS: Overnight, President Trump meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican, the start of a busy day for the president overseas. We are live in Rome with more.
BRIGGS: And a stunner from the former head of the CIA, John Brennan goes public, saying the Russians did, in fact, make contact with the Trump campaign.
ROMANS: And Manchester remembering the 22 victims who lost their lives at a concert bombing. We're also learning more about the attacker and what police are looking for now.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.
BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. It is Wednesday, May 24. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.
And it was a historic moment at the Vatican. Not so long ago, President Trump and Pope Francis face to face, shaking hands, exchanging pleasantries at the Apostolic Palace right now. President Trump preparing to meet with the president of Italy.
But when Mr. Trump sat down with the pope in private earlier, the two leaders seemed to put their differences aside after disagreeing on several issues during the campaign.