Return to Transcripts main page
Travel Ban Headaches; First Charges for Leaking; London Mayor to Trump: Stay Home. Aired 4-4:30a ET
Aired June 6, 2017 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[04:00:09] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's not a travel ban. It's a vetting system to keep America safe. That's it, plain and simple.
When you use words like "travel ban", that misrepresents what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Apparently not. President Trump sending his staff scrambling once again to explain his travel ban, and once again, undercutting efforts to get momentum behind his agenda.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The first arrest in President Trump's crackdown on leaks as a federal contractor accused of supplying a document used in a story about Russia's election hacking.
BRIGGS: And a blunt message from London's mayor. He says President Trump should cancel his day visit to the U.K. It's the latest rift following Saturday's terrorist attack in London. The tweet storm continues from the Oval Office.
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.
ROMANS: That tweet storm preempting his infrastructure week.
BRIGGS: No doubt about that.
ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's Tuesday, June 6th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.
A White House desperate to focus on policies being forced to answer for a new tweet storm for this president. President Trump hardening his stance on the travel ban, despite aides protesting for months that it is a travel ban.
And he kept it up into the night, posting this after 9:00 p.m. Eastern: That's right. We need a travel ban for certain dangerous countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people.
BRIGGS: Now, this comes after a series of earlier tweets where the president slammed his own Justice Department for watering down the original ban to make it politically correct. Top aides then scrambling to explain how presidential tweets are not an expression of White House policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I don't think the president care what is you call it, whether you call it a ban, whether you call it a restriction, he cares that we call it national security and that we take steps to protect the people of this country. It's real simple.
SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: It's not policy.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Of course it is.
GORKA: It's social media, Chris. It's social media.
CUOMO: It's not social media, it's his words. His thoughts.
GORKA: It's not policy. It's not an executive order. It's social media. Please understand the difference.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: This obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's his preferred method of communication with the American people.
CONWAY: That's not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: Right now, it's his only method of communication with the American people, to be clear.
All this as the administration asks the Supreme Court to let the travel ban go into effect. Lower courts have blocked the ban, citing Mr. Trump's rhetoric as a candidate and as president online and off.
ROMANS: In court, Justice Department lawyers have bent backwards to avoid the phrase travel ban. Instead, they called it a temporary pause or just the executive order. Now, once again, the president's tweets seem to be undercutting those efforts from attorneys.
BRIGGS: A federal contractor with top secret clearance is now the first person to face charges for leaking classified charges under the Trump administration. The Justice Department charging Reality Leigh Winner with leaking information to an online media outlet. Sources tell CNN the document that Winner allegedly leaked was the basis for a story published Monday by "The Intercept".
ROMANS: Now, that article includes details of a 2015 Russian military cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supplier. Winners do report on Thursday. National security correspondent Jim Sciutto has the latest for us from
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, let's talk about this NSA document first. We know that it was classified, prepared just last month, in May. So, some of the latest intelligence regarding Russian interference in the election. And the focus was on Russian attacks, or attacks traced back to Russia on voting systems, probing attacks.
This does not change the intelligence committee's assessment that Russia did not actually change votes or voter tallies during the election, but it does give more details about Russian attempts to get into these systems, look for vulnerabilities, and that's important not just for what possible effect it could have had on a past election, but going forward, because intelligence officials are always telling me that Russia is certain to attack future U.S. elections. And, of course, we have them coming up, in 2018, 2020. That's important.
Let's talk about a hacker nor or the leaker, I should say. A contractor working for the NSA, 25 years old, apparently accessed this classified document, printed it out, and then shared it with a journalist. That journalist shared it with another contract, another contractor to ask if it was a valid document and then that contractor shared it with his or her bosses to let them know that this was out there.
And then when they did an investigation, they were able to trace it back to this leaker, in part, based on a very simple fact, the image of the document had a crease in it which seemed to show it had been printed out. They looked at how many people have printed out this document. It wasn't very many and through some good detective work were able to trace it back to this leaker who now faces serious charges.
CNN spoke to her mother. She got a court-appointed attorney, but facing a very challenging legal future -- Dave and Christine.
[04:05:06] BRIGGS: Thank you, Jim.
The clash between President Trump and the mayor of London now escalating. Sadiq Khan renewing his call for canceling the president's upcoming state visit to the U.K.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADIQ KHAN, LONDON MAYOR: I don't think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in these circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for. I think one of the many things when you have a special relationship, it's not different -- no different to when you go to a close mate. You stand with them in times of adversity, but call them out when they're wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: Trump has repeatedly criticized Khan on Twitter for his handling of the London terror attack.
Let's get the latest on this very public feud from CNN's Frederik Pleitgen live in London.
Good morning to you, Fred.
Let's go back to your original statement from Sadiq Khan about why people should not be alerted, be alarmed, and that was regarding an increased police presence there in London, correct?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. That's absolutely correct.
What Sadiq Khan was saying in his original statement, he was saying, look, London is dealing with this terror attack. What's going to happen is that in the next couple of days, there are going to be more police officers on the street and not to be alarmed by that increased police presence. Obviously, this aftermath is going on, of course, also the authorities are dealing with that as well.
And I have to say, when you speak to Londoners, the vast majority of them do side with their mayor as opposed to President Trump on this issue. It is a very British thing, you know, to have increased security after something like this takes place. And certainly, people here are defying those who conducted these attacks and simply carrying on.
And one of the things people say that they don't need at this point in time is any sort of interference from outside for the mayor and the authorities to be distracted by tweets coming from the United States or from elsewhere as they are trying to deal with this security situation, because obviously, they have this very big investigation that's going on into those behind the attacks. They have already identified two of them, apparently know the identities of all three of them.
And at the same time, of course, there is still a forensic investigation going on and then trying to prevent things like this from happening in the future. So, all of that, of course, going into that bigger context of Sadiq Khan there saying that this country shouldn't roll out the red carpet for President Trump especially in light of some of those tweets that we have been seeing over the past couple of days since those attacks took place.
At the same time here, of course, the attack is becoming an issue in the election campaign as well. There's elections coming up here in just two days. Teresa May, who used to be the home secretary here, of course, responsible for internal security is defending her record and saying she believes that Britain does have a concept that works. But at the same time, of course, especially if have you low tech plots like the ones that we saw here, with attackers using vehicles to run people over, and then using knives, they are very, very difficult to prevent, Dave.
BRIGGS: Fred Pleitgen, live for us on the streets of London -- thank you, sir.
Christine, hard to separate this Twitter feud with Sadiq Khan from the fact that he is the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital. It's impossible to separate those two facts, is it not?
ROMANS: And it's so interesting that usually, you know, protocol is when your friends, your allies attacked, you offer your support.
ROMANS: You offer your condolences, your solidarity. Picking a fight with a mayor of the town that has just been --
BRIGGS: What happens if and when this country gets attacked?
OK. We're learning more about the men behind that London terror attack. Two of the three attackers have now been publicly identified.
CNN's Samuel Burke live at Scotland Yard in London with that part of the story.
And I understand that at least one of these men was known -- I mean, there's video of them. He was known to authorities.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Good morning, Dave.
Yes, let's put their pictures up so we can take a look at them. And let's start with Rachid Redouane. He was 30 years old and claimed to be a both Moroccan and Libyan descent. You see him on the right there.
But what's more important is the man on the left and that's Khuram Shazad Butt, 27 years old, a British citizen who was born in Pakistan. And I say more important because authorities tell CNN that Khuram Shazad Butt was known to both police and MI5, that's, of course, the equivalent of the FBI here in the U.K.
And on top of that, we have learned that people both in the Muslim community as well as neighbors had actually flagged him up to the authorities. They claimed one Muslim man telling us that he is not even surprised that this is one of the people who carried out the attack, that he had been verbally assaulted by Mr. Butt and had flagged him up to police.
And perhaps even more surprising and more startling is the fact that this man was featured on a documentary that was aired nationally on television here in the U.K. called "The Jihadist Next Door". And in this documentary, you actually see this man unrolling what looks like an ISIS flag. [04:10:02] It's not actually an ISIS flag, but it certainly looked
very similar to it and waving this flag in Regent's Park, one of the best known parks here in London. So, people are waking up today and digesting this information and seeing there were a lot of signs here. If people are saying that they're not surprised by it, then why weren't the police, why weren't the authorities, the counterterrorism officials doing something more?
Now, the authorities tell us they didn't have any information that would suggest that this attack was being planned, but getting back to what Fred was just telling you, that there the a political campaign going on here, and more questions being raised about Theresa May's leadership as prime minister and when she was ahead of the equivalent of Homeland Security here in the U.K.
ROMANS: Fascinating. I mean, usually, you scrub someone's social media profile after the fact that one of these, trying to find deep, long, buried evidence of jihadi activity. Just watching television in this case. Fascinating.
All right. Thank you so much, Samuel Burke. We'll talk to you again very, very soon.
BRIGGS: All right. President Trump will not stand in the way of James Comey's testimony now two days away. We'll have more on what to expect when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: In order to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts, President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey's scheduled testimony.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[04:15:23] BRIGGS: Two more days until fired FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee and there is nothing now standing in his way that President Trump has decided not to block his testimony by invoking executive privilege. The White House says the president is trying to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts.
This morning, we're getting a clear idea of what the former director might tell the committee.
CNN's Jessica Schneider has more.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, the White House will not stand in the way of fired FBI Director James Comey's testimony on Thursday.
President Trump has decided to not exert his executive privilege. And on top of that, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, says Comey will have wide latitude on what to talk about. Chairman Burr has spoken with James Comey several times. He says the testimony will include Comey's recounting of his conversations and meetings with President Trump in January and February. But Chairman Burr says the testimony will also dive into the wider Russia probe that's ongoing, first by the FBI. Now, it's headed up by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Senator Burr and ranking member, Mark Warner, have also met with FBI acting director Andrew McCabe. They've asked McCabe to hand over any of the memos that Comey kept. But Chairman Burr does say he doesn't expect to get those memos before Thursday's hearing -- Christine, Dave.
BRIGGS: Jessica, thanks.
And a reminder, in case you haven't we heard, CNN will have full coverage of James Comey's testimony. It begins Thursday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. The testimony starts at 10:00. EARLY START begins extra early Thursday and Friday, 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
ROMANS: All right. The president promises cheaper fares and fewer delays by privatizing air traffic control, that was day one, of course, of his infrastructure week. The president says it's the best way to modernize an outdated system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At a time when every passenger has GPS technology in their pockets, our air traffic control system still runs on radar and ground based radio systems that they don't even make anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: GPS systems by design create more direct flights. The FAA has replacing land-based radar for years. The White House says privatization speeds up that process and taxpayers won't have to pay for it.
There is precedent. Countries like France, Germany and Canada successfully privatize their air traffic control. Critics argue those countries have smaller systems. For example, Canada's total traffic is just equivalent to just Houston and Dallas combined. They worry privatizations favors the flight paths of large airlines.
This announcement, of course, kicks off the infrastructure week for the administration. The president has promised to spend a trillion dollars to improve America's roads, bridges and airports.
BRIGGS: Harvard University withdrawing acceptance offers to at least ten incoming freshmen after they were found to have shared racially offensive messages and memes in a private Facebook group. According to the Harvard Crimson newspaper, they joked about subjects, including sexual assault and the holocaust. The private groups were in offshoot of the official Harvard class of 2021 Facebook group.
ROMANS: You know, when I talk to college kids and high school kids about money or about planning for college, the one thing I say again and again, if you are going to get a job, they're going to scrub your social media. If you're going to get into prestigious school, they're going to scrub your social media. I mean, it's the wrong thing to do to be joking about rape. It's a stupid thing to be doing as well, because, you know, you're going to sink your future. You really are.
BRIGGS: Fortunately, if are you the president of the United States, you should also be careful what you put out there on social media.
ROMANS: And that is a good point.
BRIGGS: Well, the U.S. trying to stay above the fray as several countries cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar. We are live with how this affects the war against ISIS and the American presence in the region, ahead on EARLY START.
[04:23:38] ROMANS: The U.S. tried to diffuse a growing diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf after neighboring countries cut off ties with Qatar. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, among the nations accusing Qatar of supporting terrorist groups. The Qatari government rejects the terror claim, calling the measures unjustified.
BRIGGS: Now, the country is strategically important for the United States the largest concentration of American military personnel in the Middle East is located at a Qatari airbase. And a diplomatic feud like this could impact efforts to fight ISIS and counter Iran in the Mideast.
CNN's Ian Lee following developments. He joins us live from Istanbul.
Good morning to you, Ian. Does this have anything to do with the president's recent trip to the region?
IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Well, good morning, Dave. That is one theory that we're hearing that we are seeing an emboldened Saudi Arabia, but this conflict has a lot of people concerned about how this will affect the ongoing war against ISIS.
Now, Qatar is home to the El Udeid airbase which we have seen a number of airstrikes, the air campaign against ISIS taking off from here. It's also home to the combined air operations command, which coordinates the airstrikes, the air campaign over Iraq and Syria. This also comes as Mosul is on the verge of being liberated.
[04:25:00] Also Raqqah, the self-declared of ISIS in Syria, the operation against that city is about to take place.
Now, we've heard from Secretary of State James Mattis saying that he doesn't believe that this dispute is going to affect that battle against ISIS, but how did we get there? It really is a conflict between Qatar, Saudi, the UAE, with Saudi Arabia, blaming Qatar for supporting terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has also in the past been accused of supporting these terrorist organizations.
But then have you Iran. Qatar has cordial relations with Iran. For Saudi Arabia, it's their regional rival. We have President Trump in Saudi Arabia just last month trying to build this coalition against Iran. Right now, Kuwait, the emir of Kuwait is trying to smooth the tensions. He's negotiating (AUDIO GAP), trying to bring them together.
Also, United States diplomats eager to not to be seen as supporting either side have also offered their support and their help to calm these latest tensions -- Dave.
BRIGGS: It should be interesting as we get closer to a 2022 World Cup also in Qatar.
Ian Lee, thank you.
All right. The White House says it wants to get on message, health care meetings today, infrastructure events this week. But instead, we are talking about what else? This.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORKA: We are talking about one tweet, should we spend the whole program on it?
CUOMO: I think that to call it a tweet is to run away from its significance.
GORKA: It is a tweet. What is it, what is it, a bowl of petunias?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: How the president's travel ban tweet storm once again has his aides scrambling for answers.