Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Slammed For Obnoxious Tweet; Revised Travel Ban Takes Effect; Republicans to Miss Deadline for Health Care Bill. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 04:30   ET




[04:30:58] ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Get some spine. Stop justifying this. Stop finding ways of excusing it. What is inexcusable must be inexcusable.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Ana Navarro, a blistering response even from Republicans after the president's tweets attacking a cable news host. So, why are some of his backers refusing to admit this is a misstep including the first lady? Who had said she would combat cyber-bullying as part of her platform?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And the first daughters who's supposed to speak for women in the workplace.

ROMANS: That's a really good point.

BRIGGS: That's what she's supposed to combat in the White House.

I'm Dave Briggs. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Here we are in this era of unbreakable political gridlock. And there's one thing everyone seems able to agree on -- President Trump's degrading tweets regardless of the target must stop. The issue resurfacing at the top of the political agenda after the president attacked cable news hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.

You've probably seen this before: But I heard poorly rated "Morning Joe" speaks badly of me, don't watch anymore. Then how come low-I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row around New Year's Eve and insisted on joining me? She was bleeding badly from a facelift. I said no.

ROMANS: Despite the nature of the tweets, the president's backers are lining up to defend him. Chief among him, First Lady Melania Trump who has said combating cyber-bullying would be part of her White House platform. Here's the statement from her office: As the first lady has stated

publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back ten times harder.

Now, the president's strategy, if there is one, is unclear. As the tweets pull focus off his important issues and some achievements actually yesterday, and force lawmakers to once again answer for the president's social media habits.

I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray for more.



Well, if President Trump is having any misgivings about his tweet storm yesterday in which he attacked a female MSNBC anchor and said she was, quote, bleeding badly from a facelift, the White House is giving no indication of that, insisting the president has no regrets.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the American people elected somebody who's tough, smart, and a fighter. And that's Donald Trump. I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire.

MURRAY: Now, the president could have been using the day to talk about health care. There is an important health care vote that's sure to come up soon in the Senate. He could have been talking about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20. And he did make some mentions of energy policy in what was supposed to be energy week.

But he president's off-color tweets are what set senators on fire yesterday, even members of his own party said the president went too far and was out of line. Now, since then, senators have left town, and President Trump is not far behind. He'll be leaving for Bedminster where he'll be spending the weekend.

Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: Sara Murray.

How many times did you hear the words beneath the dignity of the office yesterday?

BRIGGS: Almost universally. The "Wall Street Journal" certainly agreed with those words -- Republicans, Democrats. But as I've said, I think this is below any office, not just the office of the presidency.

To help us explain what this all means, where we go from here, we're joined by senior media correspondent Brian Stelter. He's the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES." Thanks for being in so early.

ROMANS: Good morning, Brian.


BRIGGS: All right. So, where are we, almost 24 hours after the story broke with another despicable tweet from the president?

STELTER: Wouldn't we normally be talking about an apology at this point? If it's for anyone except for President Trump, the storyline would be when is this public figure going to apologize, exactly how are they going to apologize, will Joe and Mika accept the apology -- I think, of course, we know with president Trump, he's famous for many things, one being never apologizing.

But it was notable that Jim Acosta shouted a question to Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the briefing, is there going to be an apology? And there was no answer from Sanders. And I think we've heard of no back-channel communication.

[04:35:02] No personal outreach from Trump to Brzezinski for example to try to calm this over somehow, to cool this somehow.

ROMANS: There will be a day two because Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were going on vacation, right, after yesterday's show. Is that right?

STELTER: Right, they were going to be on vacation. They started their vacation. But, somehow, they're going to weigh in later today. They've written a "Washington Post" column that will come out later into this also. So, they have strong words for the president coming.

One of the points they want to make is not only was this offensive and unpresidential, but it was also inaccurate. And there were things in the tweets that were factually inaccurate about the visit to Mar-a- Lago, and whether she was bloody. That shouldn't matter at all, but I think Mika wants it known that the facts actually were wrong here, the president was making things up, in addition to being offensive. Yes.

ROMANS: Can I just for a second talk about the response from the White House? You know, they're like, oh, you guys always blow these things out of proportion, you want to talk about this random -- you know, the president responding because he was attacked.

But the president, when you look at his tweets, since inauguration day, he's had 85 media attacks, 67 about jobs. This is supposed to be the jobs president, but he's attacked the media 85 times, and he's talked -- and military, just 27. I mean, he sets the tone. He does.

BRIGGS: But Sarah Sanders said that we are the ones consumed with attacking the president.

STELTER: Yes. There's this sort of defense from the White House that the media started this. That the media -- the coverage of the president is so negative that we shouldn't be surprised when he punches back once in a while.

I think the response I was hearing from journalists all day yesterday and into this morning is, hey, we'd rather be talking about health care. We'd rather be talking about jobs or other issues. It was immigration news yesterday that you all have been covering.

ROMANS: The travel ban, too.

STELTER: I think the impression, the tone of the coverage has been, hey, we'd rather not have to analyze these tweets. But it is -- it is the president setting the agenda.

BRIGGS: Almost universal condemnation from Republican lawmakers on this. I think the first one to strongly come out was Ben Sasse, the Nebraska senator, who tweeted -- I think we have that. Here it is.

ROMANS: Please just stop.

BRIGGS: Please just stop. This isn't normal. It's beneath the dignity of your office.

Lisa Murkowski, again, very important vote for the president in this health care legislation: Stop it. The presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down.

And here's Susan Collins, senator from Maine, and speaker of the house, Paul Ryan.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The president did speak eloquently after the shooting of the congressman and others at the congressional baseball game. And that's why I was particularly surprised to see him revert to this kind of language, because he clearly recognized that he has a role to play in uniting and healing the country. And unfortunately, he threw some gasoline on the embers.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Obviously, I don't see that as an appropriate comment. I think -- look, what we're trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. And this obviously doesn't help do that.


BRIGGS: It doesn't, Brian. But you are big on social media. I'm sure you saw some of the same stuff I saw on Twitter, on Facebook. If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say three quarters of Trump supporters I heard from attacked me and supported these very tweets from the president.

Is that what you're seeing from Trump supporters?

STELTER: I would say yes. And from some of his kind of pro-Trump activists in the media saying, hey, Joe and Mika are not innocent. That was the Sean Hannity line after this. Joe and Mika have been attacking the president, and this is inappropriate. So, there is a sort of, we all need to remind ourselves, there's this

two wrongs don't make a right. And it doesn't necessarily matter where it starts. The president is the one that's supposed to be the role model.

But this comes down to consequences, doesn't it? Are there any consequences for the tweets?

We've heard some Republican lawmakers say they expected things, criticizing him. Mostly moderates or Trump skeptics within the party. Not so much necessarily Trump loyalists. We've heard from them, we've heard negative media coverage, are there any consequences?

So far, we've seen polls don't show negative consequences for the president when there are these controversies.

ROMANS: Fascinating to me, because if you think about it -- if this were my kid's baseball coach, if this were my minister, if this were my boss, right, you would think --

BRIGGS: If this were your children --

ROMANS: You have to think about could -- what kind of a role model is this kind of behavior, and how does the president have time -- how does he literally have time to be tweeting on something he said he didn't watch?

STELTER: I thought David Chalian, our political director, made a very strong point. He said the president's not doing the job he was elected to do. On his Twitter feed, there's evidence of that. All the anti-media attacks are a signal that the president's not spending all the time he said he was going to spend working nonstop to try to improve the country.

If we just measure it based on the tweets, that's one signal of what he's really interested in. We heard it at the private fundraiser earlier in the week also. He's really interested in talking about the coverage of himself.

[04:40:03] ROMANS: Yes.

STELTER: It is a reality show in some ways. I think what we've seen with the tweets, some of the worst tweets he's sent as president are a sign of that instant feedback loop between the coverage of the president and the president himself.

ROMANS: Every president that I've covered, right, they have complained, their aides have complained that the media's too mean to them, that we don't get it. There's always this rough relationship in the beginning. There always has been.

And in the past, you've seen the president and his team move inward, you know, and start to just focus on getting stuff done, not on attacking -- this is the first president who's really attacked the media.

STELTER: Roy Cohn taught him, always hit back. That's Trump's mentor.

Brian Stelter, enough material for "RELIABLE SOURCES" I think as usual. See you in a half hour.

ROMANS: And Melania Trump says he will punch back ten times harder. He will not just punch back, he will punch back ten times harder.

All right. Forty minutes past the hour.

Blistering sell-off in tech stocks. Big names like Apple, Google parent, Alphabet, Microsoft all tumbled, pushing the Dow down 168 points. The NASDAQ fell sharply, too.

Can I tell you? It has been a wild week for the NASDAQ. Look at this chart. It slipped Tuesday. Then it had its best day in months the next day.

So, what's going on? A few things. The dollar had the worst quarter in seven years. Bond yields are rising. Global central banks are expected to be raising interest rates. That has investors selling big dividends and tech plays and moving money into things like bank stocks.

Look at them this week. They have seen a jump after the Fed allowed them to give generous payouts to shareholders. And Wall Street is holding out for tax reform.

Another wrinkle in the ugly day yesterday, GOP senators said they are considering an Obamacare tax on investment income. That's a key part of the tax reform here and health care reform debate.

A wild way to end the first half of the year, even with the recent volatility and the turmoil in Washington, it's been a great year for stocks. The Dow and the S&P 500 both up 8 percent this year. While the Nasdaq is up 14 percent.

When you look at that Nasdaq number, it's not hard to see why maybe some people were selling stocks the last couple of days, you know? Got all these wild global market moves, take some money, put it in the bank.

BRIGGS: Nice to hear about economic news to shower off the filth.

Senators head home for the July 4th recess without a deal on health care. Now, new numbers from the Congressional Budget Office paint an even bleaker picture for the current proposal.


BRIGGS: A scaled down travel ban now in effect. It includes a last- minute change, though. Fiances will be now allowed to enter the country after the State Department said they did not qualify as a bona fide relationship.

ROMANS: Just before the ban restricting travel to six Muslim nations took effect, the state of Hawaii filed a court challenge over the definition of bona fide, asking a judge to clarify that the Supreme Court ruling can't be interpreted to limit which family members can and cannot come to the U.S.

As for how the ban is affecting travelers coming to the U.S. from those six counties, CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson with more on that.

Good morning, Nic. How is it rolling out?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It seems to be rolling out fairly smoothly. At least that's what we're hearing from airports here in the United Arab Emirates. Of course, this isn't one of the six Muslim majority nations. But flights from Iran, for example, from Sudan, two of those six nations do pass through here.

And what we're being told is that anyone who shows up here, who has a valid documentation is going to be allowed to get on a plane. There isn't that level of confusion that the airlines don't know what to interpret or what is valid and what isn't valid. There is clarity this time.

But where there is pushback and where there is concern and consternation in this region is that interpretation of, you know, who's a close relative and who isn't. Extended family is not on that list -- grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins. They're not on the list.

In this region, extended family have strong ties, strong bonds, often many times live close or maybe even together. So, not surprising perhaps that you would hear from the Iranian foreign minister today, Jabhat Sharif, criticizing and critiquing this new ban on that basis. This is what he says: U.S. now bans Iranian grandmothers from seeing their grandchildren in truly, shameful, blind hostility to all Iranians.

No surprise that we would hear from Iran hitting back at the United States. But this is the sense here that this is too constrictive, too restrictive, and isn't fair to people. That's a feeling here.

ROMANS: All right. Nic Robertson for us from London, or Abu Dhabi, actually. Thank you, Nic.

BRIGGS: All right. There's some potentially explosive new reporting this morning that a longtime Republican operative tried to get his hands on emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server, likely by Russian hackers. Part two of this "Wall Street Journal" scoop is that the operatives suggested to others that he was working with Michael Flynn who later became the national security adviser.

"The Journal" reports the veteran GOP opposition researcher, Peter W. Smith, told associates and people he tried to help recruit him that he was, quote, talking to Lieutenant General Mike Flynn about the project. Emails written by Smith and one of his associates back up the story.

Flynn's actual role if he had any is still unclear.

ROMANS: Flynn was then a senior adviser to candidate Trump.

In an interview with "The Journal," Smith said he knew Flynn but never said Flynn was involved. The 81-year-old Smith died ten days after the interview. A Trump campaign official says Smith did not work for the campaign, and they had no knowledge of any involvement by Flynn. Flynn himself has offered no comment. CNN has not independently confirmed "The Wall Street Journal's" reporting.

BRIGGS: Senate Republicans plan to keep at it through the holiday weekend as they fine-tune a health care reform bill they hope will pass muster with their skeptical GOP colleagues.

[04:50:08] In the latest government analysis may not help efforts. The Congressional Budget Office now predicting a 35 percent drop in Medicaid spending in 2036. That's a steeper decline than the 26 percent decrease expected in 2026.

ROMANS: That's based on the bill for calls for Medicaid spending to grow at the rate of inflation in 2025, a pace less generous than the current law or the recently passed bill in the House. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists negotiations are making good progress despite the expected failure to meet today's self-imposed deadline to hammer out a framework.

All right. Low-wage workers in at least two states and five cities will get a raise tomorrow. We'll tell you where on "CNN Money Stream."


[04:55:01] BRIGGS: A law granting the U.S. military authority for the war on terror could be up for a new debate in Congress. The House Appropriations Committee has voted to strip the authorization that the Pentagon has relied on since 2001 to fight ISIS and al Qaeda. The move approved via voice vote surprised leaders of both parties and provoked quick opposition, setting the stage for a floor fight next month.

ROMANS: Critics claim the authorization is just too broad and gives the president the power to wage war in perpetuity. And the repeal leaves open the question of what exactly would replace it. It's still a long way from becoming law since leaders have plenty of time to strip the language from a final spending bill.

Let's check CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Global markets mostly lower after a blistering sell-off in tech stocks. Look at that, Apple, Google parent Alphabet, Microsoft, all lower, pushing the Dow down 168 points. The Nasdaq fell 1-1/2 percent.

The dollar had the worst quarter in seven years. Bond yields are rising. That has investors selling big dividend and tech plays and moving money into things like bank stocks. Look at those this week. Still, it's been a great year overall for stocks. The Dow and S&P 500

both up 8 percent this year. The NASDAQ up 14 percent. Right now looking at stock futures in the U.S. that are basically flat.

It's official, Nike is opening a shop on Amazon. Reports last week hinted a Nike/Amazon deal could be in the works. But now, the company has confirmed it. Nike's products are already on Amazon via unlicensed vendors.

This partnership helps Nike control its brand. It also expands its access to the millennial shoppers on the site.

If you live in one of these places, you may start earning a little more money. Maryland, Oregon, and at least five cities are raising their minimum wage tomorrow. This follows 17 states in the beginning of the year. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. Many states have been taking it on themselves.

Staggering the hikes so to doesn't burden businesses all at once, phasing them in. That's why you see some coming in now. The rallying cry has been $15 per hour.

But it may not help workers the way advocates had hoped. A recent study found that when Seattle hiked its wages, workers' hours dropped, ultimately earning about $125 less each month. The biggest debate in business for --

BRIGGS: Therein lies the fear, right?

ROMANS: You have the economic juice by giving low-income workers more money, but you've got to be careful that you don't raise that too high, too quickly.

BRIGGS: Because corporations have the ability to just move that by cutting back on hours.

ROMANS: If they can. Sometimes if demand is so strong they can't. We'll have to see.

I have to say that the results have been pretty mixed. So, we'll watch.

BRIGGS: That debate is far from over. So is this show.

EARLY START continues right now.



REPORTER: Mr. President, do you regret your tweets this morning at all? Mr. President, No regrets over your tweets you sent out this morning?

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: If only the president had shown that kind of restraint before

going on Twitter. President Trump fending off a torrent of criticism after a Twitter attack on cable news hosts. The criticism is withering, and his agenda once again is on the backstage.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs on this Friday, June 30. It's 5:00 a.m. on the East.

Plenty to talk about today, in an era of unbreakable political gridlock, one thing most people agree on this morning is President Trump's degrading tweets, regardless of the target, must stop. This issue resurfacing at the top of the political agenda after the president attacked cable news hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.

You've seen this before: I heard poorly rated "Morning Joe" speaks badly of me. Don't watch anymore. How come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row, around New Year's Eve and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a facelift. I said no.

ROMANS: Despite the nature of the tweets, the president's backers are lining up to defend him. Chief among them, First Lady Melania Trump who said, of course, combating cyber-bullying be part of her White House platform.

Here's the statement though from her office: As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.

The president's strategy is unclear as the tweets pull focus off some important issues and, force lawmakers once again to answer for the president's social media habits.

BRIGGS: All right. A great panel for us this morning. Senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES", CNN politics reporter, Eugene Scott, and CNN contributor Salena Zito, reporter for "The Washington examiner," columnist for "The New York Post."

Thanks to all for joining us.

Salena, let's start with you.

Look, I mentioned this to Brian in the last hour -- most Trump supporters on my social media feeds universally support these tweets and rhetoric coming from the White House. Is that what you're hearing?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Despite the universal cry that this was beneath the dignity of the office, and it is, it's going to take more than this to dislodge Trump supporters from him. There is a lot of their identity sort of, you know, bought into his success.