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Don, Jr. Meeting Triggers White House Chaos; Mueller To Examine Don, Jr. Meeting; Trump Returns To Europe Tonight. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 12, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.


We're reading your editorial so you don't have to this morning. Thirty minutes past the hour this morning.

An already fractious White House in escalating chaos, coping with the fallout from Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer and his release of the e-mails setting it up.

Now, "The New York Times" out front on all this reporting, says the president's aides and lawyers have formed what the paper calls a, quote, "circular firing squad," slamming each other for the decisions made since Don, Jr.'s meeting with the -- with the Russian attorney came to light.

The younger Trump's own e-mails ahead of the meeting providing the most direct evidence he was willing, he was even eager to accept help from a foreign adversary.

BRIGGS: An e-mail from publicist and Trump associate Rob Goldstone made the pitch. "Very high level and sensitive information part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump." Don, Jr.'s response, "I love it."

Now he's speaking out in his own defense telling "FOX NEWS" in retrospect, he would have done things a little differently.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: And this is 13 months ago before, I think, the rest of the world was talking about that, trying to build up this narrative about Russia. So I don't even think my sirens, you know, went up -- or the antennas went up at this time because it wasn't the issue that it's been made out to be over the last, you know, nine months, 10 months.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW": Do you tell your father anything about this?

TRUMP, JR.: No. It was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell. I wouldn't have even remembered it until you start scouring through the stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So far, Don, Jr. has not spoken to the FBI nor handed over documents but his lawyer said he is willing to talk to any investigators.

Last night, new reporting from the "Times" that the president signed off on Don, Jr.'s initial statement crafted by Trump advisors late Saturday, a statement that made no reference to the meeting being about damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

BRIGGS: The "Times" also reporting the president is frustrated with his attorney Marc Kasowitz, while Kasowitz and his team are frustrated with what they see as meddling by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. A lawyer for the president denies this reporting.

The president, himself, preparing to head back to Europe later today, posting a new tweet of support for his son, reading in part, "He is a great person who loves our country." The White House, earlier, called Don, Jr. a high-quality person. Not much of a defense as to this scandal from the president, though, Christine.

ROMANS: Well, you know, he hadn't been tweeting about this for a couple of days and you know that the people around him were -- you know, really encouraging restraint on all of this. And as the story sort of changed and evolved you can see why.

BRIGGS: All right, let's bring in Zach Wolf, the digital director for CNN POLITICS and CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano, a retired FBI supervisory agent. Good morning to both of you.

And, James, we ought to start with the legal trouble, if any, Don Trump, Jr. is in. What sort of legal trouble is ahead?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, as you pointed out earlier, I mean, the "New York Post" which has historically been a, you know, Trump-supportive newspaper publishes that scathing editorial today where they basically talk about Don, Jr.'s ham-handedness.

Now, there's a difference between ham-handedness and is there a crime here, and I look at this from when we talked about perjury earlier. I look at this from that perspective. Perjury, again, is hard to prove because you've got to prove intent.

But there are lies of commission and lies of omission, and for the White House to get behind Don, Jr.'s early statement where he basically talks about well, it was about adoption, and then never --

BRIGGS: Not just getting behind it, helped craft this, James.

GAGLIANO: Yes, yes. That's going to be -- that's going to be political trouble. Now, because nobody was under oath there, Dave, I don't see how they could pursue a perjury charge there.

ROMANS: Zach, this is such a huge political mess and distraction for this White House and the reporting this morning -- sort of, you peel back the curtains in the White House, it sounds like utter chaos over there.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: It's -- you know, it does if you read the reports that are coming out in the "Times" you mentioned. It's got to be quite something for them to have denied this for so long and then to be faced with this e-mail which seems, you know, for lack of a better word, like a smoking gun. Like he really did think that there was going to be this offer of information from the Russian government, or at least that was what was in the e- mail.

It's the kind of thing he's been -- you know, they been denying for so long. So this has got to be a moment where they have to take stock and figure out how to go forward.

ROMANS: Not only denying but mocking, and calling fake news, and scoffing, and very forcefully blasting anyone who would -- who would entertain such a suggestion. And now, it's right there in black and white.

[05:35:00] WOLF: Yes. And so, you know, this is kind of -- that's why everybody was so shocked yesterday and everybody's jaws kind of hit the floor when he tweeted it out of -- kind of out of nowhere before "The New York Times" could publish it. And just reading it -- that e-mail -- you could sort of hear the silence in newsrooms across the country as people said to themselves, really? This is how this is happening?

ROMANS: Silence in newsrooms and then the stock market falls 100 points right away because there's shock among investors. It did bounce back.

BRIGGS: So if this doesn't show collusion in black and white, it shows attempted collusion.

But Don, Jr. later went on Fox News with Sean Hannity and talked about transparency. His father giving him credit for releasing these e- mails. Does he deserve it? You decide but here's Don, Jr. last night.


HANNITY: Did you hand over any and all documents?

TRUMP, JR.: Well, I will. I've said it publicly, I said it yesterday. I'm more than happy to cooperate with everyone. I just want the truth to get out there and that's part of why I released all the stuff today. I wanted to get it all out there.

HANNITY: But this is a trend --

TRUMP, JR.: They're trying to drag out the story, Sean. In all fairness --


TRUMP, JR.: -- you know, they have it. They want to drip a little bit today, drip a little bit then, so I was like here it is. I'm more than happy to be transparent about it and I'm more than happy to cooperate with everyone.

HANNITY: So as far as you know, as far as this incident is concerned, this is all of it.

TRUMP, JR.: This is everything. This is everything.


BRIGGS: This is the transparent Trump administration, James.

If you're Bob Mueller, though --

ROMANS: Which after "The New York Times" told them that they were going to run the e-mails and they needed a comment.

BRIGGS: Right, the only reason he released the e-mails.

But if you're Bob Mueller and you're doing this -- you're the special counsel, what do these e-mails give you in terms of a digital trail? How does it change the path you might have been on?

GAGLIANO: Well, in the 21st century, law enforcement is helped by the fact that everything we do today presents digital exhaust every time you tweet, every time you touch your phone, every time you send an e- mail, so that is going to give them some physical evidence that's going to be easy to track.

And remember, there's two strong caveats here. The first one is for the special prosecutor, he has subpoena power so he can ask for whatever he wants.

And the second, as we talked about earlier, is the Trump administration wasn't the Trump administration back during the campaign. They don't have executive privilege so they can't say we're not releasing those because the president has elected to use executive privilege.

BRIGGS: So the president, himself, doesn't have executive privilege from that period. His e-mails could be subpoenaed.

GAGLIANO: Negative. He was not in the White House and back in June when this happened he wasn't -- he wasn't even the -- I don't even think he was the Republican nominee until July.

BRIGGS: And his assistant is mentioned in these e-mails from the Russians. You wonder if her e-mails will be subpoenaed as part of this.

ROMANS: Zach, let's talk a little bit about Jared Kushner and where these e-mails come from, and where -- what the circle is here.

So in that meeting with Paul Manafort was Jared Kushner. Jared Kushner, we're told, is going back and his attorneys are scrubbing all of his meetings trying to figure out, you know -- make sure that all of his disclosures of those meetings are accurate.

Walk us through where he is in this circle.

WOLF: Well, you know, I think that kind of remains to be seen. He had his own subsequent meetings that were -- that were forgotten to be disclosed with the Russian ambassador, and now there's this one that he may or may not have been in for a short amount of time, I think according to both the Russian lawyer and now Trump, Jr. So, you know, you can imagine that they're trying to figure that out and his lawyers, as they're going over this e-mails, as they see this, you know.

It still is unclear to me exactly how all of this leaked out to the press. Was it Kushner's people giving it to them? Was it -- was it part of, you know, somebody from the -- from the special counsel's office that leaked it? You know, how -- sort of, the -- you know, how it got out.

It will be super interesting to figure out. Is this kind of the Trump family turning on itself? Is this that moment? It remains to be seen.

BRIGG: All right. And you've been very concerned, James, about those leaks. Where they're coming from, what this says about what's going on inside this administration.

GAGLIANO: Absolutely, and I have zero concern for leaks that come out of a presidential administration. That is -- that is a political piece.

My concern was that they weren't coming from the investigation team. I don't want to see that they, ultimately, end up coming out of the Department of Justice or the Intel Community or my FBI.

ROMANS: You thought Bob Mueller would put a lid on that. You were pretty sure that he would put a lid on that.

GAGLIANO: You would think that. He has a reputation for being very stern about that so you hope that's the case.

ROMANS: And, you know, Zach, I want to read this "Washington Post" editorial because I just -- I think, you know -- let's listen to what "The Washington Post" has to say about this.

"There can now be no doubt the Russian meddling story is not just smoke, but fire. Donald Trump, Jr.'s interactions with Russians during last year's presidential campaign were abnormal and alarming. An incriminating e-mail chain has made it impossible for the administration to deploy its always flimsy argument of last resort that the whole story is just fake news."

We have the president, who is behind closed doors. No public --

BRIGGS: For a third straight day.

ROMANS: For a third straight day. We had a press briefing yesterday that was, you know, not on camera.

It was just audio. How does the White House -- how should the White House respond here going forward?

[05:40:07] WOLF: Well, you know, I think part of what they need to do is hope that no other shoes drop.

We heard John McCain say yesterday he thinks more stuff will happen in the coming days. I'm not sure exactly how he knows that.

But, you know, they kind of need to have a breather probably and then they also need to work with the special counsel and try and get all of this out there, potentially. They need to get this past them so that they can start working on policy.

But I will say if you have an empowered special counsel and you have sort of this smoking gun of e-mails, you know, who knows where this thing could go?

You recall Ken Starr started out looking at a land deal --


WOLF: -- and ended up with Monica Lewinsky. So --

ROMANS: And when he started looking at that land deal, Monica Lewinsky wasn't even in Washington, D.C., by the way.

WOLF: Exactly.

ROMANS: You know, that wasn't going to happen until much, much later. That just shows you how the scope of these investigations are.

BRIGGS: And the only chance --

WOLF: And they take a lot of time.

BRIGGS: And the only chance we'll get is two questions from the U.S. press tomorrow in France. Perhaps that's when we'll hear the president's opinion on all of this.

Zach Wolf, James Gagliano, thank you, both. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: In France, where they've complained about Russian meddling and fake news and the like --

BRIGGS: Where it was very much a part of that election.

ROMANS: -- in that election.

All right. Nice to see you guys. Thank you.

To money now, 41 minutes past the hour.

U.S. hiring rose in May as more people quit their jobs and that's a good sign for the U.S. economy. People quit for two reasons. They got a new job or they're confident they will find a new one.

The Labor Department says the quit rate spiked seven percent in May. We call it the quit rate and it's a good thing when it spikes. And with hiring up and the unemployment rate the lowest since 2001, many experts think the U.S. is near what is known as full employment, meaning there aren't many more workers waiting for a job -- looking -- activity looking for and waiting for a job, which should translate to higher wages.

Last timeunemployment was this low, wages were rising like four percent. However, they're only rising 2.5 percent from last year right now so that wage growth has been weak since the recession.

And low pay could be one reason for a glut of unfilled jobs. There were 5.7 million job openings in May, nearly a record -- 5.7 million open jobs. And many businesses blame a lack of skilled workers but some analysts say if that were true wages would be rising faster.

In fact, a recent survey of mid-sized companies found that only one in four offers above-average salaries, but that could change as the labor market tightens. More than half plan to raise wages in the next six months.

It has been the part of the job market that has been so maddening for those of us who cover it, that wages haven't been rising --

BRIGGS: The word is stagnation.

ROMANS: They have not been rising better and that's why people feel uneasy about the economy. I mean, even if you have, you know, the job market improving and very clearly improving in December. So if you're not getting more on your paycheck, you know --

BRIGGS: Bottom line --

ROMANS: I mean, corporate profits look --

BRIGGS: But how do Americans feel it?

ROMANS: Corporate profits are going to rise, what six percent? Your pay is rising two percent. You know, companies are rolling in it but they're not passing it along.

BRIGGS: All right. President Trump remains out of sight, as Christine mentioned, but is ready to fly back to Europe tonight. We're live in Paris. What to expect.


[05:47:10] BRIGGS: All right, it's time now for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Alisyn Camerota joining us.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Ali, good morning to you. A question to you. If you got an e-mail regarding the crown prosecutor of Russia, would you at least Google crown prosecutor of Russia and see if that was a thing?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Well, that's funny that you say that, Dave, because when I read these e-mails, right -- they're on the cover of "The New York Times," I mean -- the verbatim e-mails -- I thought it was fake news.

It was so over the top in terms of its content and its language that I thought that we were being duped by Don, Jr. and he was putting out like fictitious fake news but, no, it's real. These are the real e- mails.

Obviously, we will be following all of the latest developments and threads in the Don, Jr. e-mail scandal. So we have lots of reporters and analysts on to talk about that.

And, of course, health care is still another big story in Washington, D.C. so we're going to be talking with various lawmakers about what the next step is.

As you can see, Chris Cuomo and our executive producer are deep in conversation. They're negotiating what's going to be going on in the show.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Donuts should be free. They should always be free.

CAMEROTA: I look forward to them telling you what else we'll be doing on the program when we see you at the top of the hour.

ROMANS: Oh, nice to see --

BRIGGS: Looking forward to that.

ROMANS: -- C.C.'s cameo there.

All right, nice to see you.

CAMEROTA: She's going to kill me. She'll kill me now.

BRIGGS: Thanks, guys. See you in a bit.

ROMANS: It's always -- it's always good to have your executive producer on your bad side.

All right, 48 minutes past the hour this morning.

New information about that deadly crash of a Marine transport plane in Mississippi.

The Marine Corps says seven of the service members killed were members of an elite unit based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The other nine Marines who died were from Orange County, New York. Names of the deceased were not immediately released.

Investigators are still trying to determine why that plane crashed. The KC-130 aircraft was moving personnel and equipment from North Carolina to a western base for training.

Takata's recall is the largest in U.S. automotive history and it's about to get bigger. I'll tell you about these dangerous airbags and why you have to get them out of your car now.


[05:53:40] BRIGGS: As the political firestorm rages around Donald Trump, Jr., Donald Trump, Sr. will be out of the public eye for the third straight day, but he will back in the spotlight in Europe tomorrow. He leaves for France tonight.

CNN's Melissa Bell joining us now, live from Paris. Melissa, good morning to you.

What is on the agenda here and how do expect all these questions about Don Trump, Jr.'s e-mail scandal to loom over all of it?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is going to be a huge spotlight that Donald Trump is under, partly because of all that you allude to back home. But also because the expectations here in Europe are extremely high, the point of this visit.

And, Donald Trump will be arriving tomorrow here. He'll spend the day assisting -- going to a military parade, having dinner in the evening with the Macrons before taking part on Friday morning in the 14th of July Bastille Day celebrations, France's national day of commemoration of its French Revolution, but also of all of the principles that underpinned it.

Everyone here in Europe is going to be watching very closely to see whether Emmanuel Macron succeeds in doing what he's set out to. The whole point of this invitation to Donald Trump is to try to bring the American president back into the fold.

And what fold is that? Well, it's the fold of the longstanding Western European and American consensus, one that's existed since World War II, one that is underpinned by the very values that will be being celebrated here on Friday morning on Bastille Day.

[05:55:10] The idea being whether -- to see whether Donald Trump can, in fact, be thought of, once again, as the kind of partner Europe hopes the American president can be.

BRIGGS: Yes, and the optics of Macron and Trump not exactly looking like partners at the G20. It should be a fascinating couple of days.

Melissa Bell, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, five minutes to the top of the hour. Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets mostly higher today after that Donald Trump, Jr. e-mail scandal yesterday triggered a knee-jerk drop on Wall Street. The Dow fell about 150 points after the e-mail release then recovered all the losses by the closing bell. That's because, overall, Wall Street has been ignoring the day-to-day turmoil in Washington and the administration, instead focusing on corporate earnings, and they've been really good. Second quarter reports kick off this week.

Investors also keeping an eye on Fed Chief Janet Yellen. She heads to Capitol Hill today for her twice-yearly testimony on the state of the economy. This is her final address before her term ends in February.

Takata's recall is now the largest in U.S. automotive history and the company is expanding it by another 2.7 million airbags. Takata is reporting a new hazard in its airbags.

This applies to vehicles made by Ford, Mazda, and Nissan from 2005 through 2012. Takata's recall already affects 42 million cars and trucks on the road.

Its faulty inflators can explode and spew shrapnel upon impact. This flaw is linked to 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide.

Finally, Microsoft bringing broadband Internet to rural America. Thirty-four million Americans don't have access to high-speed Internet. The majority live in rural areas so Microsoft plans to use unused T.V. spectrum and satellites to bring broadband to 12 states this year.

It will also partner with local telecom companies to connect up to 22 million people by the year 2022. Google and Facebook already have similar initiatives in place.

Thanks for joining us. That's your money. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And you are a high-quality person.

ROMANS: Thank you.

BRIGGS: I just want to say that.

ROMANS: I think you are, too, and you're very transparent.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: We're now beyond obstruction of justice.

TRUMP, JR.: For me, this was opposition research so I think I wanted to hear it out.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Any time that you're in a campaign and get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no.

BRIAN FALLON, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think you'd see a piece of evidence that would be as much of a smoking gun as this e-mail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president was not aware of the meeting, did not attend this meeting.

TRUMP, JR.: It was such a nothing. It was literally just a wasted 20minutes, which was a shame.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: This was an attempt at collusion. And so now the question is really, was it successful?


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, July 12th, 6:00 here in New York.

It's a very busy news day so here is our "Starting Line."

The Trump White House dealing with snowballing revelations about Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer during last year's campaign. There are now multiple press reports of turmoil among the president's inner circle about how to handle this crisis amid finger- pointing and chaos.

The president's son breaking his silence, admitting that he would do things differently if he had the chance.

The newly-released e-mails are the clearest proof yet that Trump, Jr. understood that the meeting was meant to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government despite most of the White House dismissing any collusion allegations as fake news and a witch hunt.

CUOMO: CNN has learned that the special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators are going to be looking into those e-mail exchanges and that meeting that Trump associates had with the Russian lawyer. And, in fact, it would be a surprise if he were not going to look into these.

We've also learned that those e-mails were discovered as Jared Kushner and his legal team were preparing for him to testify before Congress.

That bombshell and these other revelations are distracting from the president's agenda, once again. He has an upcoming trip to France. It's going to start tonight.

Why has the president not been seen in public since returning from the G20 over the weekend? Maybe these e-mails have something to do with that.

We have it all covered for you. Let's begin with Jason Carroll live at the White House -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Chris. You know, the president has really been keeping a low profile throughout all of this. This is the third consecutive day he's had no public events on his schedule, ahead of his trip to Paris tonight.

The controversy surrounding his son has really overshadowed this White House and really consumed the White House, overshadowing the president's agenda ahead of his next foreign trip.


TRUMP, JR.: In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently. For me, this was opposition research.

CARROLL (voice-over): Donald Trump, Jr. confronting the ever- worsening controversy that has his father's administration in full crisis mode.