Return to Transcripts main page


Trump to Hold News Conference in France; Senate Health Bill May Keep Obamacare Taxes; Remains Found in Pennsylvania Missing Men Case; Yellen's Testimony Sends Stocks to Records. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 13, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:16] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump touches down in face. A busy day ahead, including his first public face to face with reporters since his son's meeting with Russia went public. What will the president say about this controversy? We got a hint and extraordinary interview with "Reuters" yesterday.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

Just hours from now in Paris, President Trump holds a new conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. It will be the first chance for reporters to question the president publicly since the revelation Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer hoping to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. In advance of the news conference, President Trump tells "Reuters" he was unaware of the meeting Don Jr. agreed to, only learning about it a couple of days ago.

BRIGGS: A Republican source says the president has privately expressed dismay his son agreed to the meeting but believes Don Jr. did nothing illegal. A source also says the president is annoyed the story has become a distraction from the overseas trip last week to Poland and Germany. A trip the White House sees as a success.

So, how will all of this impact the president's trip to France?

CNN's Melissa Bell joining us from Paris.

Good morning to you, Melissa.

Let's start with this extraordinary meeting, though, between President Trump and Emmanuel Macron. How would you characterize the relationship between these two world leaders?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the time being, it's been testy, frankly. Every time they've come up against each other, Emmanuel Macron has not hesitated to show, even physically through the famous handshake but in other ways his opposition to Donald Trump on so many issues. And yet, there is real hope from the heart of the French presidency that especially in that bilateral meeting you mentioned, they can make progress on issues like Syria and terrorism because Friday will not only be the 14th of July celebrations, Dave, but also, the one-year anniversary since the Nice attack when a terrorist plowed into a crowd of people watching the fireworks display, killing 86.

Fighting terrorism is one of France's key issues right now. And, of course, Emmanuel Macron believes that in order to do that, the United States is really a partner with whom they need to speak. Now, this is the Place de la Concorde, from where the two leaders, Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron, will watch that display on Friday morning.

But beyond the events of Friday morning, even today, it will be a very military affair. The two presidents will head just across the river where Emmanuel Macron will show Donald Trump the Tomb of Napoleon and (INAUDIBLE), who is the man who led the allied troops on the western France in World War I.

The point of this visit, I think, is really beyond seeking to make progress on specific issues to remind the American president of the profound ties that exist between France and the rest of Europe and the United States, military ties, moral ties, ties that bind them around common values. And I think reminding Donald Trump of that with these extraordinary military displays is really a good deal of what Emmanuel Macron hopes to achieve.

The two men will also tonight dine with their wives tonight at the Eiffel Tower. Ahead, of course, of events on Friday when Donald Trump will join Emmanuel Macron here to watch the 14th of July military parade.

BRIGGS: Melissa, I want to ask you about the reception there in France. President Trump at 14 percent according to a Pew Research study. How will he be received? Will we see any of the protests we saw at the G20?

BELL: We're not expecting anything like what we saw in Hamburg, Dave. But we are expecting some protests, a grouping of left wing trade union groups have banded together since Emmanuel Macron's victory two months ago to become president. They will be holding protests but away from this part of Paris, which is essentially is going to be locked down for the next two days.

So, we're not expecting anything like that. Donald Trump is not a tremendously popular man here in France. I think indeed he is not a popular man in the rest of Europe. The signals he sent on his -- inability really to understand the importance of those ties and how that looks from Europe have not made him a popular American president.

But Emmanuel Macron is benefiting for his part from this tremendous momentum since his election victory. And I think it is a measure really of his popularity for the time being in France as French president, that this visit is able to go ahead at all.

BRIGGS: It should be a fascinating day. Melissa Bell, live for us in France, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Joining us to help break down the politics of all this, CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University.

Good morning.

What's remarkable to me is this is the second presidential trip in a week, Julian. This president on the campaign trail who disparaged traditional democratic allies, who disparaged our alliance and relationship with Europe, who backed out of the Paris climate accord, who famously said he represents people in Pittsburgh, not Paris.

[04:35:13] And he will be dining with someone who is younger than he is --

BRIGGS: By 40 years.

ROMANS: By 40 years, and who will be trying to educate him into the importance of American leadership on the global stage. It's kind of a remarkable set of circumstances --

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is remarkable. We don't know exactly why the president is making the decision and whether this is an effort to escape from the bad news in Washington and taking a trip overseas to change the conversation, or is it a more pragmatic shift from the White House, realizing you can't ignore the world after the campaign is over, and there are big issues that in part have been exacerbated by the tensions between president Trump and our allies that he does need to deal with now.

BRIGGS: My math is off this morning, 30-year difference between the two.

How do you characterize the relationship between these two and how important is it given the U.K.'s exit from the E.U.?

ZELIZER: It's very tense as are all of the relations right now with most of or major allies. We've seen the one-on-one tension with the handshake and comments that have come from the French leadership. And there are issues, where there are fundamental differences from climate change to trade. That will be front and center in these conversations. But Macron's a pragmatist, and this is his effort to reach out not to an adversary but someone who is in a tense moment with the country.

ROMANS: Yesterday, the president talked to CBN News with Pat Robertson. He was talking about the Russians and why it didn't make sense that they would support him in the election over Hillary Clinton. And he went on to sort of talked about how the whole premise of Russia trying to meddle in the U.S. elections on behalf of Donald Trump doesn't make sense.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Hillary had won, our military would be decimated. Our energy would be much more expensive. That's what Putin doesn't like about me. And that's why I say, why would he want me? Because from day one, I wanted a strong military. He doesn't want to see that.

And from day one, I want fracking and everything else to get energy prices low and to create tremendous energy. She doesn't want that. He would like Hillary where she wants windmills.


ROMANS: And then he also spoke with "Reuters" and he said this, "The only frustration is that this Russia story is a hoax made up by the Democrats as an excuse for losing an election they should have won because it's almost impossible for a Republican to win the Electoral College."

I would point everybody to a "Washington Post" editorial this morning about how this is upside, this logic is upside down and backwards. What do you make of the president's position on this?

ZELIZER: Well, look, this is just not true. Meaning the Russians have many reasons to be concerned about Hillary Clinton who is very hawkish in her positions toward Russia. There were a lot of tensions with the Obama administration, that's where the sanctions were. And they were clamping down on Russia as the term came to an end.

And this wasn't a hoax. This is not coming from partisan leaders, not just coming from the media. It's coming from intelligence officials. So, he doesn't help his case when he says that.

I think what people are waiting to hear is to say the intervention was not something that we can tolerate. Nor will we tolerate it again.

ROMANS: Why has he not said that --

ZELIZER: He feels defensive. He hears this as being an attack on his -- the legitimacy of his presidency. In some ways he hears this as his birther issue. And so, this is how he responds.

ROMANS: Look, I read, you know, Russian state media during the French campaign, watching the Macron victory, the French campaign. It was brutal, the fake stuff and the lies and the rumor and innuendo that the Russian media was putting out about Macron. One wonders if Emmanuel Macron will try to school Donald Trump in the effects of the Russians in an election.

ZELIZER: I think he will, but I think they are genuinely concerned about the instability that this is causing in our electoral systems. I think the world just wants to hear President Trump say, I agree, and I want to work on this, as well, rather than it's a hoax or rather than I won the election.

Those are not the response that are appropriate or legitimate for many leaders anymore.

BRIGGS: This is the combative nature of President Trump. We got another glimpse, again, with "Reuters" yesterday, talking about the meeting Don Jr. took. Despite the e-mail warning that this was part of a Russian effort to impact the election, the president telling "Reuters", "I think many people would have held that meeting." He goes on and on and on.

But I think we only need that point, I think many people would have held the meeting given the context that it was part of a Russian effort to interfere in our election and help President Trump get elected.

[04:40:08] Even Don Jr. said he might have done things differently in retrospect.

So, what do you make of that?

ZELIZER: Right. It's the same thing. I think he might want to hear his son's initial comments and repeat those, because there are not many people saying this was a good idea. And the real debate is how bad was it.

BRIGGS: Is there anyone saying this is a good idea they should take this meeting?

ZELIZER: I'm sure you can find someone saying the meeting was OK. I haven't heard them. It's pretty unanimous or there's a pretty strong consensus that this was a bad idea. Whether it was amateurish or something worse, that's the debate. But you don't hear many experts or policymakers or elected officials saying, of course, he took the meeting.

BRIGGS: Not the director, the appointee to run the FBI. Christopher Wray said this is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know. Perhaps the president should have written that down, as well.

Julian Zelizer, thanks so much. We'll see you in about 20 minutes.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-one minutes past the hour.

Fed Chief Janet Yellen's Capitol Hill testimony is sending stocks to new record highs. Here's how she says the Fed is handling a recent slowdown in inflation:


JANET YELLEN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: The FOMC indicated in its June statement that it intends to carefully monitor actual and expected progress toward our symmetric inflation goal.


ROMANS: OK, I have translation for you -- that could mean the Fed will be more cautious with future rate hikes, rallying government bonds and stocks with the Dow hitting an all-time high. Yellen also noted the economy's solid growth. In a rare exchange for the Fed chief -- very rare -- she had sharp words for a bill that would let Congress audit the Fed.


YELLEN: I would envision a situation where the GAO at the request of members of Congress might come in and say they believe that the decision we made was the wrong one at that particular meeting. And I would say that's an extreme interference and politicization of our ability to make independent monetary policy decisions.


ROMANS: Folks, the Fed tried very hard to be separate from the political process in Washington so they can make decisions not based on politics, not based on the party in power. Yellen faces what could be her final congressional testimony today. The president has not said if he will reappoint her when her term ends in February.

BRIGGS: And that continues to be one of the interesting parlor games.

ROMANS: Yes, it really is.

BRIGGS: Will she stay, will she go?

Ahead, police in Pennsylvania want to know how and why a man killed at least one person, left the remains in a common grave. An update on this bizarre case, next on EARLY START.


[04:46:58] ROMANS: Just a sad, tragic discovery in the search for four men missing in Pennsylvania. The body of one of the four has been identified, found buried on a property in Bucks County about an hour from Philadelphia. Additional human remains were also found in this common grave.

BRIGGS: Joining us this morning with the latest, CNN's Brynn Gingras.

This story just gets more bizarre by the moment. Good morning.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it's just been really stretched out because authorities have been having an exhaustive search on many properties. So, finally, there is, you know, a break, so to speak, in this case. So, the Bucks County district attorney said in an early morning press conference, really midnight, that remains were found in a 12.5-foot-deep grave.

The D.A. says that the body that was found has been identified, that of Dean Finocchiaro. He says the 19-year-old's family has been notified in this case. Now, there are additional remains that were also found in the common grave that have not yet been identified.

But you can imagine the worst fears are made clear here, that they belong to possibly these other three missing men, Jimmy Patrick, Thomas Meo (ph), and Mark Sturgess (ph). All four went missing last week.

Police have arrested 20-year-old Cosmo Dinardo, this guy right here. The bodies were found after police brought in equipment to dig through concrete that was recently poured on the land owner's property, Dinardo's family. Dinardo had been arrested on gun charges, but released on $1 million bail, and then he was arrested again on Wednesday after police say he tried to sell a car belonging to one of the missing men.

The Bucks County D.A., Matt Weintraub, says he hopes this arrest will give him enough time, his workers enough time, to now bring homicide charges.


MATT WEINTRAUB, BUCKS COUNTY, PA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I feel that we bought ourselves a little time in charging Mr. Dinardo with the stolen car case today and getting that $5 million bail. It is my hope that he does not post that, but that's his prerogative, of course, if he can post it. We're going to start looking seriously at the homicide charges, and, in fact, we already have pursued that option.


GINGRAS: Yes, that bail is pretty hefty, $5 million. The district attorney says cadaver dogs helped locate those remains, even 12.5 feet below ground, again under concrete. The big question we really don't know, guys, though, is what's the motive here? What happened between these men if those remains turn out to be the other missing three?

BRIGGS: But there's a connection between the four?

GINGRAS: There is sort of a vague connection. They all knew each other, acquaintances in several different ways. But really what brought them together on these couple of days that they went missing, that's really what the question is.

ROMANS: All right. So, investigators still working feverishly so they can try to bring homicide charges. In the meantime, they've got him on selling, trying to sell the car of one of the victims.


ROMANS: All right. Brynn, thank you.


BRIGGS: OK, Britain's high court today reconvening to hear new medical evidence in the case of baby Charlie Gard. The infant's parents are fighting doctors to keep him on life support so they can bring him to the U.S. to receive experimental treatment for a rare genetic disorder.

[04:50:07] His parents' legal battle with doctors to prolong Charlie's life has gained international attention. On Sunday, the couple gave the hospital a petition with more than 350,000 signatures from around the world.

ROMANS: Oh, just a heartbreaking story. Every twist.

BRIGGS: It is.

ROMANS: All right. Fifty minutes past the hour.

Internet companies, big and small, banning together to preserve net neutrality. We'll tell you why on CNN "Money Stream", next.


BRIGGS: Peyton Manning hosted the 25th Annual ESPY Awards last night. It didn't take long for him to spike the awkward meter. The former NFL great was singing the praises of the U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team when he took a shot at Kevin Durant.

[04:55:00] And the NBA superstar didn't appear to like it much.


PEYTON MANNING, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK: I love that the final five won the most Olympic medals of any U.S. women's gymnastics team ever.


And our gymnastics team was so dominant that Kevin Durant told me he wants to play for them next year.


And I got to tell you, I don't think he'd star for that team, Kevin. Yes. Russell Westbrook, what do you think?


BRIGGS: Well played. Durant left Westbrook in the Oklahoma City Thunder last year to go for a title with the Golden State Warriors and he gets the last laugh because he's wearing a championship ring.

My two cents is I think that was set up. I think Durant knew that joke was coming.


BRIGGS: I hope he can take a joke about himself because that appears he can't. I think he was set up. I could be wrong.

ROMANS: All right. Another mystery. A new mystery unfolding in connection with a photo purporting to show Amelia Earhart and purporting to offer a new glimpse into her disappearance.

You see the blurry photo which appeared in a History Channel documentary. It may not have been the groundbreaking pilot and her navigator on a dock in the Marshall Islands in 1937. That's because two bloggers claim they found that picture in a Japanese coffee table book dated two years earlier when Earhart was safely in the United States.

The History Channel is launching an investigation and says it will be transparent in its findings. But more than one person said, you should Google it before you do a documentary about it.

BRIGGS: Yes. People got awfully excited about this, but a little cold water. Rock the vote, twice over musician Kid Rock now expressing interest in

politics. Tweeting that the website, is real, and teasing a maker announcement in the future. He has been floated as potential opponent to Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan who's up for reelection next year.

This is happening as a campaign committee is set up to draft actor/wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson for president. A 26-year-old fan formally creating the Run the Rock 2020 committee.

Oh, please, please, please let this happen. Both of them. It would be so entertaining. The gift that keeps on giving us here.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets higher after Fed Chief Janet Yellen's Capitol Hill testimony sent Wall Street to new record highs. Yellen signaled the Fed may be more cautious about future interest rate hikes. That boosted bond prices and stocks with the Dow closing at an all-time high. The rally could keep going as investors gear up for second- quarter earnings.

Right now, futures are higher. Companies are making money. It is, of course, how much money companies make that drives stock market values.

The data of 6 million Verizon customers has leaked on line. That includes phone numbers, names, and some PIN codes. The company says the breach was caused by a problem with its cloud server and has been -- since been closed.

Verizon also says there was no theft of consumer information. However, security experts advise Verizon customers to update your PIN codes. Verizon customers, update your PIN codes.

Internet companies are banding together to preserve net neutrality. More than 80,000 Websites including Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon, they're participating in a protest to changes in net neutrality rules. Net neutrality requires broadband providers to treat all content equally, essentially preventing them from selling access to speedier Internet. The rule went into effect in 2015.

But the new FCC chairman wants to repeal the rule. He was appointed by President Trump in January. He says net neutrality kills innovation. All those companies there think otherwise.

BRIGGS: If they really want to change the debate, they need to change the term, because net neutrality, people fall asleep when they hear that. Internet fairness or something that Frank Luntz would teach you that people grasp on to the language of that.

ROMANS: You work on that. Folks, if you have an idea, tweet us @earlystart.

BRIGGS: Please do.

Meanwhile, EARLY START continues right now with the latest from Paris.


BRIGGS: President Trump has arrived in Paris. A busy two days ahead, including facing reporters on camera and despite what his son says, the president suggesting Don Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer was just fine. That part of an extraordinary interview yesterday with "Reuters". No remorse from the president given Don Jr.'s meeting.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday. July 13th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And just hours from now, in Paris, President Trump holds a news conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. It will be the first chance, the very first chance for reporters' to question this president directly and publicly. Since that revelation, his son, Donald Trump Jr., met with a Russian lawyer hoping to get dirt on Hillary Clinton provided by the Russian government.