Return to Transcripts main page


Trump at Bastille Day Parade; Questions Swirl Around Don Jr. Meeting; GOP Unveils Revised Health Care Bill. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now in Paris, President Trump is the guest of honor at the Bastille Day parade. It comes with the Russia again looming large. We've learned that Jared Kushner planned to tell the president weeks ago about damaging emails. Did he?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And the new Republican health care bill faces an old dilemma -- can Mitch McConnell find a way to appease all factions to get this bill passed? It is a heavy lift.

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START on this Bastille Day. I'm Dave Briggs. But in French --


ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday. It's 4:00 a.m. in the East this morning.

New questions this morning for President Trump over his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer who he hoped would provide dirt on Hillary Clinton. The big question for President Trump is what he knew about it all and when.

Yahoo! News is reporting that President Trump's legal team learned more than three weeks ago about the e-mail chain setting up the meeting. The president still says he only learned of the meeting a few days ago.

BRIGGS: And there are new concerns within the West Wing that the scramble to respond to reporting on the Don Jr. meeting and emails may have inadvertently drawn White House aides into the special counsel's Russia investigation.

For the latest, let's turn to CNN's Jeff Zeleny with the president in Paris at 10:01 a.m.

Good morning to you, Jeff.


We are here in Paris where President Trump is going to be appearing as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron at the Bastille Day celebration today, which this year also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I. But I can tell you that questions about the Russia investigation are

following the president here to Paris. They were certainly were front and center yesterday as he was taking questions at a press conference.

The new questions this morning are just as you outlined. The questions specifically continue about exactly when the president and others around him knew about that meeting in June of 2016 between Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, the three top, high command officials of the Trump campaign, and that Russian lawyer. And there's new reporting this morning to suggest that they knew about it in advance of what they previously said. Specifically, lawyers for Jared Kushner were aware of this in mid-June.

Now, we have asked the White House repeatedly. The president has been asked. He said he only learned of this in the last couple of days. But that again will be a central question here as investigators on Capitol Hill as well as special prosecutor's office with the Justice Department hone in on the meeting.

And that could happen next week when Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, would like to talk to the president's son before the committee on Capitol Hill. So, these questions of timing still front and center in all of this as the Russia cloud continues.

The president here today will be at the parade route and then flying back to New Jersey later today -- Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: But right now, Jeff, he is tweeting. Already sending out a message about his dinner last night and also about the Republican health care effort which we will get to in a moment. Jeff, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. With all that as a backdrop, the president and first lady are attending the Bastille Day parade in Paris this morning, along with the president of France and his wife. They will watch French and American troops marching side by side, marking, as Jeff said, 100 years since the U.S. entered World War I, turning the tide in that bloody conflict.

Joining us from the parade route along the Champs Elysees, CNN's Melissa Bell.

Good morning, Melissa.


Even now, those commemorations, the Bastille Day parade has begun. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, is even now at the other end of the Champs Elysees, reviewing the troops. He's going to make his way down here to welcome President Trump who's only a stone's throw away at the American ambassador's residence. The two men will watch this parade.

The point really being -- and this was behind Emmanuel Macron's invitation, reminding Donald Trump of the importance of the historical ties that bind the two countries. This being the 100th anniversary of the entry of American troops into World War I.

And it was very much, of course, as well, Christine, at the heart of the press conference yesterday. President Trump praising those historical ties, talking about them, praising Paris, praising France in terms we hadn't heard yet. You sensed these were two men who obviously had a conversation in which they felt they were dealing with someone with whom they could do business.

And we heard that. This is what a lot of the French press is interested in this morning. The beginning of the shift perhaps on the part of Donald Trump, saying that at least when he came to the Paris accord there was a discussion that could be had. And who knows, maybe something could move some of the lines on that front.

It was the first thing we heard anything like that, and very much what Emmanuel Macron was hoping to hear.

[04:05:03] ROMANS: All right. Melissa Bell for us at the parade route at Champs Elysees, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

BRIGGS: Of course, with everything that's going out in Paris, one moment getting outside attention from the president's trip so far, his remark to Brigitte Macron, the wife of the French president, complimenting her looks. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're in such good shape. Beautiful.


BRIGGS: No, it's not the first time since taking office the president has gotten a little heat for commenting on a woman's appearance. A few weeks ago, he interrupted a phone call to remark on an Irish reporter's, quote, nice smile. This wouldn't bother you at all or?

ROMANS: No, this is the way he is.


ROMANS: I mean, he makes pleasantries about the way people look, you know? I mean, he does that. Women in particular, he does.

BRIGGS: Something we've gotten used to, I suppose.

ROMANS: He does.

All right. Five minutes past the hour.

Despite claims that the White House's 2018 budget won't balance in 10 years, that's according to the new analysis by the CBO, it projects the budget will reduce the defense to $720 billion to 2027. That shrinks our current deficit by about a third. However, it's well below the $16 billion surplus the White House estimates. The difference is the pace of economic growth.

The White House says its policies like tax reform and spending cuts will spur 3 percent growth. However, many experts and the CBO say 3 percent is optimistic. They expect a slower rate of 1.8 percent.

Why? Well, the CBO says it's because Trump's economic plans lacks the detail it needs to calculate the savings or costs, particularly tax reform. The administration's budget proposal uses trillions in spending to reduce debt. It comes from safety need programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and disability insurance.

BRIGGS: President Trump says conversations are underway with Russia to broker another cease-fire in Syria. Buried a bit in the president's news conference in Paris, the president gave Moscow credit for its help, adding a second region to the current cease-fire.


TRUMP: By having communication and dialogue, we were able to have a cease-fire, and it's going to go on for a while. And, frankly, we're working on a second cease-fire in a very rough part of Syria. And if we get that and a few more, all of a sudden, you're going to have no bullets being fired in Syria.


BRIGGS: Trump's comments come as the latest cease-fire in southwestern Syria brokered by the U.S., Russia, and Jordan remains intact after nearly a week -- a hopeful sign in a country where numerous cease-fires have quickly fallen apart.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, a federal judge in Hawaii loosening restrictions in President Trump's travel ban. Grandparents and relatives like in-laws, aunts, and uncles, will be allowed to travel to the U.S. from six mostly Muslim nations targeted by this measure. The Supreme Court ruled last month the administration can bar travelers who lack any bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the U.S. District Court Judge Derek Watson ruling the White House misinterpreted the ruling when they excluded grandparents and other relatives. The Trump administration must appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court if it wants the judge's order lifted.

BRIGGS: All right. Also breaking overnight, two people shot in Jerusalem's old city in what Israeli police are calling a terrorist attack. They say three armed attackers were shot and killed after they fired at police units who responded to the shooting. The wounded victims were taken to nearby hospitals. The attack happening near Lions' Gate, next to what Jews called a Temple Mount and Muslims called the Noble Sanctuary. Officials say that area now closed for the day.

ROMANS: The new Republican health care bill still facing the same uphill climb as past efforts, and the president tweeting on that topic this morning. BRIGGS: And we're keeping an eye on the Bastille Day parade in

France. President Trump the guest of honor, sitting alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. We'll have live coverage throughout the morning here on EARLY START.


ROMANS: Attending the Bastille Day parade, 100 years since the U.S. entered World War I, really turning the tide on that bloody conflict.

[04:10:01] BRIGGS: Yes, here's the president, alongside Melania, and I think that was Brigitte Macron, the 64-year-old first lady there in France, one of the more intriguing figures in French politics.

ROMANS: She is actually really, women in France -- young women in particular, idolize her for her style and for her poise and for intellect. So, she is a very popular first lady there. You see both first ladies' and the presidents motorcade.

BRIGGS: The French press were all about the Louie Vuitton dress she wore yesterday. Here back to the military parade, and for the first time in this military parade on Bastille Day will feature U.S. F-16s and F-22 Raptors, along with 188 U.S. servicemen marking the 100-year anniversary of U.S. troops entering World War I.

The president meeting with several other French politicians and back to Emmanuel Macron, a lot of applause there. Very popular president there.

ROMANS: Last night, they had diner at the Eiffel Tower, at a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, Michelin-starred restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Later today, the president and first lady will return to New Jersey, I believe, where they will spend the weekend.

This is the president's second overseas trip in just about a week. He's been in Europe twice in just over a week.

BRIGGS: It's been an interesting dynamic for two whose relationship was described as awkward coming in. But it's almost appeared chummy in the last 24 hours. How will it continue to go? It's seemingly gone very well.

Interesting to see the president here, because just moments ago, he was tweeting a storm relative talking about the health care efforts. So, right until the very moment he stepped out of the car, the president very active on Twitter, tweeting about health care, where they are right on the thin margin of passing that through the Senate.

ROMANS: That's right. He's got an eye on what's going on at home even as he is there, his second European trip in a week, his third trip overseas since he was president.

Yesterday at a press conference, he took questions, the French leader took questions. He was asked specifically about the sharp words he has said against France for its treatment of security, for its security against ISIS, for its treatment against terrorism. And he had only warm things to say about Emmanuel Macron, he's a strong man, he's a smart man, he will keep it under control.

The president backtracking on all of those negative things he's said about France and the security situation.

BRIGGS: Yes. They're polar opposites on just about every major issue. But security is clearly the bond that they have found there in France. That's what this day is all about, a military show of force. But as I mentioned, the president, very active, tweeting about health care. That's where we turn our attention now.

ROMAN: Yes. There is a new GOP health care bill this morning, but it is stuck in the same place. It's still not clear there's enough support to begin debate on the Senate floor, much less to pass it. After weeks of triangulation by Senate leaders, it is clear Republicans still face an uphill climb to get the minimum 50 votes.

President Trump weighing in on Air Force One's flight to Paris. Quote, I'd say the only thing more difficult than peace between Israel and the Palestinians is health care.

This morning, the president tweeting, quote: Republican senators are working hard to get their failed Obamacare replacement approved. I will be at my desk, pen in hand.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has more from Capitol Hill.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, good morning.

And senators have finally revealed their revised plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, and already, that plan is in trouble. At least two senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, have said that they can't support the bill in its current form. That would mean no other senators could abandon ship if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to get this bill passed.

And let's take a look some of the revisions in place in this bill and it is a 172-page bill, so we can't get to everything. But here some highlights: there's now an option in this bill to offer cheaper plans with fewer benefits. So, they would cost less, but they would not cover nearly as much. There's also a provision that would now allow people to use their health savings accounts to pay for their premiums. Currently, you're not allowed to do that under the law.

There is a boost for spending to help combat the opioid crisis, some $45 billion additional in place for that.

But here's one of the controversial aspects -- there's no significant change to the original bill as it relates to Medicaid. Still, deep cuts in place there, something moderates are unhappy with. Moderates are, though, happy with the fact that there is not going to be a repeal on taxes for the very wealthy. There are significant tax cuts in the bill, but not the ones that would go specifically to the most wealthy earners. So, with so many senators undecided at this point, the score from the

Congressional Budget Office is going to be crucial.

[04:15:01] We expect that to come as early as Monday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he hopes to have the vote on the motion to proceed. That's the critical vote that will bring the bill to the floor as soon as Tuesday. And right now, he can't lose even one more Republican vote -- Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: Ryan Nobles, breaking it down for us very well.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan working to modernize the dress code in parts of the Capitol building. At issue is the speaker's lobby, a location where lawmakers gather between votes and reporters conduct interviews. Now, a recent CBS News report questioned the enforcement of the dress code in the area after a female reporter was barred for wearing a sleeveless dress.

Now, Speaker Ryan is stepping in.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'll be honest -- this is not something that was covered in my new speakership orientation ceremony. The sergeant-at-arms was simply enforcing the same interpretation of the rules as under my predecessors. We will be working with the sergeant-at-arms to ensure the enforcement of appropriate business attire is updated.

Decorum is important, especially for this institution. And a dress code in the chamber, in the lobby, makes sense. But we also don't need to bar otherwise accepted contemporary business attire.


BRIGGS: Ryan did not specify how he plans to tweak the dress code. But in a rare show of bipartisanship, folks, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is singing his praises tweeting: Glad to see Speaker Ryan updating the dress code for the House floor. These unwritten rules are in desperate need of updates.

And no more desperate than today when it will feel like 109 in D.C.

ROMANS: I know.

BRIGGS: Hey, bipartisanship, we'll take it wherever we can get it.

ROMANS: The right to bare arms, ladies. I love that.

BRIGGS: That was very strong.

ROMANS: Clever banner, cleaver banner.

BRIGGS: OK. Ahead, a multiple murder mystery has been solved now in Pennsylvania.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He confessed to his participation or commission in the murders of the four young men.


BRIGGS: So, what does Cosmo Dinardo get in exchange for his confession?

ROMANS: And in France, it is Bastille Day, the 14th of July. President Trump is the guest of honor at a military parade along the Champs Elysees. Live coverage all morning. Next on EARLY START.


[04:21:48] BRIGGS: Welcome back to a very special EARLY START.

We are looking at live pictures at the Champs Elysees and the Bastille Day parade also today marking the 100-year anniversary of U.S. troops entering World War I. It is the most important day on the French calendar.

And joining French President Emmanuel Macron is President Trump, an interesting dynamic. The 39-year-old world leader next to the 71- year-old President Trump, a relationship that's gone on pretty well in the last 24 hours. May have been awkward coming in, but not the case thus far. Seemed to find common ground as to what we're looking at -- security and the military.

ROMANS: Absolutely. This has been a couple of days of pomp and circumstance for the American president and his wife. Last night, they had dinner at the Eiffel Tower. This morning, they are there at the parade, the Bastille Day parade, along the Champs Elysees. There was a press conference yesterday.

I think you're seeing video they put together about 1917. You remember, that was when, you know, the United States entered World War I, really helping turn the tide.

Interesting, the president, his America first philosophy, sort of a reminder that the last, you know, the last century was defined by American leadership around the world, American leadership sometimes when the American public did not want to be there. So that's sort of the subtext of this Bastille Day parade today.

BRIGGS: We'll continue to bring you live pictures throughout the next hour and a half.

ROMANS: All right. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton stressing the importance of humility in the Oval Office. The two former commander in chief appeared together on Thursday at a leadership event. When they were asked what they consider the most important quality a president should have, here's how they responded without mentioning the current president by name, of course. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think it starts with Bill Clinton being a person who refused to lord his victory over dad. In other words, he was humble in victory which is very important in dealing with other people.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: If you want to be president, realize it's about the people, not about you. You want to be able to say, people are better off when I quit, kids had a better future, things were coming together. You don't -- you don't want to say, God, look at all the people I beat.


ROMANS: The two men have developed a close friendship over the years. Clinton says it started when he offered to help Bush after leaving office with a promise to always be respectful toward him.

BRIGGS: Nice moment.

A Pennsylvania man will be spared the death penalty after admitting his involvement in the murder of four young men last week in Pennsylvania.


REPORTER: What do you have to say to the families, Cosmo? Anything to say?


REPORTER: Why did you do it?


BRIGGS: The attorney for 20-year-old Cosmo Dinardo declining to say exactly what role his client played in the killings. Dinardo's family owns the suburban Philadelphia property where human remains were found Wednesday in a 12-foot-deep grave. According to his lawyer, Dinardo told police where the bodies were located and is cooperating with the investigation.

[04:25:01] Another update from the Bucks County district attorney is expected this morning.

ROMANS: A big day on tap at the all-England club. Sam Querrey attempting to become the first American man to reach the final round of a major since 2009. He will need to get past former U.S. open champ Marin Cilic to do it. The winner faces either Roger Federer or Thomas Berdych in the Wimbledon final.

On the women's side, 37-year-old Venus Williams goes for her 11th grand slam title tomorrow against Garbine Muguruza. Did I say it, right?

BRIGGS: Yes, you nailed it. Some say Muguruza, but you got it.

ROMANS: All right. It will be her first appearance in the final since 2009. Good to have her around.

BRIGGS: Really remarkable to see what Venus is doing.

ROMANS: All right. Beyonce revealing the two newest additions to her family and she's doing it like only Queen B can. The music megastar posting this picture on her Instagram account. She's sporting a floral number while -- showing her cute bundles of joy. The names are Sir Carter and Rumi, one month today. They're in there, two little adorable babies --

BRIGGS: You got to look really close.

ROMANS: Joining their little sister. That's classic. Classic Beyonce.

BRIGGS: That is something.

OK. President Trump, the guest of honor at the Bastille Day parade in Paris. But it comes with new questions emerging over when he learned about his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer. New details next.