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EARLY START

White House Calls Hour-Long Putin Meeting "Brief"; Second Talk with Putin Revealed; Who Was the 8th Person in the Room?; Trump: Let Obamacare Fail; Gov. Christie Booed After Catching Foul Ball. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 19, 2017 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A second meeting between President Trump and President Vladimir Putin just revealed. So, why didn't the White House disclose it initially?

Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: With another plan to repeal Obamacare nixed by his own party, President Trump says he's ready to let the law fall apart. Now, despite long odds of passing repeal, Senate leadership says a vote to begin debate will proceed.

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning. I'm Dave Briggs. It's Wednesday, July 19th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And this morning, the White House pushing back on criticism this morning after it emerged President Trump had a second previously undisclosed discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, it happened July 7th at a dinner for world leader of the G20 in Germany.

The White House only going public after they were asked about the discussion. They are also acknowledging only witness to the one-on- one chat was Russia's translator. The U.S. translator at this dinner only spoke Japanese.

ROMANS: The conversation raising some questions about what exactly was discussed and why the meeting was never disclosed.

[05:00:04] President Trump responding to the coverage of this revelation of a meeting with a fiery series of tweets.

Let's begin our reporting this morning with Sara Murray at the White House. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

Another meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin coming to light yesterday. This one was after they held their formal bilateral meeting at the G20. Later, there was a dinner for world leaders and their spouses. A senior White House official says that President Trump and President Putin spoke for nearly an hour.

And Trump is already chafing at the coverage. He took to Twitter in a late night tweet storm, calling the coverage sick and saying the fake news is becoming more and more dishonest. Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister.

Very clear that even as other big priorities are playing out here in Washington, even as President Trump is struggling to move forward with his domestic agenda, the Russia cloud looms large over this White House.

Back to you, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Sara Murray there at the White House, thank you.

The White House offering its perspective on the Putin chat. Officials acknowledge it lasted almost an hour even though the White House statement calls it, quote, brief. First Lady Melania Trump was seated next to Putin at the dinner. The White House says near the dinner's end, Trump got up from his seat elsewhere, went over to his wife and began speaking with Putin in full view of other world leaders.

ROMANS: The White House statement concludes the insinuation that the White House has tried to hide a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd. It is not merely perfectly normal. It is part a president's duties to interact with world leaders. President Trump has demonstrated American leadership by representing our interests and values on the world stage.

BRIGGS: All right. Joining us to discuss this morning, Zachary Wolf, CNN politics digital director.

Good morning to you, sir.

ROMANS: Hey, Zach.

BRIGGS: Hi. So, there was a two hour and 15 minute sit-down between Putin and Trump. And then for whatever reason they needed another 55 minutes, that's with translation going back and forth. It was only disclosed, Zach, as you know, because Ian Bremmer, a political scientist, was asking questions about this second meeting. And here's what Ian Bremmer told the "New York Times".

As it was relayed from presumably a world leader who was in the room, pretty much everyone at the dinner thought this was really weird, that here is the president of the United States who clearly wants to display that he has a better relationship personally with President Putin or simply doesn't care. He describes world leaders in the room as flummoxed, confused and startled.

Is this much ado about nothing, Zach, or is it suspect?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's certainly interesting. I don't know if it's much ado about anything because we don't know exactly what they talked about, but after all of interest that everyone had in their official meeting, the fact that that one went on much longer than expected, the idea that there was now this second meeting that they didn't tell anybody about, it's -- I mean, it's certainly interesting and it comes amidst all these other questions about the U.S. and Russia and, you know, previously undisclosed meetings between, you know, the president's son and people who may or may not have ties to the Russian government. So, you know, it's just another thing when they probably didn't need one.

ROMANS: It's -- you know, look, the president in particular in a series of tweet saying, come on, there is nothing to hide here, this was a G20 dinner. Everyone knew about it.

Yes, everyone knew about the G20 dinner, but the sitting down for so along, talking to the president of Russia in full view of other leaders who were already concerned about what the U.S. role is with Russia, and concerned about Russia in general in their own elections and Russian stability in the region, it almost feels to me as if this is Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago wondering over after a dinner and talking to someone sitting down. I mean, this is the way he is. This is the way he operates.

But on the global stage, where all of those participants are doing diplomacy and stage craft, it's just always off. Am I wrong?

WOLF: No, I don't think you are. And let's not forget who a lot of the members of the G20 are. They're members of NATO, you know, an organization that the U.S. is part of the, that president or at least advisers have tried to sort of renew his -- you know, the U.S. commitment to in the face of the specter of Russia across the way there. So, you know, it kind of has these reverberations around, and you start to kind of see how the Russia scandal sort of gets out from beyond just the domestic portion of this White House into the international portion of this White House and really starts to affect things.

ROMANS: When you look at the big picture, Zach, there is only so much common interest these two countries have.

[05:05:04] I mean, really the national interests are in stark contrast with one another, so how much more could need to be discussed when really Syria appears to be the one place that we can work together and that was clearly discussed in that two hour plus meeting.

But let's move on to health care because that is certainly what matters to Americans in this country and right now it is bleak. There is uncertainty facing the entire health care system in this country. Absent from all this has really been the president's leadership on this bill.

Here is how he characterized health care in Senate before and after its failure. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're going to get this passed through the Senate. I feel so confident.

We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: I am not going to own it. Clearly abdicating presidential leadership on what could have been his signature domestic achievement. What is that and will the voters decide who owns this in 2018 and what are the implications of just letting Obamacare fail?

WOLF: Yes. You know, so, obviously the president let's get this out the way, the president does own the health care system in some way because he is supposed to be the leader of the country. If something is broken, he is supposed to try and fix it. Let's not forget the old Colin Powell rule, pottery barn rule, if you break it, you buy it.

So, if something happens to the health care system, it's his job. That's what we sent him into office for to fix it. So, you know, the idea that he can just kind of step back and walk away, I don't think that passes smell test for a modern politician in this kind of world, in this kind of economy. So, you know, he's going to have to figure that one out.

But, go ahead.

ROMANS: So what happens next, Zach? So, what happens next? Because, you know, there was this brief moment where there was going to be repeal and then eventually replace, we'd have two years where we keep Obamacare but Mitch McConnell says we can't get 50 people to agree on what we would replace it.

So, what happens next here?

WOLF: I don't think anybody really knows what happens next. We have this really complicated interaction between government and the economy, you know, that is our health care system right now particularly for people on individual markets and whether or not that kind of continues to breathe and live is I think is an open question in a lot of parts of the country, particularly rural parts where a lot of people voted for the president.

BRIGGS: If Mitch McConnell allows this vote, knowing that they don't have it, allow as vote to simple will he repeal Obamacare without a replacement, what does it say and, number two, what are the chances you think of bipartisan work here on fixing Obamacare? WOLF: Well, you know, I think the Republicans have been so entrenched

about repealing Obamacare that it would take such a turnaround for them to start, you know, fixing it. That would be a pretty remarkable thing. And I don't know if Democrats will want to work with Republicans. So something else needs to happen. It really does need to fail or pain has to occur I would think in order for Republicans and Democrats to kind of come together on this unfortunately.

ROMANS: High risk corridor making sure there are still cost sharing subsidies for people who can't afford insurance and then making sure the individual mandate is enforce that had keeps healthy people in, keeps the poor health. I mean, those are the things that are the fix Obamacare thing.

BRIGGS: Because straight repeal, there's going to be no enforcement of a mandate, and only sick people coming in to the system.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: Yes, trouble.

All right. Zach Wolf, we'll see you in about 20 minutes. Thank you.

WOLF: Sounds good.

BRIGGS: All right. A group of Democratic congressmen now turning to the FBI for answers on Ivanka Trump security clearance. At issue, whether the first daughter disclosed any of her foreign contacts with those of her husband Jared Kushner or her brother, Donald Trump Jr. Kushner had to revise his security form several times. The lawmakers writing the FBI, quote, we are concerned that Ivanka Trump may have engaged rather in similar deception.

ROMANS: All right. Foreign buyers are pumping up U.S. home prices just as supply, housing supply, is the tightest in years. Foreign buyers spent a record $153 billion on U.S. properties last year, that's a nearly 50 percent increase. The two biggest buyers were from Canada and China.

Right now, inventory in the U.S. is tight, demand is high, but construction hasn't been able to keep up causing prices to rise. Builders blame slow construction on labor shortage and more expensive supplies, including lumber. And lumber cost rose 17 percent in June. It's now more expensive than during the building boom last year. Costs rose in part over a possible tariff on Canadian lumber.

[05:10:02] The Trump administration wants to tax imports up to 24 percent. It has not been imposed yet, but the threat alone has driven up prices which the industry says could boost the average cost of a new home by $3,000.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, new details this morning about what may have led a police officer to shoot Justine Ruszczyk. Now, Minnesota police trying to ease concerns in the community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our goal is not speed, but we do recognize the public's desire and right to know as much as possible as soon as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Iran now promising sanctions of its own against American interest, after the U.S. imposed new ones on Tehran. Iran condemning the new sanctions as, quote, illegal, saying its fulfilled its obligations under the nuclear deal.

[05:15:03] The State Department says the U.S. remains deeply concerned about Iran's activities in the Middle East, including its support for U.S. designated terror groups and Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Human rights issues and the development of its ballistic missile program.

New details emerging in the death of a Minnesota woman shot and killed by police. State investigators say two officers, Mohamed Noor and Matthew Harrity, responded to the 911 call placed by Justine Ruszczyk about a possibly sexual assault by driving through an alley near her home with their squad car lights off. Officer Harrity who was driving the vehicle says he was startled by a loud sound. Seconds later, Ruszczyk approached his window. That's when Harrity says his partner, Officer Noor, fired at Ruszczyk from the passenger seat. The officers got out of the patrol car and provided medical attention until help arrived.

ROMANS: Officer Noor is so far refusing to speak with investigators. It's one of the many frustrations for Minneapolis Mayor Betty Hodges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETSY HODGES, MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS: We do have more information now, though it's frustrating to have some of the picture but not all of it. We cannot compel Officer Noor to make a statement. We can't compel him by law. But I wish that he would make that statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: It could be several months before state investigators are able to explain what happened. The city is now fine tuning its body camera policy and notes cameras on the two officers were not turned on in this case. The officers have been placed on administrative leave.

BRIGGS: A self proclaimed drug dealer in Florida busts himself. The sheriff's office in Okaloosa, Florida, says David Blackman called them to report that someone broke into his car, stole 50 bucks in cash and a quarter ounce of cocaine. The sheriff's office says the responding deputy easily solved the case, finding cocaine still in the car, a crack pipe on the floor board and crack rock on the center consul.

Unclear whether Blackman has a lawyer or a brain. I added that last part. Sorry. ROMANS: All right. Seventeen minutes past the hour.

Think you pay too much for Uber? Wait until you hear what one group of Minor Leaguers pay. Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:21:44] BRIGGS: You know, usually when you catch a foul ball at a baseball game, you get cheered. But not when you're Chris Christie and it's at Citi Field in New York.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.

BRIGGS: Hey, man.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we've all been to a baseball game, catching a full ball not an easy thing to do. Well, Chris Christie actually made it look easy last night, making a one- handed grab at the Mets game. Check it out, third inning, Christie is going to lean over and make the catch with his left hand.

He gets plenty of high fives from people around him, but Mets fans were not impressed.

He was hearing the boos and the Cardinals play by play guys also having fun, one saying nice to see him get from the beach here to the ballpark, of course referring to all the flak Christie got for spending July 4th weekend on a New Jersey beach that was shut down to the public.

All right. Rangers and Orioles, last night, Chris Davis is going to hit this one deep to center field. Now, Carlos Gomez has a great beat on it, but check it out, the ball going to bounce right off his glove and over the fence for a two-run home run.

I'm not sure that ball would have been over the fence if it didn't go off of his glove. Got to be one of worst feelings in baseball to let a home run happened like that. Orioles end up rolling the Rangers on this one by a mile, 12-1.

Finally, what do you do when your flight gets canceled and you have to make your game? Well, these days I guess you call an Uber. Four Seattle Mariners Minor Leaguers tried to play it smart, but their flight got canceled at the last second, so they all piled in an Uber to go there Phoenix all the way to Albuquerque. The ride cost them $683 before tip. But, hey, at least they did make to their game.

But my question is, you know, that was almost a seven-hour drive. Is it worth it for the Uber driver? Because he's got to drive all the way back.

BRIGGS: I think they get time for that drive back. I just hope it was an Uber XL. Because even Uber X could be tight. Four ball players.

Hey, real quick, we should credit Christie who is not always concerned with optics, see, the beach scene. If you play that video out, he actually walk backed a gave that ball to a kid. So he did pay attention to the optics in that situation. He didn't take it home and put it on his mantle. So, at least he was aware of it there.

ROMANS: I have to say, pretty good reflexes. A left-handed catch of a foul ball, that's a good pretty reflexes.

SCHOLES: And leaning over with the rail in his face. I was impressed.

BRIGGS: Most of us are on our cell phone and we get plunked by the foul ball. Thank you, Mr. Scholes.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump had a second discussion with Vladimir Putin at the G20 and somehow the world didn't know about that second tit-a-tit until now. So, what is going on here?

BRIGGS: And Mitch McConnell won't abandon plans for a vote to repeal Obamacare, despite enough opposition in his own party to block it. The president is not pleased.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: For seven years, I've been hearing repeal and replace from Congress and I've been hearing it loud and strong, and then when we finally get a chance to repeal and replace, they don't take advantage of it. So, that's disappointing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:29:08] ROMANS: A second meeting between President Trump and President Putin just revealed. Why didn't the White House disclose it initially?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: With another plan to repeal Obamacare nixed by his own party, President Trump says he's ready to let the law fall apart. Now, despite long odds of passing a repeal, Senate leadership says a vote to begin debate will proceed.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is about 30 minutes past the hour this Wednesday morning.

And the White House is pushing back on criticism this morning after it was revealed the president, President Trump, had a second previously undisclosed discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, this happened July 7th at a dinner for world leaders at the G20 in Germany. The White House only going public after they were asked about this discussion, they are also acknowledging only witness to this one-on-one chat was Russia's translator.