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White House Communication Problems On Major Issues; Jared Kushner Talks Behind Closed Doors; Anthony Scaramucci's Message On Russia Interfering During 2016 Elections; Intel Community Says No Doubt Russia Behind Hacking; Heavy Tech Lobbying Under Trump; Deadly Tractor-Trailer In Texas Packed With Undocumented Immigrants; Armed Robbery Stopped By A Starbucks Customer; Jordan Spieth Wins The British Open; The U.N. Security Council Meets Dealing With Clashes In Jerusalem; Legal Battles Back In Court For The Fate Of Charlie Gard; Scammers Stealing Social Security Checks; Slowest Growth Of College Tuition. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 24, 2017 - 04:30   ET




JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: Pardons have not been discussed and pardons are not on the table.

ANTHONY SCARMUCCI, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I' m in the Oval Office with the president last week. We're talking about that. He said he brought that up.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN EARLY START SHOW HOST: The White House kicking off another theme week today, American heroes for the record. But once again, a lack of clear answers on key questions has the Trump agenda stuck in neutral.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN EARLY START SHOW HOST: And what will Jared Kushner say when he talks behind closed doors today? The staffers with Senate Intel Committee.

Welcome back to "Early Start" everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. Nice to see you this morning.

BRIGGS: And you.

ROMANS: Monday morning, getting back in the swing of it, 4:31 in the east here.

Despite a major revamp of the White House communications team, there are still communications issues coming from the White House. Mixed messages on two major issues, a sanction against Russia and potential pardons in connection with the Russia investigation. President Trump tweeting this on Saturday, while all agree the U.S. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is leaks against U.S.? Leaks against us, maybe? Fake news.

BRIGGS: It's hard to interpret sometimes. Asked about it Sunday, the president's personal attorney and the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, had different takes, on whether pardons are being discussed.


SEKULOW: The president has the authority to pardon, but I want to be clear on this, George. We have not and continue to not have conversations with the president of the United States regarding pardons. Pardons have not been discussed. And pardons are not on the table.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm in the Oval Office with the president last week. We were talking about that. He said he brought that up, but he doesn't have to be pardoned. There's nobody around him that has to be pardoned. He was just making the statement about the power of pardon.


BRIGGS: And the issue bubbled up last week when the "Washington Post" reported the president was weighing whether he could pardon himself, his family, and close aides in the Russia matter.

ROMANS: The House and the Senate reaching a deal to hit Russia with new sanctions. The measure would also give Congress new veto power to block the administration from easing those sanctions. Signs do point to the White House supporting the deal but still seems to depend on which White House spokesperson you ask.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is President Trump going to sign the Russian sanctions bill?

SCARAMUCCI: We got to ask President Trump that, you know, it's my second or third day on the job. My guess is that he's going to make that decision shortly.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia particularly in putting these sanctions in place and we support where the legislation is now and will continue working with the House and Senate to put those tough sanctions in place on Russia.


BRIGGS: A senior White House official tells CNN Congress made changes to the administration that they support, that includes new North Korea sanctions and provisions addressing business sector concerns. The measure could reach President Trump's desk before the end of the month.

ROMANS: Right. President Trump's newly minted communications director delivering a familiar message. Anthony Scaramucci telling CNN the president still does not accept the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election. Scaramucci also questioning the media's pursuit of the story, insisting it tarnished the Trump victory in November.

BRIGGS: On Sunday, the president himself adding this on twitter -- as the phony Russian witch hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold -- Democrats and Russians. The intel community not laughing. And standing by to asses from the Russian interference, CNN's Boris Sanchez has more from the White House.

BORIS SANCEZ, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, we saw an aggressive, combative, and oftentimes

[04:35:00] humorous new director of communications for the White House in Anthony Scaramucci over the weekend as he made the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows, saying that he would be very aggressive when it comes to going after leaks coming out of this administration.

And also on trying to keep the focus on the agenda and away from the Russia investigation. Though in one interesting exchange on "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper, Anthony Scaramucci said the president is still not convinced that Russia was behind the hacking of democratic computers back in the 2016 election. Listen to what he said.


SCARAMUCCI: Somebody said to me yesterday, I won't tell you who, that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mail you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of the. Meaning that they're super confident in their deception skills and hacking. My point is all of the information isn't on the table yet, but here's what I know about the president. Let me finish. All right, go ahead.

TAPPER: Wait, wait, wait. Anthony, you're making a lot of assertions here. I don't know who this anonymous person is that said that if the Russians had actually done it we wouldn't know have been able to detect it but is the unanimous --

SCARAMUCCI: How about it was the president, Jake? I talked to him yesterday. He called me from Air Force One.


SCARAMUCCI: And he basically said to me, hey, maybe they did, it maybe they didn't do it.


SANCHEZ: Important to point out that just this last week several key figures in the intelligence community reiterated the fact that there is zero doubt that Russia was behind that hacking. Dave and Christine?

ROMANS: Yes, Boris, you're absolutely right. There is no question about Russia election meddling if you ask the nation's top intel officials. Listen to this from a security forum in Aspen, Colorado.


MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election as is the entire intelligence community.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Tell us, is there any dissent within the intelligence community that you oversee on the question of whether the Russians interfered with the American election?

DANIEL COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There is no dissent and I stated that publicly --

HOLT: Everyone is onboard.

COATS: -- and I stated that to the president.

MIKE ROGERS, COMMANDER, U.S. CYBER COMMAND: No doubt at all. I stand behind the intelligence and intelligence community assessment that we produced in January.


ROMANS: Let's get this straight. That's the CIA director, the DNI, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command all in agreement there is no question. President Trump has had varied responses concerning Russia efforts to influence the election. He's also compared the intelligence assessment on Russia's meddling to the false intel claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

BRIGGS: Amazing that persists. Today for the first time a member of the Trump inner circle will talk to congressional investigators about the Russia investigation. The president's senior adviser and son-in- law Jared Kushner interviewed by a Senate Intelligence Committee staff later today in a closed session. Kushner will be questioned on Tuesday again in private by the House Intel Committee.

ROMANS: Since the election it's been revealed Kushner had meetings with key Russian figures including the Russian ambassador, a top banker, and a lawyer claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. Meantime, the Senate Judiciary Committee has cut a deal with Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort to avoid having them subpoenaed. The two men agreed to provide records and to be privately interviewed ahead of any public session.

BRIGGS: We're also hearing sort of from the Russian pop star whose family helped set up that meeting between three Trump aides and a Russian lawyer. How did we hear from him sort of? Senior international correspondent Matthew Chance chased him down in Latvia. He joins us live to explain. Matthew, good morning to you. An interesting back and forth you had with the pop star.

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's not an easy man, this pop star, Emin. He is a Russian pop star. He's born in Azerbaijan -- to track down, he's not an easy man to get a straight answer from either particularly when it comes to this issue of the meeting he set up in June last year in Trump Tower with Donald Trump, Jr., the president's son and other senior members of the Trump campaign team at the time and a Russian lawyer who wanted to speak about U.S. legislation called the Magnitski Acta and the ban on adoptions by U.S. parents of Russian children.

You know, it was the first real indication that we've seen or the best or the clearest indication we've seen that the Trump campaign team was willing to hear, you know, kind of information damaging to their political opponents from the Russians. Anyway, he wouldn't give us a proper statement, but I didn't let it go. I tracked him down here to Latvia. Take a listen.


CHANCE: When did you arrange that meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and the Russian lawyer?

EMIN AGALAROV, RUSSIAN POP STAR: Come join me for the show tonight.

CHANCE: Yes, we will definitely.

Did the Russian authorities give your family information to pass on to the Trump administration?

AGALAROV: Talk to my lawyer.

CHANCE: When we talked to him he said you wouldn't comment.

AGALAROV: So, I wouldn't comment.

CHANCE: Come on, these are questions that you're not going to be able to not comment on at some point.


CHANCE: You got to have to answer them.

AGALAROV: I'm here to perform, to enjoy the show and I'm not going to answer any questions. You're not going to get a comment. Am I clear? You're not going to get a comment.


[04:40:03] CHANCE: Well, I definitely got the distinct impression that he wasn't that happy to, you know, kind of elaborate on his earlier answer so, we left it at that. But the fact is, Dave, that this issue is not going to go away. Jared Kushner's testifying in front of those congressional investigative committees. And so, you know, these questions, as I said to Emin, will have to be answered at some point.

BRIGGS: Did you stick around for the show?

CHANCE: Yes. I stuck around for some of the show. You know, it's a bunch of, you know, former Soviet pop stars. Emin, as well. You know, they're kind of relatively big names in this region. They're not big elsewhere. You know, I spoke to him again later on actually where he said I'm only going to talk about my music. And we spoke about his music.

And he was like, look, you know, I said any publicity is good publicity. He's like I don't want to capitalize on this new found recognition in the United States, you know. It's not the kind of fame I'm looking for and so, you know, he doesn't think this is going to boost his album sales in the U.S.

BRIGGS: That's a safe bet. Matthew Chance live for us. Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: But why did he want to set up a meeting with that attorney and Donald Trump, Jr.? But why? Why was he even involved?

BRIGGS: Yes, we're going to need to hear from this young man at some point in this conversation.

ROMANS: All right. That was good work Matthew Chance.

BRIGGS: That was good stuff.

ROMANS: Nice. The tech industry is spending big on President Trump's Washington. Google, Apple, Amazon, Uber, they are spending record amounts of money lobbying this year. That's according to new disclosures. Google paid nearly $6 million from April to June. Amazon and Apple spent $3.2 million and $2.2 million respectively.

And then look at this, Uber, a relative newcomer right on the tech scene, spent $430,000. Silicon Valley clashes with the Trump administration over policies like climate change, net neutrality, immigration. There are very few things I actually think that the tech industry and the Trump administration see eye to eye on.

Last month, top tech CEOs met with the president to discuss all of these issues. But lobbying federal agencies in Congress is another way to influence decisions. Another issue companies spent big on, corporate tax reform, tech will benefit from Trump's tax plan, especially a proposed one-time tax holiday. The industry currently has hundreds of billions of dollars in cash just sitting overseas in bank accounts because they don't want to pay the taxes on bringing the money back.

BRIGGS: We keep hearing about that.

ROMANS: It's so much money. It's unbelievable. And if you brought it back, the question is, if the presidential allows them a one-time tax holiday, do they just give that money back to their shareholders or to they build factories or do they grow jobs or just make --

BRIGGS: Can you attach strings to that money?

ROMANS: I would challenge the administration and the president of the United States to attach strings to that money.

BRIGGS: Yes, only way you can bring it back. All right, a man who asked for help from a Wal-Mart employee ended up leading police to a deadly human smuggling operation. The tragic story from San Antonio, next.


ROMANS: The death toll now stands at nine after dozens of undocumented immigrants were discovered packed in the back of a tractor-trailer in Texas. Immigration officials say more than 100 people may have been wedged into this 18-wheeler that is found parked in a San Antonio Wal-Mart, Sunday morning.

Authorities are calling it a case of human trafficking. The driver of the truck is due in court today and investigators want to know if he might be connected to a larger human smuggling operation. Let's get more this morning from CNN's Ed Lavandera.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Homeland Security investigators and Immigration's Customs Enforcement agents say that the man who was driving the truck that was discovered here at this Wal-Mart in southwest San Antonio was 60-year-old James Bradley from Clearwater, Florida. Now a key part of this investigation will be figuring out who exactly Bradley was working with and where this truck had been and where it was going.

The acting ICE director says that at some point during the journey there could have been more than 100 people inside the truck. When it was discovered here Sunday morning, there were eight people dead inside. A ninth person died in the hospital and nearly 20 others have been in critical condition. They've been treated for heat exhaustion and asphyxiation.

Very serious conditions and very horrifying conditions, quite frankly. The fire chief here in San Antonio says that he believes at some points the temperatures inside the trailer of that truck reached more than 150 degrees. It was discovered after somebody from the truck approached a Wal-Mart employee asking for water and that's what led police here to make this gruesome discovery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paramedics and firefighters found each had heart rates over 130 beats per minute which again, they were hot to the touch. So these people were in that trailer without any signs of any type of water. So you're looking at a lot of heatstroke, a lot of dehydration.

LAVANDERA: And I should point out that this Wal-Mart is just along Interstate 35, which is a direct shot down to the nearest border point, which is the town of Laredo, Texas. The human smuggling numbers that come through this part of south Texas and the Texas Mexico border really accounts for some of the largest numbers of illegal immigration into the United States and this type of human smuggling operation is very common through this area. Christine and Dave?

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, a customer steps in to stop an armed robbery at a California Starbucks. Check out this surveillance video. The suspect armed with a knife and a toy gun demanding money at the register. That's when Craig Jerry sees what's going on. He picks up a chair and hits the man. The pair got into a fight. Craig manages to wrestle the knife away from the robber but is stabbed in the neck.

Thankfully he's expected to be OK. The suspect was later arrested. Police call Craig a hero but certainly do not

[04:50:00] recommend going about it the way he did. But a tough guy, indeed. Kudos to him. Don't recommend this at home, my friend.

ROMANS: 911 usually does the job.

BRIGGS: Yes. All right Jordan Spieth is the champion golfer of 2017. The 23-year-old American recovering from a rocky start draining that 40-foot eagle putt. He would sink Matt Kuchar, and what a win it was. He's now won three of golf's four majors. He could make it a career grand slam at the PGA Championship next month.

And it really was his mental toughness, giving away a three-stroke lead. It looked like he would collapse when he drove into the driving range on 13, but mentally tough, strong finish. What an incredible golf tournament it was.

ROMANS: Good for him. Congratulations. All right, heading to college this fall, we have some good news about your tuition bill, that's on "CNN Money Stream" next. When do I ever say good news about tuition?


BRIGGS: The U.N. Security council set to convene an emergency meeting today as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians rise again, installing security cameras near the entrance to one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem after placing metal detectors there last week. The Israeli action coming after two police officers were killed in an attack there. The presence of metal detectors sparking anger and protests across the region. CNN's Ian Lee live with the latest in Jerusalem. Why Ian is that being met with so much outrage?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We got to go back a little over a week, Dave, when those two Israelis police officers were gunned down. The assailants came out of that holy complex known as the Temple Mount as well as the noble sanctuary. And so Israel put these new security measures in for anyone trying to enter there. You had those metal detectors and eventually they installed cameras.

But for the Palestinians, they see this as a break with the status quo. An Israel trying to expand its control over the holy site. In the past years, it's been where Jordan would administer the complex and Israel would provide security. But they say with this unilateral move that that's what's sparking by Israel, that's sparking this recent round of violence.

And you are getting clashes almost on a nightly basis. And over the weekend, we saw three Israelis killed in the West Bank by a Palestinian with a knife who invaded their home and then with clashes between police and Palestinian protesters. Four Palestinians died there. These violence is likely to continue without a political solution. And

that's what we're seeing right now. The efforts being made by the White House, through Jared Kushner speaking with the Israelis, the Palestinians, as well as the Jordanians.

You also have the U.N. Security Council which is going to be addressing this issue. The Arab League also said that Israel is playing with fire and has urged them to come to some sort of resolution. So there is quite a bit of a diplomatic effort, but most nights we're seeing this violence continue without it.

BRIGGS: Ian Lee live for us in Jerusalem. Thank you.

The legal battle over terminally ill infant Charlie Gard back in court today. New medical evidence is expected after a neurology expert from Columbia Medical Center in New York examined the boy at the London hospital where he's being treated. That doctor designed an experimental treatment that may help the 11-month-old who suffers from a rare genetic disorder. Emotions have been running high.

In a briefing Friday, a lawyer represented the hospital said Charlie's latest brain scans results make for quote, sad reading. That prompted an angry outburst from Charlie's father and made his mother burst into tears. Hospital staff also say they received death threats.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check this Monday morning on your money. Global markets, stock markets lower after Wall Street finished the week down slightly. The Nasdaq snapped its longest winning streak since 2015. However, that was after a string of record highs. Very close to record high territory for all of these averages.

And the market gained overall after a week of strong corporate earnings. This week will be the busiest of the current earnings season, about 170 S&P 500 companies are set to report including Google parent Alphabet, GM, Facebok, Amazon, and Exxon. So a lot of numbers to go through this week.

The social security administration sending a warning about scam callers trying to steal your checks. Some Americans reporting calls from people impersonating government agents. They're looking for info like your name, your date of birth, your social security number. The scammers can then use the information to rewire social security payments to themselves.

The administration says Americans should exercise caution before giving any private information and should report suspicious calls to the agency's office. Be very careful.

In a huge reversal, U.S. college tuition is growing at the slowest pace in decades. Tuition has spiked nearly 400 percent over the past 30 years, fueling a surge in student debt. But tuition last year, only rose 1.9 percent. That's actually in line with overall inflation. That doesn't happen.

By contrast, tuition has risen at more than double the rate of inflation since 1990. Why is this happening? Abundant supply is running up against demand. The number of colleges has tripled since 1990, but college enrollment is down more than 4 percent from a peak in 2010. A healthy job market means fewer people are going back to school. The number of new high school graduates has fallen. There you go.

BRIGGS: Some bit of good news.

ROMANS: Supply and demand.

BRIGGS: Still growing or still increasing.


BRIGGS: All right, "Early Start" continues right now.


[05:00:04] JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: Pardons have not been discussed and pardons are not on the table.

ANTHONY SCARMUCCI, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I' m in the Oval Office with the president last week. We're talking about that. He said he brought that up.