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White House Sends Mixed Messages On Sanctions, Pardons; Scaramucci: Get Focus On Agenda, Not Russia; Kushner To Face Senate, House Intel Committees; Ivanka Trump Earned $12.6M Since 2016; Death Toll Rises To Nine In Human Smuggling Case; Tensions Rising Between Israel Palestinians. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 24, 2017 - 05:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pardons have not been discussed, and pardons are not on the table.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in the oval office with the president in the last week, we are talking about that and he says he brought that up.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Days after retooling the press op, the White House searching for consistent answers on major issues including Russia, sanctions and whether the president would issue pardons.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And Jared Kushner set to go before staffers of the Senate Intel Committee. Are there new revelations in store from the president's senior adviser and son-in-law?

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I am Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is exactly 5:00 in the east and it is Monday, July 24th. We hope you all had a nice weekend. So, let's get back to work.

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 -- sanctions against Russia and the 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 see far is leaks against us? Fake news."

BRIGGS: Sunday the president's personal attorney and the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, had different takes on whether pardons are actually being discussed.


JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: The president has the authority to pardon. But I want to be clear on this, George -- we have not and I have not had conversations with the president of the United States regarding pardons. Pardons have not been discussed and pardons are not on the table.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I'm in the oval office with the president in the last week. We're talking about that. He says he -- he brought that up, he said, 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: 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 connection with the Russia matter.

ROMANS: The House and Senate reaching a deal to hit Russia with new sanctions. The measure also gives Congress new veto power to block the Trump administration from easing those sanctions.

Signs do point to the White House supporting the deal, but it 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've got to ask President Trump that. You know, it's my second or third day on the job. My guess is, 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 sanctions in place, and we support where the legislation is now and will continue working with the House and Senate to put the tough sanctions in place on Russia.


BRIGGS: A senior White House official telling CNN Congress made changes to the measure the administration supports. That includes new North Korea sanctions and provisions addressing business sector concerns. The measure could reach the president's desk before the end of the month.

ROMANS: Let's bring in CNN politics reporter, Eugene Scott, with us bright and early this morning on the set. Let's talk about those sanctions. Puts the president in a pickle, doesn't it? They're moving forward with these sanctions. There were some measures that the White House didn't like. Now they say they're moving it -- what does this mean for the White House?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: It certainly means that the White House is going to feel some pressure from lawmakers to take Russia more seriously than many critics believe the president recently did after his exchange with Vladimir Putin.

The reason why lawmakers want to increase sanctions is because when they look at the intelligence and look at Russia's ongoing relationship with other countries, they see problems. Problems that Donald Trump has not been very vocal about seeing himself and some could argue has dismissed as a whole.

And so, the reality is you're having -- you put yourself in a really rough situation when you have one legislative branch thinking things really need to increase in terms of how we respond to Russia and the head of state not so sure.

BRIGGS: There's that tweet from the president. The end of it is interesting that Republicans do very little to protect their president. Some wondering is he talking about this very sanctions bill?

And at the heart of this, of course, is what you allude to, does the president buy the intel community's assessment that Russia interfered in our election. Here's what new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said on Sunday about that very issue, still uncertain in President Trump's mind. Listen.


SCARAMUCCI: Somebody said to me yesterday, I won't tell you who, that if the Russians actually hack this situation and spilled out those emails, you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of that.

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. How about it was the president, Jake? He called me from Air Force One.


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

[05:05:04] BRIGGS: All right. An eventful back and forth there with Jake Tapper. But look, with these sanctions, with the Senate approving them 98-2, they can't agree on anything.

And now it appears the House is agreeing. Is this the Republicans' first time where they are checking the president, telling him they did interfere in our election, here's what we think about it?

SCOTT: Well, it seems that way and I think one of the things that's really unfortunate for the American people when you listen to the president talk about Russia, specifically on Twitter, he continues to act as if it's Democrats alone who are concerned about the meddling into the election --

BRIGGS: And the media. SCOTT: The media. Some of the more vocal critics have been Republicans and the reality is that he needs to see what his own party members are seeing and take it the same way they're taking it and the way he moves forward if he wants to promote party unity.

ROMANS: And there's -- there are a lot of successful people in business who are very successful because they are contrarians. They see the set of circumstances that everyone else agrees on and don't accept them. It's just by nature they don't. That could be what is really behind a Donald Trump here and -- he just doesn't want to accept the conventional wisdom.

SCOTT: That could be the case.

ROMANS: So let's listen to that conventionalism from the people who would really know, three top intel officials all this weekend at the same security forum, one, two, three, laying it out.


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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. I have stated that publicly and stated it to the president.

MIKE ROGERS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: No doubt at all, and I stand behind the intelligence, intelligence community assessment that we produced in January.


ROMANS: Now it will be Anthony Scaramucci's job -- and welcome to the job, Anthony -- welcome to the job. Nice to have you in that role. I'm sure we'll hear from you. But it will be his job to either convince the president to change his tone on this, or to -- I don't know. The president's completely at odds with his intelligence community.

SCOTT: Yes. We had as Scaramucci say that he has not yet seen the intelligence. That the president himself has seen and still remains unconvinced. How he's going to do that remains unclear.

I think, though, a real issue that I think a lot of people really have is the president has never been open about why he does not believe the intelligence and he probably is not going to be. But it's just -- it's really unfortunate, I think, when you see such a head of state disagree so much with the intelligence of heads of his intelligence agencies.

BRIGGS: All right, let's spin forward to what's happening this week. First today, Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, the adviser, the secretary of everything. I know we've heard him referred to. He'll meet with the Senate Intel Committee. This is not a hearing. This is an interview.

BRIGGS: Right.

SCOTT: We expect anything to come out of this.

ROMANS: It's actually staffers, too. It's not even the senators themselves, right --

BRIGGS: Right. And tomorrow, the House Intel Committee. Anything going to come out of this?

SCOTT: Well, they're certainly hoping so because I think it's really important that people remember this meeting won't just be about the Trump emails. There have been some concerns -- people have had questions before even now about the role that he may have played in attempts to get some back-channel communications with Putin.

Also, some concerns about a relationship he may have had with the head of a Russian bank. So, the reality is lawmakers have wanted to be talking to Kushner for a while. Once when I saw this, the story came, it's like one more week with one more Trump kid in the headlines.

ROMANS: All right. Eugene, nice to see you this morning. When you come back, we're going to talk about the rebrands, the reboot, the whatever -- the better deal of the Democrats. Democrats are rolling out a new message. We'll talk to you about that in a few minutes. Thank you.

First daughter, Ivanka Trump will earn at least $1.5 million a year even as she serves as a top White House adviser. That's according to a new ethics disclosure for her and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Combined the couple is worth up to $762 million. That's when count in all the investments, the tech investments, the art, and experts warn that their active business empire could conflict with their White House roles. Calculating exact totals is impossible.

The document discloses earnings in a range. So, the top end of the range is the $762 million. Here's what we know -- Ivanka resigned from positions in both the family business and her fashion brand.

But she still earned $5 million this year before joining the White House in March. After that, her assets were placed into a trust and she will receive at least $1.5 million from that trust each year.

The Trump family's vast business interests have been a point of controversy. Officials sparring with the Office of Government Ethics and former Director Walter Shaub, Ethics Director Walter Shaub said the administration has not provided the information it needs.


WALTER SHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: While we try to work on those reports, they've really dragged their feet on providing answers to questions and they won't let us see the ethics agreements they've negotiated with their appointees.


[05:10:11] ROMANS: Shaub stepped down from his role last week. But $762 million, it's more than I thought actually -- but that's a lot of money.

BRIGGS: All right. OK, Walmart man asks for water and helps uncover a deadly human smuggling operation. This is a tragic story from San Antonio, Texas, ahead on EARLY START.


BRIGGS: The death toll now stands at nine after dozens of undocumented immigrants were discovered packed into the back of a tractor-trailer in Texas. Authorities calling it a case of human trafficking.

Immigration officials say more than 100 people may have been wedged into the 18-wheeler that was found parked in a San Antonio Walmart Sunday morning. The people were discovered after a man who was in the truck asked for a Walmart employee for water. The employee brought water, then called police.


CHARLES HOOD, SAN ANTONIO FIRE DEPARTMENT CHIEF: Our paramedics and firefighters found that each one of them have heart rates of over about 130 beats per minute, which again, they were hot to the touch. So, these people who were in that trailer without any signs of any type of water so you are looking at a lot of heat stroke and dehydration.


BRIGGS: The driver of the truck due in court today. Investigators want to know if he might be connected to a larger human smuggling operation.

ROMANS: Terrible story.

It's 15 minutes past the hour. The U.N. Security Council set to convene an emergency meeting today as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians rise again. Israel 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 cameras and metal detectors sparking anger and protests across the region. CNN's Ian Lee is live with the very latest for us this morning from Jerusalem. Bring us up to speed -- Ian.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, this really boils down to control over that holy site, which is known to Jews as the Temple Mountain and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The status quo has been that Jordan would administer the site and Israel would provide security.

But after that deadly attack that happened a little over a week ago, Israel installed those metal detectors and security cameras shortly after. And the Palestinians and Jordanians see this as Israel taking a unilateral move to expand their control over the site.

And that's really what has sparked these clashes that we've seen almost on a nightly basis here in Jerusalem. At times, the situation has turned deadly. Over the weekend, three Israelis were killed in the West Bank when a Palestinian snuck into their home with a knife.

And clashes have been happening almost on a nightly basis here where I'm standing and also behind me. Four Palestinians have been killed in those clashes. It really is going to take this diplomatic move.

We know that the Americans are trying to work with one through Jared Kushner speaking with the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the Jordanians, trying to come to some sort of resolution.

You also have the U.N. Security Council, they're going to meet on this. And the Arab League has also warned Israel that they're playing with fire and has encouraged them to also have a diplomatic solution. Really without that, Christine, you can expect these sorts of clashes to continue.

ROMANS: All right. Ian, thank you very much for that report this morning live from Jerusalem. Thanks.

BRIGGS: All right, to some sports now, 23-year-old Jordan Spieth putting on a performance for the ages to win the British open. Coy Wire has more on this roller coaster Sunday for Jordan Spieth next in the "Bleacher Report."



BRIGGS: What a Sunday it was. Golfer Jordan Spieth claiming his third major victory at the British Open after a dramatic turn of events, my friends.

ROMANS: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Christine and Dave. I want to take you right now and we can look at the moment that Jordan Spieth saved the Open championship that nearly escaped him.

The final round, Spieth was tied with Matt Kutcher with six holes to play when his tee-shot on 13 completely misses the fairway and lands on a steep hillside. The mound symbolic of the mental obstacle Spieth may have been facing.

One of the most bizarre scenarios in Open history. Spieth took over 20 minutes deciding how to proceed, avoiding equipment trucks, and finally taking a drop on the practice range. Spieth hits the blind shot toward the green.

It would be an incredible save. Perhaps one of the greatest in golf history. Spieth ran to finish a near-disaster hole with a bogey. He and his opponent, Kutcher, with great displays of sportsmanship after completing a hole that took nearly 30 minutes.


JORDAN SPIETH, 2017 BRITISH OPEN CHAMPION: There's a few ways to skin a cat, and that was -- that was an interesting one. It took a lot of mental strength when I birdie to go up and make a double bogey to all of sudden fall into a tie for the lead. So, I've been on these roller coasters before. It's just kind of how it works.


WIRE: After bogeying, Spieth had laser-like focus hitting five under on the last five holes. Spieth captured the Claret Jug in his third major before age 24. Even Tiger Woods didn't do that. Next, Spieth will try to become the youngest golfer to complete the career grand slam at the PGA Championship in Charlotte next month.

Saturday was a day former Olympic high jumper, Jamie Nieto, will always remember for a number of reasons. Fifteen months ago, Nieto was paralyzed after misjudging a back flip and landing on his head. Doctors didn't know if he would ever walk again.

Well, after months of rehab, he made good on his vow to walk his bride down the aisle after their wedding, 130 steps. No cane, one walker. He did make one stop, though, about halfway down the aisle. That was to kiss his new bride.

Michael Phelps has beat many of the world's best swimmers in the pool but against a great white shark, the most-decorated Olympian of all time had to settle for silver. Phelps faced off against a shark in a 100-meter race kind of.

He wasn't actually racing next to the shark. The computer-generated fish beat Phelps by two seconds. Now the shark is actually a goat, I guess, not Phelps because a lot of people on social media, Dave, Christine, not happy because they actually thought he would be side by side with the shark somehow, someway in a cage or some other way. A lot of disappointment out there.

BRIGGS: That's what I couldn't believe. People actually thought they would be swimming side by side. People, he would get eaten! You want to see the most-decorated Olympian of all time be lunch?

WIRE: That would be a good lunch for a shark, too. I mean, Olympian flesh, I mean, that's like prime rib there.


BRIGGS: Happy shark week, Coy.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly. It wouldn't be shark week if it wasn't about gimmicks.

BRIGGS: Good stuff. Thanks, buddy.

ROMANS: A White House in need of a clear message is not exactly getting one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president's raising issues about the motivations of Mueller's team. Is that helpful?

SCARAMUCCI: Like I said, it doesn't matter to me whether it's helpful or not --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't it get in the way of the message that you were just talking about?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, well, it may, and it may not.


ROMANS: Will a new communications director help clarify answers on the Russia probe, pardon, sanctions and a whole lot more?