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EARLY START

Senate Vote on Health Care Showdown; Kushner Back On Capitol Hill to Testify; Will President Trump Replace AG Sessions?; Israel Removes Mosque Metal Detectors. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 25, 2017 - 04:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's been enough talk and no action. Now is the time for action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate is ready to vote on health care. What health care plan are they voting on? No one seems to know for sure. Will John McCain's return make a difference?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Rare public remarks from Jared Kushner. He's rebuking critics as he prepares for a second day of congressional grilling about his Russia meetings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A scout is trustworthy, loyal. We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Was that the president taking a shot at his attorney general? New questions this morning about whether the president wants Jeff Sessions to stay on the job.

BRIGGS: Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

[04:30:00] ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour this Tuesday morning. Nice to see you bright and early.

There's a lot to get to this morning as we talk about a make-or-break day for Senate Republicans on health care.

BRIGGS: And it's an interesting approach they are taking, as well. A vote scheduled today on whether to begin debate on repealing Obamacare. Chief among the obstacles, no clear word on what GOP leaders have in store if senators vote to move forward, and that right now very much in doubt.

ROMANS: President Trump raising the stakes and the pressure on fellow Republicans to keep their promise to repeal and replace the health care law. The president driving the point home while speaking to the Boy Scouts jamboree in West Virginia. The speech being criticized this morning for its political tone, including this direct threat to Health Secretary Tom Price.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: By the way, you're going to get the votes?

TOM PRICE, HHS SECRETARY: I hope so.

TRUMP: He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better -- otherwise, I'll say, Tom, you're fired. I'll get somebody.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: I think Rick Perry liked that line.

Meantime, we've learned Senator John McCain will return to the Senate for today's crucial health care vote. McCain's first time back at the Capitol since his brain cancer diagnosis was made public.

Our coverage begins with Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONENT: Christine and Dave, good morning.

All eyes in Washington today from here at the White House over to Capitol Hill are focusing on the critical vote in the Senate on health care. The Senate is scheduled to vote this afternoon on proceeding to debate on the actual bill. It's a bit of a two-step process.

But yesterday here at the White House, we saw President Trump engaged in this issue, engaged in this matter, more so than ever before using the power of the presidency, that unique megaphone to make the case for why Republicans, he says, should vote for this bill.

TRUMP: For the last seven years, Republicans have been united in standing up for Obamacare's victims. Remember repeal and replace? Repeal and replace. They kept saying it over and over again.

Every Republican running for office promised immediate relief from this disastrous law. We as a party must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters.

ZELENY: President Trump engaged in this. Vice President Pence engaged, as well. We received late word Monday evening that Senator John McCain will be flying back to Washington, will be on hand today in the United States Senate to also cast a vote in this. Of course, he is recovering and in fact in treatment for an aggressive type of brain cancer. But his vote is needed on this.

If Republicans get enough votes to go forward on this, the White House indeed will get something of a win here, a much-needed win. But this health care bill and the outcome will say a lot about President Trump's agenda and the Republican Party's agenda going forward -- Christine and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you, Jeff.

You heard him mention the two-step process. So, can the vote pass? And if it does, what's next?

CNN's Phil Mattingly has more on that from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Dave, this is the moment we've been waiting for -- the press, the public, the senators themselves -- a vote. A vote is scheduled this afternoon on at least the motion to proceed to the Senate health care bill.

Now, what does actually that mean?

That means to start the process off. You can't even start the debate let alone the amendment process until senators get 50 votes on this vote this afternoon.

Now, here's the reality. Aides make very clear, they don't believe Republican senators have the votes yet. They believe they're short of that magic number of 50. But there is heavy, heavy pressure, not just from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, not just from the president, not just from the vice president, even the rank and file, trying to get their members to yes, just to kind of kick this process off.

How Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted this to go is there would be an agreed-upon amendment that all 50 senators or more agreed upon to move forward. A large-scale amendment that would strip out any other version of the bill, and that they could essentially get the votes and kick this off. At least move this back over to the House as this process would work. That effort has failed repeatedly.

So where does that leave us? Well, at least according to Senator Corker, the Wild West. If the procedural vote passes, that would mean a wide-open amendment process. Any senator, whether Republican or Democrat, could offer any amendment they see fit to change the House- passed bill that the Senate is currently considering.

The reality is this, so long as Senate Republicans are still short of votes, we might not know up until they walk on to the floor whether they actually have them. But what's very clear, they're making the last push, they very clearly are going to have this vote today. So, it will likely be must-see TV, at least as much as the Senate floor can be must-see TV -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Must-see TV indeed, Phil.

Is President Trump in the market for a new attorney general?

[04:35:01] Well, there are growing signs in the White House, maybe laying the groundwork to replace Jeff Sessions. The president calling his attorney general, quote, beleaguered in a tweet on Monday. Of course, President Trump's actions are contributing to that description. The president told "The New York Times" if he knew Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he would have picked someone else.

ROMANS: One Trump adviser tells CNN part of the reason Trump hasn't asked for Sessions' resignation is because it's unclear if they could get anyone confirmed. One of the names being floated should sessions be fired or resign is Senator Ted Cruz. But last night, he said he was gratified a principled conservative like Jeff Sessions is attorney general. Another possible replacement, Rudy Giuliani, says Sessions' recusal was the right move.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I believe that Sessions made the right decision under the rules of the Justice Department.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: President Trump asked by reporters about Sessions' status, but did this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Mr. President, should Jeff Sessions resign?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The Anderson Cooper eye roll.

Meantime, CNN has learned the president and Sessions have not talked since at least the president's interview with "The Times." Mr. Trump even brought cabinet members who were Eagle Scouts to that Boy Scouts jamboree in West Virginia Monday. Sessions did not get an invite. He was an Eagle Scout. The new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci says the two men need to sit down face to face and discuss the future.

ROMANS: Jared Kushner back on Capitol Hill today. This time, he'll be testifying behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee. The president's son-in-law and senior adviser met Monday with staffers from the Senate Intel Committee reviewing what he says were all four of his meetings with Russians during the campaign and the transition. Kushner said he knew very little about the now infamous meeting with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. Kushner then defending his actions in this rare public statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KUSHNER: Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses. And I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Both the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee also say Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort will have to publicly testify eventually or face a subpoena.

So, what does the president have to say about all this? We're going to find out at 3:00 Eastern. He will hold a joint news conference with Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri. It will be in the Rose Garden. And CNN, of course, will have live coverage.

BRIGGS: Former Boy Scouts and Scout leaders lashing out at the president's speech, we mentioned at the National Scouts Jamboree in West Virginia, comparing the speech to a political rally. After opening with a pledge to put politics aside, the president went on a tear against Obamacare, Obama himself, fake news, and that famous night on television when he was elected.

Here's a sample --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You want to achieve your dreams, I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts?

We ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or perhaps to the word sewer, but it's not good.

(CHEERS)

Not good.

Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?

(BOOS)

Do you remember that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red it was unbelievable? And you know, we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College. Popular vote is much easier.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: He spent a good deal of time talking about the fake news and people who on election night said there was no path to victory for him and how he did obviously win the election.

The Boy Scouts of America issued a statement saying it is nonpartisan and inviting the president is not a political or a policy endorsement. The Boy Scouts for the jamboree always invites the sitting president. And Barack Obama when he was president in 2010, he appeared via video conference to the event.

BRIGGS: This night shows you how divided this country is. They loved it there. The 40,000 on hand chanted, we love Trump. And across social media, the landscape, coast to coast, scout leaders were speaking out against this.

Ted Genoways really caught fire on Twitter, a former scout leader. His family has been in scouts.

Let us know what you feel about it, political opinions range the gamut, @earlystart on Twitter.

ROMANS: All right. Bad news for house hunters. Home prices are hitting new highs, but you might not be able to find a house.

[04:40:04] That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Welcome back.

The House today is set to vote on a bill that would slap new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The bipartisan measure is expected to pass overwhelmingly. It takes direct aim at Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and its interference in the 2016 election.

The bill presents a major political challenge for President Trump. But now, the Kremlin weighing in with a preemptive strike.

Let's bring in CNN's Claire Sebastian live from Moscow.

Good morning to you, Claire. What are we hearing from the Kremlin?

CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Dave.

Well, the Kremlin has never minced its words on U.S. sanctions. And this was no exception. They said they view it extremely negatively. They called it counterproductive and harmful, not only to their interests but to the interests of other countries with which Russia has trade relationships.

[04:45:03] A reference there to the European Union which has expressed alarm at this potential sanctions bill that it could harm their economic interests.

Now, as to what Russia will do, well, nothing yet. They said, the Kremlin said it's seen what it called certain corrections in the administration's point of view, and it would wait patiently to see how they finalize their position, a reference there to the mixed messages perhaps that we've been hearing coming out of the White House.

As this -- as this progresses, you know, we'll see the Kremlin has -- has, you know, never had any problem criticizing this. And the mood in Russia recently has certainly been stepping up of that rhetoric when it comes to retaliation. We've seen that they've been in talks with Washington recently over those compounds, those diplomatic compounds in the U.S. that were seized as part of those Obama-era sanctions back in December over election meddling. Russia says now they want it returned, if not, they will retaliate.

So what that will look like, we don't know. But the mood here in Russia is certainly one that they do not want to take the sanctions, these new sanctions, or any previous sanctions lying down, Dave.

BRIGGS: It appears the White House is giving the impression they will support these sanctions. But time will tell.

Claire Sebastian, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Stocks again ignoring the turmoil in Washington. The Nasdaq hitting a record high. The Dow and S&P 500 down slightly yesterday, but they're still very near the highest levels in history. We'll tell you why in a few minutes.

But, first, existing home sales slid in June as prices surged to new highs. Sales of previously owned homes have been basically flat since March. Here's a problem.

So, you've got record high prices, but you have sales flat. It's supply and demand. Demand is strong due to a strengthening economy, new millennial home buyers, and improving job market.

But inventory hasn't caught up at all. I mean, sending median sales' prices up 6.5 percent in June. That's a record high. For an existing home, $263,800, is a record high.

Many homeowners are simply staying put as prices rise. So first-time home buyers are not finding affordably priced homes which means more are renting. In fact, a new study finds that more households are renting than at any point since at least 1965. And a majority of people cite financial reasons. Isn't that interesting?

BRIGGS: It's fascinating. I never heard that.

ROMANS: I love that millennial homebuyers are coming into play here. But at the same time, they want to be able to move for jobs quickly.

BRIGGS: Yes, they like mobility.

ROMANS: And they like a lot of perks, you know. They like the pool and the squash court. And so, they're -- I'm serious.

BRIGGS: The squash court? ROMANS: So, apartment complexes are building all of these things. It

sounds like 1980 --

BRIGGS: Millennials --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Like sports and stuff.

BRIGGS: Yes, yes. I knew what you were getting at.

OK. Let's turn to the tough story out of San Antonio, Texas. The death toll rising now at ten in a suspected human smuggling case in San Antonio. The driver of the tractor-trailer, James Bradley Jr., now facing federal charges for transporting undocumented immigrants.

He told authorities he had no idea dozens of people were packed inside the truck he was driving. One survivor describing the horrific scene saying the trapped victims took turns taking breaths from a hole in the truck. Of the 39 people found in the trailer, 25 were Mexican nationals. Bradley's request for bail will be taken up at a preliminary hearing on Thursday.

ROMANS: Terrible story.

BRIGGS: Brutal.

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

Weather-wise, it's a tale two of seasons. The Northeast getting a break from the summer heat. The flames continue to bake.

Let's get to meteorologist Allison Chinchar for the forecast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Dave and Christine, it's quite the juxtaposition here because we are talking about the incredible heat still across portions of the Central U.S. but quite a different story into portions of the Northeast. We have much cooler air coming down from Canada, and that means most folks in new England are actually going to be below average.

Take a look. For example, New York, high today of 71. We would normally be in the mid 80s. Philadelphia is going to be about 10 degrees below average. Boston, high of only 66 today. We would average 82.

Now, one good thing is, it's giving us a break from the oppressive heat. Take New York City, for example. Look at the past six days. Four of those have been in the 90s. So, looking at the 70s for the next couple of days, not just today, but perhaps even going forward, might actually provide some relief.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Allison, thank you very much for that.

Israel taking steps to try to ease simmering tensions with the Palestinians. Will removing metal detectors at a holy site do the trick? We're live in Jerusalem.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:53:53] BRIGGS: Israel has now decided to remove recently installed metal detectors from the entrance to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Those metal detectors triggering protests and violence over the past two weeks in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Let's go live to Jerusalem and bring in CNN's Ian Lee.

Ian, good morning to you.

We understand it has picked up a bit there. And I guess the answer to the question we asked you before -- would removing these metal detectors help? The answer appears to be no.

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It appears that way, Dave. Those metal detectors were just behind me over in this direction. They were moved just shortly after midnight.

But over here, you have dozens of people who have been protesting. They've been chanting that they will not accept any of these security measures. And they have been here all morning long, and they haven't -- they don't look like they'll go anywhere any time soon.

But there have been efforts between the United States, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinians to try to bring this crisis to a closure. We did hear from Israel's security cabinet saying that they're going to have new smart technologies, advanced technologies, to scan people coming into the holy complex known as the Temple Mount, as well as the Noble Sanctuary.

[04:55:13] But as you can see, the people aren't accepting this latest development. We did hear from religious leaders here. They say that they're going to wait and see what that exactly means by smart technologies. Until then, they want the people to continue praying in the streets, to not enter the complex. Which means, Dave, this crisis continues.

BRIGGS: Ian, do you know what it is they're chanting? What exactly they want? Is it the removal of all security measures?

LEE: Yes. Some of the things they have been chanting, Dave, is they're saying no to the gates, which means the electronic metal detectors, also saying no to the cameras. That's -- what we've been hearing them chant all morning.

Also, you know, they're showing their support for this holy complex which has Al Aqsa Mosque, which is the third holiest mosque in Islam. They say with their blood and their soul, they'll defend it. And these are the kind of chants that we've been hearing, very defiant chants from these protesters, and, in fact, from protesters almost every night -- Dave. BRIGGS: CNN's Ian Lee live in Jerusalem -- thank you.

All right. It will be a heartbreaking end to the short but notable life of baby Charlie Gard. The parents of the terminally ill British boy giving up their legal fight for experimental treatment here in the U.S. Their lawyer telling the U.K.'s high court the window of opportunity to save the child no longer exists. Charlie's mother and father left devastated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our son is an absolute warrior, and we could not be prouder of him. And we will miss him terribly. We are now going to spend our last precious moments with our son Charlie, who unfortunately won't make his first birthday in just under two weeks' time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Charlie's parents expressing frustration with the legal process, saying it delayed treatment that could have helped their son survive. A London hospital is expected to take baby Charlie off of life support shortly.

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

Forget about the turmoil in Washington -- global stock markets higher after the Nasdaq hit a record high. The Nasdaq -- look at that chart, Dave Briggs. It is up nearly 20 percent this year. That is an impressive return. The Dow and S&P 500, they fell slightly yesterday, but they also are near record highs.

He's what's driving it: a goldilocks economy, one that's just right for the market. Moderate economic growth and improving jobs market, low inflation, and solid corporate earnings. Companies are making a lot of money, and when companies make money, their stocks go up.

Speaking of earnings, this week is the busiest of the season. Today, McDonald's, GM, Chipotle, and AT&T all report.

It's a rare event -- Google profits took a hit. Parent company Alphabet reported earnings. Profit fell 28 percent. It's because of a record $2.7 billion fine from European regulators. The E.U. claims Google uses its search engine to unfairly steer consumers to its own shopping platform. Google is weighing filing an appeal.

Otherwise, Alphabet had a strong quarter thanks to its ad business. Overall, sales grew 21 percent to $26 billion -- $26 billion in just one quarter.

Good news, good news, everyone can stop freaking out -- Microsoft paint isn't being erased. MS Paint has been around for 32 years. There was a brief panic on line after it was reported the application would not be part of Microsoft's next update. But the company was quick to respond, tweeting that the iconic application is sticking around. It won't be part of Windows 10, but it will still be available in the Windows Store.

BRIGGS: That panic throughout the day, people were losing their minds on Twitter.

All right. EARLY START continues right now with the latest on this health care effort in the Senate.

(MUSIC)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There's been enough talk and no action. Now is the time for action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The Senate is ready to vote on health care. But what health care plan are they voting on? Well, no one seems sure. Will John McCain's return after his brain cancer diagnosis make a difference?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A scout is trustworthy, loyal. We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Was that the president taking a shot at his own attorney general? Growing questions, new questions this morning about whether the president wants Jeff Sessions to stay on the job.

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

It was a fascinating Boy Scouts Jamboree. We'll get to it in a moment.

It's Tuesday, July 25th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. A lot to get to.

We start with this health care plan. Is it a plan? A make-or-break day for Senate Republicans on health care. It's a showdown vote scheduled today on whether just to begin debate on repealing Obamacare.