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GOP Senators Unload on Trump; Clinton Camp & DNC Helped Fund Dossier; Dodgers Take Game One of World Series; Dow Jumps Nearly 200 Points to Record High. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 25, 2017 - 04:30   ET




[04:30:33] SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Politics can make us silent when we should speak and silence can equal complicity. I will not be complicit or silent.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Devastating, untruthful, debasing this country -- withering criticism leveled at the president from two senators in his own party. What does it mean for the future of conservatism and the Republican Party?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, the Clinton campaign and the DNC had a hand in that dossier of allegations about President Trump and Russia. What role did they play?

Yet, another extraordinary day in politics yesterday. You wonder how history will remember Tuesday, October 24th.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Let's begin here with this unprecedented attack on sitting president from members of his own party, Republican Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, both now free from the constraints of a re-election bid, both unloading on President Trump. Flake, blunt and emotional on the Senate floor, saying he regrets the compromised state of America's moral authority and his own complicity in what he calls an alarming and dangerous state of affairs.


FLAKE: The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms and institution, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve. None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal.


BRIGGS: Senator Flake making the stunning announcement, that he will not seek re-election in 2018. That development coming after the president re-ignited his Twitter war with Senator Corker, belittling the Tennessee lawmaker while falsely claiming he supported the Iran nuclear deal. The president's tweets drawing this response from Corker: same untruth from utterly untruthful president. #alertthedaycarestaff.

ROMANS: That's a reference to a previous insult Corker had against the president, saying the White House has become an adult day care.

Corker spoke to our Manu Raju on Tuesday and did not hold back.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don't know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in the way that he does, but he does.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Do you regret supporting him in the election?

CORKER: Let's just put it this way, I would not do that again. So --

RAJU: You wouldn't support him again?

CORKER: No way. He's proven himself unable to rise to the occasion.

RAJU: Do you think he's a role model to children in the United States?


RAJU: You don't?

CORKER: No, absolutely not.


BRIGGS: All right. Manu has more now from Capitol Hill.


RAJU: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

A bombshell announcement in the Senate with the retirement of Jeff Flake, the Republican senator from Arizona who was actually going to have a very difficult path to re-election because of the pushback he had been getting for his criticism of President Trump, some Trump- aligned forces trying to push him out in the primary as Flake has spoken out against the president.

But yesterday, Jeff Flake went to the Senate floor and really went after, not just the president but also others in his party for staying quiet. FLAKE: The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values

that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters, the notion we should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and I believe profoundly misguided.

RAJU: Now, Flake's decision to retire really shocked a number of senators. Democratic senators like Chris Coons of Delaware and Tim Kaine of Virginia emerged almost in tears because they were upset to see Flake, someone who they revered on the other side of the aisle, someone who cut deals, leaving the institution.

Now, this comes as other senators who are retiring are also speaking out, including Bob Corker of Tennessee who told me in no uncertain terms that the president speaks many, many untruths on a daily basis. He said he could not, did not trust the president with the nuclear codes, also, saying that the president is no role model for children.

[04:35:06] The question for some is whether senators who are not retiring, whether they will start to speak out, because right now, Flake and Corker, two of the most outspoken senators, but both announced they are not running for reelection anymore -- Christine and Dave.


BRIGGS: All right. Manu Raju, thanks.

The White House dismissing the scathing criticism from Senators Corker and Flake. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders calling their comments petty and even applauding Flake's decision not to seek re-election.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I certainly think history is going to look at this president as somebody who helped defeat ISIS, who built an economy that was stronger than it's been in several decades, who brought unemployment to a 16-year low, who has created over 1.7 million jobs since being elected. I think those are the things that people actually care about, not some petty comments from Senator Corker and Senator Flake. And I think they're a lot more concerned about the big policy initiatives that this president is driving.


ROMANS: President Trump was able to sidestep his feud with fellow Republicans during a lunch with party senators on Tuesday. In fact, he tweeted his satisfaction with his, quote, multiple standing ovations. But that was before Flake's speech on the Senate floor.

BRIGGS: Sources tell CNN a law firm representing the Clinton campaign, and the DNC helped fund opposition research that eventually led to the now infamous dossier on then candidate Donald Trump. The firm retained Fusion GPS for research services. "The Washington Post" which first broke this story says Fusion, in turn, hired former British intel officer Christopher Steele whose research makes up this dossier.

ROMANS: CNN previously reported the research was initially funded by anti-Trump Republicans during the primary. Democrats began paying for the research later on.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responding to the news with this tweet, the real Russia scandal Clinton campaign paid for the famous dossier then lied about it and covered it up.

BRIGGS: Again, that tweet based open reporting from "The Washington Post", even though Sanders said this about the paper just hours earlier.


SANDERS: I've said many times before I would use "The Washington Post" as my source, Jeff, you should know better than that.


BRIGGS: That's some stunning hypocrisy for 24 hours.

ROMANS: You can have it both ways apparently, at the podium.

Meantime, Brian Fallon, who as Clinton's campaign spokesman says he was not aware of any connection between the campaign and the Trump Russia dossier. But he tweeted if he did know, he would have volunteered to go to Europe and help Steele. Fallon also says if anything in the dossier helped special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia investigation, it is money well-spent.

A DNC spokesperson says the new leadership, including chairman Tom Perez, was not involved in the decision-making process that led to the retention of that firm Fusion GPS.

BRIGGS: Now, the dossier revelations come after Republican leaders launched two new investigations involving Hillary Clinton, House Oversight Committee and House Judiciary Committee, both looking into how the DOJ handled several issues related to the 2016 election, including Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server.

ROMANS: Meantime, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devon Nunes announcing a new investigation into a U.S.-Russia uranium deal hammered out under the Obama administration when Clinton was secretary of state.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has more from Washington.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, House Republicans are now launching a probe into the Russian purchase of a uranium mining company approved by the Obama administration seven years ago when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. Now, it's gaining steam now because of new reports that the Russian entity approved for the purchase was simultaneously under investigation by the FBI for bribery and racketeering. In fact, an executive eventually pled guilty and was sentenced.

So that coupled with the fact that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she was involved in the approval of the deal, at the same time the Clinton Foundation was allegedly accepting donations from business entities with an interest in the uranium deal. Well, that has made this a rallying point for Republicans, amid their call for an all out congressional investigation.

Here's chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devon Nunes.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: One of the things as you know we're concerned about is whether or not this was an FBI investigation, was there a DOJ investigation? And, if so, why was Congress not informed of this matter? This is basically base off of our conversations with informants over the last several months.

SCHNEIDER: Chairman Nunes referencing there an informant who worked with the FBI in a probe into the nuclear company. That informant says he is being prevented because of a non-disclosure agreement by the FBI from disclosing what he knows. The informant claims he has more information about corruption.

But Hillary Clinton says the claims that donations to the Clinton Foundation somehow influenced her decision to support the uranium deal, well, she says, that's ridiculous.

Now, we've talked to Clinton's spokespeople and they do say that Hillary Clinton, herself, she was not intimately involved in approving that uranium deal when she was secretary of state.

[04:40:04] They say that that was left to her staff, for the most part -- Dave, Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that, Jessica.

The Senate killing a rule, making it easier for consumers to sue banks. A major Wall Street win under the Trump administration. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie breaking vote last night. Gone now is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule banning forced arbitration clauses. This is the fine print, essentially, banks, credit cards, other financial companies, they tucked these clauses into their contract. It forces customer to resolve disputes outside of court, blocking them from banding together in class action lawsuits.

Republicans call that rule an overstep by the CFPB, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray. He was a President Obama appointee.

The financial lobby claims that class action, they just benefit trial lawyers, not consumers, consumer advocates disagree. They argue that arbitration favors companies. The leverage is with the company, never with the consumers.

For example, victims of Wells Fargo have had trouble suing because of arbitration clauses, and those -- oh my gosh the things that happened to Wells Fargo, just unbelievable.

This is the Trump administration's most significant roll back yet of Obama era financial policy ands the White House cheered the move. Pence calling it a win for every day consumers. The CFPB issued this rule in July. It found that customers struggled to open arbitration cases against their banks. You know, who is better funded, you know? The banks or the little guy?

BRIGGS: No question about that. In the future, if there is a Wells Fargo incident, there can be no lawsuit or it's more difficult to?

ROMANS: That's the way -- this is out of the -- it's forced arbitration, these clauses mean that you have to go through an arbitration process with an outside arbitration panel. Not with -- you can't band together, class action, and get an attorney and hold the company accountable.

BRIGGS: It seems anti-populist, but who knows?

All right, three weeks before President Trump heads to China, President Xi Jinping consolidating his own power. The new leadership leaves no heir apparent and through extended his influence for decades. We are live in Beijing, next.


[04:46:29] BRIGGS: The new lineup for China's top leadership is unveiled without an heir apparent to President Xi Jinping. This comes a day after China's Communist Party cemented Xi's power by enshrining his name and ideology into its constitution.

So, how long does Xi intend to rule?

Let's ask CNN's Matt Rivers who's live for us in Beijing.

Good evening to you, Matt. How long might he be in power?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, that's the big question and it could be an open-ended question at this point given what we've seen over the last week. It's called the 19th Party Congress or frankly just the party congress. It happens every five years, this one is the 19th. It's been interesting, because we've seen Xi Jinping kind of formalize a power grab that he has been engaged in over the last five years, the likes of which that we have not seen since the founder of communist China, Chairman Mao Zedong.

And you mentioned the two ways he's done off the top. First, enshrining his name into the constitution, along with his thoughts on socialism. That's something that we haven't seen since Mao Zedong. And then the other happened this morning, the standing committee of

the politburo here is the top decision-making committee in China. There are six other people besides Xi Jinping. When all six are revealed earlier today, and we should add, they are all men, no women have ever made that standing committee, all of them were Xi Jinping allies and none were a clear successor to Xi Jinping when he would traditionally step down in 2022.

So, why are we talking about all of this? Why does it matter to an American audience? Why does it matter to U.S.-China relations? Well, in diplomacy, knowing who you're dealing with matters, and now, the United States knows that Xi Jinping could very well be in power not only until 2022 but beyond that. So, they're going to have that in place.

And we also mentioned it off the top, Donald Trump is set to come here for his first state visit on November 8th. He's going to be dealing some high stakes diplomacy with Xi Jinping who's going to be feeling very good about himself domestically, very stable, secure in his power. And, frankly, that's kind of the opposite of what we are seeing in the United States right now with all the instability that's surrounding the Trump administration.

BRIGGS: And that is a great point. Very important context and a hugely important visit, November 8th.

Matt, thank you.

ROMANS: You know, I would say honestly, the most important story of the last nine months, is like that story you just heard right there.

BRIGGS: Globally, without a doubt.

ROMANS: You have Chinese infrastructure that thinks in 50-year and 100-year plan and an American mindset that is just to the next election.

BRIGGS: Or to the next tweet. I don't know if we can see that far.

ROMANS: Maybe.

All right. Just a week after or to the next milestone in the Dow, just a week blowing past 23,000, the Dow halfway to next milestone. We'll give you the reason for its record run.

The stocks too hot here. That's the big question. We'll tell you about it, next.

BRIGGS: A good problem to have, right?


[04:53:39] BRIGGS: Welcome back.

President Trump has reversed or tried to reverse many, if not all of President Obama's decision. And now, CNN has learned even the name of the nation's tallest mountain is on that list.

CNN's Tom Foreman has more on the proposal the president made out of the blue to senators from Alaska.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Towering more than 20,000 feet over the Alaskan wilderness, this is the tallest mountain in North America, and also appears to be a big chip on the president's shoulder. So much so that he took it up with the state's two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

The issue: in 2015, President Obama changed the mountain's name from Mt. McKinley to Denali.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Flying in on Monday, I had the view of something extraordinary from Air Force One. The great one, Denali. We restored its Alaska native name.


FOREMAN: The move came amid much praise in the far north.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alaskans have fought for this to happen for years, knowing it was a gold prospector who named the mountain after President McKinley who never set foot in this state.

FOREMAN: But in Ohio, the home state of the assassinated 25th president, outrage. Then-speaker of the U.S. House, Ohioan John Boehner, said he was deeply disappointed. Governor John Kasich said, POTUS once again oversteps his bounds.

[04:55:02] And candidate Donald Trump --



FOREMAN: With the state's primary still ahead, he tweeted: President Obama wants to change the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali after more than 100 years. Great insult to Ohio. I will change back.

But it's not clear if that will actually happen now. "The Anchorage Dispatch News" which initially reported on the president raising the matter with the senators says it happened back in March. Both told him: no, no.

And, by the way, this was Murkowski back when McKinley was dropped by Obama.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I'd like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska.

FOREMAN (on camera): Her colleague Senator Sullivan put it this way: Those native inhabitants of Alaska named the mountain Denali 10,000 years ago and that name should remain.

Tom Foreman, CNN.


ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight two, people fatally shot on the campus of Grambling State University. According to law enforcement, the shooter fled the scene. And university officials say the shooting occurred during an altercation in the courtyard, police are not releasing other details. We're going to bring you updates as soon as they become available.

BRIGGS: Well, after stormy starts of the week, cooler weather is in store for much of the Northeast. Here's CNN's Pedram Javaheri with the forecast.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

Look across the Northeast here. On Tuesday, several dozens severe wind gusts reports really from southern Maine, all the way down there towards the Del Marva, where we have the storm move through, New York, Washington, beginning to quiet down, for Boston and Portland picking up, not only wind but also a lot of rainfall, upwards of one-to-two inches left if store for this afternoon and later on tonight, the cold air, we get a couple shots of this, it is the opposite end of the spectrum, extreme heat in place.

But notice, really much of today, Boston gets a soaking. We get additional storms that build back behind us into the overnight hours. And Portland gets in on the action as well for a heavy rainfall.

The temperature trend, Chicago, look at this, the 50s, say goodbye to that. By Saturday, 45 degrees for a high temperature. In New York, a couple day there is down in the low 60s.

We get a little bit of a warming trend going into Saturday, even early Sunday, but I think things come back down again here as we get another disturbance, more cold, Canadian air, additional snow showers, look at this, parts of North Texas, Western Texas, heavy snowfall possible, at least from periods there going into Friday night and Saturday as well with this front come income later this week, guys.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Speaking of weather, it was super hot for the Dodgers in game one of the World Series against the Astros.

All right. Let's show you what happened. Score tied at 1 in the 6th. First baseman, Justin Turner hit what turned out to be the game- winning two-run homer, put L.A. up 3-1. Dodgers got a brilliant start from their ace, Clayton Kershaw, striking out 11 over seven. The Fall Classic, though, as I mentioned, feeling very much like summer. The temp, 103 degrees at first pitch, making at this time hottest World Series ever. Game two of the World Series tonight at Dodgers Stadium. Much cooler, 94 for first pitch. Still brutal heat.

ROMANS: And speaking of red hot, let's talk about stocks. We will check in with CNN "Money Stream" this morning. Global stock markets lower right now.

But yesterday was unbelievable. The Dow jumped nearly 200 points, a record high, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ, also record highs.

You can thank strong earnings led by Dow stocks Caterpillar and 3M. In fact, 3M had its best day since 2009. It's half through the busiest week of earnings season right now, and this is what we are looking at forward today, Coca-Cola, Boeing and Visa.

It has been just was one weeks since the Dow blew past 23,000. It's already halfway to the next milestone. And stocks have never been more expensive.

President Trump likes to take credit for the recent bump. We'll but this into context for you. The latest rally is the tail end of the second longest bull market in history. Look at that run.

McDonald's is one of the hottest stocks in the Dow this year, rising another 2 percent after an earnings win, revenue was high, and sales rose 6 percent worldwide. McDonald's had quite the turnaround, low prices and new menu items, helping to win back customers from rival chains and attract millennials, a really important demographic.

One of those changes, Chipotle continues to struggle. It's sales came up short last quarter, hurt by cost related to a hack in April, and yet another food safety scare, sales fell 9 percent after hours. Tough.

Twitter is promising greater transparency for political ads. The company will now label all political advertising, providing info about who bought the ads and what they spent. This comes as Twitter and social media base scrutiny over ad sales to Russian trolls.

But these new guidelines might not have prevented those ads. The majority of Russian-bought ads focused on issues, not candidates, including divisive topics like race, refugees, immigration and gun control.

And one analysis I saw, was it two-thirds of the issues that the Russian ads focused on were race, zeroing right in on race in America, stirring the pot on race in America.