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Trump-Linked Firm Contacted WikiLeaks About Clinton E-mails; Trump's Wild Press Conference; President Didn't "Specifically" OK Niger Mission. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 26, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:03] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A Trump campaign contractor reached out to WikiLeaks during the election trying to secure Hillary Clinton's private e-mails. Now, the campaign is distancing itself.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a disgrace. I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. I'm a very intelligent person, no hesitation. One of the great memories of all time.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And what a wild, whacky, kind of spur of the moment news conference at the White House yesterday. What the president said about his intelligence, about relationships on the Hill, and much, much more.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs, state school guy. Thirty minutes past the hour.

We start with the closest connection yet between the Trump campaign WikiLeaks, prompting many new questions this morning. "The Daily Beast" first to report that the head of a data analytics company that worked for the Trump campaign e-mailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

KOSIK: Four sources tell CNN the Cambridge Analytica CEO was seeking the tens of thousands of e-mails that Hillary Clinton deleted from her private server while she was secretary of state.

For more, let's turn to CNN's Pamela Brown in Washington.



Sources tell CNN the head of Cambridge Analytica, a data firm working for the Trump campaign, reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the campaign asking about Hillary Clinton's missing e- mails. Julian Assange acknowledged on Twitter that did happen and says he rejected the request.

The head of that firm, Alexander Nix, sent an e-mail to several people, including top Republican donor Rebekah Mercer, relaying that he had e-mailed Assange, but sources say no one from the actual Trump campaign was on that e-mail chain.

But for context here, WikiLeaks was responsible for releasing hacked e-mails from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's e- mails last year, not Hillary Clinton's e-mails. We don't even know if a third party ever obtained them.

But, WikiLeaks was directly connected to Russia by the Intelligence Community, so these new revelations -- revelation, I should, established the closest known link between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.

We should note "The Daily Beast" was first to report the e-mail outrage. Alison and Dave.


BRIGGS: Thank you, Pamela Brown for clearing up many of these questions.

After "The Daily Beast" published its story the Trump campaign responded with a statement downplaying the role of Cambridge Analytica without denying the company's outreach to WikiLeaks.

It says in part, after President Trump locked up the nomination, "One of the most important decisions we made was to partner with the Republican National Committee on data analytics. We were proud to have worked with the RNC and its data experts and relied on them as our main source for data analytics. Any claims that voter data from any other source played a role in the victory are false."

However, according to the Trump campaign's own FEC filings it paid Cambridge Analytica almost $6 million between the Republican Convention in July and mid-December of last year.

KOSIK: All right, let's go ahead and bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan. She is live for us this morning in Washington to help break down some of this because, you know, we're talking about the dossier, Cambridge Analytica. People are waking up and hearing this about this company this morning.

A lot of this can get really wonky. Why should voters care about this?

TAL KOPAN, REPORTER, CNN POLITICS: Yes, Alison, you're absolutely right. And certainly, many of this revelations are designed to get to the bottom of what happened in the 2016 election. It can feel very politicized and a lot of it is getting politicized by various parties on either side of the issue.

But the core of this is that the U.S. Intelligence Community has determined that Russia actively tried to meddle in our election last year, and that's where this investigation always comes back to is trying to figure out what they did, how they did it, and whether it could happen again. And if it does, how we protect ourselves from having our election influenced by a foreign power.

And so, you know, sometimes we do lose sight of that sort of overarching theme a little bit with all of these drip, drip, drip of very interesting developments. And at some point when the picture comes together voters will be able to draw some conclusions about how that meddling went down and who might have been involved.

And it can be overwhelming at times but certainly, the fact that a foreign power engaged in these activities should be something that the American public pays attention to.

BRIGGS: All right. The American public can also decide whether the media or the president makes him appear as uncivil. Here's what the president said about that in an interesting news conference just next to Marine One and also, some context on that.


TRUMP: Well, I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don't understand.

I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I'm a very intelligent person.

[05:35:08] I -- you know, the fact is I think -- I really believe -- I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real -- the real person.

Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now -- out -- he's fired?


BRIGGS: All right, Tal. Context on the Ivy League. The Unabomber also went to Harvard.

But that comment there --

KOSIK: (Laughing).

BRIGGS: Sorry, I just had to get that in.

That comment there -- the SOB -- the language we had to warn our children to leave the room before airing, is that civility and are we making him appear that way?

KOPAN: Look, the American public has heard Donald Trump in his own words quite a bit and he, you know, is known for his freewheeling, off-the-cuff style. It's what got him through the campaign and he still loves to do it at rallies. And certainly, the American public can draw some conclusions from what they have seen with their own eyes, and heard. You know, it's amazing sometimes the media criticism. It just goes

such both ways at the same time where they say there's too much Donald Trump in his own words. Oh, you take his words out of context. I mean, all that's noise to a certain extent.

For the most part, what the American public is seeing is what Donald Trump says, and he can try to spin it but it's absolutely -- the material is there for them to draw their own conclusions.

KOSIK: OK. In this sort of buffet of topics that the president addressed next to Marine One, he also talked about the unity in the Republican Party and he said yesterday afternoon that there is great unity in the Republican Party. That's as his former chief strategist Steve Bannon has declared war on establishment Republicans.

We've got the president blaming Congress for not pushing his agenda through, you know, as well as obviously attacking individual leaders of Congress.

Is there unity in the Republican Party?

KOPAN: It's a very complicated question, Alison. I think there's unity on some things and not others.

You know, there's certainly unity of purpose in the sense that the Republican Party has an agenda that they are trying to accomplish. Now, there are some differences over what those details should look like.

And as we saw with the failure of repealing and replacing Obamacare that just because there's agreement on an overall goal doesn't mean that they can get together on the details.

And so when you throw into that the fact that the Republican primaries have been brutal for years and now you have this increasingly personal, bitter fight between Steve Bannon and his aligned political operations, and Mitch McConnell and his aligned political operations, some of these primaries could get potentially very nasty and very politically dangerous for some of these politicians. And so, those fissures absolutely have the potential to erupt.

But at the end of the day, Republicans are generally trying to do the same thing, so even when you have some of these senators who have spoken out against Trump as an individual that doesn't mean that they're going to automatically tank bills that they actually want to see get done. It simply weakens the White House's hand a little bit in shaping those bills.

BRIGGS: But at the heart of all this, this is Donald Trump's party right now. It's not Steve Bannon's party. People are elevating him to a stature he does not deserve.

Donald Trump is more popular in these districts than all of these candidates and that's at the heart of this with Bob Corker and with Jeff Flake. So doesn't the president, himself, need to come out and squash this civil war if he's going to lead this party forward? KOPAN: That's up to Donald Trump. You know, he certainly, for a long time, felt like Steve Bannon channeled what he wanted to accomplish. But at the same time, he's criticized Mitch McConnell and also stood with him, and endorsed Mitch McConnell's chosen candidate in Alabama who eventually lost to the insurrectionist candidate down there.

So, Donald Trump still hasn't figured out, I think, how to thread the needle when it comes to the sort of pitfalls on both sides kind of issue. And, in fact, I think a lot of presidents in his shoes would do their best to stay out of it as much as they could because once you start picking a side you risk perhaps losing in a primary or getting an enemy elected to the Senate. And so, those are very dangerous calculations that he is still trying to figure out how he wants to proceed.

BRIGGS: Yes. That Alabama Senate primary, from what we understand, really stuck with the president.

All right. Tal Kopan did not go to an Ivy League school but one of the smartest people I know, indeed.

[05:40:02] KOSIK: I agree with that. Thanks so much.

BRIGGS: Thank you, Tal.

TOPAN: Thank you, guys.

KOSIK: The bipartisan bill to stabilize Obamacare would cut the deficit. That's according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office. The deal reduces the deficit by $3.8 billion over the next decade and it wouldn't change the number of insured Americans.

The bipartisan bill is authored by two senators on both side of the aisle, Democrat Patty Murray and Republican Lamar Alexander, and it restores cost-sharing subsidy payments shoring up the marketplace. It allows states more say in how they carry out Obamacare.

Insurers rely, though, on those subsidy payments to help pay for nearly six million low-income Americans. Now, Trump stopped them earlier this month, calling them a bailout for insurers.

But, Alexander and Murray said in a joint statement that the report proves otherwise. That restoring funding benefits on taxpayers and low-income Americans, not insurance companies. And so the ball is in the White House's court at his point on what is going to happen with that bill.

BRIGGS: Got to tell the Senate, got to tell the House what type of bill you want and you will sign.

KOSIK: Right.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, the U.S. military had been looking to arm drones in Niger before the deadly assault on American soldiers. That, and new details about what the American troops were doing before the attack. CNN live in Niger, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's a dangerous business. I have to say, it's a dangerous business, so what --

REPORTER: Did you authorize the mission?

TRUMP: No, I didn't, not specifically, but I have generals that are great generals. These are great fighters. These are warriors.

I gave them authority to do what's right so that we win. That's the authority they have. I want to win.


BRIGGS: All right. The president there saying he did not specifically green light the mission in Niger that left four American soldiers dead in an ambush. President Trump had already empowered U.S. military leaders to train and assist partner governments in the fight against terror groups.

And now, new details emerging about efforts before the attack to upgrade military assets in the region, including the authority to use armed drones.

CNN's David McKenzie live for us in Niger. David, good morning to you.

If they had armed drones, any sense of what type of difference that might have made?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, it's very hard to speculate after the fact.

And I think it's the one thing worth mentioning is that those French fighter jets that were scrambled to the scene of this deadly ambush weren't able to engage with the enemy because they say it wasn't clear whether they would have a friendly fire incident given the proximity and the chaos of that particular firefight, so we don't know.

But certainly, it is true, as you say, U.S. officials saying that for some time now here in Niger they've been trying to get authorization to arm their drones. They have predator drones here and other assets in country to help this mission, which is a mission covering a vast area. I must say, coming into this country and looking at the terrain as I have before when I come here, you really see how rural, how disparate these areas are.

And the lack of governance in these border areas between these countries is really where these terror groups operate.

We also are learning more details of that high-level target that the Green Berets and other special forces were trying to gather intelligence on. This individual is known to authorities to be suspected in a number of attacks, particularly in neighboring Burkina Faso. It really points, Dave, to the seriousness of the terror threat here.

There are relatively small groups of militants but they have this capacity to strike at soft targets and at U.S. interests in the region, and that's why U.S. officials say they rarely have to push to stamp out the threat at this stage and not when it gets out of control -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Important context from David McKenzie, live in Niger. Thanks.

KOSIK: Yes, some great perspective from him.


KOSIK: All right. It's time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joining us now. Good morning.

BRIGGS: Morning, sir.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now that is a good looking anchor team right there.

KOSIK: Why, thank you.

BRIGGS: Ah, Chris Cuomo, you make my morning, my friend.

CUOMO: Facts first, facts first -- good looking.

KOSIK: I like that.

BRIGGS: Apple, banana.

CUOMO: All right. So look, there is so much going on in the news and it's really not a hashtag, it's not just a motto. We have to take a look and figure out what the facts are about all of these new allegations going on. Where money went during the campaign, what it was using to fund, what the connection might have been to Russian efforts to meddle in the election.

Here's a premise that you have to keep in mind. This happens in elections in almost every campaign that I've ever been around.

I'm not talking about working with Russia, I'm talking about paying for information about your opponents, paying for analytical data that is often scrutinizing of who you want to vote. But really, going after your opponent and looking for negative things, this is part of politics and political culture. Good, bad, right, wrong, maybe not a discussion for right now.

So that's what we're going to be looking into this morning. What is the factual basis for these allegations about the analytics company that the Trump campaign was somehow connected to? The Fusion group that was behind the dossier. We're going to be looking into that.

[05:50:00] But because Romans isn't around I'm going to read you this poem.


CUOMO: It's one of my pop's favorite and it really is a good instruction for where we are right now.


CUOMO: "He drew a circle that shut me out. Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win. We drew a circle and took him in!"

It's from a poem called "Outwitted." It's a good reminder for where we are and how we should be.

BRIGGS: And I have a big cup of coffee to enjoy that poem. That was terrific.

KOSIK: Chris, thanks so much -- absolutely.

BRIGGS: A dramatic poetry reading from Chris Cuomo.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

KOSIK: We want more of that each morning.


CUOMO: Dave Briggs drinking out of a cup full of --

KOSIK: What's in it?

CUOMO: -- good looking.

BRIGGS: Chris Cuomo, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, sir.

KOSIK: Thanks, Chris. One of a kind, one of a kind.

BRIGGS: He is.

KOSIK: OK, 2017 is a record year for retail but not in a good way. We're going to tell you why on "CNN Money Stream," next.


BRIGGS: Former President George H.W. Bush issuing a second apology after an actress accused him of touching her inappropriately four years ago and has since deleted Instagram post. Actress Heather Lind claims when she met the former president he touched her from behind from his wheelchair, telling her a dirty joke, and then touched her again.

KOSIK: The former president's spokesman, in a statement to CNN said this.

"President Bush would never intentionally cause anyone to stress and apologizes if his attempted humor offended Ms. Lind."

[05:55:07] Later Wednesday, he issued a second state to provide context.

Quote, "At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures. To try to put people at ease the president routinely tells the same joke and on occasion he has patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.

Some have seen it as innocent, others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely."

KOSIK: OK. A sheriff's deputy in Palm Beach County resigning after being charged with robbing the empty home of a dying man while Hurricane Irma had South Florida in a state of emergency.

Surveillance video that you're looking at here shows former deputy Jason Cooke rummaging through the home of 85-year-old Moe Rosoff. The guy was in the hospital after hitting his head and you have this -- him going through his house like this.

BRIGGS: Yes. Officials say Deputy Cooke came to the home later, entered through the garage using a security code he heard from previous police calls. Rosoff's sons alerted to the movement in the house by a surveillance camera.

Cooke has confessed to taking drugs from the home and faces burglary and larceny charges. The Rosoff family calls the officer's actions outrageous and disgusting.

Game two of the World Series, a true fall classic. The Astros beating the Dodgers 7-6 in 11 innings, tying the series at a game apiece.

After Houston tied the game in the ninth on a Marwin Gonzalez home run, second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa hit back- to-back homers in the tenth to give the Astros a 5-3 lead.

But the Dodgers weren't done. L.A. scores two in the bottom of the ninth on a Yasiel Puig homer and a Kike Hernandez single, tying it up again. We got to the eleventh, George Springer belting a two-run homer lifting the Astros to their first World Series win in franchise history.

The two teams combined for five home rooms in extra innings. That's the first time it's ever been done in the regular or post-season.

The World Series now heads to Houston for the next three games, beginning on Friday night.

KOSIK: That was one long game I did not catch.

BRIGGS: Unreal. Ended about 12:30.

KOSIK: All right. Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stocks mostly higher after Wall Street pulled back from records. In fact, the Dow and the S&P 500, they suffered their worst day in seven weeks. Here's why. Rising bond yields and soft earnings.

But overall, earnings season has been quite strong. Seventy-two percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, they've beat expectations.

And this is the busiest week of the earnings season. Today you can expect reports to come out from big names you may recognize like Alphabet, Microsoft, Intel, Ford, and Amazon.

Two thousand seventeen is a record year for retail but not for positive reasons. The industry just set an all-time high for store closures. More than 6,700 U.S. stores have closed since January one. That actually beats the previous record of 6,163 closings that happened during the financial crisis.

Walgreens helped push 2017's tally to a new high. It announced plans to close about 600 locations just yesterday.

Retailer's woes, as a whole, have certainly been caused by the rise of both online shopping and fast fashion. Other big changes with big closings this year include Kmart, Sears, JCPenney, and Staples.

A Tesla factory is at the center of several discrimination lawsuits. Four lawsuits describe a toxic culture at Tesla's electric car plant in California. Three workers compare the treatment of black workers to Jim Crow. While a female engineer says she was fired for suing over gender discrimination.

Tesla is just the latest Silicon Valley company to have workers allege discrimination. Tesla did tell CNN though it takes all complaints seriously but added that "There has never been a single proven case of discrimination against the company. Not one."

All right, thanks so much --

BRIGGS: Cleaning up corporate culture, right?

KOSIK: In so many ways.


KOSIK: All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" with the poetic Chris Cuomo, right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

KOSIK: Have a good day.