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Trump Shifts Focus To Democrats, Washington Awaits Mueller Probe Arrest; Sparring Over Tax Plan; House GOP Concedes On Property Tax Deduction; Questions Mount Over Puerto Rico Energy Contract; Two Navy SEALS Under Investigation; Astros Beat Dodgers In Instant Classic; Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 30, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:15] CHRISTINE ROMANS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: Happening as soon as today, the first arrest may be imminent in the Russian investigation after a federal grand jury has approved its first charges.

DAVE BRIGGS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: The Trump administration bracing for the first arrest in the Mueller probe, but the President is shifting focus to none other than Hillary Clinton. Good Monday morning, everybody. Welcome to "Early Start". I'm on Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: It is Monday, and I'm Christine Romans. October 30th 4:00 a.m. in the east. It is 3:00 a.m. in Houston where the Astros won a wild game 5 of the World Series.

BRIGGS: One of the wildest we have ever seen.

ROMANS: Wow. We'll talk about that in a moment. Washington on edge waiting for possible arrests in Special Counsel Robert Mueller probe in Russian interference in the 2016 election. The CNN first reported on Friday that a federal grand jury has approved the first charges in the Russia investigation. That indictment is still sealed. We don't know what the charges are or we don't know, who they target.

BRIGGS: Special Counsel Team has examined former lobbying by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former or national security adviser Michael Flynn. They are also looking at whether the president's firing of FBI Director James Comey have resulted in obstruction of justice.

ROMANS: Many wondering whether the president might pardons some of all Mueller's targets or whether he might fire Mueller himself. This as "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board calls on Mueller to resign.

BRIGGS: Meantime, some Republican leaders said that the Trump administration should let the Mueller probe take its course. Those targeted by special counsel should take it seriously.


REP CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: Anybody who has been advised by special counsel's office that they are targeting the investigation, which I'm sure he has done to those people who are, should be concerned.

REP TREY GOWDY, (R) HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE, CHAIRMAN: I would encourage my Republican friends, give him a chance to do his job. The results will be known by the facts by what he uncovers. The personalities involved are much less important to me than the underlying facts. I would say give the guy a chance to do his job.


BRIGGS: The latest now from CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Dave and Christine, we expect to learn later today what charges were filed in connection with the special counsel investigation. Once a federal Judge unseals the indictment, a federal grand jury as reported on Friday, has approved this charges and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. The charges are sealed, so we don't yet know who will be charged. We had been told the expectation is that it was going to happen Monday. Now, anyone who is facing charges will be arrested and taken into custody by FBI agents and at some point will face a Judge here in Washington, D.C. Now, this indictment, once it's unsealed, will give us a window into what special counsel has been looking at and how it potentially relates to the Russia investigation. Dave, Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Simon, thank you for that this morning. President Trump apparently frustrated by the news of Russia probe, looming over the whole weekend. No surprise he has been pushing back hard taking aim at Hillary Clinton on twitter.

BRIGGS: Quote, We have never seen such Republican anger and unity as I have concerned of lack of investigation on the Clinton-made fake dossier now $12 million. That is the reference to the speculation on the cost of the dossier. Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted e-mails, the Comey fix, and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump Russia collusion, which doesn't exist. Dems are using this terrible and bad for our country. Witch-hunt for evil politics. But the r's, Republican are now fighting back like never before. There is so much guilt by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are out. Do something. That is a lot. More now from CNN Boris Sanchez at the White House.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Dave and Christine. No public events for the White House on Sunday, however the president was very active on twitter, fired up over what he calls a lack of investigations into Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in a series of tweets he specifically cites several allegations that he has made in the past about Clinton, including about that now infamous dossier that was put together by fusion GPS, the company at one point was hired by the Clinton campaign to produce opposition research against then candidate Trump. He also mentions this uranium deal, the allegation that Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State took bribes from Russian officials in order to give them more favorable deal for uranium. We had a chance to ask Ty Cobb, the White House attorney about the President's tweets and whether or not they were coming because of the recent news in Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Ty Cobb denied that, saying that the President's statement has nothing to do with that, but it is difficult to imagine that these investigations are not on the President's mind.

[04:05:11] He is clearly unhappy about being investigated. Officials in his campaign being investigated for allegedly colluding with Russians to help the Trump camp win the 2016 election. The interesting thing about this is the timing. He is attacking an opponent that he defeated almost 12 months ago. Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Boris, thank you for that. The house intelligence committee are now waiting a financial records of fusion GPS. The research firm behind the dossier, containing those allegations about President Trump. Fusion and the committee have reached a confidential agreement over the weekend. The deal sets the terms for a subpoena of fusion's records.

BRIGGS: It comes amid revelations that the law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC and the conservative Washington free beacon, new site both paid Fusion to conduct research on then candidate Trump. Separately on Capitol Hill, Facebook, Twitter, and google all preparing for hearings tomorrow. Lawmakers want to know exactly how Russia exploited the web giants during last year's elections.

ROMANS: This week tax reform gets real. On Wednesday the house GOP finally unveils its bill, tax writers had already backup one of their most controversial proposals, a full repeal of the state and local tax deduction. Instead the bill will now allow a deduction for property taxes, a concession to lawmakers in high-tax states like, North Carolina, Connecticut, Illinois, California, New Jersey, and New York. But there is no tax break for state and local income taxes or general sales taxes. So expect some outcry over that. Speaking of outcry, the national association of home builders, says it opposes the tax bill, it is pledging to fight the legislation, because it doesn't contain a new tax credit for home ownership. And the sparring over the message on tax cut is just beginning. Listen to Trump adviser Kevin Hasset and former Clinton treasury secretary Larry Summers. Listen to them clashed on Fareed Zakaria GPS.


KEVIN HASSET, CHAIR, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: The claims that this administration makes, that the tax cut will pay for itself, that the tax cut will raise incomes more than anything else that is happened in the country in many years, that the tax cut isn't skewed toward helping rich people, those are fake facts. LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER CLINTON TREASURY SECRETARY: The fact is if you

think we did something wrong, then you should accuse us of making an error. But accusing of us is being dishonest is just beyond the pale. It is not really becoming of a former treasury secretary.


ROMANS: You heard some of that really fierce battle there on two very different world views on what this tax plan means.

Hasset, said lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent will mean a $4,000 pay raise for the average American household. Summers insist it is more like $1300. So very different world views there. Corporate said to begin as all the industries try to fight to keep their goodies or to get what they want in this tax cut.

BRIGGS: Hence the desire for speed. Kick that debate out of it. All right. Questions mounting in Puerto Rico where 70 percent of the island still without power. Over $300 million contract from a small Montana energy company while the latest through San Juan next.


[04:12:23] ROMANS: This morning Puerto Rico's electric company is said to cancel its huge power restoration contract with a Montana- based utility company at the request of the island's governor. Questions have been is raised about the hiring of a company called whitefish energy. It had only two full-time employees on the day the contract was signed. Underlying many of the questions is the fact that whitefish is based in a small hometown of U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. CNN Leyla Santiago is in San Juan with the very latest.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, Puerto Rico's power authority has said, it wants to cancel the controversial contract with Montana-based utility company Whitefish energy. This comes on the same day that the governor of Puerto Rico has not only said this contract should be canceled, but he also says there should be a full investigation into the $300 million deal. The contracting process behind it. And the details that led to where we are today. Remember, this is a controversial contract that many believed was a big task for a company that just perhaps wasn't ready to take it on, to restore Puerto Rico's very vulnerable power grid, a company that is only two years old and with very few employees. Now the contract is not canceled just yet. But Puerto Rico had already said that it plans to exercise that cancellation clause in the contract. It will let whitefish carry out its work here in the meantime. As I have been on the streets just today talking to Puerto Ricans, there is a sense of frustration that is just palpable. It has been more than a month since hurricane Maria and many are still without power. Frustrated, because many have lost their jobs, because of businesses that cannot open at this time. On a day when only 29.7 percent of the power generated capabilities is up and running. Puerto Ricans continue their frustration with the power system. Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: Yes. Leyla Santiago, thank you so much for that. You know, you can say this is a scrappy company that came in and say we can get this done. Guys up there hanging off helicopters getting the work done. So you could say they got in there quickly. And then on the other hand they're like, no, no, no. Was too quick. We need more scrutiny. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

BRIGGS: There is a rush to judgment on one direction and now it seems a rush to judgment the other way. Just settle down, slow down and take a look at this deal.

ROMANS: There is no question that they are out there doing the work. They are out there doing work.

[04:15:03] BRIGGS: Do they have what it takes to get Puerto Rico back on the grid?

Ok. Two members of the famed SEAL Team 6 are under investigation in the killing of an army green beret in Mali. A Navy spokesman has confirmed CNN an "NCIS" investigation is under way in the June death of army staff sergeant Logan Melgar. The "New York Times" was first to report a military exam and ruled Melgars' death, homicide by strangulation. The Times report the two SEALS were flown out of Mali after the death and put on administrative leave.

ROMANS: He was Special Forces engineer sergeant with the third Special Forces group. That is the primary unit responsible for army special ops in northwest Africa, including Mali and Niger. The four American soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month were part of the same group.

BRIGGS: All right. More on that from Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson set to testify today before the Senate Foreign Relation Committee. Lawmakers looking at whether there is a need for a new, possibly, more specific authorization of the use of military force. The hearing comes amid mounting questions about the extent of military operations in Niger following that ambush that left four American soldiers dead. CNN's David McKenzie live in Niger. David good morning to you. Lawmakers continue to question what happened in Niger. What's the latest?


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. Yes, the latest is that you have the situation that these details are slowly coming out, sometimes contradictory of what happened in the ambush. Just a few hours from where I'm standing earlier in October. Now what we are learning from U.S. Officials that this Special Forces, led by the green berets, were in fact, split up in that deadly ambush. They were a much superior force in terms of numbers of militants who took them.

Those groups weren't able to contact the remainder of that convoy. That might have led to possibly some of those American soldiers being more in harm's way. In fact three of the dead U.S. soldiers were in that group that did split up. As you said, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State in those open hearings on Capitol Hill later today, that has taken a much more intense focus, because of this ambush in Niger and the question surrounding America's presence here in Africa. They have 6,000 troops scattered across the continent. Some Senators questioning whether they knew about that deployment. It has to be said Americans have been here in Niger for close on 20 years. They play a key role, say the Pentagon, in fighting the threat of terror in West Africa and ultimately the threat to the United States. Dave?

BRIGGS: The authorization of military force examination long overdue. Dave McKenzie live for us in Niger, thank you sir.

It was one of the history books that Houston Astros defeating the Dodgers in a wild game five, they are now one win away from the World Series championship. We'll show you this wild ride.


[04:22:29] BRIGGS: All right the Houston Astros just one game away from winning the first world series in franchise history after a phenomenal game in Houston ending just a few hours ago. It was looking like a home run derby mid game. Astros Gurriel tying the game with this massive three-run home run. Then the Dodgers would fire back. A grand slam taking the lead in the fifth. The wild Rogers beginning Astros, another three-run homer by Jose tying the game yet again Romans.

ROMANS: The Astros lead 12 to 9. The dodgers managed to stay alive with a two-run home run by Puig. Then this hit to center field tying the game. The Astros (inaudible) sealing Houston's victory in the 10th inning with this walk-off. Astros lead the series, 3-2. The Dodgers hope to even the score back home in Los Angeles tomorrow night.

BRIGGS: That is 22 home runs, a World Series record already in five games. Meanwhile, Houston Texans players sending a message Sunday to the team owner after his controversial remark about players protesting the national anthem. On Friday became public owner Bob said, "We can't have the inmate running the prison," during the NFL owners meeting about the ongoing protests. All but 10 players either took a knee or sat during the anthem in what was by far the largest single team protest yet. By the way, the President did not tweet about that protest. Stunning.

ROMANS: Academy award winner Kevin Spacey apologizing to fellow actor Anthony Rapp and coming on out as gay in the process. Rapp stars on CBS "Star Trek: discovery" says Spacey came on to him unwanted advance when he was 14 and Spacey was 26. Spacey apologize in a statement in Twitter saying he was horrified by the allegations. He did not recall the encounter, he added if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would had been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.

BRIGGS: Spacey didn't answer the question, he has been resiliently coy about his entire career. Saying quote, I have had relationships with both men and women. I now choose to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.

[23:25:00] In other news, two women from Hawaii who were lost at sea for five months with their dogs saying they would have been dead if the crew of the USS Ashland had not rescued them. The women thanked the crew who found them 900 miles off the coast of Japan thousands of miles from their intended destination of Tahiti. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Had they not been able to locate us, we would have been dead within 24 hours. These fine young men and women behind us took us into their care, brought us under their wing, gave us safety, took care of our animals, gave us toothbrushes, things that we didn't even think about bringing with us when we left.


ROMANS: Five months.

BRIGGS: Just imagine the feeling of desperation out there at sea. Their engine quit. They thankfully had enough food to survive.

All right ahead, a major development looms in the Mueller probe and the first possible arrest in the Russia investigation coming as soon as today.