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EARLY START

DOJ Will Consider New Special Counsel On Clinton Foundation; Donald Trump, Jr. Confirms WikiLeaks Communication; Trump Wraps Up Asia Trip; Menendez Trial Jury Deadlocked. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 14, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:31:04] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The attorney general now asking federal prosecutors to look into a special counsel on the Clinton Foundation. Is it only to appease the president's frustration with the lack of action against the Clintons?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: And the president's son admits that he communicated privately with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. It came just days before the site released e-mails that were stolen from the Clinton campaign chairman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There are a number of options that are being considered but he should not be a United States senator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever means you would --

MCCAIN: Whatever it requires.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Republican support in Washington evaporating as dozens of GOP lawmakers now say Roy Moore needs to bow out of the Alabama Senate race, but with support in Alabama still holding for now, will he quit?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Alex Marquardt. It is almost 32 minutes past the hour.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors to evaluate any alleged ties between the Clinton Foundation and the sale of a Canadian uranium company to Russia. House Republicans are already investigating the 2010 deal which took place while Clinton was Secretary of State.

Some publications, including the president -- Republicans, excuse me, including the president, allege that Russia sought donate to the Clinton Foundation to persuade Mrs. Clinton to support the transaction.

ROMANS: Senior prosecutors will make recommendations to the attorney general about the potential need for a special prosecutor.

Sessions' decision comes despite saying this at his confirmation hearing in January.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), MEMBER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Do you intend to recuse yourself from both the Clinton e-mail investigation and any matters involving the Clinton Foundation if there are any?

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Critics have expressed concern about the Justice Department's independence after President Trump bemoaned his inability to direct the department to investigate his opponents, including Clinton.

MARQUARDT: Now, Donald Trump, Jr. confirming he did have exchanges with the WikiLeaks Twitter account by a private direct messages on the social media platform. That was during the 2016 campaign.

Trump, Jr. tweeted out the exchanges shortly after "The Atlantic" first reported them. He wrote, quote, "Here's the entire chain of messages with @WikiLeaks with my whopping three responses."

ROMANS: The timing of the WikiLeaks message is notable. Trump, Jr. responded to two of them.

In one, WikiLeaks urges Trump, Jr. to push a right-wing Website's story about Hillary Clinton. Trump, Jr. replies he has -- he already has and inquires about an upcoming leak. Days later, WikiLeaks starts releasing Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's e-mails stolen by Russian hackers.

MARQUARDT: And days after that, President Trump tweets, urging his followers to read about Clinton's disgraceful behavior as exposed by WikiLeaks.

A source familiar with the matter tells CNN that Trump, Jr. was briefly asked about the exchanges during a closed-door interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee in September.

ROMANS: All right. Joining us now, CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin. Good morning, Josh.

MARQUARDT: Good morning, Josh.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Morning.

ROMANS: I want to stick quickly on the one of these three big stories we're following this morning about the attorney general. What do you think is the motive here behind the attorney general asking his prosecutors to look into whether a special prosecutor is needed on the Hillary Clinton matter?

ROGIN: Well, we've seen several examples over the past few months of Attorney General Jeff Sessions responding to public comments from President Trump about what he should or should not be doing, and this seems to be the latest example of that.

You know, the president says well, I shouldn't be interfering in the work of the Justice Department but here, as if I was interfering, here's what I would want them to do. That's interference. That's a public call for the attorney general to do something -- to investigate his political rivals and pursue prosecution of his political opponents.

Now, you know, the interference is one problem. The other problem is that, you know, typically here in America we don't go after our political opponents using the law enforcement system after an election. That's something that we usually leave to Third World Banana Republics.

[05:35:08] And, of course, the issue that you already mentioned, which is that Jeff Sessions promised to recuse himself from this and now he seems to be going back on that, so there are a lot of problems with this.

The House Intelligence Committee has been looking into this case, as is their prerogative, and now they've gotten the Justice Department to promise to look into whether they should prosecute it. Let's hope that cooler heads prevail and the Justice Department remembers that it's an independent branch of government. And also, Jeff Sessions remembers that he's not supposed to be doing the president's dirty work on this front.

MARQUARDT: And, Josh, switching gears to this communication between Donald Trump, Jr. and WikiLeaks. Trump, Jr. is defending himself, saying he only communicated with them three times.

I just want to throw up one of the messages. This is from WikiLeaks to Donald Trump, Jr. It say, "Hiya. It'd be great if you guys could comment on, push this story."

And the story that they're talking about is a quote from Hillary Clinton about wanting to just drone the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

Now, we have reporting that says that there was a direct -- there were direct ties between the Russian government and WikiLeaks. Now, we have direct proof of ties and communication between WikiLeaks and the son of the GOP nominee. So how can Donald Trump, Jr. explain this away?

ROGIN: I don't think it's justifiable. I don't think it is explainable. I mean, what we see here -- and not just the exchange that you just put, but there's a future exchange as outlined in "The Atlantic" article where WikiLeaks is leaking stolen e-mails and ask -- and giving Donald Trump, Jr. a specific link, and Donald Trump, Jr. tweets out that specific link. He's advertising the stolen material.

Now, some of this we knew, you know. Donald Trump, during the campaign, was championing WikiLeaks. He said quote, "I love WikiLeaks." He was encouraging people to follow it.

But this kind of direct coordination is not only untoward, it's really, you know -- borders upon what we might call a conspiracy to disseminate the products of a crime, OK?

Now, how that links to Russia is still a little bit unclear, right? That's why the Russian intelligence agencies use cutouts, right? That's what the cutouts are for. They're for plausible deniability or in this case, I would say implausible deniability.

So we haven't quite reached the smoking gun in the Trump-Russia case and this doesn't really give us that. It's just really bad behavior on the part of Donald Trump, Jr. that I don't think he'll be able to explain away in any reasonable sense.

MARQUARDT: We should also remind viewers this came just a few months after we know that Donald Trump, Jr., at Trump Tower, had a meeting with that Russian lawyer --

ROGIN: Right.

ROMANS: He's right.

MARQUARDT: -- who also had ties to the Kremlin.

ROGIN: Another bad decision.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the president on -- yes -- the president on his way back now from this Asia trip. What -- you know, give us your assessment on how well it went. I mean, the president naming all these nice things people said and did for him --

MARQUARDT: The red carpet.

ROMANS: -- on the trip. The red carpet treatment. Clearly, flattery works with this president.

But what are the deliverables? He says he's going to make a big announcement on trade. You know, the trade movement that I saw on this trip was all these other countries moving forward in a framework for a new TPP without the U.S. What do you think he's bringing back?

ROGIN: Yes. So, you know, it's kind of a mixed bag. First of all, we should give the president credit. He spent 13 days in the region, went to five countries, met with a ton of leaders. That's a good thing. That reasserts American presence in Asia.

He also unveiled what we call an Indo-Pacific strategic framework which is sort of their big idea for America's role in Asia and how to join together with allies and partners to mitigate and manage China's rise.

In terms of deliverables, I think there's less here than meets than eye, and what the president is touting is what he calls $300 billion of trade deals with China -- a few more billion here and there in the other countries. The details of those are complicated. Some of them are already baked

into the cake, some of them are coming the future, some of them may never materialize. Overall, there's not a lot of deliverables.

On the trade front, as you rightly pointed out, Christine, we abandoned the TPP and now we're trying to replace -- or the Trump administration is trying to replace that with one-on-one bilateral trade deals, and there's not a lot of progress.

We saw the Japanese express general interest. We saw the Koreans express a willingness to renegotiate. There were some tough words on China on trade but not a lot of action to back up those tough words.

So the -- what the president is going to do is he's going to come home and he's going to bring home -- bring together all of these little pieces that we were just talking about and present this as a big move forward on trade and economic engagement with Asia.

I think that's a little bit too far but, again, this will play out over weeks and months. And although he didn't get everything that he wanted on trade right away, in the coming weeks and months if they're able to put together some of the one-on-one trade deals then fine, we should give them --

[05:40:03] ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: -- credit for doing that.

MARQUARDT: Josh, the president's returning home, of course, while wanting to focus on trade, to this Roy Moore scandal.

The White House and the president have said that if these allegations about these young women are true that he should leave the race. But there is a growing chorus of Republicans on Capitol Hill who are saying regardless, he should leave the race.

Roy Moore has shown no indication that he is going to step down.

Do you have any sort of impression that Alabama voters will care about these allegations?

ROGIN: Well, you know, I just follow the work of some great CNN reporters who are on the ground who find a lot of Alabama voters who are not convinced that these allegations should amount to Roy Moore being disqualified from serving the Senate.

That represents a huge break between a lot of those voters and what's going on here in Washington, especially among Republicans who are lining up to say that he should not serve and that if he were elected there are a range of scenarios that they might employ for not seating him or expelling him or whatever, so that is a huge divide.

And what the White House has been trying to do ever since these allegations came into light is to try to straddle that divide, OK, and -- by saying, oh well, if it's proven, you know, these are horrible things but we don't know the facts. That straddle in untenable and as the evidence mounts and more accusers come out and Roy Moore gives these short of half-denials and equivocates, that position is becoming much, much more difficult.

And, President Trump, himself, has been able to personally weighing in because he's been on this trip, but when he comes back that is going to go away. So the first time he gets asked about this he's going to make a statement that's going to reveal how he really thinks and that's going to have a huge influence on what -- on this issue going forward.

MARQUARDT: I was speaking to a supporter of Moore's in Alabama last night, asking her what she thought about the changes of Roy Moore stepping down. She said zero to none.

ROMANS: Really.

ROGIN: I think that's right.

ROMANS: You spent some time. You might be going back. I do, too.

MARQUARDT: Very likely.

ROMANS: You will be in Alabama again soon. All right.

MARQUARDT: It's going to be a busy month.

ROMANS: Thanks so much, Josh Rogin. Nice to see you this morning.

ROGIN: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Thank you, Josh.

ROMANS: All right. Nearly half of all Americans now have high blood pressure after a group of leading health experts redefine the standard. The new guidelines and what they mean for you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:35] MARQUARDT: There's a lot waiting on President Trump's plate when he returns to Washington. He's on his way home now after more than a week in Asia and is promising a major announcement later this week.

CNN's Sara Murray is live in Manila with more on the president's final days overseas. Good morning, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alex.

Well, the president and his aides feel like this trip has gone relatively smoothly for him and, frankly, they would rather keep these Asia-style headlines going in the U.S. than have to grapple with more questions about the Russia investigation and the controversy surrounding the Alabama Senate race.

On his way leaving the country, the president said he would have a big announcement, a big address coming later this week. He has said he wants to make a big announcement on trade.

But, White House officials also say the president is angling for a primetime address to try to stitch together this Asia trip and it's certainly no surprise after the warm welcome he got here abroad. He was feted, he was wined and dined. Leaders literally rolled out the red carpet for him.

Before he left -- headed back to Washington -- he ran through some of the highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Philippines had talks with us beautifully. China and the incredible -- the incredible opening they gave us. South Korea was terrific to us. Vietnam treated us incredibly, as did -- I mean, the Philippines -- we could just not have been treated nicer.

But we've accomplished a lot. I've enjoyed it very much.

My press, I feel so sorry for them. They're exhausted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: An exhausted press, indeed. The president is already on his way home from this grueling trip and the American press will be soon behind him on a brief 21-hour flight -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Well, hopefully, you'll get some rest on that flight before that major announcement. Thanks so much, Sara. Safe trip home.

ROMANS: A 21-hour flight. All right. Bon voyage, Sara.

Bill Gates wants to build futuristic community ibn the Arizona desert. We'll tell you how, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:52:54] MARQUARDT: Welcome back.

Jurors are considering criminal corruption charges against New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, telling the judge they are deadlocked but deliberations will continue.

The judge, Monday, ordered the 7-woman, 5-man jury to return this morning. Their struggle to reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges could signal a potential mistrial ahead, which would not be a complete surprise.

We get more from CNN's Laura Jarrett.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, good morning, Christine and Alex. The message from the judge to the jury was a simple one, keep on going. Now, after several hours of deliberations, the jury said that it was stuck. It asked the judge what it should do and the judge said clear your head, try again. So today, we will see if they can reach a unanimous verdict.

But we had a little bit of a preview that this could happen last week when one of the jurors that was excused for a previously planned vacation told us about the splits in the room. Described the situation where the jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on any of the 12 counts that Sen. Menendez is now facing.

And the question is what happens now if they come back and they say that they are still deadlocked, still unable to reach a unanimous verdict? The judge could instruct them to still keep going, to still try to reach a unanimous verdict or he could official declare a full mistrial in which case the Justice Department would decide whether to try to pursue the charges once again and do this case all over again -- Christine, Alex.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. In Newark, Laura Jarrett. Thank you so much for that.

Officials in Iran announcing overnight that rescue operations are almost over after a powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck on the Iran-Iraq border Sunday. They say relief operations could take months.

Right now, the death toll stands at 452 people. More than 7,100 others are injured. Officials are now calling for blood donors.

The earthquake, the deadliest of the year, surpassing the one that hit Mexico City in September.

MARQUARDT: And breaking -- and breaking overnight, an angry protest in Baton Rouge after a fatal officer-involved shooting at an apartment complex. Louisiana State Police say a Baton Rouge officer was escorting a caseworker from the Department of Children and Family Services when some kind of struggle broke out.

[05:55:10] The identities of the shooting victim and the police officer have not been released. We're told the officer sustained a minor injury and was wearing a body camera.

ROMANS: Nearly half of all Americans -- 46 percent now -- fall into the high blood pressure category based on new guidelines released Monday. According to the new figures from 11 health organizations, 50 percent of adult men, 38 percent of adult women in the U.S. fall into this new high blood pressure category.

Doctors say medication can often be avoided with a few lifestyle changes -- exercising, reducing salt, adding potassium-rich fruit and vegetables to your diet.

MARQUARDT: New charges filed against members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State following the death of a 19-yaer-old pledge.

Prosecutors citing newly-recovered video say Timothy Piazza was served at least 18 drinks in a span of less than 90 minutes during a frat even in February. Later that night, the young men fell down a flight of steps and sustained injuries that led to his death.

According to the district attorney, members of the fraternity told police initially that basement cameras at the scene were not working but officers then uncovered evidence that the footage had been manually deleted.

ROMANS: All right. For the first time since 1958, powerhouse Italy has failed to qualify for the World Cup. Their fate sealed when they were held to a scoreless tie by Sweden in Milan. The four-time World Cup champions knocked the only big name to sputter. The Netherlands, Chili, and the United States all failing to reach the World Cup.

MARQUARDT: And, planets are aligning again. If you missed the rare, spectacular set of Jupiter and Venus almost on top of each other on Monday, you're going to get another opportunity this morning. In North America, the event should be visible right about now, local weather conditions permitting.

NASA's jet propulsion laboratory says at their closest point on Monday, as seen by the naked eye, the distance between the planets was smaller than the diameter of the full moon.

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

The local stock markets are mostly lower after Wall Street finished up a little bit.

The big story, GE. General Electric fell to a five-year low. There's a good chance you own GE somewhere in your portfolio. It is one of the most widely-held stocks in the U.S.

The stock fell seven percent. Investors apparently unimpressed after its CEO outlined steps to turn the company around.

He warned there will be a reset year to slim down this company to three core businesses -- power, aviation, and health care. Think jet engines, wind turbines, and MRI machines. No more light bulbs. They're getting rid of their iconic light bulb business.

And GE cut its dividends in half.

Walmart is about to up its fashion game with a little help from Lord & Taylor. They're teaming up to launch a flagship Lord & Taylor shop on walmart.com.

You've got very few details beyond that but the shop will offer higher-end clothing and accessories and will launch in the spring.

Walmart's digital business has been a huge success but it doesn't want customers to abandon its stores altogether. In fact, "The Wall Street Journal" reports it's raising prices on some items online to nudge their customers back to the stores for the cheaper prices there.

All right. Bill Gates wants to build a futuristic community in the Arizona desert. An investment firm controlled by Gates investing $80 million in a high-tech development outside Phoenix.

The goal here, to integrate technology into resident's lives. The smart city is designed to hold about 160,000 people. It will feature high-speed networks, autonomous vehicles, and new manufacturing technologies. Then, this will serve as a template for other sustainable cities.

Bill Gates, thinking ahead. Thinking to the future.

MARQUARDT: So how many projects does he have now?

ROMANS: Oh, a lot. Also, trying to cure Malaria --

MARQUARDT: Alzheimer's.

ROMANS: Alzheimer's -- a lot of things. Putting his money where his mouth is.

MARQUARDT: I commend Bill Gates.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUARDT: And I'm Alex Marquardt. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, November 14th, 6:00 here in New York.

And we have three breaking stories on the "Starting Line" for you.

First, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Clinton Foundation dealings and the 2010 sale of a uranium company to the Russians when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

This disclosure appears to be a direct response from President Trump who 10 days ago expressed disappointment with Sessions and said the Clintons should be investigated.

The announcement came about three hours after a bombshell report in "The Atlantic" revealed Donald Trump, Jr. secretly corresponded with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. Trump, Jr. responded by releasing some of those direct Twitter messages, the timing of which are raising a lot of eyebrows.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Now, a fifth accuser has come forward alleging that she was sexually assaulted by Roy Moore decades ago when she was just 16.

Moore continues to deny any wrongdoing, claiming that he doesn't even know the woman. Those were his words. He says these charges are politically motivated