Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Administration Ending Protected Status for Haiti; Trump Chooses Roy Moore to Support Tax Reform. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 21, 2017 - 05:00   ET


Aired 5:30-6a ET>

[05:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The administration is ending protected status despite concerns Haiti just can't handle an influx of tens of thousands of people.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House may not want Roy Moore but it wants tax reform. Now it seems the president's advisers are willing to deal with the former to get the latter.

ROMANS: The president gets set for one of the greatest responsibilities of the commander in chief. He will pardon two turkeys. Big day at the White House.

BRIGGS: Speaking of turkeys, LaVar Ball gave a terrific interview last night with Chris Cuomo.

ROMANS: Oh, yes, 23 minutes of fun.

BRIGGS: We'll play you the highlights of that.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Thirty minutes past the hour.

We start with action on immigration. Haitians who took refuge in the United States after a devastating earthquake back in 2010 now have to be out of the United States by July of 2019. The Trump administration announcing it is ending Haiti's coverage under TPS, the Temporary Protected Status that has allowed nearly 60,000 Haitians to live in the U.S. since the 2010 quake.

Now, the change, part of a wider administration effort to tighten immigration to the U.S.

ROMANS: The TPS program is meant to shield immigrants fleeing disaster or conflict zones -- to sheild them from deportation.

The decision comes after the Homeland Security Department determined the extraordinary conditions created by that earthquake no longer exist.

Critics of the decision are not buying that, including Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida. She tweeted this.

"I travelled to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and after hurricane Matthew in 2016 so I can personally attest that Haiti is not prepared to take back nearly 60,000 TPS recipients under these difficult and harsh conditions."

BRIGGS: Democratic Party chairman Tom Perez also blasting the move, saying Donald Trump's cruelty knows no bounds and adding, "I'm disgusted at the president's heartlessness with this decision. Trump is tearing families apart and turning his back on values that have made our country great."

ROMANS: All right. Also in immigration news overnight, President Trump overruled in his bid to target sanctuary cities. A federal judge permanently blocking the president's executive order that would have slashed funding to cities that limit their cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

Judge William Orrick rejecting the administration's argument but the order affects only a small pot of money.

BRIGGS: The judge used comments by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the president himself as evidence the order was intended to target a wide array of federal funding.

The judge's ruling affects lawsuits brought by two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara. San Francisco city attorney calling the decision a victory for the American people and the rule of the law. The DOJ blasted the ruling, accusing the court of exceeding its authority and promising to take action.

ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University. Good morning.


ROMANS: We'll skip the turkey pardoning --

BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: -- as an important --


ROMANS: -- political news story of the day and focus really in on this issue with haiti.

Temporary Protected Status is meant to show, i guess, the heart of the United States, you know. We take in people who are fleeing terrible conditions. But one of the criticisms is that it's not really ever temporary, you know. Some of these places they flee from really can never get back up on their feet.

What does this say about the Trump administration and his immigration agenda that they're doing this now? ZELIZER: It says what we already know. From the start of his campaign he's been very strong and very tough in trying to go after programs that have been hospitable to immigrants and this is part of a bigger plan that is less about Haiti than is about the administration attempting to curtail all the programs that we have that welcome people to our country in times of need.

BRIGGS: So heartless, but you could add pretty consistent --


BRIGGS: -- given the Trump adminsitartion's policy toward immigration in all aspects.

But when it comes to busienss, their approach has largely been anti -- hands off, really -- deregulation.

ROMAN: Right, pro-business.

BRIGGS: But now -- pro-business.

But now, here they are attempting to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger -- of course, the parent company of CNN. Interesting because the top cop on deregulation -- or excuse me, on anti-trust legislation -- he said in September of last year this about this very deal. And, Makan Delrahim is an expert on this very subject and now in charge of the case.


MAKAN DELRAHIM, U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, ANTITRUST DIVISION: This is more of what we could call a vertical merger, a content with distribution rather than two competitors merging. So, I anticipate that the FCC will have little if any role and it will be a pure antitrust.

It shouldn't be, you know -- just the sheer size of it and the fact that i's media i think will get a lot of attention. However, i don't see this as a major antitrust problem.


BRIGGS: Don't see this as a major antitrust problem. It's now his case.

President Trump, that same month, October of 2016, says this is a deal we will not approve in my adminsitration because it's too much concentration of power of the hands of too few.

[05:35:03] How do you reconcile those two positions with where we are now?

ZELIZER: Well, look, it's very difficult to reconcile unless you look at politics, and so that becomes the issue. But this is not actually about antitrust, it's about the president's adversarial relationship with the media. And if that's the issue, then it undermines the antitrust claims.

If we had President Sanders or President Warren this would make sense from a policy perspective.


ZELIZER: But this is a deregulatory adminsitration that suddenly is taking this on and will look at this tweet feeds and they think that will undercut some of the case.

ROMANS: It will be fascinating. We'll be talking about First Amendment issues --

BRIGGS: No doubt.

ROMANS: -- and all kinds of things in the days -- in the days ahead here, certainly.

Even in that interview he said -- Delrahim said that the burden is on the Justice Department in court.


ROMANS: You know, the burden will be on the Justice Department.

Let's talk a little bit about Roy Moore because Kellyanne Conway and the position of the White House on whether he should be a senator has shifted over the past few days. I mean, they're not embracing him.

BRIGGS: Dramatically.

ROMANS: They're not embracing him but they really want a GOP -- a Republican vote on health care.

Listen to Kellyanne Conway -- in just five days how she's changed her language.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The principle -- the incontrovertible principle is that there's no Senate seat that's worth more than a child.

Doug Jones in Alabama -- folks, don't be fooled. He'll be a vote against tax cuts?


CONWAY: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax -- this tax bill through.


ROMANS: They want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through. That's a remarkable shift. I mean, the White House is not saying vote for Roy Moore. ZELIZER: Yes.

ROMANS: And they're also pointing out that he's not campaigning for Roy Moore, but they want that seat.

ZELIZER: Well, you have to give her credit for being very hoenst. She's explaining exactly what the political position and the politics is.

But it's short-term, meaning if this Republican is part of the Senate and part of the Repubilcan body, the chances he'll be expelled are very slim. The Senate rarely does that. And then, in 2018, Democrats will be running against the party that has Roy Moore as the face of the party, and that could be costly.

But this is a matter, right now, about partisanship versus principle and the administration is coming down on the side of partisanship.

BRIGGS: Yes. So they get tax reform, perhaps, but they also get the headline.


BRIGGS: "Banned at the Mall, Allowed at the United States Senate." That's where we are.

ZELIZER: And that can be extraordinarily damaging. This becomes the name brand of the Republican Party combined with all the chaos from the administration.

And many Republicans know privately -- ask Jeff Flake --


ZELIZER: -- that this is going to come at a cost. It's not free.

BRIGGS: All right and spare the president.

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. Thank you for getting up early two days in a row.

ROMANS: We are grateful. We are so grateful.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

ROMANS: We are so grateful to you. We are grateful.

BRIGGS: Eternally grateful, we really are.

ROMANS: Julian Zelizer, thank you. So nice to have you here this morning.

All right. President Trump promised to kill a billionaire tax break but the GOP tax bill keeps it intact. Here's candidate Trump in 2015 railing against wealthy investors.


DONALD TRUMP, THEN-CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They make a fortune, they pay no tax. It's ridiculous, OK?

And some of them are friends of mine. Some of them i couldn't care less about. It's the wrong thing.

The hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.


ROMANS: He's talking about the carried interest provision. At the time, Wall Street worried that Trump would eliinate it but both the Senate and the House tax bill keep that loophole.

Carried interest deals with how the U.S. taxes investment income. Typically, hedge fund managers take a fee from invsetors. They claim a share of their profits, usually 20 percent, and that 20 percent in profits or carried interest is taxed at 23.8 percent. That's below the 39.6 percent it would be if it were ordinary income.

Now, the industry says that extra money helps fund risky investments like start-ups, but critics say it's -- you know, look, it's just a loophole that gives the wealthy an unfair advantage and removing it would raise $16 billion in revenue.

So who uses this deduction? It's used mostly by private equity managers, venture capitalists, and real estate developers, and it is in both versions of that tax bill.

BRIGGS: And the optics, that's even lower than the pass-through --


BRIGGS: -- or small business rates --

ROMANS: Yes, it's a terrible --

BRIGGS: -- to justify.

ROMANS: The optics are terrible because the president promised that he -- the president said it was getting away with murder. It wasn't fair for rich hedge fund managers to use and it wasn't fair to the working guy.

And he used this on the campaign trail to show how out of touch the Washington establishment is and how out of touch Congress is with the feelings of working men and women. It's still in there.

BRIGGS: All right.

Ahead, North Korea back on the state sponsors of terrorism list. New sanctions expected today, as well. How is Pyongyang responding? We're live in Seoul.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:44:09] BRIGGS: All right.

Two new major media figures facing sexual harassment allegations this moring as eight women tell "The Washington Post" longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances, including groping, making lewd phone calls, and walking around naked in their presence.

ROMANS: Rose apologizing, saying "I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insentistively at times and I accept responsibility for that, though i do not believe that all of these allegations are accureate. I always felt that i was pursuring shared feelings even though I now realize I was mistaken.

Rose now suspended by CBS, with PBS and "Bloomberg" immediately pulling districtibution of the "CHARLIE ROSE SHOW."

BRIGGS: Also suspended, Glenn Thrush, one of the top reporters at "The New York Times."

In a story published by, details allege sexual misconduct involving younger female journalists. Three women, including the article's author Laura McGann, accusing Thrush of unwanted groping and kissing, and what McGann calls hazy sexual encounters under the influence of alcohol.

[05:45:10] ROMANS: In an e-mail to CNN, Thrush apologizes and says he is starting outpatient treatment for alcoholism.

He is also pushing back on some of the allegations saying, "My recollection of my interactions with Laura (the author of the article) defers greatly from hers. The encounter was consenual, brief, and ended by me. She was an editor above me at the time and i did not disparage her to colleaauges at "Politico" as she claims."

BRIGGS: Also, the first claim against Sen. Al Franken of sexual misconduct since he took office. Lindsay Menz says the senator touched her inappropritately in 2010, telling CNN he grabbed her backside while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair. Franken tells CNN he does not remember the photo with Menz and feels badly if she felt disrespected.

ROMANS: All right, 45 minutes past the hour.

After 23 head-spinning minutes with CNN's Chris Cuomo, LaVar Ball still refsued to thank President Trump for getting his son and two UCLA basketball teammates out of jail after their arrest for shoplifting in China.

BRIGGS: Now, Ball had minimized the president's role over the weekend to which Mr. Trump responded by tweeting he should have left the players in jail.

Ball telling CNN he's still not convinced the president helped bring the players home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LAVAR BALL, FATHER OF LIANGELO BALL: If he said he helped, that's good for his mind.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What do you mean good for his mind?

BALL: I mean, why has he even got to say it? If you helped you shouldn't have to say anything. If you helped you shouldn't have to make --

If i help somebody i don't walk arund saying, you know, i helped you now. Come on now, give me some love. I helped you. I mean, come on, for real?

I would say thank you if he would have put him on his plane and took him home. Then i would have said thank you, Mr. Trump, for taking my boys out of China and bringing them back to the U.S. There's a lot of room on that plane.

Did he help the boys get out? I don't know.

CUOMO: Why do you doubt him?

BALL: I don't know. If i was going to thank somebody I'd probably thank President Xi.


BRIGGS: Now, the interview did end on a festive note with LaVar Ball telling Chris to wish Mr. Trump a happy Thanksgiving.

There's certainly a tweetstorm brewing in the White House as we speak at 5:47 eastern time. It shouldn't be too long.

ROMANS: No, the president gets up right around half an hour ago.

BRIGGS: Right around now.

ROMANS: We'll see when he's --

BRIGGS: Look, LaVar Ball is a professional troll.


BRIGGS: You gave him everything he wanted by elevating him here.

ROMANS: All right.

Would you get into an Uber that didn't have a driver?

BRIGGS: No, more than not.

ROMANS: It soon could be a reality. Details on "CNN Money Stream," next.


[05:51:57] ROMANS: All right, welcoem back.

The Trump adminsitration expected to announce new sanctions today against North Korea after the president put the Kim Jong Un regime back on the short list of nations labeled as state sponsors of terrorism.


TRUMP: It should have happened a long time ago. It should have happened years ago.

In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil.


BRIGGS: North Korea was removed from the list by President George W. Bush back in 2008 but Pyongyang has dramatically escalated its nuclear program since then.

So how is this move being received in the region? Let's ask CNN's Anna Coren who is live for us in Seoul, South Korea. Good morning, Anna.


Certainly, the news has been met very warmly here in South Korea as well as Japan. They see this as a step towards denuclearlization of the Korean Peninsula.

In China, they're not so enthusiastic. A foreign ministry spokesperson described this as a highly complex and senstitive situation calling on all parties to ease tensions and return to negotiating.

But we have to remember that China is only just sent a special envoy to Pyongyang at President Trump's request to reengage North Korea in talks over its nuclear weapons program. And analysts belive that perhaps whatever progress was made over the weekend may have been now eroded because of President Trump's announcement.

It has been two months since North Korea last launched a ballistic missile test. And we heard from South Korea's top spy agency yesterday saying that North Korea is, in fact, ready to launch another ballistic missile and a new nuclear test.

And the fear, Dave, is that because of this announcement by Donald Trump and with these new sanctions that will be imposed, North Korea is going to retaliate. We did hear from a state newspaper calling Trump a lunatic president who deserves to be punished for his hideous crimes.

We don't think this is specifically realtd to the sanctions because when Pyohgyang officially does respond we know they'll be more rhetoric and certainly more threats further destablizing the Korean Peninsula, Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, but it has been relatively quiet, other than that rhetoric.

All right, Anna, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Whitefish Energy halting work on Puerto Rico's electric grid because it is owed more than $83 million by PREPA, the island's power authority.

In an exclusive interview, Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski tells CNN his company has reached the point it can no longer sustain operations.

BRIGGS: CNN has reached out to Puerto Rico power officials with no rseponse. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority came under fire for signing a $300 million contract with Whitefish, a tiny Montana company that had only two full-time employees at the time.

ROMANS: And it appears the daeth toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria has been dramatically underreported. The official death toll is 55 but CNN investigators surveyed 112 funeral homes on the island -- that's about half the total. Those facilities identified 499 deaths in the month after Maria hit. That is nine times the official count.

[05:55:12] BRIGGS: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott authorizing a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to an arrest and convcition following the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez. A spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council Labor Union says Martinez and his partner were injured on patrol near Van Horn, Texas.

ROMANS: Martinez was struck multiple times, possibly with a rock, and died from his injuries. His partner, whose name has not been released, is in serious condition and officials say he is having difficulty remembering the incident.

The area of the attack is a well-known drug smuggling route.

BRIGGS: All right.

For the first time ever, astronomers confirm making visual contact with a visitor from beyond our solar system. Take a look at "Oumuamau." Loosely translated, that's Hawaiian for messenger that reaches out from a distant past.

Astromers who first spotted it through a telescope on Maui initially thought it was a comet or an astroid from our solar system, but because of its orbit they quickly determined the object came from interstellar space. It's a least the size of a football field and for all your space geeks, it's hue is similar to objects found in the Kuiper Belt in the outer part of our solar system.

But it's orbit and shape firmly place it in the category of interstellar origin.