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Trump Slams DOJ and FBI In Tweetstorm; House And Senate To Begin Tax Bill Reconciliation; Billy Bush To Trump: Yes, You Said That. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 4, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:09] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump aims his wrath at the FBI after Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying in the Russia probe. Now, obstruction charges could hinge on a tweet that raises questions about why the president fired James Comey.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You tweet and comment regarding ongoing criminal investigations at your own peril. I'd be careful if I were you, Mr. President.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And a bruising battle over taxes move on to the next phase. The House and the Senate will start to reconcile their two bills. We'll tell you where the GOP has some big gaps to close.

ROMANS: And it looks like Billy Bush is ready to come out of the shadows. In a scathing op-ed, he makes clear the president said exactly what you hear on that "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape. What will Bush say on the "THE LATE SHOW" tonight?

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

BRIGGS: We've long wondered when his voice would return to this conversation.

I'm Dave Briggs. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

We start, though, with the president returning to an old playbook following the news of criminal charges in the Russia probe. He's lashing out at the Intelligence Community.

This comes after former National Security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his discussions with the Russian ambassador during the transition.

ROMANS: In a series of tweets over the weekend, the president attacks the FBI and its former director James Comey. In one, he writes, "I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more fake news covering Comey lie." That puts the president directly at odds with what Comey told Congress in June.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: I understood him to be saying that what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to Flynn's account of his conversations with the Russians.


BRIGGS: President Trump's most notable tweet on Flynn turning state's evidence came Saturday. Quote, "I had to fire Gen. Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies."

Critics quickly pounced, saying if he fired Comey knowing the FBI was investigating Flynn that, on its own, may constitute obstruction of justice.

ROMANS: Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, now claims he drafted the president's tweet.

But top Democrats in Congress say obstruction is very much a part of the wider investigation.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The Judiciary Committee has an investigation going, as well, and it involves obstruction of justice. And I think what we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice.


BRIGGS: So, President Trump now looking to shift the focus, seizing on the news that a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team was removed and demoted over anti-Trump sentiments he had expressed in text messages. That agent was also in charge of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, most importantly.

ROMANS: Yes, let's talk about this a little bit.

Joining us this morning for the first time, Laura Barron-Lopez. She's a congressional reporter for the "Washington Examiner." Good morning and welcome.

Just a flurry of criticism over the weekend from the president to the FBI and the intelligence agencies, something that he is familiar --


ROMANS: -- a move in his playbook.

But, boy, the tweet that may or may not be from his lawyer, John Dowd, really, really raising a lot of questions this morning. LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: That's right, it is. And so, you know, we still have a lot to figure out -- whether or not what the lawyer says is accurate, whether or not what Trump says is accurate.

And so, it's definitely something that is adding to this pattern of did Trump obstruct justice when he fired Comey. And that's something that as Sen. Dianne Feinstein said, her side of the investigation on the Senate Judiciary Committee is looking into.

That being said, that doesn't mean that Sen. Grassley, the chairman -- the Republican chairman of that committee is necessarily taking the same route.

And so it remains to be seen whether or not Republicans in Congress are going to change course, given the tweets that they saw this weekend from Trump, and whether or not they are going to take a harder line looking at if the president impeded this investigation.

[05:35:11] BRIGGS: Now, the FBI pushed back sternly on Twitter -- where else? This is the format of today.

The FBI tweeting, "Every day, FBI special agents put their lives on the line to protect the American people from national security and criminal threats. Agents perform these duties with unwavering integrity and professionalism, and a focus on complying with the law and the constitution."

It goes on, as you can see -- as you can screen.

Rather extraordinary to see the FBI have to defend itself on social media.

But, Laura, the problem with the FBI is right now we've learned, as we just mentioned, that Bob Mueller had to fire someone from the special counsel investigation for anti-Trump sentiments. That agent was also in charge of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.

Does that cast some legit doubt on why Hillary Clinton's e-mails weren't further investigated?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well look, I mean, Hillary Clinton's e-mails were investigated thoroughly, not only by the FBI but also by multiple congressional committees. And again, those multiple congressional committees came up with pretty much nothing when it came to that.

And so, again, this is an attempt by Trump to deflect and distract, and that's something that Mueller is not going to allow when it comes to his investigation, and so he's stamped that out and is moving forward with it.

You know, that being said, legality aside with also what Trump -- what Trump tweeted this weekend about whether or not -- kind of admitting to obstruction of justice.

The president's tweets are completely abnormal. They're not -- they're not something that we are used to seeing. This isn't something that is normal at all and so it does send a signal the fact that he possibly obstructed justice and the war that he's engaging with the FBI. It sends a signal to countries abroad that the U.S. government, particularly the White House, is in a pretty volatile state.

ROMANS: Laura, you cover Congress. Let me ask you quickly how bruising you think the battle's going to be for tax reform. You know, we're getting this -- the president wants a -- wants a bill by -- what, by Christmas.

BRIGGS: Christmas.

ROMANS: How -- there's a lot of differences between the House and the Senate. What are you expecting?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Look, I'm expecting that that bill is actually going to make it all the way to the president's desk even though it is a very unpopular bill. It's one that Republicans pushed through without any Democratic input.

But it's something that is -- I would be surprised if it doesn't reach the president's desk despite all the other --

ROMANS: You see -- you think it's unpopular because it's just so heavily weighted toward corporate tax relief, right?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes, that's one of the reasons. I mean, there's also -- you know, it doesn't help states like California and New York, and it definitely makes it more difficult in the SALT deductions. It takes away some of that. And so, that's one of the reasons that it's highly unpopular.

ROMANS: All right. Laura Barron-Lopez, nice to see you. Thank you for joining us this morning.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: Have a great morning.

Let's talk a little bit about that. Both the House and the Senate bill promise big corporate tax cuts. There's no guarantee it will add jobs or raise wages, and it adds to the deficit. There are some big differences here.

So what does all this mean for your tax return?

First of all, personal tax cuts in the House version are permanent. In the Senate bill, those personal individual tax cuts expire by the year 2025.

Also different, individual tax rates. The House has four tax brackets, the Senate keeps seven. It lowers most rates, including for the top earners.

The Senate version also keeps some popular tax breaks that the House eliminates, like deductions for mortgages, medical expenses, and student loans.

And while both increase the child tax credit, the Senate bill is more generous.

One thing both versions agree on, permanent corporate tax cuts. The GOP argues that will mean higher wages for you. There is no guarantee.

In fact, the current tax plan will likely raise taxes for all low- income and most middle-class Americans by the year 2027, while giving the biggest tax cuts to the top earners and eliminating the estate tax that mostly affects very, very uber-wealthy Americans.

BRIGGS: Yes, that wage increase will be interesting to watch because we saw in the U.K. very little, if almost no wage increase when they cut the corporate rate. We'll see.

All right. It looks like Billy Bush is back, done lying low in the wake of that notorious "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape which got him fired from NBC.

The former co-host starting with a message to President Trump in the form of an op-ed in "The New York Times" headlined "Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That."

Bush says he was prompted to speak out by news reports suggesting that the president is questioning the authenticity of the tape. Bush says the reports of Trump casting doubt on the tape hit a raw nerve.

ROMANS: Bush writes, "Every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this is real. We now know better.

[05:40:03] I can only imagine how it has reopened the wounds of the women who came forward with their stories about him and did not receive enough attention.

This country is currently trying to reconcile itself to years of power abuse and sexual misconduct. Its leader is wantonly poking the bear."

Bush is set to appear on "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT" tonight.

BRIGGS: It's a conversation that ought to be brought back into this current environment in which it is a kind of a day of reckoning.

ROMANS: That op-ed on "The New York Times" a good read.

BRIGGS: Very interesting stuff. Check it out right now.

All right. The long-time head of one of the world's most famous opera companies accused of sexual misconduct. How the New York Metropolitan Opera -- the Met -- is responding to James Levine, next.


[05:45:10] ROMANS: CIA Director Mike Pompeo weighing in on his boss's prolific Twitter habit. He says it actually yields valuable intelligence.

The president heavily criticized last week for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posting by a right-wing extremist group in Britain.

But at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California on Saturday, Pompeo said this.


MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR, CIA: I have seen things the president has put on his Twitter account actually have a real-world impact on our capacity to understand what's going on in other places in the world. That is, our adversaries responded to those tweets in ways that were helpful to us to understand command and control issues, who is listening to what messages, how those messages are resonating around the world.


BRIGGS: Keep in mind that's the man some feel could be the next secretary of state.

But one of Pompeo's predecessors differed with the current CIA director sitting next to him at the forum. Former director Leon Panetta said, quote, "When you tweet something like that out there, you don't know what the consequences are going to be, and the consequences could be lives."

ROMANS: The U.S. and South Korea beginning large-scale joint aerial military drills today. About 230 aircraft and 12,000 personnel are participating in the annual five-day air exercise. It's designed to enhance the combat effectiveness of both nations.

The U.S. has deployed Washington's top-of-the-line Stealth fighters to South Korea for the drills.

BRIGGS: The exercise follows North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile launch last week and warnings this weekend from North Korean and U.S. officials that the chances of war are growing.

A U.S. official says the missile launch last week most likely broke up upon reentry into the earth's atmosphere.

ROMANS: A big business deal to tell you about. CVS will buy Aetna in a deal that could transfer health care. CVS is a huge drugstore chain and prescription drug provider. Aetna is one of the nation's largest health insurers.

If the $69 billion deal is approved it will help both companies. CVS gains a huge number of members for its prescription business just as it faces a possible new threat from Amazon in that space. For Aetna, it creates new growth. That's been critical to offset its huge losses under Obamacare.

This deal is also a response to soaring health care costs. Consumers want cheaper access to care. CVS and Aetna say joining forces will help. They plan to transfer CVS's 10,000 locations into community health centers, promising Americans both lower-cost medical care and a place to purchase coverage.

That is, if the deal is approved, especially after the Justice Department sued to block another so-called vertical merger, AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. Both deals concern companies in the same industry that are not direct competitors.

BRIGGS: All right, time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Alisyn Camerota joining us on a Monday.

ROMANS: Hey, there.

BRIGGS: Good morning, Ali.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Monday, great to see you guys.

So we have, obviously, a lot on "NEW DAY" coming up, including the White House legislative director. Marc Short will be here to talk about this tax bill.

What's in it? It affects every one of us in this country -- everyone who will be watching "NEW DAY." So we need to know what's going to be in it when the House and the Senate try to reconcile their plan.

Also, how are the women who came forward during the campaign to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct -- how are they feeling in this "me too" movement and this moment?

Billy Bush, as you know, put out an op-ed about that "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape. He says that they feel forgotten.

We are going to have one of those accusers with us to tell us how she's feeling and what she wants now out of President Trump.

So all that when Chris and I see you at the top of the hour.

BRIGGS: Yes, he didn't just say that that tape is real. He said I believe the accusers and referenced a couple of the stories. An interesting op-ed.

All right, Ali, we'll see you in a little bit. Thanks.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. A crazy day on Wall Street. Michael Flynn's guilty plea slammed the stock market, then progress on tax cuts rescued the stock market. Details on "CNN Money Stream," next.


[05:53:35] BRIGGS: Former President Barack Obama taking a veiled shot at his successor's leadership on climate change. Mr. Obama spoke Saturday at an invitation-only event in Paris.

"Reuter's" reports Obama drew laughs with this comment. Quote, "I grant you that at the moment we have a temporary absence of American leadership on the issue of climate change."

ROMANS: Mr. Obama did say the U.S. is still on track to meet its target thanks to the work of some cities, states, and businesses.

In June, President Trump announced U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords.

BRIGGS: Another high-powered man facing accusations of sexual misconduct. "The New York Times" reporting three men are accusing James Levine, the longtime music director of the New York Metropolitan Opera -- the Met. They say he sexually abused them decades ago.

ROMANS: And the Met now suspending Levine pending an internal investigation. The Met saying it hired investigators to determine if the accusations are true.

"While we await the results of the investigation based on these new news reports, the Met has made the decision to act now."

BRIGGS: Levine stepped down as the Met's music director in 2016 due to health problems but he was scheduled to lead a new production starting New Year's Eve.

No comments from Mr. Levine.

ROMANS: Police say a parking dispute led to a stabbing and deadly hit-and-run in Queens, New York. Investigators say two people were stabbed in front a lounge early Sunday morning before the suspect drove away. Then a half block away the car jumped the curb and hit at least six people, killing one of them.

[05:55:03] Police say one suspect is in custody and that the incident is not being investigated as a terror attack.

BRIGGS: Well, the Lions couldn't collapse the Silverdome and explosives couldn't do it, either. Detroit's famed Silverdome still standing even after an attempted implosion. The demolition contractor, Adamo, says some explosives failed to detonate because of faulty wiring.

Twitter, as you might imagine, enjoyed the moment, including this one. Quote, "Once again, the Silverdome sending home fans disappointed, only to have them scrambled to T.V.'s later when it sounds like a comeback is happening."

I played that in real life on Sunday with another tough Lion's loss.

All right, hundreds of thousands of people facing a blizzard warning today, if you can believe it, as those warmer areas in the Midwest to the East Coast now suddenly face a cool-off.

ROMANS: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the forecast for us. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Dave and Christine.

Winter about to get underway across portions of the Midwest. About 400,000 people dealing with the blizzard warnings. About two million people with winter weather advisories across the Dakotas. Certainly, parts of the Plains getting in on this as well.

And we're talking about for this to be issued you'd have to have three consecutive hours of winds of 35 miles per hour or greater and heavy snowfall on top of that.

And it's all playing out in places like Fargo today so you bet it's going to be snowing quite heavily at times across the region. Generally speaking, four to six inches. Get up into northern portions of Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin as well, six to eight inches possible. But, of course, the winds really the big factor in all of this.

But look at what's going on ahead of all this. Twenty-five to almost 30 degrees above what is normal for this time of year in Minneapolis, Des Moines, Chicago. This is all going to change. The fifties and sixties give way to the twenties and thirties as this front passes by tomorrow.

So the temp trend here is a dramatic one. In Chicago, going from 63 down to 37 on Tuesday afternoon -- guys.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you for that, Pedram.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning -- this Monday morning.

Global stocks higher today after a crazy day Friday on Wall Street. Michael Flynn's guilty plea slammed stocks and then progress on tax cuts rescued them.

The Dow plunged 350 points Friday after ABC reported Flynn would testify against President Trump. But then, stocks rebounded after the GOP secured enough votes to pass its tax bill.

The sell-off, I think, reflects fears that the Russia scandal risks Trump's economic agenda, especially corporate tax cuts.

Hope for tax reform, by the way, has launched stocks to record, after record, after record. Companies are making huge profits already and lower taxes mean they can give even more money to their shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks.

So, Wall Street will watch for more developments this week on the tax front, as well as the November jobs report. That's on Friday. A blow to Trump's immigration agenda. The Trump administration can no longer delay an Obama-era startup visa. The program lets foreign entrepreneurs apply for work visas if they build fast-growing companies.

The Trump administration delayed the program's start in July, but a federal judge ruled Friday that the administration did not have a reasonable cause and should begin accepting applicants immediately.

Bad news for auto sales. Twenty seventeen will most likely mark the first full year decline since the Great Recession. After years of record highs, car sales are now slowing and while November sales were mixed for the major automakers, total industry sales are down about 1.5 percent this year.

U.S. sales are on track for about 17.1 million vehicles in 2017. That's below last year's record of 17.6 million.

You know, the recession was so horrible. There was just the pent-up demand for cars.


ROMANS: You know, car sales just fell off a cliff during the financial crisis and now, it's been climbing back. Now, it looks like it's back.

BRIGGS: And largely, you've seen people still want SUVs and --


BRIGGS: -- and trucks.


BRIGGS: They're not yet interested in all the electric cars and what not.

ROMANS: We'll see.

All right, thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" starts right now. White House Policy Director Marc Short joining Alisyn and Chris.

We'll see you tomorrow.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No collusion. There's been absolutely no collusion.

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: The president tweeted that he fired him because he had lied to the FBI. That ups the ante. GRAHAM: You tweet regarding ongoing criminal investigations at your own peril. I'd be careful if I were you, Mr. President.

FEINSTEIN: What we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very close to the finish line.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: This was swamp 101. The bill was being hand-drafted. Lots of provisions were being included for special interests.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm not going to say I read every single letter on every single page, but have I read every aspect of that bill before it was fused together, yes.

MCCONNELL: We believe this will get the country performing better.


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

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, December fourth, 6:00 here in New York.

Here's our starting line.

President Trump, once again, undermining the credibility of the FBI. The president launching an extraordinary assault on the nation's top law enforcement agency, saying its reputation is in, quote, "tatters."