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President Trump May Be Ready to Talk Under Oath to Robert Mueller; Pathway to Citizenship For DREAMers?; Retailers Raising Prices On Washing Machines; Michigan Judge Rosemarie: "I've Just Signed Your Death Warrant." Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 04:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNNANCHOR: President Trump is ready to talk under oath to Robert Mueller. There may be a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. Hear the surprising revelations in the Q&A from the president shedding new light on some key issues.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNNANCHOR: The republican attacks on the FBI intensify and the Justice Department now warning it would be reckless to release the classified memo without review.


UNIDENTIFIED: I'm giving you 175 years which is 2,100 months. I just signed your death warrant.


BRIGGS: "I just signed your death warrant", said the judge and Larry Nassar will never see the light of day again. Fall out just beginning and the university president has quit as survivors demand accountability. We have reporters this morning from Michigan as well as Switzerland and South Korea on a very busy morning here on Early Start. The president's about 90 minutes away from Davos.


BRIGGS: Welcome to Early Start. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And, I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday January 25. It is 4 a.m. in the east. Let's begin here with the president saying he is eager to swear to tell the truth and talk to the Russia Special Council Robert Mueller. The president made that commitment when he unexpectedly dropped by John Kelly's office while his chief of staff was meeting with reporters. Remarkable. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it actually.

UNIDENTIFIED: You want to?

TRUMP: Here's the story just so you understand. There's been no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever and I'm looking forward to it but I would love to do that and I'd like to do it as soon as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED: When will do ...

TRUMP: Good luck, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED: Do you have a date set?

TRUMP: So, here's the story.

UNIDENTIFIED: Do you have a date set?

TRUMP: I don't know, no. I guess they're talking about two or three weeks but I would love to do it. But, you know, again, it's - I have to say subject to my lawyers and all of that but I would love to -


BRIGGS: Extraordinary back and forth there. The comment comes at a critical moment in the Russia probe a day after state in (ph) confirmed the special council is focusing his investigation on the firings of Michael Flynn as national security advisor and James Comey as head of the FBI.

The story following President Trump all the way to Switzerland. He arrives there in about an hour for the World Economic Forum. Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny. He joins us live from Davos. Good morning to you, Jeff. The populous president heading to the globalist gathering should be interesting.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. Good morning, Dave and Christine. President Trump, as you said, will be arriving here at the World Economic Forum in Davos in just a little more than a couple hours or so. He's the first U.S. president in nearly two decades to come here to Davos but of course this will not get his away from the growing cloud of the Russia investigation.

Now, you've heard that sound, the president speaking there in the introduction of this show. Extraordinary comments back and forth from the president with reporters. He dropped by a meeting that the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was having with reporters on immigration and held forth on a variety of topics.

He said he will sit down with the special council. He also explained how he's been defending himself, how it could be interpreted as obstruction of justice. He said he's simply defending himself. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED: Do you think Robert Mueller will be fair to you in this larger investigation?

TRUMP: We're going to find out. We're going to find out.

UNIDENTIFIED: Are you concerned about it? TRUMP: Because here's what we'll say, and everybody says, no collusion. There's no collusion. Now, they're say oh well did he fight back. Did you fight back?



TRUMP: John, you fight back it's obstruction. So, here the thing I hope so.

UNIDENTIFIED: So, how do you define collusion? I asked this earlier in the briefing to Sarah.

TRUMP: You're going to define it for me, OK? But I can tell you there's no collusion.


ZELENY: So, shortly after those comments White House lawyer Ty Cobb was explaining the president's words a little bit. He said he was simply dropping by briefly on his way to Davos saying that the negotiations are still underway between the White House and the Special Council's Office for how exactly the president would sit down under what conditions.

Of course, if that's coming up in a couple weeks, certainly many interviews are already happening. Jeff Sessions the attorney general has sat down with Bob Mueller's team. Steve Bannon, the former White House Chief Strategist, he is scheduled to do so by the end of the month.

So, even though the president here in Davos today certainly so much going on in this Russian investigation back in Washington.

BRIGGS: Yes, can't quite get away from it. Jeff Zeleny, live for us in Davos this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. The president plans to push his American First agenda when he touches down in Davos and it may not be warmly received considering Mr. Trump has railed against many of the people he will now be dealing with.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in Davos awaiting the president's arrival and it's so, kind of, ironic Nic that the very people who are in those rooms there, they don't approve of many of the president's policies but they are the one percent of the one percent. They've been enriched over the past year because of the way the markets have responded to President Trump.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, what you're finding here is there's sort of two different - two different groups of people if you will. There's the CEOs who really appreciate on the tax cuts that President Trump is making. The chief of the IMF, Christine Lagarde said you know the Trump - the tax cuts in the United States I hope is broad based economic revival, growth across the world and that's positive and that's restoring confidence in the United States.

But you have all those leaders who President Trump has already, sort of, got to know a little bit and from, you know, day one here the Indian prime minister, the Norwegian prime minister, the Canadian prime minister, yesterday the French president, the Italian prime minister, the German chancellor all saying President Trump's populism, his isolationism, as they see it, his American First, his not dealing with the issues of globalization in an international forum.

They've all, sort of, circled the wagons and said this isn't the way forward but interestingly when President Trump meets today he'll have a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, with the - with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who on both of those people he can - he's going to expect to find those conversations easier.

Theresa May gives her keynote speech here just shortly before meeting with President Trump. We've seen it already and she is different to all the other leaders here. She is not being critical directly or indirectly at President Trump. Interestingly there's been a call on it a letter for some of the South Africa allegation here when President Trump begins his speech to get up and quietly leave the room.

ROMANS: We'll see if it's America first but not America alone if that's how they try to - try to spin it. We know that Steve Mnuchin, the Treasure Secretary, Wilbur Ross have already been there doing some work, talking about trade and the potential for trade wars after those terrorists this week. OK, we know you'll be watching it for us. Thanks, Nic Robertson.

BRIGGS: All right. President Trump says he is open to supporting a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers here in this country. It's the first time he's publically taken that position. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED: Want citizenship for Dreamers?

TRUMP: We're going to - we're going to morph into it. It's going to happen at some point in the future.

UKNOWN: .. into it.

TRUMP: Over a period - over a period of 10 to 12 years. Somebody does a great job, they've worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job. If they've worked hard, they've done terrifically whether they have a little company or whether they work or whatever they're doing, if they do a great job I think it's a nice thing to have the incentive of after a period of years being able to become a citizen.


BRIGGS: The president also told reports he might be willing to extend the DACA deadline if there's no agreement by March 5 but he wouldn't guarantee it. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham applauding the president's decision. Graham says he has never felt better about finding a solution on immigration.

ROMANS: A sentiment shared by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin on Twitter he writes, "The president is headed in the right direction". After a bipartisan meeting including more than 40 senators Wednesday CNN has learned Durbin and majority with John Cornyn will be in charge of crafting a bipartisan immigration bill.

Senator Lamar Alexander describing the role as referees rather than final decision makers.

BRIGGS: The Justice Department warning it would be extraordinarily reckless for the House Intelligence Committee to release a classified memo without giving the department and the FBI a chance to review it first. Media reports say the memo described alleged abuse of FISA Surveillance Authority be the FBI.

The Justice Department letter to House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes asked quote, "Why the committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the intelligence community.

ROMANS: Chairman Nunes pushed back against the letter. His spokesman saying, "Agencies that are under investigation by congressional committees don't typically get access to committee's investigative documents about them." The ranking democrat on the House Intel panel Adam Schiff says committee democrats are drafting their own memo to address what they call a misleading character of the republican's document.

BRIGGS: The memo is part of the growing GOP effort to target and discredit the FBI. Another issue texts and missing texts between two top FBI officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page who are both kicked off the Mueller team for alleged anti-Trump bias. A handful of texts released by Republican Senator Ron Johnson revealing Strzok and Page referred to a quote, "secret society", the day after President Trump was elected.

ROMANS: CNN's Manu Raju asked the senator if he - if he's spreading conspiracy theories.


RON JOHNSON, UNITED STATES SENATOR: That's not my word. That's Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. All I'm saying is I've heard - I've heard it's real (ph). You can see the text. They used that maybe we ought to have the first (inaudible) society. It's not my words, that's theirs. All I'm saying is I've heard that there were managers, you know, high level officials at the FBI that were meeting together offsite.

MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But you don't know about why.

JOHNSON: So, it's just - well, no I don't.


ROMANS: Yes, was that a beer after work or a secret society? I mean new context this morning for that phrase secret society. ABC News has obtained the full text which reads, "Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society."

BRIGGS: Yes, a Justice Department official tells CNN thousands of FBI-issued phones were affected by the glitch that resulted in five months of texts missing from FBI servers.

ROMANS: All right in a huge break with tradition, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin welcomed a weaker U.S. dollar, sending the greenback to a three-year low. In Davos yesterday, Mnuchin says he is not concerned that the dollar fell 10 percent last year, in fact it's "good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities." Really, really rare, in fact I've never seen a treasury secretary actually welcome a weaker dollar. It is against the stated policy of treasury and the United States. Mnuchin later clarified his comments; he's not worried about the dollar in the short-term and that it's a "liquid market".

It is again unheard of for a U.S. treasury secretary to talk up a weak dollar, especially at Davos where world leaders are raising alarms about protectionism; both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President Emmanuel Macron preaching globalization warning against protectionism as a dangerous move backward. These are thinly veiled digs against President Trump. The president abandoned the Paris Climate Accord, he bailed on TPP; he will promote his America First Policies at Davos. Here's Trump in a surprise Q&A yesterday.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm going to Davos to get them to bring back a lot of money. They're going to invest a lot of money in this country. I made the statement that if we didn't do the regulation, which I think is actually maybe more important than even the tax cuts, but the regulations I think you would have a much different situation, but our people are very happy, especially with their 401Ks.


ROMANS: Our people are very happy, he says regulations actually a bigger deal than those tax cuts. Stocks are at records, helping your 401K, but a brewing trade war could hurt markets eventually and some of Trump's trade actions will hit your dollar - - your wallet right now. In a memo obtained by CNN Money, LG told retailers it is raising prices on washing machines due to a new tariff. LG wouldn't say how much, but experts predict maybe a 20 percent price hike. You know and supporters (ph)

BRIGGS: Yes I read about 50 bucks which is a lot of money for most consumers.

ROMANS: Yes and supporters of the president's tariff on things like washers and solar panels say, look some of the companies have already started moving production to the U.S. knowing that tariffs are coming so they want to get ahead of it and so that actually creates American jobs and that's the point of them in the first place. BRIGGS: Yes we'll see in the long-run how consumers like paying more for goods. They had the president of Michigan State University resigning in the wake of Larry Nassar's sentence for sex abuse; even though Nassar'll be locked up forever, survivors know there is a long road ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Larry is sentenced, but there's still so much more work to do and it is truly just the beginning.




JUDGE ROSEMARIE AQUILINA: My page only goes to a hundred years. Sir, I'm giving you 175, which is 2,100 months. I've just signed your death warrant.


BRIGGS: I just signed your death warrant. Michigan Judge Rosemarie Aquilina not holding anything back as she sentenced disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar to up to 175 years in prison for decades of sexually abusing young female athletes. Nassar was the former doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University; The scandal costing the Michigan State President her job.

ROMANS: Lou Anna Simon is stepping down after pressure - - under pressure after faculty and students said they had lost confidence. The U.S. Olympic Committee is calling on the National Gymnastics Board to step down; the USOC also announcing an independent investigation to determine how that abuse by Nassar could have gone undetected for so many years. We get more from CNN's Jean Casarez, she is in Lansing, Michigan.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN ANCHOR: Christine and Dave, we got the final numbers at yesterday's sentencing hearing, 156 young women stepped up to that podium to give victim impact statements saying they too were sexual assault victims of Larry Nassar and the assistant attorney general has told us that over 200 young women they know, were sexually assaulted by him. This was an extremely respected Olympic doctor; students here at Michigan State University, Olympic athletes, medalists; they all went to him. To even get an appointment with him was something of notoriety. He would position towels so parents in the room couldn't see what he was doing. At the Olympic level, parents couldn't even be in the hotel room. The last person to give an impact statement was Rachael Denhollander, she was the very first young woman to go public in 2016 with the IndyStar. Listen to her in court.


RACHAEL DENHOLLANDER: I thought daily about all the little women and girls walking into his office, and I wondered if it would ever, ever end. I became a mother three times over and the fear that hung each birth knowing each birth, knowing I would be vulnerable in a medical setting cast a horrific shadow over what should have been an occasion of pure joy. I held my firstborn and then my two daughters and each time I did, Larry I remember the day you brought Caroline into your office so that I could her. You knew how much I loved children and you used your own daughter to manipulate me. Larry (ph), every time I held my baby, I prayed to God you would leave your abuse in the exam room and not take it home to the little girl born with black hair just like her daddy.


CASAREZ: Rachael Denhollander is now married, she's a mother and she has now become an attorney. Next week Larry Nassar will face another sentencing judge in another county in Michigan.

He pled guilty to three counts of aggravated sexual misconduct and at that point he will be the property of not only the Federal Correctional System, but also the Michigan state correctional system to serve out what definitely will be a life term. His attorneys however have a right to appeal, Christine, Dave?

ROMANS: All right (inaudible) thank you for that. Breaking overnight a Colorado sheriff deputy shot and killed. Officials say the deputy was responding to a call in the Denver suburb of Thornton when he was shot. One suspect is in custody, people are looking for two others. At this point, we don't the deputies name, but we do know he was married.

The Adams County Sherriff's Office is asking people to avoid the area near the shooting. We will bring you more information as it becomes available. Just several weeks ago there was another shooting (inaudible).

BRIGGS: New Years Eve, yes in Colorado.

ROMANS: In Highlands Ranch Colorado.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead the North Korean women's hockey teams crossed the DNZ to join new teammates from South Korea, but not everyone is loving this idea. We're live at the training facility, next.


ROMANS: All right the Winter Olympics in Pyongyang are just over to weeks away and the North Korean Women's hockey team has now arrived in South Korea. 12 players ready to join up with a team from the south to compete together in the upcoming games. CNN's Will Ripley joining us live from South Korea's national training center and how's this going to work?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the players are probably asking that question, Christine because the women's hockey team here in South Korea nobody actually told them until the official announcement was made that they were going to have a unified team.

So you see the video today of these North Korean players, they drove across the de-militarized zone, they came here to Jincheon, the Olympic training center behind me which is two hours south of Seoul and they looked pretty awkward and nervous as they're meeting their new teammates for the first time.

Here in South Korea a lot of people are supportive of North and South Korea marching together under a unified flag. It will be the first time that there's actually been a unified North, South team in the Olympics.

But for these young women who have been training and practicing there are some real legitimate concern that some players who thought they were going to get a chance to actually get on the ice are not going to have that opportunity now because they're going to have to incorporate the North Korean players in.

Of course, other people are saying if you look at the bigger picture here. This is historic this could potentially be something that could lead to further breakthroughs down the road in terms of peace between the two Koreas. So, they're kind of asking these young women to bite the bullet if you will.

But if you look at public opinion polls here in South Korea, even people who support the participation and the cooperation during the Olympics, they do feel that some of their hometown players, some of these South Korean hockey players have gotten a bit of a raw deal here.

And of course, you got to wonder how the North Korean athletes are feeling having to kind of step into the ice and they have two weeks or so before they have to get there and play together as a unified team.

ROMANS: Interesting, oh my gosh you wonder if some of those South Korean players feel like there's a public relationships movement

BRIGGS: Someone lost their spot, four North Koreans.

ROMANS: And they've never played together so you know now you're going to be playing in the Olympics.

BRIGGS: Chemistry is huge in hockey.

ROMANS: All right, thanks so much. Will Ripley in South Korea covering those games for us.

BRIGGS: Really interesting story. All right it's just about 10:30, in Davos, Switzerland the President has just landed in Switzerland this morning, in Zurich, not quite yet to Davos for the economic forum, but he made some big news before leaving. The President says he's ready to talk under oath in the Russia probe and some surprising comments on immigration.