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EARLY START

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina: I Just Signed Your Death Warrnat; President Trump Is Ready to Talk Under Oath; Davos Awaiting President Trump's Arrival; Thousands of FBI Issued Phones Affected By a Glitch Resulting In Missing Texts; Elton John's Last World Tour; Colorado Deputy Sheriff Shot And Killed In Denver; President Trump is Urging Turkey's President to Limit Military Action Across Syrian Border. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 04:30   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The President said he is ready to talk under oath to Robert Mueller and for the first time ever he endorses a pathway for citizenship for Dreamers. The President just landing in Switzerland after shedding new light on key issues.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The Republican attack on the FBI intensifies. The Justice Department now warning it would be reckless to release a classified memo without review.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Your death warrant. Larry Nassar will never see the light of day again and now a university president has quit as survivors demand accountability. We have reports this morning from Michigan, from Switzerland, where the President has just landed and South Korea, where the North and South will unite in a women's hockey team.

BRIGGS: Wow, interesting dynamics developing.

ROMANS: This could be very interesting. Welcome back to Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 10:31 there in Switzerland. We'll go there live shortly. We start with the President who says, he's eager to swear to tell the truth and talk to Russia's Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. The President made that commitment when he unexpectedly popped by John Kelly's office while his Chief of Staff was meeting with reporters. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to? Yes, but does that...

TRUMP: Yeah, 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 FEMALE: What will you do Mr. President?

TRUMP: Good luck everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you Mr. President.

TRUMP: So, here's the story...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set?

TRUMP: I don't know. No. I guess they were talking about two or three weeks. But, I would love to do it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In person?

TRUMP: Again, I have to say, subject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:35:00]

ROMANS: That comes at a critical moment in the Russia probe, a day after CNN confirmed the Special Counsel is focusing his investigation on the firings of Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor and James Comey as Head of the FBI.

The story fell on President Trump all the way to Switzerland now. He has just landed in Zurich on his way to the World Economic Forum. He's now got to get on a helicopter and hop on over to Davos in the mountains. Senior White House Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny joins us live in Davos with the very latest. Good morning.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Christine. You said President Trump has just landed there in Zurich, flying overnight from Washington, but certainly not leaving behind the growing questions in cloud of that Russia investigation. The President will be meeting with some world leaders here today giving a big speech here tomorrow. But, it is the Russia investigation that still is a central to his administration.

Now, he did say he would meet with the Special Counsel's office. Now, it's unclear exactly what conditions he will do that on. Also, he is stirring some controversy this morning on immigration. During that session with reporters at the White House, before leaving for Switzerland, he said he does favor a pathway to citizenship for those so-called Dreamers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want citizenship for Dreamers?

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean?

TRUMP: 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. But they have worked hard, if 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So we've heard, of course, a tale of two Trumps on immigration. This is something that he has been saying for a while but not during that government shutdown only a few days ago.

Now he says he does favor a pathway to citizenship for 10 to 12 years, but Christine as you well know, this will be very controversial. Breitbart, that conservative website, is calling him this morning, Amnesty Don.

That certainly is a sign of how difficult this immigration debate will be. For now, the President though, will be here in Davos within the hour talking with world leaders. But, that and other challenges waiting for him when he gets back tomorrow.

ROMANS: Clearly he says, it will happen, maybe in 10 or 12 years it will happen, a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. That's something the hardliners on immigration around him do not want.

That is something that people who voted for him, many of them, on building a wall and immigration issues are not going to like as well. We'll see what the right says about that today when everyone wakes up. All right, Jeff Zeleny for us in Davos. Thanks

BRIGGS: Yes, particular in the House. All right, the President plans to push his America first agenda when touches down in Davos and it may not be warmly received considering Mr. Trump has railed against these many of these people he will now be dealing with.

CNN's Nic Robertson in Davos awaiting the President's arrival. Nick, good morning to you. How will the populous President be greeted at the globalist gathering?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Dave, I think we've already seen the leaders here, circling the wagons from the get go, from the opening keynoted speech by the Indian Prime Minister who said, that protectionism is not the way to react to globalization, isolationism and this was very clear pointed message for President Trumps America First is not the way to deal it. We need to be agile, we need work together, we need to accept that there's change and work with it. To the Canadian Prime Minister, the Norwegian Prime Minister, the

German Chancellor, the French President, the Italian Prime Minister, all weighing in with this very central message that need to work with other global leaders to deal with global issues.

Whether it's the economy, whether it's how you do business, America First or for the Italian Prime Minister dealing with the big fractured issues because Davos is about building a joined world, a connected world, a shared world in a fractured environment dealing with the issues of migration and refugees, let's say, from Africa, dealing with the issue of climate change.

For the French President a big issue for him, because that's where the Climate Change Accord was signed. And the French President himself came into his speech yesterday taking a jibe, if you will, at President Trump, saying to crowd in Davos, it's obvious to everyone climate change.

I'm sure there's no one who's been invited here that doesn't understand climate change. And at that moment there were laughs and applause around the room. That gives you the sentiment in to which President is walking here.

BRIGGS: Yes. Not so veiled. Macron said, when you arrive here and see the snow, it could be hard to believe in global warming. Nic Robertson live for us in Davos. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, 35 minutes past the hour, 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. Media reports say the memo describes alleged abuse of FISA surveillance authority by the FBI.

[04:40:00]

The Justice Department lettered a House Intel Chairman, Devin Nunes, asks 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.

BRIGGS: Chairman Nunes pushed back against the letter. Spokesman saying, "Agencies that are under investigation by Congressional Committees don't typically get access to the Committees investigative documents about them."

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, Adam Shift says, Committee Democrats are drafting their own memo to address what they call, misleading character of the Republican's document.

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

BRIGGS: CNN's Manu Raju asked the Senator asked if he was spreading conspiracy theories.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, you don't know about what?

JOHNSON: Associate -- well, no I don't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: That's why context is important. We have some this morning on that phrase, secret society. ABC News has obtained the full text which reads, "Are you ever going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society."

ROMANS: All right, 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.

The President himself would not give the FBI his full endorsement last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you trust the FBI?

TRUMP: Well we're going to see. I mean, I am very disturbed as is the General, as is everybody else that is intelligent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: By the General, Trump means his Chief of Staff, General Kelly. The President also said he does not remember asking FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, who he voted for in 2016.

BRIGGS: "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" reported Tuesday that the President did indeed ask McCabe about his vote. On Wednesday the President downplayed the significance of asking, calling it a, "very unimportant question."

A federal judge throwing out seven bribery counts against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and his codefendant, Dr. Salomon Melgen.

Those charges all relating to contributions Melgen allegedly provided Menendez. The judge said prosecutors did not prove performance -- performed any official acts in exchange. Both men still face 11 other counts. The ruling comes days after the justice department announced it will retry its case against the democratic senator, the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the 18 counts last year leading to a mistrial.

ROMANS: All right. Starbucks is boosting worker pay, granting bonuses, and this is really big, giving part time workers sick leave -- paid sick leave. The latest employer to use tax savings to help employees. The new tax bill cuts corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, that means a lot of money -- extra money that they would have paid in taxes to these companies.

So some are giving back, mostly in the form of bonuses, big names like Apple, AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, Disney, Walmart, several airlines, others are boosting hourly pay like J.P. Morgan and Walmart and a small number will raise the payments they make to retirement plans.

That's interesting. Like visa, Nationwide and Aflac, companies boosting pay are offering better incentives, also help companies keep employees. This is really important here during a tight labor market. The unemployment rate is at 17 year low. On the one hand, you have companies saying we're all getting all this money back from tax reform, here, we're going to give it to our employees. On the other hand, they really have to if they're going to keep people from jumping ship. I mean, imagine.

BRIGGS: It's that competitive.

[04:45:00]

ROMANS: I think it is that competitive. I'm really, really pleased to see the Starbucks sick pay. I very -- I've been concerned for years that -- especially when you're talking about this -- this -- this flu season, right?

BRIGGS: Do you want your barista sick?

ROMANS: If you -- I just think it's really important that people have the basic human dignity of paid sick time. And I think--

BRIGGS: Especially when they're handling food and drink.

ROMANS: -- better for everyone. So. Credit where credits due, bravo Starbucks for that.

BRIGGS: Indeed. All right. Ahead the president of Michigan State University resigning in the wake of Larry Nassar's sentence for sex abuse, even though Nassar will be locked up forever, survivors know there is long road ahead.

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

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP BEGINS) ROSEMARIE AQUILINA: My page only goes to 100 years. Sir, I'm giving

175 years which is 2,100 months. I've just signed your death warrant.

(VIDEO CLIP ENDS)

ROMANS: I've just signed your death warrant. That's what Michigan Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, she sentenced disgraced sports Dr. Larry Nassar to up to 175 years in prison for decades, decades of sexually abusing young female athletes. Nassar was the former doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. The scandal now costing the Michigan State President her job.

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

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, we've got the final numbers at yesterdays sentencing hearing, 156 young woman 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 a notoriety. He would position towels so parents 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 (ph). Listen to her in court.

(VIDEO CLIP BEGINS)

RACHAEL DENHOLLANDER: I thought daily about all the little women and girls walking in his office and I wondered if it would ever, ever end. I became a mother three times over, and the fear that hung over 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 first born and then my two daughters and each time I did, Larry, I remember the day you brought Carolyn into your office so that I could hold her. You knew how much I loved children and you used your own daughter to manipulate me. Yet 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.

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

DAVE BRIGGS: Thanks, One suspect in custody, police are looking for two others at this point. We don't know the deputies name but we do know he was married. The Adams County sheriff's office is asking people to avoid this area near the shooting. We'll bring you more information as it becomes available.

[04:50:00]

The baseball hall of fame welcomes four new members. The class of 2018 includes Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. Jones and Thome made it in their first year of eligibility. They'll join two other players, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell were choosing by the veterans committee. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both tainted by the steroids scandal fell well short again in their sixth year on the ballot. The hall of fame induction ceremony will take place July 29th in Cooperstown.

CHRISTINE ROMANS: Elton John says he's finishing up life on the road. He says the next three year world tour which kicks off in September will be his last. He is 70 years old now, he's been on the road since he was 17. He says his priorities changed a few years ago when he and his husband had children. The response overwhelming, Elton Johns website crashing it, it is now back up and running. And he told CNN you know things - he doesn't want to miss anything with his kids and you know he doesn't want his kids to miss him.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: You know that's really cool.

BRIGGS: He's going to perform this weekend with Miley Cyrus at the Grammy's and we're also going to loose the Neil Diamond from performing.

ROMANS: I know.

BRIGGS: It's been a tough year for music fans.

ROMANS: Right, 52 minutes past the hour. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: President Trump urging Turkey's president, deescalate and limit his militaries actions across the Syrian border. In a phone call, Trump relayed concerns that escalating clashing between Turkish backed rebels and U.S. backed Kurdish forces in Afrin, Syria risk undercutting shared goals. Now, in a CNN Exclusive, Arwa Damon has an up close view of the latest incursion which has NATO allies clashing. She is life for us in Azaz, Syria, good morning to you Arwa.

ARWA DAMON: Good morning Damon. We're not far from the front line at this stage. And as you mentioned there, this is highly contentious for a number of reasons that were highlighted in that phone call between both the president of the United States and the president of Turkey. From Turkey's perspective, this is fairly straightforward in the sense that Turkey has put its own national security concerns at the forefront.

Turkey views that Kurdish backed force, the YPG as being one in the same as the terrorist organization, the PKK that Turkey has been battling with for decades now and for quite some time now, Turkey has warned the U.S. about arming the YPG, about supporting the YPG, saying that it would be launching a counter offensive to push the YPG out of especially these highly sensitive areas, that Russia against Turkey's own border.

In fact, just yesterday evening, there was a rocket that was fired from Syrian territory that hit Turkish territory impacting a mosque where at least two people were killed. And Turkey points to this and says, look we, at the very least, have to be able to create a buffer zone for our own security, but also down the line to provide potentially something of a safe area for the 3.5 million Syrians that are currently seeking refuge inside Turkey to be able to return to.

But this does really put these two (inaudible) pretentious situation because they do very different perspectives when it comes to the rules of the YPG and what is its future goal (ph) is going to potentially be inside Syria. Of course, namely among those concerns is the possibility though at this stage does not seem to be likely that Turkish and American forces could find themselves face to face within the Syrian battlefield.

[04:55:00]

BRIGGS: Extraordinary access there. So fortunate to have Arwa Damon live for us in Syria. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. It is that time of the morning, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream. Global stock markets mostly high after what was essentially a mixed day on Wall Street. Stocks opened at highs, thanks to more strong earnings, but then there were these concerns over trade that really kind of turned it into a choppy trading day.

The U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross hinted that more protective actions are on the way. Now the DOW 30, those 30 DOW stocks, that average closed at an all time high. But CHIP (ph) stocks drove the NASDAQ lower. And 11 percent drop for United Airlines sparked a sell off among airline stocks. So just how big a deal is artificial intelligence, A.I., Google Boss Sundar Pichai says really big.