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EARLY START

Trump: Ready To Talk Under Oath; DOJ Warns "Reckless" Republicans; Nassar's "Death Warrant"; N. Korea Women's Hockey Team In S. Korea. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:31:20] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president says he's ready to talk under oath to Robert Mueller and for the first time ever, endorses a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

The president making news at home before flying to Switzerland. He has just landed moments ago in Davos, Switzerland.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEMARIE AQUILINA, 30TH CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, INGHAM COUNTY, MICHIGAN: I'm giving you 175 years, which is 2,100 months. I've just signed your death warrant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Larry Nassar will never see the light of day again. A university president has quit as survivors demand accountability.

We have reports this morning from Lansing, Michigan. Also, Switzerland, Syria, and South Korea.

Those words, "I just signed your death warrant," really rang out across the country.

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is 32 minutes past the hour. A very busy morning this morning.

The president says he is eager to swear to tell the truth and talk to Russia special counsel Robert Mueller. The president made that commitment when he dropped 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?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a date set?

TRUMP: Yes, here's the story, just so you understand it. 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 tell him, Mr. President?

TRUMP: Well, good luck, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set?

TRUMP: But it'll come up -- so here's the story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set, Mr. President?

TRUMP: I don't know -- no. I think -- guess they're talking about two or three weeks, but I would love to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In person?

TRUMP: You know, again, it's -- I have to say subject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The story following President Trump all the way to Switzerland and just moments ago, Marine One landed in Davos for the World Economic Forum.

That's where you'll find senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny live from Davos. Good morning, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave.

You're right. President Trump did just land here just a few moments ago after flying through the Swiss Alps on Marine One after landing in Zurich.

This is the president's first time in Davos. Of course, he was a successful businessman. Never invited, though, because of that; invited because he is a U.S. president -- the first U.S. president here since 2000 when Bill Clinton came. But that is only one part of the story here.

Of course, the Russia investigation following the president all the way here overnight because of those comments he made in the White House before leaving. He talked specifically about the special investigation. He said he

would like to testify. He said his attorneys are still working out the details but he would like to testify and would do so under oath.

Now, this is all coming as he is trying to explain why he is defending himself. He was talking specifically about obstruction of justice. He said no, no, he is simply pushing back on the charges against him. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 MALE: 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 saying oh well, did he fight back, did he fight back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir?

TRUMP: You fight back -- John, if you fight back -- oh, it's obstruction.

So here's the thing. I hope so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, how do you define collusion, and Maggie asked this earlier during the briefing to Sarah, but how do you --

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So no collusion there, the president says, but he did not call this investigation a hoax, as he has done previously. He clearly wants to move on and sit down with the special counsel at some point.

[05:35:00] Now again, all this is happening here as the president is scheduled to meet with the British Prime Minister Theresa May this morning, as well as some other leaders.

I can tell you the mood here at Davos is one about anticipation and slight trepidation for President Trump. Of course, he talked so much against this type of discussion or against globalism. He's been pushing populism here. So he wants to change the subject for at least a day or so.

He's bringing 15 senior members of this leadership team, seven cabinet secretaries with him as somewhat of a cheering squad here -- Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: It should be a fascinating 24 hours. Jeff Zeleny live for us there in Davos with some interesting comments on no obstruction, no collusion --

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- and, of course, immigration, which we'll get to in a moment.

ROMANS: You know, and he's going to Davos with the very last ad that he had in the election campaign. It had these dark, gloomy pictures of people at Davos and the global elites that he didn't represent.

BRIGGS: Interesting optics.

ROMANS: It is.

All right, let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan live from Washington. Good morning, Tal.

This last sound-bite that you heard in Jeff's presentation there -- in his piece there where the president said oh, you know, you fight back and they call it obstruction.

Do you think -- do you hear, there, him maybe laying the groundwork a little bit for what his position is going to be?

TAL KOPAN, REPORTER, "CNN POLITICS": It's quite possible, Christine. I mean, you know, there was also a reference in those comments to consulting with his lawyers which, of course --

BRIGGS: Right.

KOPAN: -- we would expect the president is going to do and perhaps, may have gotten a call from his lawyers after these comments became public. Of course, we don't know.

But, you know, it is interesting. One of the things that President Trump -- love him or hate him, you have to say about him is he is direct and he will answer questions that he's asked however he feels like he wants to answer them.

And so, you know, he walks into his chief of staff's office, he talks to reporters, he's there for a policy discussion. They ask about whether he'll testify and he answers them.

So, you know, we'll have to see where this goes but it is a remarkable sort of turn of events to have him say so that definitively he will agree to this interview.

BRIGGS: Well, if you've done nothing wrong and this is a witch hunt, one has to say I have nothing to hide. I would talk with Bob Mueller.

But this was intended to be a background talk between reporters and Chief of Staff John Kelly about immigration and the White House plan that they'll unveil at the State of the Union, and an interesting back-and-forth between the president and reporters on what he is willing to give -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you 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 --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean? The future -- what does that mean?

TRUMP: -- over a period of -- over a period of 10 to 12 years. If somebody does a great job -- they've worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job.

But they've worked hard, they've done terrifically, whether they have a little company, or whether they work, or whether -- 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)

ROMANS: He calls it incentive. You know, some of the hardliners in immigration would call it a reward -- an amnesty.

BRIGGS: Yes, amnesty is the word -- "Amnesty Don" is what Breitbart is calling him this morning, a nickname he probably doesn't like a whole heck of a lot.

Is this a path, though -- give the president credit -- whether this is Tuesday Trump or Thursday Trump stepping out, is this a plan that's likely to get through the House, let alone the Senate?

KOPAN: Well, that's absolutely why these comments are so important, Dave. And actually, I don't think a bill could pass the Senate without a pathway to citizenship.

BRIGGS: Yes.

KOPAN: So this is sort of an essential piece of that deal.

And, you know, reading between the lines it does make me think that President Trump has been listening to some of the moderate -- at least on this issue -- Republicans who have been coming to the White House quite regularly because this sounds a lot like sort of the compromise position that was being negotiated over in the Senate on the pathway to citizenship. It's sort of a little bit longer than Democrats want and sort of closer to what Republicans had proposed.

But to your point about the House, the House has been pushing -- especially the conservative element of the Republicans there have been pushing Paul Ryan to consider a very hardline bill that will only give three-year permits sort of indefinitely --

BRIGGS: Yes.

KOPAN: -- to DACA recipients. So these comments from the president now pressure the House to deliver what he's talking about and gives leadership some cover to say to their more conservative members no, this is what we're going to do instead.

BRIGGS: Yes, in 2013, the immigration bill got 68 votes in the Senate. Didn't even get a vote in the House. It feels like that but it's very early. We shall see.

ROMANS: Very much.

ROMANS: All right, Tal Kopan, thank you so much. Have a great morning.

KOPAN: Thank you.

BRIGGS: OK. 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.

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 Intel Community."

[05:40:07] 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 the committee's investigative documents about them."

BRIGGS: The memo, one of -- part of a growing GOP effort to target -- really, discredit 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 Republican Sen. Ron Johnson revealing Strzok and Page referred to some type of secret society.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI), CHAIRMAN, SENATE HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: 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 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see the text.

JOHNSON: They used that. Maybe we ought to have the first. 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 off-site.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But you don't know about what?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: New context this morning for that phrase "secret society." "ABC NEWS" has obtained the full text. This is what it reads -- this text message.

"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: So why release that text if don't know more about it?

Anyway, 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, the Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin welcomed a weaker U.S. dollar sending the greenback to a three-year low. He was in Davos.

He says he's not concerned that the dollar fell 10 percent last year. In fact, he said, quote, "It's good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities."

Mnuchin later clarified those comments. He's not worried about the dollar in the short-term and that it's a, quote, "liquid market."

It is unheard of for a U.S. Treasury secretary to endorse a weak dollar, to acknowledge a weak dollar, to talk up the 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 and warning about protectionism, taking some thinly-veiled digs against President Trump.

The president abandoned the Paris Climate Accord, he bailed on TPP, and he will promote his 'America First' policies at Davos as NAFTA is under fire, by the way.

Here's Trump in a surprise Q&A yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 cutting, which I think is actually maybe more important than even the tax cuts -- but the regulations, I think you would have had a much different situation but our people are very happy, especially with their 401(k)s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Stocks are at records. The Dow hit a fresh record high yesterday. That does help your 401(k).

But a brewing trade war could hurt markets eventually. Some of Trump's trade actions may affect your wallet right now.

In a memo obtained by "CNN MONEY," L.G. told retailers it's raising prices on washing machines due to a new tariff announced this week. L.G. wouldn't say how much but experts expect a 20 percent price hike.

One of the delicious ironies, I think, of Davos is so many of the globalists in that room disagree with him on climate change, disagree with him on trade, disagree with him on immigration -- on just about everything.

BRIGGS: Pretty much.

ROMANS: But he has made them so rich over the past year because --

BRIGGS: And they're welcoming him with open arms --

ROMANS: -- the tax --

BRIGGS: -- because of that.

ROMANS: Yes. The tax cuts and, you know, just a very strong American economy has been good for the rest of the world.

BRIGGS: Weakening the dollar though, historically puts him in --

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- not real comfortable territory.

All right. Ahead, the president of Michigan State University resigning in the wake of Larry Nassar's sentence for sex abuse.

ROMANS: Even though Nassar will be locked up forever, survivors know there is a long road ahead.

(BEING VIDEO CLIP)

LINDSEY LENKE, VICTIM OF LARRY NASSAR: Larry is sentenced but there's still so much more work to do and it is truly just the beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:48:04] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AQUILINA: My page only goes to 100 years. Sir, I'm giving you 175 years, which is 2,100 months. I've just signed your death warrant. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Michigan judge Rosemarie Aquilina 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 Olympics -- or Gymnastics, rather, and Michigan State University. The scandal costing the Michigan State president her job.

BRIGGS: Lou Anna Simon stepping down after faculty and students said they had lost confidence.

The U.S. Olympic Committee also announcing an independent investigation to determine how the abuse could have gone undetected for so long.

We get more now from CNN's Jean Casarez in Lansing, Michigan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, we got the final numbers at yesterday's sentencing hearing. One hundred and fifty-six 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 a 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 Rachel Denhollander. She was the very first young woman to go public in 2016 with the "Indy Star." Listen to her in court.

RACHEL DENHOLLANDER, FIRST WOMAN TO ACCUSE LARRY NASSAR OF SEXUAL ASSAULT: I thought daily about all the little women and girls walking in his office and I wondered if it would ever, ever end.

[05:50:05] I became a mother three times over and the fear that, however, each breath 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 remembered the day you brought Caroline 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.

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: Rachel 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Jean, thanks.

Breaking overnight, a Colorado sheriff's 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 in custody. Police are looking for two others.

The Colorado Police Officers Foundation identifies the officer as 32- year-old Heath Gumm. Police say he was married.

ROMANS: All right. Just how big a deal is artificial intelligence (A.I.)? This really freaked me out. The Google boss says it is the most important thing humanity has ever worked on. As profound as electricity and fire, Dave Briggs -- wow.

BRIGGS: Oh, that's --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:55:54] BRIGGS: With the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang just over two weeks away, the North Korean women's hockey team has arrived in South Korea. Twelve players ready to join up with the 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. Good morning to you, Will.

How is this going to work?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the big question, Dave. The athletes are here at the training village in Gongneung, about two hours south of Seoul.

But it was pretty awkward when the North Korean athletes greeted the South Korean athletes because it's kind of an open secret that the South Korean female hockey players -- well, they weren't even told there was going to be a unifying team until the governments of the two countries had already made the decision.

And so, young women who have been training for years for this moment, possibly might not be able to play because now they have to also rotate in North Korean teammates, as well. But either way, they're going to try to make it work.

They're going to be training over the next couple of weeks at the Training Center here, trying to get to know each other, trying to build up some team rapport.

And if you look at the big picture it certainly is a historic moment, the first time that North and South Korea have competed together in a unified team in the Olympics, just that the women's hockey players are kind of wondering well, why didn't they integrate the men's team, as well. Why just the women's team, and why do they have to make it work with such little time before the big games -- Dave?

BRIGGS: Wow, what an interesting development there.

Will Ripley, thank you, my friend.

Well, he's still standing but the sun is going down on Elton John's life on the road.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELTON JOHN, SINGER-SONGWRITER: (Singing "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road").

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: His three-year world tour kicks off in September and it will be his last. Elton John, 70 now, and tells Anderson Cooper he wants to spend more time with his two young kids.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN: I love them so much. I don't want to miss them and I don't want them to miss me.

And I've had a good run. I think you'll admit that. I've had a pretty good run.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN "AC 360": That's for sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Yes, he's had a pretty good run. Tickets go on sale February second.

ROMANS: All right.

BRIGGS: It's really just the circle of life.

ROMANS: Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning. Well done, Dave.

You can see the Dow had another record high. Another day, another record high for the Dow. Checking global stocks right now, they are all up, too. Stocks yesterday opened at highs thanks to more strong earnings, but

U.S. Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross' comments about trade made investors a little nervous. He hinted at more protectionist actions.

The S&P 500 closed down. Chip stocks drove the Nasdaq lower.

And, an 11 percent drop for United Airlines sparked a sell-off among airline stocks.

Just how big a deal is artificial intelligence? The Google boss Sundar Pichai says big.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUNDAR PICHAI, CEO, GOOGLE: A.I. is one of the most important things humanity is working on. It's more profound than, I don't know, electricity or fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Electricity or fire. He says A.I. can advance everything -- transform everything from education to energy, but he acknowledges the deep concerns many have over the potential downsides, like Tesla boss Elon Musk.

He calls A.I. an existential threat to the human race. He says machines shouldn't be smarter than us or humans may be doomed. Think about that while you're getting ready for work this morning.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Wow, I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" has a live report from Davos straight ahead. We'll see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The president talking about this had to make his lawyers a bit nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't mean any of that. Just go ahead and follow his lawyer's advice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no way that Mueller will agree to anything but an in-person interview.

TRUMP: Oh, I would do it under oath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first time he used the term fight back was today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he tells the truth he may walk into an obstruction case. If he lies it's a false statements case. What a terrible dilemma.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: No one should ever ask anyone else who they voted for. I hope Mr. McCabe didn't answer it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask him that?

TRUMP: I don't think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not Republicans who created the theory of a secret society. It wasn't Republicans that deleted five months of text messages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of my colleagues just ought to take a deep breath and step back from some of these conspiracy theories.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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 Thursday, January 25th, 6:00 here in New York.

Here's our "Starting Line."

President Trump arriving moments ago in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.