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EARLY START

House Intel Panel Votes to Release Nunes Memo; Andrew McCabe Steps Down as Deputy FBI Director; Trump Approval Ratings at Historic Low Ahead of His First State of the Union Address; Treasury Department Releases Russian Oligarch List; North Korea Cancels Joint Cultural Event Ahead of Winter Olympics; Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 30, 2018 - 04:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:30:52] REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: When you have a deeply flawed person in the Oval Office, that flaw can infect the whole of government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The conservative campaign to blunt the Russia probe is picking up steam. The president can now release a classified GOP memo critics say could do lasting damage to the FBI.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Did the Clinton e-mail investigation cause Andrew McCabe his job at the FBI? New details this morning on what the FBI director told colleagues after his deputy abruptly left.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: President Trump delivers his first State of the Union tonight. He's planning a message of unity. Can he keep that promise once he walks off the House floor?

Welcome back to EARLY START this Tuesday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. The State of the Union is divisive with this release of a memo? It's about to get a lot more so.

The clock is ticking for President Trump to decide whether the release of the classified Republican memo alleging surveillance abuse by the FBI. The House Intelligence Committee voting along party lines to release the memo drafted by its chairman, Congressman Devin Nunes. The memo was delivered to the White House starting a five-day period for the president to decide whether or not to release it.

ROMANS: The memo release would bolster a Republican effort to undercut Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and escalate a battle with the Justice Department. The potential disclosure a serious concern to two -- two former National Security officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It is just bad all the way around. This is a -- I think, a very negative development for lots of reasons. It represents I think an assault on our institutions. And certainly bad for the FBI and the Department of Justice. And I shudder to think of the morale of those organization is right now.

MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I actually didn't think it was going to happen because of the effects that Jim described. This crosses a threshold that I don't think that we've crossed before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Before the House Intel vote, FBI Director Chris Wray was allowed to review the memo and raise any concerns.

One source telling CNN the president erupted last week when he learned of Justice Department efforts to stop the memo's release. One Justice officials warned publishing it would be extraordinarily reckless.

For more, we turn to our Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. A sharply divided House Intelligence Committee voting along party lines to move forward with the release of a Republican staff memo that details allegations of FBI and Justice Department abuse over its Russia investigation suggesting that warrants were obtained during the campaign season over the Trump adviser Carter Page were improperly obtained information given to the FISA judge who approved those warrants.

The judge not given the full picture of exactly why the Justice Department was seeking this information. Now this is according to the allegations in this memo drafted by staff from the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, according to people, who have reviewed this document.

Now that the committee has voted along party lines, the president will have to decide whether or not to object or approve its release. And we have been told by sources in the White House that we expect the president to approve its release. Something that Democrats yesterday were saying could cause grave harm to national security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: The White House has made it abundantly clear that they want the memo published even though they haven't read it. That should tell you all you need to know about the president's priorities. Even without reading it, even without hearing from the intelligence agencies or the FBI what damage it might do in terms of public release.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now the Republicans running the Russia investigation, Mike Conaway, pushed back on Schiff's assertions last night saying that in fact they are prepared to release the Democratic memo that was drafted by Adam Schiff that actually comes to different conclusions than the Nunes memo. But they want to follow the same procedure that the Nunes memo followed, that the full House can now get access to this classified memo in a classified setting, read it, and then later the committee can decide whether or not to allow for its public release.

[04:35:07] But Democrats wanted the Schiff memo and the Nunes memo released at the same time. And they also wanted the Justice Department and the FBI to brief the full House about the memo before agreeing to its release.

A lot of questions about the future of the Russia investigation, and whether or not it can proceed amid this fury over this two competing memos, and about an apparent new focus of this investigation looking into the Justice Department and the FBI actions in 2016 -- Christine and Dave.

BRIGGS: Tale of two memos. A sign of the times. Among other things, the Nunes memo cites the role of Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe overseeing aspects of the Russia investigation. Now McCabe will watch the rest of the Russia probe unfold from the sidelines. McCabe has left the FBI ahead of his planned retirement in March.

ROMANS: McCabe has been one of President Trump's favorite punching bags as he lashes out at that Russia investigation. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says the president was not behind McCabe's departure but she was asked if the months of pressure may have contributed to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The only thing that the president has applied pressure to is to make sure we get this resolved so that you guys and everyone else can focus on the things that Americans actually care about. And that is making sure everybody gets the Russia fever out of their system once and for all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Former FBI director James Comey, McCabe's one-time boss, responded to the early departure with a tweet. "Special Agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last eight months when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on. He served with distinction for two decades. I wish Andy well. I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you."

ROMANS: Overnight we learned FBI director Chris Wray hinted to FBI staff an upcoming government watchdog report on the Clinton e-mail investigation played a role in McCabe's departure. Other sources paint the move as entirely McCabe's call. CNN's Jessica Schneider has more from Washington.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Andrew McCabe is out of a job more than a month before his expected retirement. And we're told that his sudden departure was surprising for colleagues at the FBI headquarters especially since the exact reason for his early exit wasn't entirely known. So the deputy director of the FBI, he announced his decision to leave in the meeting of senior executives Monday morning.

McCabe said at that meeting that it was his choice, but other sources that we learned here at CNN, they've suggested to us that McCabe was pushed out. Basically told by the relatively new FBI director Chris Wray that he would no longer need him as a deputy director.

Of course President Trump has repeatedly attacked Andrew McCabe. Notably because McCabe's wife Jill ran as a Democrat in a Virginia Senate race in 2015. And the president in particular is taking issue with Jill McCabe taking money from a group that was affiliated with then Governor Terry McAuliffe who is a close friend of Hillary Clinton.

So McCabe's departure in this manner is yet another shakeup at the FBI. For the past year the FBI has really come under withering attacks from the president and many Republicans who are saying that its agents are biased against Trump. So this McCabe early and sudden retirement, it does have some Republicans applauding, but of course other lawmakers very concerned that the president is trying to exert his influence over what is supposed to be an independent law enforcement agency -- Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: Jessica, thanks.

Safe to say the FBI story is overshadowing the president's first State of the Union address tonight. Immigration reform is expected to be one of the central themes. On Monday, the president hosted some of his most loyal supporters at the White House. Sources tell CNN he expressed uncertainty about whether Democrats are willing or politically able to reach a deal on immigration.

ROMANS: We're told the president is planning to deliver a unifying speech. Expected in attendance tonight, the First Lady Melania Trump. She has mostly been off the radar since reports broke of her husband's alleged affair with a porn star and a six-figure payoff for her silence.

We get more this morning from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address tonight on Capitol Hill. It's the first time as president he will take account of his first year of office. He will deliver that address tonight at 9:00 Eastern Time.

Now the theme of the address here at the White House, it's called "Building a Safe, Strong and Proud America." Of course, the president is going to talk about the economy as he often does, about the stock market, about low unemployment. He's also going to tick off about five different themed areas. From immigration to infrastructure, to trade, to national security as well as the economy.

Now briefly Monday, the president said this about how he's been working on his speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We worked on it hard. Covered a lot of territory including our great success with the markets and with the tax cuts. It's a big speech, an important speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:40:03] ZELENY: Now I'm told the president practiced that speech in the map room of the White House on Monday giving a full length rehearsal of that address. Of course, he will deliver it to the nation tonight from the House of Representative chambers.

Now the president of course is entering this moment at the lowest approval rating of any president since modern polling began. At some 38 percent approval rating. So clearly the White House believes this is an opportunity for him to reach out to a broader audience.

Every official I talked to here says it will be an uplifting speech. It will be a bipartisan speech. It will be an optimistic speech.

I'm told the president will also not address the Russia investigation, at least that is the hope of advisers here -- Dave and Christine.

ROMANS: Certainly a long way from a year ago when American carnage was the theme of the president's first speech as president of the United States.

Some of the tickets for tonight's State of the Union address were printed with a typo. Inviting people to the "State of the Uniom." It's unclear how many of the tickets had typos but the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms which issues them has reprinted all of the affected tickets. Those that have not yet been picked up by members have been swapped out. Tickets already distributed are in the process of being changed or -- changed for the reprinted ones.

BRIGGS: The Republican Governors Association returning a $100,000 donation from casino mogul Steve Wynn after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. The group also canceled a contract with Wynn Resorts Company to hold its 2020 conference at his signature Las Vegas hotel. The group says it will not accept any future contributions unless the allegations are proven to be false.

Wynn resigned as RNC finance chair when the claims surfaced. Republicans are now facing pressure to return all these donations after demanding Democrats do the same when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. ROMANS: And the board of his companies investigating these

allegations and its stock was down 9 percent yesterday after 10 percent on Friday.

BRIGGS: Wow.

ROMANS: So the markets -- investors are clearly very concerned about these allegations.

All right. The head of the FCC opposing the Trump administration's plan to nationalize 5G, leaving its future in doubt. President Trump's National Security team proposes centralizing 5G. The easiest way they say to combat China's threat to cybersecurity.

Government control would be unprecedented, although Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says discussions are still in the early stages.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: There are absolutely no decisions made on what that would look like, what role any one would play in it. Simply the need for a secure network.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: 5G is the next generation of wireless. Big carriers like AT&T and Verizon have already spent billions to roll out networks. The industry says government would only stand in the way of innovation. According to a trade group government should pursue the free market policies that enabled the U.S. wireless industry to win the race to 4G. FCC head Ajit Pai agrees in a statement, quote, "The market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment. Any 5G plan would need FCC approval."

This certainly gotten a lot of attention. We told you about this yesterday.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: This leaked memo that the government was considering this. There are some who wonder if the leak was intentional to put the companies on notice that they had to do better.

BRIGGS: Trial balloon?

ROMANS: They had to do better. It's unclear.

BRIGGS: There are a lot of concern saying we want smaller government and yet here we are Republicans with a government takeover of such things.

All right. The White House says there's no need for new sanctions against the Russians, but in the dark of night, the U.S. put more than 200 Russian political figures and oligarchs on notice. Why is Moscow concerned?

We are live in Moscow with reaction this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:47:45] BRIGGS: The Trump administration missing another deadline to impose sanctions on Russia. The administration taking a different approach. Just before midnight Eastern, the Treasury Department did release a Russian oligarch list. It names more than 200 politicians and businessmen, many with Kremlin ties. For now the White House is only putting those on the list on notice.

Let's go live to Moscow and bring in CNN's Frederik Pleitgen.

Fred, what's the reaction this morning from Moscow?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Incidentally, Dave, we just got some reaction from the spokesman of the Kremlin who incidentally is also on this list. He believes that the list is a generalization the Kremlin is going to look into. But there are other Russian politician who are much harsher in their criticism. In fact one senior Russian lawmaker saying that all of this jeopardizes relations between the United States and Russia which of course are already pretty much at a low point and going from one low point to the next.

Now the list itself is very interesting. It does have a lot of political figures on it. But it also has that list of oligarchs and those oligarchs are very, very concerned about this. Not because it puts sanctions on them directly which it doesn't do, but because they fear that because they're on this list that they might have trouble doing business internationally, getting loans internationally and possibly end up on the sanctions list in the not-too-distant future.

Now of course all of this is into -- because of either reaction to Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. election in 2016. And certainly the CIA director doesn't seem to believe that that was a one-off. And he believes it's still going on.

Let's listen in to what Mike Pompeo said in an interview with the British broadcaster BBC last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: The Russians have a long history of these information campaigns. That part of it is not new. The technology that enables it is now cheap and plentiful and the capability of transferring information around the world is much simpler than it was in World War II or decades ago. This threat is not going to go away. The Russians have been at this a long time and I fully expect they'll continue to be at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: So the CIA certainly still very much on alert about all of this, Dave. And you know, one of the things that the president has been saying, President Trump, he says that he still hopes for better relations between the U.S. and Russia. But certainly from what we've been seeing over the past couple of days, weeks and even months, it really doesn't appear to be going in that direction. And you can really see the Kremlin is very concerned about this list that came out.

[04:50:08] BRIGGS: Yes. Even before all this, Rex Tillerson said it was a poor relationship in "The New York Times." Hard to imagine it getting even worse.

Fred Pleitgen live for us in Moscow this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. It is 4:50 in the East. And Facebook's news may soon hit closer to home. Facebook is promoting more local news. Its latest campaign to prove it has a positive impact.

We have the CNN Money Stream next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: All right. The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang begins next Friday. But the thawing relationship between North and South Korea showing signs of icing over yet again.

[04:55:04] The North announcing it will no longer be joining the South in what was supposed to be an inter-Korean joint cultural performance.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul this morning.

What happened here, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, it shows that it's certainly not smooth sailing when it comes to these negotiations about the Olympics. This was going to be a cultural event on February 4th. It was going to be in Mount Kumgang, this is an area in North Korea just across the border where the North and South Koreans used to have a holiday resort together.

But we have a late letter from the North Koreans to the South Koreans on Monday night saying that they were cancelling it because of the South Korean media's insults. Now they talked about insulting North Korea's genuine measures regarding the Pyeongchang Olympics and also taking issue with its domestic festival.

Now presumably they're talking about this massive military drill parade -- sorry -- we are expecting on February 8th. So the eve on the Pyeongchang Olympics. It's the Army Foundation Day in North Korea. The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un changing the date to February 8th. So certainly that's what we are assuming they are referring to but once again being angry at the South Korean media.

They were also angry when the negotiations first took place and the South Korean media were suggesting they were going to talk about denuclearization which they said was rubbish -- Dave.

BRIGGS: That relationship froth with peril. Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul. Thank you. ROMANS: All right. Today the results of the state investigation into

this month's false missile alert in Hawaii. The probe is now wrapped up weeks after the mishap that sent the island's population running for shelter. Officials say they will announce actions concerning personnel within the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. Hawaiian officials have already said the employee responsible was disciplined and reassigned, but not fired.

BRIGGS: The Cleveland Indians are finally parting ways to an old Chief Wahoo. The team will remove the controversial Native American logo from its uniforms beginning in the 2019 season. It's been widely recognized as an offensive and racist caricature. Still it served as the Indians' primary logo until recently. The decision to wait until 2019 was meant to give fans and the team time to transition. The Wahoo mascot won't disappear completely. Merchandise will still be sold so Major League Baseball and the Indians can maintain control of the trademark.

ROMANS: It's all about the money.

Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. U.S. stocks fell from record highs. Wall Street saw its biggest decline so far this year. And stocks looks like they may drop again today. Right now U.S. futures are lower and global stock market are lower. Right now the Dow and the S&P 500 both had their biggest one-day drop in five months. You can blame rising bond rates and Apple. Apple fell 2 percent on news weak sales forced it to cut production of its $1,000 iPhone X. Apple reports earnings later this week.

Wall Street's longest serving CEO staying on a little longer. Jamie Dimon will lead JPMorgan for five more years quieting speculation Dimon could leave Wall Street for Washington maybe? Dimon has been CEO for 12 years. He's credited with steering JPMorgan through the financial crisis. The bank is already working on finding a successor. Two of Dimon's deputies were promoted to the joint roles of president and chief operating officer.

It is the largest stock drink deal ever. Keurig is buying Dr. Pepper Snapple for $19 billion, joining coffee pads with soft drinks is the latest big merger in the food industry. Companies are pairing up to combat falling prices. The rise of Wal-Mart and Amazon in the grocery business are pushing prices lower.

All right. Facebook's news may soon hit closer to home. Facebook will promote more local news. The third big newsfeed change this month alone including showing more content from your actual friends and grading news sources. This is Facebook's effort I guess to prove it has a positive impact on society. It has faced criticism that it isn't positive on society and has in fact enabled fake news and foreign election meddling.

BRIGGS: It does. It has such a positive impact on the dialogue and this culture. I love the discourse that goes on on my Facebook page. It's very civil and kind.

ROMANS: Yes. Of course. Of course. BRIGGS: Nothing but.

All right. EARLY START continues right now. Jackie Kucinich joins us for the State of the Union preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: When you have a deeply flawed person in the Oval Office, that flaw can infect the whole of government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The conservative campaign to blunt the Russia probe is picking up steam. Now the president can release a classified GOP memo. Critics say it could do lasting damage to the FBI.

BRIGGS: Did the Clinton e-mail investigation cause Andrew McCabe his job at the FBI? New details this morning on what the FBI director told colleagues after his deputy abruptly left.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: President Trump delivers his first State of the Union tonight. He's planning a message we're told of unity. But can he keep that promise once he walks off the House floor?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START this Tuesday morning, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.