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EARLY START

House Intel Panel Votes to Release Memo; Treasury Releases Russian Oligarch List; State of the U.S. Economy. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 30, 2018 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:02] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump delivers his first state of the union tonight. He's planning a message we're told of unity. 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.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Tuesday, January 30th, 5:00 a.m. in the east.

That is really the question, right? We know the speech will be solid and unifying, but will the tweets and the rhetoric thereafter maintain that tone.

The clock ticking for President Trump to decide whether a release of a classified Republican memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI. The House Intelligence Committee voting along party lines to release the memo, hashtag, 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 to release it or not.

ROMANS: The 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 is a serious concern to two former national security officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: This is bad all the way around. This is I think a very negative development for lots of reasons. It represents I think an assault on our institutions and it's certainly bad for the FBI and the Department of Justice. And I shudder to think what the morale of those organizations is at right now.

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR AND FORMER NSA DIRECTOR: I actually didn't think it was going to happen because of the affects 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. A justice official warns publishing it would be extraordinarily reckless.

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

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Good morning, Christine and Dave. A sharply divided House Intelligence Committee voting along party lines to move forward with the release of Republican staff memo that detailed allegations of FBI and Justice Department abuse over its Russia investigation suggesting that warrants that were obtained during the campaign season over the Trump adviser Carter Page were improperly obtained. The information given to the FISA judge who approved those warrants, the judge was not given the full picture of exactly why the Justice Department was seeking this information.

Now, this is according to the allegations in the memo drafted by staff from the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes according to people whoever viewed this document. Now that 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)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: 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 Conroy pushed back on Schiff's assertion last night, saying that in fact they are prepared to release the Democratic memo that was drafted by Adam Schiff that actually comes to the different conclusions than the Nunes memo. But they want to follow the same procedure that the Nunes memo follow, that the full House can now get access to this classified memo and a classified thing, read it. And then later the committee can decide whether or not to allow for public release.

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.

There are a lot of questions about the future of the Russia investigation and whether or not it can proceed amid this fury over these two competing memos. And apparent new focus of this investigation looking into the Justice Department and the FBI actions in 2016.

Christine and Dave? Manu, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, Manu, thank you.

BRIGGS: All right, let's bring in CNN Political Analyst Jackie Kucinich. She's the Washington bureau chief for the Daily Beast. Great to have you, Jackie.

ROMANS: Good morning, Jackie.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Great to be here. Good morning, guys.

BRIGGS: Republicans have a memo. Democrats have a memo. Do you have a memo?

No memo?

KUCINICH: No memo, no memo.

BRIGGS: OK.

KUCINICH: But, you know, this is fascinating what's going on in terms of just the partisan rancor that seems to have gone to a new level overnight. This Russia investigation in the House, what can you say about at this point? It is just in tatters in terms of what Nunes has done here. It really is.

This was a committee that never really or hadn't been touched bipartisanship. And at this point, you have to wonder if they can get it together to get this investigation done in any way that anyone in the public will accept without looking through (INAUDIBLE) and lens.

[05:05:06] BRIGGS: Forget about bipartisanship with this House Intel Committee. We used to at least take time and patience with such sensitive information. Why the rush to get this memo out there right now?

KUCINICH: It's a really good question. I mean, I'm guessing it has to do with the president. The president, this is something that he wants out. He's indicated it is something that he is going to approve. And he really wants this investigation over and done with.

Now, the fact of the matter is because of the partisanship in the House and in the Senate, Mueller's investigation is kind of the only game in town and the president really doesn't have any control over that at the moment.

ROMANS: Let's talk about state of the union tonight because the president we're told is going to be having a unifying speech. When you think back --

KUCINICH: That is what the White House is saying.

ROMANS: Yes, right. That is what White House is saying, right at least that's what the script will be in the teleprompter. But I know last year, remember American carnage? We've gone from, you know, the president speaking directly to his base, his first speech as president of the United States. Now he's got to give the state of the union. Who do you think will he be talking to tonight?

KUCINICH: I think it depends on what part of the speech that you're talking about. In terms of what's going on immigration, I think it's going to be the same that I'm most listening to and that Democrats and Republicans are most listening to.

Democrats aren't pleased with the White House proposal. Particularly the changes to family reunification and the visa lottery program. They've also sort made their peace with the wall for letting the Dreamers stay.

But these other pillars are really going to be a problem. Now, on the other side of the coin, immigration hard liners are very upset with the president and the idea that he's going to either have a path to citizenship or some amnesty for 1.8 million people.

So he's managed to tick off both sides with that proposal. So he'll be trying to pressure Democrats into buying into this. But he's got his problem on his right flank as well.

Then, he's also going to talk about infrastructure. This infrastructure plan that he has been pushing. Now he's going to have problems on his own party when it comes to spending. And frankly, we're in a midterm year, guys. Democrats are going to be hesitant to give the president any wins going into the 2018 election.

ROMANS: You know, there are some -- you talk about the right flank. There are some who want him to be more of the guy that they elected. Not the guy who spoke at Davos last week who made concessions and didn't talk about, you know, a trade war and the like, you know. I mean, so you wonder who's --

BRIGGS: That guy doesn't get reelected, right?

KUCINICH: Well, yes. Well, the Daily Beast reported last week that they're actually trying to keep him away from someone like Chuck Schumer who might be more inclined to make a deal with in terms of immigration. But, you know, he's always the last -- the adage is that, the person the president talks to is the one that he agrees with. See we'll see who's in the room last.

BRIGGS: Chuck Schumer has an interesting op-ed in the Washington Post this morning about the state of the union. He's suggesting there is some common ground when in comes to infrastructure. But he did layout the case with their vision of infrastructure is different than the White House is proposing.

I want to ask you about the speech versus the rhetoric and tweets that follow. Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary says he has -- the president little message discipline. He says virtually every time he moves the ball down the field, he seems to derail himself with a tweet days later.

How important is the speech versus the 24 to 48 hours that follow?

KUCINICH: You know, with a normal presidency, you wouldn't have to worry about the 24 to 48 hours that follow but we're not there now. It is very important that the president stay on message because he has an excellent track record of saying something, getting praise and then stepping on it himself by either a tweet or, you know, something happens and he reacts to it on his Twitter feed or verbally.

So that's why we were talking about his tax reform package days after it passed because I believe it was something with the Russia investigation. So, whether the president -- he is not planning on doing the travel sweep that a lot of presidents do following a state of the union. So maybe they're just hoping that he continues to stay on message whatever that message is.

ROMANS: And you mentioned Afghanistan and the third president in 17 years of presiding over American troops in Afghanistan. There's been these three terrible attacks most recently. So one wonders what the national security component of (INAUDIBLE) as well.

All right, Jackie, come back a few minutes, we'll talk more. Thanks.

KUCINICH: Thanks.

BRIGGS: All right, some of the tickets for tonight's state of the union address, a bit of a typo. Inviting people to the state of the uniom. Unclear how many of the tickets had typos but the office of the sergeant at arms which issues the tickets has reprinted all of the affected ones and those that have not been picked up by members have been swapped down. Tickets already distribute are in the process of being changed for the reprinted ones.

ROMANS: Ten minutes passed the hour. Senate Republicans failing to pass a bill that would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This came up short of the 60 votes needed to advance. The opposition was mostly from Democrats although a few supported the measure.

[05:10:11] The bill passed the House in October. It excludes -- or includes exceptions rather in cases of rape and incest and when the life of the mother is at risk. President Trump called the Senate vote disappointing.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, the White House says there is no need for new sanctions against Russians but in the dark of the night, U.S. put more than 200 oligarchs and political figures on notice. We'll have live reaction on mostly concerned, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: The Trump administration missing another deadline to impose sanctions on Russia. The administration taking a different approach. Just before midnight, the Treasury Department did release a Russian oligarch list. It names more than 200 politicians and business men, many with Kremlin ties. For now, the White House is only putting those on this list on notice. No new sanctions yet. Let's go live to Moscow and bring you CNN's Frederik Pleitgen.

[05:15:04] What's the reaction there?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Well, the reaction is building up here in Moscow. In fact, the spokesman for Vladimir Putin just came out with some new comments saying that the Russian government believes that this list defacto declares all of the Russian government as enemies of the United States. There was some criticism that it was even more harsh from other senior Russian lawmakers. One of them saying that this jeopardizes relations between the United States and Russia if in fact they could get any worse than they already are.

Now, one of the reasons why there is such a harsh reaction to this list in particular and it does seems quite strange because it doesn't actually involve new sanctions. It's that a lot of the oligarchs who are this list, well, they fear that just being on the list will make it more difficult for them for instance to get credit at banks, to do business internationally and could land them on the sanctions list in the not too distant future.

Now, Christine, we have to recall all of this is being done by the Treasury Department because of Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. election in 2016. Well, the current director of the CIA doesn't believe that was necessarily a one-off. He says the Russians are still at it.

Here is what Mike Pompeo had to say in an interview with the British broadcaster BBC last night. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: The Russians have a long history of these information campaigns. That part of it is not new. That 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 them to continue to be at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: So as you can see there, Christine, still a lot of friction, a lot of distrust between the U.S. and Russia. And you know one of the things that President Trump has been saying over the past couple of weeks and months, basically since he came into office, is he wants better relations with Russia.

Well, judging by what we're seeing today, it seems like it's not going in that direction, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, thank you so much for that. Fred Pleitgen for us this morning in Moscow.

BRIGGS: Pentagon officials tell CNN a Russian military jet performed an unsafe intercept of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane in international air space over the Black Sea. The American pilots say the jet came within five feet of their aircraft. The intercept forced the navy plane to end its mission prematurely. This is just the latest in the series of unsafe interactions between Russian and U.S. aircraft in the region.

Russia's defense ministry says its crew flew strictly in accordance with international rules.

ROMANS: All right, 17 minutes passed the hour. The Trump economy is booming. That I am sure the president will tackle tonight during the state of the union. So how much credit does the president deserve? The answer is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[05:22:15] RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm urging the American people, seize these new opportunities to produce, to save, to invest. And together, we'll make this economy a mighty engine of freedom, hope and prosperity again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The economy has been a primary focus in states of the union dating back decades. Expect more of the same tonight from President Trump who's used the economy to justify his success in the first year.

We were fortunate to book our chief correspondent on business, Christine Romans. Good to have you. Glad you're an early riser.

Every president wants to take credit for economic games. How much credit does this president deserve?

ROMANS: There's a lot for him to brag about and I'm sure he will brag about it tonight. You know, the American economy is booming. I think he's going to take credit for that during this first state of the union.

And here, let's talk about what he -- the stats he has to back him up. Jobs, stocks, and corporate profits, all of them gang busters. But these measures were already strong when Trump took over. But his pro- business attitude business leaders say has just like switch -- flipped the switch right to pro-business. Consumer confidence, investor optimism are at all-time highs. And the cheerleader in chief sort of bragging his way to an economic boom.

Now there are some weak of course spots in otherwise strong economy. The unemployment rate is at 17-year low. That doesn't include the Americans not in the labor force. There's 95 million of those people who are just not working and not even in the labor market. The majority of them are retired and some in school and some are taking care of a loved one. Still, that leaves about six million workers unaccounted for here.

What about jobs? There were two million jobs created during President Trump's first year. That is a great number, two million jobs. But let's put this in context.

This is important. That pace is the slowest in six years. That's not unusual after years of expansion. In fact, you're hearing employers say they can't find the workers. They can't create more jobs until they get more workers.

Jobs are growing, wages are not. That's because of globalization and part-time workers keeping wages in check.

Let's talk about stocks because this is Trump's favorite measure. This sizzling stock market that he takes credit for.

The DOW has hit multiple milestones. The major average is at 30 percent or more since the election. That is great news for your 401(k). This is good for anybody who is in the investor class. But that is only about half of Americans.

The wealthier you are, the more likely you are to benefit. Only about a third of families in the bottom half of earners own stocks. These are all numbers that I'm sure the president will use.

And look, he bragged his way into economic boom. He really has. The one characteristic of Donald Trump that his detractors hate is his big mouth. His big mouth is actually good for investors. And it has forced companies, maybe in some cases, to make investments in the U.S. the otherwise would not have.

[05:25:02] BRIGGS: The ExxonMobil announced 50 billion in additional spending over the next five years.

ROMANS: Is it additional or are they advertising the spending they already have. That's, you know -- the switch has flipped. Companies want to show how much they're spending in the U.S.

BRIGGS: Do you think he'll name check individual companies?

ROMANS: I think he might. I think he might.

BRIGGS: All right, interesting. Christine Romans, thank you my friend.

Today, we'll get results of the state investigation into this month's false missile alert in Hawaii. The probe has 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. Hawaii officials have already said the employee responsible was disciplined and reassigned, but not fired.

And the president delivers his first state of the union tonight but instead this morning, Washington talking about the FBI, about Andrew McCabe and the Russia investigation. We'll talk about that when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: When you have a deeply flawed person in the Oval Office, that flaw can infect the whole of government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)