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President Trump Eager To Release Memo; Questions Swirl Around Pompeo Meeting; New Accounts In Natalie Wood's Death, South Africa Water Crisis. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 2, 2018 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:28] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: A Republican memo alleging abuses by the FBI is set to go public. The president refusing to stand in the way despite a lot of objections from intelligence and law enforcement.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: The head of the CIA is defending meeting top Russian intel officials on American soil. Why was Mike Pompeo welcoming someone already banned from the United States?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Rene Marsh.

NOBLES: I'm Ryan Nobles. It is just 30 minutes past the hour. It is Groundhog Day. Thank you for starting your day with us.

And, President Trump is poised to allow the release of a controversial House Intelligence memo alleging surveillance abuses at the FBI. The president hopes the memo might undermine the Russia investigation.

The relentless move to release it sets up a clash between the White House and intelligence officials who warn the document distorts facts and could jeopardize national security.

On CNN last night, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia slammed House Intel chairman Devin Nunes for pushing the memo's release.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: We don't come from the Senate side unless we have agreement in a bipartisan way. They're working in the House Intelligence strictly on partisan -- on a partisan participation.

Devin Nunes, pardon the pun -- he has neutered the confidence that people could ever have in the House Intelligence Committee.


MARSH: Well, the president reviewed the memo on Wednesday. That's a day after he was picked up on a hot mic telling a congressman he was 100 percent determined to release it. A Trump adviser tells "The Washington Post" there was never any hesitation by the president. According to the "Post," the president believes the memo will help

build a case for firing deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein who oversees the Russia investigation.

The "Post" also reports director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has expressed reservations about the release as well.

Our coverage starts this morning with Jeff Zeleny at the White House.



Today is the day that that classified, controversial House GOP memo appears to be on the verge of being released. President Trump gave that order on Thursday, saying he read it and reviewed it.

Of course, this setting up a huge confrontation between the White House and the FBI. The FBI director, who the president appointed, said he had grave concerns over the release of this memo but the White House appears to be going ahead with this. The president, on Thursday, gave his final go-ahead to his advisers.

Now, this, of course, is the latest episode in this long-running Russia investigation. We know that the president was calling friends and associates saying he believes the release of this memo will discredit the investigation because it will show, in his view, there is bias in the top ranks of the FBI.

Now, of course, Democrats crying foul. They believe that this should not be released -- a matter of national security. Of course, the Justice Department and the FBI also believe the same thing. After the president signs off on it, the House Intelligence Committee expected to release that sometime today.

Now this, of course, not necessarily going to change anything except the rhetoric around this. It has been somewhat of a distraction. Again, the investigation, of course, still going forward with Bob Mueller's special counsel here.

But a big day in terms of the confrontation between the president and his FBI director, appointed only six months ago. Today certainly proves to be a busy one here at the White House before the president flies to Mar-a-Lago in Florida tonight -- Rene and Ryan.


NOBLES: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you, from the White House.

And CNN has learned that top White House aides are worried that FBI director Chris Wray will resign if the memo is released. Wray has not directly threatened to step down.

MARSH: Well, his predecessor James Comey offering support, tweeting, "All should appreciate the FBI for speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart -- American history shows that in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named after Joe McCarthy."

The FBI Agents Association also publicly thanking Director Wray, expressing appreciation for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them as they work to protect the country from security threats.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan says the memo does not target law enforcement. Listen to his argument.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This memo is not an indicted of the FBI, of the Department of Justice. It does not impugn the Mueller investigation or the deputy attorney general.

[05:35:00] What it is is the Congress' legitimate function of oversight to make sure that the FISA process is being used correctly and that if it wasn't being used correctly that needs to come to light and people need to be held accountable so that we do not have problems again, because this does affect our civil liberties.


NOBLES: All right. A lot to break down this morning and we're going to talk again with CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer. He's a historian and professor at Princeton University.

And Julian, it's interesting because for weeks, Republicans have been saying that this is a bombshell. It is going to blow the lid off the FISA process and, of course, the Intelligence Community and the FBI.

But now, all of a sudden, we're starting to see that maybe that isn't as big a bombshell as we once thought. There are people close to the White House concerned that maybe it will land with a thud if it's actually released.

Is there a chance that when this memo comes out that it's going to be much ado about nothing?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR, "THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW": Well, I think at this point it will land at a thud, meaning -- with a thud, meaning we've talked to so much about it and the White House has suggested what's in it, I think that was the point of a lot of this. The message that something went wrong, that there is some shady activity within the FBI. That's all out there so I'm not sure how much more there will be the actual release, at this point.

MARSH: And, Julian, I mean, I just want to zero in on the fact that this is the president's own handpicked head of the FBI, right, saying that this document is just simply not accurate. It is false.

So for people watching this all play out here in Washington, D.C. -- to be very clear, despite the fact the Intelligence Community says there's a potential risk to national security, the document is false, the president and members of Congress release it, there really are no ramifications for the president or members of Congress legally because he's the president and he can do this.

So what are the ramifications?

ZELIZER: Sure. The president has the authority to do this and the ramifications have to do with the reputation of the FBI, the reputation of the investigation into Russia. And simply, the character of both the Republican Party and the administration for allowing this partisan memo, which is what it appears to be, to be released under the pretense of Congressional oversight or reform of FISA. It's neither.

That's simply what Speaker Ryan is saying and that's how the president is presenting it. This is simply a memo aiming to discredit an investigation into the administration.

NOBLES: All right. I want to pivot now to immigration because lost in all this Russia conversation is this upcoming deadline, March fifth, to come up with another spending plan and supposedly come up with a deal on DACA. It seems pretty unlikely at this point, especially when you hear the president's rhetoric on it.

Listen to what he told these Republicans that gathered for their event in West Virginia, about DREAMers. Take a listen to the president here.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some people call it Dreamers. It's not Dreamers. Don't fall into that trap.

And I said the other night, you know, we have dreamers, too. We have dreamers in this country, too. You can't forget our dreamers. I have a lot of dreamers here.


NOBLES: I should say the spending bill runs out on Thursday; DACA is on March fifth.

So with this kind of talk, Julian, and we know where Democrats sit on this issue, how are they going to be able to come up with a deal in the short time line that they've established?

ZELIZER: Well, on DACA, it's unlikely. Democrats are unhappy with the restrictionist part of the package and conservatives don't want the DACA part of the package. The thing is, Democrats are in a box and they are in a position where they have to save DACA. They've talked about how great the program is and how important the people are so it's very hard for them to say no.

So the real question is can President Trump mobilize the right? Can he tell conservatives I'm going to use the presidential bully pulpit to make sure conservative Republicans stay on? If he can do that, I think he can actually get a deal.

MARSH: And we actually have on the screen, in response to that sound that we just played from the president. David Dukes, as you know, former grand wizard of KKK. He then tweeted, "Thank you, President Trump. Americans are dreamers, too."

You know, when you have that following what the president said, it's going to make it really hard to come up with a deal.

ZELIZER: It's extremely hard and there's many Democrats -- there are many of them who will be profoundly unhappy if the Democrats sign on to this legislation. This is antithetical to a lot of what they stand for even though they want DACA to be restored.

That said, they are in a very difficult political position because they are in the position of having to say no to DACA. That's how the president has boxed them in.

So I still think if even with those kinds of tweets and that kind of sentiment there's a possibility you're going to see a deal.

NOBLES: And then all tied up in it the potential of another government shutdown --


NOBLES: -- right now.

Julian Zelizer, thank you so much for being here.

[05:40:00] ZELIZER: Thank you.

NOBLES: CIA Director Mike Pompeo defending recently revealed meetings he had with top Russia security officials on U.S. soil. One of those officials, the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, is the target of U.S. sanctions and supposed to be barred from entering the U.S.

The meeting first came to light in a January 30th tweet from the Russian Embassy.

MARSH: A U.S. official says it is no accident that Russia announced the meeting and the target was sowing discord in the United States.

On Thursday, Pompeo defended the meetings in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He declared he and other members who met with Russians, quote, "did it to keep Americans safe."

Schumer kept up his criticism, telling CNN yesterday, "If this administration is ignoring sanctions, that's very serious."

NOBLES: And a State Department spokeswoman says that sanctions can be waived in cases of national security.

Last year, the Russians also revealed an Oval Office meeting between the president and Russia's then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It's fair to note that past administrations have also met with Russian intelligence officials.

Meanwhile, can America's job market stay strong in 2018? That's the question after 87 consecutive months of job gains. It's the longest streak on record.

In less than three hours the Labor Department will release the January jobs report. Economists expect another healthy month. They predict 175,000 jobs added, a better number than December.

The unemployment rate should remain at 4.1 percent. That's a 17-year low. And wage growth should tick up. Wage growth has been sluggish for years. It's a weak spot in an otherwise strong labor market.

Globalization and more part-time workers have kept wages in check but we should see a boost in 2018 and there's two reasons why. Eighteen states have raised their minimum wage in January, and the new tax bill has resulted in several big companies giving employees raises or bonuses.

MARSH: Well, coming up, officials now say a school shooting in Los Angeles was an accident, but a 12-year-old girl is facing charges this morning. We have more, next.


[05:46:25] MARSH: Well, new developments in one of the most notorious unsolved cases in the U.S., the death of actress Natalie Wood. New witness statements could alter the events surrounding Wood's 1981 drowning death.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department says two new witnesses recall yelling, arguing, and crashing sounds from the stateroom on a boat where Wood was last seen alive with her husband, actor Robert Wagner.

The Sheriff's Department says it does not have enough information to make an arrest but the drowning remains suspicious. The investigation was reopened in 2011.

NOBLES: The U.S. Olympic Committee was reportedly told of sexual abuse complaints against Larry Nassar as early as 2015 but failed to intervene.

"The Wall Street Journal" says the former head of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, alerted the committee but allegations against Nassar didn't go public for another year. During that time, Nassar allegedly continued to abuse patients in Michigan.

MARSH: Well, an attorney for Penny refused to comment to CNN. A spokesperson for the USOC says the committee learned in 2015 a doctor was accused of abusing an athlete but claims the matter was reported to the FBI.

Nassar is due back in a Michigan court today as the sentencing continues for his abuse at a gymnastics club. He already has been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison on earlier charges. NOBLES: Police investigating the shooting at a Los Angeles middle school Thursday, saying it was not intentional. A 12-year-old girl has been booked in a juvenile facility charged with negligent discharge of a firearm.

Five people were injured in the shooting -- four students and an adult. Two had significant gunshot wounds, including a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the head. Doctors were able to stabilize him, saying he was very lucky.

Officials say classes at Sal Castro Middle School continued Thursday after a lockdown was lifted.

MARSH: Well, a fired Hawaii state worker who started that false alarm about an imminent missile attack is planning to sue the state for defamation. While officials have not formally identified him, his attorneys say enough information has been confirmed that residents in Oahu know who he is and some have made death threats. The worker claims officials have made him appear incompetent.

The state of Hawaii declined to comment to CNN affiliate KHON about the lawsuit. Obviously, they're looking to clear all of his reputation up at that point as well.

NOBLES: All right. Will there be six more weeks of winter? Well, we'll kind of known in just a couple of hours because today marks the 132nd National Groundhog Day. Check it out. This is what's happening right now in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

At about 7:30 this morning the Groundhog of the day, Punxsutawney Phil, will come out of his burrow in Gobbler's Knob. Now, according to legend, if Phil sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, you can look forward to an early spring.

Of course, his prediction is almost always wrong so don't put too much stock into whatever happens. Only six of Phil's last 30 predictions have been correct.

There's nothing that frustrates actual meteorologists more, and you and I have both worked with --


NOBLES: -- many meteorologists, than people that take stock in Punxsutawney Phil's predictions. But obviously, they're having so much fun there --


NOBLES: -- so we can't -- we can't ignore what they're up to.

MARSH: Well, you may have noticed Dave Briggs -- he's not in today. You're not Dave, obviously.

[05:50:02] NOBLES: I mean, I'm a less good looking version of Dave Briggs. MARSH: He's in Minnesota. That's right. He's going to be there for the Super Bowl. Tune in tomorrow for a kick-off in Minnesota -- the "CNN Bleacher Report" special hosted by Dave Briggs, along with Hines Ward and Coy Wire. That starts at 2:30 Eastern tomorrow afternoon.

NOBLES: And, Tesla founder Elon Musk has an announcement. He's sold out of flamethrowers.

Confused? We'll try and clear it up. We can't make any promises. That's coming up in our "CNN Money Stream," next.


[05:55:00] NOBLES: Breaking news out of Shanghai, China. A van plows into a crowd of pedestrians injuring 18 people. Police have ruled the crash an accident. They say the vehicle caught fire, causing the driver to lose control and veer onto the sidewalk.

A preliminary investigation found the 40-year-old driver was allegedly carrying hazardous material illegally and smoking, which caused the fire. The driver has no criminal record.

The injured pedestrians were all hospitalized. None have life- threatening injuries.

MARSH: Well, new water restrictions have been imposed in Cape Town, South Africa as the city faces the very real prospect of running dry. Residents are now being asked to curb the amount of water they use daily to just over 13 gallons. That's about half of the current limit.

Officials estimate if water levels continue to fall, as feared, South Africa's second-most populous city will run out of water by April 16th. Cape Town is in the midst of a three-year drought, the worst in a century. A changing climate and rapidly growing population have made matters worse and officials say residents have not been doing enough to curb their water use.

NOBLES: Some good news this morning. All of the miners who were trapped underground in a South African mine have now been rescued. The company that manages the Beatrix gold mine says a violent storm knocked out power to the mine Wednesday night. In all, more than 1,000 miners were stuck underground until power could be restored to a lift that brought them to the surface.

MARSH: Well, the oldest son of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Fidelito Castro Diaz-Balart, has reportedly committed suicide. Cuba's state media says the 68-year-old had suffered from depression in recent months. He was the only child of the Cuban revolutionary leader and his first wife.

Balart's relatives went into exile becoming prominent figures in Miami's anti-Castro exile community.

NOBLES: All right, let's get a check now on "CNN Money Stream" this morning. Global markets and U.S. futures are lower after a wild day on Wall Street. U.S. stocks wobbled between gains and losses, with the Dow swinging nearly 300 points before ending up just 37 points. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed a little lower.

Strong earnings helped stocks rise but investors are still worried about interest rates. They're concerned that the ERA -- era, I should say, of low rates are coming to an end.

MARSH: Well, it was a tech earnings party on Wall Street yesterday with three of the biggest names, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet all reporting after the bell.

Apple posted a record $88 billion in sales but it predicted iPhone sales this quarter will be well below expectations. Amazon also reported its biggest profit in history, nearly $2 billion, while Google's annual sales topped $100 billion for the first time. However, it also reported a rare loss -- a one-time $9.9 billion charge on foreign earnings, a result of the new tax bill.

NOBLES: All right. Tesla's founder Elon Musk has an announcement. He's sold out of flamethrowers.

Confused? Well, this was a stunt to raise $10 million for Musk's tunneling business, The Boring Company. The company began offering these $500 flamethrowers four days ago but they had to stop taking orders because they sold 20,000 of them.

Now, The Boring Company insists that these flamethrowers are safe but it does appear that flames do come out of them so they come with a complimentary fire extinguisher.

Musk repeatedly plugged the item on social media tweeting, "When the zombie apocalypse happens you'll be glad you bought a flamethrower. It works against hordes of the undead or your money back." It doesn't mention anything about burning your house down, though.

You feel like you need a flamethrower, Rene?

MARSH: I want to know who bought one of those and why.

NOBLES: Apparently --


MARSH: Apparently.

Well, thanks for joining us. I'm Rene Marsh.

NOBLES: I'm Ryan Nobles. Have a great day. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


NOBLES: President Trump expected to defy the FBI and release the Nunes memo today. REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: This memo seeks to torch every floor of the FBI and to protect the president.

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think it's very important that the American people have access to the information contained in this memo.

MANCHIN: Devin Nunes neutered the confidence that people could ever in the House Intelligence Committee.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This memo exposes crimes. I want prosecutions.

ZELENY: White House aides are worried FBI Director Christopher Wray could quit in protest.

RYAN: This memo is not an indictment of the FBI. It does not impugn the Mueller investigation.

REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: There is an ongoing effort by this president to completely discredit this critical investigation.


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 Friday, February second, 6:00 here in New York.

Chris is off; John Berman joins me -- hi.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Memo day and Groundhog Day. It can't be a coincidence.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you're right. We'll get into both of those.