Return to Transcripts main page


Former Trump Aide Refuses to Comply With Subpoena; Kim Jong-un Wants to Write New History; Netanyahu Confidant to Work With Investigators. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 6, 2018 - 04:30   ET



[04:00:31] SAM NUNBERG, FORMER AIDE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: They want me over at the grand jury. Screw that. Why do I have to go? Donald Trump caused it because he's an idiot.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Dizzying. Defiant. Potentially damaging. A series of interviews from a former Trump adviser raises a lot of questions. One, is Sam Nunberg unhinged or did he just blow up the Russia investigation? Among the many questions.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Tough opposition from allies foreign and domestic about the president's plan for new tariffs. A former Treasury secretary now calls it the most irrational economic policy of a president in the last half century.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good to see you, my friend. I'm Dave Briggs.

Sam Nunberg, who is he? Well, we know this. He claims to have a law degree from Touro College on his LinkedIn profile. They soon may teach a lesson about what not to do based on this.

One-time Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg, he has three days to decide if he'll still to his word and refuse to comply with the grand jury subpoena in the special counsel's Russia investigation. That's a matter of great interest not only because of the cable news circus Nunberg whipped up but because claims he made could have a real impact on Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

He's supposed to appear Friday but in a series of interviews that could be called defiant, or erratic, or just bizarre or all three, Nunberg said no way.


NUNBERG: They want me over -- they want me over at the grand jury. Screw that. Why do I have to go? Why? For what?

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: All right. This week's whirlwind started when Mueller sent Nunberg a grand jury subpoena seeking documents related to the president and top campaign officials. Nunberg has already spent more than five hours being interviewed by the special counsel's team. Yesterday he seemed to dare Mueller to come after him.


NUNBERG: You know what?

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER": You're actually willing going to go jail for this? Sam?

NUNBERG: I'm not cooperating. Arrest me.

TAPPER: You're not cooperating, arrest you?

NUNBERG: Yes, I'm not cooperating. You're more than happy -- if you want to arrest me, arrest me, because you know what? At this instance, and I'm not a fan of Donald Trump, Jake, and you know that.

TAPPER: I know. You had a big falling out.

NUNBERG: I'm not a fan of his. You know what? When they start asking for stuff like this Trump is right, it's a witch hunt.


BRIGGS: That falling out Jake mentions, Nunberg was repeatedly hired and fired by the Trump team like Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner. The last time in 2015 for racially charged Facebook post. Throughout the day Nunberg leveled a series of allegations, most damning if true. Nunberg says he thinks Mr. Trump was aware during the campaign of the Trump Tower meeting between Russians and campaign officials including Don Jr.


TAPPER: President Trump says he knew nothing about the meeting. Do you -- do you think that that's true?


TAPPER: You don't think that's true?

NUNBERG: No. It doesn't -- and Jake, I've watched your news reports. You know it's not true. He talked about it for a week before and I don't why he did this. All he had to say was yes, we met with the Russians. The Russians offered us something and we thought they had something, and that was it. I don't know why he went around trying to hide and he shouldn't have.


ROMANS: Both President Trump and Don Jr. have denied the president knew about that meeting. Nunberg also says he believes Trump may very well have done something with the Russians during the election. He also singled out former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page.


NUNBERG: Do you think I would communicate with Carter Page?

TAPPER: I'm guessing --

NUNBERG: Carter Page is a scum bag.

TAPPER: OK. So the answer is no. You would not communicate with Carter Page.

NUNBERG: So the answer is no. And Carter Page was colluding with the Russians.

TAPPER: So Carter Page was colluding with the Russians, you think?

NUNBERG: Yes. I believe Carter Page is colluding with the Russians. Carter Page is a weird dude. I don't think he should have been involved in that campaign.


BRIGGS: Carter Page tells CNN Nunberg's claim is laughable.

Inside the West Wing officials were stunned calling the interviews, quote, "nuts." Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed the significance of all of Nunberg's remarks.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we've said many times before there was no collusion with the Trump campaign. Anything further on what his actions are, he hasn't worked at the White House so I certainly can't speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.


[04:35:11] ROMANS: Running out all these remarkable interviews, Nunberg told our very own Erin Burnett he had an idea for a compromise.


NUNBERG: I was thinking, to save time, I have been advised against this, maybe I'll just give them my password. My e-mail password because why do I have to go --

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: So then you're going to comply?

NUNBERG: Then I would comply. Yes.

BURNETT: So now you're saying you might comply.

NUNBERG: I have no problem complying in itself. What I'm not going to do is sit, Erin, for 15 hours after I sat with them -- I have no problem if they get the e-mails.


ROMANS: If Nunberg does not hand over documents and show up at the grand jury Friday, he could be held in contempt punishable by a fine or jail time.

House Speaker Paul Ryan pushing back against President Trump's new tariffs, joining a list of allies, aides and fellow Republicans. Trump wants to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The biggest sources of those import for steel at least, Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Trump yesterday to warn the president his tariffs could hurt NAFTA negotiations. Trudeau made a case for Canada's exemption from these tariffs. The fear here, a trade war. But the president told reporters he is not worried.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think so. I don't think you're going to have a trade war. No.


ROMANS: So Speaker Ryan is not so sure. He is weighing in on this matter now. That's news. Ryan's spokeswoman says he is extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war. He is urging the White House to not advance with this plan.

That remark from the House speaker was enough to ease Wall Street's fears about a trade war at least for now. The Dow rebounded, they're jumping more than 300 points when Ryan weighed in here.

What's next? Economic adviser Gary Cohn plans to set up a meeting between the president and companies hurt by the tariffs like Ford and GM. They imports lots of steel. The new tariffs could cost both companies $1 billion per year. It's Goldman Sachs' analysis. That's one reason former Treasury secretary Larry Summers, a Democrat, no fan of this White House or his economic policy, calls this the most irrational economic policy any president has introduced in the last half century.


LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER SECRETARY, U.S. TREASURY: There are 50 times as many people in the United States who work in steel-using industries as there are in steel-producing industries. 50 times.


SUMMERS: And all of them are losing because the firms they work for are now going to have 25 percent more expensive inputs. That can't be rational policy.


ROMANS: Carmakers and other manufacturers buy most of that imported metal. 2Higher cost will force companies to raise prices, they say, or cut jobs.

The top five states, Dave, that depend on manufacturing jobs the most, they all voted for President Trump. Retaliation threatens all U.S. exports particularly harmful, by the way, to Midwest farmers. Big concerns there as well.

BRIGGS: We'll hear from Ryan and McConnell today in person.

The 2018 election season officially kicks off today in Texas, and Democrats showing early signs of being competitive in that deep red state. Early voting for Democrats has more than doubled from 2014. Eight months, though, until the general election. Texas voters have their say in today's primaries. Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz among those expected to breeze through.

ROMANS: Cruz is expected to face a stiff challenge in the fall from Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke who is expected to win the Democratic primary later today.

A lot of the focus will be on contests in north Texas. With several Republican retirements in Congress, Democrats are trying to build on their party's momentum since President Trump took office.

BRIGGS: Capitol Police arresting 87 protesters marching in support of 2Dreamers. The demonstration taking place on the day of a symbolic deadline imposed by President Trump to end the DACA program. Now back in September, the president gave Congress six months to come up with a DACA fix. But multiple federal judges have already ruled against the justification used by the administration to end the program.

The president quick to place blame for the deadline passing, tweeting, "It's March 5th and the Democrats are nowhere to be found on DACA. Gave them six months. They just don't care. Where are they? We are ready to m2ake a deal."

Look, Congress never makes a deal unless they are up against a deadline.


BRIGGS: No chance they make one until the deadline arrives once again sadly.

ROMANS: All right. People still sick from working at the World Trade Center after 9/11. Getting some help from Jon Stewart.


JON STEWART, FORMER HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: They'll have to rewrite "Schoolhouse Rock" as to how a bill becomes a law and one guy screws everything up. That will be known forever as "Pulling a Mulvaney."


ROMANS: We'll explain why the comedian is getting involved in this issue again. Next.


2[04:43:59] ROMANS: With their teachers still out on strike, nearly 277,000 West Virginia students home for a ninth day today. A newly assembled conference committee of state lawmakers meeting later this morning to resolve differences between bills in the House and State Senate.

Efforts at a compromise failed in two different committees last night. Union leaders insist teachers won't return to work until they get a 5 percent pay raise as agreed to by the governor. If the conference committee can hammer out a plan that goes directly to the governor, otherwise the process starts over again.

BRIGGS: Winter is readying one last parts of the northeast. Another big 2storm brewing for tonight and tomorrow that could drop significant snow on New York and Boston.

2We get more from our meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey guys, good morning.

Another nor'easter. We've been talking about this potential now for a couple of days. Pretty much set in stone, right? It's just how much snow are we going to get and how windy it's going to get. Winter storm watches, these will become warnings, rather shortly here. The main event will be occurring Wednesday and through the day on Thursday.

[04:45:02] Where is this storm now? Well, it's still west of us here. We haven't even had a coastal low developing. The parent low, we call it, is over Minneapolis across the Midwest. There is the boundary with showers and thunderstorms across the southeast. It's when this low pushes east and then hits the water, that's when we're going to get that coastal low really cranking up. That's when the winds will become an issue and that's when the snow will be coming down heavily.

And as I mentioned, that will be Wednesday and into Thursday so we have about 24 hours to get ready for what could be a pretty blockbuster of a storm. As far as the totals this will not be like the last one. This will 22be much colder and so then I think the snow totals will be six to 12 inches.

Nearing the coast we'll have lesser amounts because there will be a little bit of rainfall there but this is what we're thinking right now heading into the next 72 hours. So we have got shovable snow, once again, on the way -- guys.

ROMANS: All right. We're ready. Thank you.

After nearly 76 years under water, wreckage of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington has been found. One of the first U.S. aircraft carriers ever built. It was sunk by the Japanese in World War II. The ship was discovered some 500 miles off the Australian coast by a team of deep sea explorers.

22BRIGGS: A team led by billionaire Paul Allen. The Lexington was lost in May of 1942 along with 216 of its crew and 35 aircraft during what is co22nsidered the first carrier battle in history. The Battle of the Coral Sea. U.S. battleships were able to rescue more than 2,000 sailors before the 2Lexington sank.

Comedian Jon Stewart accusing the Trump administration of trying to screw 9/11 first responders. On Monday, the former "Daily Show" host joined bipartisan New York lawmakers on Capitol Hill to call out White House Budget director Mick Mulvaney. They want him to abandon a proposal they believe threatens health treatments for thousands who got sick working at Ground Zero.


STEWART: It is a special kind of incompetence that takes a program that was fought for, for 15 years by firefighters, police officers, first responders, veterans and survivors, that has finally come to fruition and is finally working well.

It's a special kind of incompetence to want to turn that upside down.


BRIGGS: The World Trade Center Health Program provides treatment to more than 80,000 people. As part of bureaucratic reshuffling Mulvaney wants to separate the program from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The White House has not responded to our request for comment.

ROMANS: All right. After stealing the show at the Oscars, Frances McDormand had her Best Actress Oscar stolen. Her representative telling CNN someone walked off with McDormand's statue while she was at the Governors Ball following the ceremony. McDormand had just won for her role in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." A spokesperson says Frances and her Oscar were happily reunited. Police arrested the 47-year-old suspect and booked him on suspicion of grand theft.

Don't put it down.

BRIGGS: Like Tom Brady's jersey a year ago. Right?

ROMANS: Put after in your purse.

BRIGGS: Yes. OK. Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg's spin through 2the cable news were forcing a last-second rewrite to Stephen Colbert's late show monologue.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": The entire news cycle jumped on the bus to crazy town. At the wheel? Former Trump campaign aide and guy telling the stripper how much he loves his kids, Sam Nunberg.

NUNBERG: Donald Trump caused it because he's an idiot. Because he decided to give an interview to Lester Holt the day after he fired James Comey. And then he decided to have the Russians in the Oval Office. You have to explain that one to me because I'll never understand it.

COLBERT: Oh, I can explain it. He was colluding with the Russians.


COLBERT: And he said it out loud.

NUNBERG: Donald Trump being involved in conservative politics is not good for his business. By the way, I think my lawyer is going to dump me right now.


COLBERT: Sam, I think your dentist is going to dump you right now.


ROMANS: Funny.

BRIGGS: Sam Nunberg has a law degree, folks. He is part of the New York Bar Association.

ROMANS: all right.

BRIGGS: That is all.

ROMANS: Let's talk about Amazon. What does it do? Shipping? Groceries? Health care?

BRIGGS: Yes. They're tinkering with health care. They have 40 percent of the online retail.

ROMANS: Would you do your banking at the First National Bank of Amazon? That's right. Amazon may be looking into starting checking accounts.

Details on CNN Money next.


[04:54:12] ROMANS: All right. 54 minutes past the hour.

Kim Jong-un telling a delegation from South Korea he wants to write a new history of national reunification. So after an unprecedented meeting between the two Koreas in Pyongyang Monday, are possible talks with North Korea and the United States any more likely?

Will Ripley tracking the latest developments live from Beijing -- Will. WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christine, it does

seem like talks with the United States are likely. But where those talks are actually going to lead beyond the kind of initial round of pleasantries, that's really the biggest question here. Because yes, it was a nice photo-op. Kim Jong-un and his wife and his sister and other officials gathered around this big large table at this very symbolic building in Pyongyang, the headquarters of the ruling Workers Party.

No South Korean has ever been allowed there before and there you have the spy chief and the top security adviser from Seoul sitting for four hours, having a great discussion.

[04:55:02] They're delivering a letter from Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea. But now the hard part begins. In fact in the coming hours we're expecting a briefing from the members of that delegation talking about what Kim Jong-un was like, what they decided upon as far as next steps. And then they're going to fly to Washington and meet with their American counterparts.

But the key issue is the nuclear program and North Korea has not given one iota of an inch on their nuclear program. In fact the watchdog group 38 North just released new satellite imagery today showing what they believe is increased activity at Yongbyon nuclear reactor. That's where they produce plutonium that they put in nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong-un said on January 1st, he's going to mass produce nuclear weapons and also try to pursue diplomacy with South Korea. And the North Koreans have consistently stated they're not giving up their nukes even though President Trump said over the weekend they would have to denuclearize in order for these talks to be successful and he has said before that if talks don't work that the U.S. would even consider a military option -- Christine.

ROMANS: And there we are. All right. Will Ripley, for us this morning in Beijing. Thank you, Will.

BRIGGS: All right. Goodwill and controversy a plenty as President Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. Just hours before the visit a person with close ties to Netanyahu agreeing to work with investigators in a corruption case involving the Israeli leader and his inner circle.

Oren Liebermann live in Jerusalem with more. Good morning, Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hoping this weeklong trip to Washington and New York would be a break, a welcome break from the investigations hounding him and his inner circle back here in Jerusalem and in Israel. And it looked like that might be the case for all of a few hours.

Just a short time before Netanyahu sat down with President Donald Trump, a third Netanyahu confidant, his longtime family spokesperson, a man named Nir Hefetz, signed a state's witness agreement with investigators so he will now be a part of the investigation offering testimony and offering evidence against the prime minister and members of his inner circle.

A blow to the prime minister. It seems these blows are coming every few days. But this trip was all about the meeting with Trump and not only the substance of what was talked about primarily Iran, the Iran nuclear deal and then Netanyahu thanking Trump for moving the embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

It was also about the optics for these two leaders, seeing, getting along, shaking hands, smiling together. That's what was important here because both leaders famously get along well and their voter bases support each other.

Dave, Netanyahu -- rather, Trump saying he may come to the embassy opening in May.

BRIGGS: Both could use a break from talk of investigation indeed.

Oren, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning. Wall Street's trade war fears are easing at least for now. The S&P jumped 1 percent. The Dow rose 336 points, ending a four-day trade tariff inspired losing streak.

You can thank House Speaker Paul Ryan. He is pushing back against President Trump's new tariffs on aluminum and steel. Ryan said he is extremely worried about a trade war and is urging the White House to not advance with this plan.

But why is the market so freaked out about trade in the first place? The president's protectionism, they think, threatens to undo all of his other pro-business work. And a trade war could lead to more inflation. And that means faster interest hikes.

The Dow rose thanks mainly to Caterpillar. Caterpillar 3.2 percent, it would be of course hurt by higher steel prices. Right now we got futures higher this morning so there is a feeling at least for now, again this is very volatile. At least for now that there is such opposition to the president's tariff idea that maybe he will back down a bit.

Would you do your banking at the First National Bank of Amazon? Amazon in talks with JPMorgan Chase, Capitol One and other banks to set up Amazon checking accounts. That's according to the "Wall Street Journal." It says that talks are in the early stages but the plan lets Amazon branch out into another industry. JPMorgan Chase and Capital One declined to comment. It shows the juggernaut, though, that is Amazon. Right?

United Airlines backtracking on plans to replace employee bonuses with a lottery prize. United's 90,000 workers hated the idea. Instead of giving quarterly bonuses, United has planned to award one employee $100,000 via lottery system. That meant a majority of workers would lose up to $1500 a year. Compensation experts say they have never heard of a company of United's size trying this kind of a program.

They tried it out and it was just immediately met with skepticism and outrage from --


ROMANS: Can you imagine? I do not want a lottery to get a bonus.


BRIGGS: Well, you hate lotteries. Lottery only works because you risked $2, $5, $10.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: Not because you risk $1500.

ROMANS: People want their bonuses.

BRIGGS: Interesting, though, tweaking it.

EARLY START continues right now with the crazy Sam Nunberg cable news fest. You're welcome, America.


SAM NUNBERG, FORMER AIDE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: They want me over at the grand jury. Screw that. Why do I have to go? Donald Trump caused it because he's an idiot.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Dizzying. Defiant. Potentially damaging. A series of interviews from a former Trump adviser raises the question -- is Sam Nunberg unhinged --