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Sam Nunberg Gives Number of Dizzying Interviews. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 6, 2018 - 05:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do I have to go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump caused it because he's an idiot.

DAVE BRIGGS, ANCHOR, CNN: Dizzying? Defiant? Potentially damaging. A series of interviews from a former Trump campaign adviser raises the question, is Sam Nunberg unhinged? Or did he blow up the Russia investigation?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, ANCHOR, CNN: Top oppositions and allies foreign and domestic, about the President's plan for new tariff, a former treasury secretary now calls it, "The most irrational economic policy from a president in the last half century," and Paul Ryan now, the Speaker of the House, weighing in on this -- he does not like the tariff idea either.


ROMANS: Good morning, welcome to "Early Start," everybody. I'm Christine Romans. It is only Tuesday.

BRIGGS: Only Tuesday. We will hear from Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell later this afternoon, presumably that is a first question. We will also hear from President Trump. Two questions in a bilateral meeting there.

One time Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg though our top story. He has three days to decide if he will stick to his word and refuse to comply with the grand jury subpoena in the Special Counsel's Russia investigation.

Now, it'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 of the Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Now, he is supposed to appear Friday, but in a series of interviews that could be called defiant, or erratic or bizarre, or frankly, all three Nunberg said, "No way."


SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: They want me over. They want me over at the grand jury. Screw that. Why do I have to go? Why? For what?


ROMANS: All right, this week's whirlwind started when Mueller sent Nnunberg a grand jury subpoena seeking documents relating 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.


JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, CNN: You are actually willing to go to jail for this? Sam?

NUNBERG: I'm not cooperating. Arrest me.

TAPPER: You are not cooperating. Arrest you?

NUNBERG: Yes. I'm not cooperating. If you are more than happy -- if you are going to arrest me, arrest me. Because you know what? At this instant, and I am not a fan of Donald Trump, Jake.

TAPPER: I know you had a big falling out.

NUNBERG: I am 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 George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin one time. They passed on in 2015 for racially charged Facebook post, he says were not his 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 think that that's true.


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

NUNBERG: No, and Jake, I have watched your news reports, you know it's not true. He talked about it for a week before and I don't know 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 it. He shouldn't have. (VIDEOCLIP ENDS)

ROMANS: Both President Trump and Don Jr. have denied the President knew about the meeting. Nunberg says he believes Trump may very well have done something with the Russians during the election. That's what he says about any evidence. He also singles out former Trump Foreign Policy Adviser, Carter Page.


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

TAPPER: I'm not saying...

NUNBERG: Carter Page is a scum bag.

TAPPER: Okay, 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 was 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 "nuts." Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed the significance of Nunberg's remarks.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we have 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.


ROMANS: So, rounding out all of those cable TV interviews, Nunberg finished with our own Erin Burnett. He told her he had an idea for a compromise.


NUNBERG: I was thinking to save time, they're going to advice against this, maybe I'll just give them my password. My e-mail password because what do I have to go...

ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: So, then you're going to comply? NUNBERG: Then I would comply, yes.

BURNETT: So, you now are saying you might comply.

NUNBERG: I have no problem complying in itself, what I am not going to do is sit, Erin, for 15 hours after I sat with them...

BURNETT: So, you'll...

NUNBERG: I have no problem if they get the e-mail.


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

All right, House Speaker Paul Ryan pushing back against President Trump's new tariffs, joining a long list of allies, aides and fellow Republicans, Trump wants to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The biggest source of those imports, Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Trump yesterday to warn the President his tariffs would hurt NAFTA negotiations. Trudeau made the case for Canada's exemption from the 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 are going to have a trade war, no.


ROMANS: Speaker Ryan is not sure. Ryan's spokeswoman says he is "extremely worried" about the consequences of a trade war and is urging the White House to not advance with this plan. That was enough to ease Wall Street's fears about a trade war, at least for now. The Dow rebounded, jumping more than 300 points. So, what is next?

Economic adviser Gary Cohn plans to set up a meeting between the President and companies who could be hurt by the tariffs. Companies like Ford and GM, they import lots of steel. The new tariff could cost both companies a $1 billion per year. That's Goldman Sach's analysis.

That's one reason former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, no fan of this administration by the way, and a Democrat, he calls this the most irrational economic policy any President has introduced in the last half century.


LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: 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. 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, higher cost could force the company s to raise prices or cut jobs. By the way, the top five states who depend on manufacturer jobs -- the most, they all voted for President Trump.

Retaliation also threatens all US exports, particularly harmful to Midwest farmers who export an awful lot of corn and soy beans. The key here is retaliation -- one narrow tariff on its own, you might be able to justify, but you never have a narrow tariff on its own. There's always retaliation.

BRIGGS: Very complex situation. So, helping us explain all of it, Washington Examiner White House correspondent Sara Westwood. Good morning to you, Sara.

ROMANS: Good morning, Sara.

BRIGGS: Republicans have proved very tolerant of the President on and off the field. Rarely in terms of leadership speaking out. Certainly not Paul Ryan. This appears to be the exception.

If the President doesn't back down, what are the economic, what are the political consequences here?

SARA WESTWOOD, WASHINTON EXAMINER WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it is really important to remember that before President Trump came on the political scene, a lot of Republicans, Paul Ryan included, were free traders, and it was Trump who exposed the unpopularity of those kinds of policies like TPP showed GOP leadership how far the party had moved from blue collar workers who may be used to be Republican and had started to shift over to the Democratic Party feeling that Republicans had abandoned them.

So, that sentiment, that favorable sentiment towards free trade hasn't gone away among GOP leadership now that President Trump is threatening to follow through on the campaign promises, you are seeing it start to resurface.

ROMANS: If you go by 2018, right, so, they know that there's an unpopularity between free trade and between blue-collar workers, but if by the midterms, if blue-collar workers are starting to see job cuts at manufacturing plants because of a 25 percent tariff that is imposed, suddenly, you have to rework that calculus, don't you?

WESTWOOD: Absolutely. What Republicans are worried about is that the economic gains that this administration has been able to notch through deregulation and the tax cuts could be erased by a policy like these selective tariffs that trigger some kind of trade war that cost manufacturing jobs in steel and aluminum using industries. Those are very real risks, and so I think that's why you see some

Republicans, maybe ones who aren't ask committed to free trade policies still expressing concerns about this because this could have implications for the midterms. Republicans are already in a vulnerable position.

ROMANS: Is there a chance? Let's give the President the benefit of the doubt here because basically, all the economists except for Peter Navarro and a few people around him who are telling him this is a good idea. Everyone is saying this is a bad idea. Let's give the President the benefit of the doubt. Is this the President brilliantly using the threat of steel and aluminum tariffs to get what he wants on NAFTA as he suggested yesterday?

WESTWOOD: We don't know. That was really the first hint of President Trump suggesting that he could soften this stance when he first rolled them out, it sounded like he was going to apply these tariffs without exception indefinitely. Now, he is suggesting that this could be a bargaining chip.

NAFTA is entering, I think it's seventh round of renegotiations during the Trump administration...


ROMANS: They're not getting any movement, right?

WESTWOOD: Right, and so this might be a way to sort of shake loose something from this NAFTA negotiations that they haven't been able to do so far.

ROMANS: For the record, there is a trade surplus with Canada.

BRIGGS: Right, and you could find that on our own trade website.

ROMANS: The overall trade website, and good deficit, but an overall trade surplus. The United States has yet...

BRIGGS: Right, the services makes the surplus. All right, we feel compelled to ask about former trump campaign aide, Sam Nunberg, who -- though he says he will not comply with Bob Mueller on Friday. He actually has a law degree and passed the New York State Bar. Even though Erin Burnett was compelled to ask him if he passed through a New York Bar drinking on the way to the studio, yes, those two things are in the same context. What did we learn from this Tour De Farce on cable news?

WESTWOOD: I am not sure what we learned. You joke about Sam Nunberg passing through a bar. There are people who believe that genuinely that outburst on media could have been fueled by being intoxicated because it is so inexplicable.

Sam Nunberg is not someone who has been closely associated with the administration since Trump took office. He has really been cut out of Trump world, the inner circle for a long time, so it is not clear how much information he could provide on things like obstruction or even like high-level meetings that President Trump has taken, but certainly, he was involved with the campaign at some point, so he doesn't know nothing.

So, it will be really interesting to see if he follows through on these threats not to comply.

ROMANS: Yes, Season Two, Episode Six of the reality show that is this full process.

BRIGGS: Bearing the "Bachelor" finale last night.

ROMANS: All right, thank you so much, Sara. Come back in a few minutes. We will talk more about all of these. Sara Westwood, White House correspondent, Washington Examiner.

All right, another nor'easter bearing down and this one will leave a lot of snow behind. Big cities getting ready for close to a foot of snow. That's the forecast next.

BRIGGS: Oh, it is 5:15 Eastern Time. The Florida House will now have its say on the new gun measures in the wake of the Parkland shooting. The State Senate narrowly passed a bill Monday that would raise the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21, require a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases and ban the sale or possession of bump fire stocks that automate a semiautomatic weapon.

ROMANS: The Senate narrowed the controversial provision in the bill allowing teachers to be armed. Florida Governor Rick Scott took issue with some aspects of the proposal. A spokesperson says, the Governor will review the bill before deciding whether to sign it. The legislative session ends on Friday.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, Washington State will the first in the nation to have a law protecting net neutrality. Governor Jay Inslee signed the bill even as the FCC tries to overturn Federal net neutrality and those policies requires internet providers to treat all online content the same means they cannot deliberately speed up or slow down specific sites to hurt their business rivals.

The new law had bipartisan support in Washington State. It takes effect June 6th.

ROMANS: All right, winter is readying one last punch -- we hope it's the last punch -- to the northeast.

BRIGGS: Yes, we do.

ROMANS: Another big storm brewing for tonight and tomorrow that could drop significant snow in New York and Boston. More now from meteorologist, Ivan Cabrera.

IVAN CABRERA, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Hey, guys, good morning. Another nor'easter, but unlike the last one though, this one will not have as much wind, so we are not talking 90-mile-an-hour winds. That's excellent news. Problem is, we have cold enough air unlike last time. So, this will

be more of a snow event than our last nor'easter. Here's come the low as it continues to push to the east, low actually out of the Midwest. It has been snowing pretty good there, but it hits the water of a secondary coastal low developing and there comes the snow. It will be accompanied by 40-to-50-mile-an-hour winds, so at times, it will be white out conditions. No question about it, this is going to be a mess for travel all up and down i-95 and that of course, the residual delays that will begin to mount.

So, 6 to 12 inches, up to a foot of snowfall; in some areas, you could be looking at 12 to 15 inches of snowfall. The closer you are to the water, the better chance that your snow totals will be kept down because it will get a little warm air from the Atlantic as the storm gets a bit closer, but this is the timing in Philly, 6 to 8 beginning at 5 a.m. on Wednesday and then throughout the day, the snow begins to move into New York and eventually ending up in Boston. Guys.

BRIGGS: Yes, we hope one last punch. Exasperated sigh there.

ROMANS: I know.

BRIGGS: All right, the NBA, thinking about eliminating the one and done rule. Andy Scholes is here in New York for the -- he has the bleacher report, next.

ROMANS: The FBI investigates college basketball recruiting. The NBA making a plan to try to help young athletes.

BRIGGS: Right. Andy Scholes has this morning's bleacher report. Good to see you...

ANDY SCHOLES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Good morning, guys. We're glad to be here and you know, since 2005, the NBA had the one and done rule. Meaning, you had to be a year removed from high school in order to play in the league. But that rule may soon change.

According to ESPN, Commissioner Adam Silver, developing a plan to get involved with high level high school prospects. Now, one option on the table apparently, is turning the NBA G-league into a more true minor league basketball system where the high-level players even if they are just 18 can play and be paid a high salary. This would be an alternative option for kids who plan on being one and done in college before going to the NBA.

All right, two more teams, Iona and UNC Greensboro punching their ticket to the NCAA tournament last night with a moment of an I-belong in the Fairfield, with senior Tyler Nelson and his coach, Sidney Johnson as Fairfield season was coming to an end, Johnson pulling Nelson from the game. The two sharing this very emotional moment. Nelson, Fairfield's all-time leading scorer, last night was likely his final game of his career. Nelson saying after the game. He will remember that moment for the rest of his life. Yes, it's so cool. So, cool.

All right, weeks after winning the Florida State High School Hockey title and dedicating it to the 17 people killed in the mass shooting, the Stoneman Douglas did a pop-up game and they were enjoying a pretty special moment yesterday. The team was being hosted by the Florida Panthers and they were surprised with the Stanley Cup, and as you can see right there, the players getting to hold it up and skate around like they are Stanley Cup champion.

Stoneman Douglas is set to play for the high school national championship later this month in Minnesota and according to "The Sun Sentinel," the Panthers are helping to cover the travel cost through the tournament. Cool deal.

Finally, (inaudible) wrapping yesterday, and Roger Goodell, well, he is a calm mood. The 59-year-old commissioner running the 40 through the NFL's offices in New York. He clocked a 5.41 -- faster than he did it three years ago, and even faster than six players at the actual combine which I find to be pretty funny. Goodell was challenged by NFL networks, Rich Izen who runs it every year in a full suit for charity, but man, Dave, do you think you could do that in a full suit with some sneakers on?

ROMANS: Let's do it after the show.

BRIGGS: I'm (inaudible) run, a 5.41...

SCHOLES: 5.41, that's...

BRIGGS: You and me racing through the CNN halls? Are we on?

SCHOLES: Let's try it.

BRIGGS: I'll pull a muscle. I'm old.

SCHOLES: Oh man, you have to stretch out.

BRIGGS: You're in much better shape than me. All right, thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Thanks, Andy. Nice to see you.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, a series of bizarre interviews -- so bizarre -- Erin Burnett had to ask former Trump campaign adviser, Sam Nunberg this question.


BURNETT: Talking to you, I have smelled alcohol on your breath.

NUNBERG: Well, I have not had a drink.

BURNETT: You haven't had a drink, so that's not...


BURNETT: Anything else? NUNBERG: No.


NUNBERG: No, besides my meds.


NUNBERG: Anti-depressants, is that okay?


BRIGGS: So that happened. Nunberg says he won't cooperate with the Special Counsel's team, but some of his claims sure might interest Mr. Mueller.