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Trump Names New National Security Advisor; Senate Passes $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill; Former Playboy Model Breaks Her Silence, China May Hit U.S. With $3 Billion In Tariffs. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump now has his third national security adviser in fewer than 500 days. This latest shakeup brings in John Bolton from Fox News at a critical time ahead of talks with North Korea.


KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYBOY MODEL, CLAIMS SHE HAD YEAR-LONG AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: I don't even know how to describe it. The look on my face must have been so sad because I had never been offered money like that before.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: An exclusive CNN interview with former Playboy model Karen McDougal. She says her affair with the president was nearly a year long and he offered to pay her for it.

BRIGGS: And breaking, the Senate votes overnight to fund the government through September. One senator threatened to stop it all over his biggest concern which was the name of a nature preserve.

ROMANS: And, cue the trade war. China overnight says it will respond to the new Trump tariffs. The move sends the Dow and the Asian markets plummeting in the latest headache for President Trump.


CHARLIE KIRK, FOUNDER, TURNING POINT USA: What advice would you give to the 25-year-old Trump knowing what you know today?



ROMANS: The president wooing millennials at that event yesterday. Don't run for president.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. I think he really loves it.

BRIGGS: Do you?

ROMANS: Yes, I do.

BRIGGS: It's been a head-spinning couple of weeks.

ROMANS: But I think he's finding his stride. That's why it's been head-spinning.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 32 minutes past the hour.

The president says there's no chaos. OK, let's call it turmoil.

In a move as predictable as it was haphazardly rolled out, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, he's out. John Bolton is in. The former U.N. ambassador will be the new national security adviser effective April ninth.

In the second time in as many weeks, the president announced a major personnel change on Twitter and it comes just one week after he adamantly denied stories about pending staff shakeups.


TRUMP: So, there'll always be change but very little. It was a very false story. It was very --


TRUMP: A very exaggerated -- a very exaggerated and false story.


ROMANS: It turns out it wasn't a false story. White House officials tell us the president said the announcement was unexpected.

One official says the president was eager to get ahead of other news. Perhaps that includes Karen McDougal's exclusive CNN interview last night about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump.

As for Bolton, the president once again turning to a supporter from Fox News. Someone more likely to share his views than to challenge them.

BRIGGS: Bolton was on Fox less than an hour after the announcement echoing the president's stance on a matter of frustration to him, White House leaks.


JOHN BOLTON, INCOMING NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It's completely unacceptable. You cannot conduct diplomacy. You cannot expect other foreign leaders to be candid and open in their conversations with the president if some munchkin in the executive branch decides they're going to leak the talking points or the transcript or any -- or any other aspect of it.


BRIGGS: What have we got against munchkins, anyway?

Bolton says he looks forward to addressing complex challenges and that any past comments at odds with the president, including fiercely supporting the Iraq War even afterwards, are now behind him.

Let's discuss all of this with Philip Wegmann, commentary writer for the "Washington Examiner." Good to see you, sir.

We are sifting from a fire hose --


BRIGGS: -- on this Friday. Let's attempt to do so.

And we always think about food at this time in the morning. This is like no more mild salsa. Bring in the ghost pepper sauce, going from H.R. McMaster to John Bolton.

Let's look at some of his past positions, including calling for a preemptive strike on North Korea way, way, way, way back in February -- late February. Here's how he explains some of these controversial positions and how they fit the president's goals now.


BOLTON: I have never been shy about what my views are but frankly, what I've said in private now is behind me and the important thing is what the president says and what advice I give him.


BRIGGS: OK. So, the cable news administration is nearly complete. Keep your eye on his Twitter feed Sunday night.

What does this latest move mean for our national security and for the direction of the Trump administration?

[05:35:02] PHILIP WEGMANN, COMMENTARY WRITER, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, I think right off the bat what this shows is that presidential historians moving forward are going to have whiplash because back when he was running for president, Donald Trump was the guy saying that interventionism didn't work.

Remember, he was a serious candidate by laying Jeb Bush low during one of those debates by saying the Iraq invasion was a mistake. Now, 14 months into his presidency we see that Trump is actually reversing that and he's elevating one of the architects of that conflict.

I think that the easy and obvious analysis is that Trump is moving towards Bolton because he likes what he sees on television. But I think more -- the larger truth here is that Trump is moving towards Bolton because he's comfortable in the job. He's willing to make those decisions about personnel on a whim and on his own personal preference. So I think that this is actually a watershed moment and we're going to

see more of this in the next three years.

ROMANS: Also, shaking up his legal team. Interesting because it wasn't very long ago, March 11th, the president was blasting the failing "New York Times" for writing a story about he was looking for new blood in his legal team.

"I'm very happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb, and Jay Sekulow. They're doing a great job."

John Dowd resigning yesterday. He says he loves the president but he is resigning.

What does it send -- what does this strategy -- what does it say about the strategy with the president and the Mueller probe?

WEGMANN: Well, immediately, it shows here that any of the president's denials you can't take at face value. He's said several times that outgoing White House staff aren't actually outgoing. Then a couple of weeks later they actually take off. So that's number one.

Number two here is that Dowd was the guy who was always urging the president to cooperate with the Mueller probe and just get it over. Now that he's gone that's one less voice in the White House urging Donald Trump to be cautious.

And I think that we've seen the president much more aggressive when it comes to the special counsel and if he does do away with Robert Mueller that will be a significant moment which will determine the rest of his presidency, and this could be a foreshadowing moment.

BRIGGS: All right.

Let's talk about this massive $1.3 trillion spending bill, 2,000 pages voted on late in the night.

Bob Corker, senator from Tennessee, Republican, describing it as ridiculous and juvenile. Let's listen to this exchange late last night.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I mean, this is ridiculous. It's juvenile. This is a juvenile process that we go through every time we do one of these.

This is a ridiculous process that we go through where people extort us until we get so tired that we're willing to do whatever it is that they wish for us to do.


BRIGGS: OK, that's good -- this is better. "This is a Great Dane- sized whiz down the leg of every taxpayer in America," said Republican Sen. John Kennedy. ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE).

BRIGGS: Touche, sir.

You don't have a gray hair in that head Phil, but you're old enough to remember the fiscally conservative Republican Party. How do they go back to that?

WEGMANN: Well, I don't if they can after this because if you are a Republican voter right now are you going to believe Republicans who are in control not just of the House and the Senate but also the White House?

They said that they were going to drain the swamp after saying for more than a decade that they were going to get serious about spending -- oh, and also repeal Obamacare -- and they haven't done either of those things.

Look, Republicans -- it doesn't seem like they actually care about following through on their promises. And the sad thing here for conservatives, especially the conservative faithful, is that going into the midterms the last significant piece of legislation that President Trump is going to sign is a $1.3 trillion spending package.

So don't talk to the base about a party of limited government anymore. That's just -- that's ridiculous.

ROMANS: And I'll throw tariffs onto there, too, which has been an anathema of the Republican Party for years. Throw that in there and it looks like a hostile takeover of the Republican Party by --


ROMANS: -- the Trump wing, and the Trump wing is on top. All right.

BRIGGS: We should note the Idaho senator who wanted to hold this whole thing up over the naming of a forest in his home state, James Risch --

WEGMANN: Lots of energy.

BRIGGS: -- of Idaho.

ROMANS: Phil Wegmann --

BRIGGS: So quite a process to see.

ROMANS: -- have a great weekend. Thanks for coming by.

WEGMANN: You too, guys. Thank you.

BRIGGS: Thanks, man.

All right, now to a CNN exclusive. Explosive claims from former "Playboy" playmate Karen McDougal about the affair she claims she had with Donald Trump. The alleged affair from 2006 to 2007 came to light shortly before the presidential election.

McDougal tells CNN she traveled to meet Trump and he would reimburse her for the flights. She claims one time he offered her money for more than just expenses.


MCDOUGAL: After we had been intimate he tried to pay me and I actually didn't know how to take that.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN "AC 360": Did he actually try to hand you money?

MCDOUGAL: He did, he did, and I said -- I mean, I just had this look of -- I don't know, just -- I don't even know how to describe it.

[05:40:01] The look on my face must have been so sad because I had never been offered money like that before, number one. But, number two, I thought does he think that I'm in this for money or why I'm here tonight or is this a normal thing?

I didn't know but I looked at him and I said that's not me. I'm not that kind of girl. And he said oh -- and he said you're really special. And I was like, thank you.


ROMANS: McDougal says her relationship with Trump was consensual and loving. She claims he sometimes compared her to his own daughter.


MCDOUGAL: He's very proud of Ivanka, as he should be. I mean, she's a brilliant woman, she's -- beautiful, she's -- you know, that's his daughter and he should be proud of her. He said I was beautiful like her and, you know, you're a smart girl and --

There wasn't a lot of comparing but there was some, yes. I heard a lot about her.


ROMANS: McDougal became emotional when Anderson Cooper asked about first lady Melania Trump. He asked her what she would say to Melania Trump. She said she was sorry.

A spokeswoman for the first lady did not respond to a request for comment. The White House has said the president denies the affair.

BRIGGS: Just days ago, McDougal filed a lawsuit against American Media, the publisher of the "National Enquirer." She sold the rights to her story to American Media, which is run by a close friend of the president. It's a technique they call "catch and kill." But now, McDougal says they bought it to bury it in order to protect the president.

We should note, Stormy Daniels' "60 MINUTES" interview airs this Sunday so be watching the president's Twitter feed late Sunday night.

ROMANS: All right, let's talk about trade.

China showing it is not afraid of a trade war. China could slap $3 billion in tariffs on U.S. imports. It's planning a 25 percent tax on American pork and recycled aluminum. Also, a 15 percent tax on fruit, nuts, wine, steel pipe, and 120 other products from the United States.

The tariffs will not take effect until at least next month after the public weighs in.

China says the move is a direct response to President Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and it comes hours after yesterday's new tariffs on about $50 billion worth of Chinese imports specifically. The president warns this is the first of many.

Peter Navarro, the director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, an architect of the strategy for the president. He was on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."


PETER NAVARRO, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT, DIRECTOR, TRADE AND INDUSTRIAL POLICY, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL TRADE COUNCIL: By basically cracking down on China's I.P. theft and forced technology transfer, the outlook now of American corporations that had been stolen from by the Chinese and going to China under really burdensome and unfair conditions are brighter today than they were yesterday.


ROMANS: The stock market disagrees. The Dow plunged more than 700 points in response. The biggest losers all have significant exposure to China -- Caterpillar, 3M, and Boeing.

Asian markets plunged three to four percent overnight. The Dow was set for a triple-digit decline again at the open.

And yet, overnight, a contradictory move by President Trump showing he's willing to dodge a trade war with some allies. The president suspending steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from the E.U. and six other countries while they discuss ways to reduce excess production capacity.

So this looks like it's China story now. This is about targeting --


ROMANS: -- China. And look, there have been -- for years, companies have complained about really terrible behavior by the Chinese --


ROMANS: -- companies. And the Chinese government against American interests is now -- is this the right strategy to have? The stock market says no. BRIGGS: A pretty tame response though, so far, from the Chinese.

Ahead, tensions rise after police shoot and kill an unarmed black man in his grandmother's backyard.


PROTESTERS: Join us or go home.


BRIGGS: Protesters blocking thousands from getting into an NBA game. Next, hear from the owner of the Kings and his powerful message.


[05:47:54] BRIGGS: Five forty-seven eastern time.

Protests erupting in Sacramento, California four days after police gunned down an unarmed black man in his grandmother's backyard. Demonstrators marching into Sacramento's city hall and later on to an interstate highway demanding the arrest of the officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark.

Police say the officers believe Clark had a gun but investigators say they did not find a weapon, only a cell phone.

ROMANS: Protesters also blocked the entrance at Golden 1 Center where the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks were about to play.

Most ticketholders were not able to get inside. Look at that. The game was played --


ROMANS: -- in front of a largely-empty arena.

Fans -- some fans expressed outrage online and the Sacramento Kings owner took to the court with this message.


VIVEK RANADIVE, OWNER, SACRAMENTO KINGS: We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It's a privilege, but it's also a responsibility. It's a responsibility that we take very seriously.

We recognize that it's not just business as usual and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting with our own community.


ROMANS: Wow. Crowds dispersing as the night wore on. Police made no arrests.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning.

Stocks are selling off around the globe. Asian markets plunged three to four percent overnight after the Dow dropped more than 700 points yesterday. That's the fifth-biggest point decline in history.

We're expecting another triple-digit decline today. It may be another couple hundred points early in the Dow, depending on how things hold out here.

A recent survey of fund managers says the number one risk to the markets is a trade war. Inflation had been number one for over a year but now trade war is the big worry here.

Citigroup is taking a stand on the gun debate. It's barring companies that it does business with from selling guns to people under 21. Citi will also require customers to go through a background check for all firearm purchases. It applies to small businesses, credit card partners, and commercial clients.

[05:50:00] Again, I've seen companies -- it's companies and kids who have been the real leaders on the -- on the gun debate, and here's another company stepping in.

BRIGGS: All right, it should be an interesting march Saturday in D.C.

The slipper fits for Sister Jean. Cinderella Loyola-Chicago staying alive in March Madness and more of some wild upsets, next.


ROMANS: Rex Tillerson delivering a heartfelt goodbye to State Department workers and bidding a not so fond farewell to Washington. The secretary appealing to the staff he led for barely a year to maintain their integrity above all.

[05:55:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, OUTGOING SECRETARY OF STATE: This can be a very mean- spirited town --


TILLERSON: -- but you don't have to choose to participate in that.


TILLERSON: Each of us get to choose the person we want to be, and the way we want to be treated, and the way we will treat others.


ROMANS: President Trump fired Tillerson as secretary of state last week. Tillerson officially leaves his post at the end of next week.

BRIGGS: The 16-year-old girl shot by an unarmed (sic) student at a Maryland high school this week will be taken off life support. The mother of Jaelynn Willey making the announcement Thursday night.

Jaelynn was one of two students shot by 17-year-old Austin Rollins on Tuesday at Great Mills High School there in Maryland. Police say Rollins had a prior relationship with Jaelynn that recently ended.

The other victim, a 14-year-old male student, was shot in the leg. He is OK.

Rollins was shot and killed by a school resource officer.

ROMANS: Students and celebrities already arriving in Washington ahead of Saturday's "March For Our Lives." Up to half a million protesters expected at the anti-gun violence rally in downtown D.C. The event planned by survivors of the February 14th massacre in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead.

Some of those survivors, five Stoneman Douglas students who spoke out after the massacre -- there they are on the cover of this week's "Time" magazine. The caption says it all -- "Enough."

Among today's events in Washington, a "March For Our Lives" prayer vigil at 7:00 p.m. eastern at the National Cathedral.

BRIGGS: Quite a sight that will be.

Meanwhile, students at Stoneman Douglas are pushing back against a new rule requiring them to carry their belongings in clear, plastic backpacks. That's among the new security measures being ordered by the Broward County school superintendent.

While Stoneman Douglas students have been demanding security upgrades the clear bags rule not sitting so well with many of the students.

One tweeting, quote "Great because clear backpacks are going to fix everything. I appreciate the attempt but I'd rather have common-sense gun laws than a clear backpack."

ROMANS: Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus has died just a week after the company announced it was closing all of its U.S. stores. Lazarus founded Toys R Us in 1948, anticipating the post-war baby boom would create a demand for toys and baby supplies.

Lazarus remained CEO until 1994. His successor called him the father of the toy business.

The company tweeted this. "There have been many sad moments for Toys R Us in recent weeks and none more heartbreaking than today's news about the passing of our beloved founder."

Charles Lazarus was 94.

BRIGGS: All right, from sweet to elite. Loyola-Chicago continuing its Cinderella run in the NCAA tournament with a thrilling 69-68 win over Nevada. Marques Townes, a clutch three-pointer with six seconds left to send the Rambler to the Elite 8.

They have three tournament wins now by a total of four points if you can believe that. And here, the clutch shot from the corner.

And how about their 98-year-old super fan Sister Jean, probably never so happy to be wrong. She had Loyola-Chicago losing in this point in the tournament in the Sweet Sixteen.

There were other upsets. Kansas State punching its ticket to the Elite 8 with a dramatic 61-58 win over blueblood Kentucky.

K-State and Loyola meet tomorrow with the winner going to the Final Four. Yes, K-State and Loyola. If you had that I want some stock tips from you, friends.

In the west region, Florida State took care of Gonzaga big-time, 75 to 60. FSU will face Michigan tomorrow. The Wolverines routing Texas A&M 99-72.

Tonight, four more games including Duke-Syracuse around 9:40. Devil in a blue dress --

ROMANS: All right.

BRIGGS: -- right here, friends.

ROMANS: There you go. All right.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. Have a great weekend, everybody.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is real and it's happening. General McMaster is leaving.

BOLTON: I didn't really expect that announcement this afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president deserves to have a staff that he gets along with.

BRIGGS: President Trump's lead lawyer for the Russia investigation stepping down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An attorney with any professional integrity would be loath to join his team. They become a punching bag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you still like to testify to special counsel Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: I would like to.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I think President Trump's going to war.

MCDOUGAL: After we had the incident and he tried to pay me, it really hurt me, but I went back. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has not hurt the president one shred.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was totally credible.

MCDOUGAL: I want to share my truth. I need to share my story.