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Report: Trump Not Criminal Target of Russia Probe; Trump Wants Troops at the Border; Police Identify YouTube Shooting Suspect; China Retaliates For New U.S. Tariffs; Oklahoma Teachers Continue Walkout Protests. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 4, 2018 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:42] RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, President Trump's lawyers are reportedly told he is not a criminal target of the Russia instigation.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are preparing for the military to secure our border.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president talks about deploying National Guard troops until the wall he promised is built.

MARSH: Also breaking overnight, police reveal the identity of the woman they say opened fire at YouTube's California headquarters wounding three people.

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

BRIGGS: Good to see you. I'm Dave Briggs. Thirty-one minutes past the hour.

We'll also have the fire back from China. Is a trade war really easy to win? Is it a good thing? Well, the president's about to find out.

But we start with breaking news overnight.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly told the president's lawyers he is not currently a criminal target of the Russia investigation. "The Washington Post" reports Mueller's team told President Trump's lawyers he remains a subject of the investigation including whether he sought to obstruct the Russia probe.

One source tells "The Post" the special counsel's office is writing a report on Mr. Trump's actions since taking office and wants to interview him as a last step. And that, according to "The Post," has some Trump advisers worried the president could be baited into an interview that would put him in legal jeopardy.

MARSH: Well, the Mueller team with the first sentence in the Russia investigation. A Dutch lawyer tied to former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates sentenced to 30 days in prison and a $20,000 fine. Alex van der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February to lying and failing to turn over emails to the special counsel. Van der Zwaan's wife is the daughter of a Russian oligarch. In a voluntary interview with investigators, he hid his ties to Gates and a business associate with Russian intelligence.

BRIGGS: Well, after days of escalating rhetoric on immigration backed up with rehashed policy ideas, President Trump offered a brand-new proposal Tuesday sending U.S. troops to guard the U.S. border. At a luncheon at a joint news conference with Baltic leaders, the president surprised nearly everyone including the Pentagon with his call to use the military to patrol the border until his long-promised border wall is built.

More now from CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump hitting a broad array of topics on Tuesday, Dave and Rene, talking about everything from Syria in which he said that he wanted to bring American troops home from that country in part, in his words, so they could help rebuild the United States.

The president also talked about Mexico making news with the idea that he would be sending the military to protect the border in lieu of his long-promised border wall.

Here's more of president Trump talking about that. Listen --

TRUMP: We are preparing for the military to secure our border between Mexico and the United States. We have a meeting on it in a little while with General Mattis and everybody. And I think that it's something we have to do.

SANCHEZ: And now, late Tuesday night, the White House confirmed that the president had taken part in a briefing where having National Guard troops sent to help bolster protection at the border was brought up. We understand that certain numbers have been discussed in terms of how many personnel are going to be set. But the White House doesn't have an official figure just yet, something to keep an eye on moving forward.

This clearly showcases that the president is frustrated that what he sees as a crisis, he has not been able to fulfill long-held promises on -- Rene and Dave.


MARSH: Thanks, Boris.

At his luncheon with the Baltic leaders, the president declared we'll find out whether Vladimir Putin is a friend or foe and raised eyebrows with this remark about U.S.-Russia relations.

(BEGN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: How do you see Vladimir Putin? Is he a friend or a foe?

TRUMP: We'll find out. There will be a time when I'll let you know. You'll find out very quickly.


MARSH: All right. Well, last night in his final public remarks as national security adviser, H.R. McMaster took a much harder line on Russia.

[04:35:03] Listen.


LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, OUTGOING NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Russia has used old and new forms of aggression to undermine our open societies and the foundations of international peace and stability. Russia brazenly and implausibly denies its actions, and we have failed to impose sufficient costs.


MARSH: Well, McMaster did have some words of praise for the Trump administration's policy on Russia, especially the coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a Russian double agent in the U.K.

BRIGGS: At the president's news conference yesterday, he repeated his desire to withdraw American troops from Syria. The president was very clearly in favor of doing so and soon.


TRUMP: It's time. It's time. We were very successful against ISIS. We'll be successful against anybody militarily. But sometimes, it's time to come back home. And we're thinking about that very seriously.


BRIGGS: But four minutes earlier, across town at the U.S. Institute for Peace, the president's special envoy for defeating ISIS, Brett McGurk, seemed to say precisely the opposite.


BRETT MCGURK, SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR DEFEATING ISIS: We are in Syria to fight ISIS. That is our mission. And the mission isn't over, and we're going to complete that mission.


MARSH: Well, a source close to the White House tells CNN that Defense Secretary James Mattis has avoided bringing up the topic of Syria withdrawal with the president. The source says the Pentagon sees its job as destroying ISIS, something Trump likes. So, there's no upside to discussing U.S. troops in Syria which he does not.

BRIGGS: Breaking news, China will impose tariffs on 106 U.S. products. That's according to state media CCTV. The 106 items fall under 14 categories including soybeans. That's in response to the White House detailing the $50 billion in Chinese goods it plans to hit with tariffs.

The list includes 1,300 items targeting Chinese aerospace equipment, tech, and manufacturing. It also contained some unexpected items like flame throwers and medical supplies such as malaria test kits, hearing aids, and artificial teeth. It also excludes many popular retail items, shoes, clothes, furniture products that would prompt the biggest consumer backlash if prices rise.

These tariffs are punishment. The U.S. accuses China of stealing trade secrets, but they also fulfill a campaign promise of President Trump.


TRUMP: We intend to get along with China but have to do something substantial about the trade deficit. I campaigned on that, I talked about that. China won't be the only country. But I did, in fact, campaign on it.


BRIGGS: And the statement -- in a statement, the Chinese embassy condemns the list writing that as the Chinese saying goes, it is only polite to reciprocate. And that worries experts. They say the administration has diagnosed the problem correctly, but sweeping tariffs are the wrong remedy. It could spark a trade war, a devastating event for U.S. consumers, companies, and investors.

In fact, U.S. futures falling sharply overnight. The tariffs do not begin immediately, and the administration plans to hold a public hearing for U.S. businesses in May.

MARSH: Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt getting votes of confidence from President Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly. An administration official saying the president called Pruitt Monday and told him, quote, keep your head up, keep fighting, we got your back.

The president echoing the sentiment yesterday.


REPRTER: Scott Pruitt, sir? Do you support Scott Pruitt?

TRUMP: I hope he's going to be great.


MARSH: Well, the president's phone call Monday was followed up by a call from Kelly on Tuesday. There's growing scrutiny over the EPA chief's housing situation. He rented a room from lobbyists whose firm has lobbied the EPA.

His frequent first-class travel has also sparked controversy. But Pruitt has made good on the president's campaign promises for fewer environmental regulations and to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

BRIGGS: Stormy Daniels' lawyer sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asking he'd publicly release a bank's suspicious activity report. Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti wants more information on the source of the porn star's $130,000 hush money deal with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's longtime attorney.

Avenatti says he believes the report will undercut Cohen's claims about the flow of the money and what exactly happened. Cohen says the funds came from his own pocket. The White House continues to deny that Trump had an extramarital affair with Daniels back in 2006.

MARSH: Well, we're following breaking news out of California. An investigation is underway after a Marine Corps helicopter based in El Centro crashed on a training mission on Tuesday afternoon.

[04:40:07] The Marine Corps says it presumes all four crew members are dead.

Video from the scene shows another helicopter circling the crash site near Plaster City. That's about 20 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The names of the four crew members have not been released at this point. It's unknown what caused the crash.

BRIGGS: More breaking news overnight. Police in San Bruno, California, have identified the YouTube shooter as Nasim Aghdam, a San Diego woman in her late 30s. Officials say that she shot three people at the YouTube headquarters in the San Francisco suburb and then apparently took her own life.

One of the wounded, a 36-year-old man in critical condition, a fourth person was injured trying to escape the gunfire. A witness described the scene to CNN after shots rang out on the YouTube campus Tuesday afternoon.


JESSE, WITNESS: First, I heard three or four shots. I ran around the building. I went to go look. I encountered a girl running from the street to me, grabbed her, told the people inside -- put her -- open the door, open the door, put her inside the building.

REPORTER: How was she coming out? She was coming out by herself?

JESSE: By herself, running. Yes.

REPORTER: Was she saying anything?

JESSE: Yes, I've been shot in the leg, I've been shot in the leg.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Investigators are still trying to find a possible motive. The "L.A. Times" say they're looking at a Website that appears to show pictures of the shooter as well as grievances against YouTube.

MARSH: Well, coming up, thousands of teachers putting their careers on the line and walking off the job in protest. Why they say it's worth the risk.


[04:45:57] BRIGGS: Four-forty-five Eastern Time. It's a breaking news out of China. Just announcing more tariffs on U.S. products, a response to the White House detailing the $50 billion worth of Chinese -- tariffs on Chinese good its plans to hit.

Let's go to Ivan Watson live in Beijing with the breaking details.

Ivan, what are we learning here?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, China's ambassador to the U.S. warned as the Chinese saying goes, it's only polite to reciprocate. So, hours after the Trump administration announced plans for 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese exports to the U.S., now we're hearing from the Chinese ministry of commerce that they are planning to impose a 25 percent tariff on 106 U.S. products.

And they would include soybeans which was a $14 billion business from the U.S. to China in 2016, also auto products, chemical products, and aircraft, which was the second largest export in 2016 from the U.S. to China. Now, we don't know when these tariffs, both the U.S. and Chinese tariffs, will go into effect. The Trump administration's plans are subject to change and a public meeting that is scheduled to take place on May 15th.

But the Chinese have said several times that they will respond with the same magnitude and the same scope to any U.S. tariffs. They're indicating they are ready for a trade war. We've seen the first skirmishes in this trade conflict over the course of the past week with China imposing tariffs on U.S. exports of pork and wine and fruit and nuts, for example.

And now, they're saying they're willing to respond in kind as the Trump administration escalates -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Trade wars are easy to win. We shall find out.

Ivan Watson live in Beijing, thank you.

MARSH: Well, 50 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. His legacy is being remembered all over the country. Last night in Memphis, an event honoring Dr. King, city leaders held tribute in honor of King's "I've been to the Mountaintop" speech, the final speech he gave on April 3rd in 1968.

Events are also being held to honor the civil rights hero including a march scheduled later this morning on The Mall in Washington, D.C. Many faith leaders from across America are expected to attend.

BRIGGS: Many Oklahoma schools will be closed again today as teachers continue to protest at the state capitol. More than 1,000 teachers and their supporters swarmed the Capitol building on Tuesday, taking their case for higher pay and more school funding directly to state lawmakers.

We get more from CNN's Nick Valencia in Oklahoma City.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Rene, it was a historic day here in Oklahoma with thousands of teachers descending on to the state capitol, many of them coming inside here to chant and demand for more education funding. They're asking for an additional $200 million in revenue to be appropriated toward education spending.

Last week, legislators passed a bill to give them an average of $6,100 pay increase. Teachers are asking for $10,000. While they say they're asking more money for them, it really, they say, is about the children in the classroom. They say some of them are rescuing being fired or fined for showing up at the walkout.

GARY SIEBERT, TEACHER: After a very threatening letter was sent to our teachers --

VALENCIA: Why was it threatening?

SIEBERT: It indicated that we would be disciplined, that we'd be in violation of our contracts. We asked could we be fired, we were not given a direct answer.

VALENCIA: Because if you walked out?

SIEBERT: True. If we walked out to do something we already thought we had the right to do, and now at the board meeting they voted not to let us do that. Instead we would be in violation of our contracts. We decided it's worth it.

VALENCIA: And later this morning, educators and their supporters are expected to rally for a third straight day here inside the capitol -- Dave, Rene.


[04:50:04] MARSH: Nick, thank you.

Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker sounding the alarm after a Democratic-backed candidate won a seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. The results leading Walker to tweet that the GOP is, quote, at risk of a blue wave in November. Liberal Rebecca Dallet trounced conservative Michael Screnock in the race for a ten-year term on Wisconsin's high court. The candidates did not run with party affiliations, but the state Democratic Party helped Dallet's campaign. It's the first time a liberal candidate who was not an incumbent has won a seat on the seven-member court in more than two decades. BRIGGS: California lawmakers are eyeing a new lethal force law

following the deadly shooting of Stephon Clark. Legislators announced a bill replacing the current reasonable force rule with a stricter necessary force standard. The legislation would authorize officers to use deadly force, quote, only when it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death. The call for action comes after 22-year-old Stephon Clark, who was unarmed, was gunned down by police in his grandmother's backyard in Sacramento last month.

MARSH: This morning, we're seeing the tit-for-tat trade war fears sinking stocks overnight. U.S. futures falling sharply after China hit the U.S. with now tariffs. CNNMoney is next.


MARSH: Well, Facebook is announcing it has removed 300 more pages and accounts run by a Kremlin-linked troll group. The social media company said it got rid of 138 Facebook pages, 70 Facebook profiles, and 65 Instagram accounts it determined were run by the Internet Research Agency.

Facebook said the pages which were followed by more than a million users were mainly aimed at Russian speakers around the world. Last summer, the company removed hundreds of pages and accounts run by the IRA. They were designed to look like they were run by American activists.

BRIGGS: The Department of Homeland Security confirming it has detected mobile snooping devices in Washington. The agency says the devices could be self-site simulators planted by foreign agents. However, they have not determined their origin.

Essentially the devices act as fake cell phone towers. They intercept phone signals and spy on calls and texts. The use of such devices has long been a concern. But law enforcement agencies have been silent on the issue until now.

MARSH: A report from the Centers for Disease Control says so-called "nightmare bacteria" that are resistant to most antibiotics are popping up across the United States. A program for testing suspect bacteria found more than 220 cases in 27 states contained an especially rare resistant gene. Health officials say the CDC is working on an aggressive containment strategy.

Some 2 million Americans get sick from antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year and 23,000 die.

BRIGGS: Let's get a check on CNNMoney this morning. Trade wars fears sinking stocks overnight. Global stocks and U.S. futures falling sharply after China hit the U.S. with tariffs on 106 items. Dow futures down nearly 400 points, a response to the U.S. detailing its own tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods.

A trade war would be devastating for global growth, U.S. consumers, and companies. Wall Street closed higher yesterday thanks to a rebound in tech stocks. Amazon closed up 1.4 percent. President Trump has been attacking Amazon on Twitter and to reporters, accusing it was not paying taxes and hurting the Post Office. That has cost it $50 billion in market value.

Spotify is worth nearly $30 billion in its market debut. Spotify opened at $165 a share on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. In an unusual listing, the streaming music service went around investment banks to take itself public, called a direct listing, meaning it sells shares directly now investors. Spotify is the largest music music- streaming company with 155 million users worldwide.

Still have a Toys "R" Us gift card lying around? Well, there's some good news, Bed, Bath, and Beyond will let you exchange it. Last month, Toys "R" Us said it would close all U.S. stores but promised to honor gift cards until April 21st.

Now, Bed, Bath, and Beyond has another option. It will let you swap them for reduced gift cards to its own stores or bye, bye baby. It can be used in store or on line. Better act fast. The offer is only good until tomorrow.

MARSH: All right.

Well, EARLY START continues right now.


MARSH: Breaking overnight, President Trump's lawyers are reportedly told he is not a criminal target of the Russia investigation.


TRUMP: We are preparing for the military to secure our border.


BRIGGS: The president talks about deploying National Guard troops until the wall he promise sudden built.

TRUMP: Also breaking overnight, police reveal the identity of the woman they say opened fire at YouTube's California headquarters wounding three people.