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EARLY START

Comey Breaks Silence In First TV Interview; New Russia Sanctions Expected; Cohen Goes To Court Today; Starbucks CEO Apologized For The Arrest of Two Black Men. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 16, 2018 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

[13:00:15] GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you think the Russians have something on Donald Trump?

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It it's possible. I don't know.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Fired FBI Director James Comey not holding back, telling all about the president, Russia, and the Mueller investigation.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The Trump administration expected to slap Russia with a new round of sanctions as early as today.

ROMANS: And his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen head to court just hours from now, and Stormy Daniels expected to be there too.

BRIGGS: Just your average Monday.

ROMANS: Yes.

Good morning, and welcome to Early Start. I'm Christine Romans. Nice to have you back.

BRIGGS: Great to be back on an extraordinary news day --

ROMANS: You didn't start (INAUDIBLE)

BRIGGS: Yet again, it's Monday, April 16th. Great to be back at 3 a.m. in the East. Yes, we are on an hour early, it's 10 a.m. in Northern Syria and we'll be live there shortly.

But first, former FBI Director James Comey speaking out against the man who fired him, calling Donald Trump "morally unfit to be president" and saying it's possible the Kremlin has compromising information on President Trump. Comey's wide ranging five hour interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News kicking out a promotional tour for Comey's new book "A Higher Loyalty. In a portion that aired last night, Comey argues that anyone who, quote, treats women like they're pieces of meat and lies constantly about matters big and small is not fit to be president on moral grounds. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Donald Trump unfit to be president?

COMEY: Yes, but not in the way, I often hear about people talk about it. I don't buy the stuff about him being mentally incompetent. The early stage of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who's tracking conversations and knows what's going on. I don't think he is medically unfit to be president. I think he is morally unfit to be president.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Comey was also asked about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and what it might find about the president.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think the Russians have something on Donald Trump?

COMEY: I think it's possible. I don't know. I mean, these are more words that I never thought I would utter about the president of the United States, but it is possible.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's stunning. You can't say for certain that the president of the United States is not compromised by the Russians?

COMEY: Yes, it is stunning. And I wish I wasn't saying it, but it is the truth. It always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely. And I would have been able to say with high confidence about any other president I dealt with, but I can't. It's possible.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Comey offering a surprising answer when asked whether he thinks the president should be impeached.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should Donald Trump be impeached?

COMEY: Impeachment is a question of law and fact and politics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're a citizen. You have a judgment.

COMEY: Yes, I'll tell you, I'll give you a strange answer. I hope not, because I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they're duty-bound to do directly.

People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values. And so, impeachment in a way would short circuit that.

(END AUDIO CLIP) ROMANS: Five hours of interview, condensed into one hour there. Those editors of ABC had a lot work to do this week. And joining us this morning from Washington, CNN Politics Reporter Tal Kopan, and here in New York with us, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst James Gagliano, he is a retired FBI supervisory special agent. Good morning to both of you.

James, let me get to you first. What is your overall reaction I guess to that hour that we heard from him last night?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So I stayed up last night and watched the entire interview, and I think we're at -- we're in (INAUDIBLE) right now. I think if you see Director Comey as a symbol of the resistance, you still do. If you believe he's a member of the deep state, you still see that too.

I think for me, I'm human so it kind of confirmed some of my suspicions like seeing a lot of the excerpts that came out so I didn't learn a lot new there. I think --

ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE) confirmed your suspicions?

GAGLIANO: Confirmed my suspicions that he is like all of us. He's probably a good man, a decent man, don't know him personally -- Comey, don't know him personally but I've met him in number of times. But I think he made a lot of colossal mistakes along the way during his four years as FBI director.

ROMANS: Tal, if anything, what surprised you in this extraordinary interview.

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, it's really remarkable to just hear and see these things, you know, as we just watched. Really stunning answers and, you know, keep in mind, FBI directors certainly are appointed by presidents but they're designed to normally serve 10- year terms because theoretically, they're supposed to be sort of separate from any sort of political influences in Washington. They serve multiple presidents, they sort of are the enforcer of the law.

And so to have a person who embodied that role, coming out so strongly against a sitting president, it's really a remarkable thing to watch.

[03:05:05] And, you know, I completely agree with James, I think that a lot of folks have already made up their minds about whether they believe Comey or they don't or whether they see him as honorable or dishonorable and, you know, this interview probably reinforce these ideas but certainly, the American people got a chance to make up their own mind watching James Comey from his own mouth describe those sentiments, those interactions, those conclusions, and they will have an opportunity to decided whether or not they believe he is credible to them.

ROMANS: And Tal, there'll be more of this because there'll be more interviews. I mean, this is just the beginning of the book tour. So one wonders, Tal, how much of the narrative is going to be consumed by Comey and Comey speaking about his relationship with the president, his firing by the president, or whether we move on from this.

KOPAN: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, this is not a man who is unsavvy about the media. I mean, from the get-go, he really has known how to drive the news cycle and, you know, he is a lawyer through and through. He is very disciplined with his words. He thinks everything through -- I mean, I even noticed how he dressed for that interview, no ties, sort of open, a little bit folksy.

I mean, this man thinks about every little thing, and so you can certainly count that as long as he wants to keep his name in the media, he is going to sort of find a way to drive the narrative, you know, the next would say sell some books certainly, probably not a downside in the media web. But he planned this to rule out very effectively to be in the news for more than one news cycle.

BRIGGS: Nobody sells book, James, like the president of the United States so. He attacked "Fire and Fury" the same way the he's done with this book, a tweet storm yesterday, eight tweets before 11 a.m. What's your read from the president's reaction and the impact of all of this?

GAGLIANO: So, first of all, I mean, James Comey is going to sell books. I think the initial print ones was 850,000. Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" is only 150,000. He's going to sell books, there's no doubt about that. I think that when we tries to fight the president in a public square, he losses that sense of dignity and professionalism and decorum that wear his hall marks.

One real quick story --

ROMANS: But is it his fault or is that where this president is taking at it?

GAGLIANO: Listen, I'm the first one to say that the president's tweets and the president's punching down the way that he acts is beneath the dignity of the office. But what separate him from Director Comey was Director Comey is at least has the ability in the beginning to take it and ignore it. Once he's gone now into attacking Trump's appearance, once he's now called into question how --

BRIGGS: He's referencing the hands and the circles below the eyes and things of that nature.

GAGLIANO: Absolutely. The hair or the -- then I think he losses that morale high ground that he held for such a long time.

ROMANS: This is a deliberate more of what he said in that interview because there was just so much there. Let's listen if you will guys, to the (INAUDIBLE) about firing Mueller.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: What will it mean if President Trump tries to fire Robert Mueller?

COMEY: It would I hope set off alarm bells that this is his most serious attack yet on the rule of law. And it would be something that our entire country -- again, Democrats and Republicans, that is higher than all the normal fights about policy. And it would be to the everlasting shame of partisans if they were unable to see that higher level and to protect.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: Tal, what you make of that moment? I mean, there is (INAUDIBLE) a story line just about every single day.

KOPAN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I think what James Comey said really echoes a lot of what you hear in Washington when this question was ask hypothetically. You know, a lot of folks especially Republicans say, well, it's not going to come to that. But there is this sort of notion that folks haven't really explicitly are drawing red lines but it sort of talks about as if it some sort of red line that the president, if he cross would trigger a new era, a new division, you know.

And this notion that it should be a bipartisan outcry is one -- you know, you certainly hear a lot. But, you know, it's planting a flag and so, if that line were to be crossed, we'll see a lot of the folks who sort of dodge it haven't really taken the firm position on whether they would see (INAUDIBLE). There's been a lot of warnings and so we'll see.

You know, there's -- in the news, other aspects of this about drawing red lines. There are other issues we're discussing about how that can be a very dangerous proposition if you're not prepared to back it up.

BRIGGS: Yes. Paul Ryan made it clear he doesn't see any need for a legislation to protect Robert Mueller at this point.

Tal Kopan, James Gagliano, a lot more to get into. You'd be with us all morning. Thanks to you both.

ROMANS: Yes, come back a few minutes.

All right, new this morning, the president's attorney, legal team has filed papers that side with Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen arguing that attorney-client privilege must be preserved. The president's lawyers called the FBI raid on Cohen's home, office, and hotel room disquieting. The new legal brief filed last night creates the spectacle of the president arguing against his own Justice Department in favor of a business associate.

[03:10:06] Now, Cohen and his lawyers are set to appear in court this morning. CNN's Sara Murray has more on that.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. President Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who we now know as under criminal investigation is slated to appear in court in New York today. And it could be a little bit more awkward than previously anticipated. That's because the adult film star that Cohen paid to silence her story is also now slated to appear. Stormy Daniels' attorney says that her appearance has nothing to do though with trying to provoke Michael Cohen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: It's intended to send the message that this is a very, very serious matter for her, and she wants to make sure that the American people know that she is behind efforts to bring to light as much information and documents possible. She also wants to insure that that she is heard and that she is represented at the hearing.

It has nothing to do with getting in his head at all.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MURRAY: Now Cohen's attorneys were in court on Friday trying to argue that investigators should not be able to review the evidence they collected from raids on Michael Cohen's home, office, as well as his hotel room insisting they could violate attorney-client privilege. Prosecutors say there's little evidence that Michael Cohen was doing much lawyering and they say that they're not looking for evidence about his time working as a lawyer but rather about his own personal business dealings.

The judge now particularly entertained by the actions from Michael Cohen's attorneys and said they need to provide evidence of who Cohen list as clients by Monday morning. Back to you guys.

ROMANS: All right, Sara, thanks.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, the Trump administration is about to hit Russia with more sanctions. We'll have more on who's being targeted this time, and why, just ahead.

ROMANS: And questions about the Trump administration's mission in Syria on the heels of Saturday morning strike. We go live to Northern Syria, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:15:24] BRIGGS: (INAUDIBLE), the Treasury Department is expected to announce new sanctions against Russia as early as today. That's according to Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Haley describing relations with Russia as very strange. She's pushing back against critics who claimed Saturday's bombing of Syria's chemical weapons facilities did not go far enough. She also insists the new sanctions will cause Russia more pain.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: They will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment- related to Assad and chemical weapons use. And so, I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it.

(END AUDIO CLIP) BRIGGS: Sources tell CNN more than a dozen Russian entities including banks and equipment suppliers are being considered as targets for new sanctions. Also under consideration, companies that sell helicopters to Russia.

ROMANS: French President Emmanuel Macron says he, quote, convinced President Trump to keep U.S. troops in Syria before the U.S., France, and Britain launched that missile strike on three chemical weapons target. The White House pushing back, they say the U.S. mission has not changed and the president wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible.

U.S. officials are more confident than ever that chemical weapons were used on Syrian civilians as international investigators begin the process now trying to independently confirm it.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh for us this morning reporting live from Northern Syria. Good morning, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, interesting you mentioned that. Absolutely, we're still have to get to the bottom of the question of exactly what substance was used last weekend in Douma that spark this massive international reaction. Everyone smelled of chlorine and saw symptoms coexisting with a nerve agent but it is down to the OPCW currently on the ground in Syria to make that final examination.

A lot really to take in after the last few days or so. The broader issue I think is the U.S. now appears to be on the spot to explain exactly what is Syria policy is particularly after the comments of French President Emmanuel Macron. They had in the past being, let's get out as quickly as we can, that's the last we heard from the U.S. commander-in-chief Donald Trump.

But now, after the French president's comments that may pass as a suggestion over the need for a larger strategy, the absence of one certainly is now on the great question. And of course, there are two things to take away from the past few days also. Firstly, however much Damascus is trying to look like, there's hasn't really being much of a destructional (ph) pain to them. And it is questionable how much real damage was done to their infrastructure that depends on (INAUDIBLE) can still launch chemical weapons attacks. They probably have a few angry phone calls from their Russian and Iranian backers here.

Frankly, that war was continuing in their favor and they were kicking rebels out of Eastern Ghouta. Barbaric is their tactics were, the use of chemical weapons simply brought the international community to do one thing they haven't done for months and that is to stand up and take notice. Secondly, U.S. military power is back and uncontested in the Middle East. That's not something to be too pleased about because it often push the Russians backs up. They stayed away from this way but they may feel the need to reassert themselves either in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world.

Christine? ROMANS: You have very, very good point there. I mean, I think they lose to us in Northern Syria. Thank you, Nick.

BRIGGS: Coming up, former First Lady Barbara Bush with failing health this morning. The latest on her condition is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:22:38] ROMANS: All right, Barbara Bush is in failing health this morning. A source close to the former first lady tell CNN she is being cared for in her Houston home. She has decided not to return to the hospital, instead, she is receiving comfort care. We are told Mrs. Bush is on oxygen with her husband George H.W. Bush in her side along with her daughter Doro and sons, Marvin and Neil. George W. and Jeb have visited during the past week.

BRIGGS: The CEO of Starbucks apologizing after two black men were arrested at one of the company's coffee shops in Philadelphia. Officers were called when the men sat down and didn't order anything waiting to meet a friend and refuse to leave. They were led out in handcuffs. CEO Kevin Johnson calling the incident reprehensible.

More now from CNN's Polo Sandoval.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave and Christine, Starbucks is issuing several apologies to these two men. It was initially their employees at this Philadelphia location that called police after these two men refused to leave. See the AUDIO for yourself here that was posted over the weekend. You can see these men take -- being taken into custody without further incident. They're taken to the police department where they're later released according to police officials.

Starbucks chose not to file any trespassing charges against them. Melissa DePino was initially the one who tweeted this AUDIO over the weekend saying, quote, the police were called because these men hadn't ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white people are wondering why it's never happened to us when we do the same thing.

Now, Starbucks for its part has issued several of these apologies taken to Twitter over the weekend saying, quote, we regret that our practices and training led to the reprehensible outcome at our Philadelphia store. We are taking immediate action to learn from this and be better.

Kevin Johnson, the CEO of the coffee company now offering to apologize to these two men face-to -face. As for these officers, the police commissioner in Philadelphia is saying that he's basically standing by their officers saying that they were acting legally and arresting these two men, but again it was because Starbucks chose not to pursue any charges that they were later released.

Dave and Kristine?

BRIGGS: All right, Polo thanks. The 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards held Sunday night in Las Vegas and began with a somber tribute by Jason Aldean and other country stars to the victims of the Vegas mass shooting six months ago.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

[03:25:06] JASON ALDEAN: We wanted to open the show with something that sums up what it's like for our country music family to be back in Las Vegas for the first time since October 1st. We thought about starting with a song that it's a lot bigger than a single song. It's everything you'll hear tonight. The songs that bring us to our feet make you want to pull someone close or just live in the moment.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BRIGGS: As for the show itself, it was all about the unifying and healing power of music. Aldean was on stage when the shooting began at the music festival last October so it seemed fitting that he won the biggest award of the night for Entertainer of the Year. One of the shows of their big highlights was Carrie Underwood's return to the stage, her first television appearance since injuring her face which required 40 to 50 stitches.

ROMANS: All right, Saturday Night Live is to take on the latest Trump news of Robert Mueller-Michael Cohen lie detector tango giving Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller the chance to parody their roles in a "Meet the Parents" reunion.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ROBERT DE NIRO AS ROBERT MUELLER, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Did you make a payment of $130,000 dollar to Stormy Daniels?

BEN STILLER AS MICHAEL COHEN, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Yes.

DE NIRO: And did President Trump know about it?

STILLER: No.

DE NIRO: I think you're lying.

STILLER: It was -- yes, supposed to be a surprise for Stormy like a gift.

DE NIRO: Gift.

STILLER: Yes, a gift like a rock you throw through a window with a note tied to it that says, "Stop talking".

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's very funny.

BRIGGS: I know it was pretty good reunion. A reminder, Cohen, Stormy both in court today. Fired FBI Director James Comey, offering some surprises in his first T.V. interview.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should Donald Trump be impeached?

COMEY: Impeachment is a question of law and fact and politics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're a citizen. You have a judgment.

COMEY: Yes, I'll tell you, I'll give you a strange answer.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Hear the answer to that questions just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

[03:31:03] STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think the Russians have something on Donald Trump?

COMEY: I think it's possible. I don't know.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Fired FBI Director James Comey not holding back. Telling all about the president, Russia, and the Mueller investigation.

ROMANS: The Trump administration expected to slap Russia with a new round of sanctions as early as today.

BRIGGS: The president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, heads to court just hours from now. Stormy Daniels expected to there as well.

Just your average Monday folks. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: A little early for us this Monday. We're up an hour early. I'm Christine Romans, it's 25 minutes past the hour this Monday morning.

Former FBI Director James Comey speaking out against the man who fired him, calling Donald Trump "morally unfit" to be president. Saying it is possible the Kremlin has compromising information on President Trump. Comey's wide ranging five hour interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC NEWS kicks off a promotional tour for Comey's new book "A Higher Loyalty."

BRIGGS: In the portion that aired last night, Comey argues that anyone who, quote, treats women like they're pieces of meat and lies constantly about matters big and small is not fit to be president on moral grounds.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Donald Trump unfit to be President? COMEY: Yes. But not in the way -- I often hear about people talk about it. I don't buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stage of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence, who's tracking conversations and knows what's going on. I don't think he's medically unfit to be president. I think he is morally unfit to be president.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: Not medically unfit, morally unfit to be president. Comey was also asked about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and what it might find about the president.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think the Russians have something on Donald Trump?

COMEY: I think it's possible. I don't know. I mean, these are more words I never thought I would utter about a president of the United States, but it's possible.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's stunning. You can't say for certain that the president of the United States is not compromised by the Russians?

COMEY: Yes, it is stunning and I wish I wasn't saying it but it's just -- it's the truth. It always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely. And I would have been able to say with high confidence about any other president I dealt with but I can't. It's possible.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: Comey offered a surprising answer when asked whether he thinks the president should be impeached.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should Donald Trump be impeached?

COMEY: Impeachment is a question of law and fact and politics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're a citizen. You have a judgment.

COMEY: Yes, I tell you -- I will give you a strange answer. I hope not because I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they're duty-bound to do directly. People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values. And so, impeachment in a way would short circuit that.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Calls the action of the American people. That's sound bite really got attention from people on social media.

Joining us this morning from Washington, CNN Politics Reporter Tal Kopan, in New York, CNN Law Enforcement Analysts James Gagliano, a retired FBI and supervisory special agent. Good morning to both of you.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: You Tal, let's start with that where the president says I -- James Comey says, he hopes not that the president is impeached. What's your reaction to that?

KOPAN: Well, it really is one of the stand out moments of the interview, Dave. You know, it's a very interesting answer. If you actually pause what he said sort of the notion that impeachment overrides the will of the voters. And in a democracy, fundamentally, the will of the voters should be supreme.

Now, of course, you know, as he started his sort of preamble to that question if there's a matter of (INAUDIBLE) certainly, not something that isn't contemplated in the constitution and that's allowed for. But, you know, the notion that at the end of day, it's the voters who elected them and voters who he should be accountable to you is one you hear from folks. And it's one of the reasons that, you know, early on, especially Democratic leadership was telling its members to sort of to keep their potter dry on the impeachment talk, because it really is a fundamentally different bridge to cross if we go there and start, you know, calling out president that way.

[03:35:16] For things that can perceive as political. It's a very dangerous game. And so, I think that's a little bit of what you were hearing from James Comey.

ROMANS: So, impeachment, no but it's so interesting, James Gagliano because George Stephanopoulos asked James Comey about obstruction of justice with an interesting response. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Was President Trump obstructing justice?

COMEY: Possibly. I mean, it's certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's interesting reveal.

GAGLIANO: He cuts his answer there. He said, possibly. Now, one of the major constructs of obstruction of justice is, is just like perjury. You have to prove intent and that's what he's saying.

He said that was his interpretation of events. What really struck me in the sound that you guys just played was the Russia probe. You know, when the book was publish, it had to go through a clearing call pre-publication review at the FBI. The FBI and the Department of Justice define an employee as anyone who holds or who has held the position of trust within the agency. James Comey is still a technically FBI employee. How he is talking about an ongoing open investigation of case which is a prohibitive disclosure. I have no idea.

BRIGGS: But they had the right to take out things from the book and did according to Comey take certain things out of his book that were classified.

GAGLIANO: I am not arguing that he did not go through the process and the procedures. But I'm aware what the rules are. There's 13 different prohibitive disclosures. You can obviously give away classified information. There's a number of other things.

One of the ones that jump out to me, you can't talk about an ongoing investigation. The Russia probe, the I.G. report, a number of probes on Capitol Hill. He's not just peripheral figure, he's the central witness. So, I don't know how he got around that.

ROMANS: Do you think it's inappropriate? Do you think that this whole book tour is inappropriate and the reveal here is inappropriate?

GAGLIANO: I do. Timing wise. He has a right to write a book. He has a right to punch back. Because I get it, he said to be quite for a year now and listen to all of the jabs and the punches, and the -- basically, the character so I get that piece.

The timing of it is beyond suspect. And it -- I think it makes a lot of us uncomfortable because this Russia probe, we all agree, whatever side you're on is consequential. Why give the president's defense team some things that can use to say, you said this in a deposition but on page 42 of your book you said this.

BRIGGS: Regarding Russia, (INAUDIBLE) again, he said, it's possible the president of United State is compromised by Russia. He said, he's morally unfit to be president. Will this change any minds?

KOPAN: A very great question, Dave. And you know, I'm not sure that it does. I'm not sure they were a lot people out there who didn't already have an opinion of James Comey negative or positive.

I think if you like him and thought he was credible, and, you know, speaks through to power. You still think that and I think if you thought he was self-serving. And, you know, have a very cynical view that this is all about selling books. You probably still think that as well.

You know, what the beauty of an aired television interview like this for a long time is that the American people can watch him. And they can determine for themselves if they find him to be credible. You know, I don't think you can argue that he doesn't come across well in his own book. That's a probably not a surprise that every interaction he has that it reflects well on him.

That's not necessary something any author wouldn't do. But, you know, letting him talk in his words, the American people can sort of listen and think, you know, this is someone I trust or not? And that sort of allows them to make those decisions going forward.

ROMANS: I got to play a little bit more sound. This is something that James Comey was criticized by Democrats for just before the election. Remember the big reveal when he said that they were looking into Hillary Clinton's e-mail still. And this is something that people on the Clinton campaign and Clinton supporters said was just devastating for that campaign.

And he was asked about that by George Stephanopoulos. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Wasn't the decision to reveal influenced by your assumption that Hillary Clinton was going to win and you're concerned that she wins. This comes out several weeks later. And then that's taken by her opponent as a sign that she's an illegitimate president?

COMEY: It must have been. I don't remember consciously thinking about that but it must have been. Because I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump. And so, I'm sure that it was a factor.

Like I said, I don't remember spelling it out. But it had there been that -- if she's going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected, the moment this comes out.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: What about that admission that there was an assumption that Hillary Clinton would win?

GAGLIANO: Yes. He really comes off as a sympathetic figure here and I understand. He was caught in a quandary at the time.

[03:40:00] You have the late June tarmac meeting between Attorney General Lynch and the Former President Clinton. I get it. Lynch has to accuse herself. Comey takes it upon himself in July 5th to come out and do something unprecedented for an FBI director to speak to an ongoing case and basically say, she did all these things, some of them were extremely careless and I'm going to give you all these things that she did wrong, but we're not going to -- if you do it to (INAUDIBLE) suspicion, we're not going to seek a prosecutor.

What he should have done instead of stepping from those cameras is punted the ball back across the street to main justice and to Sally Yates who is the deputy attorney general at that time and say, this is your job, you need to handle this. We've close our investigation, now you handle that.

BRIGGS: He did write about that meeting on the tarmac between Loretta Lynch and the former president. It was critical of Loretta Lynch, but he also said, his wife and daughters supported Hillary Clinton, took part on the women's march later, which to a lot of people on the right says, this hurts her credibility. This debate will continue. This discussion will as well. Tal Kopan, James Gagliano, thank you both.

ROMANS: We'll be back a few minutes (INAUDIBLE).

BRIGGS: Also new this morning, the president's legal team has filed the papers that signed with Mr. Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arguing that attorney-client privilege must be preserved. The president lawyers call the FBI raids on Cohen's home, office and hotel room disquieting.

A new legal brief filed last night creates the spectacle of the president arguing against his own Justice Department in favor o f a business associates. Cohen and his lawyers are set to appear in court this morning.

CNN's Sara Murray has more.

MURRAY: Good morning, Christine and Dave. President Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who we now know as under criminal investigation is slated to appear in court in New York today. And it could be a little bit more awkward than previously anticipated. That's because the adult film star that Cohen paid to silence her story is also now slated to appear. Stormy Daniels' attorney says that her appearance has nothing to do though with trying to provoke Michael Cohen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: It's intended to send the message that this is a very, very serious matter for her, and she wants to make sure that the American people know that she is behind efforts to bring to light as much information and documents possible. She also wants to insure that that she is heard and that she is represented at the hearing.

It has nothing to do with getting in his head at all.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MURRAY: Now Cohen's attorneys were in court on Friday trying to argue that investigators should not be able to review the evidence they collected from raids on Michael Cohen's home, office, as well as his hotel room insisting they could violate attorney-client privilege. Prosecutors say there's little evidence that Michael Cohen was doing much lawyering and they say that they're not looking for evidence about his time working as a lawyer but rather about his own personal business dealings.

The judge now particularly entertained by the actions from Michael Cohen's attorneys and said they need to provide evidence of who Cohen list as clients by Monday morning. Back to you guys.

BRIGGS: All right, thanks. Sara Murray there in Washington.

ROMANS: All right, the Trump administration is about to hit Russia with more sanctions. More on who's being targeted this time, just ahead.

BRIGGS: And questions about the Trump administration's mission on Syria on the heels of Saturday morning strike. We'll go live to Northern Syria, next on EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:47:22] BRIGGS: French President Emmanuel Macron says he, quote, convinced President Trump to keep U.S. troops in Syria before the U.S., France, and Britain launched that missile strike on three chemical weapons targets. The White House pushing back, saying the U.S. mission has not changed and the president wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible.

U.S. officials are more confident than ever that chemical weapons were used on Syrian civilians as international investigators begin the process now of trying to independently confirm it.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh live for us in Northern Syria. Nick, good morning.

PATON WALSH: Dave, it's interesting you made that points. We're still have to work out from the OPCW if sarine was involved here. Sarine-like symptoms were detected in the repeated rhetoric from U.S. officials that they believed sarine was (INAUDIBLE) predominantly the smell from aide workers and victims was that of chlorine. Kind of historical, though, now because we have to look at exactly where this leads. Syria and the Middles East more broadly.

There are two things you can take way from here. Really, the first is, that I'm pretty sure in Damascus, there are some pretty angry Russian and Iranian telephones calls being received. Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president is trying to look like he (INAUDIBLE) and then really suffer months from this as probably true to some degree. They were very targeted strikes on specific facilities and we probably never know until the fullness of time of exactly what damage that did to the chemical weapons program. But Russia and Iran having same (INAUDIBLE) on the ground great success in pushing back the rebels, brutal barbaric is the tactics were (INAUDIBLE) the focus on the fact that the U.S. is able to intervene.

The focus on the barbarity in those tactics and the need for the U.S. to potentially have a Syria strategy not something really they have though they needed in over the last week or so.

Second to that, we have a clear demonstration of U.S. military prowess here in the region. That's not something to be (INAUDIBLE) call celebrate necessarily but it certainly shows that Russia technically, or diplomatically or politically didn't chose to step up and intercept any missiles (INAUDIBLE). Or they chose not to well perhaps not know. But they certainly new diplomatically, the attack wasn't going to target them and they knew militarily to get out of its way.

That issue of the U.S. showing its military prominence in the Middle East is necessarily something to be keep in mind (INAUDIBLE) because you may find other powers in the region want to respond to that or somehow show that prowess somewhere else.

This isn't the end of the story, just the beginning of a new chapter. Dave?

BRIGGS: Certainly is not. Nick Paton Walsh, live for us in Syria this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, the Treasury Department expected to announce new sanctions against Russia as early as today. That's according to Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Haley describing relations with Russia as very strange.

[03:50:02] She is pushing back against critics who claimed Saturday's bombing of Syria's chemical weapons facilities did not go far enough. And she insists the new sanctions will cause Russia more pain.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HALEY: They will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment-related to Assad and chemical weapons use. And so, I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: Sources tell CNN more than a dozen Russian entities including banks and equipment suppliers are being considered as targets for new sanctions. Also under consideration, companies that sell helicopters to Russia.

BRIGGS: Barbara Bush in failing health this morning. A close source to the former first lady tell CNN she's being cared for in her Houston home. Has decided not to return to the hospital, instead, she's receiving comfort care.

We're told Mrs. Bush is on oxygen with her husband George H.W. Bush in her side along with her daughter Doro and sons, Marvin and Neil. George W. Bush and Jeb have also visited during the past week.

Quite a love story of those two are. Married since 1945.

ROMANS: It is just everyone's hope that you can be at home, you know. When your health is failing that you can be at home and not in hospital. She was hospitalized last year and really did not like those 10 days or whenever there, she wanted to be home, so.

BRIGGS: You can understand that.

ROMANS: I wish her the best and her family the best.

The Starbucks CEO apologizing for the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks. An event that sparked accusations of discrimination and calls for a boycott.

0350/01:36 next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:56:04] ROMANS: At least one person has died after a tornado -- a reported tornado struck Greensboro, North Carolina, Sunday afternoon. The twister brought down trees and damaged homes and buildings. Fire officials say elementary schools suffered some of the most serious damage.

They say, a victim was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle. The line of severe storm is bringing heavy rain and causing power outages in part of the state.

BRIGGS: Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin apologizing for suggesting as statewide teacher strike on Friday left thousands of children vulnerable to drugs and sexual abuse. Democrats and fellow Republicans describing Bevin's comments as disgusting, reprehensible, and repulsive. Here's what the governor said, Friday as teachers were staging a protest at the state capital.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GOV. MATT BEVIN, KENTUCKY: You know, how many hundreds of thousands of children today were left home alone. I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assault as they were left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.

Some were introduced to drugs for the first time because they were vulnerable and left alone. It's offensive, frankly, really is.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BRIGGS: By Sunday, the backlash to those remarks was so severe Bevin had to release a video apology on Twitter.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BEVIN: Many people have been confused or hurt or just misunderstand what it was that I was trying to communicate. That's my responsibility. It truly is.

Then I apologize for those who have been hurt by the things that were said. It was not my intent, whatsoever.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The teacher protest proved successful. Kentucky's Republican-dominated legislator voted to override the governor's veto of a state budget plan that includes new funding for eduction.

ROMANS: Wow.

All right, 57 minutes past the hour. Let's got to CNN Money this morning. Global stocks mixed overnight. U.S. futures, they're higher right now as investors shrugged off the allied missile attack on Syria. Last week, Wall Street closed lower because of worry about Syria and a drop on bank stocks. Citi Group, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, all reported big results so why did their shares fall? Well, investors anticipated strong earnings so there were already priced in. Expectations for this earning season are really high. Look at those numbers.

S&P 500 profit growth expected to rise more than 17 percent. That's going to be the best quarter since all the way back in 2011.

More than 200 million eggs are being recalled over salmonella fears. The largest U.S. recall for eggs in eight years. According to the FDA, a farm in Indiana is voluntarily recalling the eggs after 22 people fell ill. These affected brands were sold in nine states, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Check your fridge. The FDA says consumers with these eggs, those brands there, throw them out immediately.

The Starbucks CEO apologizing for the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks calling the event reprehensible. It's a response to public outcry after this video went viral. It shows the men being handcuffed and arrested. The staff accused them of trespassing after they came into Starbucks, didn't order anything, they sat down, the men said that they were waiting for a friend who is meeting them there.

The video sparked accusations of discrimination and calls for a boycott. In the statement of CEO Kevin Johnson wrote, the video shot by customers is very hard to watch. The actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks mission and values. But Johnson added the company's policies led to a bad outcome and promised a thorough investigation.

BRIGGS: What's your take on that? Police over reaction, one rogue employee. This is not the --

ROMANS: Well, I mean, they say that this was their policy but, you know, obviously, somebody should have had the common sense to realize that these guys were just waiting for somebody to come there to meet them.

I mean, how many people go to Starbucks and don't order and wait for somebody?

BRIGGS: And probably seat on the WiFi for hours and use the restroom. Yes.

All right, well, EARLY START continues right now with the extraordinary remarks from the former FBI Director James Comey that the president is "morally unfit".

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think the Russians have something on Donald Trump? COMEY: It it's possible. I don't know.