Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Already Tweeting His Reaction To The James Comey Memos; Rudy Giuliani Joins The Trump Legal Team; CIA Director Mike Pompeo Has Now One Democrat In His Corner. Aired Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 20, 2018 - 04:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Breaking overnight, President Trump already tweeting his reaction to the James Comey memos just turned over to Congress.

DAVE BRIGGS, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Rudy Giuliani joining the Trump legal team telling CNN he plans to give the Mueller investigation, "a little push."


ROBERT SCHULTZ, SHERIFF, GILCHRIST COUNTY: What do you expect happens when you demonize law enforcement?


ROMANS: A Florida sheriff not holding back after the ambush murder of two of his deputies.

BRIGGS: A big American bank is about to be slapped with a billion dollar fine for charging people for insurance they need didn't and fees they shouldn't have to pay.

ROMANS: There's 20,000 of those people with auto loans through Wells Fargo actually got their cars repo'ed because they were crushed by those extra fees.

BRIGGS: That's a huge settlement. Welcome back to "Early Start" everybody. I am Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I am Christine Romans. Thirty-two minutes past the hour this Friday morning. President Trump up late last night tweeting out his reaction to declassified versions of the Comey memos provided to Congress.

The President wrote, "James Comey memos just out and show clearly that there was no collusion and no obstruction. Also, he leaked classified information. Wow. Will the witch hunt continue?" Critics may find some of those assertions questionable.

BRIGGS: Many of the memos obtained by CNN were written by then, FBI Director, Comey just hours or minutes after seven different conversations with President Trump.

Now, the memos back up much of what Comey has already said publicly and adds some remarkable new details.

For more now, we turn to CNN Justice reporter, Laura Jarrett in Washington.

LAURA JARRETTE, JUSTICE REPORTER, CNN: Well, the memos are out and they almost read like unedited pages from Comey's book providing a glimpse into how Comey interacted with the President despite the so- called cloud of the Russia investigation hanging over them.

Discussions of loyalty, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and just a clear sense of those salacious rumors about Trump's visit to Moscow in 2013 really got under his skin at least, according to Comey.

Now, in one of the unclassified memos, it includes this now famous conversation where Trump allegedly told Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go. To letting Flynn go." But there is also new information, including a claim, that President Trump told Comey at a dinner at the White House back in January of 2017 that he had "serious reservations" about Mike Flynn's judgment.

And that former Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus actually asked Comey if Flynn was under surveillance just days before Flynn was fired.

Now almost immediately, lawmakers jumped on this news with Democrats like Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi tweeting that the release of these Comey memos are just further proof of Trump's contempt for the rule of law.

But Republicans say the memos are more indicative of what they don't say and they actually prove that former Director Comey never felt obstructed and that he never wrote that he felt threatened. Dave, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Laura, thank you for that. As for the salacious details Laura mentioned, those details about Mr. Trump's visit to Moscow that had bothered him so much, here is just one excerpt. "He then went on at great length explaining that he has nothing to do with Russia, has a letter from the largest law firm in DC saying he's got no income from Russia, was not involved with hookers in Russia." "Can you imagine me? Hookers? I have a beautiful wife and it has been very painful."

BRIGGS: In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Comey admits he has no evidence President Trump is compromised by the Russians, but he claims, it's possible. He says there are two reasons why.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: One, the President is constantly bringing it up with me to deny it and in my experience as an investigator, it is not an iron clad rule, but it is a striking thing when someone constantly brings up something to deny that you didn't ask about.

And then second, I have always been struck with my encounters with him that we would not criticize Vladimir Putin even in private which struck me as odd. Now, those are not definitive. Those aren't conclusive facts. But I am not -- the reason I am saying it's possible is there are things that lead my common sense to believe it is possible.


ROMANS: James Comey also talking to Jay Tapper about...


ROMANS: .... the case against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe moments before that interview, the Justice Department's Inspector General sent his findings on McCabe to the US Attorney's Office in Washington for possible prosecution. McCabe is accused of lying to internal investigators. Comey was cautious with his comments.


JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, CNN: If they ultimately bring a case against Andrew McCabe, would you be a witness for the prosecution?

COMEY: Potentially. I don't know whether the reporting is accurate. I know it's CNN reporting, but I don't know it of my own accord. But sure, given that the IG's report reflects interactions that Andy McCabe had with me and other FBI senior executives, I could well be a witness.


ROMANS: Shortly thereafter, this tweet from President Trump. "James Comey just threw Andrew McCabe under the bus. The Inspector General's report on McCabe is a disaster for both of them getting a little/lot of their own medicine." Question mark.

BRIGGS: Rudy Giuliani joining President Trump's personal legal team. The former US Attorney and New York City Mayor telling CNN he will be helping push the Russia investigation toward a conclusion.

Giuliani says he has known Robert Mueller a long time. He says he will ask the Special Counsel for a list of what he needs and that checking off that list might go as quickly as a couple of weeks. Giuliani says the President has never indicated to him any intention to fire Mueller because he knows it would be "counterproductive."

Giuliani telling CNN, "Bob is the best we can do," adding, "Mueller is fair."

ROMANS: Sources tell CNN Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein informed President Trump last week that Trump is not a target in the investigation of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Rosenstein was not referring to the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller's investigation which is separate, but Mueller's team has also told Mr. Trump's lawyers, the President is not a target of their Russia probe either.

The Justice Department says Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months in New York because of his business dealings.

BRIGGS: Russian's Foreign Minister saying a short time ago that President Putin is ready for a meeting with President Trump. CNN'S senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley, live in Moscow with the latest. Good morning, Sam.

SAM KILEY, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Good morning, this is the latest attempt, I think, the way to see this, Dave is to -- as the latest statement by Sergey Lavrov for Russian administration to continue to sow doubt and discord among the United States and her allies.

Really, this is an invitation that goes back to one made of the cuff quite probably by Donald Trump when he rang in March the Russian President, Vladimir Putin to congratulate the Russian on his reelection as President.

Sergey Lavrov by reheating this and saying while Vladimir Putin would be very happy to accept that, he is not giving any details about the date, any protocols that had been established because there is no formal invitation, but it comes amid extremely sour relations between Russia and many countries in the west, notably the United Kingdom whose Parliament has just established a sort of super committee of committees to investigate what they perceive to be Russian attacks and influence not at least, in the cybersphere on the United Kingdom.

So, they are trying to create a little bit of a friction in this case, a typical Russian maneuver I would say, Dave.

BRIGGS: It should be interesting to see if Moscow has any reactions to all the Comey interviews and the memos released late last night as well. Sam Kiley live for us there this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, the historic hotline between North and South Korea now connected so that the leaders of the two countries can speak ahead of their summit set for April 27th. This as North Korea has dropped its demands for US troop withdrawal from South Korea that it initially imposed as a condition for giving up nuclear weapons.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul with the details. Good morning.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Hi, Christine, well, this hotline is certainly interesting. It's the first time there has ever been a hotline between the leaders of North and South Korea. It was connected a couple of hours ago. They've tested it. North and South Koreans speaking to each other over the phone. We're told they talked about the weather and other things they did not disclose.

Now, the leaders themselves have not talked yet, but they will talk. Kim Jong-un will speak to the South Korean President Moon Jae-in before that summit that is just week today.

Now, we understand that this phone is on the desk of Moon Jae-in. It's also linked through to his personal residence, so in theory, he can talk to Kim Jong-un whenever he needs to. We have not heard though where it is hooked up to on the other side. But, certainly, an interesting development there. Now, we also know

as you say that President Moon Jae-in did say that he believes North Korea is willing to denuclearize or discuss denuclearization without insisting on the US troops leaving South Korea.

There's more than 28,000 US troops here. It has been a demand by the North Korea in the past that the US troops leave the peninsula, and it has always been a massive sticking point because the US has consistently said no, they are not going to move those troops out.


Potentially, they are trying to make some concessions, but on the other side, some experts say they are probably trying to keep hold of that in their back pocket for later on in the negotiations when they feel they can use it, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, that is a very big change. They have long said, you know, US troops off the peninsula. Now that is not on the agenda at least for this meeting. All right, Paula, thank you for that.

BRIGGS: Major development. All right CIA Director Mike Pompeo has now one democrat in his corner in his bid to become Secretary of State.

North Dakota Senator Heitkamp announcing her support for President Trump's embattled nominee.

But Pompeo still faces a real uphill battle and may need more Democratic support that's because Republican Senator Rand Paul still opposes him. John McCain remains battling brain cancer and Arizona's Jeff Flake remains undecided.

ROMANS: A major new setback this morning for the Trump administration's efforts to pressure sanctuary cities. A federal appeals panel has blocked the Justice Department from requiring cities to cooperate with immigration enforcement if they want to continue receiving Federal policing grants.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried to add new conditions to the police grants. He demanded local jurisdiction to give DHS access to jails and 48 hours notice before releasing undocumented immigrants who are wanted by Federal authorities.

The Appeals Court siding with the City of Chicago though called the Attorney General's move a usurpation of power.

BRIGGS: President Trump lashing out at governor Jerry Brown. Threatening to pull funding for California's National Guard deployment unless the troops help with immigration enforcement at the Mexican border.

Governor Brown agreed to deploy up to 400 guardsmen, but will not allow them to round up immigrants or help build a wall. President Trump thanked the governor in a tweet last week, but is now calling the deployment a "charade." ROMANS: Tech companies getting caught in the middle of America's

trade battle with China. Beijing holding up a $44 billion US tech deal blocking a bid by American Chip maker, Qualcomm for Chinese chipmaker NXP.

Now, this deal needs regulatory approval and China's Ministry of Commerce says Qualcomm needs to do more to ensure the deal won't give it an unfair market advantage. This isn't the first blow to Qualcomm thanks to US-China tension.

Last month, the Trump administration blocked to take over by Singapore-based, Broadcom that said that the deal would help China win the race to 5G and wouldn't allow it. And just this week, Qualcomm lost the ability to sell to one of its biggest customers. The administration banned US companies from selling to Chinese smart phone makers, ZTE. The government accusing ZTE of lying about punishing employees, employees who had flouted US sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

Tech is at the center of the current trade battle between the US and China, both sides threatening the other with tens of billions of dollars in tariffs. The US accuses China of stealing trade secrets, enforcing companies to hand over sensitive technology to do business in China. Beijing rejects both accusations.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, two Florida sheriff's deputies are dead this morning, ambushed as they sat in a restaurant eating lunch. You'll hear from the Sheriff what exactly happened, next.


BRIGGS: Two sheriff's deputies ambushed and killed in a restaurant in a small town 50 miles west of Gainesville, Florida. Police say, 30- year-old Sergeant Noel Ramirez and 25-year-old Deputy Taylor Lindsey were having lunch yesterday in Trenton when a gunman walked up to the restaurant window and opened fire.

Deputies responding to the scene found the shooter identified as 59- year-old John Hubert Highnote dead outside the business. No official word on a possible motive, but the sheriff has his suspicions.


ROBERT SCHULTZ, SHERIFF, GILCHRIST COUNTY: What do you expect happens when you demonize law enforcement to the extent it has been demonized with every type of hate, every type of putdown that you can think of, the only thing these men were guilty of was wanting to protect you and me.


BRIGGS: The sheriff calls his two fallen deputies the best of the best.

ROMANS: In Texas, the so-called killer granny became the subject of a nationwide manhunt has been captured. Two Federal Deputy Marshals arrested Lois Riess at a restaurant in South Padre Island.

The 56-year-old is accused of gunning down her husband and then a woman in Southwest Florida. Authorities believe she shot that woman who resembled her to assume her identity. Riess had been on the run since at least late March. She is currently being held in jail.

BRIGGS: No criminal charges will filed in connection with the death of Prince. Officials say, the entertainer died of an accidental fentanyl overdose after taking counterfeit Vicodin pills laced with the powerful painkiller, but there was no evidence showing how Prince got the fake pills.

Take a look at this newly released surveillance video showing Prince and his bodyguards arriving at the office of Minnesota doctor, Michael Schulenberg. Dr. Schulenberg saw the singer twice in the weeks before his death.

He just agreed to pay $30,000.00 to the government to settle civil allegations that he prescribed drugs to someone else knowing they were for Prince.

ROMANS: He was prescribing the drugs to a bodyguard to ostensibly to protect his privacy, but that is against the rules.

President Trump will not attend tomorrow's funeral for Former First Lady Barbara Bush. The White House saying First Lady Melania Trump will attend the service without the President to avoid disruptions and show respect for the late First Lady's family and friends.

Former Presidents Clinton and Obama and their wives will attend the funeral. Former President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn sent their regrets. More than 1,500 people are expected to attend the private funeral. There is a public viewing today at Saint Martin's Church in Houston.

BRIGGS: Students from more than 2,500 schools across the country plan to walk out of class today demanding lawmakers take action against gun violence. The event launched by a Connecticut high school sophomore taking place on the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.

At 10:00 a.m. in each...


BRIGGS: ... time zone, students plan to walk out of school and observe a moment of silence for all shooting victims.

ROMANS: All right, the famous fearless girl statue has a new home after spending more than a year staring down Wall Street's charging bull, where are they going to put her now? CNN Money next.


ROMANS: Southwest Airlines opposed a recommendation to perform ultrasonic inspections on the fan blades of its plane engines last year insisting it needed more than the suggested 12 months' work to do.

The recommendation came from the engine manufacturer. A snapped off fan blade triggered Tuesday's engine failure that blew at a window killing a female passenger who was partially sucked out of a plane.

Forty-three year old Jennifer Riordan was wearing a seatbelt, but could not be saved despite the heroic efforts of Texas firefighter and fellow passenger, Andrew Needum who desperately tried to pull her back into the cabin.


ANDREW NEEDUM, FIREFIGHTER: The events that took place on the flight are -- they are what they are. God created a servant heart in me and I felt a calling to get up and do something, to stand up and act.


ROMANS: Some of the passengers on Southwest flight 1380 are receiving $5,000.00 checks and a $1,000.00 travel voucher along with the letter from the airline asking for an opportunity to restore their confidence.

BRIGGS: Lance Armstrong says, he is making peace with the US Postal Service after years of legal wrangling, the disgraced cycling star has agreed to pay $5 million to the US government in a breach of contract dispute.

The battle stemmed over Armstrong's use of performance enhancing drugs which he denied for years, while the Postal Service sponsored his team to the tune of $31 million between 2001 and 2004. The contract he had had an anti-doping clause. Armstrong won the Tour De France a record seven times, but was stripped of those titles following his doping revelation.

Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth making history again, as she becomes the first Senator to cast a vote on the Senate floor with her newborn by her side. Duckworth thanking her colleagues for changing long- standing rules to allow newborns on to the Senate floor and even breastfeeding them during votes.

She gave birth to her second child, Maile less than a month ago. Bravo.

ROMANS: I am a baby evangelist. I love babies. Babies that work, love it. Let's go check on CNN Money this morning. Global stocks falling over a night after tech and tobacco dragged down Wall Street.

Apple shares fell nearly 35 on reports of slowing demand for smart phones. Philip Morris plunged 16% after it reported a drop in cigarette shipments that raised alarm about the entire industry selling other tobacco companies lower.

Proctor & Gamble fell 2% on slow sales. The maker of Charmin, Tide and Pampers is struggling to raise prices as tough competition keeps a lid on growth. AT&T called the final witness in its anti-trust trial, its CEO. The

DOJ is suing AT&T to block its purchase of Time Warner, a parent of CNN, but AT&T Chief, Randall Stephenson defended the deal is the only to keep pace with tech companies. He said the media industry is facing significant disruption. Google and Facebook can use data to sell higher quality ads while Netflix can tailor content for consumers.

The merger, he says, will allow them to do both of those things combining AT&T's knowledge of its customers and Time Warner's content, the trial is expected to wrap up this month.

And the famous fearless girl statue is moving to a new home. After more than a year staring down Wall Street's charging bull, she will now face the New York Stock Exchange. Not a big change right now. She's only a few blocks away, but relocation means the statue which had a temporary permit, now has a permanent home.

State Street Global Advisors installed the statue in March 2017 to honor International Women's Day. Since then, she has become a symbol of empowerment and a push for gender equality.

BRIGGS: From this spot, your effort to move her to your front yard, she will finally...


ROMANS: She will not be in my front yard...

BRIGGS: You do love...

ROMANS: But she will be there, staring down the front door of the New York Stock Exchange.

BRIGGS: As she should. What a great symbol. "Early Start" continues right now with the latest on these Comey memos just released and leaked last night.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, President Trump already tweeting his reaction to the James Comey memos just turned over to Congress like we said.

BRIGGS: Rudy Giuliani joining the Trump legal team telling CNN he plans to give the Mueller investigation "a little push."


SCHULTZ: What do you expect happens when you demonize law enforcement?


ROMANS: A Florida sheriff not holding back after the ambush murder of two of his deputies.

BRIGGS: A big American bank about to be slapped with a $1 billion fine for charging people for insurance they didn't need and fees they shouldn't have to pay. Well, good morning, everyone. Welcome to "Early Start" on a busy breaking news day. I am Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I am Christine Romans. It is Friday thought, April 20th, 5:00 a.m. in the East, noon in Moscow, 6:00 p.m. in Seoul, we will be live in both of those cities. President Trump was up late last night tweeting out his reaction to declassified versions of the Comey memos provided to Congress.

The President wrote, "James Comey memos just out and show clearly that there was no collusion and no obstruction."