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EARLY START

Comey Memos; Rudy Giuliani on President's Personal Counsel; North and South Korea Hotline Opened; Stock Market News; Deputies Killed in Trenton, Florida; Fearless Girl Statue Moved from Location; Student Walk Out planned on Anniversary of Columbine; Details on Former First Lady Barbara Bush's Funeral. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 20, 2018 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00]

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Congress had immediately leaked to the media.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Rudi Guiliani joins the Trump legal team, telling CNN he plans to give a Mueller investigation a little push.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENIFIED MALE: What do you expect happens when you demonize law enforcement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: A Florida is not holding back after the ambush and murder of two of his deputies.

ROMANS: And a big American bank about to be slapped with a billion dollar fine for charging people for insurance they didn't need and fees they shouldn't have to pay. Welcome back to Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs and I'm just still --

ROMANS: I know.

BRIGGS: -- these fascinating memos. Fifteen pages released to congress immediately, then leaked to the media. We will have the latest for you as we start this morning. President Trump, up late last night tweeting his reaction to these declassified versions of the Comey memos, provided to congress, leaked to the media 45 minutes later.

The president wrote, "James Comey memos just out, and show clearly that there was no collusion, no obstruction." Where have we heard that before? Also, he leaked classified information. Wow, will the witch hunt continue. Critics may find some of those assertions questionable in particular, the classified part.

ROMANS: Many of the memos obtained by CNN were written by, then, FBI Director Comey just hours or even minutes after seven different conversations Comey had with President Trump. The memos back up much of what Comey has already said publicly, and they add some remarkable new details. More now from CNN Justice Reporter, Laura Jarrett, in Washington.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: 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 Advisor, Michael Flynn, and just a clear sense that those salacious rumors about Trump's visit to Moscow in 2013, really got under his skin, at least, according to Comey.

Now in one the unclassified memos, it includes this, now famous, conversation where Trump allegedly told Comey, quote, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go." But there's 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, quote, "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 just 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 what -- 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.

BRIGGS: All right. Laura Jarrett, thanks as for the salacious details Laura mentioned those details about Mr. Trumps visit to Moscow that bothered him so much. Here's one excerpt.

Quote, he then went on at great length explaining that he has nothing to do with Russia. He has a letter from the largest law firm in D.C. 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.

ROMAN: All right, in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Comey admits he has no evidence President Trump is compromised by the Russians. He says that he thinks it is unlikely the Kremlin has something on the President but he claims it is possible and he says there are two reasons why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: One the President's constantly bringing it up with me to deny it and in my experience as an investigator it's not an iron clad rule but it's a striking thing when some constantly brings up something to deny that you didn't ask about. And second, I've always been struck in my encounters with him that he wouldn't criticize Vladimir Putin even in private which stuck me as odd. Now those aren't definitive, those aren't conclusive facts but I'm not -- the reason I'm saying it's possible is there are things that lead my common sense to believe it's possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Boy are those the words we here over and over again from a former FBI Director. Not evidence but it's possible. James Comey also talking to Jake Tapper about the case about former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe moments before the interview the Justice Department's Inspector General sent his finds on McCabe to U.S Attorney's office in Washington for possible prosecution.

McCabe accused of lying to internal investigators, Comey was cautious with his comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: 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 I.Gs report reflects interactions that Andy McCabe with me and other FBI senior executives. I could well be a witness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Shortly thereafter this tweet from President Trump, quote James Comey just threw Andrew McCabe under the bus. Inspector General's report on McCabe is a disaster for both of them. Getting a little -- lot of their own medicine.

[05:35:00] ROMANS: All right. Rudy Giuliani joining President Trump's personal legal team. The former U.S. Attorney and New York City Mayor tells CNN he will be helping push the Russia Investigation toward a conclusion. Giuliani says he has known Robert Mueller for a long time. He says he'll 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 quote, "counter productive." Giuliani told CNN, Bob is the best we can do adding Mueller is fair.

BRIGGS: 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 set but -- but Mueller's team has told Mr. Trump 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.

ROMANS: All right. Joining us here this morning CNN Political Analyst Brian Karem of Sentinel Newspapers. Good morning.

BRIAN KAREM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

ROMANS: Let's just begin with your reaction to all of this over night. More context, more details about James Comey's interactions with the President. And - -and it's almost as if when you read these documents you -- you got James Comey basically the boy scout and the President of the United States sort of the play boy. I mean, that's what comes off here.

KAREM: Well it -- there's two things that come -- my personal I want to go back to that one tweet where he said the witch hunt. We got to clear that up. First of all, that Administration sanctioned the same 13 people that the Mueller investigation indicted from Russia. So either the President of the United States is a party to the witch hunt or there is no witch hunt.

ROMANS: Right.

KAREM: And he's got to quit saying that and we've got to hammer him on that every time he says that. Secondly, what you take away from Comey -- well the big take away from that is like I said before, you get a sense of -- of the investigator and the play boy as you said, but a man who's very meticulous in his mindset. Where's he's noticing things like how the President controls conversations.

ROMANS: Right.

KAREM: And secondly how the -- the President seems overwhelmingly interested in talking about very salacious details for no reason at all.

ROMANS: But he brings it up. It's

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: It's front of mind for him.

KAREM: Right. And -- and -- and it's throughout --

BRIGGS: Things I don't care about.

(CROSSTALK)

BRIGGS: -- throughout these 15 pages that it returns to the sorry if there are kids watching, hookers and prostitutes over and over again. And what in particular stands out is the President telling James Comey about a conversation he had with Vladimir Putin which to our knowledge is their first conversation on record. When the President -- when -- when Vladimir Putin -- of our greatest adversaries says, we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world. This is their first known conversation.

ROMANS: So Trump -- Trump is saying that Putin told him that.

KAREM: Right. That's -- BRIGGS: How do you explain that? How --

(CROSSTALK)

BRIGGS: How does that come up in their first conversation?

KAREM: How -- how does that ever come up? I mean, they're two heads of state with the two largest nuclear arsenals on the planet and right now the President -- our President is talking about an escalated crisis in -- in nuclear arms and a new nuclear arms race. Putin is talking about how he's got a first strike weapon and they're talking about hookers. Good -- good morning. Hey, how are you doing?

BRIGGS: 2018 --

KAREM: Unbelievable.

BRIGGS: 2018, it is hard to believe some of this stuff.

ROMANS: Unless --unless they weren't. Unless the President --

(CROSSTALK)

BRIGGS: This is something Putin -- Putin had said I believe in the past. Maybe it was a -- a public comment that he was -- I don't know. It's hard to interpret.

ROMANS: Let's talk about --

KAREM: Giuliani?

ROMANS: Let's talk about Giuliani.

KAREM: Yes.

ROMANS: So Giuliani says that Bob Mueller is a fair guy and that he'll be able to like check through a list the Mueller needs and they'll get if over with.

KAREM: I think the scary part of that -- I -- I think Rudy Giuliani said that to placate the President. I think he knows Mueller -- well he says he knows Mueller well enough and he's got to know that Mueller is not going to be pressured into ending an investigation. I think Mueller will proceed at his own pace. I think that when the investigation is done, the investigation will be done. And nothing that anyone says from Rudy Giuliani to the President is going to change that.

So the idea that you could pressure Mueller into ending the investigation in a couple of weeks. I -- I just don't see that. I think that's just a high wind in the trees from Giuliani. How effective he can be? Who knows. But it's -- it's certainly going to be more grist for the mill. Maybe he just wanted to come back and be in the limelight.

BRIGGS: Awful lot of confidence from the former New York mayor. Let's get back to one thing in the memos that you have unique perspective on. Another thing that the President told James Comey about jailing journalists. When the President said we need to go after reporters he referred to the fact that 10 or 15 years ago we put them in jail to find out what they know and it worked. He mentioned Julie Miller, who you know very well. He said they spend a couple of days in jail, make a new friend and they are ready to talk, this from April 19th page 10 of these memos (inaudible) through it again. You have unique perspective on how serious that conversation is.

KAREM: That really --

[05:40:14] KAREM: -- rankles me. I went to jail for times the last time. It was for more than two weeks. I think it was a little less than a month. You don't talk if you go to jail. This -- this President has no idea what he's talking about. That's -- you know -- you don't go to jail and have a confidential source and do that on a whim. You're committed to doing it and once you're committed, you're committed. There's about 14 of us on the planet in this country who've actually done that. And Mr. President, you're wrong again. You don't get your facts straight. And you're not going to intimidate reporters into giving up information. You just really need to grow up. It's -- it's -- it's --

ROMANS: But it does -- it does show --

KAREM: It's a war.

ROMANS: -- the relationship -- a war. OK. You call it a war. The relationship between the, you know, the White House and -- and --

KAREM: And the press.

ROMANS: And the press.

BRIGGS: Can you explain this to sarcasm? The Connecticut tone from a memo. I don't know.

KAREM: The tone I get from that -- look, if you're not for him, you're against him. It's all PR. If you are going to be loyal to him, if you're Hannity or if you're someone who's going to always be there for him and defend him. He will defend you. But that's PR. Journalism is everything you don't want to read about or you're afraid of reading about. And -- and that takes risks and that takes, you know, you've got to be able to walk down the middle of the aisle and lob bombs left or right as long as it's factual. That's what it is. And he doesn't appreciate that nor does he understand that. And he's at war with that very concept, it's frightening in it's scope. It's frightening for what it portends for -- for a democracy and for free speech.

BRIGGS: Perhaps be even more frightening that he's convinced a third of the country that --

KAREM: That it's the right thing to do. You're absolutely right.

ROMANS: Brian Karem, so nice to see you this morning. CNN Political Analyst, Sentinel Newspapers.

BRIGGS: Thanks for being here.

ROMANS: Thank you.

KAREM: You're welcome.

ROMANS: Two Florida sheriff's deputies are -- are dead this morning ambushed as they sat in a restaurant eating lunch. You'll hear from the sheriff next.

BRIGGS: And President Putin is said to be ready to meet with President Trump we'll go live to Moscow for reaction, next.

[05:42:07] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:15] CHRISTINE ROMANS: Russia's Foreign Minister saying a short time ago that President Putin is ready for a meeting with President Trump. CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley live in Moscow with the latest. Sam.

SAM KILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well this is coming from Sergey Lavrov. It's really a diplomatic response to an overture made by Donald Trump when he congratulated Vladimir Putin on his re- election as the Russian President back in March. But it's not a formal response to a formal invitation because that does not exist to least because at the moment the United States doesn't have a Secretary of State to handle such processes.

But none the less, this is an attempt I think by the Russians to try to warm the relationships somewhat with the United States and possibly trying to show a bit of friction between the United States and say the United Kingdom where relations -- bilateral relations with London are extremely, extremely sour.

ROMANS: Any official response from the Russians, from the Foreign Ministry or from the government there about this Comey memo, these Comey memos, James Comey the fired FBI Director. He said that Trump says that Vladimir Putin boasted or bragged about Russia having the most beautiful hookers in the world. I can't believe I'm even asking this. Is -- is -- is the government responding in any way to those memos?

KILEY: Yes. We put that exact question to Dmitry Prescott just less than an hour ago here in Moscow. He is the Kremlin's spokesman, the spokesman for Vladimir Putin. And he said, if that's how it's written then at least this part is not true. President Putin could not say such things and did not say it to Donald Trump taking into account that they never communicated before Trump became President. I must add though that this is a boast that Vladimir Putin has made in the broader sense of it. Sense of things when he actually suggested that the whole "golden shower" thing as the Comey book has described it when he dismissed that as a non-event and couldn't happen. He did at that time say -- make that boast about Russia.

ROMANS: Oh yes. There we are. Thanks Sam so much in Moscow. BRIGGS: Earmuffs, 2018. 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. Just as North Korea has now dropped it's demand for U.S. troop withdraw from South Korea and it initially imposes a condition for giving up nuclear weapons. CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul with all these massive details. Good morning to Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello Dave. We're being told that this is the first time ever that there has been a hotline between the leaders of North and South Korea. Just a few hours ago it was finished and there was a test. The South called the North and then hung up. The North called the South. They had a brief conversation we understand about the weather about how the other one was and then the rest they were unable to tell us. But it is a very significant development because this phone call -- this phone I should say, at least on the South Korean side is going to be on the South Korean President's desk.

It's going to be in his office which can also be connected through to his private residence. Now from the North Korean side we know it will be at the State Affairs Commission. We don't know exactly where but it is significant that the two sides can actually now talk to each other when they want. And they will have a -- a phone conversation. Jim -- Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in will speak before that summit which starts this time next week. And as you say, the South Korean President also saying that North Korea is not insisting on the U.S. troops leaving the South Korean area that has been a stipulation in the past. The U.S. has always said no. At this point, they're not calling for it. Dave.

BRIGGS: Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul. Extraordinary news. Thank you.

[05:50:15] BRIGGS: Meanwhile, 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The sheriff calls his two fallen deputies, the best of the best. ROMANS: 51 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check (inaudible)

money this morning. Global stocks falling overnight after tech and tobacco dragged down Wall Street. Apple shares fell nearly 3 percent on reports of slowing demand for Smartphones. Phillip Morris plunged 16 percent after it reported a drop in cigarette shipments that raised alarm about the entire industry sending other tobacco companies lower. Proctor and Gamble fell 2 percent on slow sales. The maker of Charmin, Tide and Pampers also struggling to raise prices as tough competition keeps a lid on growth.

AT&T called the final witness in it's anti-trust trial. It's CEO the DOJ is suing AT&T to block it's purchase of -- of Time Warner parent of CNN. The AT&T chief -- the AT&T chief defended the deal as the only way 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. Netflix can tailor contents for consumers. The merger he says will allow AT&T to do both combining AT&T's knowledge of it's customers with Time Warner's content. The trial is expected to wrap up this month.

The famous Fearless Girl statue, remember her? She's 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 really only just a few blocks away but relocation means the statue which had a temporary permit now has a permanent home. The statue was installed late -- last March in honor of International Women's Day. Since then the statue has become a symbol of empowerment and the push for gender equality and another cool place downtown to get your picture taken with your selfie stick.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Everyone should get their picture taken with her.

BRIGGS: Good to know she's not going away. Also making history, at just 10 days old. More from the U.S. Senate, Senator Tammy Duckworth next.

[05:53:03] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:57:36] BRIGGS: Students from more than 2,500 schools across the country plan to walk out of class today demanding lawmakers to 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 a.m. in each time zone students plan to walk out of school and observe a moment of silence for all shooting victims.

ROMANS: President Trump will not attend tomorrow's funeral for Former First Lady Barbara Bush. The White House says First Lady Melania Trump will attend the service without the President to avoid disruptions and show respect for the late First -- First Lady's family and friends. Former President's Clinton and Obama and their wives will attend the funeral. Former President Carter and his wife Rosalyn send their regrets. More than 1,500 people expected to attend the private funeral. There's a public viewing today at St. Martin's Church in Houston.

BRIGGS: Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth making history again as she become 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 onto the Senate floor and even breast-feeding them during a vote. She gave birth to her second child Maile less than a month ago.

ROMANS: Good for her.

BRIGGS: You go Senator Tammy Duckworth.

ROMANS: Good for her.

BRIGGS: A veteran, a double amputee and a -- just a -- just the toughest woman in Congress.

ROMANS: Cute baby. All right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. Happy Friday.

BRIGGS: That's right. I'm Dave Briggs. New Day starts right now. Have a wonderful weekend. We'll see you next week.

[05:59:06]