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Special Counsel Mueller Wants to Ask President Trump Dozens Of Questions; Kim Jong Un Is Persuaded To Hold Summit In DMZ; Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Says Iran's Nuke Claims Are A "Brazen Lie." Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired May 1, 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: The White House delays new steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada, Mexico. What's the president's next move as he seeks better trade deals?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the president loves a good show. He's suggesting the North Korea summit at the DMZ. Kim Jong Un already on board. Must-see T.V. for that summit.
BRIGGS: It would be.
ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.
BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 30 minutes past the hour on this May first.
We start with these questions released by someone presumably from the Trump legal team or perhaps formerly of.
Possible obstruction of justice the dominant theme in dozens of questions the Russia special counsel wants to ask President Trump. A list of at least four dozen questions Robert Mueller has for the president was first obtained by "The New York Times" and later matched by "The Wall Street Journal".
Now, the questions focus on the president's motivations for key decisions and whether he obstructed the Russia investigation.
Justice correspondent Evan Perez starts our coverage from Washington.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The president's legal team composed a list of nearly 50 questions following a meeting last month with the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators to discuss a possible interview with the president.
As CNN has reported, the questions roughly fall into four categories and they deal with the firing of James Comey, the former FBI director, and Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, as well as the president's dealings with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russians.
The questions published by "The New York Times" show a focus on the president's state of mind during key events. It's clear from some of the questions that despite the president's claims that collusion is off the table, the Mueller investigators are still pursuing questions of whether anyone broke the law in those repeated contacts between Trump campaign associates and people the FBI believes were Russian government operatives -- Christine, Dave.
ROMANS: All right, Evan Perez. Thank you for that.
Joining us this morning here in New York, CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University. And in Washington, political economist Greg Valliere, chief strategist for Horizon Investments.
Welcome back again, guys.
So when this news broke last night it was just a frenzy of legal analysis here and I want to bring in some of that analysis from our own air last night. Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney, talking about how all these questions really zero in on intent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: There's a great deal of focus on his intent. And my belief at this point is that they've got some indication, either through the cooperating witnesses or through things that have been discovered through the course of the investigation, of his intent when he did some of these things.
If he goes in there he's being basically set up because I promise you that his questioner will know the answers to the questions that will get posed to the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Julian Zelizer, this study guide of questions, really, for the president and his legal team -- do you think there's any chance that the president would sit down with Robert Mueller?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I'm sure the president would like to. There's part of him -- all of him likes to confront these kinds of issues, likes to say what's on his mind, and is convinced he didn't do anything wrong, I'm sure, internally.
But his lawyers don't want that because I think the lawyers understand Mueller has more information --
ZELIZER: -- than the president is going to give him and he's looking for discrepancy. So that's a red flag for lawyers.
BRIGGS: And, Greg, is there anything --
GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST, CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: Yes.
BRIGGS: -- truly shocking in this reporting and do you think all these questions -- Bob Mueller already has the answers to?
VALLIERE: I do, Dave. I think that Mueller betrayed his knowledge in many of these questions. I think he has gotten information from Gen. Flynn and others that is quite useful for the investigation.
Two very quick points.
Number one, could Trump say this is a prosecutor out of control -- you're fired. That option, I think, is still on the table. I wouldn't predict it but it's still on the table.
The other issue is does Mueller have the ability to indict a sitting president? Mueller has indicated he thinks he probably doesn't so maybe all the stuff he gets on Trump gets sent to Congress.
ROMANS: So one of these questions -- let me give you this. "And what did you know about phone calls that Mr. Flynn made with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late December 2016?"
These revolve around whether Trump tried to obstruct justice to protect Michael Flynn from prosecution. We know that -- assume that Flynn is talking.
ZELIZER: Yes. We already have indications Flynn is talking. We have indications Mueller has a pretty good feel for the Flynn part of the story and he's very interested in what the president was doing to try to protect Flynn or stop that investigation.
That was at the heart of the original story. It was -- it was Mike Flynn. So that, again, is not surprising but it's probably at the heart of obstruction.
Let's remember though as this is all happening, in the House, the conservative Republicans led by Mark Meadows just drafted articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein. And so politically, President Trump has a big comfort zone in that House Republicans are not interested in going where any of this is indicating.
[05:35:10] BRIGGS: And the numbers certainly favor Republicans in the Senate as well.
BRIGGS: So betting odds probably shift to the president not sitting down with Bob Mueller, but the betting odds are certain that he will tweet later this morning the words "no collusion," Greg.
Can he feel more comfortable in that assumption given this?
VALLIERE: You know, he's said all along over the last few months that everyone agrees there's no collusion. No, everyone does not agree that there's no collusion. I think Mueller feels there was collusion among Trump's advisers at
the least. Whether Trump himself personally colluded remains to be seen but I think some of his advisers, you could make a case, did collude.
ROMANS: Greg, let's talk about tariffs, the other big story here -- trade. A very big week for trade right now. A lot of balls in the air.
And the midnight deadline passed last night --
ROMANS: -- for these -- they're going to get exemptions. They're going to delay the decision -- the exemptions for another 30 days.
ROMANS: Did the president blink here?
VALLIERE: He may have. I think he doesn't want to get into a trade war right now. I think he's gotten a lot of blowback from farmers -- people in the Midwest who don't like the possible Chinese retaliation against soybeans and things like that. So I think he's softened his tone a little.
I still say we're in a trade dispute with many countries, not in a trade war.
BRIGGS: So that's the E.U., Canada, and Mexico, but what about this upcoming trip to China and Steve Mnuchin? This could be contentious.
Where is this headed in terms of those tariffs and our trade deals?
VALLIERE: Well, I thought that he gave Mnuchin carte blanche to negotiate and then he sends Peter Navarro on the trip as well, almost sandbagging Mnuchin. So this is a very divided Trump delegation --
ROMANS: It is.
VALLIERE: -- that's going to China.
ROMANS: Two globalists and -- yes -- I mean, it's interesting and I think there are -- no advance team went. A treasury advance team did not go so that's unusual, too.
BRIGGS: And it's interesting that China has the position of knowing they'll have the same leader permanently, so a very different position in an administration that who knows --
ROMANS: Meanwhile, we're -- you know --
BRIGGS: -- who could be president down the road.
ROMANS: We're arguing with the E.U. --
ROMANS: -- who is, you know, our biggest trading partner -- a third of global trade is between the United States and the E.U. -- about oversupply of metals which comes from China, so fascinating.
ROMANS: Let me ask you something, Julian. There's this really interesting comment from Marco Rubio in "The Economist" about taxes and the economy that I wanted to read to you.
He says, "There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy they're going to take the money they're saving and reinvest it in American workers. In fact, they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses. There's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker."
He's almost giving a blueprint for Democrats to claim corporate welfare on tax reform. Is he laying out something that could be a problem in the fall?
ZELIZER: Well, it also might be laying out an argument for a 2020 run. It's a little like when George H.W. Bush talked about voodoo economics when he was responding to Reagan's supply-side economics.
And I think Rubio and many Republicans are starting to think about who's going to run and this is a slam, not just for Democrats but for Republicans to argue that the most successful part of Trump's --
ZELIZER: -- legislative agenda isn't so good, and that's an appeal to Independents and moderates. I think that's what's going on.
I don't think Rubio has any interest in handing Democrats anything.
ROMANS: I --
BRIGGS: But he just did.
ZELIZER: Yes, he did.
BRIGGS: He gave them a message to run on against the primary argument for Republicans --
BRIGGS: -- in the midterms.
ROMANS: But I think this worked for the Democrat in that Pennsylvania race recently, right?
BRIGGS: It's no question.
ROMANS: And that was real --it turned the tax cuts upside down.
ZELIZER: Right. Well, that's when the divisions within the Republican Party give an opportunity, at least, for Democrats to exploit that and use it in the midterms, but we'll see. Opportunity doesn't mean that they'll actually do it.
BRIGGS: Never any shortage of news here.
Julian Zelizer, Greg Valliere, thank you both.
ROMANS: Thanks, Greg.
BRIGGS: We appreciate you.
VALLIERE: Yes, bye.
ROMANS: All right.
Europe would deny what happened with tariffs and Iran, too. Are Israel and Iran headed to an open conflict? Israel's prime minister says he has proof Iran was lying when it said it wasn't developing nuclear weapons.
We're live from Seoul.
[05:43:17] BRIGGS: Five forty-three eastern time.
CNN has learned South Korean President Moon Jae-in convinced North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un to hold his upcoming meeting with President Trump in the Demilitarized Zone.
Moon and Kim met in the DMZ just last week. Remember these dramatic images unfolding here on EARLY START?
Now, President Trump says he's leaning toward that plan, himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's something that I like about it because you're there -- you're actually there. Where if things work out, there's a great celebration to be had on the site, not in a third-party country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: Our sources say that is a main attraction for the president -- a diplomatic drama. A potential breakthrough like the one last week televised live around the world.
For the very latest let's check in with CNN's Alexandra Field live in Seoul. Some dramatic pictures then and another dramatic meeting ahead. Good morning, Alex.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Dave. Good morning to you.
Millions of people watched that historic moment where you saw the leaders of South Korea and North Korea stepping over that line of demarcation.
Certainly, the president was watching closely. We now know he liked what he saw -- the optics of that meeting at the DMZ.
South Korea is saying that there's no place more symbolic to have a summit that would take place between North Korea and the United States.
And from the logistics standpoint, certainly it would make sense for North Korea. This is an easy trip for Kim Jong Un to take and there have to be concerns about how the leader of North Korea would travel to a summit that could be farther afield.
His father used to travel in an armored train. There are concerns that his aging aircraft fleet wouldn't be able to go much further without having to stop to refuel.
So the DMZ does make sense to all sides from that perspective but, again, it isn't a done deal yet. There are still more neutral options that are being considered -- places like Singapore. That's come to the top of the list.
[05:45:05] There are skeptics in Washington who feel that for President Trump to travel all the way to the DMZ for this meeting would be too conciliatory of a gesture from the outset. But you heard the president himself say there'd be no better place for a celebration if things went well.
These are all issues that will be discussed when President Trump meets in Washington, D.C. later this month with the South Korean president -- President Moon. He has been working to create this conciliatory environment here on the peninsula.
Another step in that direction just today, Dave.
Today, we are seeing South Korea dismantling the loudspeakers that have been in place for decades blasting propaganda into North Korea. That was one of the terms that was arrived at by the two leaders. At the same time, we've seen North Korea stopping their broadcast of propaganda into South Korea.
Of course, all eyes now on that meeting that will happen between Kim Jong Un and President Trump and where exactly it will take place -- Dave.
BRIGGS: Wow. Alexandra Field live for us at 6:45 p.m. there in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks.
ROMANS: All right.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a dramatic presentation laying out in elaborate detail his case against Iran. The prime minister claims his evidence -- his new evidence proves the Iranians were brazenly lying when they said they were not pursuing nuclear weapons.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirming Netanyahu's Iranian files are authentic. Those Iranian files -- apparently, all this evidence he says that they -- that their special forces -- security services have spirited out of Iran.
President Trump expected to decide in the next 12 days whether to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, a fact not lost on Netanyahu.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: I'm sure he'll do the right thing. The right thing for the United States, the right thing for Israel, and the right thing for the peace of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Let's go live Jerusalem and bring in CNN's Ian Lee with the latest developments.
And do we know -- I mean, this material that Netanyahu sort of dramatically unveiled yesterday, are these transgressions in the past? Is he saying that there is a nuclear program today that they're lying about?
What is his charge here?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine.
This is -- according to the prime minister, he says new evidence that proves that Iran is lying about their nuclear program. In this presentation he showed schematics for nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems, as well as saying that this is a covert program by the Iranians.
But weapons control experts who have been following this from the very beginning said that everything that prime minister presented -- there really wasn't anything new in this. That they've all seen it before. The IAEA -- that's the International Atomic Energy Agency -- has seen all this information as well.
So the question is why is the prime minister doing this now?
As you said, there's 12 days for President Trump to decide whether to continue the United States' involvement in this nuclear agreement. The prime minister -- for the prime minister, the president was his target audience last night. He delivered this presentation in English and he wanted to get this across.
And even if this information, which now is going to all the other members of this Iran nuclear deal which includes Russia, China, France, the U.K., and Germany, and the IAEA -- even if they say there's nothing new here and the president pulls out of the nuclear deal, this is still a victory for Netanyahu. ROMANS: All right, Ian Lee for us this morning in Jerusalem. Thank you so much for that.
We know that Benjamin Netanyahu is going to be on "NEW DAY" --
BRIGGS: On "NEW DAY" this morning.
ROMANS: -- this morning.
BRIGGS: So many questions they will have for him. Alisyn Camerota joining us to talk about that, as well as these --
ROMANS: Hi, Ali.
BRIGGS: -- 40 some questions that Bob Mueller wants to ask of President Trump.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, guys.
Yes -- I know normally you guys play 20 questions. This is 40 questions. So you guys have been reporting on it all morning.
We'll be breaking it into the different buckets that it seems that Robert Mueller is interested in and we'll talk about why this list was leaked, who might have leaked it, to what end. So we have all of our legal experts here.
And then, you can see Chris right next to me. He is preparing for a big interview with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Look, Chris doesn't even know we're here. That's how laser-like he is focused on his preparation.
And I'm preparing for Cecile Richards to come on. She's just left Planned Parenthood where she's been at the helm for more than a decade, so this is her first morning where she is not at Planned Parenthood. We'll ask her why she left and what her future plans are. Her book is really fascinating.
So we have a big show for you.
BRIGGS: Awesome. Anything surprise you in this Bob Mueller questions for President Trump and why do think it was leaked?
CAMEROTA: That's the part that surprises me. Why did "The New York Times" obtain it? Why were they able --
CAMEROTA: -- to obtain it?
I think that the questions are more open-ended than perhaps we had thought. And I think it's really fascinating to see the questions.
So look, I think that everybody has theories and I'm interested in hearing --
[05:50:00] ROMANS: Yes.
CAMEROTA: -- from our legal experts of what they think the possible upshot of releasing these questions are.
BRIGGS: You wonder if it's a study guide for the president, right?
ROMANS: All right.
BRIGGS: A lot of questions. It should be a great show. Thank you, my friend.
CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, guys.
BRIGGS: You bet.
ROMANS: Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning.
Global stocks rising overnight after the U.S. extended tariff exemptions to key allies. Wall Street is still worried though about trade tensions -- also worried that Washington may abandon the nuclear -- Iran nuclear deal.
U.S. stocks closed lower despite strong economic data and company earnings.
Sprint down 14 percent after reaching that deal with T-Mobile. T- Mobile agreed to buy Sprint for $26 billion, leaving just three major carriers in the U.S. but analysts are skeptical that deal will get federal approval.
Deficits are on the rise forcing the government to borrow more to cover costs. The Treasury says the U.S. borrowed a record $488 billion in the first three months of 2018. The previous high was in 2010 when the U.S. was struggling to pull itself out of a recession.
Hitting the road this summer? You'll probably pay more at the pump. Oil prices are rising thanks to production cuts by major exporters and soon, that will translate into higher gas prices.
Experts predict an average $2.74 a gallon, up nearly 14 percent from last summer -- the highest in four years but still well below the $4.00 a gallon hit during 2008.
Nagging concerns over Apple's most important product, the iPhone. Investors are worried Apple will report slowing iPhone sales in its earnings today.
Two weeks ago, a key supplier warned that demand is weak. The stock is down seven percent since then.
Some analysts blame the pricey iPhone X, others say its new devices look too similar to older models.
If sales do slow, even a $100 billion giveaway may not be enough to calm investors. Apple's expected to announce plans to return $100 billion of its tax windfall to shareholders today.
The new tax bill makes it cheap for Apple to bring home its quarter of a trillion dollars in foreign cash. It's going to give some of that, we think, to its investors.
BRIGGS: That on the heels of Marco Rubio saying there's no evidence whatsoever the money -- those corporate tax breaks have been massively poured back into the American worker. You wonder if Democrats have found their message on the tax cuts.
Ahead, one of Harvey Weinstein's most notable accusers taking the embattled producer to court. What Weinstein's spokesman says about Ashley Judd's lawsuit, next.
[05:56:45] ROMANS: Arizona Sen. John McCain says he now admits to himself this is his last term in the Senate. He says a stage four cancer diagnosis acts as a quote "ungentle persuasion." It's one revelation from his upcoming book, "The Restless Wave."
He also delivers a no-holds-barred take on President Trump. McCain writes about the president, quote, "He has declined to distinguish the actions of our government from the crimes of despotic ones. The appearance of toughness or a reality show facsimile of toughness seems to matter more than any of our values."
The 81-year-old senator is recovering at home from side effects of brain cancer treatment. McCain also writes in the book, "I don't have a complaint -- not one. It's been quite a ride."
BRIGGS: Ashley Judd is suing Harvey Weinstein, claiming he tried to destroy her acting career after she rebuffed his sexual advances. Judd is one of the first women to publicly accuse the disgraced film mogul of sexual misconduct.
The lawsuit focuses on a claim by the director of "LORD OF THE RINGS," Peter Jackson. Now, he told a New Zealand publication Weinstein dissuaded him from casting Judd. That came out about a year after the actress said she rejected Weinstein's advances.
A spokesman for Weinstein says he championed her work and repeatedly approved her casting, adding he's looking forward to a vigorous defense of these claims.
ROMANS: Day four of a teachers' strike in Arizona. Many school districts shut down Monday as teachers swarmed the Capitol demanding an increase in education spending.
After the rally, they marched on the governor's office in downtown Phoenix, led by a student marching band.
The two largest districts in the state, the Mesa Public Schools and the Tucson Unified School District -- they expect to remain closed again today. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey proposing a 20 percent teacher pay raise by 2020 with an additional $100 million budgeted for general education spending.
Teacher pay in Arizona has fallen 10 percent since 1999 when adjusted for inflation, and teachers now kick in a larger portion of their pay to the pension fund -- more than 11 percent of their pay compared with about 2.5 percent in the nineties.
So they have been contributing more to their pensions --
ROMANS: -- right, but they have not been getting pay raises that keep up with inflation. It's really tough when you look at some of these states where some of these teachers say they have to work at the Walmart on the weekends to be able to pay their rent.
BRIGGS: They show no signs of slowing down though in Arizona.
All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.
BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Join me on Instagram live right now @davebriggstv. And, "NEW DAY" right now, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
We'll see you tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a broad list of questions and a lot of those questions are going to be darn difficult for the president to answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is still very much an active discussion. Would the president sit down and testify?
RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: When Mueller is finished, he's not going to have a stitch of evidence that he colluded with the Russians. Now that's a disgrace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president does not answer to Mueller, he answers to the people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the president, through all the posturing, can avoid this interview.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told national security officials he believed the president was becoming quote "unhinged."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's said, it's disappointing. There's a lot of chaos in the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The snake pit inside, they're all gunning for Kelly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, May first, 6:00 here in New York.
Here's our "Starting Line."
We now know more about the questions that special counsel Robert Mueller provided to President Trump's --