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Subpoena for Trump?; The Doctor is Incensed; Kanye: Slavery Was A Choice. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 2, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A subpoena for President Trump. His legal team is preparing for that possibility in what could be an historic test of the president's power.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's longtime doctor had glowing things to say during the campaign, remember, because the president told him to. Now, Harold Bornstein claims his office was raided by Trump's bodyguards.


KANYE WEST, RAPPER: You hear about slavery 400 years -- for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.


BRIGGS: Stunning words from Kanye West. A response equally as passionate.

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs. How we doing?

ROMANS: A little early for Kanye West for me. I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, May 2nd. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin in Washington with the special counsel try to get a subpoena if President Trump refused to sit for an interview? It now appears the answer could be yes. The Trump legal team is bracing for a dramatic subpoena showdown that could end up in the Supreme Court. Sources tell us, Robert Mueller has raised the threat of a subpoena in at least one meeting.

BRIGGS: Some of the president's legal advisers gambling Mueller will not go that far, but the legal posturing shows while the president has not totally shut the door on a voluntary interview with Mueller's team, the odds are growing slimmer.

Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny with more.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, in the wake of the revelation of new questions from Bob Mueller's team to the president, we learned late Tuesday night, CNN reported that Robert Mueller has threatened the possibility of a subpoena if the president would not testify. Now, the president's lawyers have pushed back on that saying, look, they're willing to fight this in court.

But the reality is, there are two tracks here, the legal track and the political track. The president has always wanted to end this quickly. He says he has nothing to hide, but legally speaking, all these questions in the wake of "The New York Times" report this week, some 49 questions, can he answer them without, you know, subjecting himself to any legal peril here?

So, the White House on Tuesday did not answer any questions saying if the president would or would not sit down with Robert Mueller. So, that, of course, hanging over the White House here amid so many other things going on. Of course, North Korea, other matters. But will the president sit down? We still don't know the answer -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny, at the White House for us last night -- thanks, Jeff.

President Trump's stated desire to see the Russia probe end soon has been dealt another blow. The special counsel's office asking a federal judge to give it two more months before sentencing Michael Flynn. The former national security adviser pleaded guilty five months ago to lying to investigators and is cooperating with the special counsel.

Robert Mueller's team telling the court they will provide another update no later than June 29.

BRIGGS: The threat of the impeachment by House Conservatives not fazing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Republicans in the Freedom Caucus have drafted Articles of Impeachment against Rosenstein. The caucus has been feuding with Rosenstein for weeks unhappy about the Justice Department's response to congressional document requests.

Critics see the impeachment effort as a way to pressure the department or hamper the Russia investigation which Rosenstein oversees. Rosenstein, a registered Republican, mind you, said he will not change course in the face of threats.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't have anything to say about documents like that that nobody has the courage to put their name on and that they leak in that way. But I can tell you, there have been people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time, and I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.


ROMANS: The Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows calls Rosenstein's response, quote, a lot of rhetoric with little facts. He says Rosenstein's, quote, stonewalling, has, quote, embarrassed the Department of Justice. Also for the record, the deputy attorney general says he pronounces his name Rosenstein, but his relatives answer to Rosenstein, and he'll answer to either.

BRIGGS: All right. I got it.

It turns a famous glowing statement from Trump's doctor was dictated by none other than Trump himself. That's the claim of Dr. Harold Bornstein, we got a stein this time. Mr. Trump's eccentric former physician said back in 2015, he wrote the letter stating if elected Mr. Trump, I can unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency, which is still hard to believe that happened.

CNN has learned exclusively Dr. Bornstein now says he never wrote that letter.

[04:05:01] Donald Trump did. That's just one of the bizarre headlines surrounding this guy.

Alex Marquardt has more.



Well, Dr. Harold Bornstein is telling us now that he was not the creative force behind the letter in December 2015 that claimed that then-candidate Donald Trump was in truly excellent health. We caught up with Dr. Bornstein right here, right outside of his office, just off of Park Avenue in which he told us, quote, he, meaning Donald Trump, dictated that whole letter, I didn't write the letter.

And over the course of the conversation, he told us that Trump had told him what to put in that letter, the phrasing, the wording, Bornstein admitted to us that he used some creative license. He attributed some of the language to what he called his dark humor. He compared it to the movie "Fargo," saying it takes the truth and moves it in a different direction.

Now, Bornstein tells us that he got a call from Donald Trump as he was crossing Central Park, not too far away, with his wife in a car. And Trump dictate to him what he should put in the letter. Bornstein said he responded by saying what could be included, what could not be included. Bornstein arrived at the office, he wrote up the letter, he signed it, and the Trump office then came by to pick it up.

Christine, Dave, we have reached out to the White House. They have not yet responded -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: OK. Thanks for that Alex Marquardt. Now that came after Bornstein went public with claims he was robbed

when a White House aide arrived at his office and retrieved the president's medical records in February of last year. Bornstein telling NBC News that Keith Schiller, Mr. Trump's former longtime personal bodyguard and confidant, led the way.


DR. HAROLD BORNSTEIN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER PHYSICIAN: I feel raped. That's how I feel. Raped, frightened, and sad.

REPORTER: What exactly were they looking for?

BORSTEIN: All his medical records, just pictures, anything they could find. They must have here for 25 to 30 minutes. Created a lot of chaos.


BRIGGS: You can't make this stuff up, folks.

Bornstein later told CNN they barged through the door, adding the incident did not adhere to privacy laws. However, the White House and a source familiar with the hand-over of the president's medical records dispute Bornstein's description of it as a raid. No police report was filed in relation to the incident.


A series of new headaches from embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, two of his employees stepping down after his management and spending practices at the EPA came under scrutiny during congressional hearings. Among those leaving, Pasquale Perrotta, the special agent in charge of Pruitt's security detail. The detail has ballooned under Perrotta, creating expenses like seats in first class that have drawn the attention of watchdog groups.

BRIGGS: Now, "The New York Times" reports lobbyist J. Steven Hart, whose wife rented the $50-a-night condo to Pruitt, also asked Pruitt for help getting three people on the agency's prestigious science advisory board. Those people recommended by Smithfield Foods, a company that was a client of Hart's lobbying firm. Got that? The EPA did not respond to a request from "The New York Times" for comment.

ROMANS: CNN has also learned a top aide to Pruitt, a directed staffer, is to consider opening a fully equipped EPA office in Pruitt's hometown. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Two weeks before he was confirmed.

Democrats say email show the order came from Pruitt's now chief of staff Ryan Jackson. And EPA employees believed the request was coming directly from Pruitt. The EPA inspector general opened an audit of Pruitt's Tulsa visits that eventually expanded into all of his 2017 travel including expensive trips to Morocco and Italy.

BRIGGS: A hundred thousand dollar trip to Morocco. If Democrats regain control of the House in November, Nancy Pelosi

plans to reclaim her old job as speaker. In an interview with the "Boston Globe," the minority leader says, quote, we will win. I will run for speaker. I feel confident about it, and my members do, too.

A lot of Democrats believe new blood is needed at the top of the party. They want more moderate voices from the nation's heartland to help them appeal to more blue collar voters.

Pelosi also become the primary targets of Republicans ahead of midterms. Yes, you will be seeing Pelosi all across the country in Republican ads as we approach the midterms. They believe she is easy to run against. Republicans like that optic.

ROMANS: OK. Nine minutes past the hour. Temperatures are rising. So are -- also rising, bug-borne diseases typically transmitted in the summer. Why has the number nearly quadrupled in the U.S. since 2004?


[04:13:55] BRIGGS: Seventeen states and Washington, D.C. are using the EPA over its rollback of Obama era auto emission regulations, lowering the standards to create a real divide on the country about administration are look at tougher emissions rules established by California and currently followed by 12 other states. The EPA is not commenting. Automakers have been complaining about the tougher standards they'll have to meet starting in the model year 2022. They're calling for a single national standard.

ROMANS: Texas is being joined by six other states in hay lawsuit challenging -- in a lawsuit challenging the legality of DACA. This makes the future even murkier for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants. The suit argues that President Obama's creation of DACA IN 2012 was unconstitutional and violated federal law. The case has been reassigned to a district judge who blocked the expansion of DACA in 2014. The lawsuit could conflict with pro-DACA rulings in several regions of the country. That conflict could force the Supreme Court to decide the issue.

BRIGGS: West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship going after majority leader Mitch McConnell, defending an ad in which he referred to McConnell this way.

[04:15:06] Listen --


DON BLANKENSHIP (R), WEST VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: One of my goals as U.S. senator will be to ditch cocaine Mitch.


BRIGGS: Yes, cocaine Mitch. In a follow-up press release, Blankenship's campaign claims McConnell's father-in-law who owns a large Chinese shipping company, was implicated for smuggling cocaine from Colombia to Europe. The press release links to a 2014 report in the left-leaning nation magazine that cocaine was found on a ship belonging to the company.

A McConnell spokesman referred to a request for comment on the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee which has not yet responded.

In a debate last night on Fox News, Blankenship was asked how he would work with McConnell if he won. Blankenship replied McConnell won't be the majority leader.

ROMANS: Interesting.

All right. Sixteen minutes past the hour.

Apple is turning its tax savings into a record reward for investors. Apple lavished investors with $23 billion during the first three months of 2018, most of any company ever, and more than the value of most S&P 500 companies. Think about that, more than the value of most companies, it gave back to shareholders.

Plus, it plans to give away $100 billion more, $100 billion, making apple shareholders the biggest winners yet of tax reform. The new tax bill makes it cheaper for Apple to bring home its foreign cash, and it has a lot of it, a quarter of a trillion dollars.

But Apple isn't the only one using tax cuts to reward shareholders. Corporate America has paid investors $246 billion this year. Workers have also received something, about $6 billion in bonuses and wage hikes. Look at that disparity -- workers, shareholders.

The GOP touted its tax plan as a boon for main street. Democrats are now saying the biggest winners so far are Wall Street. And they're slamming companies for sharing their tax windfall with investors, not more with employees. But even Analysts warn that just paying shareholders could hurt long-term growth. Instead, companies should be investing in new factories and equipment.

BRIGGS: After a week of controversial tweets, Kanye West took a bizarre turn. Listen to what he said on TMZ live about slavery.


WEST: You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like you was there for 400 years, and it's all of y'all? You know, like -- it's like we're -- we're mentally imprisoned.


BRIGGS: Slavery a choice. West later asked TMZ employees, quote, do you feel like I'm thinking free and feeling free? That's when Van Lathan, a TMZ employee fired back.


VAN LATHAN, TMZ STAFFER : I actually don't think you're thinking anything. I think what you're doing right now is actually the absence of thought. And the reason why I feel like that is because Kanye, you're entitled to your opinion, you're entitled to believe whatever you want.

But there is fact and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said. The rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice.


BRIGGS: West later took to twitter to clarify his comments saying, of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will. My point, he said, is for us to have stayed in that position. Even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved.

Look, Kanye West is almost the perfect artist for this generation. He generates publicity with everything he does, positive and in this case very negative. Should we pay attention to it? I don't know. Does it help him to pay attention?

ROMANS: I don't know.

BRIGGS: Does it increase his record sales, his album sales? Let us know what you think @earlystart on Twitter, @DaveBriggsTV. Let's have a debate, mind you. One that you're not into.

ROMANS: I just --

BRIGGS: I'll have this debate with you.

ROMANS: When pop culture people started weighing in on things like 400 years of slavery, I get start to --

BRIGGS: Just despicable comments.

ROMANS: Nineteen minutes past the hour. Most European leaders are standing by the Iran nuclear deal, but the French president says it doesn't go far enough and wants a broader deal. We're live in Paris.


[04:23:44] ROMANS: French president and part-time Trump whisperer Emmanuel Macron criticizing the nuclear deal while not totally opposing Trump's view of the agreement. He concedes it is not sufficient, and a broader deal needs to be negotiated. He still maintains it is the best way to monitor Iran's nuclear capabilities. Macron's comments especially timely with President Trump expected to make a decision on pulling out of the deal in the next ten days.

CNN's Melissa Bell tracking latest developments. She is live from Paris for us.

Good morning, Melissa.


Emmanuel Macron there in Australia just a few hours ago, going a little bit further to providing some clarification about what is his position with regard to the Iran deal. And it seems really that he's positioning himself as a sort of bridge between Donald Trump, who as we know is skeptical of the deal, had promised during the campaign to get rid of it. We're due to find out on May 12th whether or not he will stick with it or not.

Emmanuel Macron is essentially saying, look, all of these other points that you're interested in, things like what happens to Iran's nuclear program after 2025, Iran's ballistic missile program, the wider role of Iran in the region -- these are all things that we can consider in a broader deal if we accept that the Iran nuclear deal provides a solid first pillar within that deal.

[04:25:02] And now he's sort of spent the last few days going to his allies in Europe but also speaking to the Russian president and to the Israelis and saying to them, look, we have this deal, there are those who signed it, the Russians, the Europeans, the Iranians, for instance, who believe that it is the right deal to stick to. And he's now trying to say to them, but let us consider all of these other points and work towards a new deal, really trying to provide a bridge between those who back the Iran deal as it is and those like Donald Trump who have been skeptical of it from the start -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Melissa Bell for us in Paris -- thank you for that.

BRIGGS: A candidate for parliament in Iraq is someone you might remember, though you've probably only seen him from behind in some famous video. The man who made headlines around the world for this in 2008, throwing his shoes at then-President George W. Bush. He's running for national office. He spent nine months in prison for the incident before being let go early for good behavior.

"BuzzFeed" reports he left the country in 2009 and returned in 2011. The election set for May 12th.

ROMANS: Remember the video? Two things. It is the biggest insult in the world, the throwing the shoes. And George W. Bush had good instincts, reflexes. Did you notice --

BRIGGS: Yes, he did.

ROMANS: I will say instincts like a cat. That was pretty good.

With temperatures rising and summer around the corner, a report from the Centers for Disease Control reveals that diseases transmitted through the bites of ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas are a growing public health problem in the U.S. Cases of what are called vector-borne diseases have nearly quadrupled from 27,000 cases in 2004 to 96,000 in 2016. Wow.

The CDC says several factors could explain why. They include people moving into forested areas where disease-carrying ticks reside, rising temperatures that extend the tick season, and people and goods moving around the planet at an ever-increasing rate and speed.

BRIGGS: You cringed throughout that read. Well done to just continue to power through. I pulled out too many ticks out of my dog who has Lyme right now.

ROMANS: My son had Lyme disease. Be careful, folks.

BRIGGS: It is very dangerous.

All right. Changes to the president sitting down with Robert Mueller, they're getting slimmer. Would the special counsel subpoena the commander-in-chief? Well, the president's legal team preparing for that possibility.