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Mueller Raises Threat of Presidential Subpoena; The Doctor is Incensed; Kanye: Slavery Was A Choice; Macron: Iran Nuke Deal "Not Sufficient". Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 2, 2018 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:50] CHRISTINE ROMANS, 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 powers.

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


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


ROMANS: Stunning words from Kanye West. The response equally as passionate. We'll talk about that this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: We sure will. Whether it's good, whether it's bad, people talking about Kanye.

I'm Dave Briggs. Thirty-one minutes past the hour. Happy hump day.

We start in the nation's capital. Would the special counsel try to get a subpoena if President Trump refused to sit for an interview? Well, now, it appears the answer could be yes. The Trump legal team 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 with the legal team.

ROMANS: Some of the president's legal advisers are gambling Mueller will not go that far. The legal posturing shows that 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 has 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. Thanks, Jeff.

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 says 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.


BRIGGS: 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. And for the record, the deputy attorney general says he pronounces his last name Rosenstein, but his relatives answer to Rosenstein, and he'll answer to either.

ROMANS: I'll stick with Rosenstein. If that's what he called himself, Rosenstein, then Rosenstein.

All right. It turns out a famously glowing statement about president Trump's health was dictate by none other than Trump himself. That's the claim of Dr. Harold Bornstein.

BRIGGS: This guy.

ROMANS: Mr. Trump's eccentric former physician who said back in 2015 he wrote the letter state figure elected Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.

BRIGGS: Ever, no doubt.

ROMANS: CNN has learned exclusively Dr. Bornstein says he never wrote the letter. Donald Trump did. It's one of the bizarre headlines surrounding this doctor.

[04:35:02] Alex Marquardt has that assignment.



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.


BRIGGS: Alex, thank you. 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. That was February of last year. Bornstein telling NBC news that Keith Schiller, Mr. Trump's former

longtime personal bodyguard and confidante, led the way. Listen to this description --


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?

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


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

BRIGGS: 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.

ROMANS: Now, "The New York Times" reports lobbyist J. Steven Hart whose wife rented the $50-a-night condo to Pruitt asked Pruitt for help in getting three people on the prestigious science board. The EPA did not respond to the request from "the New York Times" for comment.

BRIGGS: CNN has also learned a top aide to Pruitt directed staffers to consider opening a fully equipped EPA office in Pruitt's hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, two weeks before he was even confirmed. Democrats say emails show the order came from Pruitt's now-chief of staff, Ryan Jackson. And employees believe the request was coming directly from Pruitt.

The EPA inspector general opened an audit of Pruitt's Tulsa visits that expanded into all of his 2017 travel including expensive trips to morocco and Italy. The one to morocco reportedly cost $100,000 along with a lobbyist.

ROMANS: Yes. It certainly is a huge distraction. You know, the White House has said that they're happy with his work, what he's been doing, slashing regulations. But all of that spending and all of those conflicts certainly overshadow that.

BRIGGS: Tough to explain his continued presence. All right. Temperatures are going up, up, up. So are bug-borne

illnesses, typically transmitted in the summer. Why has the number nearly quadrupled in the U.S. since 2004?


[04:44:25] ROMANS: All right. President Trump rode into office promising higher economic growth, faster wages, and, you know what? No question the economy is strong. A jobless rate near a 17-year low, wages picking up, a stock market up 30 percent since the election.

For really nearly a decade, Americans have benefitted from cheap loans, low prices, and a soaring stock market. Market pros say nine years into the bull market the sands are shifting. The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates, which means more expensive auto loans and mortgages. The benchmark auto rate is at a four-year high and rising.

Americans are also paying more for everyday things they buy like gas. Gas prices this summer are expected to be the highest in four years. And for those who own stocks, the S&P 500 is flat for the year.

The timing is fascinating. Higher gas prices and mortgage rates just as Americans head to the polls this fall. What will that mean for the midterm elections? There's no way to know yet.

Another wrinkle and a question -- the Republican-led Congress keeps spending. Could that hurt the GOP, especially as a pricey budget deal and tax cuts likely means trillion-dollar deficits in the next two years?

BRIGGS: You think voters will factor in spending in the midterms?

ROMANS: I don't know. I don't know.

BRIGGS: I've got a dollar that says, no, they will not.

ROMANS: Gas prices, I think, are something that people feel every week. So that could be something to really watch this summer.


ROMANS: And I also think it's a lagging indicator, too. I think that as the sands shift, it may take more than a few months for people to recognize that the old bull and expansion might be lagging.

BRIGGS: Low unemployment, markets are doing well. We'll see.

California, meanwhile, leading 16 other states and Washington, D.C., suing the EPA over its rollback of Obama-era auto emission regulations. Lowering the standards will create a divide in the country, about one-third of all drivers would still operate under 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, because California really controls the automotive industry in terms of sales.

ROMANS: After a week of controversial tweets, Kanye West took a bizarre turn. Listen to what he told TMZ 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.


ROMANS: 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.


ROMANS: OK. In this modern, you know, world of how we discuss things, West went to Twitter later 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.

BRIGGS: Well, if Twitter is any barometer, people entirely disagree with Kanye and think we should not talk about his controversial comments. They just help him. So, continue to let us know on Twitter @DaveBriggsTV, @earlystart.

Most European leaders standing by the Iran nuclear deal. The French president says it doesn't go far enough and wants a broader deal.

We're live in Paris with what Emmanuel Macron has to say about it.


[04:53:10] BRIGGS: French president and part-time president whisperer, Emmanuel Macron, criticizing the Iran nuclear deal. Macron concedes it's not sufficient and a broader deal needs to be negotiated. But he still maintains it's 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 the latest for us live from Paris.

Good morning, Melissa.


Emmanuel Macron once again repeating in the last few hours from Australia that he simply doesn't know which way Donald Trump is going to go on May 12th. Will he recertify this deal in which he has little faith or will he stick to that campaign pledge and withdraw?

And essentially, what Emmanuel Macron is trying to do is say, look, these are the areas you're worried about. You're worried about Iran's wider role in the region. You're worried about Iran's ballistic missile program, you're worried about what happens beyond 2025. Let's put these three questions, these three pillars as he's called them, in this new multilateral international deal, not only with the signatories of the first deal but with other potential countries negotiating on the broader deal for Middle East.

But, look, we already have the first pillar taken care of, and it takes the shape of the Iran nuclear deal as we know it, which deals with Iran's nuclear program up until 2025. Let's stick to it, let's keep it because it is the best solution we have for keeping an eye on that nuclear program even as we pick up the broader conversation, the broader negotiation about a better, bigger deal.

The beauty of it really, Dave, is that if Donald Trump chooses to withdraw on May the 12th, Emmanuel Macron will say, well, at least we have this broader negotiation underway and we are keeping the United States under the multilateral negotiations.

[04:55:03] So, in a sense it is a win-win. But really the world is waiting to see which way Donald Trump will go on May 12th.

BRIGGS: See if Macron has impact on his friend, President Trump.

All right. Thank you.

ROMANS: A candidate for parliament in Iraq is someone you might remember, though you have probably only seen him from behind. The man who made headlines around the world in 2008 after throwing his shoes at then-President George W. Bush, he is running for office. This is first reported by "BuzzFeed". He spent nine months in prison for doing that before being let go early for good behavior. The election is set for May 12th.

BRIGGS: Forest service investigators in Arizona say the tinder fire burning near flagstaff was started by an abandoned illegal campfire. Officials say the fire has burned more than 11,000 acres since it began last Friday, is zero percent contained. More than 1,000 homes and structures are being threatened. The fire being driven by strong winds gusting to 30 miles an hour.

Arizona's governor, Doug Ducey, declared a state of emergency in Coconino County, in response to the spreading fire.

ROMANS: All right. With temperatures rising and summer right around the corner, a terrifying report for the Centers for Disease Control reveals the diseases transmitted through the bites of ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas are a growing public health problem in the U.S.

Folks, this is a story on the front cover of every major newspaper this morning because it is a big deal. Cases of what are called vector-borne disease vs. nearly quadrupled nationwide from about 27,000 cases in 2004 to 96,000 in 2016. 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 ever-increasing rates of speed.

BRIGGS: All right. Welcome back, Steph Curry. Curry took to the floor for the first time in five weeks and took control leading golden state to victory in game two of their playoff series with the New Orleans Pelicans. In 27 minutes, Curry scored 28 points including five three pointers in the Warriors' 121-116 win, giving them 2-0 lead in the series.

Meantime, LeBron James and the Cavaliers stealing game one of their second round series against the Raptors in Toronto. The Cavs winning 113-112 in overtime. LeBron, 26 points, a triple-double, but one of the worst games of the season for him. That does not bode well for Toronto going forward in terms of shooting from the floor, he was bad. Still, a triple-double not bad for LeBron.

ROMANS: All right. That's sports. Here's your money. Let's a get a check on CNN Money this morning. Global stocks mostly higher now.

The U.S. futures are mixed after Wall Street rebounded on talk of trade negotiation, not conflict. Mexico's economy minister said a new NAFTA deal is likely. President Trump's trade chief says he wants to open up China's economy to foreign companies, not change the whole system. Top economic advisers head to Beijing this week for trade talks. So, there's a lot of headline risk on trade now, folks.

The Dow bounced to close slightly lower yesterday. The S&P 500, the Nasdaq rose, helped by a 2 percent jump from Apple.

Speaking of Apple, iPhone sales were decent during the first three months of 2018. But I want you to look at profit. It soared, something like 25 percent. The nearly $1,000 iPhone 10 is the reason it didn't boost the total number sold. Apple sold 3 percent more iPhones than last year, but its high price tag helped sales rise 16 percent, to hit $61 billion.

Apple also announced plans to turn tax savings to gifts for shareholders. The new tax bill makes it cheaper to bring home the $250 billion in foreign cash. So, it's going to give $100 billion away to investors. It already paid them $23 billion during the first quarter this year, the most of any company ever.

Watch out Tinder, Facebook is getting into the dating game. Facebook announced a free speech that lets users set up dating profiles. It won't be visible to friends or appear in news feeds and won't match with people users already know. The feature will play matchmaker for millions of users, but also encourages them to spend more time on Facebook. This is just Facebook's latest feature aimed at keeping people on the site longer, including job postings, payments, and online food delivery.

BRIGGS: That's what we need. More time on Facebook. Are you a Facebooker?

ROMANS: I am so infrequently a Facebooker? It is embarrassing. I think they call me a lurker. Is that what somebody who just kind of likes around every now and then?

BRIGGS: Yes, I pop in and out, I'm with you.

EARLY START continues right now with the latest on a potential of a subpoena for the president.


ROMANS: A subpoena for President Trump. His legal team preparing for that possibility in what could be an historic test of the president's powers.

BRIGGS: And the president's longtime doctor had glowing things to say during the campaign because the president told him to. Now, Harold Bornstein claims his office was raided by Trump's bodyguard.