Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Trump Legal Team Willing to Fight Subpoena; The Doctor is Incensed; Kanye: Slavery Was A Choice; Warriors Win In Steph Curry's Return. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 2, 2018 - 05:00   ET

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


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

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And the president's longtime doctor had glowing things to say during the campaign because the president told him to.

[05:00:07] Now, Harold Bornstein claims his office was raided by Trump's bodyguard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLPI)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Stunning words from Kanye West. The response equally as passionate.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

That's the water cooler story you'll be hearing about today, no question.

BRIGGS: A lot of people talking about Kanye once again.

I'm Dave Briggs. Wednesday, May 2nd, 5:00 a.m. in the East. Good morning to all of you.

We start in the nation's capitol. Would the special counsel subpoena President Trump if he refused to sit for an interview? It now 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.

ROMANS: Some of the president's legal advisers are gambling that Mueller will not go that far. The legal posturing shows that while the president has not totally shut the door a voluntary interview with Mueller's team, the odds are growing slimmer. Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

The threat of 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 say the impeachment effort as simply a way to pressure the department or hamper the Russia investigation which Rosenstein oversees. Rosenstein says he'll not change the course in the face of these threats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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. We're going to do what's required by the rule of law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows calls Rosenstein's response, quote, a lot of rhetoric with little facts and says Rosenstein's stonewalling of the investigation has embarrassed the Department of Justice. Also for the record, the deputy attorney general says he pronounces

his last name Rosenstein. But he has relatives who call him Rosenstein, and he'll answer to either, for those that were wondering.

ROMANS: I want to stick with Rosenstein. That's what I've been saying because he says that.

BRIGGS: I know a lot of people asleep over that.

ROMANS: I know.

All right. Joining us this morning from Washington, CNN politics digital director Zach Wolf.

Good morning.

Let's stay with the Rosenstein story if you will. Sarah Sanders yesterday was asked about this from the podium. This is what she said, Zach.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: There are some allies with the president on Capitol Hill who are apparently drafting articles of impeachment for the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. Is it the president's belief that Rod Rosenstein has committed a high crime or misdemeanor?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not aware of any belief of that.

REPORTER: Does the White House not endorse that -- the White House call on these members not to pursue that?

SANDERS: I haven't seen the specific document. But we don't have any personnel announcements. And we're continuing to move forward with the Department of Justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Weigh in for us, Zach, on the Rosenstein controversy this morning.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: I mean, I think if the threat of president Trump firing him every day he goes into the office isn't going to change the way they operate, then probably the impeachment effort that doesn't look like it's going to go for far isn't going to have much of an effect either.

BRIGGS: So, how about the threat of subpoena, potentially facing the president of the United States? It looks like his lawyers are not open to an interview, and it looks like the president is less likely to want to sit down with Bob Mueller. We saw this, something similar with Bill Clinton, of course, and that whole investigation.

[05:05:05] Are we headed toward a Supreme Court showdown? WOLF: Well, it certainly seems like something like that is going to

happen. This is sort wherever we've been heading for a long time in that Mueller has been doing investigations and the large investigation. Seems the end of that would be talking to the president himself. If the president's not going to sit down and talk to Mueller, if Mueller needs to talk to him, it seems a court battle would be the next obvious step.

There is precedent for presidents testifying under subpoena in the past. It seems that Mueller would have this possibility. Although Trump has spent so much time attacking his office publicly on twitter, calling it a witch hunt. It's going to be a remarkable thing to watch.

BRIGGS: And given the questions we saw in "The Times," it would be hard to imagine the president volunteering to sit down for the interview.

But let's talk about my fave story of the morning, the tale of Dr. Harold Bornstein. He's the doctor in 2015, in a case folks forgot, that wrote the letter about President Trump -- this guy, in case you forgot, that guy. He wrote this letter back in December of 2015 about the president. If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.

ROMANS: It's like Trumpian hyperbole. Turns out --

BRIGGS: Trump, in fact, wrote the letter, at least told him the words that should go in the letter. Bornstein also talked about an incident where the medical records of president Trump, the president, were seized in a raid or listen to how the doctor described it here --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: So, Zach, he says that with Keith Schiller and a Trump lawyer the White House said it was, however, standard operating procedure. The White House medical unit took possession of the president's medical records. What in the heck is going on here?

WOLF: I don't know. All I know is that we've had two kind of strange instances with the president's doctors. There's this one where he essentially dictates his own bill of health, total over the top. Then there was Ronny Jackson, remember him? From last week, the last couple of weeks. He also gave an over-the-top diagnosis of the president's health. So, you know, it's clear that Trump is obsessed with people perceiving

him as fit. But as far as it being standard operating procedure to send people into a doctor's office, that's not something I've ever heard of before.

ROMANS: To say nothing of the verb he uses to describe two men walking into his office and taking some records. It's actually offensive. Very offensive. Gross.

BRIGGS: No question.

ROMANS: Let me switch gears and talk about something I've been watching. You know, you've got all of these great signs in the economy. Maybe you could see a 4 percent GDP, gross domestic product, in the second quarter. I think that could happen.

Full employment basically, wages going up. Gas prices going up here, mortgage rates are going to rise. We're shifting into a new zone here where people could start feeling like the ease money of the last ten years will be gone. Do you think that will have any effect on midterms?

WOLF: It's hard to tell at this point. The one -- the major bright spot for President Trump has been the economy which has continued to boom under him. The stock market has been going on this record tear for a long time.

But his major promise to pull people up in Middle America essentially, he's running out of time to show dividends on that.

ROMANS: Yes.

WOLF: Then the issue of the tax bill, his major legislative accomplishment. If people don't feel like that's helping them, I think there's a danger that they wonder what they bought into with this.

ROMANS: We saw Apple give back $100 billion to shareholders, essentially two Teslas -- I don't mean the car, I mean the company. Two Teslas it gave away.

Meanwhile, in Midwest, you've got forms lowering their cash rent on their farms because farm prices are down. There's concerns about retaliation there. That is a big dichotomy.

BRIGGS: Not what you want, giving back $100 million to shareholders.

ROMANS: All right. Zach, thanks.

BRIGGS: Thank you, sir.

WOLF: Sure.

BRIGGS: All right. Temperatures are going up, so are bug-borne diseases typically transmitted in the summer. Why has the number nearly quadrupled in the U.S. since 2004? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:14:12] BRIGGS: After weeks of controversial tweets, Kanye West took a bizarre turn. Listen to what he told TMZ about slavery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: 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 right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

[05:15:04] 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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 will. My -- by free will. My point, he said, is for us to have stayed in that position even with numbers on our side means that they were mentally enslaved.

Yes. That really happened.

ROMANS: All right. Fifteen -- yes, you can talk about this on Twitter if you want. People already are. They're saying I think he needs to go away and stop talking. Kanye equals clown, he doesn't speak for anyone I know. Are you talking about this?

That's what I'm hearing.

BRIGGS: Despicable comment. Maybe we shouldn't even talk about it.

ROMANS: All right. Fifteen minutes past the hour.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control says diseases transmitted through the bites of ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas have nearly quadrupled nationwide. Cases of what are called vector-borne diseases have jumped from about 27,000 cases in 2004 to 96,000 reported in 2016. The CDC says among the factors here, 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 and speed.

BRIGGS: The tornado drought in the central plains is over. 18 tornadoes reported yesterday. Mostly in states that had none so far in 2018. This was the scene in Kansas.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us with a look at the risk today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: David and Christine, good morning.

We're watching severe weather today. Really that's the biggest weather concern across the central portion of the U.S. today, upwards of 30 million people in line for this. You look at northeastern Kansas, northwestern Missouri, around Kansas City really. The highest risk for some severe weather by this afternoon and into tonight. In fact, on a scale of one to five, that's a four, a moderate risk placed across that region, linked to the overnight hours tonight into early Thursday morning. You could see the storms pushing through the region.

And unfortunately, very little movement with the system and setup. We think the severe weather concern similar going into Thursday, granted we get a little slight decrease in potential intensity with the storms. But still, a pretty expansive area across the central portion of the U.S.

Now, unto the eastern half of the country, you know it's been mild outside, some five to ten degrees above average in the southeast, 15 to 25 above average in the Northeast. And then you look at places in Maine, like Augusta, Maine, temps there comparable to what's happening in Augusta, Georgia.

Now, you think it's just getting started -- absolutely is, because look at this. We warm up a little bit more come Thursday into Friday in Washington and New York. This weekend, a cooling trend is in store.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Pedram, thank so much for that.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, Steph Curry off the bench without missing a beat. He's returned from injury. Andy Scholes with the "Bleacher Report" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:22:26] BRIGGS: LeBron James and the Cavs stealing game one of their series with the Raptors. Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report".

Good morning, buddy.

ANDY SCHOLES, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning, Dave.

LeBron said he was exhausted after the series with the Pacers. He only had one day to get ready for the Raptors. LeBron was not at his best in this one. In the closing seconds of regulation, he came up big. This fade away here ties the game at 105. First time the Cavs pulled even with the Raptors since the score was 0-0.

Game goes to overtime. LeBron's teammates stepping up big. Smith the three. He hit five in this game. The raptors, meanwhile, were ice cold at the end of this one. They couldn't buy a bucket. The Cavs steal game one 113-112.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TYONN LUE, CAVS HEAD COACH: I don't think we played our best game. And I think they know that, as well.

LEBRON JAMES, CAVS PLAYER: At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is getting a win. My teammates stepped up when I wasn't -- wasn't at my best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Steph Curry, meanwhile, making his return from injury in game two against the Pelicans. This is his first game since March 23rd. He came off the bench last night, and it took all of ten seconds for him to hit his first three of the game. Curry scoring 28 points in just 27 minutes.

Warriors now at full strength. They beat the Pelicans 121-116 to take the 2-0 lead in the series.

The penguins honored the victims of the Humboldt crash. He received a standing ovation from the crowd which he was recognized. A fantastic ending. Late in the third, Ovechkin off the post but stays with it. Smacks it in for the game winner. Caps take the 2-1 lead.

Finally, Yankees and Astros tied at zero in the ninth when reliever Ken Giles gives up at three-run shot to Gary Sanchez. And let's just say Giles was not happy with himself. He punches himself in the chest and the face on the way to the dugout. New York won 4-0.

You know, we've all left work some days wanting to punch ourselves in the face. But Giles actually did it.

BRIGGS: Brother, I've had temper tantrums in my day, I will confess on national television.

[05:25:00] But that was a firm right cross. Do you think that leaves a bruise? I know you're an Astros fan.

SCHOLES: Right to the jaw. I'm impressed. He doesn't have a glass jaw, I guess. I mean, he connected pretty solid right there.

And you know what, was able to continue on to the dugout. And who knows, we've seen so many stupid injuries by relief pitchers in baseball.

BRIGGS: Yes.

SCHOLES: Hopefully he's OK.

BRIGGS: At least he didn't knock himself out. That bat took a beating.

Andy Scholes, thank you, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right, Dave.

BRIGGS: Romans?

ROMANS: All right. That was something.

Twenty-five minutes past the hour. The chances of the president sitting down with Robert Mueller get slimmer. Would the special counsel subpoena the commander in chief? The president's legal team is preparing for that possibility.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: A subpoena for president Trump. His legal team preparing for that possibility in what could be historic test of the president's power.