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Rudy Ratchets Up Trump Defense; CIA Nominee Offers To Step Aside; Volcano Threats Grows; SNL Skewers Trump In Star-Studded Cold Open. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 7, 2018 - 04:00   ET




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you are innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, THIS WEEK'S SHOW HOST, ABC NEWS: Are you confident the president will not take the fifth I this case?

RUDY GUILIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: How can I not be confident of that?


DAVE BRIGGS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: The Vice squaring that circle. There is this is one headline from the latest head-spinning interview with President Trump newest attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: the president's nominee to lead the CIA offering to step aside as it would help the White House. Why Gina Haspel decided to fight on for now.

BRIGGS: And new eruptions, dozens of homes destroyed and concerns about toxic gas as the Kilauea Volcano remains a threat in Hawaii. We have stunning images there from Kilauea. Crazy stuff. Good morning. Welcome to "Early Start." I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, May 7th. 4:00 a.m. in the East. Good morning everyone, as you get your week started. Rudy Giuliani generating a series of startling new headlines in his defense of President Trump. Among them the new member of the Trump legal team did not rule out the President taking the fifth as the Special Counsel Russia investigation rolls on.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you confident the President will not take the fifth in this case?

GUILIANI: How can I ever be confident of that? When I'm -- when I'm facing a situation with the President and all the other lawyers are in which every lawyer in America thinks he would be a fool to testify. I have a client who wants to testify. Please, he said it yesterday. And you know, Jay and I said to ourselves, my goodness. I -- you know, I hope we get a chance to tell him the risk that he is taking.


ROMANS: Worth noting here, the President said during the 2016 campaign that only the mob takes the fifth. And you don't do that if you're innocent.

BRIGGS: The President and Giuliani met face-to-face on Sunday. Afterwards, Giuliani told CNN, the President said quote, feels like things are moving in the right direction. He said Trump has bigger things to focus on like than the Russia investigation, like Iran and North Korea. For the latest from the president and his new lawyer, we turn to Boris Sanchez, at the White House.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Dave and Christine, the president and his newly minted Attorney, Rudy Giuliani, making some news on Sunday, speaking to my colleague Dana Bash following a meeting that he had with the president at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. He essentially said that he believes that the founding fathers wanted the President to have a sort of, special executive privilege that would keep them from being indicted. And part of that led him to a conclusion on one of the Sunday morning talk shows suggesting that he does not believe that the President would have to comply with the subpoena from the Special Counsel to be interviewed by Robert Mueller. Listen to more of what Giuliani said.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What happens if Robert Mueller subpoenas the President? Will you comply?

GUILIANI: Well, we don't have to. He is the President of the United States. We can assert the same privileges as other Presidents have.

SANCHEZ: It is a different strategy than we are seeing now from the president's legal team very, very different on what we have seen before and possibly a sign of things to come moving forward. Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Boris, thank you for that. Giuliani did not stop there. The President's new attorney not ruling out the possibility that there could be other women out there like Stormy Daniels, who received payoffs from Michael Cohen for their silence.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You said he -- this was a regular arrangement he had with Michael Cohen. Did Michael Cohen make payments to other women for the president?

GUILIANI: I have no knowledge of that, but I would think if would be necessary yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Giuliani calls the $130,000 given to Daniels a quote,

nuisance payment. He also predicts Michael Cohen is going to cooperate with the investigators, but insists Cohen has no incriminating evidence against the President.

BRIGGS: Kellyanne Conway tried to defend and add some nuance, if you will, to the President's claim that he did not know about Cohen's hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. Here is what Conway says what the President meant to say on Air Force One last month.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: When the President said no on Air Force One, he is talking about he did not know when the payment occurred. The very fast moving exchange between him and Cathryn Lucy (ph) of the A.P., I believe. And so he is saying he did not know about it when the payment occurred. He found out about it after the fact.


BRIGGS: Conway also told Jake Tapper, she does not believe the White House has a credibility crisis.

ROMANS: President Trump's pick to run the CIA, offering to withdraw her nomination after some White House officials raised concerns about Gina Haspel's ability to get confirmed. As first reported by "The Washington Posts," Haspel, the current acting CIA Director offered to step aside if it would help make things easier for this White House.

Later Friday, she received a visit from Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, and Legislative Affairs Director, Mark Short, and the tension cooled. On Sunday, the White House was still in her corner saying Haspel's nomination by partisan critics who side with the ACLU over the CIA in how to keep the American people safe.

[04:05:07] BRIGGS: Before reports of Haspel's meeting with White House officials, former CIA Director, Michael Hayden, had nothing but praise for her.


MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: With the President who does not always attach decisions to the real world and to data and evidence, Gina Haspel is the one woman I want in that room when everyone else will be going into no resolve auto bob and saying, you are right, boss. Gina Haspel won't.


BRIGGS: Haspel faces a very contentious Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Her nomination would be in jeopardy if she loses any support among Republicans who ruled a 51-49 majority.

ROMANS: All right. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says, critical comments from the Federal Judge do not signal the Special Counsel's case against Paul Manafort is in jeopardy Manafort. Judge T.S. Ellis, scolded prosecutor in Manafort's bank fraud case on Friday. Claiming their real motivation was to oust President Trump. Judge Ellis remarking in the time honored practice of prosecutors with which I'm fully familiar with, you can tighten the screws and they can provide information in what you are really interested in. That appears to be what is happening here. Here is the reaction from Democratic Congressman, Adam Schiff.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D), CALIFORNIA: It is appropriate to ask about the scope of what Bob Mueller is doing, but he is well within the scope of his jurisdiction and charging Manafort and Flynn and the others. And while, you know, certainly within the Judge's prerogative, to ask this questions, I don't think it really bears on the legal issues. And so I think that Bob Mueller will prevail in the sense of being able to go forward with this litigation. I don't think, there is any legal question about that. But yes, it is concerning that the Judge would express this opinion.


BRIGGS: Manafort asked the Judge to review Mueller's authority to bring charges base on events that took place years before the campaign. Judge Ellis said, he will make a decision that later day about whether Manafort's case can go forward.

ROMANS: House Intelligence Chairman, Devin Nunes, says he will push lawmakers this week to hold Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, in contempt of congress. Nunes says, he is quote, not going to take this nonsense of the department failing to hand over classified Russia investigation documents. A letter obtain by CNN says, the Justice Department told Nunes late last week, providing information on a specific individual could have grave implications for national security.

BRIGGS: Nunes threatened justice officials with contempt citations in the past. CNN reported Friday though that Nunes on some several occasions failed to read documents once the materials were made available to him. It is unclear why Nunes is targeting Sessions in particular.

Source says, the matter falls squarely within Sessions recusal from the Russia probe. Note that Nunes himself temporarily stepped down from involvement in the House Russia investigation more than a year ago.

ROMANS: International intrigue building ahead of President Trump deadline this week on whether to remain in the Iran nuclear deal. The new report from "The Observer," in Britain, says aides to the President tried to discredit the deal by hiring private investigators to dig up dirt on officials from the Obama administration who helps negotiate the deal. CNN's Fred Pleitgen, who has covered Iran extensively, he joins us live report from Moscow. What is this about?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, certainly some very interesting and new information coming out, Christine. Apparently this is about Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl. Apparently this Israeli firm was hired by Trump aids, this is not just according to the Observer anymore, but some other publications as well, and who are getting more information on this. Trying to dig up dirt on these two officials specifically around their road around the nuclear program and of course the negotiations around it.

Now also some journalists, apparently were contacted as well, who were seem to be pro-Iran nuclear deal. One of those journalist has now actually come forward and said, yes, he was once contacted by someone that who stated they were some from a company and who started asking some very strange questions about the Iran nuclear deal and what it meant to this journalist.

Now, the firm in question that is being named, we have to stress this, they are saying that they have no part this. They are denying the allegations. They said they had no ties to the Trump White House nor to the Trump team nor to the Iran nuclear deal. To harbor all of this of course, comes at a very, very important time as we approach that May 12th deadline.

And the Iranians have already come out in the form of the President Hassam Rouhani and said, if the U.S. leave the Iran nuclear agreement, it would be what they call a historic mistake. And they say, Iran is preparing for it. They say, there is not going to be any negotiations about any weapons of the Iranians might have, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Fascinating, Fred Pleitgen for us in Moscow this morning, thank you, Fred.

BRIGGS: Sure is. North Korea accusing the United States of being deliberately provocative ahead of the expected summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. A foreign ministry spokesperson insisting the White House is quote, misleading public opinion by claiming the Kim regime only agreed to negotiate, because of U.S. sanctions and pressure. The North Koreans giving the credit instead to the reason summit with South Korea.

[04:10:11] They warned the White House, rhetoric can be viewed as a quote dangerous attempt to ruin the hard won atmosphere of dialogue and bring the situation back to square one. President Trump says everything is now set for the North Korea and U.S. Summit. And a date and location could be announced soon.

ROMANS: Melania Trump is ready to layout her official platform as first lady, 16 months into the tenure. She has a Rose Garden event set to this afternoon. Mrs. Trump has said, for months she plans to focus on the wellbeing of children. But it is less clear exalt what that means.

A spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump tells CNN, the platform will include a quote, a variety of issues that affect children. The public events in recent months, have touched on everything from the effects of opioid abuse on newborns to being nice on social media.

BRIGGS: The eruption of the Kilauea volcano showing no signs of slowing and now a new concern. High levels of toxic gas. We will have a report from Hawaii next.


BRIGGS: The erupting Kilauea volcano remains a major threat on the big island in Hawaii. At least 26 homes have been destroyed. The U.S. Geological survey says Friday's, 6.9 magnitude quake was the island's most powerful since 1975. All residents of Leilani Estates will leave about 1700 people and nearby Lanipuna Gardens remain under evacuation orders. Public schools on the big island will remain open today, but a new concern aside from the lava flow is the rising levels of toxic gas. We get more from CNN's, Stephanie Elam.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, residents of Leilani Estates were able to get in and get last minute things they were not able to evacuate with the first time around, but they are not allowed to stay there. They want those residents to get what they need and get out as the fissures continue in these neighborhood. They are also very much concerned about the toxic gasses coming out from the earth as well, as lava is spewing forth out of this vents.

That gas is really quite dangerous. And so that is why they widen the perimeter as these fissures continued to open. If you take a look to where I am standing now, this is the lava flow from 2014. But this gives you an idea of the concern. You see how this lava cascaded down and around and built up this wall on the side. There is no way to actually stop lava from flowing when it is coming down at that speed and that heat.

It is hard and it is really difficult to move. This has just been sitting here like this for four years. And that is why for those people who live in these communities, it is terrifying, homes have been destroyed. And for some of these people, they will never be able to go back to the neighborhood the way it was. Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: Just remarkable. All right, thank you, Stephanie. Thank you for that Stephanie.

For the first time, Senator John McCain admits he regrets not picking Senator Joe Lieberman to be his running mate in 2008. Instead of then, Alaska Senate Governor, Sarah Palin, "The New York Times" reports this revelations from McCain's upcoming memoir, "The restless wave," McCain's is battling brain cancer and the rehabilitating side effects of its aggressive treatment at his home in Arizona.

BRIGGS: Former Vice President, Joe Biden, recently paid McCain a visit. Biden telling the "Times" quote, says John knows he is in a very, very precarious situation and yet he is still concerned about the state of the country. We talked about how our international reputation is being damaged and we talked about the need for people to stand up and speak out.

McCain also encouraged Biden not to walk away from politics. Sources close to former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama said, they have been asked to deliver eulogies at McCain's funeral. A source close to McCain's, as President Trump is not expected to be invited.

ROMANS: Another midair incident involving a cracked window on a passenger plane. A JetBlue flight from San Juan to Tampa, Sunday, was diverted to Fort Lauderdale. The outer layer of the cockpit windshield shattered. A former -- a reporter from CNN's affiliate WFTS was on that plane. A flight attendant said, they did not lose cabin pressure, but the window cracks did force the plane to land in Fort Lauderdale.

A JetBlue statement says, flight 1052, was diverted out of an abundant of caution and passengers were accommodated on another aircraft. The incident is just days after a cracked outer window force the Southwest flight from Chicago to Newark to be diverted to Cleveland.

BRIGGS: An alarming up taking gun violence in Chicago. The police department reports at least 81 people shot in the city since Monday. 39 of those shootings occurred just between Friday and early Sunday during a cold first four months of 2018, shootings fell in Chicago by more than a quarter compared to the same period last year.

But as temperatures have climbed, so have shootings. A manhunt now under way for the gunman who critically wounded an ATF agent there on Friday.

Ahead, Rudy Giuliani left no shortage of material for "Saturday Night Live."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During his kings of dementia comedy tour --


-- Giuliani also said the hush money was quote funneled through a law firm. Dude, funneled is not typically a word innocent people use when talking about money. No one says, yes, my grandma funneled me $5 on my birthday.



BRIGGS: And some surprise guest showed up for the open to "Saturday Night Live." we'll show you that ahead.


ROMANS: All right. "Saturday Night Live" skewering the latest on Trump world news after a week of stunning stories about Michael Cohen. They did it with help of some special and I would say surprising guest stars. Look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, we're in big trouble. I think they know about our illusion K and obstruction of justice J.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surely, I don't speak Spanish. Are you on a secure line?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, I dialed *86 before the number so, it is completely untraceable.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael, did we hear Giuliani called Jared disposable on national television, because Jared is furious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, man, what the hell. I mean, I could cut a bitch --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call up Stormy Daniels and fix this once and for all. Maybe keep me on the phone, too. I'll just be quiet and listen.



[04:25:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stormy? This is Michael Cohen. Are you alone?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what are you wearing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Michael, I can take it from here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, but as your attorney, I highly advise against --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what up, girl? We'll always have shark week. I solved North and South Korea. Why can't I solve us?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, Donald, it's too late for that. I know you don't believe in climate change, but a storm's a coming, baby.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never been so scared and so horny at the same time.


BRIGGS: Look, I don't know. Scarlet Johansson and Jimmy Fallon, well done. If Stormy Daniels wants to be taken seriously, in terms of his case, why did she appeared on SNL?

ROMANS: Does she want to be taken seriously? Or is she playing to prolong --

BRIGGS: Clearly.

ROMANS: -- you know, she manage to stay off --

BRIGGS: It is very clear.

ROMANS: -- for a very long time. All right.

BRIGGS: She had an appearance.

ROMANS: It is 26 pass the hour.

BRIGGS: Yes, another eyebrow raising interview for Rudy Giuliani.


GUILIANI: Those are not facts that worry me as a lawyer. Those does not amount to anything with what was said to the press. That is political. What matters to me as a lawyer is --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It matters to the press.

GUILIANI: Gee, I don't know.


BRIGGS: Gee, I don't know. Assuming he wasn't lying, Giuliani says the President doesn't have to comply with the subpoena and won't rule out the President invoking the Fifth Amendment in the Russia probe.