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Inside Year One Of The Mueller Investigation; Intriguing Details On Trump Tower Meeting; Pentagon Releases Video Of Niger Ambush; Racist Rant At NYC Eatery. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 17, 2018 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:22] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says the special counsel's own team admits they cannot indict the president. One year into the Mueller investigation what does this all mean for the probe and the president?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Newly-released testimony lends an intriguing look at the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. What was revealed, what wasn't, and how it ties into the Russia investigation.

BRIGGS: And breaking overnight, new video from the Pentagon of that deadly ambush that killed four American soldiers in Niger providing new insight into what went wrong.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour this morning -- this Thursday morning.

One year ago today, Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel in the Russia investigation and there are some important new developments marking the milestone.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani telling CNN Mueller has informed the president's legal team he cannot indict a sitting president.

Giuliani claimed quote, "All they get to do is write a report. They can't indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling -- they acknowledged that to us."

It's a point Rudy reiterated last night on Fox.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're going to see what kind of legal remedies are available to us, including if they subpoena us, challenge the subpoena. But I don't think they agree to the process question which is the same reason they can't indict him, they can't issue a subpoena to him.

And remember, Clinton opposed a subpoena and then he voluntarily complied.


BRIGGS: All right.

The president not necessarily in the clear. Longstanding Justice Department guidelines say a sitting president cannot be indictment but that has never been tested in court. Not clear whether Mueller's team would do so if it has criminal evidence against President Trump.

CNN reached out to the special counsel's team but they declined to comment.

Let's go live to the CNN Center in Atlanta and bring in Michael Moore. He's the former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Great to see you, sir.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Good morning, good morning. Good to see you.

BRIGGS: No cakes to celebrate the anniversary of the special counsel investigation but there will, indeed, be tweets and they will say something like witch hunt, no collusion.

Is that true? Is there any evidence at this point and is this how investigations work? Do they generally reveal that evidence at the end?

MOORE: You know, this investigation, if you think about other special counsel cases, has been relatively short. I mean, we spent -- we spent four years on some investigations and we spent how many years -- we talk about the Clinton case. And so --

ROMANS: That started for four years -- four years, yes.

MOORE: That's exactly -- that's exactly right and it started, remember, in a very narrow fashion in Arkansas and we ended up talking about a blue dress in Washington.

So, sort of the feigned indignation that you hear both from Republicans on the Hill and from the president is misplaced, I think, at this point.

I don't think any of this is going to deter Ken Starr (sic) -- I mean -- I'm sorry, Bob Mueller. He knows exactly -- it was a slip. I mean, that's because it's almost comical that they -- that they are complaining at this point.

But we're a year in. Look at what he's done.

I mean, we've had indictments come down, we've had Russians come out. We've now had the president change his story on a number of things and the web keeps getting thicker for the administration. So --

BRIGGS: Well, but -- sorry to interrupt, but to the -- MOORE: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- president's point, is there yet any evidence of collusion, Michael?

MOORE: Well, there's clearly evidence but every time we turn around there's another Russian involved or there's some other Russian contact.

We also know there's Russian money flowing in. This case, I've said for a long time, is going to be simply about following the money and that's where we're at now. Bob Mueller's not going to come out in the midst of an investigation and say well, here, I've suddenly found and I want to disclose to the world my evidence of collusion.

But I think you're seeing as he's putting the pieces together and from the witnesses that have been named and the leaks that we've gotten from the administration about various things that there is a case moving forward. So it's not uncommon to have something go on for a period of time but nor is it uncommon for a special counsel --

ROMANS: Right.

MOORE: -- to hold these things close to the vest.

ROMANS: So we heard yesterday from the Senate Judiciary Committee about a whole bunch of documents --

MOORE: Right.

ROMANS: -- about what they've been looking at. And we've got some new information about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting where it's -- unflattering, I guess, is the least you can say about it.


ROMANS: You know, the rush to take a meeting to try to get dirt on Hillary Clinton --

MOORE: Right.

ROMANS: -- and disappointment that there wasn't dirt on Hillary Clinton -- raw disappointment.

But also this idea that Trump, Jr., the president's son -- that he took this meeting and how he -- sort of the scramble after it.

What do you see in there? Do you see an attempt to collude with the Russians in there, although they didn't actually get a chance to collude? They wanted to, but couldn't?

[05:35:01] BRIGGS: A failure to collude.

MOORE: Well, I think it's pretty clear that they were hungry for some dirt on the Clinton campaign and on Hillary Clinton. And what you see, maybe most importantly, out of the documents and the testimony that we got access to yesterday was there has been a continual effort to try to cover up the purpose behind the meeting.

If the meeting was clean and there was no chance that this was going to be about Russian interference and the election, you wouldn't have had all these stories come out.

And now, we've got this question of who did Don, Jr. talk to before and after the meeting, and then some allegations that he didn't tell his dad. Well, that kind of defies credulity because if you think about it, he talks to Hope Hicks while she's on Air Force One with the president and says I don't need to talk to my dad.

But suddenly, his dad writes a story about what the meeting was supposedly about. So how is he writing something or coming up with an excuse --

ROMANS: In a statement, right.

MOORE: -- for something that he was never told about. That just defies all common sense.

So I think that's probably the most damning thing to come out when we talk about the meeting -- you know, what was there.

BRIGGS: And just some clarity on what Michael was talking about there. There was a phone call made from --

MOORE: That's right.

BRIGGS: -- Donald Trump before and after this meeting was set up to a blocked number. We know from testimony that Mr. Trump -- candidate Trump's, at that point, personal residence was a blocked number.


BRIGGS: But again, he said he doesn't know who that call was to.

MOORE: And --

BRIGGS: Go ahead.

MOORE: Well, I mean, you're right, and I don't know that a blocked number in and of itself -- my guess is that Bob Mueller has known for a long time who that number belongs to. It's just now coming out in this Senate testimony.

BRIGGS: Right.

MOORE: But you've got a president sitting there who thinks that he can run the country, even without a chief of staff, and that he can micromanage.

Does anybody actually believe that somebody called Don, Jr. and said we've got dirt on Hillary Clinton and that information wasn't shared at the line to the president -- or to the president-elect? That defies logic. BRIGGS: And Michael, back to the heart of this question. Can the president be indicted? Should he feel good about what Rudy Giuliani has said?

MOORE: Well, there is longstanding -- a position, at least. There's some memos in the department that talk about that a president cannot be indicted. Those things have not been tested in court.

I think what you're seeing is Rudy Giuliani trying to play this out in the media. It's not about whether or not there can be an indictment. Legal scholars can disagree on that and we can have all kind of court battles and motions on that as the days go forward.

I think what he's trying to do is manage public expectations because he's got no intention of letting Trump be questioned by the special counsel. He wants to make the argument well, now that they've told me that he can't be indicted.

We don't really know that for sure what they've told him. At this point, he's changed the story on a number of things.

But if he -- let's take his position that they've said the president can't be indicted. Well, he's going to say well, then they don't get to do this --


MOORE: -- because they've got to be investigating a crime.

But remember, presidents get impeached over high crimes and misdemeanors.


MOORE: There can be unindicted co-conspirators. So the grand jury could meet to be looking at crimes and other people. The president could be an unindicted co-conspirator and called before him at that time.

ROMANS: Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney, Middle District of Georgia.

And let's be clear. Mueller's been at this for a whole year. What we're talking about today, he has known about it for months.

BRIGGS: Months.

ROMANS: Right? So he's way ahead of us.

BRIGGS: A news cycle.

ROMANS: Thank you so much, Michael Moore.


MOORE: Yes, good to see you all. BRIGGS: President Trump acknowledging for the first time that he repaid his lawyer, Michael Cohen, more than $100,000 for expenses incurred during the 2016 election.

In a new financial disclosure, Mr. Trump does not specify what the repayment was for, but the president's lawyers have confirmed he reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels.

The president's representatives claim that he listed the payment in the interest of transparency.

The Office of Government Ethics seeing it differently though, firing off a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein saying quote, "You may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing."

Rudy Giuliani says he revealed the president's Stormy Daniels repayment on Fox News a few weeks ago to get ahead of this financial disclosure.

ROMANS: "The Washington Post" reports Michael Cohen solicited at least $1 million from the government of Qatar in late 2016 in exchange for access and advice about the incoming Trump administration. The offer was declined.

The "Post" cites Qatari officials -- an official approached by Cohen and others with knowledge of the incident.

This all reportedly coming after a December 2016 meeting between the Qatari foreign minister and Michael Flynn. He went on to become the president's first national security adviser.

The Qatari government not commenting. Neither is Cohen.

BRIGGS: Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson taking a not so subtle jab at his former boss, telling graduating cadets at the Virginia Military Institute respect for truth is paramount to democracy.

Tillerson did not mention the president by name but you decided who you think he's talking about here.


REX TILLERSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.

When we as people -- a free people -- go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America.


[05:40:08] BRIGGS: The former secretary went on to say the pursuit of America's future must be fact-based on not built on wishful thinking.

ROMANS: All right.

In a major break from their House colleagues, the Senate Intel Committee says the Intelligence Community is correct in its assessment that Russia favored President Trump in the 2016 election.

Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, saying quote, "The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton."

The House Intelligence Committee did not find the Russians favored Trump and cited quote, "significant intelligence tradecraft failings." So there was meddling but not in favor of Donald Trump.

Republican Congressman Mike Conaway ran the House investigation. He told CNN he still supports their conclusion and he downplayed the differences with the Senate, calling them narrow.

BRIGGS: All right.

Ahead, a school resource officer in Illinois being hailed as a hero for stopping a former (audio gap) who opened fire (audio gap) rehearsal. That's next.


[05:45:19] BRIGGS: It's 5:45 eastern time and some breaking news.

For the first time, we're seeing video from that deadly ambush that killed four American soldiers in Niger last fall. We do want to warn you though, some of this video may be hard to watch.

The 23-minute clip, already seen by Congress, was given to CNN by the Pentagon. It contains drone footage of the body of Sgt. La David Johnson being recovered from under a thorn tree 48 hours after he was killed.

The video shows a group of seven American and four Nigerian troops who escaped the ISIS ambush and fled into a swamp. The video suggests the team was going after a nearby ISIS commander, even though their stated mission was to survey the area.

A summary of the classified U.S. military report recently concluded the team was not authorized nor equipped to conduct risky capture and kill missions.

All right. "NEW DAY" is about 14 minutes away here and Alisyn Camerota joins us before --

ROMANS: Really?

BRIGGS: -- she leaves for the royal wedding. We want to know what she's going to bring us, so do you have any ideas yet?

ROMANS: Also, what's your hat look like? Do you have a really good hat?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I should have brought it, it's fantastic. My fascinator is fascinating.

ROMANS: Fascinating.

CAMEROTA: It's hot pink. It's like a raspberry pink and it sits just kind of askew --

ROMANS: I can't wait. I can't wait.

CAMEROTA: -- on my head.

BRIGGS: Oh, wow.

ROMANS: I've seen the hat box in your office --


ROMANS: -- on your little bench and I'm like, can I just peek in there and --


ROMANS: -- just look.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you can. So I should have given you guys a sneak preview but it's going to be -- you're going to have to tune it -- I'm sorry -- on Saturday morning. As you know, it starts at 4:00 a.m. eastern time.

ROMANS: Easy for us, easy for us.

CAMEROTA: So set your alarm.

BRIGGS: We're already up.

CAMEROTA: So I'm really excited. We will be giving you an update on all the big questions about the royal wedding.

What's happening with Meghan Markle's dad and who is going to be talking her down the aisle? So we have the British ambassador here to answer that, as well as some international -- big international -- pressing international questions.

And then, of course, it is one year since Robert Mueller began his probe so we're going to take a look at the big picture. What's happened in this year, where are we one year later, and is it true that a sitting president cannot be indicted?

So we have Sen. Richard Blumenthal and all sorts of legal experts -- Jeffrey Toobin, etcetera -- who will be here to debate that.

ROMANS: I've been sifting through that legal analysis and essentially, it's true until it's not is what I think about the --


ROMANS: -- indicted president. I mean, seriously, because it just has never been done. There's some guidance at DOJ that you can't but it hasn't been tested in court.

BRIGGS: But shouldn't the lead be my client did nothing wrong, if you're Rudy Giuliani, not that you can't indict him. That he did nothing illegal.

CAMEROTA: That's --

BRIGGS: If I'm a lawyer --

CAMEROTA: OK, details.

BRIGGS: -- that's my lead. OK.

CAMEROTA: All right, well --

BRIGGS: You didn't answer what you're going to bring us from the royal wedding, but coffee mugs -- there's even a Pez dispenser of the couple. Oh, yes. There are some ideas.

CAMEROTA: OK. I mean, but what do you guys want? What do you want me to bring you?

BRIGGS: No, that's not how gifts work.

ROMANS: In my family it is. I tell everybody exactly what I want because I don't want to be disappointed.

BRIGGS: Have fun.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Ali.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money this morning.

Global stocks mixed today following a higher day on Wall Street. Investors ignored geopolitical concerns and rising interest rates. Look at that 10-year note yield, guys, of 3.1 percent, the highest since 2011.

U.S. stocks closed higher though because retailers did so well. Retail stocks up five percent.

You can credit Macy's for the retail. The Macy's stock -- whoa -- up 11 percent. I guess department stores aren't dead yet. That narrative put to rest --


ROMANS: -- by the first quarter here.

Macy's sales surged during the first three months of the year. Digital sales grew double-digits thanks to upgrades to its Website and app. Even Macy's physical stores saw a pop.

Macy's sales have slumped in the past few years but it credits a few things for the new success, including the loyalty program, they say they've got better merchandise, and big tourist dollars, especially at the flagship New York store.

Could the Senate save net neutrality? The FCC will end it June 11th. But yesterday, the Senate passed a measure to keep the Obama-era rules in place.

SEC chair Ajit Pai calls the rules harmful Internet regulations.

Internet providers say they stifle investment. But advocates say they ensure a free and open Internet for everybody, preventing providers from blocking or slowing down access or charging consumers more for certain content.

However, the Senate measure now heads to the House where it's not likely to pass.

BRIGGS: Yes, a pretty safe bet on that one. All right.

Ahead, the humanitarian of the year, he is not. Next, we'll hear from the man who is surprised to hear people speaking Spanish in New York City and he made sure knew exactly how he felt.


[05:54:25] BRIGGS: All right.

A racist tirade in New York City captured on video. It starts with a man complaining about workers at a lunch counter speaking Spanish -- watch.


AARON SCHLOSSBERG, ATTORNEY, NEW YORK CITY: Your staff is speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, sometimes they do that.

SCHLOSSBERG: Every person I listen to. He spoke it, he spoke it, she's speaking it.

This is America. My guess is they're not documented, so my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country.

They have the balls to come here and live off of my money. I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here. The least they could do -- the least they could do is speak English.

[05:55:02] If you intend -- if you intend on running a place in Midtown Manhattan, your staff should speak English, not Spanish.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: All right. The humanitarian of the year really sticks the landing here by threatening to call ICE and making a crack about the weight of the woman shooting the video.

ROMANS: It took the Internet like five hot seconds to identify this guy as a Midtown attorney. It turns out there are other videos of him sort of freaking out and ranting as well.

CNN has reached out to him via Facebook Messenger and left a message at his law office. We haven't heard back.

We did hear from ICE, though. This from ICE. ICE says its tip line should not be used as an instrument to intimidate or harass.

Again, he's in New York City where he hears Spanish and flips out. The New York "Daily News" has a message for said attorney in Spanish -- "Screw You, Idiot" is what the New York "Daily News" says.

BRIGGS: Bravo. OK.

A school resource officer being praised for his heroic actions after a former student opened fire at Dixon High School in Illinois. It happened as students and staff were gathered Wednesday morning near the auditorium for a graduation rehearsal.

Police say the officer, Mark Dallas, chased the gunman after he fled the school. The two then exchanged fire before the suspect was wounded and arrested.

Vice President Mike Pence calls the officer's actions heroic in a tweet.

The alleged gunman, 19-year-old Matthew Milby, facing charges of aggravated discharge of a firearm. No one at the school was injured.

ROMANS: The CEO of Bumble Bee Foods charged in a seafood price-fixing scheme. A federal grand jury indicting Christopher Lischewski, alleging he conspired with rival companies to keep prices for packaged seafood sold in the U.S. artificially high.

If convicted, he faces a possible 10-year prison sentence and a million-dollar fine.

Lischewski is the fourth person to be charged in the price-fixing scheme. In 2016, Bumble Bee's senior vice president of sales, Walter Scott Cameron, pleaded guilty for his role.

BRIGGS: All right.

Michigan State University reaching a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls assaulted by Dr. Larry Nassar. The settlement only deals with accusations against Michigan State. It does not address lawsuits against USA Gymnastics or the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The plaintiff's attorney saying he hopes the legacy of the settlement will end the threat of sexual assault in sports.

ROMANS: A bizarre story out of Texas. A 25-year-old man faces charges for posing as a teen so he could play high school basketball.

Police say Sidney Gilstrap-Portley lied about being displaced by Hurricane Harvey and enrolled as a 17-year-old student at Dallas Hillcrest High School under the name Rashun Richardson.

The ruse ended when a coach from 10 years earlier recognized him.

Gilstrap-Portley exploited a district policy to help disaster victims.


CHRIS BAYER, PRINCIPAL, HILLCREST HIGH SCHOOL, DALLAS, TEXAS: There was no indication on our side, even replaying it in my mind, as far as what he portrayed himself as. And to abuse that is just -- like you can't as a -- I would say a normal thinking person, process how to do that. It's not even something you would think about.


Gilstrap-Portley was arrested on a felony charge of tampering with government records. Police are also investigating claims he was in a relationship with a 14-year-old girl at the school. No word if he has an attorney.

BRIGGS: The Yanny versus Laurel debate finding some bipartisan agreement, if you can believe it.


CAMEROTA: What name do you hear, Senator?


CAMEROTA: You hear Laurel?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Handsome and intelligent.

CAMEROTA: You agree with Chris, who hears Laurel. Can you believe --

KENNEDY: Well, can I -- can I reconsider?


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'd like to declare something that is just so obvious. It is Laurel and not Yanny, all right? Come on.

How many Laurel fans here, huh? Yeah, right? OK. Thank you.


ROMANS: Paul Ryan making a funny.

BRIGGS: Thank you, Paul Ryan.

On the Democratic side, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti released this statement, "Laurel."

All right. Well, I hear Laurel, you hear Yanny.

On the one-year anniversary of the special counsel investigation, I think President Trump probably hears collusion.

ROMANS: You know what? I hear it was a pleasant distraction. I'm glad it's day two of Yanny versus Laurel.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Giuliani said the special counsel is going to adhere to guidelines that a sitting U.S. president can't be indicted.

GIULIANI: The same reason they can't indict them, they can't issue a subpoena to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're still conducting a criminal investigation. They can absolutely subpoena Donald Trump.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thousands of pages of documents shed light on this June 2015 meeting.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, GOP STRATEGIST: There was something like 54 things he couldn't recall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How could none of those conversations lead back to the President of the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump did reveal for the first time that he actually paid Michael Cohen for that hush money.

SEN RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: The failure to disclose is potentially a violation of law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there other transactions we don't know about that were not reported?