Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Demands DOJ Investigation Of Informant Claims; Report: Second Trump Tower Meeting; Search For Answers In Texas School Shooting; Harry And Meghan Delay Honeymoon For Work. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 21, 2018 - 05:30   ET



[05:32:10] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump hereby demands to know if the Feds infiltrated his campaign. That follows reports a longtime intelligence source insisted early in the Russia investigation.

And, Russia may not have been the only foreign power looking to influence the 2016 election. A new report says Donald Trump, Jr. hosted a second unknown meeting with an emissary for two Gulf nations.


KELLY CLARKSON, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Why don't we not do a moment of silence? Why don't we do a moment of action, why don't we do a moment of change? Why don't we change what's happening because it's horrible?


BRIGGS: Anger, sadness, and frustration after another school shooting claims 10 more lives at an American school. Texas lawmakers are searching for answers that have nothing to do with guns.

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

Christine Romans is off this morning -- she'll be back today. Five thirty-two eastern time.

Later today, though, President Trump expected to formally demand the Justice Department review itself and the FBI to determine whether they spied on his presidential campaign for political purposes. Now, this development comes on the heels of reports last week that the FBI dispatched a confidential source to speak with aides in the campaign about its possible links to Russia.

U.S. officials have already confirmed to CNN no source was embedded in the campaign but in the interest of heading off a larger showdown, the DOJ says it is going along with the president's command.

More now from Ryan Nobles at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No doubt, the president was active on Twitter this weekend taking aim at the Department of Justice and the FBI because he is upset over reports that there was an informant -- a source attempting to gain information and access about the Trump campaign.

He capped off his weekend of tweets with this tweet calling out the Department of Justice, saying quote, "I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow" -- that being Monday -- "that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI and DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump campaign for political purposes, and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama administration."

And that tweet quickly got some results. The Department of Justice put out a statement not too long after afterward. They said they were going to essentially expand the investigation that was already taking place.

The deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein said the following. Quote, "If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes we need to know about it and take appropriate action."

So they're essentially expanding this investigation to find out and rule in or out whether or not there was anyone attempting to launch this investigation for anything other than the reason that they thought there was something inappropriate or illegal going on.

So this, at the very least, also appears to be an attempt by the president to try and discredit Robert Mueller and his investigation. We'll have to see if that has any impact on the special counsel going forward.


[05:35:11] BRIGGS: All right, Ryan Nobles, thank you.

Let's bring back Daniel Lippman, reporter for Politico and co-author of Politico's morning newsletter "Playbook." It's a must-read.

All right, Daniel, irrefutable proof once again the president should either play more golf on Sunday mornings or go to church or do something besides get on Twitter. Six angry tweets in one hour followed by the coup de grace which was, of course, this one.

"I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow" -- that's now today -- "the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump campaign for political purposes."

Does he ask a legitimate question? Is a -- is this a fair and proper demand of his own Justice Department?

DANIEL LIPPMAN, REPORTER, POLITICO, CO-AUTHOR, "POLITICO PLAYBOOK": You know, he really wants to know the informant's name because he kind of wants to shed light on this guy who was trying to get information on whether his advisers were colluding with the Russians.

The problem is that this could make it much harder for DOJ and the FBI to actually work with informants in the future on hundreds and thousands of investigations that they work on.

And so, this seems like a clear attempt by the president to shift attention from that blockbuster "New York Times" story on Don, Jr.'s latest meeting with a foreign power -- this is a usual pattern for the president to try to change the narrative to get it back on turf that is more favorable to him.

BRIGGS: Now, this demand from Devin Nunes, and then Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, and the president not sitting well with Mark Warner on the Senate Intel Committee. Here's what he said Sunday.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I have no information that would indicate that the president's tweets or theory of the case is at all based in truth. I found it outrageous that the president's allies are, in effect, playing fast and loose with confidential information.


BRIGGS: Now, Daniel, CNN will not name this informant if you will, but a simple Google search would turn up his face, his name, exactly where he is. Several media outlets have named the source.

So does that counter narrative what Mark Warner said there that's they're fast and loose with this information?

LIPPMAN: Yes, remember this is the same president who right after he fired Comey was meeting with the Russians --


LIPPMAN: -- and saying that a great pressure had been lifted off him. And he shared classified Israeli intelligence on Syria with the Russians who have been helping Syria and Iran against the rebels. And so he doesn't have a great track record of keeping secrets and intelligence to himself.

And I think -- I've seen reports about how the intelligence agency is -- they've been circumspect in how much intel they share with the White House because they're worried about what the president will use that information for and who he will tell. Whether he will tell people who don't have the clearance necessary.

BRIGGS: And we don't know exactly what the president will call for this morning. Is it a criminal investigation? Will he be satisfied by this statement from Rod Rosenstein that "if any of this happened, we need to know about it and take appropriate action?"

Are we headed towards another major confrontation between Justice and the president, and some type of Saturday night massacre, potentially? LIPPMAN: Trump doesn't have the greatest attention span and I think the White House tries to pack his schedule with things to prevent him from tweeting. Sometimes he has a pretty full day -- today, for example.

And so going forward, I think the DOJ will say well, the inspector general is looking into this. We're taking this very seriously but there's no evidence that they infiltrated the campaign at Justice. There are clear rules that you just don't do that and I think that will probably be borne out by the investigation.

BRIGGS: All right. Also, some major news over the weekend by "The New York Times" that Donald Trump, Jr. had another meeting in Trump Tower. This time, promising help from Gulf nations to the campaign.

What's Politico's reporting on that and how significant would it be if, in fact, it is true?

LIPPMAN: It's a major story because it raises a question were there other foreign countries besides Russia and Gulf States trying to help the Trump campaign during the election?

And what's also interesting and it's kind of buried in the story, is that two of the men in the meeting with Don, Jr. -- they met with Bannon and Kushner after the election in the White House. And so clearly, this was a relationship that was ongoing and that raises serious questions about why they were having contacts that were not official embassy contacts.

[05:40:16] BRIGGS: Donald Trump, Jr. did have a statement from his lawyer. "It was just a social media platform being pitched from George Nader. He was not interested and that was the end of it."

Is that end of it for Bob Mueller? Time will tell.

Daniel Lippman from Politico, thanks for being here on a Monday. We appreciate it.

LIPPMAN: Thanks for having me.

BRIGGS: All right. The U.S. and China agree to dial back the rhetoric on trade. What each side gives and gets, next.


[05:45:20] BRIGGS: Schools in Santa Fe, Texas will be closed today and tomorrow. The city's still reeling from Friday's school shooting that left 10 people dead. It was the nation's 22nd school shooting this year. There have been more deaths in our schools in 2018 than in our military.

The Galveston County sheriff says the entire incident lasted 30 minutes, including a 25-minute exchange of gunfire between police and the shooter. The suspect telling police he spared some people so they could tell his story.

The mother of one victim, 16-year-old Shana Fisher, says her daughter rejected the suspect's advances for months.


SADIE BLAZE, MOTHER OF SHANA FISHER, KILLED IN SANTE FE SCHOOL SHOOTING: My daughter was going up to my mother and telling my mom, for the past four months, and my brother that he had been making advances on her and that she finally stood up to him because her younger sister was being bullied in school. And she was showing her -- look, this is what you do. You've got to stand up to them and tell them no, it's not right.


BRIGGS: There was a funeral prayer service Sunday for one of the shooting victims. Sabika Sheik was a 17-year-old exchange student from Pakistan. Her body being flown home today.

The suspect's family says they are shocked and confused as anyone and what they've learned is quote "incompatible with the boy we love."

Authorities say the guns used by the suspect were legally owned by his father.

Houston police chief Art Acevedo asked if the father should face legal consequences.


ART ACEVEDO, POLICE CHIEF, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, HOUSTON, TEXAS: Anyone that owns a firearm and doesn't secure it properly and it ends up in the wrong hands and used to kill innocent people, that that should carry some significant consequence and we need to think about that on a national level across this country.


BRIGGS: Chief Acevedo also posting these comments on Facebook.

"I know some have strong feelings about gun rights but I want you to know I've hit rock bottom. This isn't a time for prayers and study and inaction. It's a time for prayers, action and the asking of God's forgiveness for our inaction, especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing."

Many officials, including politicians, still pointing fingers at video games, broken families, too many school entrances, and more -- but not guns. Many officials still insisting more teachers need to be armed.


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R), TEXAS: We cannot sit back and say it's the gun. It's us as a nation, George. On this Sunday morning when we all go to church and pray or go to the synagogue or the mosque or wherever we go, let's look inward at our self as a nation. It is our Second Amendment. You know, it talks about a well-run

militia, the Second Amendment. Our teachers are part of that well-run militia, by the way.

OLIVER NORTH, INCOMING PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The disease, in this case, isn't the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence.

If you look what has happened to the young people, many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten.


BRIGGS: President Obama's education secretary Arne Duncan thinks students should boycott school until stronger gun laws are passed.


ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: What if young people were to say we're not going back to school?

What if young people and their parents would work together to try and get major legislation passed? If it works, fantastic. If it doesn't, hold those elected officials accountable.

We have to do something so different than we've ever done if we expect different results.


BRIGGS: Since 2009, the United States leads the world with 288 school shootings. Mexico second with eight.

Saturday's New York "Daily News" with this staggering cover. "With yesterday's Texas massacre, there have now been more students or teachers killed by guns in U.S. schools than active-duty military deaths in 2018."

That was the Saturday cover for the New York "Daily News" and a hard to fathom number.

Ahead, China and the U.S. calling a trade ceasefire, at least for now. In a joint statement, the U.S. and China announcing the initial trade agreement.

There are few details but neither will impose new tariffs and China will significantly increase the U.S. goods it buys. It did not name a dollar amount but that was a top demand of the Trump administration during trade talks.

Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin calls this meaningful progress.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY: We're putting the trade war on hold. So right now, we are -- we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework.


BRIGGS: The U.S. previously threatened tariffs on $150 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Still unknown, of course, the fate of ZTE. The Chinese tech giant was crippled after the U.S. banned it from buying vital U.S. parts. But a huge reversal last week. President Trump suggested saving it.

[05:50:06] Mnuchin insists there's no quid pro quo linking ZTE to a trade deal and that the administration isn't going easy on ZTE.

That was echoed by economic adviser Larry Kudlow.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: If any of the remedies are altered they are still going to very, very tough. Do not -- please, do not expect ZTE to get off scott free. Ain't going to happen.


BRIGGS: Now, ZTE faces punishment for violating U.S. sanctions then lying about disciplining the employees involved.

With the U.S.-North Korea summit just three weeks away now "The New York Times" reports President Trump has big concerns about his upcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un. David Sanger says the president is pressing his aides about the risk involved, especially if the summit causes him political embarrassment.

Mr. Trump was surprised and angered when the North's chief nuclear negotiator declared last week his country would never trade away its nuclear weapons.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in meets with the president at the White House tomorrow.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro winning another 6-year term in Venezuela's presidential election. His chief rival, Henri Falcon, rejected the election as illegitimate, citing widespread irregularities and that echoes the sentiment of many countries around the world, including the United States.

Our secretary of state Mike Pompeo calls the election a sham, adding we need Venezuelan people running this country, a nation with so much to offer the world.

Majuro says he would be open to talks with quote "the empire of the United States."

Ahead, day three of marriage bliss for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but before the honeymoon, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have official business to tend to. We're live at Kensington Palace this morning ahead on EARLY START.


[05:56:25] BRIGGS: Ah, the royal wedding may be over but Harry and Meghan are not headed on their honeymoon just yet. Instead, the newlyweds are getting right to work, delaying their trip to begin their royal duties.

CNN's Anna Stewart live outside Kensington Palace with more. And, Anna, we say work not like a normal job but royal duties, of course. Good morning.

ANNA STEWART, CNN JOURNALIST: Duties begin straightaway for the royal couple. We're kind of hoping they're inside Kensington Palace having a nice relaxation day because tomorrow they will be at Buckingham Palace very publicly celebrating the Prince of Wale's 70th birthday celebration.

Now, the royal wedding was fabulous. We've got a nation here in royal wedding blues and possibly a collective hangover, frankly. The party went long into the weekend, past Sunday night. Actually, many people partied, including myself, right through Sunday.

And all the big discussions, all the highlights of the wedding have been talked about -- the veil that Meghan Markle wore -- now the Duchess of Sussex, of course -- which was so long. It went all the way down the chapel. It had 53 flowers representing all the commonwealth countries embroidered into it.

There was all the discussion about Princess Diana and her obvious absence and how much she would have loved to have seen that. And we found out that Prince Harry actually gave his wife and aquamarine cocktail ring that was part of Princess Diana's private collection. So she was definitely there in spirit.

Now, the big question is where will the couple go and honeymoon and when will they go because surely these guys need a break at some stage. Lots of people guessing it might be Africa -- maybe Botswana were they fell in love. But the one thing we do know is we're not going to know probably until they're already there.

BRIGGS: Yes, that is certain. All right.

Chicago pastor Michael Curry really, I think the star of the show, beyond the couple.

Anna Stewart, we loved your fashion as well.

All right, let's talk about Hawaii. The Big Island residents there facing a new danger this morning -- laze. Now, the term laze combines the word lava and haze. It's the toxic combination for hot lava mixing with a cold ocean.

Lava crossed Highway 137 late Saturday night and entered the Pacific.

Laze can cause lung, eye, and skin irritation and can be fatal.

The Kilauea volcano erupted at least twice this week and one point launching a cloud of ash up to 10,000 feet high.

A rare cougar attack leaving one mountain biker dead and another hospitalized in Washington State. Authorities say the man who survived told them the cougar suddenly charged. He says he hit the animal with his mountain bike and it ran into the woods, but the cougar returned.


ALAN MYERS, CAPTAIN, WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE: At one point, that victim reported that his whole head was inside the jaws of this cougar and has the injuries to go along with that report.


BRIGGS: The animal let that man go but chased and killed the friend, S.J. Brooks. The animal was later euthanized.

Thanks for joining me today. I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" starts right now. See you tomorrow.


BRIGGS: President Trump demanding the Justice Department review the Russia probe's surveillance tactics.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: This claim that there is a political spy embedded in the Trump campaign is nonsense.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I believe if there was an embedded person, that person cleared us.

WARNER: You have to protect sources and methods. People's lives depend upon it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giuliani said Robert Mueller told him that the investigation could end by as soon as September first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He really just wants to look as though he is fighting back and that's what this is about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We come here with hearts that are aching, knowing that there are parents today without children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot sit back and say it's the gun. It's us as a nation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been happening everywhere. I've always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.