Return to Transcripts main page


Lawmakers Silent After Intel Briefings on Confidential Source; North Korea Reacts to Cancelled Summit with U.S.; Harvey Weinstein to Turn Himself in to New York Police; Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 25, 2018 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:12] BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Were you surprised with what you learned?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Nothing particularly surprising.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Top lawmakers not saying much after getting briefed on a confidential source in the Russia investigation. One big question was why was the president's lawyer at both of the briefings.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea says it's still willing to meet with the U.S., but chances appear slim. What's next for diplomacy after the president pulled out of the Singapore summit?

MARQUARDT: And Harvey Weinstein is about to be charged with rape. Sources telling us he will turn himself in to police in New York this morning.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alex Marquardt in for Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this Friday morning.

MARQUARDT: Good to be back with you.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, Memorial Day weekend, May 25th, 4:00 a.m. in the East. Let's begin in Washington.

Radio silence from lawmakers after getting briefed by a Justice and intel officials about a confidential source in the Russia investigation. It's not clear this morning whether the standoff between House Republicans and the Department of Justice is diffused or about to erupt. Two briefings and hours of talks yielding no clarity from House Intel chairman Devin Nunes. He is been threatening to hold Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in contempt for not turning over documents which the source now says he did not get.

MARQUARDT: Now the president and his conservative allies claimed that the FBI used a confidential source to spy on the Trump campaign. U.S. officials telling CNN that the source was not a plant. Thursday's briefings did include a rather stunning appearance by a Trump staffer that one White House official admits was questionable.

More now from CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Two classified briefings, a surprise appearance from a White House lawyer, and now many more questions about what comes next as the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani essentially says the team needs to know way more about this FBI confidential source before they will agree to let the president sit down with the special's counsel office.

Now the anticipation surrounding these briefings and what they would entail was building all week with the guest list changing minute-by- minute. But then Emmet Flood showed up, the latest addition to the White House legal team, raising questions about why the man participating in the defense of the presidency would be involved in a meeting that had to do with congressional oversight.

But the White House essentially saying nothing to see here. Both he and chief of staff John Kelly were only there for the start of the meeting and didn't actually participate in the briefing. But on the substance of what they heard, the Democrats say they have not heard anything to support this theory about a spy or a mole embedded in the Trump campaign.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols.


JARRETT: The Republicans are not saying very much either. They haven't suggested that they need anything further at this point. In fact, the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell saying he didn't even hear anything that was particularly surprising -- Alex, Christine.

ROMANS: Laura Jarrett in Washington, thank you for that.

CNN has learned that President Trump's lawyers and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team discussed the possibility of a January 27th, 2018 interview before talks stalled. Raising the possibility that the obstruction investigation the president may have already concluded by now. The January 27th date would have been just days after Mr. Trump told reporters he was eager to sit down with Mueller.

More recently, despite ongoing negotiations the president's lawyers have come to believe an interview was unlikely, but the two sides continue to trade proposals.

MARQUARDT: And CNN has also learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is looking into the finances of the longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, including his tax returns. It's not clear whether their interest is connected to Russia's meddling in the 2016 election or something completely unrelated. Stone insists that he played no role in colluding with the Russians despite his now infamous tweet predicting trouble for Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta weeks before WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of Podesta's e-mails.

ROMANS: The future of relations between the U.S. and North Korea very much uncertain this hour now that President Trump has pulled out of the Singapore summit.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While many things can happen and a great opportunity lies ahead potentially. I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world.


ROMANS: Issues between the two sides have been building. A senior official tells CNN the North Koreans were a no show last week for meetings with the Americans in Singapore to discuss final preparations for the now canceled summit. That raised alarms with the White House even before North Korea threatened nuclear war and called Vice President Mike Pence a political dummy.

[04:05:06] MARQUARDT: Strong language. President Trump sending a letter to Kim Jong-un saying, "You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used." Later, he added, "If you changed your mind having to do with this most important summit, please don't hesitate to call or write."

ROMANS: All this coming moments after the North Koreans announced they had destroyed their northern nuclear test site.

CNN's Will Ripley was there at that event. He actually broke the news to some North Korean officials that the president -- President Trump had pulled out of the summit.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): We were sitting around the table when I got the phone call and read out the letter from President Trump, and I can tell you there was just a real sense of shock amongst the people that I was sitting with, the North Korean officials. They didn't give any official comment but immediately they got up and left.

Imagine how they're feeling at this moment given the fact that they just blew up their nuclear site today as a sign, they say, of their -- of their willingness to denuclearize. That they were doing this to make a point. Learning of this it was a very awkward and uncomfortable moment and we'll have to see what happens in the coming -- in the coming hours and days on the ground here.


MARQUARDT: Now CNN has learned that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was promised by the North Koreans that international experts would be invited to witness and verify the test site demolition, but only journalists were invited as you heard there. Will Ripley was one of them.

For more on the reaction from Pyongyang, let's bring in CNN's Matt Rivers live from Seoul.

And Matt, we are hearing from the North Koreans. Apparently they're saying that they're offering the U.S. time and opportunity to reconsider.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a relatively measured statement coming from North Korea's Foreign Ministry given the kind of rhetoric we've heard recently, Alex. I'll read you part of the statement here. It say, "We reiterate to the U.S. that we are willing to sit face-to-face at anytime and in any way. President Trump's statement on the North Korea-U.S. summit is a decision that is not in line with the wishes of those who hope for the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula as well as the world."

And so that's what people who are upset about the fact that the summit isn't going to happen are looking to for some hope. And at some point, down the road, there could be another date set. There was some wiggle room in President Trump's statement. He flat-out said he is willing to meet at some point. So there could be a summit down the road. That's what many people in this part of the world, those in China, Japan and South Korea, that's what people are hoping.

But it's worth noting here, this is a massive disappointment. To no one more so than President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. He put a ton of work as the middle man really in between both of these two sides. As recently as a couple of days ago as he went to Washington, D.C. to brief President Trump saying the summit should happen. His national security adviser had said it is 99.9 percent chance it's going to happen. And yet here we are a canceled summit.

There is no doubt that here in South Korea massive disappointment over the fact that the summit is no longer going off as scheduled.

MARQUARDT: Yes. As big a surprise to Seoul as it was to Pyongyang.

All right. Matt Rivers in Seoul, thanks very much.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump's decision to cancel the North Korea summit sparked a selloff on Wall Street. The Dow immediately dropped 280 points when the news broke. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 fell about 1 percent. All three closed lower. Volatility spiked. The Wall Street's so called fear gauge jumped 8 percent. Global stocks then they opened lower. Bur rebounded after North Korea said it was willing to resolve issues with the U.S.

Despite strong corporate earnings Wall Street has been trading on, you know, geopolitical headlines, mainly about trade, and this North Korean news could complicate a possibly U.S.-China trade deal. President Trump this week suggested that Chinese President Xi Jinping was behind North Korea's hostile rhetoric. Just as the U.S. prepares for its next trade battle, cars. The Commerce Department plans to investigate if car imports have hurt national security. A similar probe led to steel and aluminum tariffs earlier this year.

MARQUARDT: And the fiery exchange in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee between New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over President Trump's business conflicts and foreign policy.


SEN. TOM UDALL (D), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Given that the president refuses to disclose his tax returns, how can you assure the American people that American foreign policy is free of his personal conflicts of interest?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Senator, I -- I find that question bizarre.

UDALL: You don't want to answer it then.

POMPEO: Senator --

UDALL: You just want to describe it as bizarre?

POMPEO: Yes, I do.

UDALL: Not give me an answer.

POMPEO: I think that's indicative of my answer, Senator. I have been incredibly involved in this administration's foreign policy now for some 16 months and I have seen literally no evidence of what you are --

UDALL: Well, first I want to ask --

POMPEO: -- spuriously suggesting.

UDALL: I want to ask you specifically --

POMPEO: Spuriously --

UDALL: No, it is not spuriously.

POMPEO: It is an outrageous suggestion.

UDALL: My friend, it is not spuriously. This has been raised by a number of people out there.


POMPEO: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. It has. You want me to tell you who those folks are and what their political interest --


UDALL: Yes. I know. It's fake news. Now let me ask my question. OK.



[04:10:05] MARQUARDT: The president's decision to retain his global real estate business while serving in the White House makes those questions inevitable really. Now one recent example, the Trump Organization's partner in an Indonesian development project striking a deal with Chinese state-owned company, while the president was reversing course on sanctions against the Chinese telecom giant ZTE.

ROMANS: Yes, the point from the senator was, you know, if we could see those -- if we could see those tax returns, it would help allay fears that the president's foreign policy is being directed by his investments.

MARQUARDT: Not helped by the fact that his sons are still running around the world carrying out deals on behalf of the Trump Organization.

ROMANS: Right.

All right. Ten minutes past the hour, Harvey Weinstein is about to turn himself in to New York City police. He's going to face rape charges. More next.


ROMANS: Law enforcement sources tell CNN Harvey Weinstein is expected to surrender to New York police today to face rape charges. An avalanche of accusations against the disgraced Hollywood producer giving rise to Me Too and Time's Up movement leaving women around the world to come forward with accounts of being sexually harassed and abused by powerful men.

[04:15:11] Weinstein has denied having any nonconsensual sex with his accusers.

We get more this morning from CNN's Brynn Gingras.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Alex, yes, disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is expected to turn himself into a Manhattan location at some point later today. That's what we're learning from law enforcement sources that are familiar with this investigation. Of course this is an investigation that has been going on for several, several months ever since last year when that explosive New York article detailed many people making accusations against Weinstein.

Now this is likely some sort of arrangement that was made with Weinstein's attorneys and the parties here in New York City, the NYPD, the Manhattan D.A.'s that he would be allowed to turn himself in and then put under arrest. So that's what we're waiting to see happen later today. A grand jury was convened and has been going on hearing testimony, hearing evidence related to sexual misconduct after all of these claims of women who have come forward against Harvey Weinstein that he is expected to turn himself in -- Christine and Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Thanks to Brynn Gingras.

Actor Morgan Freeman is responding after a CNN investigation uncovered a pattern of alleged inappropriate behavior by the legendary actor both on set and at his production company, Revelations Entertainment. Eight women have told CNN that they were the victims of harassment or inappropriate behavior. Freeman has issued this statement, saying, quote, "Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected. That was never my intent."

ROMANS: The Senate passing long stalled legislation that overhauls how sexual harassment complaints are made and handled on Capitol Hill. The measure would hold members of Congress responsible for paying settlements out of their own pockets instead of using taxpayer funds. The bill now goes back to the House which passed its own version in February. A conference committee will likely need to work out those differences.

MARQUARDT: That only sounds logical.


MARQUARDT: And correct.

She said a Texas trooper sexually assaulted her on the road, but surveillance video tells another story. What the lawyer says. That's coming up next.


[04:21:46] ROMANS: And welcome back. Police say an explosion at an Indian restaurant in Canada last night was caused by an improvised explosive device. At least 15 people were injured, three of them in critical condition. This morning authorities is asking the public for help identifying two male suspects who were on the scene of the blast which took place in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga. Just last month a driver plowed a rental van into lunch hour crowd in Toronto killing 10 people and injuring 15.

Police are also saying an armed citizen shot and killed a man who opened fire inside an Oklahoma City restaurant. According to authorities, two women, an adult and a child were shot by the suspect moments after he walked in. A third victim suffered a broken leg when he was trying to run from the scene. A fourth suffered a minor injury. All are expected to recover. The shooter's motive is still unknown. Police are asking anyone with any information to come forward.

ROMANS: Video from a Texas state trooper's body camera refuting claims of sexual assault made by a woman he pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. 37-year-old Sherita Dixon Cole accused the officer of rape during that traffic stop last weekend. But the release of the body cam footage proved no sexual assault occurred. Even the woman's lawyer says the officer should be cleared of any wrongdoing and apologized for this false accusations. Prosecutors are looking into additional charges now against Dixon Cole.

MARQUARDT: And a disturbing story out of Nebraska. Authorities there have made the largest seizure of Fentanyl in the U.S. history. State police confiscating 118 pounds of the extremely powerful opioid on April 24th. Just last month the street value of that $25 million. Now a lethal dose of Fentanyl is just 2 to 3 milligrams so in all that seizure is almost 18 million lethal doses.

Now switching gears, the Houston Rockets defeating the Golden State Warriors 98-94 in game five of the NBA's Western Conference Finals. Houston is now up 3-2 in the series which means they are putting the defending champs on the brink of elimination. Rockets star Chris Paul led the team with 20 points but suffered a hamstring injury in the final minute. He insists he'll be all right for game six. It's the first time the Warriors have lost back-to-back games or trailed in a post season series since 2016. That game six Saturday night in Oakland.

ROMANS: All right. With Rocky at his side, President Trump granted a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champ. The president first considered the pardon after talking to Sylvester Stallone. The current heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder and Jack Johnson's great, great niece Linda Bell Haywood also attended the Oval Office ceremony.

MARQUARDT: Johnson was convicted and jailed in 1913 for taking his white girlfriend across state lines for what they called immoral purposes.


TRUMP: I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history and to honor a truly legendary boxing champion, legendary athlete, and a person that when people got to know him they really liked him and they really thought he was treated unfairly.


MARQUARDT: A pardon for Johnson was originally proposed back in 2004 by a group that included filmmaker Ken Burns, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy.

[04:25:12] And why was the president's lawyer at classified briefings on the Russia investigation? Even some White House staffers are perplexed. More next.

ROMANS: And 1968 was one of the most consequential years in U.S. history. Don't miss a special two-night CNN original series event starting Sunday night at 9:00.



BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Were you surprised with what you learned?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Nothing particularly surprising.


ROMANS: Top lawmakers not saying much after being briefed on a confidential source in the Russia investigation. One big question, why was the president's lawyer at both briefings?