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Why was Emmet Flood and John Kelly at Classified Briefings; North Korea Reacts to Cancelled Summit with U.S.; Harvey Weinstein to be Charged with Rape; Pressure Hits Boiling Point on Iran Nuke Deal. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 25, 2018 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: 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?

ALEX MARQUARDT, 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?

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

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUARDT: And I'm Alex Marquardt. It is just 30 minutes past the hour.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning.

MARQUARDT: You know, I've missed you. I have not missed the wake-up call.

ROMANS: I know.

MARQUARDT: Every time it comes.

ROMANS: It is --

MARQUARDT: It's just brutal. It's just brutal. And I know that people in the morning, she would always complaint, but it's true, folks.

ROMANS: You do well.

MARQUARDT: You don't get used to it.

All right. Well, radio silence from lawmakers this morning after briefings by 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 is just about to erupt. Two briefings and hours of talks yielding no clarity from House Intel

chairman Devin Nunes. He has been threatening to hold Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in contempt for not turning over documents which a source now says he did not get.

ROMANS: The president and his conservative allies claim the FBI used a confidential source to spy on the Trump campaign. U.S. officials tell CNN the source was not a plant. Thursday's briefing 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.

MARQUARDT: All right. Thanks, Laura Jarrett in Washington.

Now CNN has learned that President Trump's lawyers and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team had discussed the possibility of a January 2018 interview before talks stalled. This raises the possibility that obstruction investigation of the president could have concluded by now. The January 27th date would have been just days after Mr. Trump told reporters that he was, quote, "eager" to sit down with Robert Mueller. More recently despite negotiations, the president's lawyers have come to believe that an interview is unlikely, but the two sides continue to trade proposals.

ROMANS: All right. CNN has learned Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is looking into the finances of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, including his tax returns. It is not clear whether their interest is connected to Russia's meddling in the 2016 election or something 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.

MARQUARDT: And the future of relations between the U.S. and North Korea very much uncertain this morning now that President Trump has pulled out of next month's 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.


MARQUARDT: Issues between the two sides have been building. A senior official tells CNN that 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 at the White House even before North Korea threatened nuclear war and called Vice President Mike Pence a political dummy.

ROMANS: President Trump sending a note to Kim Jong-un, a letter really, 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."

[04:35:08] And later adding, "If you changed your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write."

MARQUARDT: All of this coming just moments after the North Koreans announced that they destroyed their northern nuclear test site. And in fact, CNN's Will Ripley was there at that event and broke the news to the North Korean officials who hadn't heard anything that President Trump had pulled out of the June 12th 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.


ROMANS: Now CNN has learned 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.

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

I mean, this letter from the president and this statement from the president was happening, it was late at night on the Korean peninsula. What has the reaction been?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this came as a shock to everybody here, including the South Korean President Moon Jae-in who was recently in Washington, D.C. This was a complete and utter surprise. We are hearing from the North Koreans' relatively measured statement from a top official in their Foreign Ministry. We can say in part they said, quote, "We reiterate to the U.S. that we are willing to sit face-to-face at any time 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 with all of the people here who wanted to see the summit happen are looking at that statement, looking at President Trump's statement and thinking is well, at least there's still hope. It might happen. It might not happen on June 12th now but it might happen at some point down the road. But there is no doubt that this is a massive disappointment, a massive setback, especially for South Korea's government.

President Moon Jae-in was the middleman between North Korea and the United States putting a ton of stock, his political capital, in the fact that the summit was going to happen. And so while it might still happen in the future, in the present, there is huge disappointment here in South Korea over the fact that the summit no longer will happen on June 12th.

ROMANS: Yes. Just rapid developments in both directions now over the past few weeks and months.

All right. In Seoul, Matt Rivers, thanks.

MARQUARDT: There's a fiery exchange in the Senate on the Foreign Relations Committee between New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. That was over President Trump's business conflicts and foreign policy. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 about--

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. No. I know. It's fake news. Now let me ask my question. OK.



MARQUARDT: The president's decision to retain his global real estate business while serving in the White House really does make those questions inevitable. One recent example, the Trump Organization's partner in an Indonesian development project struck a deal with a Chinese state-owned company. At the same time the president was reversing course on sanctions against the Chinese telecom giant ZTE.

ROMANS: All right. Harvey Weinstein about to turn himself in to New York City police in just the next few hours. He's going to face rape charges. More next.


[04:43:41] MARQUARDT: All right. 43 minutes past the hour. Law enforcement sources telling CNN that Harvey Weinstein is expected to surrender in New York to police today to face rape charges. An avalanche of accusations against the disgraced Hollywood producer have given rise to the Me Too and Time's Up movement, leading women all around the world to come forward with their accounts of being sexually harassed and abused by powerful men like Weinstein. Now he has denied having any nonconsensual sex with his accusers.

We get more now 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.

[04:45:10] ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much for that, Brynn.

Actor Morgan Freeman 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 told us 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."

MARQUARDT: And in the same vein, the Senate has passed a long stalled legislation -- piece of legislation that overhauls how sexual harassment complaints are made and handled up there on Capitol Hill. The measure would hold members of Congress responsible for paying settlements out of their own pockets which incredibly until now has been paid for using taxpayer funds. The bill now goes back to the House which passed its own version back in February. A conference committee will likely be needed to work out the differences between the two.

ROMANS: New details emerging that Uber's fatal self-driving crash in March. One of Uber's self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian. But a new report found that it wasn't set to stop in an emergency. The National Transportation Safety Board says Uber disabled emergency braking on that vehicle. Uber was testing a self- driving SUV. It turned off the measure to cut back on unwanted braking.

But when a pedestrian stepped in front of the SUV, it was not able to prevent the crash in time. It also did not alter the human driver. This crash was the first pedestrian death involving a self-driving car igniting a debate over whether driverless tech is ready for the real world. The real world is ready for driverless tech. Self-driving cars and the future of the auto industry the likes of Google and General Motors racing to develop this technology.

MARQUARDT: That really is a question, is it?


MARQUARDT: Whether we're ready for it or not.


MARQUARDT: We have to face that question soon.

All right. A critical day for parties that are trying to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. Nations that remain in the pact are meeting for the first time since the U.S. pulled out. We're live in Vienna coming up.


[04:51:50] MARQUARDT: Welcome back. Negotiations reaching the boiling point on the Iran nuclear deal as nations that remain committed to the agreement meet for the first time since President Trump decided to pull the U.S. out.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Vienna.

Fred, the so-called P5 Plus 1 members that struck this deal have now lost a major member in the U.S. What are the others trying to do to salvage this?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're trying to get around the fact that Americans, Alex, aren't in the deal anymore. And especially the Iranians really are piling the pressure on the European countries. They say basically that everything that the U.S. offered in the deal with economic relief, relief from sanctions, they want that from the Europeans now and they want the Europeans to ensure that European companies that also do business in America will still be able to do business in Iran and that Iran will be able to sell its oil on international markets.

Now of course that goes straight in the face of everything that the Trump administration wants and has been talking about, especially potentially sanctioning European companies that would do business with the Iranians. Iranians are saying the Europeans have to find some way to get around that otherwise the deal is essentially going to be killed.

And I spoke earlier to a man -- a senior official from Iran and I asked him whether or not the Iranians might be willing talk to the Americans. He said absolutely not at this point in time. And he said if this nuclear agreement completely falls apart that the Iranians would also have to rethink their nuclear doctrine -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. A lot of moving parts there as they try to salvage that deal.

Fred Pleitgen in Vienna, thank you very much.

Breaking news. Police say an explosion at an Indian restaurant in Canada last night was caused by what they're calling an improvised explosive device. At least 15 people were injured, three of them in critical condition this morning. Authorities are 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.

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 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 against Dixon Cole.

MARQUARDT: And in Oklahoma City, police are also saying an armed citizen shot and killed a man who opened fire inside a restaurant. According to the 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 trying to run away from the scene. A fourth also suffered a minor injury. All are expected to recover. The shooter's motive is unknown. Police are asking anyone with any information to come forward.

ROMANS: Authorities in Nebraska making the largest seizure of Fentanyl in U.S. history. State police confiscating 118 pounds of the opioid on April 24th. The street value $25 million. A lethal dose of Fentanyl is 2 to 3 milligrams. That's almost 18 million doses.

MARQUARDT: Unbelievable.

And on a lighter note, the Houston Rockets defeating the Golden State Warriors last night 98-94 in game five of the NBA's Western Conference Finals.

[04:55:05] Houston now up 3-2 in the series putting the defending champions on the brink of elimination. Rockets star Chris Paul leading the team with 20 points but suffered a hamstring injury in the final minute. He's saying now however he will be back for game six. The first time the Warriors have lost back-to-back games or trailed even in a post season series since 2016. That game six Saturday night in Oakland.

ROMANS: All right. A tropical disturbance brewing in the southeast. That means heavy rains on a holiday weekend.

Here is meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good Friday morning, Alex and Christine. The long holiday weekend is upon us and lots of us have plans to hit the beaches especially across the southeast. Well, get a load of this. The official hurricane season doesn't start until June 1st so we're several days away. And there's the potential for tropical development across the eastern gulf of Mexico.

In fact the National Hurricane Center has a 90 percent chance of development thanks to an area of disturbed weather across the Yucatan Peninsula that's moving into relatively warm ocean waters. In fact they range from the middle to upper 80s as you get closer to the coast. So definitely a system we need to monitor closely as we head into Sunday and Monday, of course being the holiday weekend.

And you can an abundant amount of moisture to impact the region that could cause some localized flooding from Alabama through Mississippi and to Florida as well as Georgia. Elsewhere across the East Coast, temperatures starting to warm up nicely. Feeling very summer like across D.C. and into the nation's capital. 88 for Washington. 88 in New York City.

Back to you.

ROMANS: All right. Derek, thank you.

MARQUARDT: I think we're on the cusp of hurricane season already.

ROMANS: I know. Do you have --

MARQUARDT: There's so many big ones. I --

ROMANS: Is your slicker ready?

MARQUARDT: Waiters are ready to go.

All right. Now take a look at this picture. 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 his good buddy, Sylvester Stallone. The current heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder and Jack Johnson's great, great niece Linda Bell Haywood also attended that ceremony in the Oval Office.

ROMANS: Johnson was convicted and jailed in 1913 for taking his white girlfriend across state lines for immoral purposes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.


ROMANS: 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.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this Friday morning. President Trump's decision to cancel that North Korea summit sparked a selloff on Wall Street. The Dow immediately dropping 280 points when the news broke. All three major indices closed lower. Volatility spiked as the Wall Street's so-called fear gauge up 8 percent. Global stocks mixed right now.

Netflix shares rose yesterday making it the most valuable media company, at least for an afternoon. It briefly topped Disney in market value. Amazing. But Disney regained its crown by the end of the day. It is worth $152 billion. Netflix is just behind at $151 billion. Comcast is right behind with $145 billion.

Home sales are slowing. You can blame low supplies and rising mortgage rates. Sales of existing homes fell 2.5 percent in April. Overall sales are down 1 percent this year. Inventory is tight especially for starter homes. And that is pumping up prices. Also hurting demand mortgage rates that are seven-year highs. The benchmark 30-year fixed rate mortgage jumped to 4.66 percent this week. That is the highest mortgage rate since May of 2011.

Facebook finally joining the long-held practice for both TV and newspapers. Labeling political ads. It would include a paid for label on the top of any political ad in the U.S. and will keep an archive of those ads. It's not alone. Twitter is also working hard to increase transparency, putting a badge and disclaimer on campaign ads. And clearly labeling accounts used for political purposes as seen here. Both Facebook and Twitter face huge criticism for allowing meddling during the 2016 presidential election.

MARQUARDT: After all that criticism, they're only doing that now.

ROMANS: Yes. They have been way late to this game.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, EARLY START continues right now.


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 their briefing a confidential source in the Russia investigation. One big question, why was the president's lawyer at both briefings?

MARQUARDT: And North Korea says it's still willing to meet with the U.S. but chances appearing increasingly slim. What's next for diplomacy after the president pulled out of that Singapore summit?

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

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

MARQUARDT: And I'm Alex Marquardt in for --