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EARLY START

ABC Pulls "Roseanne" After Barr's Racist Tweets; Rep. Trey Gowdy Defies Trump Conspiracies; Putin Critic Bill Browder Arrested In Spain. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:31:05] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The "ROSEANNE" reboot is no more, canceled after racist comments from the comedian, Roseanne Barr. She's still tweeting though at this hour, blaming Ambien and says others have gotten away with worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE, MEMBER, PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A shocker from Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy after he received a classified briefing. He says the FBI acted correctly in the Russia investigation despite constant claims otherwise from the president.

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

And this is what's on the front of the page --

BRIGGS: "She-Devil" --

ROMANS: -- of the papers.

BRIGGS: -- and "Rosie The Bigoter."

ROMANS: Her self-destruction, according to the -- "Roseanne Self- Destructs" --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- is what "The New York Times" says on the front of its paper today.

BRIGGS: It's 5:31 eastern time and Ambien is a top-trending topic on Twitter. We'll explain that in just a moment.

We start with Roseanne. A stunning fall for one of Hollywood's most successful comedy comebacks. Roseanne Barr fired, her hit sitcom canceled by ABC after she went on a racist Twitter rant. Network executives woke up to this. "Muslim brotherhood and Planet of the Apes had a baby=V.J." -- V.J. is Valerie Jarrett, an African- American adviser to President Obama.

ROMANS: In another tweet which was retweeted by Donald Trump, Jr., Roseanne wrote that liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros "is a Nazi who turned in his fellow Jews to be murdered in German concentration camps." It's just not true.

The son of George Soros is actually out with a really -- a really moving defense of his father this morning in the New York "Daily News."

Trump, Jr. defended his retweets, claiming it wasn't anti-semitic.

The false -- completely false Soros conspiracy theory has been repeatedly debunked.

After blowback erupted on the Web, Roseanne has apologized. She said she was quitting Twitter but then she reemerged late last night.

"Don't feel sorry for me, guys. I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people and wonderful writers (all liberal) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet."

BRIGGS: That, folks, was just the beginning. She followed with a series of tweets and retweets of people defending her. She also apologized again, including twice to Valerie Jarrett.

She said she was quote "Ambien tweeting" and said she's "tired and being attacked and belittled more than other comedians who have said worse."

ROMANS: Roseanne's coworkers on the show reacted quickly to ABC's decision to shut down production.

Actress Emma Kenney, who played Roseanne's granddaughter, tweeted she was in the process of quitting when she learned the show had been canceled.

And consulting producer Wanda Sykes tweeted she was done with the show about 90 minutes before ABC pulled the plug.

BRIGGS: Roseanne's longtime producing partner Tom Werner, whose company owns the now-canceled sitcom, says he hopes "Roseanne seeks the help she clearly needs."

And this from Valerie Jarrett.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment.

I'm fine. I'm worried about all the people out there who don't have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense. A person who's walking down the street minding their own business and they see somebody cling to their purse or walk across the street. Those ordinary examples of racism have happened every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: President Trump publicly supported Roseanne's new show when it made its debut. Last night at a rally in Nashville, he did not mention it.

Let's bring back "CNN POLITICS" digital director Zach Wolf. Good morning.

So the president -- the president didn't mention this last night but he has praised Roseanne and he's praised this show as recently as March -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at Roseanne. I called her yesterday.

Look at her ratings. Look at her ratings. Over 18 million people and it was about us.

They haven't figured it out. The fake news hasn't quite figured it out yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: She's paying the price for spreading falsehoods and for being racist -- for racist remarks here.

[05:35:05] ZACHARY WOLF, DIGITAL DIRECTOR, CNN POLITICS: That's right and I think you have to separate the specific tweet that she said -- the racist tweet that she said or that she had about Valerie Jarrett and the rest of it.

But have to sort of put together her channeling of Trumpworld -- of the Trump ethos out there. That was a big part of what brought her back and what people were talking about with that show.

And you can also, I think, pretty effectively compare the backlash to Roseanne right now with the backlash that President Trump faced back when he was candidate Trump when he called Mexicans rapists after announcing his campaign.

And he was dropped by a lot of corporate sponsors. NBC ended their relationship with him. Macy's dropped his corporate line. You -- it was a similar sort of corporate backlash that was very quick and swift against him.

Of course, he ultimately weathered it and now he's president.

BRIGGS: The truest thing he ever said was he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose supporters. But the question I can't quite resolve this morning is why this is an issue that is divisive. I thought this nation agreed that racist opinions like this were deplorable.

This is not a free speech issue but that's what's being said on another network. Here's what Harris Faulkner said about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR, "FOX REPORT" AND "OUTNUMBERED": I don't understand it to be anything other than free speech. Like, she's saying -- and it is extremely offensive but it is just that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well --

FAULKNER: So -- and she says in one of her tweets -- there were three rapid-fire today where she said well, it was a -- it was a joke. It was a miscalculated joke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Herman Cain, former presidential candidate, said on "FOX BUSINESS" that ABC was looking for any reason to fire her even though the show was making a ton of money.

Is this a free speech issue and why is it a divisive issue when it should be something we all agree on?

WOLF: Not only that, I think -- I believe they had picked it up for another season, so they had renewed it. There was no real evidence that they were -- that they were trying to get rid of it.

But as to whether it's a free speech issue, I think it's pretty clear that you just can't say things like that about people and expect to have the backing of corporate America. That's -- it's just not going to happen in this day and age.

ROMANS: There's the outright racism and then there's also the conspiracy theories and just the -- just the slander of George Soros, a Holocaust survivor and that's another whole part of this.

Just retweeting these falsehoods with glee almost. And, Donald Trump, Jr. retweeting some of her false retweets as well.

So the climate is really -- is really toxic here and one wonders if this goes away, right, or if you start to feel as though people keep defending Roseanne Barr. I mean, to your point, how can -- how can we have two opposite sides of --

BRIGGS: You have the right to say it.

ROMANS: Of course.

BRIGGS: You just don't have the right to have a television show on ABC. ROMANS: And companies have the right to end -- to end --

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: -- their affiliation with it.

You mentioned Herman Cain. He was talking about forces within ABC who wanted to -- wanted to get rid of her.

This was incredibly profitable. I mean, ABC is taking a hit here, right, Zach?

WOLF: That's right. And, you know -- but importantly channeling a part of the country that was apparently not visible, I think, in a lot of -- in a lot of network television, so they were praised for that. But they couldn't get over having the baggage that came along --

ROMANS: Sure.

WOLF: -- with Roseanne with it.

ROMANS: Yes.

WOLF: And I think Dave hits it there. You can -- you can say these things or you have the free speech to say them but corporate America is not going to give you a platform. The networks aren't going to give you a platform to continue to do that after you say stuff like this.

BRIGGS: But as we've said many times this year, conspiracy theories seem to live on today regardless of whether they are true or false. And the latest is, of course, the president's favorite Spygate.

Here's what Trey Gowdy, Republican, said just about all this notion that there was a spy in the Trump campaign last night on Fox.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOWDY: I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

President Trump, himself, in the Comey memo, said if anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia I want you to investigate it, and it sounds to me like that is exactly what the FBI did.

I think when the president finds out what happened he's going to be not just fine, he's going to be glad that we have an FBI that took seriously what they heard. He was never the target -- Russia was the target.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: I'm not sure the president's going to be thankful when he finds anything. But one hour after Trey Gowdy said that, the president took to a Nashville stage and talked about people infiltrating our campaign.

[05:40:02] Again, Trey Gowdy said the FBI did "exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do."

Will conservatives listen to what Trey Gowdy is saying and stop the rumors?

WOLF: No. I think -- and just shortly thereafter, President Trump was back repeating the claim that somebody had infiltrated the campaign. He's probably going to keep doing it again and again.

And let's just realize that for the last year and a half, essentially, he's been beating down the FBI, he fired the director. He's been calling the Mueller investigation a witch hunt for more than a year now, using those terms witch hunt over and over and over again. It's hard to come back from that and then be thankful for something.

And the other interesting thing that Trey Gowdy was trying to do there was essentially give President Trump deniability. Oh, he's going to be shocked to find out what was going on in his campaign. I would be really surprised if he didn't know a lot of what was going on in that campaign but we'll have to see ultimately, what Robert Mueller comes up with.

BRIGGS: All right. Zach Wolf has a piece up on Roseanne at 6:00 a.m. We will tweet that out for you.

Good to see you, Zach. Thanks for coming on.

ROMANS: Thanks, Zach.

WOLF: Thanks.

BRIGGS: All right.

"The New York Times" reporting President Trump pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself from the Russia investigation and now special counsel Mueller is investigating those discussions.

The "Times" says Sessions flew to Florida to have dinner with the president in March of 2017 and was berated about his decision to recuse, but he refused to reverse it.

The special counsel appears to be focusing on obstruction of justice in his inquiry and Sessions could be a critical witness if the president did pressure the attorney general to shield him from the investigation.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, more torrential rain in the Carolinas. A flash flood emergency in one county as landslides threaten a dam. More, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:30] BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, mandatory evacuations in McDowell County, North Carolina.

Officials declaring a flash flood emergency, concerned about an imminent failure of the Tahoma dam. There's already been a series of landslides and mudslides. Evacuations remain until the dam can be inspected in daylight hours.

Floodwaters have reached levels not seen since 2004 with hurricanes Frances and Ivan.

For more on the situation in the Carolinas, let's bring in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Dave and Christine.

What an incredible last couple of days across part of the southern U.S. In fact, just around the western area of North Carolina, upwards of 10 inches have come down in a very mountainous area. And a landslide across this region, we know has, of course, jeopardized the Tahoma dam and that is exactly what is left to the evacuations in place across this region.

But rainfall totals as impressive as they come just east of Asheville, North Carolina over the past several days and still some seeing some showers push through right now. But still, nothing like what we saw in the past say 12 or so hours across this region, so conditions at least gradually beginning to improve in the weather department.

But the broader view shows you flood warnings in place there and also the flood watches in places around parts of the Midwest as what is left of Alberto begins to push up towards part of Illinois, eventually on into areas of the Great Lakes that are bringing with it some heavy rainfall.

And here we go. Notice the rain showers stretching from Nashville this morning through St. Louis, Indianapolis -- eventually into Chicago by later tonight. Chicago really sees those temperatures warm up rather nicely the next 24 or so hours and then with all the rainfall working its way across the region sees a pretty significant cooling trend going into Friday and also Saturday -- guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, thanks.

BRIGGS: OK. "NEW DAY" about 10 minutes away. John Berman is now in day two of the Berman era.

John, did you know Ambien tweeting is not a good idea?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: They do not mix well, to be sure. Guys, I don't think I slept at all last night because I was up for the last 12 hours reading Roseanne Barr's new --

BRIGGS: Yes. BERMAN: -- tweets.

BRIGGS: And she's still going.

BERMAN: I think the real question here is is this just a person who has a racist past saying new racist things or is there a bigger cultural significance here?

What does it say that she had this T.V. show? What does it say that she was fired so quickly after putting these new comments on?

And what does she say that over the last eight hours -- her defense is I was on Ambien and that maybe I was fired because of my support of President Trump. That's really what's been going on the last hour or so and I think that's a remarkable point that she's making. It will be interesting to see if it undercuts the attempted apology from her over the last few hours.

The other big story today, and you guys have covered this as well, is Trey Gowdy, who is the Republican that is sent in by the Intelligence Community to see things, says nothing to see here when it comes to the FBI sending in that confidential source to get information about whether the Russians were trying to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Trey Gowdy, this key Republican, saying the FBI did nothing wrong, which is like a complete 180 from what President Trump has been saying over the last several days.

We'll see if Trey Gowdy ends up on the naughty list, I think, when it comes to the White House. It will be very interesting.

Guys, you know, it's day two. Anything could happen.

We had day one all planned out for me on "NEW DAY" but today we're completely unplugged and unscripted.

ROMANS: Yes, maybe it's your fault. All if this is Berman's fault.

BRIGGS: Well, she just tweeted -- Roseanne. "I feel bad for POTUS. He goes through this every single day."

So, plenty of material for day two of the Berman era. See you in a bit, John -- thanks.

[05:50:01] BERMAN: See you, guys.

ROMANS: Thanks, John -- bye.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning.

Political turmoil in Italy threatening the future of the European Union and that is rocking global markets.

The Dow dropped nearly 400 points yesterday. The S&P 500 also fell more than one percent.

That spread to Asian stocks. They all closed lower. Now, Europe has opened mixed so we'll see if maybe the selling stalls here.

But the concern over all of Italy, radical political parties could gain ground there fueling fears Italy could leave the E.U., robbing the Eurozone of its third-biggest economy. That would be a big blow after the U.K. voted to leave in 2016.

Trade fears are also at play here with the markets. The White House suddenly announces plans to slap tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. That caught investors off guard.

Remember, just 10 days ago Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin said a trade war with China was on hold.

Now, both events sparked volatility. Wall Street's fear gauge spiked nearly 31 percent.

Investors fled to so-called safe havens. They went into the bond market so the 10-year Treasury yield slipped down -- fell to 2.77 percent.

Yields move opposite to price and that hurt financial stocks. Falling yields affect borrowing rates, making it harder for companies to make money on the interest they charge on loans and credit cards so that's why you saw JPMorgan Chase shares drop four percent. American Express and Goldman Sachs both lost three percent.

All right. The Department of Justice approving a $66 billion merger between Bayer and Monsanto. That creates the world's largest agrochemical company.

The DOJ's approval has one condition here. Bayer must sell $9 billion in assets, including its entire seed and herbicide business.

The goal here, to prevent the combined company from controlling prices. The DOJ was concerned the deal would drive up what farmers pay for ag products.

BRIGGS: OK. Ahead, some fascinating news brewing this morning. Noted financier Bill Browder, a Putin critic, arrested in Spain -- the arrest warrant by way of Russia. We're live in Moscow with the very latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:56:45] BRIGGS: Breaking news. Police in Spain say they have detained businessman and Vladimir Putin critic Bill Browder on an arrest warrant issued by Russia.

Senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen joins us now.

Fred, this is the second-most fascinating Twitter thread with Roseanne, of course, included in the conversation. What is going on and how does Russia play into all of this?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a bit of a bizarre situation that went on there in Spain. We have heard that Bill Browder has actually since then been released,

but he did tweet earlier today that he was in the back of a Spanish police car heading towards the police station. That they were serving a Russian Interpol warrant for his arrest and subsequent extradition to Russia.

Now, the Spanish -- we've been in touch with the Spanish police and they say yes, they did take him into questioning. They then found out that the arrest warrant was no longer valid and therefore, they released him again after everything was cleared up.

Of course, Bill Browder is really an enemy of the Kremlin and of Vladimir Putin because of his lobbying for the Magnitsky Act, which cracks down on Russians who are accused of human rights abuses.

And we also have to keep mind Dave that also, the Magnitsky Act was the reason that lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya asked for that meeting in Trump Tower during the campaign in 2016 where she also claimed that she had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

So certainly, Bill Browder is someone the Kremlin does not like who had a run-in with the Spanish police earlier today, Dave.

BRIGGS: Wow, fascinating ordeal.

Fred Pleitgen live for us in Moscow. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will resign Friday over the scandals that have rocked his time in office. The Republican faces accusations of sexual misconduct, including blackmail and felony charges connected to alleged political misuse of a charity donor list.

Greitens did not admit legal wrongdoing but said the scrutiny has become too intense for him to continue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ERIC GREITENS (R), MISSOURI: This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family. Millions of dollars in mounting legal bills, endless personal attacks designed to cause maximum damage to family and friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The St. Louis prosecutor says a resolution of the charges against the governor has been reached. More information is expected today.

All right, that's it for us. Thanks for joining us on a very busy morning. I hope you're up to speed.

I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. Good luck, Berman and Camerota. We'll

see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Red-state America can have a better representative than Roseanne Barr.

JARRETT: The tone does start at the top but it's up to all of us to push back.

FAULKNER: It was a joke. It was a miscalculated joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ABC knew what they were getting into when they signed up Roseanne.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't condemn things like this, then you're complicit.

TRUMP: They had people infiltrating our campaign. Can you imagine?

GOWDY: The FBI did exactly what citizens would want them to do and it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president directly asked the attorney general to unrecuse in the Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It may be, but this is an inappropriate use of his authority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has tried to do everything he can to either dismiss the investigation or just to get it to stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, Wednesday, May 30th, 6:00 here in New York.

The "Starting Line" is this.