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A warning from the head of the international monetary fund Christine Lagarde; Comey "Respectfully Disagrees" With IG Report; Jeff Sessions' Bible References; The New York Attorney General Suing the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 15, 2018 - 04:30   ET





SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly there are a lot of things in this report that not only worry those of us in the administration but should worry a lot of Americans.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's allies seizing on a report about the Hillary Clinton email investigation. James Comey's actions under scrutiny. His bias is not in question but the same can't be said for everyone at the FBI.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump approves tariffs on $50 billion dollars of goods from China. A move likely to provoke a strong reaction from Beijing.

BRIGGS: And several people are in the hospital after a roller coaster derailed in Florida. Some victims falling more then 30 feet to the ground. Can you imagine?


BRIGGS: Welcome back to Early Start everybody I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans it is 31 minutes past the hour. Let's begin with inspector general report. The White House said it's allies quick to seize on this report form the Justice Departs watch dog on FBI actions before the 2016 election. The DOJ inspector general calling former FBI director James Comey's actions extraordinary and insubordinate. But saying Comey was not motivated by political bias. The phone book guys (ph) report details numerous failures by top officials heading the Hillary Clinton email probe concluding the FBI's actions quote "Cast a cloud over the bureau."

BRIGGS: One of the more ironic findings Comey used a personal Gmail account for official government business. A move the report calls inconsistent with DOJ policy. Then (ph) responded with a Tweet putting a new twist down on an old name, but my emails. Another key finding hinges on newly discovered text between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. In August of 2016 Page writes "Trump is not ever going to become president right? Right?" Strzok then replies no he's not we'll stop it.

ROMANS: Again these personal anti-Trump texts on a government device.

BRIGGS: Stunning.

ROMANS: The inspector general did not rule out anti-Trump bias motivating Strzok. The report notes he prioritized the Russian investigation for a month instead of following up on cash of Clinton emails. Strzok's lawyer denies the bias claim. The report is also being touted by Trump allies a proof of a so called deep state conspiracy to damage this president and has fought her (ph) to attack the Russia probe. Senator Lindsey Graham says he would support a new federal probe of Mueller's investigation. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani going straight at Peter Strzok.


RUDY GIULIANI: Tomorrow Mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in, impartial people that will investigate these people like Strzok. Strzok should be in jail by the end of next week.


ROMANS: Wow. Political correspondent Sarah Murray has more on the report.

SARAH MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Christine and Dave. In a sweeping new report on the Clinton email investigation the Justice Departs internal watch dog announcing there was no evidence that conclusions prosecutors in the Hillary Clinton email probe were affected by bias or other improper considerations. This is in direct contrast to favor talking points from president Trump who has made a habit of smearing the FBI's work. The report finds former FBI director James Comey's actions though were extraordinary and insubordinate. They were a sharp departure from Justice Department protocol but not fueled by political motivations according to the report.

The 500 plus page report lays bare the series of events that lead to Comey's initial July 2016 recommendation that Clinton should not face charges. It condemns Comey for reserpining (ph) attorney general Loretta Lynch's authority at the time and affirmatively concealing his intentions. But Comey also broke protocol in October 2016 by disclosing to congress the discovery of new emails just days before the election. The inspector general calling Comey's controversial decision insubordinate. FBI director Christopher Wray said he was disappointed after reading the report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTOPHER WRAY: The report does identify errors of judgment, violations of or even disregard for policy and decisions that at very least with a benefit of hindsight were not the best choices.


MURRAY: But he said he expected the findings and vowed to hold people sighted in the report accountable for any misconduct. And to take steps to address what went wrong so these mistakes will never be repeated. Back to you guys.

ROMANS: Thanks Sarah.

BRIGGS: We can hope they will not be repeated indeed. James Comey responding quickly to the inspector general's report. An op-ed (ph) in the New York Times he writes "My team believed the damage of concealing the reopening of our investigation would have been catastrophic to the institution. The inspector general weighs it differently and that's O.K. even though I respectfully disagree." The former FBI director also urging public support for law enforcement and a rule of law. It's evitable that president Trump has not reacted to the IG's findings, his Twitter account uncharacteristically silent since the report went public. A man not exactly known for his restraint.

ROMANS: He maybe should take a break on his birthday.


ROMANS: He's eating cake, he's happily (ph) eating.

BRIGGS: Perhaps.

ROMANS: President Trump approving tariffs on $50 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods. Escalating trade tensions between the world's two largest economies. An official announcement is expected this morning. Sources say the president gave the green light after meeting with his trade team, his top economic officials. Including the treasury secretary, the commerce secretary and the U.S. trade rep. Tariffs mean that when U.S. companies import Chinese goods they have to pay the government. The U.S. is targeting 1,300 items like aerospace equipment, tech manufacturing and medical supplies.

The White House unveiled this list back in March and is now moving ahead despite multiple rounds of trade talks with Beijing. The recent summit with North Korea and the fact that the U.S. is now facing tariffs from the E.U., Canada and Mexico. But this move is punishment for China stealing trade secrets and it fulfills Trumps goal of cutting the trade deficit with China. Trumps previous economic advisor though, he contradicts his former boss on trade deficits.


GARY COHN: I have always said a trade deficit doesn't matter. And in many respects it's helpful to our economy because if we could manufacture something in the United States cheaper or better then we could import it, we would do that.


ROMANS: So that's Gary Cohn you know formerly Goldman Sachs a globalist and he is somebody who - when he was in the White House many believed that's why ...

BRIGGS: That's why he's not here ...

ROMANS: ... that's why their (ph) terrified to even begin earlier.

BRIGGS: ... in the White House.

ROMANS: And that's why now he is not in this White House.


ROMANS: He believes - he said that he believes very strongly in global free trade. They've got a lot of it - a lot of attention yesterday, that Gary Cohn interview.

BRIGGS: So they question now, what kind of reaction to the new tariffs can the Trump administration expect from China. Let's bring in CNN Matt Rivers live in Beijing. Matt, Mike Pompeo leaves town. They unveil these tariffs what the reaction?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the reaction is the Chinese government has been extremely consistent saying that if the United States puts $50 billion dollars on - of tariffs on Chinese imports the Chinese government is going to do the exact same thing. Retaliate in kind with $50 billion dollars worth of tariffs on U.S. exports here to China. And they are planning on doing that. That's shortly after the list from the White House becomes public, that final list of Chinese products to be taxed. Once that comes out you can expect the Chinese to put out their list shortly their after.

What's going to be on that list is what the U.S. sends to China. Soy beans, beef, certain cars, fruits, small airplanes. The kind of things that the U.S. has an advantage of in - advantage on in terms of what they can send to the Chinese. The big question here - the big question though Dave is what happens after this. $50 billion dollars of tariffs on China, $50 billion from the United States. Is that the beginning of this trade war we've talked about for so long. The president that if China retaliates with $50 billion dollars he'd put another $100 billion dollars on Chinese tariffs - tariffs on Chinese imports. So really where it all goes from here that's the big open question.

BRIGGS: It is indeed game on. Matt Rivers live for us in Beijing. Thank you. Meanwhile house Republicans circulating a draft bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration system. Members are expected to vote on it next week. After weeks of intense negotiations it's still not finalized and changes could be made. But right now if reflects presidents Trumps approach to immigration. $25 billion dollars in border security including the president's wall. It also ends the diversity visa lottery, cuts family based visas and offers a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, it also end the Trump administrations practice of separating immigrant children from their families at the border.

ROMANS: That had an issue inflamed by attorney generals Jeff Sessions' biblical defense of the policy.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would say due to the apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves.


ROMANS: Many people noting that Romans 13 was also the biblical verse used to justify slavery, for example. CNN's Jim Acosta asked White House press secretary Sarah Sanders about Sessions comments. She had not heard them but she backed the attorney generals line of thinking in this intense exchange.


SARAH SANDERS: I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times through out the bible. However this - hold on Jim - if you'll let me finish. Again I'm not going to comment on the attorney's specifics comments that I haven't seen.

JIM ACOSTA: It's in the bible to follow the law.

SANDERS: That's not what I said and I know what ...


SANDERS: That's not what I said and I know what it's hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess, but please don't take my words out of context but the separation of a legal fam - alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that democrats refuse to close and these laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade. And the president is simply enforcing them.

ACOSTA: -- moral policy to take children away from their parents. Can you imagine the horror that these children must be going through?

SANDERS: It's a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.


ROMANS: Should be noted no law requires families to be separated at the border. And there are those including our own Mark Preston who have pointed out the Republican Party platform that the best situation for children is to have parents - two parents there. And we have an American government -


ROMANS: -- that's separating children from their parents.

BRIGGS: Should be noted Paul Ryan, House Speaker said, "I don't want kids to be separated from their parents." So we shall see where this heads. Meanwhile Michael Cohen wants Stormy Daniels' lawyers silent. The president's personal attorney seeking a restraining order stopping Michael Avenatti from speaking to the media about the case.

Cohen's motion for a gag order claims Avenatti's action are mainly driven by a seemingly unquenchable thirst for publicity. He says Avenatti's public comments are likely to deprive Cohen of his right to a fair trial. Avenatti calls Cohen's motion a complete joke and baseless.

ROMANS: Why Paul Manafort's freedom on the line today. Donald Trump's former campaign manager faces a hearing in Washington. Special Council Robert Mueller claims Manafort tampered with witnesses, an FBI agent and two witnesses Manafort allegedly attempted to persuade could be called to testify.

Prosecutors want Manafort's $10 million bail revoked or modified. He is already facing serious criminal charges in Mueller's Russia probe.

BRIGGS: Coming up, President Trump spent years going after President Obama for bowing before a Saudi king. So, how's the White House explaining this solute to North Korean military general?


BRIGGS: There was apparently some real drama in the days and hours leading up to the historic North Korea summit this week. The Washington Post reporting after President Trump arrived in Singapore Sunday he became antsy and bored. Told aids to get the meeting with Kim Jong-un moved up a day.

Ultimately he was talked out if it by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. The Post says the president was told moving up the summit could decrease the TV news coverage. The president had boasted he did not prepare much for the Kim summit.

One thing he might have missed in the prep, whether it was appropriate to salute a North Korean military officer. Let's go, CNN Nic Robertson's live in Seoul. Nic, four times the president tweeted about Obama bowing to the Saudi king. There's always a tweet for that but we have never seen something like this where a North Korean propaganda video includes the president of the United States. Good morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, David. It's ironic, isn't it? And North Korea is still milking that salute for what it's worth for them which is a lot. Their propaganda machine is describing the relationship exhibited there between President Trump and Kim Jong-un as affectionate -- as President Trump affectionate to Kim Jong-un as a respectful relationship. President Trump apparently was briefed that protocol dictates that you don't salute a general in another army. Particularly the one belonging to a dictator. Sarah Sanders, however, did have an answer for why she believes President Trump decided to break with normal protocol.


SANDERS: It's a common courtesy when a military official from another government salutes that you return that.


ROBERTSON: But here in South Korea despite the North Koreans milking that for everything it's worth, in South Korea it's not a topic of conversation. It's not what people are asking government official. About two thirds of the population here versus 10 percent that say no. Two thirds say they think the summit went well.

And government officials here generally believe that because this is a - the dialog and relationship between Kim Jong-un and President Trump apparently went so well for them here in the south for right now at least that is good enough at least to be heading off a possible war. Dave?

BRIGGS: Perhaps there's a method to the madness. Nic Robertson live for us this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Have you ever taken the Blue Line O'Hare 45 minutes?

BRIGGS: No, my friend.

ROMANS: Ever been late for a flight there? (Inaudible) a way to whisk you to the airport at 150 miles per hour. CNN Money, next.



ROMANS: The U.S. attorney general suing the Donald J. Trump foundation, the charity and the Trump family are accused of illegal conduct spanning more them a decade. It allegedly includes a $100,000 payment by the foundation to settle legal claims against the Mar-a- lago resort. The charitable foundation to settle claims against the business. A payment the suite says was directly authorized by the president.

BRIGGS: The president dismissing the claims in a Tweet blasting a "Sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced and run out of town A.G. Eric Schneiderman." Schneiderman his disciples in the AG's office filed the suit when the Trumps and their foundation refused to settle. More now from CNN's Jean Casarez. JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine we're now waiting to see how legally how the Donald J. Trump charitable foundation will respond to these very serious allegations. What the attorney general of New York is alleging is that the foundation it's self was not for charity. That it was a shell and it was for Donald J. Trump personally as well as his business interests. Let me give you one example it talks about that the foundation actually gave money to charitable organizations to settle lawsuits and that was violative of the law in general. They say in quote and this is the petition that was filed Thursday that it alleges a pattern of persistent illegal conduct occurring over then a decade. That includes extensive, unlawful, political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self dealing, transactions to benefit Mr. Trumps personal and business interest and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations.

Well the foundation responded very strikingly yesterday in a response saying "this is politics at it's very worst. The Foundation has donated over $19 million to worthy charitable cause, more then it even received," And the attorney general is asking a court to actually dissolve the foundation and $2.8 million dollars, they want paid as restitution. They're also saying that Donald Trump can not be involved with a charitable foundation in New York for 10 years and his three children Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr. can not participate in one for one year. Christine, Dave.

BRIGGS: Interesting OK Jean Casarez thank you. Two riders ejected and thrown 34 feet to the group after their roller coaster derailed on the Daytona Beach boardwalk. Their condition at this hour is not clear. Ten riders were rescued when the sandblaster roller coaster went off the track. Six were transported to a local hospital with unknown injuries. No word on what caused the derailment.

ROMANS: Salmonella involving cut melon has spread now to 10 more states. According to the FDA cut watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe are now being recalled in 23 states. Take a look at this map to see if your state is highlighted. The cut melon was sold in Wal-Mart, Kroger, Walgreens, Sprouts Farmers market, Costco and Whole Foods. According to the centers for disease control at least 60 people were sickened by the outbreak between April 30th and May 28th.

BRIGGS: An emotional moment at the congressional baseball game in Washington last night. Steve Scalise right there making that play at second base a year to the day after he was shot at the GOP baseball practice. After he made the play to first you can see mobbed by teammates. What a great moment last night. Both sides can agree on that. Democrats won the game however 21 to 5.

ROMANS: Right that's sports here your money (ph) this Friday morning. Right now global stocks are mixed. Record high close for the NASDAQ, another great day for tech. The S&P 500 also closed higher but bank stocks weighted on the Dow30. A warning from the head of the international monetary fund Christine Lagarde. The U.S. it's putting it's own economy at risk. Tax cuts are ballooning the deficit and trade protectionism will hurt the American and the global economy. President Trump just approved tariffs on $50 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods. The Chinese vow to respond in kind. Assigning blame for the American opioid epidemic. Kentucky is suing Walgreens for years of unlawful business practices. Claiming the pharmacy filled huge suspicious orders of opioid and did not report it to authorities. Essentially fueling the crisis. Walgreens declined to comment. This is not the only court case aimed at fighting opioid. 22 states have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, that's the company that makes OxiContin. Claiming it aggressively sold it's painkillers and down played the likelihood of addiction. Downtown to O'Hara in 12minutes. Elon Musk had a deal with Chicago to do it all underground. Musks says (ph) Boring Company will build a $1 billion underground transport system of battery powered vehicles, here's a rendering. It'll wisk passengers from downtown Chicago to O'Hara International airport at 150 miles per hour. Right now it takes about 45 minutes on the blue line. You can guess how long it take in a car or taxi. It can take any - who knows. The company said it is excited to work with Chicago on this new high speed public transport system but gave no timeline for when it would be finished. It's taken me forever like 45 minutes a car to two and a half hours in the car. 12 minutes sounds pretty good.

BRIGGS: Yes let's hope they don't use the model three production pie (ph) on that though. That would not be a good thing. OK Early Start continues right now with findings from this stunning DOJ inspector general report.