Return to Transcripts main page


DOJ Watchdog Criticizes Comey's Actions In New Report; Trump Approves Tariffs On $50 Billion In Chinese Goods; Republicans Work On Draft Immigration Bill; Russia Kicks Off World Cup With Win. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 15, 2018 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:12] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Both Democrats and Republicans see redemption in the very same report from the DOJ's inspector general. No denying, though, one FBI agent's text messages about Mr. Trump is especially damning.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump approves tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods from China. The move likely to provoke a strong reaction from Beijing.

ROMANS: And terror in Florida. Several people are in the hospital after a roller-coaster derails. Some victims falling more than 30 feet to the ground -- wow.

BRIGGS: Can you imagine that?

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday morning.

BRIGGS: Finally, Friday. Dave Briggs, 30 minutes past the hour.

Three little words we'll get to in a moment -- "We'll Stop It."

We start with this DOJ I.G. report. The White House and its allies quick to seize on a report from the Justice Department's watchdog on FBI actions before the 2016 election. The DOJ inspector general calling former FBI director James Comey's actions extraordinary and insubordinate, but says Comey was not motivated by political bias.

The phonebook-sized report details numerous failures by top officials heading the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe, concluding the FBI's actions quote "cast a cloud over the Bureau."

ROMANS: One of the more ironic findings, Comey used a personal G-mail account for official government business, a move the report calls inconsistent with DOJ policy.

Hillary Clinton responded with a tweet putting a new twist on an old meme -- "But my e-mails."

Another key finding hinges on newly-discovered texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

BRIGGS: In August of 2016, Page writes, "Trump is not ever going to become president, right, right?

Strzok replies, "No. No, he's not. We'll stop it."

The inspector general did not rule out anti-Trump bias motivating Strzok. The report notes he prioritized the Russia investigation for a month instead of following up on newly-discovered Clinton e-mails. Strzok's lawyer denies the bias claim.

The report also being touted by Trump allies as proof of a deep state conspiracy to damage the president and as fodder to attack the Russia probe.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani going straight at Peter Strzok with the full Rudy.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Tomorrow, Mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in -- impartial people to investigate these people like Strzok. Strzok should be in jail by the end of next week.


BRIGGS: The full Rudy.

Political correspondent Sara Murray with more from Washington.



In a sweeping new report on the Clinton e-mail investigation, the Justice Department's internal watchdog announcing there was no evidence that conclusions from prosecutors in the Hillary Clinton e- mail probe were affected by bias or other improper considerations.

This is in direct contrast to favorite 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 led to Comey's initial July 2016 recommendation that Clinton should not face charges. It condemns Comey for usurping 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 e-mails 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.

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

MURRAY: But he said he accepted the findings and vowed to hold people cited 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: All right, Sara, thank you.

Let's bring back CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano, a retired FBI supervisory special agent. We're so glad to have you here with your 25 years of experience at the FBI.

And there are more than a few people who have said this is sort of a choose your own adventure -- 568 pages of inspector general summary. Some folks zeroing in on one thing, some looking at the bigger picture, some using it to condemn the former FBI director James Comey.

What's your takeaway from this report with 25 years' experience at the Bureau?



GAGLIANO: -- for perception in that those that are deep-staters that are convinced that within the -- with the government apparatus that we have folks that are constantly working to subvert the will of the people saw what they wanted to see. And those resisters -- those part of the hashtag #resistance -- looked at it and saw what they wanted to see.

I think what's important, yesterday was not just the release of the 568-page report but also the fact that you had a press conference and Director Wray has been -- really, he's made it kind of his calling card not to get out in front of the media, just to hunker down and go to work and do the business that the FBI has been doing for 110 years.

And then, you also had James Comey drop an op-ed in "The New York Times" which basically explained that he accepted the findings but he disagreed with them.

Everybody's going to find something that they want. Everybody's going to find something in this 17-month investigation that they go aha, you see, it proves my point.

The most important thing here, I think, is that the FBI's got to fix some things that there is incontrovertible evidence were done incorrectly -- miscues, missteps, miscalculations. That's got to be fixed.

BRIGGS: No one needed an inspector general report to determine that James Comey screwed up in the lead-up to the election. But these three little words "We'll Stop It," probably the most damning of the 568-pages.

What did those words do to undermine the public trust in the place you spent 25 years with the FBI?

GAGLIANO: Well, I think what it does is it continues to tell the folks that people that had -- or that took issue with some of the things that were coming out of FBI headquarters -- they called them the "Tinfoil Hat Crowd" -- that there is some there there.

Now, I want to make sure I get this correct. The inspector general said, and I quote, they "found no documentary evidence that bias produced specific investigatory decisions."

Now, I believe that. I trust this inspector general. He's not bipartisan, he's nonpartisan, and I'm convinced that that was accurate.

There are enough layers of redundancy and protections in FBI case oversight that that didn't happen. But that doesn't mean that those political biases didn't exist and the certain people Dave, to your point, like Peter Strzok, were looking for ways to potentially influence the investigation.

ROMANS: Yes, that particular text message exchange on government phones is something that really has gotten a lot of attention -- maybe outside attention. But it just shows you that even if there's a little bit of bias inside of an agency that's a law enforcement agency like that, it taints the whole thing, right?

GAGLIANO: Of course, it does. And listen, again Christine, I was -- I was -- I was heartened to see Director Wray step in front of the cameras --


GAGLIANO: -- yesterday.

Look, the FBI needs to get back to its core tenets and this does not in any way, shape or form cache in the 36,000 employees. Fidelity, bravery, and integrity -- those are the core tenets.

And to Director Wray's point yesterday, they receive 12,000 applications a year for special agent positions. They only accept five percent of those who apply.

Let me just say this, Dave, Christine --


GAGLIANO: If I applied to the FBI today I probably wouldn't get in.

ROMANS: Not true.

GAGLIANO: That makes me feel good. It makes me -- it makes me feel like the American and young kids -- the millennials --


GAGLIANO: -- are still looking to come and serve their company -- country and the FBI.


BRIGGS: Lastly, it appears the legal spokesman for President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, wants in that tinfoil hat crowd you referenced. The full Rudy included Mueller should be suspended, Peter Strzok should be in jail by the end of the week.

True or false?

GAGLIANO: Well, as I've said before Dave, I was an unabashed fan of Mr. Giuliani when he was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District and when he was the mayor of New York City back in the 90s. He did some wondrous things --


GAGLIANO: -- and he's a great public servant.

BRIGGS: Even going after the mafia.

GAGLIANO: I believe he's --


GAGLIANO: Absolutely, absolutely.

I believe he's jumped the shark. I think comments like this have a deleterious effect on the actual processes and protocols and the trust and confidence the American public has in the system that when wrongdoing is found they'll ferret it out, they'll get to the bottom of it, they'll be transparent about it, and it will be exposed. He's not helping the cause.

BRIGGS: Twenty-five years with the Bureau and no doubt, shorts beneath that camera shot. Get back to the pool, James Gagliano. GAGLIANO: Shh.

BRIGGS: Have a good weekend. Thanks for being here.

ROMANS: Bermuda shorts.

GAGLIANO: You guys, too.

ROMANS: Thanks.

GAGLIANO: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: All right.

President Trump approving tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods escalating trade tensions between the world's two largest economies. An official announcement, we expect this morning.

Sources say the president gave the green light after meeting with his top economic officials -- the Treasury secretary, the Commerce secretary, and the U.S. trade rep.

[05:40:00] 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, medical supplies. The White House first unveiled this list in March.

It's moving ahead despite multiple rounds of trade talks with Beijing and that recent summit with North Korea. But this is punishment for China stealing trade secrets. It also fulfills Trump's goal of trying to cut the trade deficit with China.

Trump's previous economic adviser, though, is contradicting his former boss on trade deficits.


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


ROMANS: The President of the United States believes we have a trade deficit. It means the United States lost that money. Like it's a bank account where the United States lost $300 billion a year with China. Gary Cohn explains carefully there that that's not how you measure a trade deficit.

Well, China vows to respond immediately and indicates it previously threatened U.S. goods like soybeans, planes, and cars. The U.S. already faces tariffs from the E.U., Canada, and Mexico.

BRIGGS: Ahead, details finally emerging of a Republican compromise on immigration. Uproar brewing over kids being separated from their parents at the border. This tension even apparent in the White House briefing room.


BRIAN KAREM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "PLAYBOY": Come on, Sarah, you're a parent of young children. Don't you have any empathy for what they go through?

SANDERS: Jill, go ahead.



[05:46:12] BRIGGS: House Republicans circulating a draft bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration system. Members expected to vote on it next week. After weeks of intense negotiations, it's still not finalized and changes could be made.

Right now, it reflects President Trump's approach to immigration -- $25 billion in border security, including the president's wall.

It also ends the diversity visa lottery. It cuts family-based visas and offers a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.

It also ends the Trump administration's practice of separating immigrant children from their families at the border.

ROMANS: The separation issue inflamed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions' biblical defense of the policy.


JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would cite you 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: CNN's Jim Acosta asked White House press secretary Sarah Sanders about Sessions' comments. She had not heard them but she backed the attorney general's general line of thinking and the exchange got tense.


SANDERS: I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible. However --

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Where in the Bible does it say it's OK to --

SANDERS: Hold on, Jim, if you'll let me finish.

ACOSTA: -- take children away from their parents? SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to comment on the attorney's specific comments that I haven't seen.

ACOSTA: You just said it's in the Bible to follow the law.

SANDERS: That's not what I said. And I know it's hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess, but please don't take my words of out context.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, that's a cheap shot there.

SANDERS: But the separation of illegal 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: How is it the 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: It should be noted no law requires families to be separated at the border and the suggestion, Dave, from the attorney general himself that it's some sort of deterrent, there's no evidence yet that it's deterring anyone from coming here --

BRIGGS: Certainly not.

ROMANS: -- and trying to seek asylum with a child, fleeing a dangerous situation.

I don't know. Maybe that's a risk people still take.

BRIGGS: We could also note the Bible says love your neighbor as yourself.

Paul Manafort's freedom on the line today. Donald Trump's former campaign manager faces a hearing in Washington.

Special Counsel 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.

ROMANS: Now, let's get a check on "CNN Money" this Friday morning. I'll say it again -- Friday.

Right now, global stocks are mixed. A record high close for the Nasdaq -- another great day for tech. The S&P 500 also closed up but bank stocks weighed on the Dow 30.

A warning from the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde. She says the U.S. is putting its own economy at risk. Tax cuts are ballooning the deficit. Trade protectionism will hurt both the U.S. and the global economy.

President Trump disapproved tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. The Chinese now 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 opioids and did not report it to authorities, essentially fueling the crisis.

Walgreens declined to comment.

This isn't the first court case aimed at fighting opioids. Twenty-two states have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, claiming it aggressively sold its painkillers and downplayed the likelihood of addiction.

[05:50:00] Downtown to O'Hare Airport in 12 minutes, really? Elon Musk has a deal with Chicago to do that, all underground. His Boring Company will build a $1 billion underground system of battery-powered vehicles -- here's a rendering.

The plan here is to whisk passengers from downtown Chicago to O'Hare at 150 miles per hour. Right now, it takes about, I don't know, 45 minutes on the Blue Line. God knows how long in a taxi.

The company tweeted it's excited to work with Chicago on this new high-speed public transport system. But, Chicago and Musk are not giving any kind of time line for when this would be finished.

BRIGGS: No, just look at the Model 3.

ROMANS: Would you do it? Would you go it a round --


ROMANS: -- at 150 miles an hour?

BRIGGS: I'll let you do it first and then I'll try it. Of course, they laid off nine percent of workers just a couple of days ago, so --

ROMANS: That's true.

BRIGGS: A year to the day after being shot, Congressman Steve Scalise back on the diamond. His return to the Congressional baseball game is next.


[05:55:25] BRIGGS: Day one of the World Cup in the books with the host nation kicking off the tournament in style.

ROMANS: Coy Wire has more in this morning's bleacher report. Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Good morning, Dave.

It had been 16 years since Russia last tasted a World Cup victory and yesterday they found out how delicious home cooking can be. And it was like a barbecue because they absolutely grilled Saudi Arabia five to zip.

President Vladimir Putin was there rooting for his hometown team, and the Saudi Crown Price and FIFA president, too.

This game was trending number one on Twitter but not for the reason you might assume.

Saudi Arabia wearing green, Russia in red meant that people with colorblindness couldn't tell who was who, mostly affecting men. Colorblindness affects one in 12 men. That would be nearly 14 million people in the U.S. alone.

Russia's win was the biggest ever by a host nation in an opening game of the World Cup since 1934 and they were loving it.

Now, on tap today at 2:00 eastern, one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament.

One of sport's biggest stars, Portugal's Ronaldo, facing off against neighboring Spain and a lot of his teammates. Ronaldo plays professionally in Spain.

Now, the Spaniards, they just fired their manager on Wednesday. They're still the favorite though. We'll see how that one goes.

Now, the world's best struggling in the first round of the U.S. Open on Long Island. Tiger opening with a triple bogie. He shot a seven on the first hole.

And imagine trying to golf in a wind tunnel as well. These players were battling 32 mile per hour gusts.

Jordan Spieth, at one point, he had to sprint to try to mark the ball before the wind actually blew it back down the slope. Watch him here, he's going to try to run up there and get it but he was too late.

Tiger and Jordan both finished eight over 78. That's bad but not as bad as Scott Gregory's 92. Even Briggs could shoot that.

Just four players finished under par, led by Dustin Johnson.

Here's what they were talking about those conditions.


HENRICK STENSON, U.S. OPEN: I'm happy it's over. We're seeing big, big numbers -- telephone numbers being wrapped up there.

TIGER WOODS, U.S. OPEN: We thought there were probably close to seven to nine birdieable holes out there. Now, with the wind blowing that changed dramatically. And also, where they put the tees -- where they put some of these pins. You can't get to them.

STENSON: It doesn't get much harder than this. It's -- you know, a lot of people are going to cry and I guess we chose to laugh today which is obviously the better option.


WIRE: Keep it classy or go bling-bling flashy. Four months after the Eagles beat Brady's Patriots in the Super Bowl, the team finally unveiled their championship rings. They each have 219 diamonds, 17 green sapphires.

And they have a dog mask on the inside. Remember, they were called the underdogs all season and they embraced that role.

A lot of ching-ching for that bling-bling. An estimated 30 to 40 grand for those.

But yes, the owner, Jeffrey Lurie said look, first, we were thinking about keeping it elegant and classy and then they said no, the blingier, the bigger the better.

BRIGGS: I'd love to see one of those rings be able to be worn. Shrink it down a little bit. But, they're beautiful.

Coy Wire, thank you, my friend -- appreciate it.

WIRE: You're welcome.

ROMANS: Two riders ejected and thrown 34 feet to the ground 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. No word on what caused that derailment.

BRIGGS: An emotional moment at the Congressional baseball game in Washington. Representative Steve Scalise there at second base makes the opening play -- the throw to first. And then the celebration ensues, mobbed by teammates.

The celebration was short-lived, though. They got smoked 21 to five by the Democrats.

Scalise tweeting, "I've still got it." Good to see him back.

ROMAN: Yes, absolutely.

All right, it's Friday. We'll see you on Monday. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. Have a wonderful weekend.


WRAY: I take this report very seriously.

GIULIANI: And, Mueller should be suspended. Strzok should be in jail.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: This was the president's plan to take down the special counsel. President Trump swung and missed.

REP. PAUL RYAN (D-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We don't want kids to be separated from their parents.

SESSIONS: Obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're using the Bible to defend the indefensible. To separate children from their parents.