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Cohen Claims Trump Knew Of Trump Tower Meeting; North Korea Hands Over Possible Remains Of American War Dead; Facebook Has The Worst Day In Stock Market History; New Alzheimer's Drug Shows Promise. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 27, 2018 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:27] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: That breaking news, the 2016 Trump Tower meeting was no secret to Donald Trump -- the latest bombshell from fixer Michael Cohen -- and he's willing to say the same to Robert Mueller.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: While you were sleeping, North Korea handing over remains of troops killed during the Korean War to the United States.

BRIGGS: And, the Carr fire in Redding, California has claimed its first victim -- look at that video. Babies now being evacuated from a hospital as the flames close in. We will have an update on that fire straight ahead.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody, on a Friday. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Thirty-one minutes past the hour. It is Friday, but it is a very busy news day because this happened overnight.

Breaking overnight, a revelation that could change the course of the Russia investigation. Sources telling CNN President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen claims Mr. Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower -- knew in advance. The meeting where the Trump team expected Russians to deliver campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Cohen's claim, if true, could contradict -- would contradict no fewer than 15 denials by this president, his administration, his family, his lawyers.

For example, these.


MICHAEL SCHMIDT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Did you know at the time that they had the meeting?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I didn't know anything about the meeting.

SCHMIDT: But you --

TRUMP: It must have been a very unimportant -- it must have been a very unimportant meeting because I never even heard about it.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW": Did you tell your father anything about this?

DONALD TRUMP, JR.: No. It was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell.

JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: Let's focus on what the president was aware of -- nothing. He was not aware of the meeting, did not attend the meeting, and was only informed about the e-mails very recently by his counsel.


BRIGGS: The president's critics have long doubted the denials. They point to phone calls Donald Trump, Jr. made before and after the meeting to a blocked number, the kind the president has.

Critics also note two days before the meeting, the president mysteriously announced plans for a major speech about Clinton scandals -- a speech that never happened.

For more on this, let's go to Jim Sciutto, who broke this news.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, sources with knowledge tell myself and Carl Bernstein that Michael Cohen claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Crucially, these sources tell us that Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller.

Cohen also alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians' offer by Donald Trump, Jr. By Cohen's account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians.

We should note that our sources said that Cohen does not have evidence such as audio recordings to corroborate his claim.

And a source familiar with Cohen's House testimony said that he did not testify then that Trump had advanced knowledge. Cohen's claims also were not mentioned in separate reports issued by both Republicans and Democrats on that House Intelligence Committee.

Now, we have reached out to a number of lawyers representing people involved. Alan Futerfas, an attorney for Donald Trump, Jr. -- he told CNN,

quote, that "Donald Trump, Jr. has been professional and responsible throughout the Mueller and Congressional investigations. We are very confident of the accuracy and reliability of the information that has been provided by Mr. Trump, Jr. and on his behalf."

Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: Thanks, Jim.

President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was quick on the attack as the news broke on CNN, questioning Michael Cohen's credibility, calling Donald Trump's longtime fixer a pathological liar.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He's been lying all week, I mean -- or for two weeks. He's been lying for years.

I don't see how he has any credibility. I mean, this is basically -- if you had a trial and there won't be a trial, but if you had a trial you'd say but which lie do you want to pick? You want to pick the first lie, the second lie or maybe some new lie?

This is the kind of witness that can really destroy your whole case because any finder of fact loses confidence in the case when you rely on a guy like this.


ROMANS: Lanny Davis, one of Michael Cohen's attorneys, declined to comment when contacted by CNN.

Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, responded in a tweet saying this. "If allegation Trump OK'd June 9 meeting is true, it means he not only publicly appealed to Russia for help but privately approved receiving it. The conspiracy case may have just gotten stronger."

BRIGGS: As part of the investigation into Michael Cohen, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting the longtime finance chief of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, has been called to testify in front of a federal grand jury. The "Journal" reports he's a witness in the probe of possible bank fraud or campaign finance violations by Cohen.

[05:35:12] Weisselberg's name also came up in the recording of Trump and Cohen that Cohen's lawyer gave CNN this week. The two men talked during the campaign about possibly buying the rights to a former Playmate's story claiming she had an affair with Mr. Trump.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David, you know, so that -- I'm going to do that right away. I've actually come up and I've spoken --

TRUMP: Give it to me and (INAUDIBLE).

COHEN: And I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing with it. I'm all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it when it comes time for the financing.


BRIGGS: Neither Weisselberg, the federal prosecutor, nor the Trump Organization responded to "The Wall Street Journal's" request for comment.

ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in co-author of "POLITICO PLAYBOOK," Daniel Lippman, live in Washington.

This story -- who do you believe, Dan Lippman?

DANIEL LIPPMAN, REPORTER, POLITICO, CO-AUTHOR, "POLITICO'S PLAYBOOK": It seems like none of them have their hands completely clean in telling the truth. Trump routinely lies and misstates thing for years. Every day, he's not told the truth.

But, Cohen has also -- he told Congress when he was asked about this -- he didn't mention that Trump knew about this meeting. And so now, it seems like he's trying to save his skin.

But if he lies to federal prosecutors that is a serious crime and so I don't think he is going to mislead Robert Mueller and claim that Trump knew about it unless he actually did.

BRIGGS: Yes, you wonder if this could have been leaked by the Trump team to keep the president from lying to federal investigators. Many theories out there.

Alan Dershowitz expected to tell "NEW DAY" that there's no evidence here of any federal crime.

Here's what former White House counsel under President Nixon, John Dean, said last night.


JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: This is very damning for Trump. It puts him in -- depending on if he had knowledge in advance of where the Russians were getting the information, it could make him an accessory to the Russians' conspiracy.

If he didn't have that knowledge but approved the meeting, it could put him in a campaign act violation.

Just the details are important in what his exposure would be. But it certainly does look on its face like a conspiracy charge.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: OK. So how would it change the narrative surrounding this Russia investigation if there is no evidence, certainly, of a crime here?

LIPPMAN: I think it would -- they're going to try to piece together a potential obstruction case.

"The New York Times" reported yesterday that they're looking on all the tweets that Trump has done where he's slammed Sessions, and Rosenstein, and Mueller, and Comey, and -- but I think that's the stronger charge and not the collusion and conspiracy.

But this does not help Trump's credibility one bit because if he knew about this meeting why has he been lying to the American people about that fact? I think it's -- he's been trying to cover it up. This is an embarrassing meeting -- it's called the Trump Tower meeting -- and he just did not want his knowledge about that to come out.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the president yesterday. He was in Iowa for a couple of hours and then he went to Granite City, Illinois where he, look, legitimately could take credit for 800 jobs at two blast furnaces --


ROMANS: -- that are working again because of his steel tariffs.

And there, against that backdrop of honestly, tearful steelworkers who were so happy for his -- for his help in getting their jobs back, he said this about trade -- listen.


TRUMP: We lost $817 billion a year over the last number of years in trade. In other words, if we didn't trade, we'd save a hell of a lot of money.


ROMANS: OK, that's just --

BRIGGS: That just happened.

ROMANS: That's just not true, and the man who is the architect of America's new trade policy for leveling the playing field around the world and dealing with all of our friends and allies and adversaries has a fundamental misunderstanding of how trade works. We don't lose $817 billion.

When you look at Europe, for example -- a $115 billion trade deficit last year with Europe. We have a surplus in services and that trade deficit -- we get stuff in return. We get drugs, we get chemicals --

BRIGGS: But it's the second part of it.

ROMANS: -- we get -- it's just not true. BRIGGS: The second part of it Daniel was if we didn't trade at all -- at all -- we'd save a hell of a lot of money.

Your thoughts?

ROMANS: How can the GOP be behind him? How can -- how can his party, the party of globalization and free trade, possibly not be freaking out?

LIPPMAN: Yes, it's so wild. It feels like we're in an alternative universe. Should we, as a country, just break off as an island and huddle together and just trade amongst each other, like the barter system?

[05:40:10] Obviously, the president is wrong on this and this would create a global depression if we just stopped trade with our allies. You know, we produce a lot of goods so why shouldn't we sell them to Europe and Asia?

So this is economics 101. If the president said this on an economics test at UPenn, he would be --


LIPPMAN: -- flunked out of it.

ROMANS: I don't know where -- I mean, he says --

BRIGGS: I'm not sure it's economics 101 because you don't get into that class if you think --

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: -- that is true.

ROMANS: I don't know where -- he holds onto it and he says it all the time that we've lost this money. That -- there's a bank account that is negative every year -- and it just isn't really like that.

LIPPMAN: And it also means that if you have a big trade deficit it's not automatically a good or bad thing. It just means that the economy is doing so well in your country or another country that you're trading --


LIPPMAN: -- lots of different things. And so that's a good thing sometimes when you have a large number of pro or con.

BRIGGS: Stick to the GDP number because that looks like a --

ROMANS: It's going to be good.

BRIGGS: -- very good number.

ROMANS: It's going to be good. BRIGGS: Out at eight thirty a.m. this morning?

ROMANS: Eight thirty a.m. I'm -- my guess is about 4.3 percent.

BRIGGS: It could be a huge one.

ROMANS: I'm on the record.

BRIGGS: Daniel Lippman --

LIPPMAN: But that does -- that could not hold in a couple of quarters --


LIPPMAN: -- if the trade wars heat up.

BRIGGS: Right. It could be a reversal --

ROMANS: The trade war is a real risk, you're right.

BRIGGS: -- next quarter because of these trade policies, a point made on "POLITICO" right now.


BRIGGS: Daniel Lippman, thank you, sir.

ROMANS: Thanks.

LIPPMAN: Thanks, guys.

BRIGGS: Also breaking overnight, North Korea handing over the first set of possible remains of U.S. troops killed in the Korean War. A U.S. Air Force plane carrying 55 cases of remains arrived at the Osan Air Base in South Korea.

CNN's Alexandra Field was there for the arrival and she joins us live from outside the air base. Alex, good morning.


There is a lot of speculation about whether or not this would, indeed, happen. North Korea has not returned any remains for U.S. service members for more than a decade.

But a cargo plane was sent to Wonsan, North Korea with U.N. officials on board. They loaded some 55 boxes of remains onto the plane and they brought them here to Osan, which is the U.S. air base that is closest to the DMZ. The boxes were received by an Honor Guard.

These are believed to be the remains of 55 U.S. soldiers. There are more than 5,000 sets of U.S. remains believed to still be in North Korea today.

But there is a lot of testing that still needs to happen. The boxes are being taken to a hangar on base. That's where there will be some preliminary forensic investigation.

Then there will be a ceremony here at Osan before the remains are flown to Hawaii. Once in Hawaii, they'll be taken by a military lab that will do extensive DNA testing.

Depending on the condition of the remains it could still take months to do that work and ultimately, years perhaps to identify all of the remains that have now been returned.

This is hugely important for family members who have held on to hope for decades that they would have some peace, some closure. But, of course, we're talking about a small number of remains.

This is also, though, very politically important. This was an agreement that was made by Kim Jong Un to President Trump at the Singapore summit some six weeks ago. The fact that North Korea followed through on its commitment, a show of good faith.

President Trump tweeting his gratitude overnight and underscoring, of course, the importance for the family members back home -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, Alex, thanks so much. Six forty-three p.m. there in South Korea. A significant development in that relationship.

ROMANS: All right, did you see Facebook yesterday? Look out below. The biggest sell-off in stock market history. Facebook lost $119 billion in market value.

Why, and what's next for the tech giant? That's the important thing. Where do we go from here?


[05:48:00] BRIGGS: Breaking news in California.

A bulldozer operator has died battling the raging Carr wildfire. At least three firefighters were also injured. The California National Guard is now assisting with the use of their aircraft.

Five babies are being evacuated from the intensive care unit at Mercy Medical Center. The hospital is not, though, under mandatory evacuation yet.

We have just learned the fire was caused a mechanical failure in Carr. So far, the fire has scorched nearly 29,000 acres and is only six percent contained.

Officials say 20 structures have been destroyed or damaged. Nearly 500 more are directly threatened.

The area is under excessive heat and red flag warnings today with an expected high of 110 degrees.

ROMANS: All right.

The latest report on U.S. economic growth is out today and you know what, it should be gangbusters. Just ask President Trump.


TRUMP: I don't know what they are but a lot of big predictions. Somebody actually predicted today 5.3. I don't think that's going to happen -- 5.3. If it has a four in front of it we're happy.


ROMANS: Now, that was the president in Granite City, Illinois yesterday where the president's steel tariffs brought back hundreds of steel jobs.

Now, economists do think economic growth topped four percent in the second quarter. That delivers one of Trump's campaign promises. It would be the fastest pace since 2014.

Now, it could be a blip -- here's why. America's trade threats likely boosted growth. Why? Well, many countries raced to import U.S. goods before tariffs took effect, particularly soybeans.

Farmers rushed shipments to China before Beijing's retaliatory tariffs began in early July. And soybeans, a 9,400 percent jump in shipments from last year.

Without that tariff bump, experts say economic growth is probably closer to 2.5 percent.

The GOP tax cuts are also responsible for some of that growth, boosting both consumer spending and business investment.

[05:50:01] In the Obama years, you had about four quarters of four percent GDP growth and reaching five percent growth in 2014. It came close a couple of times -- 3.9 percent.

All right. Global stocks mostly higher today after a mixed day on Wall Street. The Dow closed higher after the U.S. and the E.U. said they work together on trade. That trade detente was good for investors.

But when you look over at the Nasdaq and the S&P 500, they fell, and that was because of Facebook. Facebook shares plunged 19 percent yesterday.

Facebook plans to spend billions on security that will cut into profit for years. A necessity to invest, but that investment will cost it money.

That drop is a $119 billion drop in market value. That's the biggest single-day loss for a public company ever and Facebook hit the entire tech sector.

But techs should rebound today thanks to Amazon. Amazon's profit topped $2 billion for the first time ever -- $2.5 billion in earnings from April to June, a staggering increase of more than 1,000 percent, Dave, from last year -- 1,000 percent for Amazon. It's also the third quarter in a row to make $1 billion in profit.

For years, Amazon invested so much in its business that it lost money. Now, it's hitting record profits thanks to Cloud services, Prime subscriptions, new ad business.

Amazon's stock rose three percent after hours.

All right, the Papa John's saga. Papa John is suing Papa John's.

Ousted founder John Schnatter wants access to company documents. He's investigating what he calls the unexplained and heavy-handed way that Papa John's has treated him since he used a racial slur on a conference call.

Papa John's asked Schnatter to resign as executive chairman and he did. He later says he regretted that move.

Papa John's calls the lawsuit needless and wasteful.

BRIGGS: Yes, he owns about 29 percent of the stock but that stock now down 17 percent, I guess because of all this --


BRIGGS: -- drama, theoretically.


BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, an experimental drug giving new hope for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. We'll tell you why.


[05:56:02] ROMANS: All right. New hope this morning for victims of Alzheimer's, thanks to an early trial of an experimental drug.

Here's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Dave, if there is a holy grail in the world of neuroscience and drug development, an effective treatment for Alzheimer's would be very much at the top of the list, which is why there's so much excitement about this drug called BAN2401. That's the name of the drug now in clinical trials.

Even though it is very early goings, the excitement is there because of what researchers found after giving patients, over 18 months, this I.V. medication.

Now, take a look here.

Specifically, they found it was able to actually reduce the amyloid that exists in the brain by 70 percent. Researchers believe amyloid is actually what helps cause or causes some of these symptoms of Alzheimer's. It also prevented new plaque from forming -- those two points.

And it's the last point, obviously, that patients pay the most attention to. It reduced cognitive decline by 30 percent as compared to patients who got a placebo.

There's only five medications approved for Alzheimer's right now. There's only been three approved over the last 14 years. Hundreds of trials for Alzheimer's treatments have failed.

And again, that's why people are paying close attention to this. You have about five million people in the country right now with Alzheimer's and those numbers are expected to triple by the year 2050.

So, what happens next is that this will go to phase three clinical trials and that could still take several years before we get the results from that back. So this isn't going to be available anytime soon but when it is -- and hopefully -- it is something that can really offer some help -- Christine, Dave.


BRIGGS: Outstanding news, Dr. Gupta. Thank you.

Comedian Roseanne Barr defending the tweet about Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett that got her fired from her sitcom on Fox News. She said the tweet, which mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes, was misunderstood.


ROSEANNE BARR, COMEDIAN: I was so sad that people thought it was racist. If you really think that at the height of my power and my fame I would go black people look like -- I mean, it's just -- I wouldn't do -- I mean, I'm not stupid. And that's what they keep selling.


ROMANS: Barr told Valerie Jarrett she was sorry but still took a jab that quote, "She's got to get a new haircut."


The new voice of public transit in Vancouver is a familiar one.


SETH ROGEN, ACTOR-COMEDIAN: Any opportunity to enrich the lives of the Canadian people is an opportunity I will take.



BRIGGS: I love that laugh.

Actor-comedian Seth Rogen is from Vancouver. He says he grew up taking public transit and still rides it whenever he's in town.

He'll replace Morgan Freeman who was pulled after a CNN investigation found a pattern of inappropriate conduct toward women.

But that is a super good idea -- love it.

ROMANS: All right, love that laugh.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday, everybody.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Friday, July 27th, 6:00 here in New York and we do begin with breaking news.

For those of you who have not paid much attention to the Russia investigation, today would be a good day to start doing so.


CAMEROTA: Sources tell CNN that President Trump's longtime former personal attorney Michael Cohen has begun spilling the beans.

One of the bombshells he reportedly wants the public to know is that then-candidate Donald Trump knew in advance and approved of that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in which Russians promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. And, these sources say Cohen is prepared to make that claim to special counsel Robert Mueller.

BERMAN: Now, if -- if this is true, it means the president lied about it publicly, it means that Donald Trump, Jr. lied about it under oath, and it means the current President of the United States had knowledge of and approved of --