Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Opens Window Into His Rage With Mueller Attack; Wildfires Ravaging California; Report On Disappearance Of Malaysia Flight MH370. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 30, 2018 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, Laura. I'm Dave Briggs. Good morning, everybody.

We're going to talk about those wildfires in a moment. One-hundred- degree temps all week in Redding, California.

But we start with politics and what was a quiet weekend got noisy on Twitter. The president escalating his battle against the Russia investigation, taking the rare step of calling out special counsel Robert Mueller by name.

On Sunday, he did it twice in a series of tweets, one slamming the "Robert Mueller rigged witch hunt."

In another, the president tweeted, in part, "Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty and contentious business relationship? I turned him down to head the FBI and fired FBI director James Comey is his close friend."

JARRETT: President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Sunday, slamming former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, calling him quote "a pathological manipulator and liar" after previously praising him as honest.

More now from White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Dave, CNN has reached out to the White House to get clarity on specifically what business conflicts President Trump was talking about in that tweet mentioning Robert Mueller. We have yet to hear back.

But previous reporting may give us an indication of what the president is talking about. Early this year, "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" both reported that President Trump privately had expressed concerns about possible conflicts of interest on behalf of Robert Mueller based on a dispute over fees related to Mueller's membership at President Trump's golf club in Virginia.

Now, a spokesperson for the special counsel told "The Washington Post" that the reporting at the time -- the suggestions made by President Trump were inaccurate.

In the backdrop of all of this -- the president reigniting his frustration with Robert Mueller -- are these revelations coming from Michael Cohen. Several sources reporting that Cohen is prepared to testify to the special counsel that President Trump approved of that meeting in June of 2016 between his son, Donald Trump Jr., and some Trump campaign officials, and Russian nationals promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

It also comes on the heels of the release of this secret recording made by Michael Cohen in a conversation that he had with President Trump.

This weekend, Rudy Giuliani, the president's relatively new attorney, drawing the veracity of those tapes into question.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He abruptly ended that recording as soon as the president said the word "check."

We are now -- what we're investigating is why did -- how did that happen, what actually did happen, what was eliminated. And then, he's now raised that question with every one of these tapes. How many of them are -- did he play around with?

We have determined the fact that he tampered with the tape in a sense that he abruptly, mid-conversation turned it off. Now, we know he didn't do that for a good reason.

SANCHEZ: The president and his legal team making their strategy here very clear. Just a few months ago they were calling Michael Cohen and honorable man. And now, they are questioning not only his credibility but the credibility of the recordings that have come from his legal team -- Dave and Laura.


BRIGGS: Boris Sanchez, thank you.

President Trump had a meeting with the publisher of "The New York Times" earlier this month but he and A.G. Sulzberger offering very conflicting versions of what went down here.

The president revealed the meeting yesterday morning from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, tweeting, "Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of fake news being put out by the media and how that fake news has morphed into the phrase 'enemy of the people.' Sad."

Sulzberger says the White House requested the meeting and asked that it remain off the record. But after President Trump tweeted about it, the "Times" decided to release Sulzberger's notes.

The "Times" publisher says, "I told him that although the phrase 'fake news' is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists the enemy of the people. I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence."

JARRETT: The president is also threatening to shut down the government in September if Congress fails to fund his border wall and change the nation's immigration laws.

Mr. Trump tweeting quote, "I would be willing to shut down the government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for border security, which includes the wall. Must get rid of lottery, catch and release, etc., and finally go to system of immigration based on merit. We need great people coming into our country."

Of course, the president repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for that wall. Since February, he's been floating the idea of shutting down the government to get taxpayers to fund it.

BRIGGS: Oh, boy, shut down politics.

Joining us this morning, CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University. Good to see you, sir.


BRIGGS: Hope you had a great weekend.

"It's supposed to be the economy, stupid," said James Carville, but it is not. This president is focused on immigration.

But it's not just him, it's a super PAC ad that could be touting the economy, the tax cuts. This is in Ohio's 12th congressional district. Listen to what they, instead, are focusing on.

[05:35:10] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TELEVISION AD: The liberal resistance is demanding open borders. They want to eliminate the law enforcement agency that enforces our immigration laws, opening America's doors to more crime and drugs. And they want Danny O'Connor's help, bankrolling his campaign.


BRIGGS: No mention of the economy -- of the 4.1 percent growth in GDP -- of the jobs numbers up, of the unemployment down.

Should Republicans focus on immigration? What if you are running in these midterms -- does this make you nervous?

ZELIZER: Yes, and many of the 40-plus districts that Republicans are defending, the immigration issue won't work. The economy is the best bet they have in a difficult midterm election but I think the president is throwing a pretty controversial issue in a lot of the country.

JARRETT: I mean, at this point it seems like this is the Democrats' to lose, right? We've got 99 days left until the midterms.

In your view, what do Democrats have to do to mess this up?

ZELIZER: Well, the Democrats have to take attention away from the biggest issue on the ballot and that's President Trump. They have to turn the attention to problems with the Democratic Party or to questions whether they're too far left or too far center.

The election should be a mandate on the president -- the values he represents, the policies that he's pushing for -- and if they could keep that as the focus in a lot of these districts the Democrats will come out to vote, and that's what you need to win.

BRIGGS: One thing that typically helps conservatives in an election like this is the Koch brothers, arguably the most influential donors on the right, prepared to spend $400 million in the 2-year election cycle.


BRIGGS: But the co-chair of the Koch brothers is Brian Hooks. They had this summer meeting which isn't exactly open to reporters but this statement was offered up. "The divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage."

They've also talked about the lack of leadership coming from the White House without mentioning Donald Trump by name.

But how significant is a Koch brothers break from the Republican Party, given the current massive spending, tariffs -- not really on board with the conservative principles being represented today?

ZELIZER: It's important because it undercuts some of their enthusiasm.

I mean, on the one hand, the Koch brothers are desperate to change what the GOP is about. They don't want all of a sudden to have a trade war Republican Party. That's the last thing they want.

But the big problem is with one tweet the president can wipe away a lot of the advantage they bring with $400 million and that's what they're facing in the next few months.

BRIGGS: Well, that one-tweet point -- isn't that what we saw with this threat of a shutdown? That Republicans are so content to run on the economy but they know everything can be thrown off guard with this one tweet like it was with the shutdown.

ZELIZER: Right, and that unsettles candidates. They don't know what's coming next and that's the last thing you want.

Usually, politics shuts down in August and doesn't really take off again --


ZELIZER: -- until January. That's not going to happen now so it's going to be a very dynamic election.

And again, the odds are in favor of the Democratic Party so Republicans have an uphill battle. And the last thing you want is to be checking your Twitter feed on the campaign trail literally every minute because you don't know what's coming next.

JARRETT: We saw this weekend even a break with McConnell on this shutdown issue. McConnell, in a radio interview, essentially saying it's not going to happen and the president saying well, I don't know, it is going to happen. The president has obviously previewed it time and time again.

How do you see this playing out in the coming weeks?


JARRETT: They have a Supreme Court nominee they're trying to get --


JARRETT: -- confirmed.

ZELIZER: Well, I think that will move through and I think the president and his allies are strategic enough in the White House to see that's a winning issue for him.

What's happening is the interests of the president and the Republican Party are not always the same and President Trump is not that invested in what happens to the Republicans even though, ironically, the Republicans have been his best protector, his best ally.

But right now, he's thinking 2020, they're thinking 2018, and with a tweet like we saw this weekend those things might not converge all the time.

BRIGGS: The irony is with a shutdown threat, he's threatening Democrats. He can't get Republicans on board with the current immigration policy. They are the ones who can't line up behind any of these immigration policies.

The ones with the four pillars in the Senate got 39 votes so he's got to get his own party on board with immigration before worrying about Democrats.

Julian Zelizer, good to have you here, sir. Thank you.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

JARRETT: Thanks so much.

BRIGGS: All right, the long-awaited final report on that mysterious disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet just released. We'll have a live report from Hong Kong coming up on EARLY START.


[05:43:50] JARRETT: Raging wildfires are devastating parts of California.

Right now, there are 17 separate fires burning. About 12,000 firefighters are trying to contain the flames. So far, more than 2,00o -- 200,000, I should say, acres have been consumed.

The fast-spreading Carr fire in Northern California has now claimed six lives. The wildfire more than doubling in size over 95,000 acres this weekend. More than 1,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed.

A broken-hearted Ed Bledsoe lost his wife and two great-grandchildren, ages four and five, in that fire. He was on the phone with them as the flames closed in.


ED BLEDSOE, WIFE AND TWO GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN KILLED IN CARR FIRE: And I talked to -- I talked to Junior on the phone and Billy died. He just kept saying grandpa -- he said come get me.

He said come and get me. The fire is coming in the back door. Come on, grandpa.

I said I'm right down the road. He said come and get us.

Emily said I love you, grandpa. Grandma says I love you, grandpa. And, Junior says I love you, come and get us, come and get us.

[05:45:03] I said I'm on my way. I said -- and he talked until he died.


JARRETT: It's just devastating.

Seven people are still listed as missing.

We get more from CNN's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Laura, conditions remain challenging but we're beginning to hear fire officials, really for the first time, express optimism about the overall effort. They've got about 3,500 firefighters working the lines and it seems to be paying off.

In the meantime, we are in the Lake Redding Estates neighborhood. You can see this house behind me destroyed. But to underscore the random nature of it all, you can see this house next door is perfectly intact.

At this point, you do have six people that have died as a result of this fire -- two firefighters and four civilians. And you have so many people that remain under an evacuation order -- about 38,000 or so. In some ways, this region really feels paralyzed. You have -- all the

hotels are completely full and you can't even get a reservation somewhere. And the evacuation centers -- a lot of them are at maximum capacity as well.

But hopefully -- with the collective effort that the crews have put into all this, hopefully it's beginning to make a difference -- Dave and Laura.


JARRETT: A deadly shooting at a New Orleans strip mall on Saturday night now appears to be gang-related. Three people were killed, seven others injured when two people opened fire into a crowd outside a daiquiri shop.

Both suspects remain at large.

One of the injured victims is in critical condition. The other six have non-life-threatening wounds.

BRIGGS: Federal air marshals are tracking you at U.S. airports even if you're not suspected of a crime. "The Boston Globe" first to expose a TSA program called "Quiet Skies."

It involves federal air marshals tracking American citizens in order to gather data on their travel behaviors. The goal, to thwart any potential aviation threats.

The marshals are looking for things like abnormal awareness of surroundings, excessive fidgeting or perspiration, rapid blinking and rubbing, or even whether you slept during your flight.

JARRETT: I didn't know sleeping was suspicious.

BRIGGS: No. I'm very worried about the sweating and sleeping combination. They are watching me.

JARRETT: It's all a problem. It's all a problem.

Breaking overnight, the Malaysian government just releasing its long- awaited report on the suspicious disappearance of Malaysia Airline flight MH370. The findings leaving family members of victims frustrated and in tears.

CNN's Will Ripley tracking the story for us, live from Hong Kong. Will, what is the latest on this?


They have shed so many tears over the last 4-plus years. It's actually been 1,606 days since MH370 went missing on March the 8th, 2014.

I remember it well. It was my first assignment here at CNN. And now, we have this. It's a 495-page report -- a hefty report released by the Malaysian government in the sake of them trying to be transparent, revealing all of the facts they have to this point, and the facts contain no answers. No answers about why the plane actually went down.

There are a lot of theories.

They've ruled out, for example, that somebody took control of the plane by remote control. They think it was somebody who steered the plane, doing that drastic U-turn towards what is presumed to be its final resting place in the southern Indian Ocean.

But was it the pilot or the first officer? Did someone break into the cockpit? Were they under duress?

Was it an act more sinister? Were they trying to save the plane because of a catastrophic failure? Those are all questions that investigators simply don't have the answers for.

What they do know is that there has been an exhaustive search -- more than 230,000 square kilometers searched in the southern Indian Ocean based on the best estimates from teams of scientists, and researchers, and technicians trying to figure out exactly where the plane might be, using the latest technology.

The searches have turned up nothing other than a few pieces of confirmed debris that have washed up along Africa's east coast. There have been actually 27 pieces of debris that are believed to be likely from the plane, washing up as far north as Tanzania, as far south as South Africa. But just three pieces of the wing have actually been confirmed to be from that plane.

And as of now, more than four years later, no answers for the families of those 239 people -- 227 passengers and 12 crew members -- who, every day for 1,606 days, have woken up not knowing what happened.

Laura --

JARRETT: Will, so many questions. Thank you for that reporting.

BRIGGS: All right, 5:49 and a check on "CNN Money" this morning.

Looking like a gloomy day for stocks. Global markets are mostly lower and so are U.S. futures.

But believe it or not, the S&P 500 is within two percent of a new high. That's despite huge sell-offs recently in big tech names like Facebook and Twitter. Both companies disappointed investors with their quarterly results.

The next big test comes tomorrow after the close when Apple is scheduled to deliver its corporate report card to Wall Street.

The CBS board of directors meets today to discuss allegations of sexual misconduct against CEO Les Moonves. On Friday, "The New Yorker" published a bombshell expose in which six

women accused the CBS CEO of misconduct and harassment. It also raised questions about the overall culture at the network.

[05:50:04] Sources tell CNN the board plans to form a special committee to oversee an investigation. "The Wall Street Journal" reports some board members have discussed whether Moonves should step aside from the company pending that investigation.

In a statement, Moonves said, quote, "I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes and I regret them immensely.

But I always understood, and respected, and abided by the principle that no means no. And I've never used my position to harm or hinder anyone's career."

He has been running CBS for more than a decade.

And it's mission accomplished for "Mission: Impossible."


Scene from " Mission: Impossible-Fallout."


BRIGGS: "Fallout" -- the sixth film in the series -- raked in an estimated $61.5 million at the box office this weekend, the biggest opening ever for the 22-year-old franchise starring the ageless Tom Cruise.

And the reviews are outstanding. Ninety-eight percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Laura Jarrett. I suggest a field trip later today.

JARRETT: I'm down, let's go.

BRIGGS: I'm in. Let's do it.

JARRETT: How much longer does 85-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg plan to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court? Her answer, just ahead.


[05:55:47] JARRETT: The U.S. and the Taliban are talking. That's according to "The Wall Street Journal".

The two sides met face-to-face last week in Qatar to lay the groundwork for peace talks in Afghanistan. "The New York Times" reports Afghan government officials were not present. Alice Wells, a top U.S. envoy for South Asia, reportedly headed up the U.S. delegation.

The "Times" reports the Trump administration gave top U.S. diplomats the green light to seek direct talks with the Taliban, a reversal of longstanding U.S. policy. BRIGGS: Two Americans among four cyclists killed Sunday by a hit and run driver in Tajikistan. Three other people were injured. The identities of the victims have not been released.

The Interior Ministry of Tajikistan sent CNN a statement that says one suspect has been arrested and two others have been quote "eliminated." We are waiting for clarification on that word "eliminated."

JARRETT: Indeed.

A polar bear was shot and killed over the weekend after it attacked a cruise ship guard. It all happened on land while the German ship was docked on an island in Norway.

The company, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, says the guard and three other colleagues had not spotted the bear before the attack. The guard is said to be in stable condition and is being treated for non-life- threatening injuries.

In a statement, the company says guards acted in self-defense and that it's sorry this incident happened.

BRIGGS: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg says she hopes to serve five more years on the Supreme Court. Speaking in New York Sunday, RBG said she would like to follow in the footsteps of retired colleague Justice John Paul Stevens. Stevens stepped down from the court at age 90.

Ginsberg was attending a play about her arch adversary and good friend the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Ginsberg added it's not the bald eagle, but the pendulum that's the true symbol of the United States. She says once it moves far in one direction you can count on it swinging back.

JARRETT: And, Britain's Geraint Thomas capturing his maiden Tour de France title on Sunday in Paris. The 32-year-old won the tour by one minute and 51 seconds over Thomas Dumoulin of the Netherlands. Four- time champion Chris Froome, who started the 3-week tour as the odds-on favorite, came in third.

Thomas telling the BBC the win is incredible and the stuff of dreams.

BRIGGS: Also over the weekend, Beyonce and Jay-Z played the D.C. area and had some famous fans on hand. Yes, that's former President Barack Obama and Michelle rocking out in the suite.

But I want you to evaluate the dance moves, Laura Jarrett. What do you think of the former POTUS?

JARRETT: I think that is some excellent dad hand moves from the former president there.

BRIGGS: OK, I'm glad you agree. That's some dad dancing.

JARRETT: He's on beat, there's some rhythm. I think that that --

BRIGGS: Oh, you look like it?

JARRETT: I think that for the former president --

BRIGGS: Boy, I thought he'd have more rhythm, OK?

JARRETT: I am going to give it an A.

BRIGGS: I thought he'd had better rhythm than that.

JARRETT: A for effort.

BRIGGS: But he's 54. He's still rocking it.

All right. Well done, guys.

JARRETT: Thanks for joining us. I'm Laura Jarrett in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good to have you here. I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.


GIULIANI: The man is a pathological manipulator and liar. These are tapes -- I want you to hear them.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: My guess is that this is a rift that will continue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tweets are a sign of his mood. It is not a happy state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is part of a strategy to be the deflector in chief -- the distorter.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we don't get border security we'll have no choice. We'll close down the country.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president's willing to be patient so that we can get that done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we expect a September shutdown?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's hope not. We need border security. We can't have open borders.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, July 30th, 6:00 here in New York.

John Berman is off. David Gregory joins me. Happy Monday, happy summer to you.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be here. I was running in the park yesterday and somebody said come on in. This is -- this is not a sleepy summertime news week.

CAMEROTA: No. We just have a net out in the park and try to catch anchormen --

GREGORY: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: -- and drag them in here.

No, it isn't. We have a very busy day ahead.

GREGORY: Almost 100 days now -- a little less now until the midterm election and the president seems to be feeling that heat.

CAMEROTA: Yes, things are heating up. So, here's our "Starting Line."

President Trump continues to try to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The president lashing out in a series of tweets slamming Robert Mueller.