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Trump: Meeting Was For Clinton Dirt; U.S. Reimposing Sanctions On Iran; Six Arrests In Alleged Maduro Assassination Plot; Strong Possibility Of Second North Korea Summit. Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired August 6, 2018 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: In a tweet Sunday, the president called the Trump Tower meeting "totally legal and done all the time in politics." Adding, "I did not know about it."
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: That tweet directly contradicting his earlier statements. The president, himself, now acknowledging explicitly for the first time the purpose of the meeting was to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton and not to discuss Russian adoption.
As to whether it was totally legal, the tweet seems to address CNN reporting that the president is now concerned that Don, Jr. might have legal exposure in Robert Mueller's Russia probe. That's coming as according to sources close to the White House.
ROMANS: CNN has also previously reported that Michael Cohen is willing to testify that the president himself knew about that Trump Tower meeting ahead of time despite his denials.
CNN's Boris Sanchez has more for us this morning.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Phil, it has been a swift move for this administration from the president suggesting that to the best of his knowledge no one that he knows has anything to do with Russia to now essentially making the argument that collusion is not illegal.
Here's more from Jay Sekulow, one of the president's attorneys, on the Sunday morning talk shows.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST, "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS": He says the meeting totally legal, done all the time in politics. But according to the e-mail that special counsel Robert Mueller has, this was a meeting to get information from the crown prosecutor of Russia on Hillary Clinton's campaign.
How would that be legal?
JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, the question is how would it be illegal? I mean, the real question here is would a meeting of that nature constitute a violation -- the meeting itself constitute a violation of the law?
SANCHEZ: Critics, of course, have pounced on this making the argument that the administration -- that the president is moving the goalpost.
We should point out despite a repeated number of calls from the president and his allies for this investigation to wrap up -- in the words of Rudy Giuliani, for Robert Mueller to put up or shut up -- this investigation is moving forward.
Last week, CNN reported that the special counsel is making efforts to interview one key person in that Trump Tower meeting, Emin Agalarov. He helped facilitate that Trump Tower meeting.
Of course, he's a Russian pop singer whose father has deep ties to Vladimir Putin. He's a Russian oligarch.
Whether that meeting takes place or not is unclear but we do know that Robert Mueller and his team have been working alongside Agalarov's legal team to try to secure an interview now for more than a year.
Christine and Phil.
MATTINGLY: We'll keep an eye on that one. Thanks, Boris.
This morning, the Trump administration will explain how it plans to reimpose sanctions on Iran following the U.S. withdrawal in May from the Iran nuclear deal.
Businesses have until midnight tonight to end contracts with the country before some sanctions are reinstated. The affected items expected to include gold, aluminum, steel, graphite coal, and currency.
President Hassan Rouhani will address Iranian lawmakers later today as that deadline approaches.
ROMANS: All right.
Joining us this morning live from Washington, CNN political Josh Rogin, columnist for "The Washington Post". Good morning, Josh. Nice to see you.
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good morning.
ROMANS: We'll get to Iran in a moment but I want to talk about the top political story here in the United States this morning and we can show you players at the infamous now June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. It was sort of an odd group of music publicist, Paul Manafort now on trial for unrelated issues -- you know, this group at this meeting.
And now we know the president himself saying -- admitting that Trump Tower meeting was to get Clinton dirt from that group -- those Russians.
This turns all of the statements from the White House upside down. What is the significance in your mind of this reversal from the president? What's he trying to do here?
ROGIN: Well, it's just the end of a 2-year saga where the president, his staff, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, and all the rest of them -- and Jay Sekulow -- gave shifting and contradictory, and now as we are learning, completely false accounts of this famous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower.
And after all of the back and forth and the attacks on the media and all of the lies, we now have an on-the-record statement from the president acknowledging what everybody else already knew was true, that this was an attempt to get information from a lawyer connected to the Russian government on Hillary Clinton.
Now, does that change the amount of legal jeopardy that Donald Trump, Jr. was in yesterday? Not really.
Does it change what Robert Mueller is doing? Not really.
It just sort of exposes and lays bare this elaborate cover-up that's been going on for 26 months, OK? And now that we can have the president on the record clearly stating that he lied, Hope Hicks lied, Sean Spicer lied, Jay Sekulow lied --now we can have the discussion about OK, what does that mean?
And I think what it comes down to is that this sort of cooperation with the Russians, which began well before the election but is still ongoing now is untoward and it's unusual and it's in many ways totally outside of the norm.
[05:35:01] And then if you want to take the next step and ask yourself, OK, is this illegal, does this amount to a criminal charge -- well, that's really hard to determine and that's something that the special counsel is certainly doing his work on.
But the offer -- the proffer of the dirt is still ongoing.
I want to point the viewers out to the Helsinki summit where Vladimir Putin got up in front of the world standing next to Donald Trump and offered the same exact dirt that Natalia Veselnitskaya offered to Don, Jr. two years ago.
The dirt is that Bill Browder, the American-British billionaire, spent $400,000 on the Clinton campaign.
There's no evidence for that. It's probably not true. There's no actual proof of that.
That's the dirt, OK? So it's not as if this is something that happened two years ago and we're just learning about it now. This is an offer that's still going on and Donald Trump, at that press conference, called that offer an amazing deal, OK.
ROGIN: So this is an ongoing scandal.
MATTINGLY: Yes. So all that, obviously, clear as mud as we move into today.
Josh, I want to move you over to something else --
MATTINGLY: -- that I know you're a keen observer on and that's the administration's Iran policy. Obviously, sanctions snapping back at 12:01 Tuesday morning.
But I want to point specifically to one of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's tweets last night. Obviously, we've seen the street protests throughout the country. Obviously, the economy is in a bad place.
Mike Pompeo tweeting out, "We are deeply concerned about reports of Iranian regime's violence against unarmed citizens. U.S. supports Iranian people's right to protest against the regime's corruption and oppression without fear of reprisal. We call on the regime to respect its people's human rights."
Now, this actually tracks with one of the Secretary of State speeches a couple of weeks ago.
I'm interested -- what's your sense right now of the administration's actual policy on Iran versus perhaps what you hear maybe from the president about meetings and things of that sort?
ROGIN: Well, I think you're hitting on the key point Phil, which is that there are two different policies, OK? There's what the president says, then what his administration is doing.
And if you listen to what Pompeo talked about in his speech a couple of weeks ago in California, he talked about the Iranian people having the right to determine their own future.
It sounds like regime change. It's not exactly regime change. It's not us doing regime change, he's just encouraging them to change their own regime.
OK, that's fine. We could have a talk about that.
What the president says is that these sanctions are meant to bring Iran back to the table to get a better deal than the one he just pulled out of a few months ago.
So which is it? Are we sanctioning them in order to weaken the regime so that their people topple them or are we sanctioning them so the regime realizes oh, hey, we're serious? We better make a really good deal with Trump -- better than the one we made with Obama.
It's totally contradictory now. If we look at each of those things we could -- I don't really think the latter is going to happen, right?
ROGIN: It's clear that Iran is not going to come back to the table. They're actually working with our allies and Russia and China to isolate us -- to keep the deal that we just got out of. So that whole scheme is sort of not turning out to pan out the way we want it to.
Mike Pompeo wants to say OK, if we sanction them enough maybe the Iranian people will throw off their oppressors and have a new government. Well, I don't think that's going to happen either.
So what we have here is sort of like a policy without an end, without a so what, without a -- without -- you know, sanctions are just a means. And what's more likely to happen is that we're just going to sanction the heck out of them. They're going to on oppressing their people, they're going to stay in the deal, and nobody will get what they want.
ROMANS: Let's talk about tariffs because the president tweeted yesterday that the tariffs are working -- tariffs are working. And he says that because of those tariffs we're going to be able to start paying down larger amounts of the $21 trillion in debt that has been accumulated -- $21.3 trillion in debt, actually, and $1.6 trillion added during this president's presidency, and it's only getting bigger.
ROMANS: Is he going to be able to spin tariffs as paying down debt?
ROGIN: Right. Well, the numbers, as you just pointed out Christine, tell a completely different story because the debt and the deficit is going way up.
But I think the key argument that the president is making is that the tariffs are working, right? And then we have to ask ourselves OK, what does working mean?
Have the Chinese changed their attitude, no. They're retaliating.
ROMANS: And you can see this morning the Chinese had a very direct attack on the president this morning verbally.
ROGIN: Right. It's an escalation and maybe it will work in the future. We don't know.
On the European side, the president said in his rally in Ohio that he made the greatest deal ever with the Europeans, but there's actually no deal.
ROGIN: So there's just a lot of weird misdirection and false claims in that tweet.
You know, the tariff strategy, controversial as it is, could work if these countries, again, fold and just agree to do whatever Trump tells them to do, but it hasn't yet. So claiming --
ROGIN: -- that's it working is just simply misleading and it's a risky strategy that's going to throw into doubt a lot of the economic gains that the president is planning to run on along with his party in November.
ROMANS: Tariffs put money -- American companies pay the tariffs, right? The tariffs go into the Treasury Department so yes, that's money coming in.
But also we're cutting taxes and huge spending bills, so there's money not coming in from that.
ROGIN: And the cost on the economy if it grows slower well outweighs any --
ROGIN: -- tariff --
ROMANS: Great to see you, Josh, CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist. Thanks, nice to see you.
[05:40:03] MATTINGLY: And, Venezuela alleging its president was targeted by drones. Six suspects detained and their government blaming hit men from abroad and the drone explosion may have been caught on camera.
ROMANS: All right. "NEW DAY" is just about 10 minutes away. John Berman rested and relaxed after a week off, joins us this morning.
How are you? You feel good?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: (Audio gap) Red Sox nine and a half games out in front right now in first place after sweeping the New York Yankees in a dramatic series at Fenway Park. That will be the major focus of our broadcast today, Phil Mattingly.
MATTINGLY: My mic was going out. I didn't hear that.
ROMANS: Yes, we didn't hear any of that.
MATTINGLY: I'm sorry. I didn't catch that.
ROMANS: The Yankee fan here refuses to process this information.
MATTINGLY: He replaced the anchor of "NEW DAY." I know it's a big deal -- he's rested and ready. Not as tan as I would have thought from a vacation Berman, but I still -- I feel good about your presence. I still loathe your Red Sox fandom.
[05:45:02] BERMAN: Phil Don Mattingly sitting in on EARLY START this morning -- Phil. Look guys, so we have that which I said will be the major focus.
And also, the president now admitting things in the Russia investigation that maybe a year ago would have been astounding. Now, how important is it -- how important is it that the president flat-out admits that his son Donald Trump, Jr. held this meeting at Trump Tower to get dirt on Hillary Clinton?
Federal election law says it is illegal. It is a crime to accept anything of value from someone from another country.
So, did the president just admit that his son broke the law and where does this fit into the convoluted winding road of explanations that the president has given on different aspects of the Russia investigation?
We will give you a roadmap in just a few minutes, friends.
ROMANS: All right, thank you so much, John Berman. Nice to see you this Monday morning. "NEW DAY" coming up in just a few minutes.
All right, this is a story we've been following for some time now. The reward for University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts now $260,000. The 20-year-old college student vanished more than two weeks ago after going for a run in Brooklyn, Iowa.
Mollie's father refusing to give up hope she will be found alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROB TIBBETTS, FATHER OF MOLLIE TIBBETTS: Just hang in there, pie. Just hang in there. We're fighting like hell.
We've got a great law enforcement team, the community's all behind you, the media is helping.
The whole country's in love with you, pie. We'll find you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where does pie come from?
TIBBETTS: We call her pie. I've called her pie since she was a baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: On Sunday, authorities found the body of a young woman they thought might be Tibbetts but it was not her.
MATTINGLY: And Venezuelan authorities arresting six people after an apparent assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro. The bombing unfolded in Caracas on live T.V. Saturday.
Take a look at this. The alleged attackers launching drones carrying explosives as Maduro spoke to his country's National Guard in a military parade.
A video emerged on social media Sunday purporting to show a drone exploding in midair. CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of that footage.
Maduro was quick to blame Colombia's outgoing president and Venezuelans in the United States, not offering any proof. We get more from CNN's Rafael Romo.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN American AFFAIRS EDITOR: Christine and Phil, a top Venezuelan government official said Sunday those who perpetrated the alleged assassination attempt targeting President Nicolas Maduro are terrorists and hitmen.
NESTOR REVEROL, VENEZUELAN INTERIOR MINISTER: (Foreign language spoken).
ROMO: Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said six suspects have been detained. He also said the government has fully identified all suspects in the alleged attacks inside Venezuela and abroad.
The incident happened Saturday evening while President Nicolas Maduro was giving a speech on live television during a military ceremony. The whole episode was broadcast live on the Venezuelan government's national T.V. network.
The official version is that drones armed with explosives detonated near the president. And, Maduro himself, reappearing on national T.V. hours later, said he was the target of an assassination attempt.
NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA: (Foreign language spoken).
ROMO: Maduro revisited a conspiracy theory he uses often, blaming an international right-wing plot for trying to oust him.
The president also accused outgoing Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos of being behind the attack. The Colombian Foreign Ministry called the accusation absurd in a statement and rejected it emphatically.
President Maduro also said we failed showing any proof that those responsible for financing the attack are in the United States, specifically in Florida where many Venezuelan immigrants live.
There was immediate reaction from U.S. National Security advisor John Bolton Sunday.
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I can say unequivocally there was no U.S. government involvement in this at all. If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of U.S. criminal law we'll take a serious look at it.
But in the meantime, I think what we really should focus on is the corruption and the oppression of the Maduro regime in Venezuela.
ROMO: The Venezuelan government has long blamed the United States and Colombia for plotting overthrows in what Maduro describes as far-right elements in Miami for attempting to undercut him -- Christine and Phil.
ROMANS: All right, Rafael Romo. Thank you for that report.
Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning.
Trade tensions shaking global stocks. Europe and Asia starting the week mostly lower.
On Friday, China vowed tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods. That's retaliation if the U.S. goes ahead with its own tariff threat on $200 billion in Chinese goods.
Now last week, Wall Street brushed off those trade fears, closing higher because of earnings. It has been a stellar second quarter.
Corporate profit -- look at that -- corporate profit up 23 1/2 percent, the second-best quarter since the recession.
About 400 of the S&P 500 companies have already reported. Some recognizable brands still on the way this week -- Snap, CVS. Big names in media like Disney, Viacom, and 21st Century Fox.
Now, last week, Apple became the first U.S. public company to hit $1 trillion in value.
[05:50:03] So who's next -- Amazon and Alphabet, maybe Microsoft. They're all in a tight race to be number two. Amazon is the closest, currently worth $889 billion.
It's no surprise the contenders are all tech giants. Tech stocks were the best performing sector this year. Tech companies, they make big profits and they have been largely immune to the president's trade threats.
Hundreds of thousands of cartons of almond milk have been recalled because they may contain actual milk. The FDA announced some cartons of vanilla Almond Breeze may contain cow's milk, prompting recalls in 28 states. The cartons have a use by date of September two.
Now, the almond milk is safe to drink unless you have a milk allergy.
It comes just as the FDA debates its non-dairy products can even be called milk. It currently defines milk as only coming from animals. Unless it changes that classification it could force companies to stop using milk in drinks made from things like soy, almonds, and coconuts.
Would you say juice -- almond juice, coconut juice?
MATTINGLY: Anything can be a juice or a milk except -- not actually because the government says it can.
Could Kim Jong Un and President Trump meet again this year? A source telling CNN that could happen.
CNN's Will Ripley will join us live, next.
[05:55:41] ROMANS: Breaking overnight, the quote "strong possibility" of a second North Korea summit. A source with Pyongyang's position on denuclearization tells CNN a second meeting between Kim Jong Un and President Trump could take place sometime later this year, time and place to be determined.
Our Will Ripley is live for us in Hong Kong this morning with the latest. North Korea summit, part two.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Maybe so. I mean, the big question is where and when? Could it be at the United Nations General Assembly in September or some other time and place?
Remember, just last week, President Trump tweeted to Chairman Kim thanks for the nice letter. I'll see you soon. A lot of people kind of looking at that as a hint that the two leaders might be getting back together.
And look, President Trump obviously wants North Korea to be a win, especially considering some of the other foreign policy situations that he's facing right now. He had the negotiations with Kim Jong Un. He said they had a good personal rapport and things went well.
But then, you've had the last seven or so weeks -- little if any progress on denuclearization.
Mike Pompeo just saying over the weekend that North Korea is in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, urging countries to continue enforcing sanctions against North Korea.
North Korea then responding, saying that the United States hasn't been living up to its end of Singapore summit, saying that they might have to walk away from their pledge to denuclearize if they don't get things like sanctions relief and a formal end to the Korean War in the form a peace treaty -- the kind of thing that we first told you about a couple of weeks ago that North Koreans said they wanted.
Apparently, the North Koreans feel that the person that they can negotiate with best and perhaps the only person they feel they can negotiate with is President Trump directly with their leader, and that is what my source is telling me that they want to happen. They say the exchange of letters is a good sign.
So we just have to watch and see if they actually do set a date to sit down and what might actually come out of it --
RIPLEY: -- in terms of concrete steps towards denuclearization.
ROMANS: All right, Will in Hong Kong for us. Happy Monday, Will -- thanks.
MATTINGLY: And if that's the most important story of the day, the second-most important -- action star Steven Segal. He, of "Under Siege" one, "Under Siege 2", "Pistol Whipped" -- all classics of the genre -- now responding to his new appointment as Russia's special representative on U.S. Russian humanitarian ties.
Segal tweeting that he quote "is deeply humbled and honored" and that he takes this very -- this honor very seriously.
Now, according to a statement by Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the unpaid position will be similar to a United Nations goodwill ambassador role.
Segal is a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He became a Russian citizen in 2016.
ROMANS: All right.
Actress Charlotte Rae has died. She is, of course, best known for playing the wise and loveable Mrs. Garrett first on the T.V. sitcom "DIFF'RENT STROKES" before spinning off the role on another 80s sitcom "THE FACTS OF LIFE." That made her a star.
The cause of her death is not known but Rae was diagnosed with bone cancer last year. She died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles. Charlotte Rae was 92.
Wow, a whole generation of us grew up with Mrs. Garrett, you know?
ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.
MATTINGLY: And I'm Phil Mattingly. "NEW DAY" starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now know from the president the purpose of the meeting was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
SEKULOW: I had bad information at that time. I made a mistake in my statement. That happens when you have cases like this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looks absolutely uncredible, as does the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She helped supply numbers so that Manafort could save hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have a person on the stand who has an immunity deal, obviously you attack them. The real question is what are we going to hear from Rick Gates?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, August sixth, 6:00 here in New York.
Nice to be back beside you.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Great to have you back. I hope you had a wonderful week off.
BERMAN: I slept past 3:00 a.m.
BERMAN: Always a good thing. And what did I miss? Oh, this.
President Trump admits flat-out that his son met with a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton -- dirt that Trump, Jr. was told flat- out was part of the Russian government effort to help his father.
Now, the law says it's a crime to accept anything of value from a foreign person for the purpose of influencing an election. Yet, the president says this was totally legal.
Now, sources tell CNN the president is concerned about Don, Jr.'s legal exposure for his involvement in this meeting.
CAMEROTA: President Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow, says he made a mistake last year when he said President Trump was --