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Manafort's Deputy Testifies Against Him; Trump Urged To Stop Tweeting About Trump Tower; U.S. Reimposes Sanction Against Iran; Ohio Special Election: A Referendum On Trump? Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 7, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Stunning testimony from the star witness against President Trump's former campaign chairman, Rick Gates, says he broke the law for Paul Manafort. But also stole money from him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to put all the sanctions back in as they were before and more.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Economic sanctions on Iran now back in effect as of midnight. Will the pressure on Tehran force a further split with lira (ph)?

ROMANS: Two fast moving fires merging into one inferno becoming the largest ever wildfire in California history.

MATTINGLY: Plus, why is Facebook reportedly asking banks for your financial info? Good morning. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Phil Mattingly in for Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning.

MATTINGLY: I'm back.

ROMANS: You're back. You're back. And I know you got -- and we got to try again today. Let's see with that. I'm Christine Romans. It's Tuesday, August 7th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the east. Good morning everyone.

Let's begin here with Paul Manafort's right hand man, Rick Gates. He's back on the witness stand this morning in the one-time Trump campaign chairman trial on tax and fraud charges. The stakes are high for the White House. Manafort and his deputy together know a great deal about what went on behind closed doors during key months of the 2016 campaign.

Yesterday, Gates admitted under a grant of immunity. He committed crimes alongside his former boss and against him as well. CNN's Kara Scannell has more from the Federal Court in Alexandra, Virginia. KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rick Gates, the government star witness took the stand in the showdown we've been waiting for. It testified for 45 minutes. And during that time, Manafort stared him down sitting just seats away from Gates from the witness chair.

Now, Gates averted Manafort's gaze addressing his answers only that the prosecutors who asked him to explain what crimes Gates committed and if he committed crimes with Manafort.

Gates said that he had. He explained that he helped Manafort file false tax returns. And then he also helped him setup 15 overseas accounts that were used as part of the alleged crime. Now, Gates also offered a surprise twist saying he had himself defrauded Manafort, his mentor and long-time boss that he had stolen several hundred thousands dollars from him by inflating his expense accounts.

Now, Gates' testimony is expected to continue again day six of the trial. But prosecutors intend to question him for another three hours. Christine and Phil.

MATTINGLY: Another big day today for Rick Gates in Alexandra. Thanks Kara.

Donald Trump Jr. is dismissing significance of his Trump Tower meeting and accusing the Russian of pulling a bait and switch, the president son selecting a sympathetic environment to discuss the controversy in Laura Ingraham show.

Don Jr. claiming that Russians secure the meeting by promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, but when they got there, they only want to discuss adoptions once everyone was actually in the room.


DONALD TRUMP JR., ELDEST CHILD OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's a 20 minute meeting. It ended up in, you know, about essentially nothing that was relevant to any of these things. And, you know, that's all it is. And that's all they've got. You know, that's the premise that got them in the room. And then basically -- it was -- essentially, you know, a bait and switch to talk about that. And everyone has basically said that in testimony already. I mean so this is nothing new.


MATTINGLY: The president's son said all of the media scrutiny surrounding that 2016 meeting with the Russians it's all just an attempt to divert attention away from his father's accomplishments.

ROMANS: This week, President Trump has on what the White House calls a working vacation at his New Jersey Golf Club but shadowing the president's time off, the special counsel's Russia probe. He tweeted repeatedly over the weekend about the Trump Tower meeting and other aspects of Robert Mueller's investigation.

But CNN has learned advisers are now urging the president to cool it with the Trump Tower tweets. Since they only give oxygen to the topic. Senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny has the latest.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Phil, as President Trump continues his working vacation here in New Jersey, one thing is clear, he is staying out of public view at least so far. But it's clear what is on his mind at least one of the things on his mind that Russia investigation.

We saw the tweets over the weekend when he was talking about specifically again trying to explain what happened in that Trump Tower meeting, that key meeting in June of 2016. The president, of course, you know, saying that nothing was wrong.

It was simply trying to get opposition research on Hillary Clinton. Well, of course, that is not the original explanation from a year ago. So we know a couple of things since that tweet over the weekend. We know as we head into the week, the president's aides and lawyers are asking him not to tweet specifically about that Trump Tower meeting.

And this is why it's adding more complication every time he weighs in. It's, you know, it complicates the previous explanations for it. We also are hearing from the president's aides that they believe in the next coming days, at least they say, the president's legal team will have an answer or a response at least to Bob Mueller's team.

[04:05:02] Will he sit for the interview, under what conditions will the president sit for an interview? And that something that they hope to have accomplished by the end of this working vacation, he will be meeting with the CEOs on Tuesday, tonight for dinner at his Bedminster Golf Club doing fund-raisers here as well but so far, nothing else on the schedule.

But again, it's clear this working vacation still has Russia hanging over it. Christine and Phil.

MATTINGLY: Jeff Zeleny, on his own working vacation. Thanks Jeff.

Just a few hours ago, shortly after midnight eastern, U.S. sanctions against Iran went back into effect by order of President Trump. The renewed sanctions targeting gold, steel, aluminum, and currency had been suspended as part of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal.

But other nations that assigned onto the nuclear deal remain in that agreement. And some of them pledged to keep up trade and cooperation with Iran. So, is America actually going alone this time? Senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, joins us live from London. Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, fair obviously because of the shier size of the U.S. economy and its global reach. If the U.S. decides as it has to try end up put sanctions back in, that does have a more far reaching impact and does impact its European allies who also signed the Iranian nuclear deal too.

I should say, the E.U. is saying they'll do what they can to still protect quote, legitimate business deals with Iran. They strongly disagree with Donald Trump decision to pull out of that nuclear pack. We've had a very strange diplomatic moment though as these sanctions appear to have come back in.

Long herald as I must say, Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran's government has said that he could talk right now with Donald Trump were necessarily that offered. I should point out, there's a caveat there. He appears to suggest he would like to see sanctions lifted first. And explicitly says, you cannot talk to somebody who has a knife stuck in your arm or your back.

And there are many Iranian hard liners who'd be dead against seeing Washington and Tehran sit down soon. But possibly here, you may see Iran seeing some internal problems period, they can't rest on the streets because of the slipping economy and also their local currency is collapsing quite fast over the past year or so as well.

You may see possibly Iran's more moderate government here looking for perhaps an opportunity. They may be seeing how negotiations with North Korea and with Russia have ended up, perhaps a little or more person exactly what was agreed between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un respectively.

And maybe they're perhaps seeing a chance to buy some time, some elasticity may be in Washington opposition if they were to get themselves in the same room. I have to say, I think that idea is a little farfetched right now because of how hard liners on both camps have ideas of about what the two countries should be doing in terms of each other.

But slowly now we see the economic pressure being ratcheted up towards Iran. Iran calls it psychological warfare. I think that's true to some degree is designed to make the Iranian people feel that their government is not looking out for them adequately economically.

I have to say, though, the American dream of this suddenly putting a more moderate government in play in Tehran is a more farfetched. This is impairing hard liners inside Iran and increasing confusion really about exactly whether Trump administration wants to see this finally go. Phil?

MATTINGLY: And Nick, internal and external implications, wide ranging effects inside Iran and really across the globe will be fascinating to watch such as now but also reimposition of more sanctions in November. Nick Paton Walsh in London, thank you very much.

Exhausted California firefighters are struggling to contain the 16 major wildfires now devastating the state. One has exploded over the last three days nearly doubling in size. Mendocino Complex Fire is now the states largest fire in history. The flames scorched nearly 284,000 acres surpassing the Thomas Fire from last December.

The Mendocino Complex Fire is actually two wildfires burning around clear lake across several northern California counties. As of last night, the fire was only 30 percent contained. More than 100 residences had been destroyed.

ROMANS: All right, eight minutes past the hour. Facebook wants your financial information. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook asked several large U.S. banks, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, for detailed financial information about their customers.

Think account balances and credit card activity and transactions. Facebook wants to offer services for bank customers on its messenger app. Facebook told CNN, it's not actively seeking consumer's banking data, but declined to comment if it has been talking to banks about this.

Facebook is branching out in to new services, keep users on its platform longer. But the issue here is privacy. Facebook faces harsh criticism over how it handles user data especially after exposing 87 million users information without their consent. None of the banks would confirm they were in talks with Facebook on this.

But stressed the importance of privacy security for their customers, still, Wall Street likes that Facebook is expanding into new services, the stock rose 4 percent even as people on Facebook yesterday were screaming about this.

MATTINGLY: If the streets are happy, the board room is happy. But hey, what in the recent history would make somebody concerned about privacy when it comes to Facebook and social media?


[04:10:06] MATTINGLY: Still to come, a frightening sight from behind the wheel, more on this deadly explosion caught on video, just ahead.


MATTINGLY: Democrats and Republicans will be glued to the best state in the country, the suburbs surrounding the best city in the country. I'm talking about Columbus, Ohio obviously. The 12th Congressional District tonight as voters head to the polls for a special election to fill a vacant house seat.

Now, the 12th District historically leans Republican. The 31-year-old Democrat Danny O'Connor is surging in the polls against Republican Troy Balderson in a race that could prove to be the bell weather for a blue wave in November. We get all of the latest from Jason Carroll in Delaware, Ohio.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Phil, it's really down to the wire. At this point at Republican state senator, Troy Balderson, really should be writing his victory speech. But instead he's fighting for every possible vote that he can get here in the 12th District against his opponent, Danny O'Connor.

[04:15:10] The race at this point is just too close to call which is really come to be somewhat of a surprise for some Republicans here because this is a seat that Republicans have held solidly for decades. But not this go around. What ends happens up happening in this race could very well end up pivoting on independents who they end up voting.

We spoke to some independents out here in the district and they tell us who they end up voting for very much may pivot on how the president and how they feel the president has been doing while in office.


MARA PROTICH, SUPPORT O'CONNOR: I believe that a man's character is very important. And I don't believe that our president currently has my best interests at heart and I watched some of the things that have happened in the past few months and it's a little scary.

CARROLL: And so you're defining decision wasn't about both candidates, but the president?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More about getting Democratic back into office and really for the people.

APRIL KENNEDY, SUPPORTS BALDERSON: I think I'm probably a lot like millions of Americans where it's not necessarily that you like the candidate of choice but it's who you dislike less. And I think that during the presidential election, I believe that's how Trump ended up in office. And obviously the whole world thought he was the perfect candidate nor has he proven to be but I think that this race was Balderson is the same way.


CARROLL: Of course President Trump was here over the weekend to rally the base and try to shore up support for Balderson. It should be noticed that President Trump carried this district by some 11 points two years ago. But again, right now as voters head to the polls this morning, the race is just too close to call. Christine, Phil?

ROMANS: All right, Jason Carroll in Ohio. Thank you, Jason.

Infowars and its founder, Alex Jones, removed from YouTube, Apple, and Facebook. All three tech giants say, the site violated their content policies. The move shutdown of key distribution channels that gave Jones access to millions of internet users, the most dramatic action coming YouTube which removed his main channel.

That channel had 2.4 million subscribers. Infowars did not respond to request for a comment. The site is notorious for its false conspiracy theories. It claimed the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax and called 9/11 an inside job orchestrated by the U.S. government.

A deadly explosion caught on video in Italy. The man caught the shot of the blast on his cellphone during his commute in Bologna. Official say, a gas tanker exploded after running into the back of another truck. Three people were killed, between 60 and 70 others were also injured with some serious burns. The cause of that accident is under investigation.

MATTINGLY: And the Pentagon is banning deployed military personnel from using electronic devices that have geo location. They include wearable fitness trackers and some smart phone apps that could disclose the user's location, a possible security breach.

Now, the new policy comes after it was revealed back in January a fitness tracking app that maps people's exercise routine may have actually inadvertently revealed the locations of security forces around the world. Defense officials say the devices themselves were not actually be banned. Service members will be responsible for ensuring that geo locations features are disabled.

ROMANS: All right, a day at the zoo turned dangerous, more with sudden destructive weather coming up.

[04:18:40] MATTINGLY: Plus, remember when a T.V. host told LeBron James to shut up and dribble? We'll tell you how the NBA superstar has actually turned those words right around.


ROMANS: Welcome back, 23 minutes past the hour, a powerful hail storm wreaked the havoc at the Colorado zoo. Wow, two animals were killed 14 people were injured as chunks of hail, some as big as softballs, rained down Monday at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs.

The sudden barrage sent bears running for cover in their enclosure. You see them there. The hair storm damaged buildings and animal habitat. Five of the people injured were taken to the hospital for treatments. Officials say that zoo will be closed today while they assess the damage.

MATTINGLY: Pop star Pink is hospitalized in Australia after being diagnosed with a gastric virus. This is the second time in as many days the singer was admitted to a hospital in Sidney. She was first treated for dehydration and then released on Sunday but then readmitted the next morning for the virus. The illness has forced Pink to cancel several concerts in Australia during her current world tour.

ROMANS: The CEO of NASCAR is taking in indefinite leave of absence. The decision by Brian France follows his arrest on Long Island for aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Police say, he run a stop sign Sunday night and was in possession of oxycodone when he was pulled over. France apologized for his actions in a statement. His uncle, NASCAR executive vice president, Jim France, takes over on an interim basis.

MATTINGLY: And Showtime is partnering with LeBron James on a three part documentary entitled "Shut Up and Dribble." You may recognize that phrase. The series will examine the changing role of athletes in today's cultural and political environment through the lens of the NBA. It is set to premiere in October.

Now, the series got its name from this comment named by Fox News host, Laura Ingraham on her radio show back in February.


[04:25:01] LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: LeBron and Kevin, you're great players. But no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.


MATTINGLY: And Ingraham suggested James, shut up and dribble after he publicly voiced support for the Golden Warriors and their decision not to visit President Trump at White House.

ROMANS: Tennis star, Serena Williams sharing her struggles as a new mother. In an Instagram post, Serena said, she's been battling postpartum depression, feeling she's not a good mom and not doing enough for her baby.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner returned to the tennis circuit five months ago after giving birth to her daughter last September. In the message, Williams describes that being in a funk last week when she suffered the most lopsided defeated of her career. She pulled out of a tournament this week citing personal reasons. Good for her for being public about it. A lot of women don't like to talk about being in that postpartum funk. But I think the more women who do, the better for everybody.

MATTINGLY: Yes, the public realizes that --


MATTINGLY: -- it was a very real thing. With his former boss looking on, the prosecution star witness tells all, Paul Manafort financial fraud trial. That's coming up.

ROMANS: And Donald Trump Jr.'s bait and switch claims about the infamous Trump Tower meeting. More EARLY START after this.