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EARLY START

Trump Announces Don McGahn to Leave After Kavanaugh Confirmation; Memorial Service for John McCain at Phoenix Church Today; Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 30, 2018 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:30:13] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's legal team reportedly looking for help to handle possible impeachment proceedings. The chief White House counsel out the door as soon as next month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: The subway system --

CYNTHIA NIXON (D), NEW YORK GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The MTA has been controlled by the state since 1965.

CUOMO: Can you -- can you stop interrupting?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN ANCHOR: Insults go flying as Democrats square off for the first time on stage in the New York governor's race.

BRIGGS: A case of road rage. An Uber driver with a gun and a case of mistaken identity. How a man ended up dead and why police say it was justified.

Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

HARTUNG: And I'm Kaylee Hartung. It's just about 31 minutes past the hour.

The "Washington Post" reports President Trump and his legal team for the first time said to be focused on the dreaded I word. Impeachment. The president's advisers and allies are increasingly worried he has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself if Democrats take over the House. That could lead to subpoenas or even impeachment charges.

The president's team has reportedly discussed recruiting experienced legal fire power to the Office of White House Counsel which is losing lead lawyer, Don McGahn.

BRIGGS: President Trump announcing on Twitter Wednesday McGahn will be leaving the job in the fall after the expected confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Hearings begin next week. McGahn's departure was not unexpected, but it appears he was

blindsided by the Trump tweet, having not announced his own timetable to leave.

More now from CNN's Abby Phillip at the White House.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Kaylee, President Trump's announcement that Don McGahn might be leaving in the near future came as a surprise to a lot of people here. Now even Republican senators expressed some surprise that President Trump had made this decision.

But McGahn was rumored to be expecting to leave the White House shortly after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, the president's nominee for the Supreme Court. McGahn had been at the White House since the very beginning of the Trump administration. But our sources tell us he's had an estranged relationship with President Trump for over a year now. In that period of time, McGahn has also become a witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Now President Trump responding to this news that he broke himself over Twitter had nothing but praise for McGahn when we spoke to him at the White House on Wednesday. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don? Excellent guy. Yes. Don McGahn is a really good guy. Been with me for a long time. Privately before this. He represented me. Has been here now, it'll be almost two years. And a lot of affection for Don. And he'll be moving on probably the private sector. Maybe the private sector. And he'll do very well. But he's done an excellent job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: And President Trump also said that he was not at all concerned about what Don McGahn might have told the special counsel in those interviews. But meanwhile we are also looking to see who the president names as McGahn's replacement. A top contender according to our sources is Emmet Flood, a White House lawyer who was brought in, in part, to deal with a lot of the Russia-related inquiries coming into this White House.

Flood does have an interesting background. He was a former lawyer for President Bill Clinton during his impeachment hearings -- Dave and Kaylee.

HARTUNG: Thank you, Abby.

Now According to Politico, President Trump is personally lobbying Republican lawmakers to flip on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president for the past 10 days has reportedly been venting his anger at Sessions to any senator who will listen. He spent a year and a half ripping into the attorney general for recusing himself in the Russia probe. Mr. Trump's frustration is apparently wearing on some GOP senators,

though, including Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham. Both now suggesting move to replace Sessions could be made after the midterms.

BRIGGS: Yes, sure feels like when, not if.

A source familiar with Michael Cohen's thinking says he's going to prison to protect his family. Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts last week saying he paid hush money to women at the direction of Donald Trump in an effort to sway the election. A friend of Cohen's telling CNN before the plea, Cohen was very defiant, but later realized he had no choice and became focused on his wife and family's well-being. Cohen is expected to get three to five years at his sentencing in December.

HARTUNG: CNN has also learned a second Trump Organization employee discussed a potential immunity deal with federal prosecutors but ultimately no deal was made. CNN could not determine the employee's identity.

BRIGGS: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos considering a plan to bolster the rights of college students accused of sexual assault, harassment or rape. That's according to the "New York Times" and "Washington Post." New rules could have significant repercussions for how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual abuse.

The changes would narrow the definition of sexual harassment from, quote, "unwelcomed conduct of a sexual nature" to "unwelcomed conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive."

[04:35:14] HARTUNG: The regulations would also reduce the school's liability but encourage schools to provide victims with more support. An Education spokeswoman calls the reports premature and speculative, and says the department is still deliberating.

BRIGGS: The "Washington Post" reports the Trump administration is denying some passport renewals to Americans along the border. The basis a familiar one for President Trump, birth certificates. The administration accusing hundreds, possibly thousands of Hispanics along the border of using false birth certificates for decades.

HARTUNG: In some cases, passport applicants are being jailed and entered into deportation proceedings or stuck in Mexico with their passports revoked.

The change throws citizenship for many into question and suggests another dramatic shift in immigration enforcement. The State Department tells "The Post" it, quote, "has not changed policy or practice."

BRIGGS: Later today, the late Senator John McCain will make the flight from Arizona to Washington one last time. But first a memorial service will be held at a church in Phoenix. Former Vice President Joe Biden will be among those paying tribute. One person who won't be there, McCain's 2008 running mate, Sarah Palin. A source says Palin was not invited to the McCain memorials.

HARTUNG: Yesterday, hordes of people lined up to pay their respects on what would have been John McCain's 82nd birthday.

We get more on that from CNN's Nick Watt in Phoenix.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Kaylee, Arizonans have waited for hours in 102-degree heat to file past that flag draped casket and pay their last respects to the man who represented them in Washington for 35 years, first, as a congressman and then as a senator.

There was, earlier in the day, an intimate ceremony inside the capital for friends, colleagues and family, at which Governor Ducey spoke and he called John McCain Arizona's favorite adopted son. He also said that when he traveled overseas, the only thing these people know about Arizona are the Grand Canyon and John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R), ARIZONA: Imagining Arizona without John McCain is like picturing an Arizona without the Grand Canyon. It's just not natural.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: Cindy McCain, his widow, his wife of 38 years, was there, dabbing away a tear at one point. And when her husband was described as a fighter from the podium, she nodded. On her way out, touching the casket and touching her cheek to the casket.

This morning, there will a funeral service at a church here in Phoenix before the Senator's body is flown to Washington, D.C., where he will lie in state at the Capital, then on Saturday there will be a ceremony at the National Cathedral.

John McCain will be buried Sunday in Annapolis, Maryland, at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery. And then next week, Governor Ducey says he may announce who is going to fill Senator McCain's seat.

Back to you.

BRIGGS: All right, Nick Watt, thank you.

It didn't take long for the Florida governor's race to get ugly. Just hours after progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum became the state's first black candidate for governor his Republican opponent, Trump- backed candidate Ron DeSantis, said this on FOX.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON DESANTIS (R), NOMINEE FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR: And let's build off the success we've had on Governor Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARTUNG: The DeSantis campaign quickly explained he was referring to Florida not making the wrong decision and to characterize it as anything else is absurd. DeSantis then went back on FOX trying to clean up his mess.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DESANTIS: It has zero to do with race. I believe people should be judged based on their ability and character regardless of race. But it's because of that that I know that socialism won't work in Florida. It's not good for any race, color or creed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: Gillum for his part responded to his rival's remarks with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW GILLUM (D), NOMINE FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Donald Trump. This is a page from his playbook. I think he was clear about what he meant and he understood the dog whistle that he was blowing. And I understand that he intends to speak to a particular part of the base to incite them. But the truth is, is I think there are a majority of us who disagree with that brand of politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: Earlier Gillum told FOX News' Shepard Smith that he is not going to get down in the gutter with DeSantis and Trump.

BRIGGS: Two weeks ahead of their own primary, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and rival Cynthia Nixon facing off in a contentious debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: My opponent -- my opponent lives in the world of fiction. I live in the world of facts. The subway system --

NIXON: The MTA has been controlled by the state since 1965.

CUOMO: Excuse me. Can you -- can you stop interrupting? Can you stop interrupting?

NIXON: Can you stop lying?

CUOMO: Yes. As soon as you do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The two sparring over their visions for the state from how to fix New York City's failing subways to health care. When asked about greater aspirations amid whispers of a possible run for the White House, Cuomo said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you promise to serve four more years as governor if reelected?

[04:40:03] CUOMO: The only caveat is the --

(CROWD CHEERING)

CUOMO: Is if God strikes me dead. Otherwise I will serve four years as governor of New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: As you guessed, Nixon immediately fired back reminding viewers of Cuomo's recent gaffe when he said America was never that great.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: Donald Trump did tweet at you about whether or not America was great. And you backed down pretty quickly. You stood up to him about as well as he stands up to Putin. When it comes to opposing Donald Trump in New York state, we already have a corrupt corporate Republican in the White House. We don't need a corrupt Democrat in Albany as his main opposition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: The winner of the Democratic primary faces Republican Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro.

BRIGGS: It always reminds you of Miranda Hobbs, does it?

HARTUNG: You can't help it.

BRIGGS: I mean, the quick wit and the -- not just there but Cuomo leads by more than 30 points in the recent polls, we should note.

HARTUNG: Yes. The first question she was asked was why is she qualified for this job despite the familiarity many may have with her.

Well, a former Texas police officer gets his sentence for shooting and killing a black teenager in a car, but the victim's family not fully satisfied.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:45:27] BRIGGS: 4:45 Eastern Time. And President Trump ramping up his criticism of Google. Trump tweeted a video suggesting that the search engine promoted former President Obama's State of the Union addresses, but not his own annual address, adding #stopthebias.

Now Google says the video is inaccurate. It has never promoted the first address to Congress issue by a new president not even for Obama, and did promote Trump's State of the Union this year. Yesterday Trump accused Google of suppressing conservative voices. Trump's economic adviser Larry Kudlow says the White House is investigating. But Trump says that doesn't mean regulation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You know what we want? Not regulation. We want fairness. We have fairness, we're all very happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Congress has already looked into social media bias holding two hearings this year. And execs from Google, Facebook and Twitter have been asked to testify on Capitol Hill next week. The topic? How can they protect the integrity of November's midterm elections. Facebook COO and Twitter's CEO will attend but Google did not offer anyone from its C-suite. Lawmakers are not happy and are threatening to put an empty chair in Google's place.

HARTUNG: Former Texas police officer Roy Oliver sentenced to 15 years in prison for the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager. It comes a day after he was convicted of murder for fatally shooting 15- year-old Jordan Edwards as he left a house party last year. The family of Jordan Edwards said they would have liked to see a greater sentence but they respect the guilty verdict. Oliver's defense plans to appeal the verdict and the sentence.

BRIGGS: In a stunning move, child abuse charges were dismissed against three of five adults who lived in a decrepit New Mexico compound with 11 kids and where a child was found dead. The reason? A judge said the suspects did not have a preliminary hearing in the 10-day timeframe required by New Mexico. The Taos County District Court judge Jeff McElroy called out prosecutors for being incompetent. He said he finds it disturbing the district attorney would put the court in that kind of a situation. No comment from the prosecutors. Two other defendants were arraigned on felony charges in connection with the death of a 3-year-old boy.

HARTUNG: Well, the drinking water at all Detroit public school buildings has been turned off. A series of water tests revealed water quality issues in 34 school buildings. Results for 50 school buildings are pending. Elevated copper and lead have found in some school water dating back to 2016. Bottled water and coolers will be used in the meantime when students return to class next week.

BRIGGS: The U.S. Coast Guard believes negligence by the captain of a Missouri duck boat led to the death of 17 people last month. The probable cause was part of a court filing Wednesday. It says Captain Kenneth Scott McKee told passengers during a safety briefing they would not need their life jackets. The boat sank in rough water. The owner of the duck boat company says it's cooperating with federal and state authorities but cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.

HARTUNG: All right. You know, men at the U.S. Open, they change their shirts all the time.

BRIGGS: Sure.

HARTUNG: Especially in this heat. But a female player does it and she gets a penalty. What officials at the tournament say next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:53:13] HARTUNG: Florida police say an Uber driver was justified to shoot and kill a man who stormed toward his car. In this dashcam video you can see a pickup truck cut off the Uber. The man identified as Jason Boek apparently thought his girlfriend was in the Uber heading home. The two had gotten into a fight over text. Then this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT WESTLAKE, UBER DRIVER: I say something?

JASON BOEK, UBER ATTACKER: You know I got a pistol. Want me to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) shoot you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god.

WESTLAKE: Oh my god.

BOEK: I'm going to shoot you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Boek did say he had a pistol, but was holding what authorities say was a cell phone. The Uber driver, Robert Westlake, is a licensed security guard who holds a concealed weapons permit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY SHERIFF: And at the end of the day, the message is clear. Don't mess with the Uber driver. You have the right to protect yourself. This is a classic Stand Your Ground case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The sheriff's office says Westlake is cooperating. As it turns out Boek's girlfriend was not in the Uber. She called the car for a friend.

HARTUNG: Aretha Franklin's long good-bye continues tonight with the tribute concert in Detroit. Nearly 40 artists will perform a variety of jazz, gospel and R&B. Before that, there will be a final public viewing for the Queen of Soul at the New Bethel Baptist Church where her father was once the pastor. Over the last two days, thousands have paid final respects to Aretha Franklin. Her funeral will be held tomorrow in Detroit.

BRIGGS: U.S. Open officials are feeling the heat and it's not because of the sweltering temperatures at Flushing Meadows. French tennis player Alize Cornet briefly took her top off after realizing she'd put it on the wrong way during a heat break. She was then issued a code violation by the chair umpire.

That decision triggers a storm of criticism with charges of sexism and a double standard.

[04:55:02] The Women's Tour officials say Alize did nothing wrong and the U.S. Tennis Association now says it regrets what happened adding they have clarified the policy to make sure this does not happen again.

HARTUNG: Temporary relief from the heat. You know those players at the U.S. Open will be happy about that. It's coming to the northeast this weekend.

Let's get to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Kaylee and Dave. Yes, we are watching some heat still in place across portions of the northeast. About 14 million of you impacted across this region. But that's down to -- from what was 50 million this time yesterday. So certainly seeing a gradual improvement here and you look at yesterday's temperatures in Burlington, Vermont. Record high there in 97. Shattering the previous record from 77 where it was 92 degrees and in Boston a 97-degree afternoon. A record that has been standing for 60 plus years also broken there in Boston.

But here's the perspective. Another day of hot temperatures expected, albeit were dropping down into the upper 80s in most of the northeast. But still a lot of humidity so we'll factor that into be around 95, 95 degrees for most of the northeast and then here comes the front. Pushes them later into the afternoon hours. Isolated shot of thunderstorms associated with this as well. But the milder air comes in sometimes Friday morning into Friday afternoon and the weather pattern really gets pretty nicer going into the weekend. Unfortunately that is short lived. Big-time heat expected to build back in going into Sunday, Monday and especially Tuesday. The temps climb back up into the middle 80s by that point -- guys.

BRIGGS: Thanks, P.J.

Let's get a check on CNN Money this morning. Global stocks mostly lower right now but on Wall Street the rally continues. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both hitting record highs for the fourth session in a row. Thanks tech stocks. Apple closed at an all-time high. Apple stock up 31 percent this year. The first U.S. company to cross $1 trillion in market value. But another company set to join that club. Amazon rose yesterday, edging closer to $1 trillion. It is now less than 3 percent away from that milestone.

Trade also in focus today. All three NAFTA countries racing to rewrite the trade deal by Friday's deadline. Both U.S. and Canada are optimistic they'll meet it.

Earnings season almost over. And corporate America raked in big profits. Profits rose 16.1 percent last quarter. The largest gain in six years. Profits got a boost from strong economic growth and big tax cuts. The new tax law slashed the corporate rate. So U.S. companies paid 33 percent less in taxes this year or more than $100 billion. Overall, a great second quarter and strong profit. Growth should continue in 2018. But experts warned future growth

could be hurt by Trump's trade policies and will likely slow as the effects of the tax cut wane.

The Papa John saga continues today. Papa John slamming ousted founder John Schnatter for disobeying corporate leadership including by going off script at a conference call last fall when he blamed poor pizza sales on the NFL protests. That sparked a backlash on social media and Schnatter stepped down as CEO. But he was asked not to leave the company until earlier this year. It was revealed he used a racial slur on a conference call. Schnatter later regretted that decision. Since then he's publicly criticized his former company.

HARTUNG: EARLY START continues right now.

BRIGGS: The president's legal team reportedly looking for help to handle possible impeachment proceedings. The White House counsel out the door as soon as next month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The subway system --

NIXON: MTA has been controlled by the state since 1965.

CUOMO: Can you -- can you stop interrupting?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: Insults go flying as Democrats square off for the first time on stage in the New York governor's race.

BRIGGS: A case of road rage. An Uber driver with a gun and a case of mistaken identity. How a man ended up dead and why police say it was justified.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

HARTUNG: And I'm Kaylee Hartung, thanks for having me. I'm here in for Christine Romans. It's Thursday, August 30th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

The "Washington Post" reports President Trump and his legal team for the first time said to be focused on the dreaded I word. Impeachment. The president's advisers and allies are increasingly worried he has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself if Democrats take over the House. That could lead to subpoenas or even impeachment charges.

The president's team has reportedly discussed recruiting experienced legal fire power to the Office of White House Counsel which is losing lead lawyer, Don McGahn.

BRIGGS: President Trump announcing, where else, on Twitter Wednesday McGahn will be leaving the job in the fall after the expected confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Hearings begin next week.

McGahn's departure was not unexpected, but it appears he was blindsided by the Trump tweet, having not announced his own timetable to leave.

More now from CNN's Abby Phillip at the White House.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Kaylee, President Trump's announcement that Don McGahn might be leaving in the near future came as a surprise to a lot of people here.