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Trump Says Jeff Sessions' Job Safe for Now. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 31, 2018 - 04:30   ET


[04:31:01] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN ANCHOR: The attorney general's job is safe but not for long. Jeff Sessions could be replaced once the midterms are done.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's fighting to restore what we call regular order. To start to treat one another again like we used to.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Passionate tributes to John McCain before his final flight to Washington. Today, McCain granted an honor few are. He'll lie in state at the U.S. capitol.

HARTUNG: And are NFL teams colluding to keep Colin Kaepernick out of the league? An arbitrator refuses to rule it out.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Kaylee Hartung.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. 4:31 Eastern Time.

Are you surprised he doesn't have a job, Colin Kaepernick in the NFL? Considering the quality of the position across the league?

HARTUNG: I am. I am.

BRIGGS: I'm stunned. I mean, he is certainly talented enough to have a job. If not a starting job.

HARTUNG: And if we've learned anything about the NFL in recent years, the quarterback.


HARTUNG: Really is all that matters.

BRIGGS: It's interesting. We'll see where that story goes. But we start of course with politics in the nation's capital.

No longer a matter of if the president will fire his attorney general but when. The president in an interview with Bloomberg says Jeff Sessions' job is safe through the midterm elections but he makes no promises after that. We know the president is angry over Sessions recusing himself from the

Russia probe, but a source tells CNN what may be more frustrating is that Sessions' recusal prevents him from addressing stories in conservative media about the origins of the Russia probe. Trump said as much in the Bloomberg interview.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd just like to have Jeff Sessions do his job and if he did, I'd be very happy. But the job entails two sides. Not one side.


HARTUNG: The president also telling Bloomberg he sees the Mueller investigation as illegal and did not say whether he would comply with a subpoena. So the question of who would replace Sessions and oversee the Russia probe is taking on greater importance.

We get more from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Kaylee, President Trump answered a lingering question that has been hanging over the White House and indeed the Justice Department.

Will he dismiss or fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions? Well, he told "Bloomberg News" that Jeff Sessions' job is safe at least until November. That did not stop the president, however, from going after the Justice Department at a rally Thursday night here in Evansville, Indiana.


TRUMP: Our Justice Department and our FBI have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now. What's happening is a disgrace. And at some point I wanted to stay out, but at some point if it doesn't straighten out properly, I want them to do their job. I will get involved and I'll get in there if I have to.


ZELENY: So the president not specific at all about how he will get involved. He has made that suggestion from time to time over recent months that he will get involved. But he has not yet done so. Of course his lawyers and others have warned him against interfering in the Russia investigation.

But one thing was clear, President Trump clearly had Russia on his mind even though he rarely talked about it as he rallied Republican voters here in Indiana. Clearly focusing on the 2018 midterm elections even if he talked far more about his own race, his favorite race, back in 2016 -- Dave and Kaylee.

BRIGGS: All right. Jeff Zeleny there in Indiana. President Trump also telling Bloomberg that Allen Weisselberg, the

chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, did not betray him by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors in the Michael Cohen investigation.

We learned last week Weisselberg received immunity. He was one of the Trump execs who reimbursed Cohen for the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. But the president doesn't seem at all concerned about the CFO talking.


TRUMP: Hundred percent. He is a wonderful guy. It was a very limited little period of time.


BRIGGS: Trump refused to say whether he knew before the election about the Stormy Daniels payment despite past claims he did not.

[04:35:03] Trump also knocked the threat of Democrats trying to impeach him, saying, quote, "I don't think they can impeach somebody that's doing a great job." He says it would set a precedent making it too easy to remove future presidents.

HARTUNG: President Trump also defending his response to John McCain's passing, telling Bloomberg he did not missed a chance to unite the country.


TRUMP: We had our disagreements. And they were very strong disagreements. I disagreed with many of the things that I assumed he believed in. But with that being said, I respect his service to the country.


HARTUNG: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was in the room during that interview. Mr. Trump joked that she was, quote, "having a nervous breakdown" during his answers about McCain.

BRIGGS: The senator's body arriving in Washington last night from Arizona. The family was greeted by Defense Secretary James Mattis.

McCain will lie in state today at the U.S. capitol where the public can pay respects. Before that the McCain family including his 106- year-old mother Roberta will attend a ceremony at the capitol. Vice President Pence expected to deliver remarks.

HARTUNG: On Thursday, thousands packed the Phoenix church to say good-bye to Arizona's favorite son. Among the speakers, former vice president Joe Biden who talked about their friendship and how they both lamented a bygone era in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: All we do today is attack the oppositions of both parties, their motives. Not the substance of their arguments. The last day, John, on the Senate floor, look what he was fighting to do. He was fighting to restore what we call regular order. To start to treat one another again like we used to.


BRIGGS: Arizona Cardinals' wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald spoke about their unlikely friendship.


LARRY FITZGERALD, ARIZONA CARDINALS WIDE RECEIVER: He ran for president. I run out of bounds.


FITZGERALD: He was the epitome of toughness and I do everything I can to avoid contact.


FITZGERALD: I have flowing locks and well, he didn't. He didn't judge individuals based on the color of their skin, their gender, their backgrounds or political affiliations or their bank accounts. He evaluated them on the merits of their character and the contents of their hearts.


BRIGGS: Well said. With Fitzgerald in uniform, the Cardinals paid tribute to McCain before last night's preseason finale in Arizona. The funeral service will be held tomorrow at the National Cathedral in Washington. John McCain will be buried on Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Today is deadline day for NAFTA. The U.S. and Canada making a late- night push to modernize the trade agreement but there's no deal yet. President Trump telling Bloomberg the two are close, but it may not be today. The U.S., Mexico and Canada have been reworking NAFTA for more than a year.

Canada rejoined the talks after months on the sidelines giving the U.S. and Mexico time to work out their own deal. Now Canada and the U.S. must come together and President Trump pledging this new deal will be better for the U.S.


TRUMP: We are replacing NAFTA with a beautiful brand new U.S.-Mexico trade deal. And as we speak, Canada -- and we love Canada, right? But they have to get rid of those barriers and they have to get rid of those big tariffs. We've really developed a very good relationship. Look, we love Canada. But they have to treatise fairly. They haven't treated us fairly. This country is tired of being ripped off by other countries.


BRIGGS: Of course Congress must approve any new deal and there are still a few sticking points between the U.S. and Canada especially over Canada's dairy market. The Trump administration wants more access for U.S. farmers. Canada imposes a 249 percent tariff on dairy products while Canada wants to protect its domestic industry.

HARTUNG: President Trump is now telling lawmakers he wants to scrap a pay raise for civilian federal workers. An across-the-board 2.1 percent pay increase for federal workers was slated to take effect back in January. But in a letter to House and Senate leaders, Mr. Trump described the pay increase as, quote, "inappropriate." He also said the nation's budget couldn't support it. Congress does have an opportunity to overrule the president if lawmakers pass a spending bill that includes a federal pay raise. It's not clear if the president would approve a budget that includes the pay raise.

BRIGGS: All right. How about some political hamburgers now? In-N- Out Burger under searing pressure from Democrats in California after a public filing revealed the restaurant chain donated $25,000 to the state Republican Party.

The late CEO Rich Snyder was an evangelical Christian and supporter of Republican candidates. The burger chain doesn't make its founder's Christian values a secret with bible quotes printed on its wrappers.

[04:40:02] California's Democratic Party chairman now calling for a boycott of In-N-Out, but it's worth noting according to campaign finance filings, In-N-Out Burger also donated $80,000 since last year to a political action committee supporting Democratic candidates.

Look, politics is everywhere these days. It's in Hollywood. It's in sports. And it is now at your fast food drive-in.

HARTUNG: How about that reporting from "The L.A. Times." A California state senator.


HARTUNG: A Republican, Jim Neilson, his office just to support In-N- Out, went ahead and ordered 25 burgers and 50 order of fries one day.

BRIGGS: Just to support.

HARTUNG: Just to support.

BRIGGS: And to keep the staff fed and healthy.




HARTUNG: Now coming up, a California man charged with threatening calls to the "Boston Globe," he's speaking out.


ROBERT CHAIN, CHARGED WITH MAKING THREATS TO BOSTON GLOBE: There is no free press in America. America was saved when Donald J. Trump was elected president.


HARTUNG: Not exactly denying the charges. More next.


[04:45:10] BRIGGS: In New Mexico, at least seven people are dead after a head-on highway collision between a tractor-trailer and a Greyhound bus. Dozens more were injured including children. Authorities say that the truck blew a tire, lost control and crossed the median, striking the bus along Interstate 40 in McKinley County.

Aerial footage shows the truck on its side with its contents spilled on the median. Passengers on the bus tried to climb out of windows as bystanders grabbed ladders from their cars to try and rescue them.

HARTUNG: A California man charged after allegedly making a series of threats to the "Boston Globe." Robert Chain is accused of making threatening phone calls after the paper announced earlier this month it was calling on newspapers across the country to publish editorials standing up to the president for attacks on the media.

Court documents say on the same day the editorial campaign was published Chain called the "Globe's" newsroom and echoed the president's words saying, "You're the enemy of the people and we're going to kill every f-ing one of you."

Chain spoke after his court appearance in California.


CHAIN: There is no free press in America. America was saved when Donald J. Trump was elected president. Had the criminal Hillary Clinton, the criminal Hillary Clinton, who by the way whose e-mails were just hacked by the Chinese now --



HARTUNG: That was his wife you heard and see there, who pulled him away from the scene. In all Chain allegedly made at least 14 threatening phone calls to the "Boston Globe." He faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

BRIGGS: The Justice Department offering a public show of support for Asian Americans suing Harvard over its admissions policy. The court filing is the Trump administration's most significant entry into the debate over Affirmative Action. In court papers the DOJ says Harvard's race-based admissions process serves as a significant disadvantage to Asian-American applicants compared to applicants of other racial groups.

Harvard has rejected the assertion that it sets caps on a number of Asian American students and says it's deeply disappointed with the Justice Department for siding with the group that is recycling the same misleading and hallow statements.

HARTUNG: There are 497 children still separated from their parents after being split at the U.S.-Mexico border. That includes 22 kids under the age of 5. This according to a new court filing. Some of them whose parents were deported without them.

Now it remains unclear exactly how many parents were deported without their children, though it's in the hundreds. A total of 1,937 children have been reunited with their parents. That's only up from 14 last week. A judge set a deadline for all reunifications set for July 26th.

BRIGGS: After igniting more than a month ago, the deadly Carr Fire in California is finally 100 percent contained. Authorities say the catastrophic blaze burned almost 230,000 acres and destroyed more than a thousand homes. It began July 23rd sparked by a vehicle driving on a flat tire. Crews will patrol the burned area for several more days. The fire is blamed for eight deaths.

HARTUNG: Now how about this? The Food and Drug Administration warning consumers about potential dangers of eating food prepared with liquid nitrogen. The FDA says serious injury can happen from eating food like ice cream, cereal or cocktails with just had liquid nitrogen added. Officials say in some cases there's been damage to skin and internal organs. If liquid nitrogen is inhaled it can also cause difficulty breathing, The FDA did not release how many reports of injuries it has received.

BRIGGS: So it's the dragon breath that you see there. That's the desire, that's the lure of these foods?

HARTUNG: Apparently?

BRIGGS: I'm just learning of this.


BRIGGS: I have not tried any of these foods but it's good to know I have not. All right. Stay with some dragon breath.

Could these pictures be the leaked version of what's next for iPhone? We'll find out at Apple's big event in September. The latest news on CNN Money is next.

I can't decide with that picture --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:53:56] BRIGGS: A star-studded final farewell on tap today for the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Her funeral service in Detroit will feature musical tributes from Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Arianna Grande, Faith Hill and many more.

HARTUNG: Former President Bill Clinton will be among the speakers. Dozens of pink Cadillacs will line the streets of Detroit paying homage to Aretha's 1985 single "Freeway of Love."

And last night, dozens of artists and celebrities paid tribute to Aretha at a free concert at a park in Detroit. Tickets went so quickly a lot of people decided to just go to the venue and stand outside so they could hear the music. Our sister network HLN will air Franklin's funeral in its entirety.

BRIGGS: A big legal victory for Colin Kaepernick. An arbitrator allowing his collusion grievance against the NFL to proceed to a trial-like hearing. The league had requested arbitrator Stephen Burbank to dismiss the case.

[04:55:00] Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season and the former 49ers quarterback claims team owners conspired to keep him out of the league after he refused to stand for the national anthem as a protest against social injustice. His hearing is expected to take place later this year.

HARTUNG: And at the U.S. Open a chair umpire is taking some heat after he appeared to give a pep talk to Nick Kyrgios during his second round match on Thursday. Kyrgios is known for his meltdowns and he appeared to be having one in the second set. Then the chair umpire, he left his seat and was spotted giving him this pep talk. The ump was heard saying things like I want to help you, you're great for tennis, and I know this is not you.

That talk appeared to work some magic with Kyrgios coming back to win. And as for the 23-year-old player he is downplaying the whole issue.


NICK KYRGIOS, AUSTRALIAN TENNIS PLAYER: He was just telling me this is not a good look. Like I wasn't feeling good. I know what I was doing out there wasn't good. You know, I wasn't listening to him. But I knew, you know, it wasn't a good look. So it didn't help at all.


HARTUNG: His next opponent Roger Federer among those slamming the move by the umpire. The U.S. Tennis Association says the umpire left his chair because he was concerned about Kyrgios' health. The "New York Times" says an investigation is under way into umpire's actions.

There's a severe weather threat in the Midwest this weekend while the northeast, it cools down a bit for the holiday weekend.

Here's meteorologist Derek Van Dam with more. DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Kaylee and Dave. The

long-awaited holiday weekend is upon us. You'll feel a big difference as you step outdoors today compared to earlier in the workweek where it was extremely hot and humid. Temperatures have come down quite a bit thanks to a cold front that's passed just to our east.

And unfortunately with that cold front comes a small chance of a light shower or two through the day today and into the weekend as well. We have a chance of severe storms across the northern plains.

Look at where the storm prediction center has highlighted the areas from southern Minnesota into western Wisconsin, parts of Iowa. Damaging winds, large hail a possibility so look out, Minneapolis all the way to Des Moines and into Omaha. Rainfall totals with some of those slow-moving thunderstorms that finally fire up later today could easily produce over an inch to two inches of rain locally.

Now we do have a warming trend as we head into early parts of next week. Labor Day weather forecast looking rather stormy into Chicago to end off the weekend. Boston will be cool. Atlanta stays hot and muggy.

Back to you.

BRIGGS: All right, Derek, thanks.

Let's get a check on CNN Money this morning. The rally on Wall Street ending the Nasdaq and S&P 500, snapping a four-day winning streak as trade fears rise once again. Bloomberg reports that President Trump wants to slap the next round of tariffs on China as early as next week. The U.S. targeting an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods. U.S. already hit China with tariffs worth $50 billion. In total that's about half of what the U.S. buys from China each year.

Right now global stocks are lower. Walmart looking to fill the void left by Toys 'R' Us. This year will be the first holiday season since Toys 'R' Us went out of business. And Walmart is gunning for that $7 billion in sales left behind. Walmart expanding its toy selection both in stores and online, and also snatching up hundreds of exclusive brands and holding in-store toy demos. But Walmart is not alone. JCPenney, Target and Amazon have all made a heavy push into toys.

How will Apple follow up its biggest iPhone announcement since the original? The iPhone X, probably with the same device and more colors. We'll find out for sure on September 12th. That's when Apple hosts its fall event. And Apple watchers expected to unveil the next iPhone Xs.

And we may have already gotten a sneak peek. Here's 9-5. It claims this is a leaked photo of the new design. Apple also expected to debut a number of new iPhones in two weeks and give a release date of its next IOS operating system.

Well, I'm hearing that a 6.5 inch screen is the new iPhone which is enormous. We used to want them smaller.

HARTUNG: I don't know --

BRIGGS: Now we want them bigger.

HARTUNG: -- if I can fit that in my hand.

BRIGGS: Big purse. It means big purse, yes.

HARTUNG: Right? And are you one of those people who immediately downloads the new operating system update whenever it pops up?

BRIGGS: I wait a few days. Because you get those tweaks that some apps aren't ready for. Always best to wait a few days in my experience.

HARTUNG: Couldn't agree more.

EARLY START continues right now.

The attorney general's job is safe, but not for long. Jeff Sessions could be replaced once the midterms are done.


BIDEN: He's fighting to restore what we call regular order. To start to treat one another again like we used to.


BRIGGS: Passionate tributes to John McCain before his final flight to Washington. Today, McCain is granted an honor few are. He'll lie in state at the U.S. capitol.

HARTUNG: And are NFL teams colluding to keep Colin Kaepernick out of the league? An arbitrator refuses to rule it out. A big win for Colin Kaepernick in the legal battle there.


HARTUNG: Good morning and welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Kaylee Hartung, in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Happy Friday, Kaylee. Good morning to all of you. I'm Dave Briggs. Friday, August 31st --