Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

President Trump Attacks Justice Department And FBI; Deadline Day For NAFTA; Laughter And Tears At McCain Memorial In Arizona; Arbitrator Says Colin Kaepernick's Collusion Case Can Proceed. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 31, 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] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN ANCHOR: He will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And are NFL teams colluding to keep Colin Kaepernick out of the league? An arbitrator refuses to rule it out.

The good news is for football fans, the preseason is over after last night. We can look ahead to the regular season now.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

HARTUNG: And I'm Kaylee Hartung. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

So it's 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 the frustration runs deeper. Mr. Trump wants Sessions to address stories in conservative media about the Russia probe. He said as much in the "Bloomberg" interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The president also telling "Bloomberg" he sees the Mueller investigation as quote "illegal" and did not say whether he'd comply with a subpoena.

And the question of who would replace Sessions and oversee the Russia probe is taking on greater significance.

More now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Indiana.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARTUNG: Thanks, Jeff.

Well, President Trump also telling "Bloomberg" that Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of The Trump Organization, did not betray him by cooperating with prosecutors in the Michael Cohen investigation.

We learned last week that Weisselberg received immunity. He was one of the Trump executives who reimbursed Cohen for the hush payment to Stormy Daniels.

But the president doesn't seem concerned about the CFO talking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A hundred percent. He's a -- he's a wonderful guy. It was a very limited little period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

Trump also knocked the threat of Democrats trying to impeach him, saying "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.

BRIGGS: 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 sides 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 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 pledges this new deal will be better for the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 good relationship. Look, we love Canada but they have to treat us fairly. They haven't treated us fairly.

This country is tired of being ripped off by other countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Of course, Congress must approve any new trade deal and there are still a few sticking points between the U.S. and Canada, in particular 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.

Let's talk about all of this with Greg Valliere, political economist and chief strategist for Horizon Investments. Great to see you, sir, and happy Friday.

GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST, CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: Good morning, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, so how significant is this deadline for the NAFTA deal? And, oh yes, what about Congress?

[05:35:03] VALLIERE: Well, I think it's a big deal. Here we are, Friday before Labor Day weekend and you'd think nothing would be going on for the markets. But --

BRIGGS: Yes.

VALLIERE: -- this is a big story.

I think if talks fail today, the markets would conclude we're in for a long trade war with Canada.

If, on the other hand, the Canadians capitulate -- and I think they will -- that means that the prospects for other deals -- Western Europe, maybe even China and maybe not until next year -- I think the prospect for other deals will improve.

HARTUNG: Why do you believe that, Greg?

VALLIERE: Well, I think because the parts of the deal that are so crucial, like auto content rules, dispute resolution mechanism -- if they can agree on that, I think it makes it easier for the U.S. to agree with other countries on things like that.

BRIGGS: Are the threat of tariffs working? Is Donald Trump, to his original point, winning?

VALLIERE: Yes -- well, he's not real subtle. I mean, he's pretty blunt.

BRIGGS: Oh.

VALLIERE: He'll smash you in the head and then will start to negotiate.

But yes, I mean it's certainly worked with Mexico. Mexico has cried uncle. I think the Canadians may cry uncle. Western Europe is now saying we might cut a deal on auto tariffs.

So yes, to an extent it's working.

But the big one -- the really big story is China and we've got a ways to go on that.

BRIGGS: Yes, and the threat now of tariffs on $200 billion --

VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- of additional goods, so that is a big threat and the markets didn't like it.

VALLIERE: Yes, yes.

HARTUNG: Yes, and turning over now to this discussion of Jeff Sessions' future.

VALLIERE: Yes.

HARTUNG: Whether you look at it as Trump saying his job is safe until the midterm elections or whether you think of it as him putting his attorney general on notice --

BRIGGS: Yes.

HARTUNG: -- that that could be the end there -- how do you see this playing out in the meantime?

VALLIERE: Well, a couple of points, Kaylee.

Number one, these appointees at the FBI and the Justice Department are his appointees. There's some irony there.

Number two, I've always thought the real story with the Mueller investigation was not collusion with Russia. The real story is obstruction of justice. And if Trump wants to avoid charges like that or allegations by the Democrats next year that he obstructed justice, firing his attorney general would not seem to help his cause.

BRIGGS: Yes, and --

HARTUNG: And what do you -- what do you make of those comments in Indiana last night?

BRIGGS: Yes, lashing out at the FBI and the DOJ.

VALLIERE: Yes. I mean, he's now I think instilling real doubts among the public and the FBI and law enforcement agencies. And I don't think it's because these agencies are corrupt.

BRIGGS: Yes.

VALLIERE: I think it's because he is not happy with the scrutiny of him.

BRIGGS: And real quickly before we go, Greg --

VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- this weekend will be all about remembering John McCain.

VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: To you, what is his enduring legacy and can anyone fill the void that he will leave in the U.S. Senate?

VALLIERE: Well, there's so many legacies. I'd pick this one, Dave. He stood up to Russia and he viewed Russia as an enemy of the United States.

Who's left? Bob Corker's leaving -- he's retiring. You'd have to ask who of real stature -- who has the gravitas to really take on Russia? I'm not sure what the answer is.

BRIGGS: Yes. Ben Sasse, maybe.

VALLIERE: Maybe.

BRIGGS: Marco Rubio -- it's tough to tell.

But, you know -- and who carries the torch of bipartisanship in Congress today? That is a question I'm afraid we don't have an answer to right now.

Greg Valliere, great to see you. VALLIERE: Yes, OK.

BRIGGS: Enjoy the holiday weekend, my friend.

VALLIERE: You, too -- yes.

HARTUNG: President Trump now telling lawmakers that 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 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, but it's not clear if the president would approve a budget that does include that pay increase.

BRIGGS: The president did say he still wants to index capital gains to inflation, though.

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 makes no secret of its founder's Christian values with bible verses printed on its wrappers.

California's Democratic Party chairman calling for a boycott of In-N- Out. But it's worth noting campaign finance filings show In-N-Out donated $80,000 since last year to a political action committee that typically supports Democratic candidates.

HARTUNG: How far can party loyalty really go, though, in California when it comes to In-N-Out Burger?

BRIGGS: People in California are very loyal to In-N-Out but that boycott was trending number one all day on Twitter, so we'll see where it goes.

HARTUNG: We'll see what happens.

Coming up right here on EARLY START, a California man charged with threatening calls to "The Boston Globe" is speaking out --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT DARRELL CHAIN, THREATENED BOSTON GLOBE EMPLOYEES: There is no free press in America. America was saved when Donald J. Trump was elected president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: -- and not exactly denying the charges. More, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:44:06] HARTUNG: Senator John McCain's body arriving in Washington last night from Arizona. His family was greeted by Defense Sec. James Mattis.

McCain will lie in state today at the U.S. Capitol. And before that, the McCain family, including his 106-year-old mother Roberta -- they will attend a ceremony at the Capitol. Vice President Pence is expected to deliver remarks on behalf of the White House.

BRIGGS: On Thursday, thousands packed a Phoenix church to say goodbye to McCain. 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)

JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But all we do today is attack the opposition of both parties -- their motives -- not the substance of their argument.

The last day John was on the Senate floor what was he fighting to do? He was fighting to restore what we call regular order to start to treat one another again like we used to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:45:10] BRIGGS: Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald spoke about their unlikely friendship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY FITZGERALD, WIDE RECEIVER, ARIZONA CARDINALS: He ran for president, I run out of bounds. He was the epitome of toughness and I do everything I can to avoid contact. 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, their political affiliations or their bank accounts. He evaluated them on the merits of their character and the contents of their hearts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: And with Fitzgerald in uniform, the Cardinals paid tribute to McCain before last night's preseason finale in Arizona.

A funeral service will be held tomorrow at the National Cathedral in Washington, and John McCain will be buried on Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

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 the truck blew a tire and lost control, crossing a median and 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 windows as bystanders grabbed ladders from their cars to try and rescue them.

HARTUNG: And a California man is charged after alleging making a series of threats to "The Boston Globe." Robert Chain is accused of making threatening phone calls after the "Globe" announced it was calling on newspapers across the country to publish editorials standing up to the president for his 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 quote, "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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAIN: There is no free press in America. American was saved when Donald J. Trump was elected president.

Had Hillary Clinton -- the criminal, Hillary Clinton -- who, by the way -- whose e-mails were just hacked by the Chinese now.

BETSY CHAIN, WIFE OF ROBERT CHAIN: Get out of here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: That's his wife pulling him away there.

Chain allegedly made at least 14 threatening phone calls to "The Boston Globe" and he faces five years in prison and $250,000 in a fine if he's convicted.

BRIGGS: After igniting more than a month ago, the deadly Carr Fire in California is finally 100 percent contained.

Authorities say the catastrophic blaze burnt almost 230,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. It began July 23rd, sparked by a vehicle driving on a flat tire.

Crews will patrol the burn area for several more days. The fire is blamed for eight deaths.

HARTUNG: Well, the Food and Drug Administration -- they're warning consumers about potential dangers of eating food that's prepared with liquid nitrogen like you see there.

The FDA says serious injury can happen from eating foods like ice cream, cereal or cocktails that 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.

BRIGGS: All right, 5:48 and a check on "CNN Money" this morning.

The rally on Wall Street ending. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 snapping a 4- day winning streak as trade fears rise once again.

"Bloomberg" reporting 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.

The U.S. already in 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 the $7 billion in sales it left behind.

Walmart expanding its toy selection both in stores and online. Also, snatching up hundreds of exclusive brands and holding in-store toy demos.

But, Walmart is not alone. JCPenney, Target, and Amazon all making a push into toys.

How will Apple follow up its biggest iPhone announcement since the original, the iPhone X? Probably the same device with more colors. We'll find out for sure though on September 12th. That's when Apple hosts its fall event.

And, Apple watchers expected to unveil the new iPhone XS and we may have already gotten a sneak peek. 9to5Mac claims this is a leaked photo of the new design.

Apple also expected to debut a number of new iPhones and give a release date for its next IOS operating system.

Expect a 6 1/2-inch screen on the new iPhone -- that is massive. And some updates to the new Apple watch as well.

HARTUNG: I saw you measuring your iPhone screen --

BRIGGS: Yes, yes.

HARTUNG: -- in an attempt to figure out the difference --

BRIGGS: Unscientifically.

HARTUNG: -- between what this new phone will be like.

BRIGGS: Look, I think I'm about 5.8 but, you know --

[05:50:02] HARTUNG: Not scientific at all.

BRIGGS: -- there's a size joke in there that I'm just going to hang onto for now.

HARTUNG: We'll move on.

You know, one more chance to barbecue this weekend. Will the weather cooperate for the holiday weekend? We have a forecast, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Eminem dropping a surprise album overnight called "Kamikaze." On it, he launches some attacks on President Trump who he calls "Agent Orange."

The rapper claims Trump sent the Secret Service after an anti-Trump rant at the 2017 BET Awards where Eminem called Trump a "Kamikaze that will probably cause a nuclear holocaust."

[05:55:00] Eminem's new lyrics:

'Cause Agent Orange just sent the Secret Service To meet in person To see if I really think of hurtin' him Or ask if I'm linked to terrorists I said, "Only when it comes to ink and lyricists"

HARTUNG: Important to your holiday weekend plans, it would be good to know that there's a severe weather threat in the east and -- while the northeast cools down for a bit.

Here is meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 the 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 and parts of Iowa. Damaging winds and 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 the 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARTUNG: People are already lining up. These are live pictures from Detroit as people look to pay their respects to the queen of soul.

It will be a star-studded final farewell today to Aretha Franklin. Her funeral service in Detroit will feature musical tributes from Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Faith Hill, and many more. Former President Bill Clinton will be among the speakers.

Dozens of pink Cadillacs will line the streets in Detroit, paying homage to Aretha's 1985 single "Freeway of Love."

BRIGGS: Last night, dozens of artists and celebrities paid tribute to Aretha at a free concert at a park in Detroit.

HARTUNG: And 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 dismiss the case.

Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season and the former 49ers quarterback claims that team owners have 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.

BRIGGS: At the U.S. Open, a chair umpire is taking heat after he appeared to give a pep talk to Nick Kyrgios during his second-round match. Kyrgios is known for his meltdowns and appeared to be having yet another one in the second set.

That's when the chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani left his seat and spotted giving Kyrgios what looked like a pep talk here. 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. Kyrgios came back to win.

As for the 23-year-old player, he's downplaying the entire issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK KYRGIOS, AUSTRALIAN TENNIS PLAYER, U.S. OPEN: And he was just telling me it's just 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 really listening to him but I knew, you know, it wasn't a good look. But it didn't help me at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: The U.S. Tennis Association says the umpire left his chair because he was concerned about Kyrgios' health. But, "The New York Times" says an investigation is underway into Lahyani's action.

I recommend mediation. Just a little focus -- a little head space.

HARTUNG: Is that right?

BRIGGS: Yes. The meltdowns are his thing. It's his signature, unfortunately.

HARTUNG: Among the signature matches today at the U.S. Open, Venus and Serena Williams.

BRIGGS: Yes. And you never know when it's the last one --

HARTUNG: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- so don't take this one for granted.

HARTUNG: No.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Kaylee Hartung.

BRIGGS: Thanks for being here this week.

I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. Have a wonderful holiday weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our Justice Department have to start doing their job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His idea that the Mueller investigation is illegal just doesn't sit right on its face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just better not do anything to take away the power of Bob Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country has fallen in love with John McCain this week.

BIDEN: John McCain's impact on America is not over.

GRANT WOODS, MCCAIN'S FIRST CONGRESSIONAL CHIEF OF STAFF, FORMER ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL: He served his country with honor. Now, my friend, sleep in heavenly peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, what a juxtaposition this week has been with the sort of beautiful, poignant rhetoric around John McCain and then some of the fiery rhetoric that we've heard elsewhere, and it continues today. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And it's all coming together, in some ways, in one interview that "Bloomberg" did last night.

CAMEROTA: That's right, great point.

So welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Friday, the last day of August -- the 31st, 6:00 here in New York.

So, President Trump has given a new interview to the press that he claims --