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EARLY START

Wray Clashes With Trump Over Nunes Memo; Trump Asked Rosenstein: "Are You On My Team?"; North Korea Athletes Arrive In South Korea; Defense Secretary Considers Cell Phone Ban At Pentagon. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 1, 2018 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:12] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Another standoff between the president and the FBI. New questions being raised about a Republican memo that alleges abuses at the FBI. We now know the document was changed after the Intel Committee voted to publicly release it.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: Did the president, once again, blur the line on loyalty with law enforcement? CNN has learned Mr. Trump asked the deputy attorney general if he was quote, "on my team."

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Rene Marsh.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

It really is a new American moment because President Trump has been quiet on Twitter --

MARSHA: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- in the last couple of days if you haven't noticed.

MARSH: There are no tweets.

BRIGGS: We'll see if that changes later today because we start with this escalating feud between the FBI and the president over a classified memo which the president could release as soon as today.

FBI director Christopher Wray clashing very publicly with the president over the memo pushed by Republican Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intel Committee.

Wray issuing a rare public warning expressing "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy."

MARSHA: Well, the comments from President Trump's own FBI chief coming after two days of private talks where top Justice Department officials tried to convince the White House not to release the memo.

Here's Chief of Staff John Kelly on the document's release.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Our national security lawyers in the White House that work for me, work for the president, they're slicing and dicing and looking at it so that we know what it means and what it understands.

BRIAN KILMEADE, HOST, FOX NEWS RADIO, "THE BRIAN KILMEADE SHOW": Did you see it?

KELLY: I did.

KILMEADE: What do you think?

KELLY: We'll let the -- it'll be released here pretty quick, I think, and the whole world can see it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: Well, President Trump was overheard after the State of the Union telling a Republican congressman he will quote, "100 percent release the memo."

BRIGGS: Chairman Nunes now accused of secretly making significant changes to the classified memo. The ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee Adam Schiff says Nunes sent a memo to the White House that was materially different than the one the committee approved along party lines.

MARSH: Well, Congressman Schiff is now demanding the committee vote again on whether to release it. Nunes' spokesman does not dispute changes were but only on how significant those changes were.

He says, quote, "In its increasingly strange attempt to thwart publication of the memo, the committee minority is now complaining about minor edits to the memo, including grammatical fixes and two edits requested by the FBI and the minority themselves."

BRIGGS: Now what is not clear this morning, exactly what changes were made, why Schiff's staff pushed to check the changes, and whether the White House had any hand in these changes.

MARSH: Well, Nunes refused to tell colleagues whether his staff had spoken to the White House. Democratic committee member Mike Quigley tells CNN he does not believe Nunes was being candid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: He is, with a few staff, I think, acting as an agent of the White House and has for an entire year. This is the President of the United States acting to defend himself legally and politically at the expense of our national security. And complicit in that is the Speaker of the House and Chairman Nunes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Last year, Nunes was forced to temporarily step aside from leading the Russia investigation after it was revealed he secretly went to the White House to review classified evidence. MARSH: Well, Congressman Nunes is also a key figure in another episode of President Trump's apparently asking for loyalty from an FBI official.

CNN reporting exclusively Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited the White House in December to ask the president for help fighting off document requests from Nunes. Mr. Trump wanted to know where the special counsel's Russia investigation was heading. Our sources tell us the president also asked Rosenstein if he was quote "on my team."

BRIGGS: We're told the deputy attorney general was surprised by the president's question and responded, "of course, we're all on your team, Mr. President."

Now, that conversation could raise further questions about whether the president was seeking to interfere in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

No comment from the Justice Department or the White House.

MARSH: Well, let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan. She is live in Washington this morning. Good morning, Tal.

BRIGGS: Hi, Tal.

TAL KOPAN, REPORTER, "CNN POLITICS": Good morning.

MARSH: You know, the big story is about this memo here -- will it be released, will it not be released -- but also about this secret editing.

I mean, do we have any clear sense as to whether any of these changes made to the memo are that significant?

KOPAN: At this point, we really don't. The memo has not been released yet. It hasn't been viewed by the media and so we have a little bit of a he said-he said at this point, so to speak, because the Democrats on the committee led by Adam Schiff are saying that these changes are significant.

[05:35:04] You know, one of the things he's saying about these changes is that they back off some of the claims in the memo. And keep in mind, the argument from the beginning from Democrats who have seen this memo and the underlying intelligence is that the memo sort of skews things and paints an inaccurate picture of what the underlying intelligence actually says.

So now, Schiff is accusing Nunes of making some changes that sort of back off some of the most aggressive claims in the memo.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, they're saying these are sort of grammatical fixes or edits that were requested by the FBI or Democrats. So we don't really know and I'm not sure we ever will.

So unless a memo comes out and the original is released, to a certain extent the American public are probably going to have to use their own partisan leanings to determine who they actually side with in this instance.

BRIGGS: A new cable news drinking game ought to be drink every time you hear the word memo. We don't recommend it at 5:30 a.m.

KOPAN: That's bad --

BRIGGS: Wait until prime time with Don Lemon.

KOPAN: That's bad advice.

BRIGGS: So, there's also this story about Rod Rosenstein was asked if he was on the president's team, just the latest in I think a long line of loyalty pledges, that it would appear, from President Trump.

But again, his line is certainly going to be there's no collusion, there's no obstruction, there's no evidence.

Would he be wrong?

KOPAN: Yes, that's certainly the line that we hear over and over, Dave. You know, keep in mind the reason why there's so much attention on these questions at the Justice Department is while it is absolutely true that most of the people in the Justice Department at the political level are appointed by the president and thus, a member of his cabinet or a member of his administration, by his choice, which in this instance Rod Rosenstein is.

You know, the Justice Department is typically considered something separate from politics so even though the president may choose the attorney general, the attorney general is supposed to be loyal first, to the constitution and to the law and sort of secondarily affiliated with the White House. And so that's why these are sort of eyebrow- raising questions.

And, to a certain extent, some of this is the President of the United States not being a politician and not being familiar with these customs.

But it absolutely -- to your question -- will come up when you ask these sort of more probing questions of whether the White House is sort of actively trying to undermine the carriage of justice by the Justice Department, and they're not necessarily going to be flattering anecdotes to the people looking at those.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

MARSH: All right. So, Tal, one more question on this whole Russia issue. I mean, you know, it is clear that Nunes is trying to discredit the FBI and the Mueller investigation. All that being said, there are all of these investigations -- Republican-led investigations happening on Capitol Hill.

Does he risk muddying the waters and just discrediting his own investigation in the process here because -- dragging politics into all of this?

KOPAN: Yes, Rene, I honestly don't know how could make the argument that the waters are not muddy at this point. You know, you've had so much fighting back and forth over the last several days and weeks over a memo that the American public has never seen, don't know if they ever will see, and certainly will never see the classified intelligence underneath.

And so, what you have is two parties fighting over whether or not their version of the intelligence is accurate. That is undermining to the American people's ability to believe in Congress as an institution and the Justice Department as an institution that can sort of sort through the facts.

So the water's absolutely muddied here and you're right. Now, you've sort of injected all of that partisan fight over this one document into the broader intelligence committee investigation. It may be very hard for them to come back from when they want to ultimately present findings in that investigation to the American people.

BRIGGS: So with all of that as a backdrop, how do we get an immigration deal? The next funding deadline is in a week. Are we anywhere close to a deal?

KOPAN: Dave, I wish I could say something else but, no.

BRIGGS: No.

KOPAN: We are not close. You know, I've written about this and will continue to write about this.

There's a lot of talk in Congress but there really is not a lot of progress towards resolving some of these issues. Both sides are sort of not exactly where they started but they're honestly not that far from where they started in these negotiations and they don't seem to be able to find any sort of sweet spot that they can both agree is fair middle ground.

And so, February eighth is likely to come and we'll probably get another continuing resolution for government funding.

The next big question is what Mitch McConnell does with his promise to have some sort of open floor debate because that can go anywhere and it doesn't look like there's going to be a pre-agreement. So now, you're going to have the Senate sort of having a bit of a free-for-all on amendments --

[05:40:01] BRIGGS: Oh, boy.

KOPAN: -- and we don't even know what the base bill is going to look like. So that's sort of the next big looming step.

BRIGGS: Wow, inspiring. And the president addressing the congressional retreat today.

KOPAN: Yes. BRIGGS: Tal Kopan, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

MARSH: Thank you, Tal.

KOPAN: Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's talk some money.

Janet Yellen's time as head of the world's most influential Central Bank is over. Yellen was the first woman to run the Federal Reserve.

Her replacement, Jerome Powell, begins his four-year term Saturday. Powell inherits a healthier economy than his predecessor.

Janet Yellen jump-started the economy while dealing with low inflation. Powell will face the opposite. The Fed expects inflation to speed up this year and that it will have to raise interest rates to keep it in check.

At Yellen's final meeting yesterday, the Fed kept rates steady but signaled it will boost interest rates next month. The Fed has penciled in three hikes this year.

Interest rates affecting borrowing costs, raising rates on things like mortgages, auto and student loans, and savings accounts.

MARSH: Well, the Winter Olympics are just --

BRIGGS: Yes.

MARSH: -- eight days away and there's lots of activity in PyeongChang overnight, and that includes the arrival of North Koreans. We are live at the site of the Olympics, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:45:33] MARSH: Well, North Korea's athletes arriving this morning in South Korea ahead of the Winter Games which kick off in a little bit more than a week, and it's being closely watched as observers hope for a potential breakthrough in the tensions engulfing the Korean Peninsula.

Our Paula Hancocks is part of the team covering the games from PyeongChang and she joins us live this morning. So you see any activity there, so far, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rene, we know that the athletes are now here. The final North Korean athletes touching down in an airport which is just about 50 miles away from here.

A very unusual flight. You do not get flights from North Korea to South Korea even though it is so close. The border itself -- the DMZ is only 50 miles away from here.

So, a 32-member delegation has arrived, we understand on their way to the athlete's village, and the two athlete's villages have their own opening ceremony today as well. They are now officially open, as you say, just over a week to go before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics opens.

Now, there's also, of course, that delegation of the women's ice hockey team which arrived last week. They're down in Jincheon, just south of the capital. They've been training with the South Korean women's ice hockey team because they're going to be combined for the Olympics.

A very significant moment -- obviously, a very proud moment for the president, Moon Jae-in, who said he wanted this to be the peace Olympics. He wanted North Korea to be involved and what he wanted has actually materialized. Of course, no one knows what happens after the athletes go home, though -- Rene.

MARSH: Paula Hancocks live for us this morning in South Korea. Thanks, Paula.

BRIGGS: All right.

President Trump has decided not to do a Super Bowl interview this weekend. Sources at NBC say the White House has rejected their interview request but they say the president still has an open invitation if he changes his mind.

A pre-Super Bowl sit-down with the commander in chief has become tradition over the past decade. When Fox televised the game last year, Mr. Trump was interviewed by then-Fox anchor Bill O'Reilly.

So there goes the only chance that Alisyn Camerota will watch the Super Bowl, but she joins us nonetheless to tell us what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Good morning, Alisyn.

MARSH: Good morning.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Dave, as you know, I consider the Super Bowl a delivery mechanism for nachos, so I do watch it.

BRIGGS: OK, I stand corrected, my friend. What you got this morning?

CAMEROTA: OK. I hate to sound like a broken record but we have a very big show because --

BRIGGS: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- there's all sorts of new reporting, as you know, about this Republican mystery memo and whether or not the Republicans watered it down somehow before the entire committee voted on sending it to the White House.

So we have Congressman Jim Himes on with us, live this morning, because he had a very interesting conservation with the chairman, Devin Nunes, about all of this and he will share with us what they talked about. And then, we also have these two lawmakers who also happen to be doctors, and thank goodness they were on that train when there was the horrible train accident as they were headed on their retreat. So these two lawmakers will tell us how they administered aid to the injured and just what that chaotic scene was like.

So all of that when Chris and I see you in 12 minutes.

BRIGGS: And more conveniently, one is on the House Intel Committee so you have --

CAMEROTA: We'll do a twofer.

MARSH: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- a fair amount of discussion with them.

All right, my friend. Thank you so much. Looking forward to it.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Ahead, Mark Zuckerberg working to fix Facebook, but that's hurting Facebook's numbers. Investors not happy.

"CNN Money Stream," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:53:07] MARSH: Well, sources tell CNN the Defense Department is considering a ban on personal cell phones in the Pentagon. It's part of the fallout from revelations a fitness tracking app could pose security risks for U.S. troops.

We get more from CNN's Ryan Browne at the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Good morning, Dave and Rene.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is actively reviewing whether the United States will ban cell phones from the Pentagon, the world's largest office building.

Now, this review has been going on for some time. Officials are saying it was only reinforced after recent revelations regarding fitness apps potentially revealing details about U.S. troops overseas. Now, this review is really concerned with the security risks posed by personal cell phones. These cell phone are potentially able to get information from classified areas and be transmitted.

This is what led to a similar ban being imposed last month for White House staff.

Now, this all comes as Sec. Mattis is reviewing fitness apps, smartphones, and cell phone use. However, officials are saying the logistical challenges involved with the Pentagon -- some 25,000 military and civilian staff work here -- makes the actual ban very difficult to implement and is casting some doubt whether a full ban will, in fact, take place.

Now, people would have to leave their cell phones outside the building. That's a lot of lockers that they would have to install. Many employees here come via public transit.

And all these issues are part of this ongoing review which we're being told no final decision has been made.

Back to you guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Ryan, thanks.

Homeland Security officials announcing the temporary protected status of some 7,000 Syrian nationals in the U.S. being extended for another 18 months because of the ongoing civil war in the country. Protections for Syria were first enacted in 2012. They shield recipients from deportation while authorizing them to work in the U.S.

[05:55:05] Syrians who arrived here after August 2016 will not be eligible for the extension. The first time since protections were created for Syrians that new immigrants cannot apply.

MARSH: Well, a Polish doctor from Michigan detained by immigration officials is expected to be released today on $10,000 bond. Dr. Lucas Niec was taken into custody by ICE agents in mid-January after 40 years in the United States.

Dr. Niec originally came under scrutiny because of 18 encounters with police, most of them traffic violations. A child abuse claim against him was unsubstantiated.

Dr. Niec is a lawful, permanent resident. His family has launched a legal fight to keep him in the United States.

BRIGGS: San Francisco will immediately dismiss all misdemeanor marijuana convictions dating back to 1975. The city district attorney says the decision stems from a provision in the California law that legalized recreational marijuana.

Officials also plan to review all marijuana felonies recorded during the same time period and on appropriate cases, resentence them as misdemeanor offenses, but it doesn't happen automatically. A person convicted of a marijuana crime must petition to a court to have their record changed.

MARSH: Former first lady Michelle Obama reliving an awkward moment in her first televised interview since leaving the White House. She explains to Ellen DeGeneres what she was thinking when first lady Melania Trump handed her a blue Tiffany box on President Trump's inauguration day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: There's all this protocol. I mean, this is like a state visit so they tell you that you're going to do this and they're going to stand here. Never before, do you get this gift so I'm sort of like OK, where -- what am I supposed to do with this gift?

Everyone cleared out and no one would come and take the box. And I'm thinking, do we take the picture? And then, my husband saved it. He grabbed the box and took it back inside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: Yes. It was a very awkward moment. Well, she says inside the package was a lovely picture frame.

The full interview with Mrs. Obama airs today on "ELLEN".

BRIGGS: Good stuff.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global markets and U.S. futures are higher today after Wall Street rebounded from a two-day sell-off giving up big early gains to close slightly higher.

The concern, interest rates. The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged but signaled it will boost rates next month. The Central Bank has penciled in three hikes this year.

Investors worry the era of low interest rates may be coming to an end.

It's a case of chicken collusion. Two lawsuits accuse the nation's largest poultry producers of a price-fixing conspiracy.

The suits were filed by two major food distributors, Sysco and U.S. Foods. They accuse 17 companies of working together to both restrict the supply of chickens and manipulate prices.

The defendants control 90 percent of the chicken market and include Perdue, Tyson, and Pilgrim's Pride.

The companies deny the allegation.

Mark Zuckerberg working to fix Facebook, but that's hurting Facebook's numbers. Users spent 50 million hours less per day on Facebook and its daily users declined for the first time ever. Both are due to changes in Facebook's news feed.

That sent the stock down five percent, but it rebounded after execs reassured investors that its ad business was still making money.

Facebook has been criticized for enabling fake news and foreign election meddling. It's now showing more content from your friends and rating news sources.

I spend less time on Facebook these days but that's just because of the vitriolic discussion about politics not for my taste.

MARSH: Yes, but you know what's for your taste? You're heading to the Super Bowl. Bundle up, my friend.

BRIGGS: Yes. I'm getting on a plane there in two hours. It's 15 below --

MARSH: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- with the wind chill. Maybe I should reconsider?

MARSH: You can handle it.

BRIGGS: All right.

MARSH: You can handle it.

BRIGGS: It will be lots of fun.

MARSH: Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rene Marsh.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christopher Wray warning do not release the memo.

KELLY: But it will be released here pretty quick, I think, and every -- the world can see it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the American public wants as much information to be released as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This process is a sham and it is putting our national security in danger.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, "CUOMO PRIME TIME", CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Did Devin Nunes work with anybody in the White House?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Not that I know of.

QUIGLEY: He is acting as an agent of the White House. What Schiff is saying is he voted on a document that is not actually now (INAUDIBLE) the White House.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: The president inappropriately pressed Rod Rosenstein whether he is on his team or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a pattern of Donald Trump doing this. I don't think Hope Hicks is the issue here. This issue is the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it would be fair to say that, you know, this is some sort of smoking gun. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, February first, 6:00 here in New York.

Here's our "Starting Line."

A public clash is playing out between President Trump and the top law enforcement officials over releasing that classified GOP memo that alleges surveillance abuses.