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EARLY START

Trump Meets With The Pope; Brennan: Russia Made Contact; Mourning The Victims In Manchester. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 24, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


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[05:32:05] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: History at the Vatican this morning. President Trump, moments ago, meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican. We're live in Rome with more on a busy day for the president.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The former head of the CIA goes public. John Brennan says the Russians did, in fact, make contact with the Trump campaign.

BRIGGS: And, Manchester is remembering the 22 victims who lost their lives at a concert bombing. What police are saying about the investigation as the threat level is increased. Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody on a very busy day. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Yes, it really is a busy day. I'm Christine Romans. Nice to see you all this morning. A very big moment at the Vatican. A short time ago the president, President Trump and Pope Francis face-to-face, shaking hands, and exchanging pleasantries at the Apostolic Palace. Right now, the president is meeting with the president of Italy. But when President Trump sat down with the Pope in private just a couple of hours ago, the two leaders seemed to put their differences aside after disagreeing on several issues during the campaign.

BRIGGS: It's the latest stop for the president on his foreign trip that will take him to Brussels later today. CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray is live in Rome with more on Trump's visit and the rest of today's agenda. Sara, very interesting as this shifts from style to substance but first, a historic meeting with the Pope. Good morning to you.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, President Trump is rounding out what was essentially his tour of major religions and that ended with a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican today. It was a much warmer reception, much warmer images than what we've seen from them in the past. After they met privately, President Trump said he wouldn't forget what the Pope had told him -- not clear exactly what he was referencing there -- and the two of them exchanged gifts. President Trump gave the Pope a first edition set of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s writings.

Now remember, the relationship has not exactly been so warm between these two men in the past. On the campaign trail Pope Francis appeared to take issue with the way that President Trump talked about refugees and talked about immigrants. He said that anyone who talks about building barriers and not bridges is not Christian. At the time, then-candidate Trump called that rhetoric disgraceful. So a very different set of circumstances, a very different tone as they were meeting today. The Pope and Melania Trump were even exchanging jokes.

After that, President Trump and the first lady toured St. Peter's Basilica, they toured the Sistine Chapel, and then President Trump broke off to do some diplomatic meetings. As you pointed out, he's meeting with the Italian president right now. He'll be meeting with the Italian prime minister later this afternoon. As for first lady Melania Trump, she's doing a tour of a children's hospital here that is owned by the Vatican.

And, as you noted, this has been the stylistic portion. This has been the tour of religion portions of the foreign trip. That changes this evening. They head to Brussels, Donald Trump and the first lady, ahead of a set of meetings with NATO leaders beginning tomorrow, where the focus will shift to more questions, such as the president once saying that NATO is obsolete. The president pressing more members to spend more on the fence in each of their countries, and this big looming question of whether the U.S. is going to send additional troops to Afghanistan. Back to you guys.

[05:35:18] Sara Murray live for us just outside the Vatican. Great reporting. Thank you, Sara.

ROMANS: All right. Back at home, though, big news. New details in the Russia investigation. For the first time, a U.S. official is publicly citing direct knowledge of communications between the Trump campaign and Russia. The former CIA director John Brennan telling a House panel Russia "brazenly interfered in U.S. elections, going so far as to actively contact members of the Trump campaign." But Brennan stopped short of calling that collusion, saying only that it raised questions the FBI should pursue.

BRIGGS: This comes as House investigators vow to keep pushing for critical documents from former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The committee even issuing two new subpoenas for documents from Flynn's business, which investigators say does not have the ability to plead the fifth as Flynn says he will do. So let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" digital managing editor Zach Wolf, live with us this morning in Washington. Good morning to you, Zach. How does the admission from John Brennan, the former CIA director, change this Russia investigation?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL, MANAGING EDITOR: I'm not sure it changes it so much as it amplifies it. We had already heard, you know, from the -- from the Department of Justice with Sally Yates, from the FBI with now-former director James Comey that there had been these attempts by the Russians and that there had been contacts. So this is kind of Brennan -- the former CIA director is the next leg in the stool of American intelligence and government saying this was going on. So I'm not sure it changes it. It certainly amplifies it and him acknowledging it, you know, moves this into a new area. ROMANS: I think he made a real point that this was wittingly or unwittingly -- these -- the Americans were being contacted or, you know, being pressured --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- by the Russians, which would -- I think is an interesting part of that whole analysis.

BRIGGS: Yes.

WOLF: Yes. It's really hard to figure out sometimes what exactly they're talking about because we're only hearing the parts that they'll, you know, tell us in open testimony, so it's like reading half a book but it sure does make it interesting as you try to put the pieces together.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, the president's new budget, at least blueprint, out on Tuesday. House Speaker Paul Ryan saying, "The aspiration and the goal is right on target." What are critics saying and what's its future in the House and the Senate?

WOLF: Critics are saying it's -- you know, it cuts tons of things from people who really need it -- from the poor, and it gives money back to the rich, you know. Christine said it earlier, people call it the "Robin Hood Budget" and that's kind of an accurate way, in some ways, to --

ROMANS: The reverse "Robin Hood Budget" as it was referred to.

WOLF: Yes, sorry, the reverse -- right. That's an important word there as we describe it. You know, that might be an accurate way to look at it. We've talked to nonpartisan people who say the exact same thing. I don't think the -- you know, obviously, rule number one with budgets is they don't really become law, especially if they're coming from one branch of government. They all have to reconcile these things and put them together.

On the other hand, they are very political things. You are saying, in essence, I would cut these programs that help people and you're putting yourself out there, as President Trump is doing, and say I would support cutting food stamps and all these other things, and those can be politically devastating things to do as you're -- as you're -- you know, the bottom line is if you want to say I would balance the budget that's one thing, but cutting these programs is something that has real impact on people's lives, or could if it were actually to happen. I don't think this is going to go very far on Capitol Hill and you don't see Republicans really rallying around it up there.

ROMANS: Meanwhile, a couple of interesting other details. The president expected to retain a private attorney. Also, the president sort of resetting the search for an FBI chief. What do you make of those two developments?

WOLF: Well, you know, we'd heard last week or earlier that it would be potentially Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic and then Independent senator from Connecticut who would be considered. And we hear now -- CNN's Sara Murray was reporting that they've hit the reset button on thatso we'll have to see sort of what direction they go in. I've got to tell you, Lieberman was always sort of a surprising choice to me --

ROMANS: Right.

WOLF: -- because he was -- you know, he is a Democrat who became an Independent. Democrats really don't like him for that reason. A lot of Republicans feel the same way. He would have quieted John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two of Trump's key Republican critics, but he also has his own little independent streak. He has shooed his own party, you know, very publicly, that had put him on the presidential ticket, you know, by essentially leaving the party. So it's not like you're getting a party guy there. And, you know -- so -- I wouldn't say it's shocking. And Trump also likes to be very theatrical with these things --

[05:40:00] ROMANS: Yes.

WOLF: -- so he'll put somebody out there for everybody to chew on for a couple of days and then he'll move on, like he's doing now.

BRIGGS: And they have been surprised once again by the push back to one of his recommendations. Zach Wolf live for us in D.C. Thank you. We should also mention the CBO score from the new House --

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: -- health care bill comes out today. That could shift to the biggest story in D.C. in just a matter of hours.

ROMANS: Yes. The story's always shifting every few hours, right? Forty minutes past the hour. Breaking news this morning. Three new arrests -- three arrests in the Manchester attack. That and the new details about the attacker live from Manchester, next.

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ROMANS: Breaking news from Manchester right now. Police arresting three men as they execute search warrants in the southern part of the city. This is in connection with the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 people. We're also learning the bomber was known to intelligence before the attack.

[05:45:00] BRIGGS: Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour live in Manchester this morning. Good morning to you, Christiane. So much focus on the heartbreaking details of these 22 victims but first, where does this investigation go from here?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Dave and Christine. Indeed, more and more arrests as you've just said and, of course, everybody is waiting to hear and know more about whether this man who they've identified as Salman Abedi, the bomber who's dead himself, was supported by anybody else or a wider kind of network.

That's why what the police have been doing since the explosion and working through the night on a 24/7 basis are going -- you know, doing their house-to-house searches. They've already gone through several as you know, yesterday, including one related to the bomber where he lived. They've made an arrest yesterday and now we hear overnight three more arrests.

So this, after the Home Secretary basically said this morning publicly that Salman Abedi, the bomber, was known, she said, up to a point to the services here. We still don't know in what regard. Do they think he was radicalized? Was he on their Jihadi list or was he a petty criminal? We don't know because we've had these people on lists before, only not for terrorism or Jihadi or radicalized reasons for crimes and other such things.

So as this is happening, of course, just to show you while Manchester is trying to recover from this terrible attack people still come, obviously, on their way to work, on their way through this main Albert Square here in downtown Manchester to lay flowers, bouquets, to light the candles again -- mothers and families. This lady to my left there, she has a nice bright one.

And I've been talking to some of them who've come over here this morning to say, you know, what does this mean to you? And each and every one says we have to stand united and each and every one says this could have been our kids, our grandkids, our friend. And so they're very, very -- you know, so united, this city, in the kind of horror that took place and knowing that there but for the grace of God anybody could have been in that arena at any time. So many people in this city, over the years, have gone to that place for all sorts of different events.

So that is the situation here right now but all the faith leaders, all the local leaders, the mayor, everybody calling on the city to stay united and not allow this to rip the fabric of this city apart, and that's what we're seeing very, very much today. Back to you both.

ROMANS: The innocent -- the innocent bystanders always just such a tragedy. But it's interesting -- "The Washington Post" and some others this morning, Christiane, are reporting that investigators are looking into whether this gathering of young women for, you know, a concert by Ariana Grande -- a female empowerment concert -- if it was -- it was because it was young women that was the focus of the attack.

AMANPOUR: Well look, let's wait and see what that happens. But, of course, these people are savagely anti-women and, frankly, in the ISIS claim -- again, we don't know whether ISIS really was behind this and they've provided no evidence that they were, but they did claim that this bomber was "a foot soldier for the caliphate." And in that claim the attacked what they called -- you know, praised him for putting a bomb in what they call this filthy concert, or words to that effect. So they actually made reference to the nature of the gathering. It would be truly horrendous if it was discovered that this was a deliberate attack, not just against children but against women in particular. You know, each and every time we these attacks the level of depravity

simply keeps, you know, rising. It is incredible to think how deeply, deeply sickening this is and the kind of targeting that they have done over the last couple of years across Europe and now here if it turns out that it is they, certainly in the words of their -- of the statement they made claiming this.

BRIGGS: All right. Live for us in Manchester, Christiane Amanpour. Thank you. We should note the "TMZ" reported that Ariana Grande has canceled this "Dangerous Woman Tour". We can confirm that. She appears to be headed back home.

ROMANS: All right. Also brand new, British Parliament has said it is closing its doors to non-passholders and canceling all tours, events, and banquets. That, of course, is in the Parliament buildings there.

BRIGGS: All right. This is certainly on the minds of our friends at "NEW DAY." Let's check in with Chris Cuomo to see all they have to talk about. The Manchester, the Russia investigation, a budget blueprint, and a CBO score. Chris, no shortage of big news for you guys today.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": It is true. Very important to kind of keep up rounding out our understanding of all these different stories. We'll be following what's happening in Manchester. The reaction certainly every bit as important as the event. So, the president also echoing the American take on the Manchester situation, calling for solidarity, saying that terror must be fought. This, another manifestation of an evil.

[05:50:00] And then on the flip side of evil, we have the president visiting the Pope at one of the holiest sites in the world during his international trip. We remember where he was in Jerusalem and in Israel, and now there he is with the Pontiff. We're going to have Cardinal Timothy Dolan on the show. Think about the conversation, you know. Two very different philosophies at play in terms of inclusion and exclusion. We had an interesting exchange with the president during an interview early on in the election. We'll replay it and see if his perspective on the Pontiff has changed.

Plus, the investigations into Russia's election meddling are heating up after the former CIA director said the Russians "brazenly interfered" in the 2016 election. We're going to get the latest from two members of Congress digging for answers. You've got Sen. Tim Kaine and Congressman Elijah Cummings. They'll both be on. And remember, as we keep doing, did Russia interfere, yes. How do you stop it the next time? And then, you have a parallel investigation about who they may have contacted -- the Russians. Was there any collusion with Trump staffers? That is not the only question, it's a side question.

BRIGGS: All right. And was -- yes, was there any real crime committed here continues to be the backdrop of all this. Chris Cuomo, a very busy day for you, my friend. We'll see you in a little bit.

CUOMO: All right. ROMANS: All right. Remember Carrier, the Indiana plant where President Trump saved 800 jobs? It was a rallying cry on the campaign trail. Guess what? Job cuts are coming. That's on CNN Money Stream, next.

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[05:55:42] BRIGGS: Now, let's talk some sports. LeBron James just one win away from another trip to the NBA finals. Andy Scholes here with this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, my friend.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. You know, pretty much everyone expects the Cavs to go on to win this series over Boston and play the Warriors in the finals, but game four had Cleveland fans a little nervous once again. The Cavs were down by 10 at the half and Kyrie Irving would have rolled his ankle on this drive right here in the third. Fans were worried but Kyrie just tightened those laces up, got back out there, and he had 21 points in the quarter, helping the Cavs build a lead. He ended with a playoff career high 42 in this game. You've got to look at the way he put the game away. The fake behind-the-back pass, what a move. LeBron would chip in with 34 points as the Cavs would win this one 112-99.

The Ottawa Senators needed a win over Pittsburgh in game six to stay alive in the Eastern Conference finals and as you can see, they were doing whatever it took to slow down Penguin star Sidney Crosby, even squirting him with a water bottle right there. This game would be tied at one in the third. Mike Hoffman comes through with the goal. Senators win 3-2 forcing a winner-take-all game seven tomorrow night.

Finally, we had a really bad collision at the Dodgers-Cardinals games last night. Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson both going after this fly ball. Puig catches it but drilled Pederson with an elbow right to his neck. Pederson also then slid head first right into the wall. He then had to leave the game. The Dodgers say he has a neck sprain. Puig, amazingly, was able to stay in this game as the Dodgers would go on to get the win 2-1. But guys, violent collision there. Good to see everyone able to walk away from that one.

BRIGGS: That is the one player in the league you don't want to run into, Yasiel Puig.

SCHOLES: Yasiel Puig, yes.

BRIGGS: Andy Scholes, thank you, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. Global markets mixed after China's credit rating was downgraded for the first time since 1989. Wall Street seems to be over Washington's chaos. Futures are up after stocks gained for the fourth day in a row. The Dow earned back nearly all the points it lost last week. Today, investors waiting on minutes from the Fed -- the Federal Reserve's last meeting. All right, remember Carrier? That's the Indiana plant where President Trump claims he saved 800 jobs last December. Well, Carrier's still shipping jobs to Mexico and some will be cut right before Christmas we're told. That's according to a notice to the state of Indiana. The company plans to eliminate more than 600 jobs this year and 290 employees will be fired on December 22nd. The job cuts shouldn't come as a surprise. In December, Carrier's parent company said it would still move some workers overseas, replacing them with automation.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. A jam-packed "NEW DAY" starts right now with the latest on the Russia investigation. Here's Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police have identified the bomber. He was known to intelligence and had just returned from Libya.

THERESA MAY, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: A further attack may be imminent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time in a decade that the threat level has been raised to critical.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: Intelligence revealed interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Flynn can't hide for very long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not taking contempt of Congress of the table.

BRIGGS: President Trump and the Pope in a historic sit-down at the Vatican.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, May 24th. It's 6:00 here in New York.

And there are a lot of new developments so here's your starting line. We have new information about the terrorist who bombed the Manchester Arena at that Ariana Grande concert. He was known to intelligence services and had just returned from Libya. The United Kingdom now raising its terror threat level to critical -- that is the highest possible -- amid fears that another attack could be imminent.

CUOMO: In the U.S., former CIA chief John Brennan not mincing words. He says Russian operatives interacted with members of President Trump's campaign, warranting the current investigation. This comes as the president continues his overseas trip, meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican. You'll remember, there was tension between the Pontiff and Trump during the campaign. How did the visit go? We have it all covered, starting with CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward live in Manchester. Clarissa, what is the latest?