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EARLY START

Candidate Charged With Assaulting Reporter; Can Trump Win Over NATO?; U.K. Slams U.S. Leaks Of Manchester Probe; Obama Live In Germany. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 25, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:32:55] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG GIANFORTE, MONTANA GOP CANDIDATE: Speak with Shane, please.

I'm sick and tired of you guys. The last time you came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here.

BEN JACOBS, REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Jesus.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Major drama in a special election in Montana. A violent outburst by Republican candidate caught on a recording and facing charges just hours before polls open.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump embarking on another day of diplomacy on his foreign trip. Today, the focus is on NATO, but can he win over leaders from an alliance he criticized during the campaign?

BRIGGS: And a new Congressional Budget Office score doing little to ease concerns about Republican-passed health bill. How it impacts the future of health care right now.

Welcome back, everybody, to EARLY START -- 5:33 Eastern Time. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning, I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

KOSIK: Thanks for joining us. A special election in Montana today now under a white-hot national spotlight after audio came out seeming to show the Republican candidate for the state's one House seat body slamming a reporter. Greg Gianforte charged overnight with misdemeanor assault by the county sheriff. The alleged attack took place at Gianforte headquarters in Bozeman.

BRIGGS: Thus far, the candidate has held off taking a stance on the Republican health care bill waiting for the CBO score. "Guardian" reporter Ben Jacobs tried to press Gianforte for his stance now that the CBO has released its score. Listen to what happened next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOBS: -- the CBO score. As you know, you've been waiting to make your decision about health care until we saw the bill and it just came out.

GIANFORTE: We'll talk to you about that later.

JACOBS: Yes, but there's not going to be time. I'm just curious --

GIANFORTE: Speak with Shane, please.

I'm sick and tired of you guys. The last time you came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here.

BEN JACOBS, REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Jesus.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?

JACOBS: Yes, and you just broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: The last guy did the same damn thing.

JACOBS: You just body slammed me and broke my glasses.

[05:35:00] GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here.

JACOBS: You'd like me to get the hell out of here and I'd also like to call the police. Can I get you guy's names?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you've got to leave.

JACOBS: He just body slammed me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to leave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Wow. Gianforte, himself, hasn't said anything publicly since the incident but a statement from his campaign says Jacobs entered Gianforte's office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in his face. The statement adds that Gianforte asked Jacobs to lower the recorder, that Jacobs declined, and it blames Jacobs for pushing them both to the ground.

BRIGGS: But note, the recording has no indication that Jacobs was asked to lower the recorder. For his part, Ben Jacobs calls it the strangest moment in his entire life. With polls opening in just a few hours the fallout for Gianforte has been swift. Three of the state's biggest newspapers have rescinded their endorsements and Democrats have already rolled out Facebook ads attacking Gianforte for the alleged body slam.

KOSIK: Now, the Democratic candidate, Rob Quist -- so far, he's declining to comment about all of this. The other thing worth noting here, the sheriff, Brian Gootkin, he's confirmed that he gave Gianforte's campaign $250 but he says it will have no bearing on his investigation. Early voting has been underway for weeks and hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots have already been returned. So you've got more than, you know, a quarter of a million ballots already in, you've got this craziness going on. Will it bring more people to the polls?

BRIGGS: Some suggest that's two-thirds of the votes already cast, but will this end even if Gianforte wins? Questions remain.

Today, the president's first foreign trip, though, takes him to Brussels where events are just now getting underway. The main focus of his day is NATO. Candidate Trump once disparaged the military alliance as "obsolete" on the campaign trail.

KOSIK: Since taking office, President Trump reversed that stance after NATO made a few adjustments, although he still wants more. White House correspondent Sara Murray, she's joining us live from Brussels. Good morning, Sara. So what's ahead for the president today?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison. Well, we saw plenty of style, plenty of ceremony in some of the stops on this foreign trip but today things turn to substance. President Trump just wrapped up a meeting with European Union officials. He'll be having lunch shortly with the newly-minted French president, and then he heads over here for the NATO summit.

Now, one of the big storylines emerging for us to watch today are questions about whether the U.S. is still a credible intelligence- sharing partner. We know some allies have been eyeing the U.S. warily after President Trump shared highly classified information with Russian officials in that Oval Office meeting. That intelligence came, in part, from Israel, a U.S. ally.

Now, the U.K. government is growing increasingly critical of the way the U.S. intelligence agencies have handled the investigation into the Manchester attack, accusing U.S. intelligence agencies of leaking information related to that attack before the U.K. government is putting that information out. Theresa May will be here today, as will President Trump, so we'll be looking for any indication that she may confront him about that.

There are other big issues, of course, on the agenda. On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump said NATO was obsolete. He has since revised that statement but his advisers say he will still press our allies to spend more on defense. And he'll also be soliciting our allies' opinions about his decision -- or sort of his contemplation about whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan. He's considering sending thousands more but one of the things he'll be trying to figure out is whether NATO would also contribute to that military effort if the U.S. decides to go that route. All of that before the president hops on a plane this evening and heads to Sicily for the G7 -- Alison.

KOSIK: OK, a lot going on. CNN's Sara Murray live for us from Brussels. Thanks very much for all that.

BRIGGS: All right, let's bring back our panel. Michael Warren, senior writer at "The Weekly Standard." And, political economic Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Horizon Investments. Good morning to both of you.

Michael, let's start with you on this NATO talks. Two percent, what President Trump would like to see countries contribute towards defense as to their GDP, but this has been a pretty smooth trip thus far for President Trump. Do you expect any confrontation on either side?

MICHAEL WARREN, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: No, I don't expect fireworks. Look, this is sort of typical for President Trump. He offers sort of bluster on the campaign trail, particularly about these foreign policy and national security issues, but then when it actually gets to the decision time or negotiation time he backs off, and I think that's what you're going to be seeing here. There's been some push from his aides internally to back off of those campaign promises. So he'll still be pushing, I think, for that two percent contribution but there won't be big fireworks.

BRIGGS: Greg, let me ask you. All indications are this has been a successful trip but is it just about symbolism? Has anything really been accomplished?

GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST & CHIEF STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: Well, you're right. There have been very good photo ops, obviously. He hasn't tweeted mercifully for the country -- we haven't seen any of that -- and I do think it's been a positive trip. You know, whether there are any concrete accomplishments, we'll have to see. But, you know, one other thing is that he got Russia sort of out of the public attention for the last few days. That gave him a little bit of a breather. But I think you've got to give him a B, B+.

[05:40:15] BRIGGS: Not bad -- solid.

KOSIK: That's pretty good. All right, so let's switch gears. You know, domestically, obviously, there's a lot going on with Russia but the health care bill really getting attention, Michael -- the CBO score coming out. How do you think this is being received?

WARREN: Well, for the first reason that, you know, Republicans should be happy about the CBO score is they don't have to vote on it again. It has to do with this convoluted Senate policy about getting this kind of bill through, so that's a positive development for the Republicans.

The negative side, though, is all the negative headlines -- headlines about people losing coverage. It's really that people will not be necessarily buying coverage where they were once compelled to under Obamacare. But also, Republicans are going to have to deal with -- particularly in the Senate as the Senate looks at this bill -- with problems of people who need coverage who are -- it's very expensive to cover them through the current health insurance system. The Republicans are going to have to figure out a way to do that if they want this to pass the Senate and get the president's signature. BRIGGS: Yes, Greg, a lot of this CBO score is difficult to figure out because we don't know how many states get the waivers -- how many applied for the waivers --

VALLIERE: Right.

BRIGGS: -- and that really is the question about those high-risk pools. John Cornyn said well, the CBO score on the Senate bill is going to be what counts, so what's the political impact of this one?

VALLIERE: The political impact, I think Dave, is that we've got months to go before the Senate can agree. So look at Mitch McConnell who is very circumspect.

BRIGGS: Yes.

VALLIERE: He keeps his cards close to the vest. He said a couple of days ago he doesn't see how they can get 50 votes in the Senate --

BRIGGS: That's right.

VALLIERE: -- for this bill. So I think it's a very long slog and when the Senate does come up with something, if they do, I'm not sure the House would agree.

KOSIK: OK. There's a special election in the House --

BRIGGS: Special, indeed, right?

KOSIK: A special House seat --

BRIGGS: It's a lot more special now.

KOSIK: -- in Montana. Obviously, it's now getting national headlines, something you wouldn't really expect if this tape didn't come out, if this alleged assault didn't happen. Michael, how do you see this ending? Let's say that -- let's say that Greg Gian --

BRIGGS: Forte.

KOSIK: -- Gianforte, thank you -- go ahead and he gets this seat. He's voted into the seat. Do you see him -- do you see him keeping it? I mean, he's already been charged with a misdemeanor before he steps foot in it.

WARREN: Yes, that's a -- this is going to be a problem, I think. You know, the House doesn't really have jurisdiction over candidates but if Greg Gianforte wins the seat you do have to wonder if the House is going to be even willing to seat him or if he might be booted. That takes a -- sort of a big super majority of the House to make that decision. But he's got legal problems now --

BRIGGS: Yes.

WARREN: -- if he does end up winning, which is really up in the air at this point. BRIGGS: And it appears a FOX News reporter, Alicia Acuna, can back up the entire account from "The Guardian" reporter. But Greg, this is a seat that's been Republican for 20 years, a state Trump won by 20 percent. What's the impact there if, in fact, this goes the other way, especially given what's happening down in Atlanta?

VALLIERE: Yes. If the Republican only wins by two or three points tonight in Montana that's not a good sign for the Republicans. The Georgia race on June 20 has really tightened. I think the Democrat might be ahead a little bit. I'll tell you Dave, four or five months ago I would have said the House almost certainly will stay Republican. I'm not so sure anymore. I think because of health care and because of Trump -- I think that 24 is a high bar to clear but I think there's a chance the Democrats could gain 18 or 20. It could be a close call.

BRIGGS: They need 24 seats to take the House. You can expect Paul Ryan's going to have to answer questions about Mr. Gianforte on Capitol Hill today. Greg and Michael, thank you, both.

KOSIK: Thanks so much.

BRIGGS: Appreciate it.

VALLIERE: Yes.

WARREN: Thanks.

KOSIK: New overnight, more raids and arrests in England following the terror attack in Manchester. Now Manchester's mayor taking a dig at the U.S. over leaks on the investigation. We're live in the U.K.

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[05:48:20] BRIGGS: In the U.K., new police raids and arrests overnight in connection with the Manchester terror attack. A total of eight people now in custody. Police targeting a terror network linked to the bomber. Now, police in Manchester keeping details of this investigation to themselves. CNN's Erin McLaughlin following developments. She is live in Manchester. Good morning to you, Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave, and we are hearing more details about a growing diplomatic spat betweenthe U.K. and the United States. According to British media reports, the United Kingdom has taken the decision to stop sharing intelligence with the U.S. in relation to the Manchester attack.

This decision taken after a series of leaks from U.S. publications, the latest of which "The New York Times" published a series of photos of evidence from the arena attack crime scene -- photos that have outraged British authorities, now saying they are no longer going to be sharing intelligence with the U.S. in relationship to -- in relation, rather, to this attack. We understand also from British media reports that Theresa May, the British prime minister, will be discussing this issue with U.S. President Donald Trump in Brussels at a NATO meeting today. Meanwhile, this investigation is rapidly evolving. Overnight, a

series of raids included a controlled explosion as well as two new arrests, bringing the total number of arrests to eight in custody. One woman was released in the overnight hours without charges -- what's being described as a wider terror network behind this attack. An investigation spanning at least two countries, at this point, the United Kingdom, as well as Libya. In Libya, we understand from a militia in Tripoli they've arrested the suspected suicide bomber's younger brother. The militia alleging that he had ties to ISIS and was planning an attack in Tripoli.

[05:50:25] Meanwhile, we're also hearing of more victims coming forward, families releasing statements, including the family of 14- year-old Eilidh MacLeod. She was killed in the attack -- the family releasing her photo, saying that she loved music. They're absolutely devastated at this huge loss.

BRIGGS: And we're learning at 11:00 your time, 6:00 a.m. here Eastern Time in New York, a national moment of silence to remember the victims of the terror attack there. Erin McLaughlin live for us in Manchester. Thank you.

KOSIK: All right. President Obama speaking right now with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Brandenburg Gate. We're going to go live there, next.

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[05:55:20] BRIGGS: Former President Barack Obama warning what he called progress toward universal health care is in peril by the Republican effort to repeal and replace. Obama made the remark in front of thousands in Berlin as he joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a public discussion at Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate. Merkel's sit-down with Obama comes just hours before she meets with President Trump in Brussels. CNN's Michelle Kosinski live in Berlin with more on this contrasting snapshot of U.S.-German relations. Good morning to you, Michelle. Perhaps he has not said President Trump by name but maybe he didn't have to.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and President Obama doesn't always like to bring him up by name. We saw that throughout the campaign until the very end. And being here today, listening to this, your kind of classic Obama speech is a surreal flashback. It's a lot of the same themes, especially while he's here in Germany. I mean, he is at the Brandenburg Gate. That's the symbol of unity and democratic values and freedom so that figures in a lot.

But when he's asked tough questions -- some of the questions by the moderators here have been pretty provocative. For example, do you think religion figures too much in politics? We're kind of hearing classic, very careful, very diplomatic President Obama answers. But we did hear him say that, you know, there's still need to push back against fear, nationalism, and xenophobia, and that's kind of the same thing we heard him say leading up to the presidential campaign. In fact, remember the last time we heard him here in Berlin it was

right after the election and his words were kind of a -- almost a reprimand for people who didn't vote -- for the young people who didn't vote -- as well as a warning. I remember the words he said were that if the U.S. voice is absent or weaker in standing up for democratic values around the world, we can expect a meaner, harsher, more troubled world. That turned some heads.

Today, here, the message is more of optimism to inspire young people to be leaders and he's getting an extremely warm reception. He's very popular in Germany. It will be interesting to see what happens when later today when Chancellor Merkel meets with President Trump.

BRIGGS: Fascinating dynamics for the German chancellor. Michelle, thank you.

KOSIK: OK, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. We're seeing lots of up arrows. Global markets mostly higher. U.S. futures also in the green after the fifth day of gains on Wall Street. Yesterday, we saw the S&P 500 hit a record high, so both the S&P and the Dow wound up gaining back all those points -- those points that they lost last week with that big loss for that one day.

Stocks rose after the Federal Reserve released the minutes of its last policy meeting which showed the Central Bank may raise rates in June and it plans to shrink its $4 trillion balance sheet. The Fed bought trillions of dollars in debt during the recession to help the economy recover.

Housing demand is high and there just aren't enough houses on the market. Sales of both existing and new homes fell in April. Existing home sales are down about two percent while new home sales dropped more than 11 percent. Inventory is at a 20-year low so a flood of new buyers are having trouble finding a home. It also means rising prices, which means it's a seller's market, not a buyer's market.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo with an action-packed "NEW DAY" starting right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIANFORTE: I'm sick and tired of you guys. The last time you came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here.

KOSIK: A Republican candidate for Congress charged with misdemeanor assault.

JACOBS: This was, you know, hoping to get the most basic statement and the next thing I know I'm being body slammed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden I heard a giant crash, saw some feet fly in the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're actually living in an environment that Donald Trump helped create.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeff Sessions did not list meetings that he had with a Russian ambassador.

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Oversharing is probably better than undersharing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is yet another example of a Trump campaign official not disclosing all of their contacts with the Russian government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your new day. It's Thursday, May 25th, 6:00 in the East.

Here is today's starting line. The Republican candidate for a congressional seat in Montana accused of body slamming a reporter. This happened on the day before an important special election. The Republican earning an assault charge. The whole event on audiotape with witnesses. What does it mean for today's vote?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That reporter was trying to ask about the GOP health care bill and its new CBO score.