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EARLY START

Attorney General Sessions Wants To Testify Tuesday; Trump Vs. Comey; British Prime Minister Clings To Power. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 12, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: President Trump fighting back against James Comey again on Twitter. Will the Russia probe threaten to wreck another week for the White House?

BRIGGS: And it's moving day at the White House. Melania Trump and Barron Trump have finally made the move from the Big Apple.

ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE).

BRIGGS: Look, all of us guys -- a few days alone is cool but a few months alone, not good. Not generally good for men. Welcome back to EARLY START, I'm Dave Briggs. I'm sure he's happy to have his family there.

ROMANS: I'm sure he is. Thirty minutes past the hour. I'm Christine Romans. Apparently, Dave can't be left alone for too long or bad things happen.

BRIGGS: A couple of day at the max -- max.

ROMANS: This morning, the Senate Intelligence Committee still has not confirmed whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify tomorrow in an open or closed session, or whether the hearing will actually happen tomorrow as Sessions himself said in a letter, or whether it will happen at all since some senators are concerned this is a gambit by Sessions to avoid testifying in public about Russian election meddling.

BRIGGS: If and when the hearing does happen, it should be another pivotal day of congressional testimony. Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer says Sessions has four key questions to answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: First, did he interfere with the Russian investigation before he recused himself? Second, what safeguards are there now so that he doesn't interfere? Third, it says he was involved in the firing of Comey and the president said Comey was fired because of Russia. How does that fit in with his recusal? It doesn't seem to stand up well to me. And fourth, he's been involved in the selection of the new FBI director. Did he talk about the Russian investigation with him?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Sessions' letter offering to testify before the Senate Intel Committee caught many off guard, including members of the committee. CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett joining us now live from Washington. She has the latest. Good morning, Laura.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Good morning, Dave. So, one big question still unanswered this morning. Will the attorney general testify in public or behind closed doors or some combination of both? Lawmakers have been clamoring for weeks to question Sessions on everything from the firing of FBI director James Comey to any undisclosed contacts that Sessions might have had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. And while Sessions has recused himself from the broader FBI probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, members of the Intel Committee say they still want to hear Sessions respond directly to some of James Comey's revelations last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD, (R), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The key things we've got to get, obviously, his side of the story related to Jim Comey. Some of the conversations that Jim Comey had with the president where Jeff Sessions was a participant there or at least was around and be able to get the rest of the story. Comey's statement of hey, I don't want to get time alone with the president and that interaction, as well as these accusations that are flying out there about conversations that he might or might not have had with the Russians prior to the election. So, we want to be able to get his side of it and get all the facts out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Now, the chairman of the Intel Committee hasn't said yet whether the hearing will even go forward tomorrow, but Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden urged in a letter to his colleagues yesterday that if it does it should be open to the public so that the American people can hear for themselves what the attorney general has to say.

BRIGGS: All right, we'll check back with you in just a moment, Laura. Thank you. Meanwhile, President Trump escalating his defiant response to former FBI director James Comey's testimony that the president asked him to drop the Michael Flynn investigation. The president tweeting Sunday, "I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought. Totally illegal? Very cowardly!"

The president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., defending his father on "FOX NEWS" but also possibly backing up James Comey's claim the president discussed ending the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: We want to hear the Flynn comment. You and I have both known my father a long time.

JEANINE PIRRO, HOST, FOX "JUSTICE WITH JUDGE JEANINE: Yes. TRUMP JR.: When he tells you to do something --

PIRRO: Yes.

TRUMP JR: -- guess what? There's no ambiguity in it. There's no hey, I'm hoping. You and I are friends. Hey, I hope this happens but you've got to do your job. That's what he told Comey. And for this guy, as a politician to then go back and write a memo -- oh, I felt threatened. He felt so threatened but he didn't do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: President Trump has also refused to say whether tapes exist of those private conversations with Comey. Now, the president's lawyer is saying we will find out soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: The president said he's going to address the issue of the tapes -- whether the tapes exist or not next week. That's a decision that the president will make in consultation with his chief lawyer Marc Kasowitz, and the president said he'll address it next week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The response from the Republican Party to all this has been mixed. On leading Republican saying the president should just stop talking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: What the president did was inappropriate but here's what's so frustrating for Republicans like me. You may be the first president in history to go down because you can't stop inappropriately talking about an investigation that if you just were quiet would clear you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:35:07] ROMANS: All right. Joining us now to discuss all of this, "CNN POLITICS" reporter Eugene Scott. Let's bring back our justice reporter Laura Jarrett, in Washington. Eugene, good morning, happy Monday.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning.

ROMANS: I wanted to read you something that Ari Fleischer tweeted because I thought it was sort of interesting and went along with the -- with the Lindsey Graham thing. "Advice for POTUS. You have not been vindicated. You won't be unless Bob Mueller says so. Stop talking. You're heading into a giant perjury trap." There are Republicans who really want him to stop talking and tweeting, quite frankly, about all of this. It just drags -- he keeps dragging it on.

SCOTT: Certainly, and I think what's very interesting is a lot of -- a lot was made that he would not tweet during Comey's testimony. No one addressed the fact that he possibly would tweet after the testimony about all of the things he could have tweeted during the testimony.

BRIGGS: It was all built up --

SCOTT: You're right, and so I think -- I think he was like, OK, fine, I'm good for today but I've got a bunch of tweets I'm going to get out this whole weekend. That's what heappears to be doing. I think what's very important though for us to pay attention to is of all the things that Comey mentioned during his testimony, the thing that Donald Trump wants you to focus on is the leaking part, not the fact that he was called a liar repeatedly. Not the fact that there were things that were said that bring his ethics and his credibility into question, but he's trying to divert America's attention. Whether it will work, we'll see.

BRIGGS: What you're talking about, of course, a tweet yesterday morning -- we just played it a moment ago -- from the president talking about these leaks. "I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. Totally illegal? Very cowardly!" with the quotes as well. Leaks -- first off, is what James Comey did, Laura, a leak? Second, is it illegal?

JARRETT: Well, he has that question mark there but it's totally not. Every expert that I have spoken with says this is not illegal and to hear James Comey even tell it, what he disclosed was not classified information about some larger part of the Russia probe. He described conversations that he had alone with the president and those were his contemporaneous notes that he shared with this Columbia Law School professor. But it's really not a leak in that sense of the word and so most people have sort of analogized it more to a whistleblower.

Now, the question of the tapes is different but it's something that the president himself could put to rest very easily and while he was asked about it in the Rose Garden he essentially punted and said "stay tuned."

ROMANS: It's almost reality showesque. Oh, it's, you know, keeping the reveal out there.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: Keeping it dangling out there. Senator Dianne Feinstein says, "Release the tapes, Mr. President. What are you afraid of?" We have no idea if there -- would it be legal to have tapes in the Oval Office?

JARRETT: Well, it doesn't violate any law directly. There's actually, you know, a law that allows you to tape, oddly enough, if one party consents to it, but there are requirements for him to preserve any of this. So if he is, in fact, taping people, whether on his phone or through some sort of recording device in the Oval Office, that is something that he is required to preserve under the Presidential Records Act and one would hope that the White House counsel's office knows that that is happening. ROMANS: What did he say in the Rose -- didn't he say in the Rose Garden -- he said you were going to be disappointed. I'm not going to tell, you know -- I'll tell you soon but you're all going to be disappointed.

BRIGGS: Yes, what -- I was curious, Eugene, what you made of that discussion from the Rose Garden about you'll be very disappointed about the answer. He's known to have recorded conversations as a private citizen --

ROMANS: That's right.

SCOTT: Right.

BRIGGS: -- and New York is also a one-party consent state.

SCOTT: Right, yes. My takeaway was stay tuned, right? I mean, we've seen this approach at previous times from him, but I --

BRIGGS: But why would we be disappointed by the answer, because there are no tapes --

SCOTT: Yes, I think --

BRIGGS: -- or because it backs up his --

ROMANS: I don't know. I don't know.

BRIGGS: -- account of the story?

SCOTT: Yes. I think he's assuming that the media that he attacks thinks that there are tapes that are going to incriminate him and he thinks we'll be disappointed because he thinks we are his enemy. I do think it's very interesting that people should pay attention to the fact that we've had multiple presidents record in multiple ways in the White House, and so there is some type of history for this. And there's a great piece by Julian Zelizer on CNN -- opinion about this.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. He's a friend of the show. We have him on often.

SCOTT: He is.

ROMANS: Let's talk quickly, Laura, about Jeff Sessions and what we think is going to happen -- or what we -- what we wonder. I mean, I don't know what's exactly going to happen --

BRIGGS: No.

ROMANS: -- in terms of his testimony. What's going on?

JARRETT: Well, what it seems like is that Sessions is saying look, I want to go before the committee where I can talk in a classified setting. Obviously, the Appropriations Committee is where we thought he would be on the Hill on Tuesday but he has scrapped plans for that, instead going to send his deputy. And so, he's saying I want to come before the Senate Intelligence Committee where Comey came last week and directly address some of the issues that Comey raised about him.

Comey has this whole story about going to the attorney general after meeting alone with the president and being uncomfortable, saying this was inappropriate, saying this can't happen, and to hear Comey tell it Sessions just looked at him blankly. Sessions says that didn't happen at all and I told him there are clear lines --

[05:40:02] BRIGGS: Yes.

JARRETT: -- of communication between the FBI and the White House. And so, there are two very conflicting stories here senators want answers to.

BRIGGS: And Eugene, quickly, how do you think the president reacts to this? We're told, and reports last week suggested Sessions offered to quit because the president was so furious over his recusal. How might the president react now that he knows Sessions volunteered to testify before the Senate Intel Committee?

SCOTT: I certainly don't think it helps Sessions with the president. This is in addition to the fact that now it's been made public that it's possible that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador again.

BRIGGS: A potential third meeting.

SCOTT: Yes. I think -- I think Sessions could be on some of his final straws but I think he going to be OK for a while because Trump has made very clear to his aides that he just cannot handle another controversy of this magnitude.

BRIGGS: Not Sessions.

SCOTT: Yes.

BRIGGS: The conservatives -- he is one of the reasons --

SCOTT: Yes.

ROMANS: That's true.

BRIGGS: -- they continue to support --

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: All right.

BRIGGS: -- this president.

ROMANS: Nice to see you Eugene Scott, Laura Jarrett.

SCOTT: Thank you.

ROMANS: Happy Monday, everybody.

BRIGGS: Thanks, guys.

ROMANS: All right. As you know, President Trump played wedding crasher on Saturday night and he was up late tweeting about the economy on Sunday night. The president tweets that the media hasn't been paying attention the great numbers on the economy since Election Day. Very similar numbers a year ago he bashed. Today, he believes them -- even takes credit for them, pointing out the rise in financial markets, the energy sector is booming, and jobs, jobs, jobs.

For example, the president touted the rise in the stock market. A rally since Election Day dubbed the "Trump Rally" on the hopes of tax reform. It's true. All those numbers are true but guess what? The current bull market is now eight years old. The "Trump Rally" really icing on what has been a very big, juicy cake. The stock market rally has been good news also for the investor class, no question, but has it helped the working class yet? Stay tuned.

The president also tweeted that the energy and drilling sector is way -- his words -- way up. Oil production is booming. He is right on that but it is not generating huge jobs growth. Jobs gains in the sector of 11,000 since Election Day. Coal has only added about 1,300 jobs. What about the overall jobs markets? The president tweeted the U.S. economy added 600,000 new jobs while unemployment -- the unemployment rate dropped 4.3 percent. Both of those statistics are correct. The U.S. economy added 594,000 since Inauguration Day. Some perspective though. Job growth during that time is the slowest in three years. Those numbers last year and the year before -- those big numbers you see there -- the president dismissed those as fake, phony, a fraud. Now he believes them. The jobless rate is a 16-year low but unemployment has been falling for the past seven years.

And I'll tell you something. When you look at these numbers, you know -- yes, we do report on these, Mr. President. I report on them every time they come out. The issue to me is that you have six million job openings and 6.8 million people considered unemployed. The policy question for this White House is how to match people who are out there and want a job with the jobs that are open right now? That is the policy question.

BRIGGS: The president has an answer for you. It is "Workforce Development Week."

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: Ivanka Trump is helping lead this and they say part of that is filling the skills gap that does exist in this country. We'll see how successful that is. It begins today.

British Prime Minister Theresa May clinging to power despite calls for her to resign. What does this mean for Brexit and the future of the U.K. and the E.U.? That's next, live from London.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:47:20] ROMANS: British Prime Minister Theresa May barely -- barely clinging to power after losing her majority in Parliament during last week's stunning snap election. An agreement to unite her conservative party with the minority party would keep her in power but that deal has not materialized yet. I want to go live to London and bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann. Oren, the prime minister is facing calls to resign. How likely is that to happen?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN: Well, so far, she's been defiant in statements she's made since the results of the snap election -- the disastrous results in many ways. She's tried to portray business as usual in getting to what she is intending to do, which is Brexit negotiations in just a week, and she's gotten some support -- critically gotten some support from some of the chief rivals in her party who back her at the moment. The question is how long will that support last. It looks like she'll be comfortable for a few weeks, perhaps even a few months, but then questions seriously arise after that.

Again, chief rivals in her party backing her now but that's a result of how disastrous this election was. It shows they don't want to introduce any more insecurity, any more instability at such a critical time with Brexit negotiations looming, and all of that adds up to pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May. She'll have to figure out how to work in between those and make the right concessions without tipping the balance in either direction which could spell her leaving Downing Street here -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Oren Liebermann, thank you so much. Certainly, an epic miscalculation on the part of Theresa May there.

BRIGGS: What a tough electorate to read over there in the U.K. All right, time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Our friend Alisyn Camerota joining us --

ROMANS: Hey, good morning.

BRIGGS: -- on this Monday morning. Good morning to you, Ali.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Good morning, guys. Great to see you. So, a new week, a new slew of threads in the Russia investigation. Will Attorney General Jeff Sessions testify? In front of which committee? Will it be an open or closed session? So, we will get answers to all of that.

And then we're starting something very special on CNN today where many of us, the anchors, will share with the viewers a cause that we feel passionately about and a charity that we've given our time to. So today starts with mine. It's a great organization called DreamYard and I can't wait to introduce all of you to what this is all about.

ROMANS: Oh, I love that.

BRIGGS: Very nice.

ROMANS: What a nice way to start a week. All right, thank you so much.

BRIGGS: Looking forward to that. ROMANS: All right, a leadership crisis at Uber. Oh, the results of that big sexual harassment internal investigation. We've got that for you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:53:52] BRIGGS: Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny leading nationwide protests today. Organizers say the rallies taking place in more than 200 Russian cities, whether or not the government allows it. Thousands of people expected to join protests in both St. Petersburg and Moscow. Let's bring in CNN's Diana Magnay live in St. Petersburg. Diana, the opposition leader plans to run against President Putin in next year's election. Will today's protests rattle the Kremlin?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely and that is why there is a very heavy police presence out on the streets in all of these cities where already in the far east of the country there have been protests. The turnout so far has been modest rather than huge, I would say, and that is probably because people saw from protests in March that arrests were highly likely. The protests in March that Navalny had called for took the Kremlin by surprise, really. Thousands -- tens of thousands of people turned out in around 80 cities across Russia and the organizers of this demonstration say they hope for tens of thousands more.

[05:55:00] And what Navalny is hoping for is that this puts pressure on the Kremlin to allow him to run for president. That every protestor will increase his chances or increase the suggestion that if the Kremlin doesn't let him run that will appear illegitimate. Now, the protests are about to start in about an hour's time and if anything -- if the last protests are anything to go by there will be probably be hundreds of arrests this time, too -- Dave.

BRIGGS: You can count on that. Diana, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, 55 minutes past the hour this Monday morning. Let's get a check on your money. Global stock markets lower this morning after U.S. tech stocks tanked. U.S. stock futures right now are also down. Still nervous about that big tech sell-off and ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday. The Fed is expected to raise rates for the fourth time since December 2015.

Another rough week for Uber. A leadership crisis there, really. An internal investigation could mean big changes. It will adapt -- Uber will adapt all recommendations from a report looking into claims of sexual harassment. At the same time, Uber's CEO may take a leave of absence. Uber has had a tough few months. Last week the company fired 20 employees over complaints about sexism.

All right, does this character look familiar? It is not President Trump but it is a Trump-like Julius Caesar in a New York City production of the Shakespeare play, "Julius Caesar." Two sponsors pulled out after the gory assassination scene caused a huge backlash on social media. Delta Airlines and Bank of America both dropping support. Delta said the graphic staging doesn't reflect its company's values. Bank of America objected that this was intended to provoke and offend.

BRIGGS: Well, they got accomplished there --

ROMANS: They certainly got a lot of attention.

BRIGGS: -- if they wanted to offend.

ROMANS: You don't usually hear Shakespeare in the Park making national news headlines but it is because it --

BRIGGS: Is this Kathy Griffinesque?

ROMANS: I think it's -- this -- just this side of Kathy Griffinesque but I think that, you know, it's poor taste I think.

BRIGGS: If you wanted publicity, you got it.

ROMANS: It sure did.

BRIGGS: It may not be the publicity you wanted.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us this Monday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: When the attorney general's office has become a political office, that's bad for us all.

ROMANS: Will Jeff Sessions testify tomorrow?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: The Judiciary Committee has the oversight and it is very fitting for the attorney general to appear there.

JARRETT: Some on the committee are concerned that Sessions may be trying to avoid testifying publicly.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Lordy, I hope there are tapes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks more like an inappropriate conversation than obstruction.

SCHUMER: If there are tapes we should make them public right away. No more game-playing.

(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 Monday, June 12th, 6:00 here in New York. Chris is off today. John Berman joins me this morning. Great to have you here.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Nice to see you.

CAMEROTA: OK, so here's our starting line. Attorney General Jeff Sessions offering to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee tomorrow. The question is whether he will testify in open session in front of T.V. cameras. Meanwhile, the White House trying to get back to the president's agenda but President Trump continues to slam James Comey, calling him "cowardly" for leaking details of their conversations.

BERMAN: Republicans are urging the president to come clean on whether there are tapes of his conversations with James Comey. What's the game here? The president's private lawyer says he will address the issue within the next week. And the first lady and the president's 11-year-old son are waking up in the White House this morning after moving in this weekend. Will Melania Trump have a calming influence on the president? We have it all covered. We want to begin with CNN's Laura Jarrett live in Washington and we have a lot to learn about the attorney general's testimony, Laura.

JARRETT: That's right, John. The attorney general's agreement to appear before the Senate Intel Committee caught members by surprise over the weekend and the big question is still unanswered. Will Sessions testify in public or behind closed doors or some combination of both? Lawmakers have been clamoring for weeks to question Sessions on everything from the firing of FBI director James Comey to any undisclosed contacts that Sessions might have had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Now, sources tell CNN that a number of senators are concerned that Sessions may be trying to avoid testifying in public by scrapping previously scheduled appearances in front of the Appropriations Committees on Tuesday, but members of the intel panel say if Sessions does testify they want to hear him respond directly to some of James Comey's revelations last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP

LANKFORD: One of the key things we've got to get, obviously, his side of the story related to Jim Comey. Some of the conversations that Jim Comey had with the president where Jeff Sessions was a participant there, or at least was around, and be able to get the rest of the story. Comey's statement to him of hey, I don't want to get time alone with the president again and that interaction, as well as these accusations that are flying out there about conversations that he might or might not have had with the Russian prior to the election. So we want to be able to get his side of his and get all the facts out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)