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EARLY START

President Trump at Bastille Day Parade; Questions Swirl Around Don Jr. Meeting; GOP Unveils Revised Health Care Bill; Venus Williams Advance to Wimbledon Final. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, President Trump in Paris. He's a guest of honor at the Bastille Day parade. This comes, though, with the Russia scandal looming large. We've learned Jared Kushner planned to tell the president weeks ago about damaging emails. Did he?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the new Republican health care bill faces the same-old problem. Can Mitch McConnell find a way to appease all factions to get this bill passed?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Major implications there. I'm Dave Briggs. It's Friday, July 14th, 5:0:00 a.m. in the East.

New questions this morning for President Trump over his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer who he hoped would provide the dirt on Hillary Clinton.

[05:00:08] The big question for President Trump is what he knew about it and when?

Yahoo! News reporting that President Trump's legal team learned more than three weeks ago about the e-mail chain setting up the meeting. The president still says he only learned of the meeting a few days ago.

ROMANS: And there are new concerns within the West Wing, that the scramble to respond to the reporting of Don Jr. emails and meeting may have inadvertently drawn White House aides into the special counsel's Russia investigation.

For the very latest, let's turn to CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He is in Paris where it's exactly 11:00 a.m. on this (SPEAKING FRENCH)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bon jour, Christine.

President Trump is now at the parade behind me, the Bastille Day parade. I'm just watching here, I have a good vantage point, I can tell you, for watching American troops go by as well as the French military. So, the president is getting a bit of a respite from the Russia cloud. But I can tell you that it's still hanging over the White House. And as you said, those are new questions this morning about timing of

when specifically it became clear to folks when the meeting was discovered. The meeting, of course, in question on June 9th, 2016, between the president's oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, meeting with that Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.

And the president and White House insisted they only learned about this over the weekend, last weekend when "The New York Times" reported this. But new reporting suggests that they actually knew about this earlier, at least some lawyers knew about this earlier. And that is going to be one of the central questions here, Christine, as congressional investigators zero in on that meeting to describe and to figure out what happened.

The president, of course, says zero happened at that meeting. That there was no information traded off about some dirt on the Clinton campaign. But congressional investigators have not suggested that they're satisfied with the answer. And they want to know, zeroing in on if the president's son and other campaign officials were willing to listen to a government lawyer here.

So, the timing of when people knew about that meeting is a central question here as that unfolds. But again, back to the parade, the president will be here for the next couple of hours or so, then flying back to the United States after this whirlwind visit here in Paris -- Christine.

ROMANS: The French certainly know how to do a good parade, especially on this day.

All right. Jeff, thanks. Nice to see you.

BRIGGS: With all that as a backdrop, the president and first lady attending this Bastille Day parade in Paris this morning, along with the president of France and his wife, Brigitte. They're watching French and American troops marching side by side. Also marking 100 years since the U.S. entered World War I, turning the tide in the conflict.

Joining us now from the parade route along the Champs Elysees, CNN's Melissa Bell.

Good morning to you, Melissa. What are we seeing there along the one- mile route?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, I have a really good vantage position here on the two presidents, and all throughout the last 45 minutes of this parade or so, there's been a lot of chatting going on, that real complicity that we were talking about, that we saw emerged yesterday, much to the surprise of the French press and the European press, as a whole. It seems to be continuing here today as they watch the parade together.

I think all of Europe will be looking really to this visit which, of course, wraps up shortly when the Donald Trump flies back to the United States with a renewed sense of hope that perhaps the American president has been convinced of the importance of transatlantic ties. You know, there's been sort of shift in Donald Trump's position. We heard it in Warsaw last week. The idea that perhaps there were this recommitment to the NATO's Article 5, this recommitment to the idea of mutual help, this recommitment of the idea of NATO as a whole.

And, then, of course, for this press conference last night, this explaining of the fact that Donald Trump seemed that understand that the transatlantic ties were historical and were crucial. And, essentially, and I paraphrase, Dave, he said, you know, who knew that France was such an important historical ally? That was essentially his message at the press conference yesterday.

I think Emmanuel Macron was hoping to convince the American president of that. And he seems as even those clouds continue to hover in Washington, it is on the international stage that Donald Trump appears to be shining. I think it's something that no one could have predicted only a few weeks ago.

BRIGGS: Interesting dynamic. More than 30 years and many issues separate the two world leaders, but getting along quite well.

Melissa Bell live for us in Paris, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Joining us this morning to discuss all this, Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner."

So nice to see you this morning.

BRIGGS: Good to see you.

ROMANS: I want to listen to the president from yesterday's press conference in Paris with Emmanuel Macron. He was asked, of course, about his son, this meeting, those emails, that email setting up this meeting.

[05:05:06] And this is how the president defended his son.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer. Not a government lawyer but a Russian lawyer. It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast.

I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have take than meeting. It's called opposition research.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Sarah, most people would not have taken that meeting. That is the consensus in Washington. And the president taking a different tack than his son who said in hindsight, in retrospect, he wouldn't have done it. SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESONDENT, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER:

The fact that Donald Trump Jr. is the one who's implicated in this whole mess has made this particular Russia revelation extremely difficult for the White House because they're not able to distance themselves from the president's own son the way they have with Paul Manafort, with Mike Flynn, with the satellite associates like Carter Page, with others who have been found to have engaged with questionable behavior and sketchy contacts with Russian officials.

Donald Trump Jr. is too close to the circle. He's the president's own flesh and blood. They can't just throw him under the bus. They can't just fire him. So, they have to stick by him.

I think the president did the only thing he could do in that situation which is defend his son, defend his motives for accepting the meeting, and just kind of explain it as a product of his son's naivete when it comes to the campaign. That's the most innocent explanation.

It's been floated by the White House that Donald Trump Jr. just simply was not experienced enough in politics to know better than to stay away from a meeting like that.

BRIGGS: Yes, and the president referring to his son as a good kid on Air Force One, as he stands alongside the same-age world leader, Emmanuel Macron.

ROMANS: Thirty-nine.

BRIGGS: Both of them are 39.

But turning the page to what the president knew and when he knew it, Sarah, how would it change the entire story, the entire dynamics in fact the president, according to Yahoo! News, learned about the meeting and emails several weeks ago?

WESTWOOD: Well, I think the distinction is that the president's legal team learned about the emails several weeks ago. Now, that's important because it means the legal team should have had weeks to prepare for handling the fallout from these emails, expecting they would eventually come out. I don't know that that necessarily took place because the legal team, the pushback has not been as forceful as we have seen when other Russia-related revelation has come out.

But it makes sense that President Trump's legal team would seek to keep him isolated from this very damaging knowledge. They would have wanted to bring him into the circle as late in the process as possible. They don't want to get him involved in this. They want to keep the president compartmentalized from the Russia scandal.

The hiring of Marc Kasowitz, Jay Sekulow, and whole private legal team reporting the president has done a good job of trying to keep him separated from the Russia scandal and also keep the day to day drumbeat of scandal away from the White House. The briefings have gotten a little bit easier from the standpoint of the White House because you don't see them peppered with these Russia questions every day because reporters know they're going to get the answer "I would refer you to outside counsel."

BRIGGS: Kasowitz has his own scandal to handle. We won't get into that on the show. But he's got issues himself.

ROMANS: Let's listen to a little bit more of the president yesterday. It's almost like he couldn't help himself, turning it back and blaming the Obama administration, too, which is a ready page in his playbook. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch. Maybe that's wrong, I was surprise today to hear that a while ago, but it's a little surprise to hear that. So, she was hear because of Lynch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: She was here because of Lynch, the former attorney general, deflecting the blame back to the Obama administration.

WESTWOOD: Right. Willing to venture a guess that Loretta Lynch didn't personally sign the form of approval for that visa. But yes, there was reporting yesterday that emerged that this Russian lawyer obtained her visa during the Obama administration. She has been connected with other lawmakers lobbying for the rollback of this Magnitsky Act, advocating for changes to Russian adoption laws. That was what she was doing in Washington.

So, it's not surprising that she sought an audience with the Trump campaign. It's not surprising that she was in Washington if that was what she was tasked to do. But, clearly, this has been a mess for the White House. They've just been trying to keep their heads down, just get through it.

And I think the trip to France has been relatively successful. It's provided this diplomatic forum for President Trump and when he's done well every time he's been abroad.

[05:10:04] And this has given them breathing room.

BRIGGS: Well, and we should mention, quickly, Loretta Lynch issued a statement saying she had no personal knowledge of the situation and broke down exactly the departments that are responsible for that.

But as to the trip to France, the president this morning very active on Twitter before the Bastille Day parade, talking about health care, talking about Vice President Mike Pence, tweeting to the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and saying --

ROMANS: And the car ride over, huh?

BRIGGS: Yes, this must have in the car just about to get out of the car. I'll be at my desk, pen in hand. But this is a long road ahead, Sarah. You've got on one end, Susan Collins, on the other end, Rand Paul, saying they are noes. And there are at least other senators who were noes before that we have not heard a definitive opinion from whether they are in or out.

What do you think the chances are that the changes made to this bill will find enough votes to get through the Senate?

WESTWOOD: Well, this was always the risk with this strategy that the administration seemed to embrace, certainly leadership considered seriously which was to negotiate primarily with the conservatives and hope that the moderates could be brought on board with political pressure, because they were potentially less ideological. So, you saw Vice President Mike Pence go to bat for the Consumer Freedom Amendment, the amendment put forward by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee that would have loosened restrictions on what kind of insurance plans providers can sell to maybe offer the bare-bones plans that don't comply with the ACA. If they're also offering ACA-compliant plans, that would have lowered the cost of premiums, that's a very conservative amendment that was put forward on that bill that the White House did offer its support for.

But clearly that didn't bring on board the moderates, didn't bring on board every conservative. Rand Paul seems to have claimed one of those two no votes that Republicans do have. Susan Collins looks like she's trying to call dibs on the other one. And so, now, Mitch McConnell has no room for error. And he has to bring some of those moderates on board without losing the conservatives who have signed on to the amended version of the bill like Cruz and Lee.

BRIGGS: Yes, just those moderates like Dean Heller that said it was Medicaid why they were no. There were no Medicaid changes in the update. So, how they get them to yes will be a heavy, heavy lift.

ROMANS: All right. Sarah, thank you. Come back in a few minutes. We'll talk more about the events of the day.

And we're going to peek in here to Paris where the Bastille Day parade is going on. And the guest of honor is the president of the United States and his wife. Donald Trump and Melania Trump, they are watching the parade as it goes down the Champs Elysees. There's the arc. Beautiful day in France.

BRIGGS: Beautiful accent, my friend.

We will get to Paris in a moment, but there's also surprise turn of events for the travel ban. A judge now says more relatives are allowed in. These developments next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:17:13] ROMANS: Take a trip to Paris with us this morning. The 14 of July, the celebration of French independence and French Revolution. And today, really special because it is marking the 100th anniversary of the American entry into World War I, a move American leadership, American help that turned the tide in that conflict, and really was a defining moment for Europe and the country.

BRIGGS: And you talk about American leadership. A recent Pew Research poll found that just 14 percent of the French support President Trump's American leadership on an international stage. You do not see that. You are not seeing protests in Paris.

They are supportive of President Trump being the guest of honor at Bastille Day alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. You just saw the two of them. And they have been appearing to get along quite well, Christine.

ROMANS: They had a press conference yesterday where the president, the American president was asked directly about the sharp comments, even insults he's made to France and how it's handled terrorism. He had nothing but kind words for Emmanuel Macron and basically said, you know, don't mess up or you'll make me look bad. But he said that he thought that Emmanuel Macron was a leader who had terrorism under control. Terrorism just one of the things they talked about at the bilateral meeting, by the way, the Syrian conflict and other events, as well.

BRIGGS: Terrorism certainly something they would talk about today because after this parade, Emmanuel Macron will go to Nice and commemorate the terrible anniversary of that terrorist attack that killed 86 there. So, meanwhile, President Trump will go back to Bedminster, New Jersey, where they will host the United States Women's Open Golf Tournament.

ROMANS: But for now, they are watching the parade. The president and Melania Trump. And they will leave later today.

All right. Let's talk about what's happening in Washington. Despite claims, the White House's 2018 budget won't balance in 10 years. That's according to brand new analysis by the CBO. It projects the president's budget will reduce the deficit to $720 billion by the year 2027. That shrinks the current deficit by nearly a third, going the right direction. But it's well below the $16 billion surplus the White House estimates.

The difference is the pace of economic growth. The White House says the policy is like tax reform and spending cuts, will spur 3 percent growth. However, many experts in the CBO say 3 percent is too optimistic. They expect the slower rate of 1.8 percent.

Why? The CBO says Trump's economic plans lack the detail the CBO needs to calculate savings or costs, particularly details about tax reform. The administration's budget proposal uses trillions in spending cuts to reduce debt.

[05:20:00] The bulk comes from safety net programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and disability insurance.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, a federal judge in Hawaii loosening the restrictions in President Trump's travel ban. Grandparents and relatives like in-laws, aunts, and uncles will now be allowed to travel to the U.S. from six mostly Muslim nations targeted by the measure. The Supreme Court ruled last month the administration can bar travelers who lack any, quote, bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States. District Judge Derek Watson ruling the White House misinterpreted that ruling when they excluded grandparents and other relatives. Trump administration must appeal to his favorite Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or Supreme Court if it wants Judge Watson's order lifted.

ROMANS: Also breaking overnight, two people shot in Jerusalem's old city in what Israeli police are calling a terrorist attack. They say three armed attackers were shot and killed after they fired at police units who responded to the shooting. The wounded victims were taken to nearby hospitals.

The attack happening near Lions' Gate, next to what Jews call the Tempe Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. Officials say the area closed for the day.

BRIGGS: A Pennsylvania man will be spared the death penalty after admitting his involvement in the murders of four young men who went missing last week in eastern Pennsylvania.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What do you have to say to the families, Cosmo? Anything to say?

COSMO DINARDO, SUSPECT: I'm sorry.

REPORTER: Why did you do it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The attorney for 20-year-old Cosmo Dinardo declining to say exactly what role his client played in the killings. Dinardo's family owns the suburban Philadelphia property where human remains were found Wednesday in a 12-foot-deep grave. According to his lawyer, Dinardo told police where the bodies were located, is cooperating with their investigation.

ROMANS: All right. In France, it is Bastille Day. And President Trump is the guest of honor at a military parade along the Champs Elysees. Live coverage all morning here on EARLY START.

BRIGGS: And Venus Williams turning back the clock, looking for one more win to reclaim the winner's trophy at Wimbledon. Andy Scholes has the incredible story in this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:26:11] BRIGGS: Seventeen years after winning her first Wimbledon title, Venus Williams is back in the finals.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.

You know, this year's Wimbledon tournament, it's kind of like turning back the clock. Thirty-seven-year-old Venus Williams in the women's final tomorrow, while 35-year-old Roger Federer is going to take the court later today in the men's semifinals. Venus has not won a grand slam title since winning Wimbledon back in 2008.

If she wins tomorrow, Venus would be the oldest women's grand slam champion in the last 50 years. Her opponent is Garbine Muguruza who is -- was just 6 years old when Venus won her first Wimbledon title. Now, Muguruza won the French Open last year. She's an up and comer in the game. Venus is matched with her scheduled for 9:00 Eastern tomorrow morning.

Now, on the men's side, American Sam Querrey looking to continue his magical run today as he takes on Marin Cilic on the semis. Querrey has never been this far in the grand slam before. He's the first American man to make it to the semifinals in Wimbledon since Andy Roddick back in 2009. That match is going to get going at 8:00 Eastern this morning.

The winner from that one going to take on the winner between Roger Federer and Thomas Berdych. Now, Federer's amazing resurgence is continuing this year at Wimbledon. He's already won the Australian Open this year. He's trying to win a record eight Wimbledon titles.

And the legend of Tim Tebow continues to grow. The former Heisman Trophy winner hitting his first walk-off home run of his pro-baseball career last night. The opposite field shot lifting the Port St. Lucie Mets past the Daytona Tortugas 5-4. Tebow, incredibly, in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak.

All right. Finally, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor making a stop in Brooklyn to promote their August 26th bout. Mayweather who owed the IRS more than $22 million made it rain $1 bills on McGregor. The fans in New York, they had a chants for Mayweather during the faceoff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FANS: Pay your taxes! Pay your taxes! Pay your taxes!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: The fans in New York, guys, always with the creative chants. And, you know, sadly, these press conferences are likely going to be more entertaining than the actual fight on August 26th because, you know, especially the oddsmakers. They don't give McGregor much of a chance --

BRIGGS: I'm already tired of them.

Scholes, Venus Williams, I mean, touche. No grand slam finals for eight years, now two in six months. How do you explain it?

SCHOLES: You know, just an incredible run. You know, it's the game of tennis. She's just continued to try to perfect her craft and still going strong at 37 years old.

BRIGGS: Helps to have her sister out, of course.

SCHOLES: It's good timing, good timing. No doubt.

BRIGGS: All right. My friend, thank you.

ROMANS: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Early Scholes continues -- EARLY START -- early Scholes continues right now.

BRIGGS: It's that French.

(LAUGHTER)

(MUSIC)

ROMANS: Right now in Paris, President Trump the guest at the Bastille Day parade. It comes with the scandal looming large. Did the president learn weeks before he claims about his son meeting with a Russian lawyer?

BRIGGS: And the new Republican health care bill faces an old dilemma -- can Mitch McConnell find a way to appease all the factions and get this bill passed with already two coming out and saying, no, thank you?

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour here on this Friday, morning.

New questions this morning for President Trump over his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer who he hoped would provide dirt on Hillary Clinton. The big question for President Trump is what he knew about it all and when? The timeline really matters here. Yahoo! News is reporting that president Trump's legal team learned more than three weeks ago about the email chain.