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EARLY START

White House Answers Inconsistent on Russia Sanctions; Jared Kushner Set To Go Before Senate Intel Committee; Undocumented Immigrants Packed into Tractor-Trailer in Texas; Jordan Spieth Captures the British Open; U.N. Security Council To Convene in Jerusalem; Car Bomb Kills At Least 24 Killed in Kabul. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 24, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: Pardons have not been discussed and pardons are not on the table.

ANTHONY SCARMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I' m in the Oval Office with the president last week. We're talking about that. He said he brought that up.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Days after retooling the press off the White House, still can't find consistent answers on major issues including Russia, sanctions and whether the president would issue pardons.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And Jared Kushner set to go before staffers for the Senate Intel Committee. Could there be new revelations in store from the president's senior adviser and son-in- law? Secretary of everything. Good morning and welcome to "Early Start" this Monday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. How was your weekend?

ROMANS: It was OK. How was yours? It's hot.

BRIGGS: Excellent.

ROMANS: It was hot.

BRIGGS: It was hot. We hope you had a good weekend. It is Monday, July 24th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the east. We start this morning with the major revamp of the White House communications team, and still there are communications issues coming from that White House. Mixed messages on two major issues including sanctions against Russia and potential pardons in connection with the Russia investigation.

President Trump tweeting this on Saturday -- we'll all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is leaks against us? Fake news. ROMANS: Asked about it Sunday, the president's personal attorney and the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, they had different takes on whether pardons are being discussed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEKULOW: The president has the authority to pardon, but I want to be clear on this, George. We have not and I continue to not have conversations with the president of the United States regarding pardons. Pardons have not been discussed and pardons are not on the table.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm in the Oval Office with the president last week. We're talking about that. He says he brought that up but he doesn't have to be pardoned. There's nobody around him that has to be pardoned. He was just making the statement about the power of pardon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The issue bubbled up last week when the "Washington Post" reported the president was weighing whether he could pardon himself, his family, and close aides in the Russian matter.

BRIGGS: The House and Senate meanwhile reaching a deal to hit Russia with new sanctions. The measure also gives the Congress new veto power to block the administration from easing those sanctions. Signs do point to the White House supporting the deal, but it still seems to depend on again which White House spokesperson you ask.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Is President Trump going to sign the Russian sanctions bill?

SCARAMUCCI: We got to ask President Trump that, you know, it's my second or third day on the job. My guess is that he's going to make that decision shortly.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia particularly in putting these sanctions in place and we support where the legislation is now and will continue working with the House and Senate to put those tough sanctions in place on Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A senior White House official tells CNN Congress made changes to the measure the administration support. That includes new North Korea sanctions and provisions addressing business sector concerns. The measure could reach President Trump's desk before the end of the month.

BRIGGS: President Trump's newly minted communications director delivering a familiar message. Anthony Scaramucci telling CNN the president still does not accept the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election. Scaramucci also questioned the media's pursuit of the story, insisting it tarnished the Trump victory in November.

ROMANS: On Sunday, the president himself added this on twitter -- as the phony Russian witch hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold -- Democrats and Russians. The intel community not laughing and standing by its assessment of Russian interference.

CNN's Boris Sanchez has more from the White House.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, we saw an aggressive, combative, and oftentimes humorous new director of communications for the White House in Anthony Scaramucci over the weekend as he made the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows saying that he would be very aggressive when it comes to going after leaks coming out of this administration.

And also, on trying to keep the focus on the agenda and away from the Russia investigation. Though in one interesting exchange on "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper, Anthony Scaramucci said that the president is still not convinced that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic computers back in the 2016 election. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARAMUCCI: Somebody said to me yesterday, I won't tell you who, that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mail you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of the. Meaning that they're super confident in their deception skills and hacking. My point is

[04:05:00] all of the information isn't on the table yet, but here's what I know about the president. Let me finish

TAPPER: Wait, wait, wait. Anthony, you're making a lot of assertions here. I don't know who this anonymous person is that said that if the Russians had actually done it we wouldn't know have been able to detect it but is the unanimous --

SCARAMUCCI: How about it was the president, Jake? I talked to him yesterday. He called me from Air Force One.

TAPPER: Yes.

SCARAMUCCI: And he basically said to me, hey, maybe they did, it maybe they didn't do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Important to point out that just this last week several key figures in the intelligence community reiterated the fact that there is zero doubt that Russia was behind that hacking. Dave and Christine?

BRIGGS: Indeed. Boris, thank you.

On the subject of the president's stance on Russia, here's what some of the country's top intel officials said just last week at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election as is the entire intelligence community.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Tell us, is there any dissent within the intelligence community that you oversee on the question of whether the Russians interfered with the American election?

DANIEL COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There is no dissent and I stated that publicly --

HOLT: Everyone is onboard.

COATS: -- and I stated that to the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No doubt at all. I stand behind the intelligence and intelligence community assessment that we produced in January.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: President Trump has had varied responses concerning Russian efforts to influence the election. He's also compared the intelligence assessment on Russia's meddling to the false intel claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

ROMANS: The CIA director, the director of National Intelligence, one after another members of his own administration standing before people at that Aspen conference saying, no, there is no mistake, we have no dissent here --

BRIGGS: Repeatedly, over and over again.

ROMANS: Today for the first time, a member of the Trump inner circle will talk to Congressional investigators about the Russia investigation. The president's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers. It's a closed session. Kushner will be questioned on Tuesday again in private by the House Intel Committee.

BRIGGS: Since the election, it's been revealed Kushner had meetings with key Russian figures including the Russian ambassador, a top banker, and a lawyer claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. Meantime, the Senate Judiciary Committee has cut a deal with Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to avoid having them subpoenaed. The two men agreed to provide records and to be privately interviewed ahead of any public session.

ROMANS: All right, First Daughter Ivanka Trump will earn at least $1.5 million a year even as she serves as a top White House adviser. That's according to a new ethics disclosure for her and her husband Jared Kushner. Combined the couple is worth up to $762 million. That's a range and that's the top end of the range, the way these disclosures work. Experts warn that their active business empire could conflict with

their White House roles. Now, calculating exact totals is impossible. The document discloses, as I said, earnings in a range. But here's what we do know, Ivanka resigned from positions in both the family business and her personal fashion brand. But she still earned $5 million this year before joining the White House in March.

After that, her assets were placed into a trust, and that trust doles out at least $1.5 million each year. The family -- the Trump family's vast business interests has been a point of controversy with officials sparring with the Office of Government Ethics and former director Walter Shaub says the administration has not provided the information it needs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTER SCHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: While we try to work on those reports, they really drag their feet in providing answers to questions. And they won't let us see the ethics agreements they've negotiated with their appointees.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Poor Shaub stepped down from his role last week. And the interesting thing about their business, when you look at some of the prior presidents or even candidates for president who had a lot of money, they would put their things in a blind trust, right? And then that's it. You don't know what's happening with that business. The Trump Empire is based on Trump, the name Trump. And you can see, so it's almost impossible to make it a blind kind of investment.

BRIGGS: There's also no real transparency in terms of how much they are aware of the business dealings currently of the Trump organization. Meanwhile, President Trump faces the media to discuss health care this afternoon right after he meets with what the White House is calling victims of Obamacare.

We're already getting a preview of that on twitter. The president tweeting on Sunday, quote, if Republicans don't repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare, the repercussions will be far greater than any of them understand. The senate expected to vote Tuesday on a procedural motion to bring up the Obamacare repeal legislation passed by the House. There are some confusion among senators about possible next steps if that motion passes.

ROMANS: Democrats are determined to regain their footing by presenting their own economic agenda. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer admitting his party needs to do more than just

[04:10:00] obstruct after a bitter defeat last November.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST, "THIS WEEK": Why don't Americans know what the Democrats stands for and is that your fault? SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Well, it is in part our fault. When you lose an election with someone who has say, 40 percent popularity, you look in the mirror and say what did we do wrong. And the number-one thing that we did wrong is we didn't have -- we didn't tell people what we stood for. Even today as your polls showed, they know we're standing up to Trump. They like that. But they want to know what do you stand for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Schumer says this new economic plan is called a better deal, it's a progressive three-pronged approach that focuses on improving wages, lowering cost of everyday expenses, and boosting job training opportunities. The goal here among Democrats, 10 million good paying jobs to be created. I know Nancy Pelosi has --

BRIGGS: In five years.

ROMANS: -- an op-ed, right.

BRIGGS: Yes, in the "Washington Post."

ROMANS: In the "Washington Post." It was laying out how (INAUDIBLE)of the drug prices. That was a big part of this better deal for the American people using Medicare as a (INAUDIBLE) to get prices down. Prescription drug price --

BRIGGS: We never hear about that.

ROMANS: Yes, no.

BRIGGS: -- it may be the only --

ROMANS: That's a big part of their progressive agenda here, is to get drug prices down. They say that's the biggest thing people feel in healthcare -- the failure of healthcare.

BRIGGS: Right now opposing Trump appears to be number one for Democrats.

Meanwhile, a man asks a Wal-Mart employee for water and helps uncover a deadly human smuggling operation. The incredible, sad story come from San Antonio, Texas, next.

[04:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: The death toll now stands at nine after dozens of undocumented immigrants were discovered packed into the back of a tractor-trailer in Texas. Immigration officials say more than 100 people may have been wedged into the 18 wheeler that was found parked in a San Antonio Wal-Mart Sunday morning. Authorities are calling it a case of human trafficking. The driver of the truck due in court today and investigators want to know if he might be connected to a larger human smuggling operation.

We get more now from CNN's Ed Lavandera. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Homeland Security investigators and Immigration's Customs Enforcement agents say that the man who was driving the truck that was discovered here at this Wal-Mart in southwest San Antonio was 60-year-old James Bradley from Clearwater, Florida. Now a key part of this investigation will be figuring out who exactly Bradley was working with and where this truck had been and where it was going.

The acting ICE director says that at some point during the journey there could have been more than 100 people inside the truck. When it was discovered here Sunday morning, there were eight people dead inside. A ninth person died in the hospital and nearly 20 others have been in critical condition. They've been treated for heat exhaustion and asphyxiation.

Very serious conditions and very horrifying conditions, quite frankly. The fire chief here in San Antonio says that he believes at some points the temperatures inside the trailer of that truck reached more than 150 degrees. It was discovered after somebody from the truck approached a Wal-Mart employee asking for water and that's what led police here to make this gruesome discovery.

CHARLES HOOD, SAN ANTONIO FIRE CHIEF: Paramedics and firefighters found each had heart rates over 130 beats per minute which again, they were hot to the touch. So these people were in that trailer without any signs of any type of water. So you're looking at a lot of heatstroke, a lot of dehydration.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: And I should point out that this Wal-Mart is just along Interstate 35, which is a direct shot down to the nearest border point, which is the town of Laredo, Texas. The human smuggling numbers that come through this part of south Texas and the Texas-Mexico border really accounts for some of the largest numbers of illegal immigration into the United States and this type of human smuggling operation is very common through this area. Christine and Dave?

ROMANS: Just a tragic story. All right, a customer steps in to stop an armed robbery at a California Starbucks. Check out this surveillance video. The suspect armed with a knife and toy gun demanding money at the register. That's when Craig Jerry sees what's going on. He picks up a chair and hits the man. The pair got into a fight. Craig manages to wrestle the knife away from the robber but is stabbed in the neck.

Thankfully he's expected to be OK. The suspect was later arrested. Police call Craig a hero but do not recommend going about it the way he did. I love showing these videos, you know. But the law enforcement always say -- by the way, don't do that.

BRIGGS: They don't recommend this at all.

ROMANS: Just please call 911. BRIGGS: Gutsy indeed. All right, Jordan Spieth recovering from a

rocky start with a remarkable finish to capture the British Open. The 23-year-old American winning by three strokes over Matt Kuchar.

ROMANS: Look at that.

BRIGGS: That putt, the highlight. A 40-foot eagle on 15 to move back in front after surrendering a three-stroke lead. He's now won three of golf's four majors. I mean, sixth player ever to win the career grand slam if he can win the PGA Championship next month in Charlotte.

I don't know if you watched, but it was remarkable on 13 as Jordan Spieth had maybe the worst drive you've ever seen by a leader in a major championship, into the driving range, but battled back. Unlike anything we've ever seen in a major golf event.

ROMANS: Awesome.

BRIGGS: It was incredible.

ROMANS: Congratulations to him.

All right, 19 minutes past the hour. The murders of Israeli police officers lead to new security cameras at a holy site. That is not sitting well with Palestinians. The new tensions in the Middle East when we go live to Jerusalem.

[04:20:00] (COMMERCIAL HBREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. The U.N. Security Council set to convene an emergency meeting today as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians rise again. Israel installing security cameras near the entrance to one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem after placing metal detectors there last week.

The Israeli action coming after two police officers were killed in an attack there. The presence of metal detectors sparking anger and protests across the region. CNN's Ian Lee is live for us with the latest from Jerusalem. Ian?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christina, I'm standing where some of the fiercest clashes took place over the weekend and it really did start over a week ago when those two Israeli police officers were gunned down near the Temple Mount, also known as the noble sanctuary. And in the aftermath, Israel installed these metal detectors and later these security cameras they say to protect the area, especially since those gunmen came off that holy complex and gunned then down.

[04:25:00] But that infuriated the Palestinians. Also the Jordanians, they see this as Israel trying to expand its control over the area and break the status quo which has been in place for years where Jordan administers the holy site and Israel provides security. And so the situation really has evolved and we've seen more clashes over the weekend and also attacks in the West Bank. Three Israelis were killed when a Palestinian man broke into their

home with a knife. And over the weekend, we also had deadly clashes with four Palestinians being killed. And really, though, Christine, it's going to take a diplomatic solution. That's what we're seeing right now take place.

The White House through Jared Kushner is speaking with the Jordanians, the Israelis, Palestinians, trying to come to some sort of agreement. We also have that U.N. Security Council meeting. Hopefully something can come out of that.

We're also hearing from the Arab League who is warning Israel that they're playing with fire and they're urging them to come to some sort of agreement as well, but really without that Christine, we're expecting more violence.

ROMANS: All right. Ian Lee for us this morning in Jerusalem. Thank you.

BRIGGS: We're following breaking news from Afghanistan. At least 24 people killed in a car bomb attack in Kabul. Afghan officials say at least 42 others were injured in the blast. The Taliban claiming responsibility for the attack saying in a statement they targeted a bus carrying Afghan intelligence staff. Still not clear if they were among the casualties.

And the White House in need of mixed messages. Not exactly getting on the same page.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST, "FACE THE NATION": The president's raising issues about the motivations of Mueller's team. Is that helpful?

SCARAMUCCI: Like I said, it doesn't matter to me whether it's helpful or not --

DICKERSON: Well, doesn't it get in the way of the message that you were just talking about?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, it may, and it may not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Will a new communications director help clarify answers in the Russia probe? Pardons, sanctions, and more.

[04:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)