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Top Economic Adviser Gary Cohn Leaves White House; Stormy Daniels Sues Trump Over Alleged Affair And Hush Agreement; Northeast Braces For Big Snowstorm; North Korea Willing To Talk To U.S. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 7, 2018 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:35] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view. I like watching it, I like seeing it.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: He likes it, we get it. A cage fight (ph) has now cost the president his top economic adviser. Gary Cohn is out after getting overruled on the battle over new tariffs. What does this all mean?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Stormy Daniels ready to talk. She is suing the president over the non-disclosure agreement. She claims it's void because the president never signed it.

BRIGGS: And, nor'easter part two. A major snowfall coming to the northeast today. Tens of millions facing dangerous conditions. The full forecast is moments away.

The snow is already here in New York but Chad Myers told us the temperatures --


BRIGGS: -- are high so that could be some good news.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Good morning. I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Why would anyone think there's chaos -- chaos, air quotes, in the White House? Just hours after President Trump tweeted out this claim "there is no chaos, only great energy," another crucial departure.

Top economic adviser Gary Cohn will resign in coming weeks following a fierce disagreement with the president over that decision to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminum. BRIGGS: So, for the top aide who agonized but stayed after the president defended white supremacists in Charlottesville, tariffs were the final straw. A senior administration official says Cohn had no choice but to leave having lost the internal fight on these tariffs.

A Congressman from the Republican Party involved in trade policy says Cohn's absence will mean more instability in the West Wing.

ROMANS: Yes. That announcement that Cohn is leaving came shortly after an afternoon news conference with the Swedish prime minister where Cohn failed to fill a seat -- empty seat with his name on it. And the president, probably knowing his top economic adviser was resigning, said this.


TRUMP: Many, many people want every single job, you know. I read where oh, gee, maybe people don't want to work for Trump and believe me, everybody wants to work in the White House. They all want a piece of that Oval Office, they want a piece of the West Wing.

So many people want to come and I have a choice of anybody. I could take any position in the White House and I'll have a choice of the 10 top people having to do with that position. Everybody wants to be there.


ROMANS: In the eyes of Wall Street, Gary Cohn was the number one top person. They liked him in that job. Knowing Cohn was quitting over tariffs, the president stood firmly by them.


TRUMP: We'll do it in a -- in a very loving way. It'll be a loving, loving way. They'll like us better and they will respect us much more.


BRIGGS: A very loving way.

Republican opposition to the tariff plan growing by the day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally breaking his silence Tuesday saying he has quote "genuine concerns the new tariffs could spark a trade war."

ROMANS: All right. Gary Cohn's sudden departure is already rattling Wall Street. Dow futures falling as much as 400 points overnight. Right now, down about 250 points, so off the low.

Now that set the tone for global stocks. Both Asia and Europe slipped lower.

Cohn's presence reassured investors. He's a former Goldman Sachs executive. He's pro-business. He was instrumental in passing the tax cuts that juiced corporate

profits. He is pro-free trade.

A moderate, globalist voice to President Trump's more nationalist instincts like Trump's plan to stop tariffs on aluminum and steel imports. Cohn opposed them and was working to soften the final product, even orchestrating a meeting with companies hurt by higher steel and aluminum prices and the president.

Now that he's gone, Wall Street's big fear again is a trade war. President Trump calls America's $810 billion trade deficit a disaster. The president thinks that trade deficit needs to be -- we've lost that money.

An important point here. That deficit is for goods.

The U.S. is no longer a predominantly manufacturing economy. It is now service-based. Think finance, media, technology.

And in terms of services, the U.S. has a $243 billion trade surplus, and surplus businesses employ five times as many people as companies that make goods.

Joining us right now, "CNN POLITICS" digital director Zach Wolf, live from Washington. Good morning, Zach.

And you see the president standing there next to the Swedish prime minister yesterday and talking about how the world's been ripping us off and how presidents have done nothing about it and now he is going to go back to this -- he's going to end these trade deficits, it's just remarkable.

Gary Cohn was a real moderating influence on that and now Gary Cohn is gone. And the president seems to think that's it's OK -- that conflict is OK. Listen to what he said.

[05:35:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view and I certainly have that, and then I make a decision. But I like watching it, I like seeing it, and I think it's the best way to go. I like different points of view.


ROMANS: OK, so who's left? We've had so many departures. Where do we stand here?

ZACHARY WOLF, DIGITAL DIRECTOR, "CNN POLITICS": I mean -- OK, so Gary Cohn is out. We had Hope Hicks out. Rob Porter, who -- the guy who -- handling all the paper going in front of the president's desk was out.

We've had his -- you know, Steve Bannon, who was his ideas man was out a long time ago. His first chief of staff was out. That kind of leaves us with John Kelly sort of moving around the deck chairs here on this great ship of state and we'll have to see.

President Trump says all sorts of people want to come be his economic adviser. I think if you were somebody looking for a solid work environment you might think twice about that job but there is kind of the importance of doing your public service, I guess. So we'll just have to see what kind of person they can find to fill that role.

But to say that it's not chaos in the White House when all evidence is to the contrary is a remarkable thing.

BRIGGS: But maybe the president's right. Whether -- the word doesn't matter. Maybe it works for him. This is clearly --


BRIGGS: -- his style.

If you're a conservative Trump voter -- if you're someone like cared, as you say, we've got tax cuts, we've got regulatory reform, we've got judicial appointments, we've got a Supreme Court judge. A pretty solid conservative agenda in just over a year, right?

ROMANS: Unless you blow it up with imports --

BRIGGS: This is true.

ROMANS: -- and unless you blow it up with a trade war.

BRIGGS: But for now -- as for now, you could say maybe chaos-conflict works.

WOLF: Well, I mean, chaos-conflict works in tax reform. I think Gary Cohn was pretty instrumental in getting that particular --

ROMANS: He was.

WOLF: -- piece of legislation. The only piece of legislation, by the way -- major piece of legislation they've gotten. The other stuff was all -- were all executive actions.

And I think when most people -- when most Americans look back on this first year of the Trump administration those aren't the things they're going to remember necessarily. They're going to remember the discord, the chaos -- kind of the confusion of this era. Left, right, or center I think everybody would agree that that is the sort of the way this White House makes you feel.

ROMANS: And they might remember something called the Stormy Daniels story, honestly -- I mean, which is a sidebar story almost. That now this woman is suing the president over their non-disclosure agreement, saying that it's not -- it's not --

BRIGGS: Not signed by the president.

ROMANS: Not signed by David Dennison, aka Donald J. Trump.

Any other White House would be sunk by this. In a way, I wonder if all the chaos makes Stormygate less significant.

WOLF: Yes, and I think a lot of people maybe aren't that surprised by it. If you -- if you look at the polling out there I think people sort of believe that this probably is true and honestly, they kind of knew this kind of thing about Donald Trump coming into the White House. So it's almost like yes, that was to be expected.

BRIGGS: So the president talked about Cohn's departure, he talked about North Korea which we'll get to later in the program.

He also talked about Russian meddling and what his administration is doing to stop Russians from coming back in 2018, although they really never left. He said they're doing a deep study on Russian meddling and added this.


TRUMP: One of the things we're learning is it's always good -- it's old-fashioned but it's always good to have a paper backup system of voting. It's called paper, not highly complex computers -- paper.


BRIGGS: Now that is true. Paper ballots are important to have a backup system.

But it's odd in context when you look at what the president is doing -- his administration -- to Canada who we have a trade surplus with -- one of our great allies -- and what we're not doing against one of our greatest global adversaries in Russia. Why?

WOLF: Well, pardon me, I missed part of that question. I'm having a bad flashback to 2000 and the paper ballots and --

ROMANS: Hanging chads.

WOLF: -- hanging chads and all of that stuff.

I mean, you know, there is no perfect election system. The idea that we can just say oh, let's all have a paper backup, there are 50 different election systems essentially in this country --

ROMANS: Indeed.

WOLF: -- so it's not a nationalized thing and that's why it's -- also why it's so hard to hack into, I think.

But, you know, for the president to say that they will respond to Russia to sort of try to set people at ease, saying we're dealing with it when you have plenty of evidence to the contrary from the NSA director last week saying they're not taking an aggressive stance --

From the State Department not spending the money that's been allocated to combat meddling. They haven't spent any of their money yet.

And then, you know, the lack of new sanctions that the White House is --


WOLF: -- willing to look at. So if you follow sort of the list of things I'm not sure exactly what he's talking about.

[05:40:05] ROMANS: Oh, but Canada -- we are going after Canada.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: We're going after Canada hard. We're going to impose tariffs and we're going to blow up NAFTA. That's always --

WOLF: It's a real threat.

ROMANS: -- nice.

OK, thanks so much, Zach Wolf.

BRIGGS: All right, appreciate it.

OK, for the second time in a week a powerful nor'easter threatening more than 50 million people from Philadelphia to Maine. These are live pics. Just wet right now in Philly.

All of these 50 million people facing winter storm watches or warnings. And remember, crews are still working to restore power to more than 100,000 customers after last weekend's storm.

More than 1,900 flights already canceled. If you're traveling today check with the airline before you leave home.

Let's check in now with meteorologist Chad Myers. How's it going out there, Chad?

ROMANS: Hey, Chad.


You know, I think it's important even if you're not traveling to or through the northeast to check your flights because the plane you're waiting for in Denver may be stuck here or maybe didn't even get here to get to you, so that is a very important point about traveling today.

We are seeing rain right now and 36, but the air is getting colder as we speak -- I can feel it in my fingers now -- so this is going to change to an all-snow event.

But, Philadelphia all the way up the turnpike, right on into New York City to Newport to Boston, that's your rain-snow line. If you are from that area to the east you're going to get a lot more rain than snow. But to the west of there, that's where the snow is really going to pile up.

Lancaster, York, Avoca, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Poughkeepsie, Schenectady, all the way up into the Green and White Mountains of Vermont, and Massachusetts, and Maine, that's where the biggest snow will fall and where it's going to be falling all day.

This is just starting. Just because I'm standing out here in the rain doesn't mean that we got missed. It is just beginning to get cold enough to make the snow. Snowing all day in New York but 34, so that's snowball-snowman weather.

And it's going to continue to move on up the coast a little bit farther inland -- 15 miles farther inland into Randolph, and Morristown, and New City. That's where it's already snowing -- sticking to the grass for now -- but that's where it's going to snow all day long.

And the maps show how much snow is going to fall. There will be places inland with 12 to 24 inches. The good news is for New York City it's not going to fall here. We're going to get four to six probably, but it's going to be slushy, sloppy all day.

So we'll be here talking about it all day long. Back to you guys.

ROMANS: Those big leafy oak tree suburbs where they will have power lines down after that big heavy now so everybody be careful out there. Thanks.

BRIGGS: Yes, and the ground already saturated --


BRIGGS: -- so you might see more trees coming down.

ROMANS: South Korea says sanctions must stay in place against North Korea even as Pyongyang shows some willingness to talk about its nuclear program. We're live in Seoul, next.


[05:47:11] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think that they are sincere but I think they're sincere also because the sanctions and what we're doing with respect to North Korea, including the great help that we've been given from China.

I really believe they are sincere. I hope they're sincere. We're going to soon find out.


BRIGGS: All right, cautiously optimistic, President Trump, after South Korea announced North Korea is willing to talk to the United States about giving up its nuclear arsenal. This stunning development coming after historic negotiations between the two Koreas in Pyongyang.

Kim Jong Un also saying he won't conduct nuclear or missile tests while those talks are ongoing. Andrew Stevens live for us in Seoul.

Andrew, this is a -- there's a lot of questions. What do they want in exchange for denuclearization, what broke them? Where are we going here next?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is clearly a diplomatic path at the moment Dave, and the next big issue -- and it's going to be interesting to see how North Korea handles this and how sincere they are -- is going to be a resumption of the military drills which the South Koreans and the U.S. hold every year. That's due to take place sometime in April.

Now we understand that Kim Jong Un knows that they are going to be on -- they're not going to be postponed again -- and he quote "understands" the South Korean view on this that they are holding military drills with the U.S.

Before, in previous years, this has been a red rag to a bull for the North Koreans so it will be very, very key on how they respond to these military drills. Indeed, they may be turned down by the U.S. and South Korea as well so we'll watch that space.

But really, today the headline is that it is about skepticism. We had the president of South Korea saying that it's far too early to be optimistic about this. We're just starting.

He went on to say that international sanctions, they're going to stay. The U.S. is reiterating that maximum pressure is going to remain as well. So all those sanctions -- that economic noose is going to stay around North Korea until they actually start to verifiably dismantle their nuclear stockpile and stop their nuclear developments.

So it's a first step in a very, very long road, Dave.

BRIGGS: Of course, there's also the question of what diplomat will conduct these talks with the North. We don't really have that in the region.

Andrew Stevens live for us in Seoul this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, 49 minutes past the hour.

Snowboarder Chloe Kim already won gold, now she's become a Barbie doll joining 17 other women in a -- in a new line. We'll tell you who made the cut on "CNN Money."


[05:54:07] BRIGGS: Breaking news overnight.

A police officer killed and two other officers injured in a shootout at a home in Clinton, Missouri. That's about 75 miles southeast of Kansas City.

The officers came under fire while responding to a 911 call. State Highway Patrol says the suspect barricaded himself inside but was later found dead when the SWAT team entered.

Last night's shootout happening exactly seven months after another Clinton officer was shot and killed during a traffic stop.

The city of Nashville will hold a special mayoral election in August following the resignation of Mayor Megan Barry. The Democrat stepping down Tuesday after pleading guilty to felony theft. She agreed to reimburse the city $11,000 and serve three years' probation.

In January, Barry admitted to an affair with her then-head of security Rob Forrest. On Tuesday, Forrest also pleaded guilty to theft, agreeing to repay $45,000 to the city. It's not clear if the guilty pleas are related to the affair.

[05:55:01] Vice Mayor David Briley will serve as Nashville's new mayor until that August election.

All right, let's talk some sports. The red-hot Rockets keep on winning, their streak now at 16 straight --


BRIGGS: -- wins.

ROMANS: Former Houston Rockets ball boy Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.


I'll tell you what, it's a good time to be a Houston Rockets ball boy. They haven't lost since January and they're a legitimate threat to dethrone the Warriors this season. They've got the best record in the league right now.

And get this. When James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela all play together, this season the Rockets are 33 and one. Just an incredible number.

And last night they were in OKC. The Rockets hitting the Thunder with a 3-point barrage with Harden leading the way in a 122-112 win. Sixteen straight wins for the Rockets.

That ties the Celtics for the longest streak to a season. The all- time best winning streak, 33 by the '72 Lakers.

All right, we've seen Bill Murray cheering on his beloved Chicago Cubs and Xavier who his son coaches for, but last night he was in Charleston where he lives cheering on the Cougars. Charleston storming back to beat Northeastern in overtime (audio gap).

The students ended up rushing the court after the game as the Cougars going dancing for the first time since 1999.

And, Los Angeles Chargers defensive lineman and Miami native Corey Liuget visiting with the Stoneman Douglas High School football team yesterday. Liuget announcing that he is starting a college scholarship fund to honor Coach Aaron Feis who lost his life in the school shooting.


COREY LIUGET, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Well, I am doing this whole deal for Coach Feis just more in so remembering him, you know. So his legacy can also go on and people don't forget about him and the sacrifice that he made on that day.


SCHOLES: Yes, and Liuget donated $10,000 to the fund guys, and the scholarship's going to a graduating member of the football team who exhibits the qualities of Coach Feis, some of those being having a big heart and putting others before themselves.

ROMANS: That is so nice.

BRIGGS: We've seen all major sports play a huge role in the healing of that community. It's really the power of sports.

Thank you, Andy Scholes. We appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a quick check on "CNN Money" this morning.

Gary Cohn's departure is rattling Wall Street. Dow futures falling as much as 400 points overnight. Right now it's down about 300.

That set the tone for global stocks. Asia and Europe slipped lower.

Cohn's presence reassured investors he's pro-business and pro-free trade, a moderate globalist voice to President Trump's more nationalist instincts.

Now, the president's protectionism freaks out Wall Street. Not only could it undo all of its pro-business work like tax cuts and deregulation but a trade war could lead to more inflation sparking faster interest rates hikes.

Target once again raising its minimum wage hiking starting pay to $12 an hour this spring after bumping it to $11 in the fall. So why hike wages twice? Because the first raise brought Target a bigger and better pool of workers. Higher wages are good for workers and it can be necessary in a tight labor market.

Investors though, wary of the cost. Target's stock fell 4.5 percent yesterday.

Just in time for International Women's Day, Barbie launching a new line of inspiring women. The new dolls include historical figures Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, Katherine Johnson, and modern-day role models "WONDER WOMAN" director Patty Jenkins and Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim.

The line inspired by a survey. Eighty-six percent of mothers worry about the role models their daughters are exposed to. Barbie maker Mattel wants to highlight empowering female role models in an effort to inspire more girls.

Ending on this. A 2-year-old girl who was mesmerized by a new portrait of Michelle Obama got to meet the real first lady. A photo of little Parker Curry -- isn't she cute -- staring at the portrait in the Smithsonian Gallery. This was viral last week.

Mrs. Obama, the former first lady, noticed and invited the Curry's to her office. She later tweeted this video. She's dancing with the little girl along with this message. "Keep on dreaming big for yourself and maybe one day I'll proudly look up at a portrait of you."

BRIGGS: That is some great stuff -- so cute.

ROMANS: It really is.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz will square off in the Texas Senate battle. Both are on "NEW DAY" today. That should be outstanding.

We'll see you tomorrow. Enjoy the weather, everybody.


TRUMP: I like conflict. I like different points of view.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: The idea that Gary Cohn is departing is just a reminder that his love of conflict has real consequences.

TRUMP: The White House has tremendous energy, it has tremendous spirit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think chaos is too strong a word.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Anthony Scaramucci trash talked his current chief of staff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The headline reads porn star sues president and nobody seems to blink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People knew about this when they voted for Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He will have to continue to respond to it in a court of law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are announcing a state of emergency.

BRIGGS: For the second time in a week a powerful nor'easter threatening more than 50 million people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a lot of snow. There's going to be a lot more.


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Ominous music makes sense with this snow coming. A lot of people still in a bad way from the last storm. We'll keep you up-to-date with that all morning.

As we say, welcome to you, our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, March seventh, 6:00 here in New York, and here's our "Starting Line."

Take a look at the U.S. stock futures.