Trump’s Big Reveal: Not a Russian Agent; A.G. Nominee Faces Congress today; Uncertainty for Unpaid Federal Workers; No Committees
<Show: EARLY START>
<Date: January 15, 2019>
<Head: Trump’s Big Reveal: Not a Russian Agent; A.G. Nominee Faces
Congress today; Uncertainty for Unpaid Federal Workers; No Committees
for Steve King; Storms Batter Already Devastated South California;
Brexit Decision Day. Aired 4-4:30a ET>
<Sect: News; International>
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[04:00:19] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never worked for Russia. And you know that answer better than anybody. I never worked for Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president had his say. Today, the nominee for attorney general gets in. William Barr faces Congress after it was revealed he shared criticism of the Mueller probe with the president’s lawyers.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: We’ll work for food. Unpaid federal workers with little recourse as the government shutdown enters day 25.
ROMANS: No committee assignments for Congressman Steve King in the new Congress. Remarks condoning racism have some prominent Republicans suggesting it is time for him to go.
BRIGGS: And overnight, rain and snow in California forcing evacuations, leaving a dangerous mess, mud flows from terrain devastated by recent wildfires. A highway just outside L.A. shut down.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I’m Dave Briggs.
ROMANS: Yes, seeing a highway in Los Angeles covered with snow is really something.
ROMANS: I’m Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, January 15th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.
Now, it is on the record, the president of the United States says he is not a Russian agent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I never worked for Russia. And you know that answer better than anybody. I never worked for Russia. Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it is a disgrace that you even ask that question because it is a whole big fat hoax. It is just a hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: So, no, that’s settled. But scrutiny of the president just keeps intensifying. CNN has now confirmed “Washington Post” reporting after a 2017 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany, Mr. Trump confiscated his interpreter’s notes and told him not to share anything with anybody.
Senior White House and State Department officials asked for the notes, they were denied.
BRIGGS: This all happened the same day the “New York Times” called the White House to ask about that 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians. The next day, the president dictated a misleading statement on the Trump Tower meeting, saying it was about adoption. Coincidently, the same way he described his earlier meeting with Putin.
So, now, Democrats are considering issuing subpoenas to obtain translator’s notes or compel them to testify about what was said in Mr. Trump’s meetings with Putin.
ROMANS: Meantime, the president’s legal team has rejected requests from special counsel Robert Mueller for an in-person interview with the president to ask follow-up questions. In November, the Trump team provided written answers to a limited number of Mueller’s questions focused only on the period before Mr. Trump took office. One source you now tells us, Mueller is not satisfied.
BRIGGS: Russia expected to be a hot topic when president Trump’s pick for attorney general appears before the Senate today. William Barr will be fielding questions from members of the Judiciary Committee. On the Democratic side, there will be three likely contenders for the White House in 2020, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, California’s Kamala Harris and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
ROMANS: And some new faces on the Republican side, Lindsey Graham becomes chairman, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Joni Ernst of Iowa become the first Republican women to serve on the committee. Barr has already provided a review of his testimony addressing concerns he may interfere with the Mueller investigation.
Here is CNN’s Jessica Schneider.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESOPNDENT: Christine and Dave, a big day on Capitol Hill that will likely be quite contentious as the president’s pick for attorney general faces the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now, we’ve already gotten a sneak preview of what William Barr will promise, that he will promise two major things. First, that he’ll let the Mueller probe go forward and that not interfere, and that second, that he’ll be transparent and allow the public and Congress to see what Mueller uncovers. Barr will also explain why he wrote that 19-page memo to the Justice Department that many have read as Barr concluding that the president cannot obstruct justice by firing the FBI director. But Barr will tell senators that he often weighs in on legal issues of public importance and that his ultimate conclusion was not that the president can’t obstruct justice, but the question is whether that explanation be enough for Democrats.
They are set to drill into Barr about his motivations behind writing that memo. Did he draft it again to the good graces of people surrounding the president, especially, because we now know that Barr sent the memo to several members of the president’s legal team? And Democrats will also ask, will it compromise his oversight of the Mueller probe? Christine and Dave?
BRIGGS: OK. Jessica, thanks.
Desperate times meanwhile for some of the 800,000 federal workers going without paychecks as we hit day 25 of this partial government shutdown, the longest in our history.
[04:05:00] Tampa International Airport teaming up with local charities to set up a food bank for struggling government employees. And a South Florida restaurant, Chef Creole giving free meals to TSA workers in Miami International Airport.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILKINSON SEJOUR, OWNER, CHIEF CREOLE: These people are here every day. It is not like they don’t want to work. They want to work, but they’re not getting paid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Air travelers are experiencing long lines at airports nationwide. In Atlanta, officials at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport say passengers should arrive three hours at Atlanta, folks, arrive three hours before your flight to get through security. Overnight, Southwest Airlines announced its planned expansion to Hawaii is on hold. The shutdown is preventing full certification from the FAA, they can’t go through the process of establishing the routes if the FAA is shutdown. And report from Syracuse University estimates more than 42,000 immigration hearings have been canceled due to the shutdown.
BRIGGS: Efforts to end the border wall funding impasse are going nowhere. President Trump telling aides and allies he believes he is winning the battle for public support despite polling that suggests the opposite. The source familiar with the president’s thinking tells CNN he is not going to budge even one inch. The White House is planning to invite a group of moderate House Democrats to meet with the president. West Wing officials are hoping to peel off freshmen Democrats in swing districts who might be more willing to bargain over border wall funding. ROMANS: A bipartisan group of at least 12 senators met at the Capitol Monday to find a way forward. A source telling CNN it was, quote, rough going. The president is rejecting Senator Lindsey Graham’s idea to reopen the government for three weeks.
Here is the reaction of Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: Well, then Mr. President, when are you going to help us open the government?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Murkowski is one of three GOP senators who are publicly calling for the shutdown to end.
BRIGGS: House Republicans will deny Iowa Congressman Steve King committee assignments after he made remarks defending racism. King staying completely silent as he left his office after the announcement of White House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
King has a long history of outrageous comments relating to race and immigration. He criticized the GOP move, saying McCarthy made, quote, a political decision that ignores the truth. He says his quotes were mischaracterized.
Judge for yourself. He told “The New York Times”: White nationalists, white supremacists, Western civilization, how did that language become offensive?
ROMANS: Earlier Monday, a pair of Senate’s most high profile Republican condemned King. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling King’s statements unworthy of his elected position, adding, quote, if he doesn’t understand why white supremacy is offensive, he should find another line of work.
And Utah’s new senator, Mitt Romney, tells CNN, King should step aside.
As for the president’s reaction, earlier Monday, he said only this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, what about Steve King’s remarks on white supremacy?
REPORTER: Steve King. Congressman Steve King.
TRUMP: I haven’t been following it. I really haven’t been following it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: The White House could vote as early as today on a resolution to disapprove of King, that’s not as severe as a censure. The disapproval resolution being proposed by South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, the highest ranking African-American in Congress.
ROMANS: Another Democrat tossing her hat into the ring for 2020, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, expected to announce her plans to form an exploratory committee during an appearance tonight on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”. That effectively means she will seek the Democratic nomination for president. Gillibrand already has a trip to Iowa planned this weekend.
BRIGGS: The national champion Clemson Tigers had it their way during a visit to the White House. President Trump played host to the college football champs Monday and with the government shutdown, there was no catering, so the president picked up the tab for the food. Guess what he got?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So, I had a choice. Do we have no food for you? Because we have a shutdown or do we give you some little quick salads that the first lady will make along with the second lady, they will make some salads. And I said, you guys aren’t into salads. Or do I go out, Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, do I go out and send out for about 1,000 hamburgers? Big Macs.
So we actually did, we have Big Macs, we have quarter pounders with cheese, we have everything that I like that you like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: That I like, that you like. Needless to say --
ROMANS: Look at that beautiful table and all that plastic clam shells.
BRIGGS: They had no complaints about the shutdown, burger, if you will, the fast food. It included pizza and fries to go along with more than 300 burgers.
ROMANS: Can we just look at that for a minute?
BRIGGS: I’ve been thinking a lot about this as you can imagine. This is what kept me up at night.
[04:10:01] And pizza is the only part of that table that travels well. As much as I love some Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, that is nasty after about 15 minutes sitting on a table.
ROMANS: I don’t know. The young men dressed up in their suits with the candelabra and fast food. And you are sports guy. I thought that they -- their bodies are their temples.
BRIGGS: These kids today eat like kings. They have training tables that rival the White House’s own. I don’t mean Burger King. We can talk about this the rest of the morning.
ROMANS: Quarter pounder with cheese is mine.
BRIGGS: That’s your go-to? Get me some Chick-fil-A. These guys are from the South.
ROMANS: There are big ramifications for today’s Brexit vote by British lawmakers. How will the U.K. exit the E.U.? And will Theresa May keep her job? We’re going live to 10 Downing Street.
ROMANS: Iran has tried and failed to launch a satellite into orbit. According to state-run media, the rocket carrying the satellite did not reach a high enough speed. Officials in Tehran say another satellite is waiting to be launched.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran to scrap the launch. He said saying it would defy the U.N. Security Council because the rockets use ballistic missile technology. He threatened new sanctions if a launch did occur.
BRIGGS: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal is widely expected to be rejected today and most political observers in the U.K. believe that she will lose by potentially historic margin.
Let’s go live to 10 Downing Street and bring in Hadas Gold.
Good morning. It’s just past 9:15 a.m. there. What lies ahead today?
HADAS GOLD, CNN REPORTER: Well, it’s a big day. This is a day that for nearly two years has been leading up to, finally the day for the House of Commons to vote on Theresa May’s deal she negotiated with the European Union of how they will leave the European Union.
I might see some action behind me at 10 Downing Street. The cabinet is currently arriving. They will likely talk about what will happen in the likely event that Theresa May’s deal fails.
Now, the margin tonight is important. If she loses by a small margin, she might be able to go back to the European Union and try to get some extra concessions and come back with another deal. But if it is a large margin of defeat, we’re in a completely unchartered territory, she will maybe even abandon her current deal, go for a plan B and no matter what happens, if she loses tonight, she will likely face a no confidence vote from the opposition, from the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, that could trigger is general election.
I have to say that the mood here is not very bright even from Theresa May’s own cabinet. One of her cabinet secretaries, Michael Gove, said this morning on the BBC that if MPs vote down this deal in the words of John Snow, winter is coming.
BRIGGS: Winter is coming.
Hadas Gold live in London this morning, 73 days away from a Brexit without a deal, as we continue to count onto our government shutdown, disturbing countdown in the U.K.
ROMANS: All right. We joke about no sleep on this shift or the lack of it --
BRIGGS: We commiserate, we don’t joke.
ROMANS: A new study is no joke.
The health effects of lack of sleep go much further than we knew.
[04:21:40] BRIGGS: Powerful storm prompting evacuations in southern California, and areas burned by the Woolsey Fire. Evacuations have been ordered started at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Officials expect an approaching storm capable of causing debris flows in burn areas. Twenty-six hundred residents in the Holy Fire burn area in Riverside County now under voluntary evacuation order.
Storms have already triggered at least three debris flows in Encino, the Hollywood Hills, and along the Pacific Coast highway between Malibu and Ventura, which reopened overnight after mudflows closed it in both directions. Evacuations also ordered for burn areas in Santa Barbara County starting at 10:00 this morning.
The California Highway Patrol has reopened a section of Interstate 5, north of Los Angeles, was closed for hours as snow fell.
ROMANS: California’s largest utility Pacific Gas and Electric headed to bankruptcy court. PG&E said it will file for bankruptcy on January 29th. Of course, it faces billions in claims over the Camp Fire. In a public filing, the power company cited at least $7 billion in claims from that fire. PG&E also said it only has about $1.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand.
The wildfire caused 86 deaths and destroyed 14,000 homes, more than 500 businesses and 4,300 other buildings, just shocking numbers. PG&E’s CEO Geisha Williams resigned on Sunday. The company said it plans to hire a new chief executive with extensive operational and safety expertise. The utility stock closed down 52 percent.
The big question, can it go out of business? Technically, yes, it can. Will it? No. Why? Well, it would be disastrous for California. PG&E provides the only pipeline that carries electricity and gas to 16 million customers in Northern and Central California. California cannot let it go out of business and cut off that supply. Just a really tough situation.
BRIGGS: Jayme Closs describing the night her parents were murdered and the terrifying 88 days in captivity that followed. Her personal account appearing in a complaint against her admitted kidnapper. Closs says on the night of October 15th, she woke up to the sound of her dog barking, her father went to investigate and she tells police that she heard him get shot.
ROMANS: As her mother called 911 from the bathroom, she was huddled in the bathroom hiding with Jayme in the bathroom after they heard the father be shot. Jayme says Patterson broke down the door and order her mother to hang up the phone. He ordered Mrs. Closs to tape Jayme’s mouth and then shot Mrs. Closs right in front of Jayme.
Patterson put Jayme in the trunk of his car. She says she heard police sirens as they drove off. Last Thursday, she managed to escape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WRIGHT, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, BARRON COUNTY, WISCONSIN: Jayme deserves enormous credit as a 13-year-old and she has such bravery to have done what she had done. But there were many, many others as well. If all those pieces had not fallen into place that particular afternoon, the outcome would have been very different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: Patterson first spotted Jayme boarding a school bus. According to police, Patterson claims he drove to Jayme’s home twice intending to kidnap her before actually going through with it. Patterson is being held on $5 million bail.
If you’re not getting at least six hours of sleep a night, a new study warns you may be at risk for dangerous plaque buildup throughout your body.
[04:25:07] Previous research suggested poor sleep was associated only with coronary heart disease. The Research Center on Aging at Tufts University says that the plaque increase in the body’s extremities increases the risks of stroke, digestive problems and poor circulation, at least the numbness and pain, as well as heart disease.
Another recent study found people who slept fewer than six hours a night for two weeks functioned as poorly as people who were people entirely deprived of sleep for two nights.
Boy, it disturbed me to read this story at 4:25 a.m.
ROMANS: You know, a lot of people think that they are high functioning if they don’t have a lot of sleep. You know, you’re out there, you are driven, you’re on a thread mill, when you’re on an airplane, and you’re at a meeting, and then you’re back, and you only sleep in less than six hours, and then this body of new evidence that, you know, four to six hour sleeper is not, you know, the power animal but actually you are hurting yourself.
BRIGGS: I’m crushed by it every morning when that alarm goes off. No surprise here.
ROMANS: Twenty-six minutes past the hour. New record holder for most likes on Instagram is no yoke. A brown egg has been 38 million likes.
BRIGGS: Thirty-eight million.
ROMANS: That beats by far the second most liked post on Instagram last year’s announcement by Kylie Jenner of the birth of her daughter Stormy. That got 18 million likes. The egg post wasn’t shy about passing Jenner saying let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram.
Jenner responded to the news by cracking an egg on the grounds.
BRIGGS: What does that tell us about Instagram? And about the new generation?
ROMANS: My friend said, is it a Russian bot? Is that what we are? We’ll see anything.
BRIGGS: I tried to ask my Instagram expert daughter and said it is awesome what we can do.
ROMANS: OK. There you go.
BRIGGS: William Barr, ahead, the A.G. nominee, poised to oversee the Mueller probe. If he is confirmed as the next A.G., now it turns out Barr shared criticism of the probe with the president’s own lawyers. The latest, ahead.
(Byline: Dave Briggs, Christine Romans, Jessica Schneider, Hadas Gold)
(High: It is on the record, the president of the United States says he is not a Russian agent. Today, the nominee for attorney general, William Barr, faces Congress after it was revealed he shared criticism of the Mueller probe with the president’s lawyers. Unpaid federal workers are with little recourse as the government shutdown enters day 25. No committee assignments for Congressman Steve King in the new Congress; his remarks condoning racism have some prominent Republicans suggesting it is time for him to go. Overnight, rain and snow in California forcing evacuations, leaving a dangerous mess, mud flows from terrain devastated by recent wildfires; a highway just outside L.A. shut down. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal is widely expected to be rejected today and most political observers in the U.K. believe that she will lose by potentially historic margin.)
(Spec: Donald Trump; Russia; Politics; William Barr; Justice; Government; Labor; Steve King; Congress; Race Relations; California; Disasters; Storms; Theresa May; Brexit; Great Britain; Europe; World Affairs)