tv Early Start With John Berman and Christine Romans CNN February 16, 2017 1:00am-2:01am PST
the growing series of leaks in washington has congress demanding answers. top members of the house and senate are speaking up after the president himself went on the offensive. and the white house is looking for another for the labor department. and the president with the big shift on u.s. policy. he says the two-state solution may not be the only answer to mid east peace. he has one warning for the isra isra israeli prime minister ni. nice to see you.
i'm alison kosik. >> and ie'm john berman. republicans not looking for information about advisers or russian officials or are they looking about the information for the call that brought down michael flynn. they want to know who leaked the information. jason shchaffetz is seeking to e if classified information is mishandled. they have concerns of the inadequate protections of the laws answ s and constitution. authorities for good reason. the release of national security information can have grave effects on national security. this comes after chaffetz said his committee will not look into the circumstances that led to
michael flynn stepping down. but senators are interested in the fact of the flynn downfall. the senior democrat on the senate judicial committee written to the justice department and fbi. they are looking for a briefing in two weeks along with transcripts of flynn's call with the russian ambassador. they wrote, media reports raised questions about the content and context of mr. flynn's discussions with russian officials. conclusions by the justice department and leaks of classified information by current and former government employees. >> instead of focusing on the substance of the reports, the administration is focused on the leaks. the president took aim at the intelligence community accusing it of leaking. he attacked the media for reporting the leaks during the
news conference at the white house. jim acosta was there. >> reporter: john and alison, the president is supporting michael flynn despite the fact he fired him this week. at the news conference with prime minister benjamin netanyahu, the president slammed the media and leakers in the government about flynn lying about the calls to the vice president. here what is the president had to say. >> general flynn is a wonderful man. i think he has been treated unfairly by the media. as i call it the fake media in many cases. from intelligence, papers are leaked. things are being leaked. it's criminal action. it's been going on for a long time. before me. now it's really going on. people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the democrats had under hillary clinton. >> reporter: the president declined to answer questions from cnn about reports that
trump advisers were in contact with the russians during the campaign. we learned that vice president mike pence is getting to the bottom of how he was misled. he was not informed tfor two weeks. john and alison. thank you, jim. the administration is denying our report that the vice president is focused on the flynn firing and looking for answers on how he was misled. an official says the vice president moved beyond the topic calling any claims to the contrary false. and the source into the investigation says it is likely general flynn will be called to testify along with former director of national int intelligence clapper and james brennan. this is an issue to figure out what the president knew and when he knew it.
an intelligence spokesperson says the action has been suspended pending review. this was described as standard procedure about compliance. the trump administration looking for a new labor secretary this morning. andrew puzder withdrawing his name one day before his confirmation hearing. that decision comes amid growing concerns he would not be confirmed. gop senators asking the white house earlier in the day to pull his nomination as support deteriorated. this is a blow to the administration, but also mitch mcconnell. he said he would be one of the best labor secretaries in history. that raised eyebrows because mcconnell's wife held the position andrew puzder also had quite the checkered past as the ceo of the
company that owns carl's jr. decades ago, his ex-wife levied abuse charges against him which were dropped. she also appeared on the oprah winfrey show. he said he hired a housekeeper who was undocumented. he is facing numerous lawsuits and a critic of obamacare and a critic of the $15 minimum wage and the accuracy of the unemployment rate. that is upsetting democrats. the search is on for a new labor secretary. take a look. an official says the president has a short list. it includes national labor relations board members peter kirsanow and alexander acosta and catherine templeton.
and susan coe susan collins problem with the epa pick of michael pruitt. at 10:30 a.m., mulvaney is expected to be confirmed as the white house budget director. this is despite an opposition of john mccain. and the white house could unveil a new executive order on immigration and travel today. if that is the strategy, it is expected to come before the next court action on the president's halted travel ban at 2:00 eastern this afternoon. that's when attorneys for washington state and minnesota on one side and the justice department on the other filed briefs in the ninth circuit. after those briefs are submitted, a decision will be
made to rehear the case. there is support for the travel ban. the attorney general of texas filing a brief with the ninth circuit arguing for a fuller panel of judges to reconsider the case. arguing the president has the authority to act based on public safety. cnn learned the option of convention at u.s. ground forces to syria is on the table. the pentagon will present that strategy to president trump in the coming days. the president asked for new proposals to battle isis. the official tells cnn nothing is finalized. the two-state solution. is it the answer to peace in the middle east? the first time in decades, the president is not necessarily saying yes. we're live in jerusalem next.
i'm very happy with the one that both parties like. i can live with either one. i thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. honestly, if benjamin netanyahu and the israelis are happy. i'm happy with the rest. >> backing off saying he would not insist on a two-state solution to resolve the confl t conflict. this coming at a joint news conference before meeting with prime minister benjamin netanyahu largely overshadowed by the questions surrounding the campaign over russia. what is the reaction coming from israel this morning? cnn's oren liebermann live in jerusalem for us. it was interesting to watch donald trump on the campaign trail telling benjamin netanyahu keep the settlements going and
now he is saying wait a minute. that two-state solution or one-state solution doesn't matter. the president's reaction is casual to the problem in the middle east. >> reporter: casual and noncommittal. saying whatever works for you, it works for me. figure it out and i'm okay. the right wing government is celebrating that press conference with mr. trump and prime minister netanyahu. are some calling for an annexation for the west bank. netanyahu was asked if he supported a two-state solution. he said that term. two-state solution is a label. he doesn't want to talk about labels. he wants to talk about solutions. he was under the pressure from the government to revoke the two-state solution before going to washington. his answers and dodging of that question made his government happy. the one line effectively ignored is the line where trump said he
would like to see settlement construction halted for a bit. that line is what the palestinian lead seized on. israel needs to listen to trump and halt construction so settlements can continue. what is unclear is the policy is not formulated. wediplomats. in the noncommittal answer shows he hasn't formed how he wants to handle the policy. alison, he has had shifts from the campaign. he backed off the promise to move from the embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem. he said the expansion is unhelpful to the peace process. we will see how his policies shift. >> i guess the israelis see it the relationship with netanyahu and trump is good.
they almost seemed like buddies yesterday compared to netanyahu and obama together. >> reporter: that is explaining why they chose to do this before the meeting before they talked about substance. it was important to both leaders to show how strong this relationship is from the beginning and dramatically different it is than how the relationship ended between former president obama and netanyahu which was rocky. at appearance, regardless of disagreements on policpolicy, i important for trump and netanyahu to appear to have a strong relationship from the beginning. as they face their own challenges. trump with flynn's resignation and netanyahu facing a criminal investigation. >> thank you, oren liebermann. the president trying to avoid tough questions at the conference by not calling on
reporters from the traditional larger media outlets. at the conference with the israeli prime minister, he only called on reporters from organizations seen to be sympathetic to the president. cnn reporters tried to ask questions about the administration's ties to russia. more specifically the campaigns. the trump campaign ties to russia. the questions were ignored. >> mr. president, will you answer any questions about your contacts with the russians during the campaign? >> mr. president, will you comment about your senior adviser? >> pure silence. we have seen that all week. on monday, when he had the conference with the canadian prime minister justin trudeau. he called on outlets that were
favorable to the white house. presidents in the white house try to manage their own story and manage the narrative. they do interviews with sympathetic outlets. in the conferences in the past, always, some of the major outlets have been called on. if you are not with one of the major outlet, it is on you. >> the questions that were asked and clearly ignored are the questions of the day. i think many analysts are saying listen, if the president wants this problem to have the chance of going away, he has to engage in some of the questions. >> that's not how he is handling it so far. big meetings overseas. top diplomats from u.s. and russia set to meet at a summit this morning. we're live in germany next.
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with growing scrutiny over the trump campaign's possible ties to russia, the newly minted secretary of state rex tillerson is in germany for the g20 smum summ summit. let's go live to germany and bring in diplomatic editor nic robertson. nic, what are they going to discuss? >> reporter: what we have been told by the state department is expect issues of mutual interest. isis and counterterrorism. obviously we heard from president trump talking about how he can see a way to work with russia to tackle the
problem of isis in syria. that seems to be on the able. you factor in what we have been hearing the last 24 hours. a possible of u.s. troops on the ground in syria. the syria part of the conversation is a serious one. and tillerson is bringing to the summit is the united states supports trans atlantic alliance over ukraine. that means russia and ukrainians, but russia needs to meet the terms of the agreement and beyond that, the white house position that russian troops must get out of crimea before u.s. sanctions can be lifted. something the foreign ministry sergei lavrov is pushing back on. there are issues of mutual interest, but issues of contention. not the least the discussion of use of missiles and fly-bys and
the kremlin wondering the understanding of the white house following the departure of michael flynn. rex tillerson will have a full discussion. that's happening on the margins of the g20. he met with the saudi foreign minister talking about yemen and what can happen there and talking about syria too. >> a lot on the plate. nic robertson, thank you. the future of u.s. funding for nato could hang in the balance hinging on whether nato allies decide to pay up. james mattis echoing the tone at the brussels meeting with the nato defense ministers and affirming the support for the alliance. mattis said members must be willing to pull their weight. >> it is a fair demand of those who benefit from the best defense in the world carry the share of the cost of freedom. we should never forget it is freedom that we defend here at
nato. >> the nato secretary-general says the message from secretary mattis is fair and they need to do a better job of burden sharing. all right. following the news of constant contact between trump campaign officials and russian officials. some in washington now calling for investigation noos ths into. they want to know who leaked the story. stay with us.
with the swirl of reports of russian contacts with donald trump campaign officials, some republicans calling for an investigation. not in the contacts, but who leaked them. and the search for labor secretary begins again. andrew puzder withdraws his nameless than 24 hours before his hearing. the president bucking
decades of u.s. policy in the middle east. now saying the two-state solution not the only possible answer. welcome back to "early start." i'm john berman. >> i'm alison kosik. lawmaker demands for answers after leaks proving embarrassing to the white house. some lawmakers are not focused on the substance of the communications with russia, but rather on who is responsible for making the information public. two top house republicans are demanding a probe of the intelligence leaks that led michael flynn to leave. jason chaffetz and bob goodlette wrote to the inspector general saying they are looking for an investigation whether classified information was mishandled. they said we have serious concerns about the potential inadequate protection of
classified information and fed reali ral laws and constitution. the investigation authorities from intelligence collection. the release of classified information can have grave consequences. this comes days after the oversight committee would not look into the kicircumstances tt led to flynn stepping down. >> republicans and democrats calling for investigations. lindsey graham wants a committee. and two others have written to the justice department and fbi. they want an official briefing within two weeks and transcripts of the phone calls of the discussion with russian officials. the conclusions and actions the administration took and the leaks of classified information by current and former government
p employees. >> president trump took aim at the intelligence community. accusing it of leaking and the media for reporting the leaks. during a conference at the white house. cnn's jim acosta was there. >> reporter: john and alison, president trump is defending his former adviser michael flynn despite being fired this week. at the conference with the prime minister benjamin netanyahu, the president slammed the news leaker and those in government. here's what the president had to say at that conference. >> general flynn is a wonderful man. i i he's been treated very, very unfairly by the mothe media. the fake media. papers are being leaked. things are leaked. it is criminal action. criminal act. it has been going on for a long time. before me. now it's really going on. people are trying to cover up
for a terrible loss that the democrats had under hillary clinton. >> reporter: the president declined to answer questions from cnn about reports that trump advisers were in contact with the russians during the campaign. we are learning that vice president pence is getting to the bottom of how he was misled. not informed for two weeks after the questions of flynn's actions. john and alison. >> you heard the report that the vice president trying to get to the bottom of how he was kept in the dark for so long. the administration denies the report that the vp is focused on the firing. an official tells cnn that the vice president moved beyond the topic. calling the claims false. the senior republican source with knowledge into the contacts of russian officials says it is likely general flynn will be called to testify along with former director of intelligence clapper and brennan.
the senate intelligence committee is likely to hold the hearings and seek testimony. right now, they have the broadest investigation into not just general flynn's call with the rush the russian ambassador, but the contacts we have reported with the trump campaign officials and also the russian officials. i should say an intelligence spokesman says the access to the classified information has been suspended pending review. that is standard procedure when there are questions about someone whether or not the statements have been fully honest with the administration and public. the trump administration looking for a new labor secretary. andrew puzder withdrawing his name just one day before his confirmation hearing. that decision comes amid growing concerns he would not be confirmed. gop senators asking the white house earlier in the day to pull his nomination as support
deteriorated. this is a blow to the administration, but also senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. he said he would be one of the best labor secretaries in history. that raised eyebrows because mcconnell's wife held the position under president george w. bush. mcconnell could not get support. andrew puzder had a checkered past as the ceo of the company that owns hardee's and carl's jr. decades ago, his ex-wife levied charges of abuse which were later dropped. she oprah winfrey's show to talk about domestic violence. he recently revealed he hired a housekeeper which was undocumented. he has been a critic of obamacare and craitical of the
$15 minimum wage. all that upsets democrats. now a search for a new labor secretary. the president has a short list which includes former national labor relations board which with is peter kirsanow and alexander acosta and catherine templeton. susan collins of maine will not back the epa director pick scott pruitt. despite that, approval will be confirmed as likely as friday as long as no more republican support drifts away. at 10:30 this morning, mulvaney is expected to be confirmed.
we could see the trump administration trying to change the conversation today away from russia and focusing on a new executive order on immigration and travel. if that is the strategy, it is expected to come before the next court action on the president's halted travel ban at 2:00 eastern this afternoon. that is when attorneys for washington state and minnesota on one side and the justice department on the other file their briefs in ninth circuit. after the briefs are submitted, a decision will be made whether to rehear the case. there is support for the travel ban. the attorney general of texas filing a brief with the ninth circuit arguing for a fuller panel of judges. arguing the president has the authority to act based on public safety. cnn has learned the option of deploying conventional forces to syria is on the table.
that strategy will be laid out to the president in the coming days. the defense official tells cnn nothing has been final. ultimately it is up to the president to make the call. they are providing a menu of options. for the first time in decades, the u.s. is ready to consider two-state solution in the middle east. we are live next with what is a policy shift. sometimes you just know when you hit a home run.
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happy with the one they like the best. >> president trump backing away from decades of u.s. policy in the middle east. saying he would not insist on a two-state solution to resolve the israeli/palestinian conflict. that came at the news conference before the meeting with prime minister netanyahu. in the conference, the president urged the israeli prime minister to curb settlement construction. we have cnn's oren liebermann live in jerusalem for us right now. some factions within the coalition have been pushing for an end to the two-state solution. oren. >> reporter: john, that is the domestic political pressure that netanyahu was going into the meeting. the two leaders were asked about that. the president said i'm fine with and netanyahu when asked the same question refused to commit to a two-state solution. he said that term is more a
label. he doesn't want to talk about labels. he wants to talk about substance. that is what netanyahu's right-wing government wants to hear. shortly after that, it marks the end of the palestinian state. they are calling for more settlement construction. some calling for annexation for parts or all of the west bank. they are ignoring the settlement construction halted for a bit to work on peace. they will puts pressure on netanyahu to work on settlements. the line where settlement construction should stop for a bit is the line that palestinian leadership is referring to. that is what you need to do. you are beginning negotiations. they have ignored the part where trump said whatever? i'm fine with the parties. palestinians making it clear they support a two-state solution. an israeli state and palestinian state. what is clear, donald trump's
middle east policy is not formulated and not clear or concise. he is taking input. he took input from prime minister netanyahu, but hasn't articulated the middle east policy the trump administration will pursue. >> it is complicated. taking a stand at some point probably necessary. oren liebermann for us. thanks. president trump seems to have settled on a strategy for avoiding tough questions at the press briefings. he is refusing to call on reporters from the traditional media outlets. on wednesday, with the israeli prime minister, he called on reporters from the sympathetic news outlets. cnn reporters at the events tried to ask the president questions about the campaign ties to russia and only to be ignored. >> mr. president, are you going to answer any questions about your associate's contact with
russia during the campaign? >> will you comment on the report with your senior adviser over suspected russian operatives during the campaign? >> this seems to have been the trend all week. on monday, standing by side the canadian prime minister, he called on outlets favorable to the white house. >> to an extent, it happened in the past. never like this. they have been calling on the ap and abc and whatnot. at a certain point, have to face the music. >> it could help the story go away if he answers the questions. the stock market at an all-time high again this morning. it just accomplished something wall street hasn't seen in 25 years. i'll tell you what that is next. where's frank?
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with growing scrutiny over the trump campaign contacts with russia during the campaign, newly minted secretary of state rex tillerson holds a meeting with sergei lavrov in germany for the meeting of the g20 summit. this is rex tillerson's first turn in the international spotlight. a lot of people watching this. let's bring in international diplomatic editor nic robertson. what are they expected to discuss? >> reporter: things the common interest, john. that will include issues like isis. we heard president trump saying he believes russia's president putin can help the united states tackle isis. working together on counterterrorism. both countries feel the threat from terrorists the same way.
they will have cooperation there. it will not all be about agreements. there are issues with the countries bothering the country. one of the issues tillerson is bringing is support for the trans atlantic alliance. that means support for the european position on russia's involvement in ukraine and annexation of crimea. his position is russia must meet the agreement of the minsk terms. that is something that sergei lavrov pushed back on in the 24 hours. there are points where the countries want to cooperate, there is a lot of misunderstanding at the moment.
the kremlin that moscow doesn't know the point people to talk to on the issues. concerns in the kremlin with the departure of flynn. the close fly-byes. all all of this on the table. >> you have to open up the channels for communication. nic robertson, thank you. the future of u.s. funding for nato could hang in the balance hinging on whether nato allies decide to pay up. james mattis echoing the tone at the brussels meeting. mattis said members must be willing to pull their weight. >> it's a fair demand that all who benefit from the best defense in the world carry their share of the necessary cost to defend freedom.
it is freedom we defend. >> the fanato secretary-general says the message from mattis is fair and they need a better job of burden sharing. this story is stranger and stranger. a new suspect arrested in connection with the death of kim john un's half brother. one of many details. let's go to saima mohsin for us in kuala lumpur. saima, what is the latest on this? >> reporter: john, you are right. this is an extraordinarily in r international murder misery. it is moving at a fast pace. two women. one a vietnamese passport holder. remanded in custody. this afternoon, indonesian woman arrested. malaysian officials confirmed to cnn the passport is genuine and is a malaysian citizen.
they are trying to reach out to authorities here to get contact with her. so the indonesian authorities in touch with the malaysian authorities. it was south korea officials told us originally in the national security council meeting they believed two asian women were involved in this attack. the body still lies at the mortuary behind me, john. they won't take it away yet. the north korean embassy in kuala lumpur asked the body to be handed over. >> this is not the last twist and turn. saima mohsin in sri lankuala lu thank you. all of the turmoil in washington, not bothering wall street. dow and nasdaq and s&p soaring to record highs on wednesday. the fifth straight day of
all-time highs. the first time all three of the major averages have achieved that feat since january of 1992. take that and put it in your pocket. the gains over the streak are about 2.5%. doubling the totals for the entire year in just five days. the stock market may struggle to make it six in a row. futures are down right now. the losses are still slim. >> sell, sell! sorry. >> you are giving investment advice? >> i shouldn't do that. that was rash. >> stocks in europe are lower. shares in asia finished with gains overnight. one of the big factors fueling the rally is president trump's promise of tax reform. one company may not like the outcome. >> we are going to simplify the tax code. it is too complicated. h & r block may not be too
happy. other than h & r block, i think people will love it. >> trump said the tax code would be so simple after he is done with it, that would put tax preparers out of business. the owner of h & r block, he supports a simple tax code. >> the president is rightme. there are ways to stream line the tax code. there are five definitions of a child in the tax code. we have to train our people on this. >> five definitions? >> yes. the burden on small businesses is higher than on individuals. there are some common sense solutions to that. >> all right. the point here possibly that trump is trying to make is simple tax code stream lines the taxes and you can do it yourself. it is something that businesses are relishing. >> you talk to investors. it is simple. they like the idea of tax cuts. they like the idea of regulatory
reform. what they don't like is turmoil. what you see is depending on how high the level of turmoil. since the white house is not focused on tax cuts and regulation, they get nervous. that is the index. "early start" continues right now. >> the swirl of stories surrounding the white house about trump campaign contacts with russian officials during the campaign. now calls for investigations from congress, but not necessarily into the substance, but leaking of the information. the white house looking for a new labor department director. who will it be? a big, big shift in u.s. policy. the president of the united states says he will not insist on a two-state solution for an
answer for peace in the middle east. how is that received in israel? good morning. welcome back to "early start." i'm john berman. >> i'm alison kosik. it is thursday, february 16th. 5:00 a.m. in the east. lawmakers demands for answers are growing this morning following a river of leaks proved embarrassing and damaging to the white house. on the house side of the capitol, two top republicans demanding a probe of the intelligence leaks that led to the forced resignation of michael flynn. jason chaffetz and bob goodlatte written to the inspector general seeking an investigation into whether classified information was mishandled. they said we have serious concerns about the potential protection of classified information. federal laws and constitution distinguish law enforcement authorities for good reason. the release of