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EARLY START

SCOTUS Nominee Gorsuch Rebukes Trump; White House Waiting For Travel Ban Ruling; Sessions Confirmed As Attorney General; Northeast Bracing For Snowstorm. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 9, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:31:15] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: A strong rebuke of the president's assault of the judiciary from the president's own Supreme Court nominee. We'll tell you what Judge Neil Gorsuch said.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: With Jeff Sessions set to be sworn in as attorney general this morning, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is promising to be a vocal opponent a day after being silenced on the Senate floor.

MARQUEZ: And break out those snow shovels. The first major snowstorm of the season making an ugly commute across the Northeast this morning. We are tracking that storm.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Miguel Marquez.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning. I hope you brought your snow boots. I'm Christine Romans. It's 31 minutes past the hour. Let's begin with this harsh verdict against President Trump from his own Supreme Court nominee. Judge Neil Gorsuch using the words "demoralizing" and "disheartening" to characterize the president's recent attacks on the judiciary. He made the comments in separate meetings with two Democrat senators, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Richard Blumenthal.

All this, while appellate lawyers from across the nation are -- were delivering a letter to the Justice Department. These lawyers complaining about Mr. Trump. The author of the letter says, in part, "Lawyers across the political spectrum believe that the president's personal attacks on individual judges and on the judicial branch are improper and destructive. Because judges face ethical constraints in their ability to respond directly, the letter calls on the president to retract and end such personal attacks."

MARQUEZ: Now recently, Mr. Trump had been firing off tweets either pressuring judges or directly criticizing them, like this comment about the judge who suspended his controversial travel ban. "The opinion of this so-called judge which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country is ridiculous and will be overturned." A decision on the president's executive order could come as early as today. We get more from CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Miguel, in a speech to law enforcement officials here in Washington, the president delivering a sharp tone against judges -- against the judicial branch and questioned if politics was involved in their decision.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't ever want to call a court biased, so I won't call it biased, and we haven't had a decision yet. But courts seem to be so political and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what's right, and that has to do with the security of our country which is so important.

ZELENY: But those sharp words from the president drawing a rebuke, of sorts, from his nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch. As he is making the rounds to Democratic senators on Capitol Hill and Republicans as well, he said yesterday he was disheartened by those comments about the president politicizing judges. He said it is simply not right. Now he, of course, is trying to distance himself from the president as he tries to get some Democratic votes to win confirmation. But there is no question the president, despite his rhetoric, trying to win this case in public opinion.

Also, with all eyes here at the White House today, once again on San Francisco and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, President Trump is awaiting a ruling on his executive order on immigration and the refugee ban that could be delivered today -- Christine and Miguel.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Thank you, Jeff. This morning, President Trump will take part in the ceremony to swear in Sen. Jeff Sessions as the next attorney general. Sessions was confirmed in a 52-47 vote, mostly along party lines.

A bitter setback for Democrats, especially Sen. Elizabeth Warren who was silenced by the majority leader during a contentious Senate debate. Warren refusing to remain silent, firing off a series of tweets. Among them, "If Jeff Sessions makes even the tiniest attempt to bring his racism, sexism, and bigotry into the Justice Department, he'll hear from all of us. Consider this my warning. We won't be silent. We will speak out and we will persist." Her use of the word "persist" is notable, of course. That's the word used by Sen. Mitch McConnell to describe her conduct right before he silenced her on the Senate floor.

[05:35:09] Warren telling CNN's Manu Raju she felt she had no choice but to keep talking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: If you knew it was potentially a violation when they warned you, why not just move on?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I was moving on. I was moving on to talk about the facts of what Jeff Sessions had done when he prosecuted civil rights workers who were trying to help black citizens vote. And I thought quoting Coretta Scott King's letter to the United States Senate about that was absolutely relevant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Now, before Sen. Sessions' confirmation vote, several male Democratic senators took to the Senate floor to read the exact same letter Warren was told she could not read, and they were not stopped. So, let's go live to Washington and bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan. Tal, this -- I can't tell how this cuts. Republicans are saying look, she's just getting free publicity out of this. She's using it for all she can. Here's what Sen. Lindsey Graham said about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The bottom line is it was long overdue with her. I mean, she is clearly running for the nomination in 2020. The Democratic Party is being pushed really hard by the most extreme voices in their community and they just don't know how to handle it. If they empower her, then I think the Democratic Party is going to lose its way with the vast majority of the American people."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Tal, is this really positioning for 2020?

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: It could be. You know, I mean, that's always the first -- the first guess and, certainly, there are only a few people in the Democratic Party right now who have sort of legitimate star power and Elizabeth Warren is one of them, and it would be silly for the Democrats to not try to take advantage of it somewhat.

You know, in some ways it was a political gift for Mitch McConnell to do this to Elizabeth Warren and some people are scratching their heads as to why he made this decision which, apparently, was quite calculated -- he knew exactly what he was doing -- but it gave her stakes. And, you know, the hashtag #ShePersisted, it's just taking off and it's giving people a rallying cry. You know, it's something that Democrats can hold onto.

They still don't have power in Washington and so, you know, it's unlikely they're going to be able to stop any of these nominees. There's a long road before 2020. Elizabeth Warren is not the youngest star in the party. But we're going to see sort of hashtag 2020-like moments --

ROMANS: Right.

KOPAN: -- you know, from here on out.

ROMANS: Well, it's clear the Democrats are trying to figure out who -- you know, who's the next bench. Who are the stars going to be? Who is going to -- who are going to be the people who are going to be the voice of that party.

MARQUEZ: And what they stand for.

ROMANS: Meantime, you guys, the president's nominee for the Supreme Court is meeting with senators six weeks away from that confirmation hearing and he met with two Democrats and he used the words "disheartening" and "demoralizing" when talking about the president's assault on the judiciary -- at least verbal assault on the judiciary.

And this reads a couple of ways. It could be great politics. He's got six weeks until those hearings so the new cycle's going to turn again. But it lets senators know -- Democratic senators know that he is -- understands that there are three branches of government and the president does not have a more powerful branch than the others. What do you make of the leaking of the "disheartening" and the "demoralizing?" Do you think that senators should not have leaked that or what do you think? What are the politics at play here?

KOPAN: Well, you know, that's a really interesting question because the folks who leaked it, it was a Democrat -- a Democratic senator who described that conversation. And, you know, in a lot of ways, the people this helps Gorsuch the most with is Democrats.

ROMANS: Yes.

KOPAN: So, you know, when you talk about sort of intentionally divulging something, you might think that sort of the people who really want him confirmed might have sort of leaked it out there. But no, this came directly from Democrats. And look, some Democrats are still not convinced. Chuck Schumer, after the fact, said that Gorsuch said the same thing in his office and he didn't find it sincere. So, Gorsuch still has some convincing to do.

You know, not to get too nerdy on everyone but one of the interesting things to sort of the legal nerds out there about Gorsuch is that his signature issue is actually not giving a lot of deference to executive authority. So, there's a chance that this nominee, in particular, could end up on the Supreme Court and maybe strike down something Donald Trump does because that's his legal philosophy. So, it's not entirely surprising that he's sticking up for the judiciary here.

MARQUEZ: Very interesting. I can certainly see him when he is giving testimony as nominee for the Supreme Court going back to his comments right now about what he said about the -- you know, the president -- because he's going to be asked that up and down --

KOPAN: Absolutely.

MARQUEZ: -- during those. If we have time for one more, Donald Trump and the Nordstrom sort of kerfuffle talking about -- you know, taking on Nordstrom because they dropped his daughter's line. This seems to open up the front door of the White House to ethical concerns.

[05:40:02] ROMANS: It blows open the front door. I mean, the former chief ethics officer for George W. Bush called it the "misuse of public office for personal gain." KOPAN: Yes, absolutely the questions are there, you know. One of the

things that there actually are rules about when it comes to elected office is not using your platform to endorse things and you could only imagine that that certainly applies to things that you or your close family members have a personal stake in. You know, what can be done, I'm not so sure. He may get a call from the Office of Government Ethics and say maybe you shouldn't do this again. If he continues to persist we may see something a little bit stronger. You know, it's still being worked out.

The White House explained this as a personal attack on Ivanka. That just doesn't make sense, you know. This was a business making a business decision and she's supposed to have severed her ties --

ROMANS: Right.

KOPAN: -- with this business so they still have some explaining to do. But it's possible this is something that's a little bit of sort of new president mistakes. We'll see.

MARQUEZ: All right, Tal Kopan. No vacations for you until 2018, at the earliest.

ROMANS: Hashtag no vacations.

MARQUEZ: Thank you very much.

KOPAN: Thank you.

MARQUEZ: So how much snow will fall across the northeast today? It's just starting to intensify. We have the latest on the storm's path coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:45:37] ROMANS: All right. Here comes a big northeast snow storm. We're about to get slammed by a big major -- the first major snowfall of the season. A foot or more of snow is expected up and down the northeast corridor. Winter storm warnings cover more than 40 million people. Blizzard warnings, you can see, in effect for Cape Code and eastern Long Island. Schools in Philly, New York, Boston, they're all closed. Some 2,700 flights already canceled.

The storm coming just one day after temperatures were in the sixties and seventies across the -- did you see that picture in New Jersey yesterday? New Jersey was -- a beautiful day in New Jersey. Today, they're --

MARQUEZ: And it's already sticking to the roads.

ROMANS: Yes, it is. That's near Washington right now. Today, expect it to be a messy, dangerous commute folks, and the storm is going to intensify throughout the morning. CNN's Pedram Javaheri has been following all of the latest twists and turns on the storm's path and what we're expecting today. So, the good news, you say, is that this could go very quickly and the bad news it's an awful lot of snow very quickly.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, as much as you can get, pretty much, in about a 10-hour period. Some of these areas, including New York City, could see about an inch an hour over the next 10 hours and it's already beginning to fall.

And the storm system itself right over the Delmarva right now. By about 7:00-8:00 a.m. it will push right off shore. That will allow us to tap into some energy here and will just begin pounding the areas with heavy snowfall through much of late morning hours and eventually into the early afternoon hours. And I think by around, say, 5:00-6:00 p.m. this thing is all but gone. The winds will be howling but temperatures will drop some 30 to 40 degrees compared to this time yesterday by the time this storm system exits the picture.

But if you take a look, the snowfall accumulations widespread coverage of at least 10-12 inches for some spots. Eastern Long Island could see some excessive amounts up to 15, maybe 16 inches. You work your way west of Boston, maybe 14 to 15 inches possible. So, a lot of snow to go around from around say 5:00-6:00 a.m. all the way out there towards working your way into around, say, 3:00-4:00 p.m. into the afternoon.

But here's what we're looking at. A long time coming for New York City. In fact, it was almost 1,100 days ago, the last time we had more than eight inches come down on a weekday in New York City. It was February 13th and 14th of 2014. And this go around, of course, you take a look at the forecast for New York City, we're talking about getting amounts up to about, again, eight to 12 inches for the city. About 11 inches is what has come down so far this season, and around 15 inches is what is normal for this point into the season.

So it's been a little bit of a late start. You know how mild it's been. A dramatic shift is going to be in place in parts of 13 states dealing with the winter weather advisories and, of course, the blizzard warnings in place for the Cape and also for parts of Long Island. But incredible to see these temperatures for yesterday. Richmond, Washington at 74. Baltimore at room temperature yesterday. You had Philly at 66 degrees. Could get about seven inches out of Philly before we're all done with and the high concentration of record temps yesterday where 57 cities reported at least record ties or records broken.

Temps down in southern Texas, guys, were up to almost 100 degrees yesterday. A shift, of course, for the northeast. It goes from the seventies down into the thirties as we're getting kind of the battle between the two seasons here. Spring is trying really hard to come back and by this weekend, actually, we'll get back into the mid- sixties around Washington again.

ROMANS: It's so interesting.

MARQUEZ: Wow.

ROMANS: There's like daffodils coming up everywhere, you know. Just like the little buds and they're going to get all swamped today. All right, Pedram --

MARQUEZ: Wow.

ROMANS: -- thank you so much.

MARQUEZ: Thanks.

JAVAHERI: Thanks, you guys.

MARQUEZ: So, what's coming up on "NEW DAY?" I know someone who knows. Alisyn Camerota, the blizzard, joins us now. Hello.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Is that my middle name, the blizzard?

MARQUEZ: The "Blizzard" Camerota.

CAMEROTA: I like it a lot and we will get to that. But first, we have a really interesting guest coming up on "NEW DAY." This is an immigration officer who worked for 10 years in the Middle East. She is here to tell us exactly what refugees go through to get into this country. She'll tell us the questions they're asked, all of the biometric testing they go through, all the background checks, and why it is so hard to get -- to sneak in as a refugee. So we're looking forward to that.

And then also, the blizzard. OK, check it out. Look how hard -- wait a minute -- that doesn't show it's snowing. OK, this shows you what is snowing. It's snowing that hard already in the studio so you can imagine what it's like outside. All right, guys? That's Jennifer Rivera -- the back of her head, right there.

ROMANS: Oh, wow.

MARQUEZ: Alisyn "the Blizzard" Camerota, we look forward to it.

ROMANS: All right, thanks.

MARQUEZ: Thanks.

ROMANS: The Trump stock market rally is on pause. Maybe it's not over. We're going to tell you the three things that are keeping investors from pushing stocks even higher when we get a check on CNN Money Stream, next.

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[05:54:05] MARQUEZ: Now, Russian activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, a frequent critic of President Vladimir Putin, is fighting for his life this morning. His wife tells CNN she believes he was poisoned. It's a technique the Kremlin has allegedly used to silence its critics in the past, but officials in Moscow are calling that notion pure nonsense. We want to get more now from CNN international correspondent Ivan Watson, who spoke with Kara-Murza's wife. He joins us live in Moscow. Ivan, what is she saying? IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miguel. Yvegenia Kara-Murza, she rushed from the family's home in Virginia here to Moscow after her husband fell deathly ill last week. He's now, as you mentioned, fighting for his life and she is allegedly foul play. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: What is your husband's official diagnosis right now?

YVEGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: An acute intoxication by an unidentified substance.

[05:55:00] WATSON: What do you think that means?

KARA-MURZA: It's poisoning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Now, Miguel, this is the second time in just two years that Kara-Murza has fallen so sick mysteriously. The last time, they collected some samples, sent them to a laboratory in France, and found traces of heavy metals in his body. They're collecting samples again. The doctors say this is some kind of toxic substance that seems to have gotten him so ill.

The Kremlin says there is no possible link between his mysterious illness and the government but it is worth noting that he was here in Russia trying to promote a documentary film about another key opposition leader who was shot dead within sight of the Kremlin two years ago. And there's a long history of opposition leaders, independent and critical journalists, who all meet untimely deaths here in Russia -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: And the plot just getting thicker. Senator John McCain even calling him a hero from the Senate floor. Ivan Watson, thank you very much.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this Thursday morning. The Trump stock market rally is stalling. Dow futures flat. Markets in Europe and Asia rising a little bit here. The Dow surged nine percent in the two months following the election. It's now up just about one percent so far this year.

Three factors are keeping stocks from moving higher. Number one, the strong economy is already priced in. There is little doubt the economy is humming but stocks are a leading indicator. All that good news is already factored in. Number two, also priced in, the promises of growth. President Trump vowed to kill Obamacare, roll back regulations, and cut taxes. Obamacare is proving more difficult than a quick and easy repeal and replace, and while tax cuts may be coming there's a divide over the so-called border adjustment tax. That could complicate timing.

Number three, Wall Street is waiting for a pivot away from immigration issues. More than 125 companies are on the record against the president's travel and immigration ban. They say it hurts customers, it hurts employees around the world, and they're bracing for changes they probably won't like to worked-based visas. All of this a distraction from a goal of creating jobs. Today, airline CEOs head to the White House. They'll talk taxes, jobs, and infrastructure.

One of those companies complaining about the president's travel ban is Intel. On Sunday, Intel told a court that it believed President Trump's immigration order was unconstitutional. But on Wednesday, Intel's CEO stood next to President Trump in the White House, announcing a $7 billion investment in a new U.S. factory. He said the investment was due, in part, to President Trump's policies.

The real story is more complicated, as it always is in business. Intel originally announced plans to build that factory with former President Obama in 2011, saying it would pour $5 billion into the Arizona plant. President Obama even gave a big speech at the construction site.

So how does the company explain this? A spokesman tells "CNN MONEY" that money was just -- that money was just to build the shell of the factory and it was never completed because there wasn't enough -- a high enough demand for its products. Now, there is, so the company says -- it is building out the rest of the plant. So, two different presidents, both with some credit for the same investment.

MARQUEZ: But well done, P.R. department. Two bites, one apple.

ROMANS: I know.

MARQUEZ: Perfect.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUEZ: And I'm Miguel Marquez. The first big winter storm of the year will make a messy morning commute. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, February 9th, 6:00 here in New York.

There's a powerful winter storm slamming the northeast at this hour. Forty million people in 13 states are in this path. Snow is beginning to pile up.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It's just getting going. There are lots of blizzard warnings in effect. That's three hours, at least, of sustained snow with high wind. Governments on the state and local level taking no chances. School are closed in New York, Boston, Philadelphia. More than 2,700 flights already canceled. We are going to give you live reports throughout the entire affected area all morning.

CAMEROTA: OK, but first, how will President Trump respond to his Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch today? Mr. Trump's pick for the highest court has been rebuking the president's attacks on federal judges. Gorsuch calls those words disheartening and demoralizing.

CUOMO: Now, the key is that the comments were made during the judge's meetings with Democratic lawmakers in private, behind closed doors. They're now calling on him to saw it publicly. Is that the right move? Let's begin our political coverage with CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. The White House and the nation still waiting for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on the president's travel ban. Meanwhile, the president's Supreme Court nominee now caught between a rock and a hard place between his loyalty to the president who tapped him for the court and his loyalty to the branch of government he serves.