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tv   Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs  CNN  April 16, 2018 1:00am-2:00am PDT

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these guys were just waiting. how many people go to starbucks and don't order. >> and sit on the wifi for hours. and "early start" continues right now. an extraordinary interview with james comey who said the president is morally unfit. >> you think the russians have something on donald trump? >> i think it is possible. i don't know. >> fired fbi director james comey not holding back. telling all about the president, russia and mueller investigation. the trump administration expected to slap russia with a new round of sanctions as early as today. president's personal lawyer michael cohen heading to court hours from now. stormy daniels expected to be there as well. just your average monday. welcome to "early start." i'm dave briggs. >> nice to be back.
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shaved the beard. >> tanned. i miss the beard. >> we like the clean-shaven dave briggs. i'm christine romans. it is 4:00 a.m. in the east. we will be live in moscow shortly. a former fbi director james comey speaking out. calling the president morally unfit to be president. and the kremlin has compromising information on president trump. comey's interview with george stephanopolus with abc news. >> he says anyone who treats women like pieces of meat and lies about everything is not fit to be president. >> is donald trump unfit to be president? >> yes. but not in the way i hear people talk about it. i don't buy stuff about him being mentally incompetent or
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early stages of dementia. i don't think he is medically unfit to be president. i think he is morally unfit to be president. >> comey was asked about special counsel robert mueller's russia investigation and what it might find about the president. >> do you think the russians have something on donald trump? >> i think it is possible. i don't know. these are more words i never thought i would utter about a president of the united states. it's possible. >> that's stunning. you cannot say for certain that the president of the united states is not compromised by the russians. >> it is stunning. i wish i wasn't saying it. it's the truth. it struck me and still strikes me as unlikely. i would say with high confidence with any other president i dealt with. i can't. it's possible. >> comey offered a surprising answer when he thinks the president should be impeached. >> should donald trump be
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impeached? >> impeachment is a question of law and fact and politicians. -- politics. >> you're a citizen. >> i think removing donald trump from office would let the american people off the hook. people in the country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values. so impeachment in a way would short circuit that. >> joining us to discuss this from washington is political reporter tal kopan and in washington, james gagliano. a retired special agent and julian zelitzer. historically speaking, step back. former fbi director saying the president of the united states is morally unfit to be president. historically what does that mean
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to snu. >> -- to you? >> historically, it is shocking and stunning. to say he is not sure the president of the united states is compromised. nothing that he said is shocking. if it is, you haven't been paying attention. in the end, for me, the biggest of part of that interview is simply him. does he bring more credibility to the arguments we heard since day one of the presidency? >> the fact that nothing is shocking is shocking in and of itself. >> and the president with a tweet storm where he calls james comey a liar and leaker and slime ball. it's a typical trump reaction. james, do you think anybody's minds are changed here? the boy scout versus the playboy. >> i don't think it moved the needle. i think the people that see him as the symbol of the resistance still do and people see him as the apparatus of the deep state
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still do. i say this about james comey. when he first became director in 2013, he went to a tour of the field offices. one of the things he talked about was leadership. he says leaders are conflicted. you have to be tough and kind. you have to be competent and humble. he told a story to everyone. am i good enough to do this. i have been fiercely critical of the feckless leadership. i think he is a decent man and sympathetic figure. i was struck by the humanity. >> it is the rule of the third of the country believes anything donald trump says. a third will believe nothing he says. a third of the country doesn't care about any of it. tal, what surprised you in the i hope after view? -- in the interview? james comey hopes the president is not impeached sdplch edimpea. >> that is a bit surprising, but
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not really surprising. it is what we would expect him to say especially given everything he wrote in the book and testified before congress. he was his usual measured self. you know, this man is a lawyer through and through. he thinks through every word he says. you can argue about whether he made mistakes, but he doesn't do anything accidentally. everything he does is thought through. i noticed what he was wearing. it was unbuttoned. no tie. open. those types of decisions are things that james comey thinks about. you know, to a certain extent, it was about the credibility tour and whether the american people are going to take him at his word or some suspicion. as we said, the rule of thirds. not a huge number of minds changed. he did not do anything to give more fodder to his critics than
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they already have done. >> revealing some of his thoughts and pondering the decisions he made in the frantic few months before the election. he was asked specifically about the reveal and i think it was october when he revealed that he was look into hillary clinton's e-mails. listen to this. >> wasn't the decision to reveal influenced by your assumption that hillary clinton was going to win and if she wins, this comes out several weeks later and that is a sign she is an illegitimate president? >> it must have been. i don't remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been. i remember operating in a world where hillary clinton would beat donald trump. i don't remember spelling it out. it had to have been. she would be elected president. if i hide this from the american people, she will be illegitimate the moment she is elected.
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the moment this comes out. >> admitting on assumption that hillary clinton would win the election. >> i think many democrats you could hear them turning the tv off at that point. that is part of the challenge of him bringing more credibility of the attacks on trump. a lot of democrats don't think of him very well. they will hear that. he doesn't sound too apologetic. you hear the assumptions he is making and we know the result of the announcement. it impacted the election. many democrats don't have good feelings. that won't change. >> republicans were infuriated when his wife and daughter supported hillary clinton. both sides were infuriated. james, i think james comey is a story teller. he weaves quite a web. here is what the former fbi director said about obstruction of justice. listen.
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>> when he tweeted there might be tapes. the thought hit me. >> was president trump obstructing justice? >> possibly. it was some evidence of obstruction of justice. >> as a former fbi man yourself? >> don't propvoke me. >> obstruction of justice is like perjury. it is difficult to prove. you have to prove intent. he is relating this back to the nine interactions he had with the president. what strikes me and this is the part we have to be critical. why he was looking for other ways to trigger something. he leaked the memo to "the new york times" to trigger a special prosecutor. during the interactions with the president, he should have been certain. he should have said, mr. president, let me understand. are you suggesting that i don't investigate michael flynn? are you suggesting i do
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something outside of the scope of what i'm supposed to do. that is where the faissue is because he was not strong enough to do it then. >> don't go away. we have a lot to talk about. he was asked about firing mueller if the president were to fire bob mueller. what it means. also new, the president's legal team filed papers side with michael cohen. arguing that attorney/client privilege must be observed. the raids on cohen's home, office and hotel room disqualified. the spectacle of the president arguing against the justice department in favor of a business associate. cohen and his lawyers are set to appear in court this morning. sara murphy has more. >> reporter: good morning. president trump's attorney michael cohen is under criminal investigation and slated to
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appear in court today. it would be awkward than previously anticipated. that is because the adult film star that cohen paid to silence the story is slated to appear. stormy daniels' attorney says this has nothing to do with provoking michael cohen. >> this is a serious matter for her. she wants to make sure that the american people know that she is behind efforts to bring to light as much information and documents as possible. she also wants to ensure that she is heard and represented at the hearing. it has nothing to do with getting in his head. >> reporter: cohen's attorneys were in court on friday trying to argue that investigators should not be able to review the evidence they collected from raids on michael cohen's home, office and hotel room. insisting they could violate attorney/client privilege. there is low level evidence that -- there is little evidence
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that michael cohen was during any lawyering. the judge is not particularly entertained by the accusations by his attorneys and looking for evidence of the client list monday morning. >> thank you. the trump administration about to hit russia with more sanctions. and questions about the trump administration after the syria strike on saturday morning. we are live just ahead on "early start."
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french president macron said he convinced donald trump to keep forces in syria before the missile strike on three chemical weapons targets. the white house pushing back saying the mission has not changed and the president wants the u.s. forces to come home quickly as possible. chemical weapons were used on syria and civilians as investigators begin the process to confirm that independently. we have cnn's nick paton walsh live from syria. nick, good morning. what is the latest? >> reporter: dave, we may hear something in the days or hours ahead from the investigators of the chemical weapons used in the douma attack. taking stock in the last few days. i'm sure that bashar al assad in damascus is trying to look like this did not rattle him at all.
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he is expressing displeasure with the iranians and russians. on the barbarity of the onslaught of the rebels which they have been getting away with for months after the chemical weapons were used. now the question is how much longer will the u.s. be here? it is clear that the uk and french and u.s. are willing to act. we have not seen this since the beginning of the war. we are into a new chapter. on top of that, the issue of u.s. supremecy is on the table. that is not an issue for great celebration if you are a u.s. official. we know iran and russia like to respond to things like this in unexpected places and times. this is possibly a new chapter rather than the end of the story. >> nick paton walsh live in northern syria.
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thank you. the treasury department expected to announce sanctions against russia as early as today. according to ambassador nikki haley. haley describing relations with russia as strained. she is pushing back against those who claim the chemical weapons bombing facilities did not go enough. she insists sanctions will cause russia more pain. >> it will go to any companies dealing with equipment relating to assad and chemical use. everyone will feel it. everyone knows we sent a strong message and our hope is we listen to it. >> let's go to moscow and bring in editor nic robertson. what do we think the real-world impact is of this decision? >> reporter: it could be serious. if we look back to the sanctions that the u.s. levied on russia in the past week.
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seven oligarchs and other companies and 17 different russian officials knocked several points off the ruble. one of the oligarchs has international global business ties which is an important portfol portfolio. he lost several billion dollars of value of his companies. that was the earliey estimate. russian banks in the line of target for sanctions. we also know that russia in its parliament will be debating how it should respond to the previous sanctions, no doubt, with decisions colored in part by what they have seen happen in syria over the weekend with the
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strikes. what they are talking about could have impact on u.s. businesses. titanium exports like boeing who rely on significant titanium aircraft parts from russian suppliers. the u.s. power grid relies on a significant portion of its enriched uranium. that could be an impact if russia goes down that path. also looking at agriculture and alcohol and pharmaceutical industries. >> so many overlapping concerns. thank you, nic. nice to see you. former first lady barbara bush in failing health this morning. we will have the latest on her condition next. well, here's to first dates! you look amazing. and you look amazingly comfortable. when your v-neck looks more like a u-neck... that's when you know, it's half-washed.
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barbara bush in failing health this morning. a source close to the family says she is being cared for at her houston home and decided not to return to the hospital. she is receiving comfort care. she is on objectixygen with her husband george h.w. bush at her side. her children have visited during the past week. the 53rd academy of country music awards happened sunday night in las vegas. jason aldean opened the show. >> we want to open the show with what it is like to be back in las vegas for the first time since october 1st. we thought about starting with a song, but it is bigger than a single song. it is everything tonight. songs that bring us to our feet
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and make you pull someone close or live in the moment. >> the show was all about the unifying and healing power of music. aldean was on stage when the music festival shooting happened. he won for entertainer of the year. one other highlight. carrie underwood returned to the stage. she had an accident last fall at home which left 50 stitches in her face. and fired fbi director james comey with the first tv interview. >> should donald trump be impeached? >> impeachment is a question of law and fact and politics. >> you are a scitizen. >> i'll give you a strange answer. >> that answer just ahead on "early start."
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do you think the russians
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have something on donald trump? >> i think it's possible. i don't know. >> fired fbi director james comey not holding back. telling all about the president, russia, and the mueller investigation. the trump administration expected to slap russia with a new round of sanctions as early as today. the personal lawyer of the president, michael cohen, is heading to court hours from now. guess who will be there? stormy daniels. welcome back to "early start." i'm christine romans. >> i'm dave briggs. great to be back in the chair. 31 minutes past the hour. good to be here. we start with former fbi director james comey speaking out against the man who fired him. calling donald trump morally unfit to be president. saying it is possible the kremlin has compromising information on trump. the wide ranging interview with george stephanopoulos of abc news kicking off a promotional tour for the book "a higher loyalty." >> comey argues anyone who quote
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treats women like pieces of meat and lies constantly about matters big and small is not fit to be president on moral grounds. >> is donald trump unfit to be president? >> yes, but not in the way i hear about people talk about it. i don't buy the stuff of him being mentally incompetenincomp. he strikes me as a person of above average intelligence and tracking conversations and knows what is going on. i don't think he is medimmediam unfit to be president. >> he was asked about the russia investigation and what it might find about the president. >> do you think the russians have something on donald trump? >> i think it is possible. i don't know. these are more words i never thought i would utter about the president of the united states. >> that's stunning. you can't say for certain that the president of the united states is not compromised by the russians? >> it is stunning. i wish i wasn't saying it.
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it struck me and still strikes me as unlikely. i would say with high confidence with any other president i dealt with, but i can't. it's possible. >> comey offering a surprising answer when asked if he thinks the president should be impeached. >> should donald trump be impeached? >> impeachment is a question of law and fact and politics. >> you're a citizen. you have a judgment. >> i give you a strange answer. i hope not because i think impeaching and removing donald trump from office would let the american people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that i believe they are duty bound to do directly. people in the country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote values. impeachment in a way would short circuit that. >> a lot there. five hours of interview con ten densed into that hour. joining us to talk about it from washington is tal kopan. here in new york, james
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gagliano. a retired special agent and julian zelizer. professor at new york university. this is a fired former fbi director. saying the president is morally unfit to be president. probably shouldn't be impeached. he doesn't know if the russians have compromising information. it is amazing. >> it is all amazing. it is not what you expect from the former fbi director. you heard fbi directors be critical and tensions with presidents. this is strong language. none of it surprising. all reiterates points you heard before and for me the only shock is everyone keeps saying they are shocked. this is an ongoing argument and conversation. the one thing i think comey is correct in saying it will ultimately come down to an
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election and decision by american voter where is they stand with the ongoing critique of the president. i don't think this will change the minds of republicans. i don't think it will all of a sudden make democrats think differently. it is not a lot of people in the middle. >> it may not change a single mind. james, per the notion it is possible russia has compromising information on the president. he added it is possible there was obstruction of justice. he was the director of the fbi. if you don't know these things or if you don't have evidence of these things, why say it? >> you typically don't take that leap. he is a private citizen now. he is talking about an ongoing investigation. several of them. i go back to charles dickens with "a tale of two cities." i believe you contrast him with a president and ardent supporters believe his view of moral turpitude.
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james comey is not a bad man. he made mistakes. you point that out tonight with the investigations and he did not stand up to the president when he should. >> with the loyalty pledge? >> i thought he hedged on that as well. i turned to the president over dinner and said i'll give you honest loyalty. you should have said, sir, i cannot pledge loyalty to you. my loyalty is to a constitution and mission. not to a president. >> let's go to the loyalty pledge. >> did you cross a line when you promised him honest loyalty? would it be fair for him to think i have a deal here? >> i don't think so. it was a compromise on my part to try to avoid an awkward conversation. >> was it a mistake? >> i don't know. maybe. maybe it would have been better to give a more explicit statement. i can't promise loyalty. in the moment, it frankly did
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not occur to me. >> tal, it struck me and i wonder if you all agree, tal, it struck me the number of times he said i don't know. maybe. possibly. he seemed to honestly going through it and admitting maybe he made mistakes. >> christine, he is doing a lot of reflecting and at the same time it is an easy way out to a certain extent. an opportunity to dodge a really tough question about whether his decisions, you know, had certain consequences that he and the american public have to deal with which is also a way of buying time in the interview to think through questions. i don't think james comey hasn't considered any of these things. i think he is a very thoughtful man and disciplined lawyer. i think he thinks through almost every decision he makes thoroughly. that doesn't mean they are not above reproach or he doesn't make mistakes. they are thought out. to a certain extent saying i
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don't know, probably at the end of the day, it is unwillingness to answer or it is impossible in hindsight to know what the proper response would be in any given situation. you have to make a call based on what you know at the time. >> julian, the right is attacking james comey. attacking the book. lyingcomey.com. the web site from rnc. the left has long attacked james comey for the hillary clinton press conference weeks before the election. a motivation behind it. listen to the motivation for james comey. >> wasit the decision to reveal based on your decision hillary clinton wins and this is coming out and that is a sign she would be an illegitimate president? >> it must have been. it must have been.
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i was operating in a world where hillary clinton was going to beat trump. i'm sure it was a factor. i don't remember speakilling it out. she would be elected president. if i hide this from the american people, she would be illegitimate the moment this comes out. >> dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. >> there is fair criticism he should not have done that. that statement will not make democrats feel better. he is living through the consequences of his decisions. all of the complaints he is making about the president and all of the criticism he is making about the current oval office. he played a role in that story. a big role. i don't think these statements will sit well with a lot of democrats. this is part of his credibility problem. it is not simply the lying comey web site. it is many democrats uneasy having him as the front person for the attacks on president trump. >> james, let's ask about the
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president's response. eight tweets yesterday. >> all before 11:00 a.m. >> slippery and liar and leaker. what is the concerted effort with the rnc to try to tear down comey's credibility. is it working? >> that is the political piece. i'll stay in my lane, christine. >> good for you. >> the tweets are beneath the dignity of the office and they are discovery. in any case with the president or administration, he is providing discovery. i say one thing and i think my historian friend will appreciate this. james comey's effort and it was ham handed not intentional. this happened before, but it was purposef purposeful. in 1948 with thomas dewey and harry truman. hoover was accused of influencing by helping dewey out in that.
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that was conscious effort. in this issue, i do not believe james comey did things purposely. i think he made colossal errors. >> all right. james and julian and tal, thank you for being with us. busy morning. the president's legal team filed papers that side with mr. trump's personal lawyer michael cohen arguing that attorney/client privilege must be obtained. the legal brief filing creates the spectacle of the president argues against the justice department in favor of the business associate. cohen is set to appear in court this morning. sara murray has more on that. >> reporter: good morning, christine and dave, the long time personal attorney michael cohen who is under criminal investigation is lated to appear in -- is slated to appear in court in new york today.
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it would be awkward than previously anticipated. that is because the adult film star that cohen paid to silence the story is slated to appear. stormy daniels' attorney says this has nothing to do with provoking michael cohen. >> this is a serious matter for her. she wants to make sure that the american people know that she is behind efforts to bring to light as much information and documents as possible. she also wants to ensure that she is heard and represented at the hearing. it has nothing to do with getting in his head. >> reporter: cohen's attorneys were in court on friday trying to argue that investigators should not be able to review the evidence they collected from raids on michael cohen's home, office and hotel room. insisting they could violate attorney/client privilege. prosecutors say there is little evidence that michael cohen was doing much lawyering. the judge is not particularly entertained by the accusations
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by his attorneys and looking for evidence of the client list monday morning. >> thank you. ahead, the trump administration about to hit russia with more sanctions. who is being targeted and why? just ahead. questions about the trump administration's mission in syria after saturday's strike. we go to northern syria next.
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french president macron said he convinced donald trump to keep forces in syria before the missile strike on three chemical weapons targets. the white house pushing back saying the mission has not changed and the president wants the u.s. forces to come home quickly as possible. u.s. officials are confident that chemical weapons were used on syrian civilians as investigators are trying to n t
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independently confirm it. we have cnn's nick paton walsh live from syria. nick. >> reporter: it is key the inspein inspectors here trying to figure out what was used in douma last week. whether it was sarin or the nerve sergeant -- agent. russia and iran and bashar al assad cannot be pleased with the international focus upon a war they were getting in the barlba the barbaric way. the chemical weapons has people asking trump's policy. will he stay long enough? what does the west want to do and the remarkable moments they work together inside syria?
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we have not seen that before. russia and iran perhaps wishing chemical weapons simply had not been used although bashar al assad is trying to take it in stride. the u.s. displayed military might again. something to celebrate. the russians were warned. they were not target and possibly at the time were told to get out of the way on the de-c de-confliction line. we may see them or iran respond in an unexpected way or place. back to you. >> nick in syria. thank you. the treasury department expected to announce sanctions against russia as early as today. that is according to ambassador nikki haley. haley describing relations as strained and pushing back against critics who say the
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bombings of the chemical facilities did not go far enough. she announced sanction will cause russia more pain. >> they will go directly to companies dealing with equipment related to assad and chemical weapons use. i think everyone will feel it at this point. i think everyone knows we sent a strong message and our hope is we listen to it. >> sources tell cnn more than a dozen russian entities, including banks and equipment suppliers are considered as targets for sanctions. also under consideration is companies that cesell helicopte to russia. and the arrests of two black men sparking outrage at starbucks and calls of a boycott. details on "cnn money" next. when your v-neck looks more like a u-neck... that's when you know, it's half-washed.
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recalled over salmonella fears. largest u.s. recall in eight years. the farm in indiana is voluntarily recalling the eggs after 22 people got sick. these affected brands were sold in nine states. colorado, florida, new jersey, new york, north carolina, pennsylvania, south carolina, virginia, west virginia. check your fridge. the fda says you should throw them away immediately. the starbucks ceo apologizing for the arrest of two black men at the philadelphia starbucks. calling the event reprehensible. a response to public outcry after the video. the two men handcuffed and arrested. staff accused them of trespassing after they did not order anything. the men went to the starbucks to meet a friend. they were waiting for the friend to arrive before they ordered. the video sparked accusations of discrimination. the ceo said the video is hard
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to watch. the actions are not repetitire t representative of our values. kentucky governor matt bevin apologizing for suggesting the teacher strike left children vulnerable to drugs and sexual abuse. he said as teachers were staging a protest at the state capitol. >> you know how many hundreds of thousands of children today were left home alone? i guarantee you somewhere in kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because nobody was there to watch them. some introduced to drugs for the first time because they were left alone. it is offensive, frankly. >> on sunday, bevin released a video of apology of sorts on twitter. >> many confused or hurt or
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misunderstand. i apologize for those who have been hurt by the things that were said was not my intent. >> is that an apology? >> that's an apology of sorts. the teacher protest proved successful. the legislation voted to override the veto of the state budget plan which includes new funding for education. the academy awards in las vegas for country music started with jason aldean. >> we wanted to open the show with something that sums up what it is like for country music family to be back in las vegas for the first time since october 1st. it starts with the songs that bring us to our feet and pull someone close or live in the moment. >> aldean was on stage when the shooting started last october. he won the biggest award of the night for entertainer of the
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year. carrie underwood's first tv appearance since injuring her face last fall. >> you cannot see. >> she sounds good. she is such a great performer. thanks for joining us on monday morning. i'm christine romans. >> i'm dave briggs. "new day" has four hours for u you. back at the regular time tomorrow. >> four hours of alisyn and chris. morally unfit to be president. >> this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story. >> you think the russians have something on donald trump? >> i think it is possible. >> former director comey has a god complex. >> i found him to be credible. michael cohen heads to court hours from hnow. >> she wants to make sure she is behind efforts to bring to light as much information and documents as much as possible.
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i think it is impossible to say at this point the mission has been accomplished. >> i think the strikes were proportional and justified. >> we want to send a strong message they need to stop the chemical weapons program. this is "new day" with chris cuomo and alisyn camerota. >> welcome to "new day." here is our starting line. fired fbi director james comey speaking out in the no holds barred interview calling donald trump morally iunfit to be president. comey says the president may have obstructed justice by asking him to let go of the michael flynn investigation. he is vulnerable to blackmail by russia. comey talks about why he reop reopened the hillary clinton e-mail investigation days before the 2016 election. saying he was in a no-win

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