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Robo calls from a former KKK leader trying to link himself to Trump; prominent Trump supporter tweets cartoon of Hillary Clinton in black face; Clinton aide Huma Abedin calling it quits with husband Anthony Weiner in new sexting scandal. Actor Gene Wilder dies at 83. Aired 4:00-4:30a ET

Aired August 30, 2016 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:16] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New controversy for Donald Trump's campaign. Robo calls from a former KKK leader trying to link himself to Trump and a cartoon of Hillary Clinton in black face tweeted by a prominent Trump supporter plus Clinton is hitting back.

ALISON KOSIK, BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Clinton aide Huma Abedin calling it quits with husband Anthony Weiner. The new sexting scandal and nude photos that led to the split of the effect that could have on Clinton's campaign.

BERMAN: And one of the funniest men ever. Gene Wilder has died at the age of 83. We pay tribute to his incredible career and life.

GENE WILDER, COMIC ACTOR: Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world there's nothing to it

KOSIK: Such talent.

BERMAN: Really amazing. Good morning everyone. Welcome to "Early Start." I'm John Berman.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Tuesday, August the 30th. It's 4:00 a.m. in the east. And the Donald Trump campaign entangled in a new racial controversy just days before Donald Trump is set to address black voters.

An African-American surrogate for Trump tweeting out this image of Hillary Clinton wearing black face saying she's pandering to black voters. Then was one time clan leader and current Louisiana Senate Candidate David Duke Trumpening (ph) his support for the Republican nominee which Trump then had to disavow.

Hillary Clinton speaking at a fundraiser, expressing concern over Duke piggy backing on the Trump campaign aiming to improve his standing in the polls. She said this, "Nobody knows how well he, Duke is doing and how his embrace of Trump and Trump's acceptance of him could put that man, that despicable man in the Senate of the United States.

Late last night, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway lashing back at the attack by Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine attack accusing Trump of pushing prejudice.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Voters have to look at something. It has to make sense to them for them to believe it. And so, I think Clinton and also Tim Kaine who was a real disappointment last week, playing this race card, for them to go so far afield on these accusations and these conspiracies. Most people will look at that and say that doesn't make any sense.


KOSIK: CNN's Jim Acosta has more now from Washington.

JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John and Alison, the nasty election battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is taking more ugly turns. First, the Trump campaign release a statement condemning a robo call from white supremacist and senate candidate David Duke and encouraged his supporters to vote for the GOP nominee. Then late yesterday, one of Trump's top African-American surrogate, Pastor Mark Burns apologized for a tweet he posted showing Hillary Clinton in black face. Here's a video message from the pastor about that posting.


PASTOR MARK BURNS, THE HARVEST PRAISE AND WORSHIP CENTER: I really am a shepherd to God's people the last thing I want to do is to offend people. The tweet was not designed to anger or stir up the pot like it did. It was designed to bring how I feel a very real reality as to why the Democratic Party and how I view it and had interpret it have been pandering and using black people just for their votes.


ACOSTA: All of this comes as Trump is struggling to clarify his position on another hot button subject, immigration. Trump is scheduled to deliver a major speech on immigration in Phoenix on Wednesday night. A top adviser for the GOP nominee says Trump is standing firm on his position for a wall on the U.S./Mexico border, but added a decision on what to do about the millions of law abiding undocumented immigrants in this country could come years later. John and Alison.

BERMAN: All right, Jim. More politics this morning. Long time Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin announced that she is separating from her husband Former Congress Anthony Weiner. This follows new reports that Weiner was involved in a new sexting escapade. Five years ago, Weiner blew up his political career tweeting a snapshot of his crock (ph). And two years ago he derailed his mayoral campaign sexting a different women. Trump is now using the new scandal to attack Hillary Clinton calling it an example of her bad judgment. CNN's Miguel Marquez has the latest.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John and Alison, nearly 24 hours after the story first broke in "The New York Post". We still haven't heard from Anthony Weiner himself. He did say to the post that the relationship with this 40 something woman had been going on for some time that he considered the conversation private and that he didn't think any of the tweets were inappropriate.

[04:05:09] Well, look, none of this is stopping Donald Trump from making this into a campaign issue or he's trying to make it into a campaign issue. He brought in Hillary Clinton's bad judgment as he call it in a statement saying "I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told. It's just another example of Hillary Clinton's bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this."

There is no indication, I will say, of any security breach or security concerns related to this but that is something that the Trump campaign is certainly trying to make hay out of. The Hillary Clinton campaign had said nothing other than to allow Huma Abedin to make statements on her own. Clearly is having -- and released a statement saying that she and her husband are going to separate and that it seems to be the end of their marriage after several different attempts. The only question left is how big a part of the election campaign does this become. Alison, John.

KOSIK: OK. Miguel, thank you. Hillary Clinton says she is preparing to debate he her opponent but does not know which Donald Trump will show up. Clinton told donors at a fund raiser that Trump may try being presidential to "Convey a gravity that he hasn't done before" or she said "He may try to insult and score points." Either way, Clinton said she's not taking anything for granted.

BERMAN: Leaders of both parties now commenting on 49ers' Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to sit out of the national anthem in protest to police tactics. White House spokesman Josh Earnest says, while the freedom to express his opinion can be defendant. The quarterback's perspective is "objectionable." Donald Trump called Kaepernick's protest terrible saying he should "find a country that works better for him."

KOSIK: Big names facing primary battle that come to a head today. Long time Arizona Senator John McCain back on the ballot just a day after his 80th birthday. His challenger is trying to make age a campaign issue.

In Florida, Republican Senator Marco Rubio is polling well ahead of his opponent despite getting into the race late after his failed run for president.

Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is fighting for her political lift. Her long shot challenger getting a boost from angry Bernie Sanders supporters. Wasserman Schultz quit as Democratic National Committee chair amid accusation she worked against Sanders in his race against Hillary Clinton.

BERMAN: The FBI has investigated the suspected hacking of election computer systems in Illinois and Arizona. First in the record for as many as 200,000 voters were exposed in Illinois alone. The breach is not expected to affect voting. I hope it doesn't. The attack comes from the heels of the suspected Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee's e-mail system in July.

KOSIK: Hillary Clinton is set to have her biggest fund raising month in August. She's headlined 31 events so far pulling in $58 million. That's according to a CNN politics analysis of ticket prices. So Clinton raised a total of $90 million just in July. Her largest haul to date and that includes other donations.

Her running mate, Tim Kaine also sweeping across the U.S. and raising money. The campaign is making this push now so it can focus on debate prep over the next two months. All of Clinton and Kaine's events are benefiting the Hillary Victory Fund. That's a joint fund raising account. And what this has allowed the Democratic ticket to raise money for the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and Democratic State parties at the same time. These agreements allow donors to give more than $500,000 to various Democratic funds. Those are numbers nothing sneeze at.

BERMAN: You know, it's a big question. This election though is does money matter, right? I mean it's the advertising matter. Hillary Clinton swamping Donald Trump but we're not sure that the ads are having the effect they usually do.

KOSIK: Well, if you think about all the free advertising the media have been giving Trump and it, you know, doesn't seem to be helping him because he's not too much to help himself.

BERMAN: All right, nine minutes after the hour. Right now, Gene Wilder is dead at the age of 83. We're going to look back at one of the most unique performers we have ever seen. That's next.



[04:13:28] WILDER: We'll begin with a spin traveling in the world of my creation. What we'll see will define explanation.


BERMAN: That of course the great Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Hollyword the whole world mourning the loss of the legendary comic actor who was also an accomplished screen writer and author. He died Monday at the age of 83. He was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. We didn't know that fact. He was suffering from it for three years. "Bonnie and Clyde", "Stir Crazy", "Silver Streak" ...

KOSIK: "Silver Streak" is a good one.

BERMAN: ... "The Producers" Fire -- yeah and so many good movies. This just a few of his great roles. Then of course, there was the work with Director Mel Brooks. This was one of the great partnerships of all time. It begin with Brooks' casting Wilder as Leo Bloom in "The Producers".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILDER: I'm hysterical. I'm having hysterics. I'm hysterical. I can't stop when I get like this. I can't stop. I'm hysterical. I'm going to -- I'm wet. I'm wet. I'm hysterical and I'm wet. I'm in pain and I'm wet. And I'm still hysterical.


BERMAN: Stealing scenes from Zero Mostel, no mean feat. This of course 1974, Gene Wilder is the wacko kid in the ground breaking "Blazing Saddles". Such a good film. Then the Oscar nominated "Young Frankenstein" or Frankenstein. Whatever, how ever you want to say it which Wilder co-wrote with Mel Brooks.


[04:15:08] WILDER: If you're blue and you don't know where to go to why don't you go where fashion sits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put it on the Ritz.


BERMAN: That's with Peter Boyle right there. Mel Brooks tweeted a final salute to his long time friend calling him one of the truly great talents of our time who blessed every film they did with his magic.


MARTY FELDMAN, IGOR: Dr. Frankenstein.

WILDER: Frankenstein. You must be Igor.

FELDMAN: Now, it's pronounced Igor.


BERMAN: Exactly.

KOSIK: Frankenstein.

BERMAN: Gene Wilder survived by a wife about 25 years. And he will ...

KOSIK: Now we can go back and kind of binge watch all of his films.

BERMAN: There are so many good Gene Wilder films. Some of them are is well notice. Others, I encourage you to watch all. And again "Bonnie and Clyde" was his first film. He was a supporting player in the wonderful movie. Seating in the back seat of that car, I've got to say, it's one of a kind.

KOSIK: And so many more iconic films after that.

BERMAN: Yup. KOSIK: All right. In Jackson, Mississippi, hundreds of mourners gathered at the mass for Sisters Margaret Held and Paula Merrill. The two nuns spent decades devoted to helping the needy. They were found stabbed to death in their homes last week. The man charged with their murder, 46-year-old Rodney Earl Sanders wasn't now bailed during his first court appearance, Monday. Authority say Sanders confessed to the killings, but he gave no motive.

BERMAN: Lawmakers in California have approved new legislation to close a legal loophole in rape cases. That loophole was exposed by the sentence given to Former Stanford Student Brock Turner who received just six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The new law calls for mandatory sentences for rape convictions instead of allowing judges to use their discretion. The measure is awaiting the signature of Governor Jerry Brown.

Tropical systems brewing in the Atlantic and Pacific. Let's get to Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri with the latest.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, METEOROLOGIST: Alison and John, good morning to you both. We're watching a lot of activity across the tropical world. Gaston, one of the storms that will eventually begin to push away from the United States, not a threat but it is tropical depressions eight, nine that will or our forecast to become Hermine and in over the next several hours. And we think with this initial storm, they will actually skirt the Carolina coastline.

The outer banks of the Carolina is mainly going to have some storm surge threat and coastal erosion certainly possible and heavy rainfall there but it is tropical depression nine that is really going to work its way to the gulf of Mexico and eventually pull its way towards the North and then up to the East there across the big bend of Florida. Thursday afternoon, Thursday night that's the time period we're looking for this to become tropical storm Hermine or Ian.

Basically, it's a battle between this storm and the one off to Carolina's as far the naming goes. But as soon as the rainfall going to be the big story with that storm system. And look at this storm setup here across parts of the Pacific. We have Lester and Madeleine. Category three, category four respectively aim directly at the Hawaiian Islands. The good news with both of these storm is, one, they're going to skirt the islands, one to the south, one to the north. Two, they're going to drop from three and four through a cut one. Going to make their landfall Thursday and Friday respectively. Guys.

KOSIK: All right, Pedram, thank you. Turkey ratcheting up its fight against ISIS in Syria, but its position in the war is now complicating U.S. involvement. We'll break it all down next.


[04:22:43] BERMAN: President Obama will discuss the fight against ISIS when he meets with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the group of 20 meetings in china. The meeting comes as the U.S. tries to cool the open battle between Turkey and another U.S. ally in the war on ISIS.

Syrian-Kurdish troops in the Turks' view as terrorist. Joining us now with the latest from Turkey, Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh. And Nick, it really seems like signals have been crossed here for sometime between the U.S. and Turkey.

NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's always been a difficult gamble for the U.S. who fought in the Syrian and Kurds against ISIS. They have done it because that force has been effective on the ground taking up -- it has a large amount of territory.

The problem for Turkey, a NATO member and U.S. ally is that that means they have a group they refer to as terrorists now controlling large amounts of Northern Syria on their border. It came to a head when Turkey sent in a force to back off Syrian rebels who are not Kurdish who are simply Arabs, to kick out ISIS from some areas but they currently came to clash with the Syrian Kurds.

Now, we're in a very confused fluid moment where we have the U.S. telling the Turkish and those Syrian rebels, stop pushing south, stop attacking the Syrian Kurds and asking the Syrian Kurds to pull back across the natural boundary of the Euphrates River across bridge. They've been doing a lot. They're taking territory from ISIS.

What is happening now? Well, we've just heard in the last 24 hours the Turkish military being 21 targets hit in the area. That doesn't sound like the Turkish military convinced the Syrian Kurds. They concede, the enemies have moved back across the east of Euphrates. In fact, the Syrian Kurds themselves are saying, well, we're moving south but we're not totally pulling across that American red line is yet.

A lot, it seems, of confusion. Some duplicity perhaps on both sides and America really in a very unfortunate position. You could have predicted this frankly when they back the Syrian Kurds that Turkey will eventually take stronger military issue. With that, we now have President Erdogan saying, they will pursue those Syrian Kurds with the same ferocity as ISIS till they get rid of security threat on their southern border. America in a difficult bind here and all of this frankly, distracts from the fight against ISIS.

Now in its more closing stages, John.

BERMAN: In fact, that's a big question. Can they keep the pressure on ISIS and maintain this fragile alliances all at the same time? Nick Paton Walsh for us on the Turkish-Syrian border, thank you so much.

KOSIK: More than 6,000 migrants have been rescued off the coast of Libya in just the last few days.

[04:25:06] The Italian coast guard calls the effort one of the biggest operations of its kind in recent years. The rescue also involved vessels from the E.U. border agency front (inaudible) and groups like doctors without borders.

Most of the 6500 migrants are said to be from Atria and Somalia.

BERMAN: The White House it has hit its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees a month ahead of schedule and will keep accepting new refugees at the same pace or at least September. One humanitarian group, the International Rescue Committee is applauding the achievement and it is urging the U.S. to ramp up its resettlement goal to 140,000 refugees next year.

KOSIK: Brazil suspended President Dilma Rousseff evidently defending her record during her impeachment trial telling the senate she has nothing to hide. Senators are expected to vote later this week on whether to reinstate her or give her the boot for good. Rousseff is accused of illegally manipulating accounts ahead of her reelection in 2014 to hide a budget deficit. She calls her impeachment a power grab by her political enemy.

BERMAN: Racism really now center stage in the 2016 presidential race. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump going after each other with new attacks. That's next.