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Manhunt for A Murder Suspect in Cleveland; Vice President Mike Pence Visits South Korea; Annual White House Easter Egg Roll; Policy Change by United Airlines; "Fate of the Furious" Biggest Global Opening in Hollywood History; Erdogan Wins Turkey Referendum. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired April 17, 2017 - 04:00   ET




MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The era of strategic patience is over.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, some strong words from Vice President Mike Pence at the DMZ declaring a strategic shift for the United States. What does that mean as U.S. stares down the nuclear threat from North Korea?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And the growing manhunt for this morning or the suspect in a Cleveland murder posted on Facebook. The victim's family is grieving as police expand the search beyond Ohio. We'll tell you where.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik sitting in for Christine Romans. Good morning, Dave.

BRIGGS: Good to see you my friend. I'm Dave Briggs, Monday April 17th, 4:00 am in the East.

And perhaps a Trump foreign policy is emerging this morning. Breaking news, in just moments ago, Vice President Mike Pence -- he was on the border last night between North and South Korea, visiting the Demilitarized Zone, the DMZ, delivered a message to Pyongyang.

From the administration now speaking with one voice, "all options, all on the table." The VP's visit comes amid growing tensions with North Korea and hours after the regime's failed missile test launch. With the U.S. pressing China to get its client state under control, Pence echoes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's words from one month ago, "the era of strategic patience is over."


PENCE: We seek peace, but America has always sought peace through strength. The people of North Korea, the military of North Korea should not mistake the resolve of the United States of America to stand with our allies. The alliance between South Korea and the United States is iron clad. We will continue to stand strong to achieve our shared objective across this region and across the world of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.


KOSIK: The official message from the Trump administration on that failed missile launch, once again, deliberately low key. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis putting out a very brief statement saying, "The president and his military team are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment." The blown launch is not easing concern over Pyongyang's aggressive work on ballistic missile and nuclear weapons.

At a weekend parade, North Korea showed off some new military hardware. For the latest, let's turn to CNN's Paula Hancocks. She's live for us in Seoul. So, we did hear from Mike Pence some very bold words and he also made some bold moves. He got very close to the North Korea border.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right Alison. Yes, he was at the DMZ, the Demilitarized Zone, and he was seen by North Korean soldiers. They came out when they realized there was a VIP there and they started taking photos. So assuming that was a message to North Korea, the fact that the second in command of the most powerful country in the world is right on the border.

It's what we see from many of these top officials who come into South Korea. They go up to the DMZ to show, as he said, that they are standing shoulder to shoulder with South Korea. Now, he did give some statement as well when he met the acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, not so long ago.

And the very strong message, a real warning to North Korea, when it came to talking about what the Trump administration has done in Syria, that missile attack on the air base and also of course, the MOAB, the mother of all bombs, that was just dropped on Afghanistan recently.

And he actually made the link between those two military actions and North Korea, which we haven't really seen before. He did say, quote, "North Korea would do well not to test his resolve," talking about Donald Trump. This is really a stronger statement than we have seen from anyone within the Trump administration or the Obama administration for many, many years.

And it's likely that North Korea will take note of that. Now, whether or not it will change their behavior, it is very unlikely. We're still expecting that nuclear test number six. Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean leader has made it abundantly clear he has no intention of giving up his nuclear weapons. He will continue to test them and he will continue to test his missiles as well, back to you.

KOSIK: Any responses yet from North Korea about the vice president's visit? I understand that the North Korean soldiers were actually taking pictures of the vice president as he got out. And then they turned around when he turned around and went back in? HANCOCKS: That's right. This is what we always see at the DMZ. When

there is someone of note, when there's an important guest there. As soon as that guest comes out you see the North Korean soldiers coming close. And they come very close, certainly when they sometimes go into the hut that straddles North and South Korea, which Vice President Pence didn't do today. You see them standing at the window sometimes with binoculars, which seems a little pointless,

[04:05: 00] but it's sort of their message to say we are watching you. So certainly, this isn't unusual. We understand that obviously they would have turned back around. They would have made some phone calls pretty quickly and explained that the U.S. second in command is on the DMZ so, certainly a message being sent to North Korea.

KOSIK: All right, obviously, a professional visit for the vice president. Also, a personal one -- I'm hearing that his father fought in the Korean War. So, an emotional visit for the vice president as well. CNN's Paula Hancocks, thanks very much.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, China is the critical wild card in the North Korea equation. The vice president had this to say about China and their willingness to cooperate on North Korea.


PENCE: It is heartening to see China commit to these actions, but the United States is troubled by China's economic retaliation against South Korea, for taking appropriate steps to defend itself. The better path would be for China to address the North Korean threat that is actually making such defensive measures necessary.


BRIGGS: On the campaign trail, President Trump hammered the Chinese for their trade practices. But after meeting with President Xi Jinping two weeks ago, Mr. Trump is toning down the rhetoric, tweeting quote, "Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens." That tweet on Easter.

CNN's Matt Rivers checking the latest developments live from Beijing. Good morning to you, Matt. Let's back up just a little bit if we can and remind us why China has allowed this nuclear program in North Korea to go on so long.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, frankly, China has this strategic interest in their being a buffer state between South Korea and the tens of thousands of U.S. troops that are based there and its own borders. It has no real strategic interest in seeing North Korea collapse and then likely unify under South Korean leadership.

What you heard the vice president there talking about defensive measures, he was talking about an anti-missile defense system called THAAD that will be deployed in South Korea later this year. The United States and South Korea have said that it is extremely necessary to deploy that kind of a system, given the continued provocations from the North.

However, China says that it is very much opposed to that deployment and says that it is really just a thinly veiled attempt to upset the strategic balance in the Korean Peninsula and further contain China. So, it really is one of the sticking points when it comes to North Korea in terms of the differences between China's view on the situation and the United States.

So, it will be very interesting moving forward. We've kind of entered into this period of detente between the United States and China. The Trump administration kind of taking a 180 as you mentioned there saying that they're very happy that China seems to be more willing to cooperate on North Korea, but The fact that vice president brings up this missile defense system, something China is vehemently opposed to, really serves to signify how much differences remain between both sides and thus calling to question their ability to continue to cooperate, Dave, moving forward.

BRIGGS: Matt Rivers live for us in Beijing, 4:00 pm there. Thanks, Matt.

KOSIK: The vice president's message is one part of the administration's unified front echoing national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who was appearing to work from the same North Korea talking points. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has more.

SUZANNEM MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison and Dave. President Trump returns from his holiday weekend at Mar-a- Lago where he celebrated Easter with his family. His administration responding on multiple fronts to North Korea's failed missile test, emphasizing while their provocation was small, the U.S. and its allies are ready to consider all options to deter the rogue nation from developing a nuclear weapon.

Trump's national security adviser General McMaster speaking from Afghanistan said the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies are working on a wide range of options for Trump to use if North Korea continues its threatening behavior, including diplomacy, economic incentives and sanctions and military action. But he says the goal is to resolve this short of armed conflict.


H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: All options are on the table, undergoing refinement and further development. This problem is coming to a head and so it's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.


MALVEAUX: Trump tweeting that the U.S. is preparing for more aggressive action if necessary saying, "Our military is building and is rapidly becoming stronger than ever before. Frankly, we have no choice." Alison and Dave?

KOSIK: OK, Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much.

Time for an EARLY START on your money. Protesters around the country calling for President Trump to release his tax returns. Demonstrators took to the streets in cities across the country Saturday. Trump has said that Americans, quote, "don't care at all about his tax returns." But there's an ABC News/Washington Post poll that shows different. It shows 74 percent of Americans say the president should release his taxes.

[04:10:00] For the past 40 years, every U.S. president and presidential candidate has released their tax documents. But the White House has given no indication that Trump has any plans of releasing his tax returns. So what would the tax returns show the public? Well, they would show how much Trump paid in taxes, what foreign ties Trump's businesses have and if he would benefit from his own proposed tax policies. It's not illegal to not to release your returns but inquiring minds want to know.

BRIGGS: I wonder if people would get the answers they're looking for even in his tax returns.

KOSIK: You know what, what the heck. Why not release them and then let everybody else decide.

BRIGGS: Don't hold your breath. We ain't seeing those taxes.

All right, you can expect today's White House Easter egg roll to be a little more low key than usual. Last year, NBA and NFL athletes dropped by along with Beyonce and there were 37,000 people on hand. This year though the Trump administration estimates the crowd will be nearly half that size. Only 18,000 eggs have been ordered. The headline, I have to say family van from Nashville that drove in an RV. It's a low-key affair.

KOSIK: But maybe it's a little bit more exclusive so the kids don't feel as crowded. They can kind of run around more.

BRIGGS: Perhaps. They got a late start on the organization and the staffing levels are a bit low but nonetheless, pressing matters going on around the world, this seems like small fries this year.

KOSIK: Speaking of pressing matters, a multi-state manhunt is expanding after a murder on Easter day posted to Facebook. We're going to tell you where police are hunting for Steve Stephens, next.


BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, an active manhunt underway at this hour for a suspect authorities say made a video of himself killing an elderly man then posted it on Facebook. The FBI helping Cleveland police in the search for Steve Stephens, 6'1", 244 pounds. You can see him here, last seen driving a late model white Ford Fusion with temporary plates.

Authorities also now saying Stephens may have left Ohio and warning residents of Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to be on alert. Officials say Stephens is armed and dangerous.

KOSIK: His mother, Maggie Green, tells CNN she spoke to her son Sunday, and that he said he was shooting people because he was, quote, "mad with his girlfriend." Authorities say hundreds of leads have poured in. They are urging Stephens to surrender.


CALVIN WILLIAMS, CLEVELAND POLICE CHIEF: We need to bring this to a conclusion today. We need to get Steve off the streets. People, later on, can dive into exactly why this happened. But there's no need for any further bloodshed in this incident tonight.


BRIGGS: Officials say Stephens did not know the victim, 74-year-old Robert Godwin, just picked him at random. Godwin's children say they are devastated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a good guy. He's a -- I mean --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very good hearted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'd give the shirt off his back, I mean. And I'm not just saying that for these cameras, like people do knowing that dead people really ain't right, but I'm telling the truth. This man right here was a good man. And I just hate he's gone. You know what I mean? I don't know what I'm going to do. It's not real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feel like my heart is going to stop. It feels like it's going to stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be all right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels like it's going to stop.



BRIGGS: Stephens also claimed to have committed multiple homicides but Cleveland police say, so far, Godwin is the only known victim.

Also, breaking news overnight, two Detroit police officers shot while responding to a burglary call. One of the officers struck in the face. He's in critical condition, still being treated at a local hospital. The other officer suffered a left arm wound and is expected to recover. Police say three people are in custody, a minor, a teenager and an adult female.

KOSIK: OK, the ongoing PR saga continues for United Airlines, announcing now a new policy aimed at preventing this -- this video, yes, remember this -- from happening again. The video of a passenger, Dr. David Dao being dragged off a sold-out flight. It certainly has been a PR nightmare for United.

Well now the company will no longer allow crew members to displace passengers already seated on a plane. Those must-ride bookings, well they're going to have to be done at least an hour before departure. Crews could previously be booked right up until the flight left. United says the change is an initial step in review of its policies.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, the "Fate of the Furious" closing out the weekend with the biggest worldwide opening in Hollywood history. Yes, the biggest in Hollywood history. This is the eighth film in the "Fast and the Furious" franchise. It made an estimated $532 million worldwide in its opening weekend. That beats the global record held by "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," it's at $529 million debut in 2015. And "The Fast And Furious" franchise not done yet. There are plans for ninth and tenth installment in 2019 and 2021.

KOSIK: Cash cow. Can we say cash cow?

BRIGGS: Have you seen any of these eight films?

KOSIK: I've seen one. And you know what --

BRIGGS: One more than me.

KOSIK: -- it's kind of an escape, you know, just to watch things go boom and watch cars go fast.

BRIGGS: There's a whole other world out there I'm not aware of.

KOSIK: Forget about all the problems in your life.

BRIGGS: OK, maybe I should see it. Apparently a few of you have. Meanwhile, a referendum with major implications for a big player on the world stage, Turkey, voting to give expanded powers to its president, massively expanding powers. But why are opponents demanding a recount? We're live in Istanbul.


BRIGGS: Some are calling it the death of democracy in Turkey. President Recep Erdogan declaring victory in Sunday's critical referendum vote, but the country's main opposition party is challenging the result alleging massive voter fraud. Erdogan won just over 51 percent of the vote. If that holds up it means an all powerful presidential system in Turkey.

Erdogan will now be able to name his own government without parliamentary approval while expanding his control over the judiciary. Let's go live in Istanbul and bring in CNN's Ian Lee. Ian, sometimes these elections quiet down the situation. This does not appear to have that effect, and good morning to you.

IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Dave. You're exactly right. So we're talking to the opposition. They're gearing up to challenge this referendum. It was razor-thin victory for [04:25:00] President Erdogan but they're challenging 37 percent of the

votes and it really evolves around the electoral board. Yesterday, right before polls closed, they announced that the official stamps that had to appear on the ballots for them to be valid didn't have to appear on the ballots for them to be counted. So, the opposition is challenging that.

They believe that they still have the upper hand. But yesterday, we heard from the president. He sounded victorious, saying that this is a new era for Turkey. But this is a deeply divided country, as we saw with this referendum, how narrow it was. And the president, in the past, has called those in the opposition, in the "no" vote saying they are traitors and likened them to supporters of terror. So, it's going to be very difficult for him to heal that wound.

But also, moving forward, this does give the president sweeping powers. Like you said, power not only over the judiciary but also part of the parliament as well, a bit of a difference between the United States and Turkey. In the United States, Congress is elected by the states and they have their constituents. Well, in Turkey, the president will choose the people who will run in his party. So there are questions about who they will have loyalty to -- to the people or to the president? Dave.

BRIGGS: Ian, this is a critical United States ally, a major player in the war on terror. Is there any sense of what these powers for Erdogan mean for that war on terror and to the United States?

LEE: We talked to his supporters and they say that this is the best thing that could happen because it would make him far more powerful to take care of terror that Turkey has been experiencing. Over the past few years, there've been a number of terror attacks not only by ISIS but also by Kurdish militants, the PKK. Also it strengthens his position when it comes to the international community in dealing with other countries because he holds executive power.

He's going to be the one dealing with other countries, not the prime minister, which will be dissolved. So when it comes to the United States, there will be the shift there. Although it needs to be said that Erdogan has been the man that everyone has been talking to, whether this referendum happened or not, he was perceived as the leader of Turkey.

BRIGGS: Right. And Syrian refugees have been flooding into Turkey in recent years. CNN's Ian Lee live for us. Thank you.

KOSIK: OK, a showdown brewing over North Korea's nuclear program. Vice President Pence with a tough talk on a trip to Seoul. Hear what he said about Pyongyang and Beijing and hopes of stopping the North's nuclear program.