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Partner on Policy Shifts; VP Pence News Conference with Japanese Deputy PM; Questions Whether Turkish Election Was Free and Fair; Grizzlies Coach Blasts Officials in Postgame Rant. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired April 18, 2017 - 05:00   ET



[05:01:52] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the vice president arrives in Tokyo and gets a big endorsement on important policy shifts on North Korea.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And the White House facing major pushback on transparency. Taxes, visitor logs, why won't the White House make it all public?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: Good to see you.

KOSIK: Good morning.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

It's Tuesday, April 18, it is Tax Day. It is 5:02 Eastern Time.

You got your taxes in?

KOSIK: My taxes were in last week.

BRIGGS: Well done, we are ahead of the curve.

Up first, Vice President Mike Pence arriving overnight in Tokyo, bringing his U.S. message of U.S. resolve against North Korea to the Japanese in a welcome move the Japanese returned the favor. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the vice president he supported President Trump's stance that strategic patience with North Korea had run out. Once again, that all options are on the table.

KOSIK: Abe adding dialogue for the sake of dialogue with North Korea is a waste and international pressure has to be applied. A sentiment Pence echoed.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States of America believes time has come for the international community to use both diplomatic and economic pressure to bring North Korea to a place that it has avoided successfully now for more than a generation, and we will not rest and we will not relent until we achieve the objective of a denuclearized Korean peninsula.


KOSIK: This comes a day after Pence said in South Korea the era of strategic patience had run out.

For now, let's bring in CNN's Alexandra Field. She is live for us in Tokyo, outside the prime minister's office with more on Pence's visit.

You know, it's interesting to see how there are a lot of talks here today in Tokyo about boosting trade with Japan, but these provocations with North Korea really becoming the focus of this trip.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, absolutely. There are economic talks which are a key part of this trip. But security is the focus right now for so many people, because the threat of North Korea presents itself for one that is real and one that is also grave. It's the issues leaders had to talk about today, one that cannot be ignored.

How do you chart a course forward when it comes to ensuring the protection, the safety of people in Japan, people in the region, and people beyond that?

Vice President Mike Pence gave remarks inside the prime minister's residence. He called the North Korean regime's threat the most ominous one the region is facing. He again reaffirms the message that has been delivered by other top U.S. diplomats to visit the region, saying the U.S. stands firm with their allies, their resolve has never been stronger to combat this growing North Korean threat. And again, you we heard all options are on the table.

But the vice president was clear in sort of outlining some of the strategy that the Trump administration is not employing in terms of dealing with North Korea, not just this threat that a military option could be on the table but also close work with allies in the region with South Korea, with Tokyo, talks with China about how to further isolate and pressure North Korea to the point of denuclearization, that is the goal.

[05:05:01] It is the objective 100 percent as Vice President Mike Pence put it today. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying they value the fact that Washington is looking at all options to counter this threat -- Alison.

KOSIK: All right. Alexandra Field, live for us from Tokyo -- thanks very much.

BRIGGS: The vice president's Tokyo trip comes the day after he set off a round of North Korean saber rattling by warning that Pyongyang should not test President Trump's resolve. In response Monday, North Korea's deputy ambassador to the U.N. told a hastily arranged news conference that it's the U.S. that has created, quote, "a dangerous situation in which thermonuclear war may break out at any moment."

Joining us live from Seoul, CNN's Paula Hancocks with the very latest.

Good morning to you, Paula.

On the cover the front page of "The Washington Post", they say South Korean is dealing with a new wild card. They suggest that President Trump is that wild card.

How does Seoul see it?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, David, it's certainly interesting that this press conference in the U.N. by that North Korean deputy ambassador was hastily put together. The fact that it was such a quick response to what Vice President Pence was saying. It's unusual to see that. That just shows how strong those words were and how much that could have concerned the North Korean regime.

Now, certainly, here in South Korea, the fact that this is being dealt with so vocally, it would be welcomed. We heard that certainly from the acting president when he was meeting with Vice President Pence, also pointing out that THAAD, the U.S. military defense system is definitely going to be deployed and is going to be operational as soon as possible. So, certainly, they seem to be backing up this sort of psychological deterrent that the Trump administration is trying to put on North Korea at this point.

Of course, there are going to be concerns when there are, there is talk of a potential preemptive strike on North Korea. Now, this is something that the Trump administration continues to say that all options are on the table. But the fact that the military option is being openly discussed would concern some, obviously, hoping that it wouldn't go too far -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Thank you, Paula.

KOSIK: All right, let's discuss more about everything going on from the Far East to Washington, we got political analyst, Ellis Henican. He's the author of "The Trump's America" column for Metro Papers.

Good morning. Thank you for coming in.

ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Alison. Good morning, Dave.

KOSIK: Let's go ahead and talk about North Korea, this fiery language being used, obviously, not just by North Korea but from the Trump administration as well. Could there be a miscalculation going on here, as least on the U.S.'s part?

HENICAN: Well, words can be palpable in a situation like this. The rhetoric has been hotter than it has been in many years in North Korea. The behavior so far is not that different.

So, the danger, of course, is we get into a debate, an argument, our language gets rougher and rougher, and at some point, somebody does something.

BRIGGS: And what that thing is, what military action of North Korea is, we can't even begin to speculate. We will come back here to the battle front that is transparency. And Trump administration on Friday, Friday afternoon, mind you, to say we're not making public the White House visitor log, and now taxes is once again on the forefront.

Democrats say they're going to tie the president's release of his tax returns to any tax reform bill that the president wants to get through. Chuck Schumer saying if he doesn't release his returns, it's going to make it much more difficult to get tax reform done. Why?

HENICAN: Well, because I mean it's a political club the Democrats can use against Donald Trump.

BRIGGS: But why do they want his taxes? What do they need to see in those?

HENICAN: Well, as a practical matter, none. I mean, there is nothing in there that really is going to affect Chuck Schumer's views than the tax policy ought to be.

And you know what? It's a powerful political weapon. Three-quarters of Americans want him to release his tax returns. Now, he points out he was elected anyway. But you got to assume, Dave, that there's got to be something in there, otherwise they'd put him out.

KOSIK: Sean Spicer saying it's because of this audit, this audit, this audit. That's why the president not releasing his tax returns. Why won't the administration say you know what, you're not going to see them? Why don't they say it? They're not going to surprise anybody.

HENICAN: Listen to the kids, Donald and Erica essentially said the same thing. You will never see those tax returns. I'm not holding my breath.

I think frankly the only way we get them is if they get leaked or some government agency forces it. Congress can require their release. But I don't think we're there yet.

BRIGGS: Yes, the one page was leaked, it looked like it come friendly sources.

HENICAN: That actually helped Trump.


HENICAN: That was like, look, I paid some taxes.

BRIGGS: All right, today not just tax the big special elect in the Atlanta suburbs. This is a district that has been Republican since 1978 when Newt Gingrich won there. But Donald Trump won this district by 1.5 percent.

[05:10:01] So, is it anything short of a Democratic win there, actually underperforming Hillary Clinton? The narrative has been that this might be a warning shot to Republicans across the country. But look at the numbers, OK? Hillary Clinton got 46.8. Isn't anything less than that underperforming Hillary Clinton?

HENICAN: You know, you make an earlier point. In any comparison, it depends on what is your base of comparison? Right. And if you focus on the Trump numbers there, they got a win.

Now, that seed issue as you point out was in the Republican hands for Congress for many years. It's not a Donald Trump kind of district, right, a highly educated district, fairly affluent, suburban. Those are not exactly Trumpsters, I guess.

BRIGGS: So, let's -- what do we make of today's results? Say it's believed to be not yet north of 50 percent --

HENICAN: They'll probably get close, but it's going to be tough to get --


KOSIK: He needs to get --

HENICAN: Right, although --

BRIGGS: What's the interpretation of that?

HENICAN: So, that's really the question, because there are 18 candidates in this jungle primary, I love that term, throw everybody into it. But so, if the -- if you assume those Republican votes in the second primary are going to vote for whoever the Republican winner is, it's very important that the Dem get over the top or at least darn close it to. Yes. Darn close to it today.

KOSIK: Are we making too much of this election?

HENICAN: Oh, it's fun, c'mon.

KOSIK: I mean, what is it indicative of?

HENICAN: Here's the question, there is clearly great passion among active Democrats out there, right? Mostly generated by Donald Trump. They're despising of this president.

So, but the question is, can they turn that into votes? Can they get their people out? Can they actually win elections? This is one of the early tests. So, I am pretty interested to tell you the truth.

HENICAN: Democrats raise $8 million. There's a lot being thrown into this. Daniel Jackson making calls. President Trump making robocalls and tweets for the Republicans.

HENICAN: Keep an eye on this today, though, it's going to be fun.

KOSIK: We will be keeping an eye on it. We're going to bring you back in a little bit. Thanks so much, Ellis. All right. President Trump and his State Department. Not quite on the same page regarding Turkey's sweeping reverend. What did President Trump relay to President Erdogan? We are live in Istanbul.


[05:16:19] BRIGGS: President Trump offering his congratulations to Turkey's President Erdogan for winning a referendum that grants him sweeping new powers. The despite objections from Turkey's opposition and voting irregularities witnessed by election monitors.

For the latest, let's bring CNN's Ian Lee live in Istanbul.

Ian, good morning to you. What are the irregularities international election observers are seeing there?

IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Dave.

These observers from the OSCE, the European monitors say it just wasn't a balanced fair playing field for the yes and no campaign, with yes getting far more support from the government and from the state media. These monitors also talks about 2.5 million ballots that they say has some questionable voting irregularities surrounding them.

In a statement, they said, "If there were so many irregular envelopes and irregular votes that are actually not valid concerning to the law, then the referendum may be, may have had a different outcome than we know." So really casting doubt on this whole referendum process that these irregular votes could have swayed the election.

Now, we heard from President Trump, he called President Erdogan to congratulate him. But there in Washington, mixed signals as well from the State Department said that they were concerned about these irregularities that were coming from the European monitors, they urged the Turkish president to safeguard the freedoms and liberties of all Turks -- Dave.

BRIGGS: It's a difficult situation for the United States.

Ian Lee, live in Istanbul for us -- thank you.

KOSIK: A tough loss to the Spurs has the coach of the Memphis Grizzlies got a little heated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game. And they did not even give us a chance. Take that for data.


KOSIK: Whoa!

What's that --


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Coming up, guys, you can see that boiler. We're going to show you more, coming up.


[05:22:53] BRIGGS: All right, let's talk some sports.

Grizzlies coach David Fizdale can expect a hefty fine after his tirade following last night's playoff loss to the Spurs.

KOSIK: Live from New York is Coy Wire with this morning's "Bleacher Report".

WIRE: Good to be here with you guys.

BRIGGS: Nice to have you in studio. Fist bump, across the way.

Check this out, Grizzlies lost to the Spurs, they are down two games to none in their best of seven series. And Spurs were machine like. Kawhi Leonard rolled in at 37 points.

But here's the thing, more than half the points came from foul shots, officials gave the Spurs as a team more than double the amount of foul shot attempt.

So, Grizzlies coach David Fizdale there, he was not happy. And he goes off the officials saying there was a lack of respect.


DAVID FIZDALE, GRIZZLIES HEAD COACH: I'm not going to let them treat us that way. I know pops got pedigree, I'm a young rookie, but they're not going to rook us. That was unacceptable. That was unprofessional.

My guys dug in that game, earned the right to be in that game. They did not even give us a chance.

Take that for data.


WIRE: Oh, coach.

MVP front runners Russell Westbrook versus James Harden, been laid out to be a class of the titans. They are actually really good friends. They've known each other since they were ten years old, playing hoops at the boys and girls club. They were teammates in the NBA for four years, but listen to what Westbrook has to say about their friendship on the court now?


RUSSELL WESTBROOK, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: Here on the floor, I got one friend, I have been like that since I was a little kid, my dad told me that when I was younger. Once you get on the floor, you got one friend, and your friend is Spalding.


WIRE: Who is Harden? Westbrook went all Tom Hanks in castaway. Wilson!

Spalding his friend there.

All right. Last one, girls can't run in the Boston marathon, that's what Kathrine was up to 50 years ago. Rene nearly run up the road, Kathrine kept running those, he persevered, becoming the first woman to officially run the race.

Now, yesterday, at 70 years old, guys, she pinned on her number 261, one more time.

[05:25:04] And she felt nothing but love and support this time in her 40th marathon. She finished in four hours, 44 minutes, and 31 seconds. That's 24 minutes slower than her time 50 years ago.

BRIGGS: Come on --

KOSIK: OK, hold on, 70 years? I can't even --

WIRE: Averaging ten-minute miles is what she did. So they will retire her number 261. Incredible shoutout to Kathrine. You are an inspiration.

BRIGGS: Oh man.

WIRE: One more thing now I'm here with you guy, we showed you a story two days ago, hitting two home runs when he spotted lucky underwear. And this is what our Dave Briggs tweeted. Easily awaiting our King Tut shirt, Cory Wire.

Yes, sir. I did. I promised and I delivered. I got your very own King Tut shorts -- I promised you and I delivered. I got your very own King Tut shorts.

This is for you, buddy.

BRIGGS: Oh my lucky wife.


KOSIK: Oh, no, he's going to be wearing on the set tomorrow, everybody watching this.

BRIGGS: Kyrie Irving.

WIRE: Have you ever seen the guy play like this?

BRIGGS: Thank you, Coy.

WIRE: Good to be here with you. You too. BRIGGS: All right, a strategic patience is a thing of the past. The U.S. has a partner to help create some distance. We're going to tell you what Japan's prime minister told Vice President Pence in Tokyo.