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White House Orders Review Of Iran Nuke Deal; South Korea &U.S. Hold Major Aviation Drill; White House Defends USS Carl Vinson Misstatements; Bill O'Reilly Out At Fox News. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 20, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The Trump administration says it will not blink in the face of threats from global adversaries. Iran, North Korea, Russia all in focus. We'll have the latest.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And the crown has been taken from the now- former king of cable news. Bill O'Reilly ousted at Fox. What's next for him and the network following another rough departure?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik. Good morning.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. It is 30 minutes past the hour. This morning, the Trump administration not backing off the tough talk and several fights it is waging around the world with Iran, North Korea, and with Russia. On the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump has asked for a multi-agency review to determine whether lifting sanctions in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program is really in the national interest.

KOSIK: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying the deal forced by the Obama administration and U.S. allies "completely ignored all the other serious threats that Iran poses."


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining U.S. interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel. An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it.


KOSIK: Tillerson's comments coming a day after he certified to Congress that Iran is complying with the deal but questions whether sanctions shouldn't be reimposed because of Iran's alleged sponsorship of terrorism.

BRIGGS: Now, you heard there Sec. Tillerson mentioning North Korea, which already has sky-high tensions with its neighbors and with the U.S. Today, American and South Korean forces are conducting their annual Max Thunder drill. That's the second-largest military aviation exercise on the Korean Peninsula. CNN's Paula Hancocks is at the Kunsan Air Base in Seoul. She has an up-close look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, this is Max Thunder. This is a massive air operation between the United States and South Korea here in South Korea. There's more than 80 aircraft involved in this, there's more than 1,500 people. We know that it's routine. We know that it's annual.

We're told by the Lt. Colonel in charge that when they're actually carrying out these drills they don't have a specific enemy in mind. But, of course, given the tensions on the Korean Peninsula this is inevitably going to be more in the spotlight -- this kind of massive firepower being seen by North Korea as well. It is not what North Korea likes to see. Every single year when these drills happen they become angry and infuriated. They believe that this is actually a dress rehearsal for an invasion, even though the United States say that they are defensive in nature.

But just bear in mind what's happening on the Peninsula at this point. North Korea has said that the U.S. has pushed the situation to the point where a nuclear war could break out at any time. China, as well, has suggested these military drills should not be happening, saying that if the U.S. holds these military drills, potentially, North Korea could suspend their nuclear and missile program. It's not a new situation, it's not a new suggestion, and it's not one that the U.S. welcomes. Dave, Alison, back to you.


BRIGGS: You've got that right. Great reporting from Paula Hancocks. To help us with some perspective now, let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan. She's live in Washington this morning. Good morning to you, Tal.

KOSIK: Good morning, Tal.


BRIGGS: All right, could be much ado about nothing but a lot being made of what President Trump said about this armada -- the aircraft carrier sailing to the Korean Peninsula. And here is the president and Sean Spicer defending his actions despite the fact that we know that ship was sailing in the opposite direction at the time the president said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are sending an armada -- very powerful. We have submarines -- very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The statement that was put out was that the Carl Vinson group was headed to the Korean Peninsula. It is headed to the Korean Peninsula. It will arrive there --

REPORTER: It's headed there now, though, Sean. SPICER: What's that?

REPORTER: It's headed there now. It wasn't headed there last week.

SPICER: Sure -- no, no, but that's not -- but that's not what we ever said. We said that it was heading there, and it was heading there. It is heading there.

REPORTER: Does the president believe that he might have spoken too quickly on this location of the vessel before it was actually arriving?

SPICER: The president said that we have an armada going towards the Peninsula. That's a fact, it happened. It is happening, rather.


BRIGGS: All right, let me try and settle the semantic debate here because the president said "we are sending." That is, technically, true. Nothing there is false on that statement. But what is the problem that the administration at the Pentagon may have in regard to this whole situation?

KOPAN: Yes, Dave, that's right. There -- in foreign policy there's a bit more precision required than on the campaign trail, and I think that's what President Donald Trump is sort of -- is gathering on the job. He -- if there's one thing he's known for it's not necessarily sticking to the script. But typically, in foreign policy, every word that a president says is parsed by our allies and our enemies alike, and so that's sort of what he's dealing with at the same time.

[05:35:18] There are definitely supporters of Trump who believe that being a bit unpredictable, and hard to pin down, and unscripted actually keeps our allies and enemies on their toes and that's sort of the appeal of the Trump foreign policy. So, you know, that's perhaps one of the explanations for it but you are seeing the White House having to clean up after the fact and explain what the U.S. is actually doing versus what the president is saying.

BRIGGS: That's a great point about precision. Really well put, Tal.

KOSIK: And speaking of foreign policy, Iran sort of was -- sort of landed on the table yesterday by Rex Tillerson. Yesterday or the day before, Tillerson certified to Congress that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal hashed out by the Obama administration, but now it looks like the Trump administration is questioning whether sanctions should be imposed again on Iran. So you have the Trump administration looking to change things in Iran, looking to change things in North Korea, looking to change things in Syria, and we're coming up against that 100-day mark for the Trump administration. This is coming fast and furious. Is there some sort of timeclock happening? Why should all of this be happening this quickly?

KOPAN: Well, you know, I think it's a few things going on, Alison. I mean, to one point, on the 100-day mark the Trump administration is grappling with what they have to show for their first 100 days. It's sort of an artificial deadline but they certainly don't have a lot of wins on the domestic front. There's also been a lot of scrutiny of Rex Tillerson and Nikki Haley and the various foreign policy players in the administration and whether they're visible enough, so there's been a lot of attention on this.

But, you know, it's also just, again, a matter of the reality of governing. On the campaign trail, President Trump promised to tear up the Iran nuclear deal and, you know, when you get into office some of those things are not that easy. And so, while there's absolutely serious hotspots in the world that demand immediate attention, the administration is still sorting out exactly what their strategy is going to be in regards to some of those potential flashpoints.

BRIGGS: Another thing they'd like to tear up is Obamacare. That was certainly one of the central promises of the Trump campaign but running into the realities of that, it's been difficult. Mike Pence talked about this with Dana Bash and said that it's still on the hot burner. They'd like to get details maybe and a vote next week.

And this morning in "The New York Times" an editorial that's titled "The Plan to Sabotage Obamacare." This has to do with funding the exchanges, which is really the central battle here regarding the future of Obamacare. "It is not surprising that Mr. Trump would see the subsidies as a bargaining chip. Governing, to him, is a matter of quick-hit deals, and he shows no concern about gambling with the health of millions of people. This isn't Mr. Trump's promised insurance for everybody. It sounds more like a two-bit Hollywood villain promising carnage if he doesn't get his way."

This is so central, Tal, because if they don't fund them Obamacare crumbles. If they do, it could survive. Where does this debate move next?

KOPAN: Well, I think this is an example of when lawmakers focus on political posturing as opposed to, necessarily, policy. The calculation is, and you hear this in the rhetoric from the White House and from Trump himself, of who owns Obamacare. If some sort of problem happens in the marketplace, if Americans feel that their health care is getting worse or not good enough, who do they blame? And, Republicans have tried to say you know what, if we don't fix this, then Democrats it's on you for passing this bill.

This type of threat from the Trump administration saying they won't fund something or support the bill, that's the type of thing that can shift the blame onto them and gives Democrats ammunition to say no, you had the opportunity to prop this up and you undermined it. So there's a little bit of gamesmanship going on on top of the very difficult, sometimes non-productive discussions about what Republicans actually want to do in terms of repeal and replace.


BRIGGS: It's funding the government, which they have to do by next Friday.

KOPAN: Yes, they do. KOSIK: All right, I want to pivot to Bill O'Reilly, not so much about the details of what's going on there but more about Bill O'Reilly's impact on politics.


KOSIK: And it certainly harkens back to earlier this month when President Trump came out actually defending Bill O'Reilly in a "New York Times" article. This is on April 5th. He said, "I know Bill. Bill's a good person. I don't think Bill would do anything wrong." What's behind this defense coming from Donald Trump? I mean, if you think about Bill O'Reilly, you know, he sort of created this movement, didn't he? And many think that if there was no Bill O'Reilly there would be no President Donald Trump.

[05:40:00] KOPAN: Well, these two men go back quite a ways and Donald Trump and Fox News go back quite a ways. As he began -- Trump, as he began to craft his sort of conservative persona over the last several years, Fox was a key platform for that. He would call in frequently and talk to them. And even throughout the campaign and the beginning of his presidency, O'Reilly was one of his sort of key stops when he tried to sell his message.

And then, on top of that, you get into sort of the theory of conservatism and populism and how Fox News and O'Reilly, in particular, really sort of pioneered that style. Certainly, you know, the Trump effect owes quite a bit to that groundwork. And, you know, it was a little bit odd when that statement came out with Trump defending Bill O'Reilly so strongly given the accusations against him. Given some of the history of the campaign trail and the infamous tape that came out about Donald Trump, it dredged up a lot of that. But, you know, Trump -- he felt very loyal to Bill O'Reilly and really showed that sort of sense of fealty in that statement.

BRIGGS: Well, those two have been friends for decades. It was a good question, though. Would we have President Trump if we didn't have Bill O'Reilly? A lot to get to. Tal Kopan, thanks so much --

KOSIK: Thanks, Tal.

BRIGGS: -- for being with us this morning from Washington.

KOPAN: Thank you.

BRIGGS: More details now on that move rocking the world of cable news. As we've been telling you, Bill O'Reilly, the top-rated host of Fox News' flagship show, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR" is out. The network canceling O'Reilly's show amid growing public pressure and an advertiser boycott as years of sexual harassment claims piled up. The announcement came from 21st Century Fox chief Rupert Murdoch and his sons.

BRIGGS: In a note to the company they paid tribute to O'Reilly's ratings and accomplishments, but also underlined the company's commitment to fostering a work environment "built on the values of trust and respect." BRIGGS: Fox's decision to force O'Reilly out marks a stunning about- face for a company that stood by the superstar host through years of sometimes tawdry allegations. But after Fox News chairman Roger Ailes resigned last summer under a cloud of similar claims, momentum seemed to shift against the seemingly untouchable host.

O'Reilly wished the network well on his way out as he defended his honor in a statement. "Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history. It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims, but that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today."

It's unclear whether O'Reilly is getting a big payout. He may be owed tens of millions of dollars but it's also possible his new contract contains clauses allowing Fox to get out of a deal. Stay with us. We'll have much more on this story in the next half hour in "NEW DAY".

All right, some breaking news now. General Motors pulling out of Venezuela after its plant there was unexpectedly seized by authorities, a move the automaker calls illegal. GM says it plans to fight back legally and, meantime, will make severance payments to its thousands of Venezuelan employees. GM's decision won't help the worsening economic crisis there, though.

The country racked by huge anti-government protests demanding elections, denouncing critical food shortages, and what demonstrators call an increasingly authoritarian government. One Venezuelan National Guard sergeant shot and killed in the protest yesterday. Two civilians were killed and hundreds of people arrested.

KOSIK: Those pictures are just incredible.

BRIGGS: Utter chaos there in Venezuela.

KOSIK: Amazing. All right, big cuts at the EPA. Why, and what's the broader impact? That's next.


[05:47:50] KOSIK: Welcome back. The Environmental Protection Agency plans to reduce its workforce. That's according to an internal memo obtain by CNN and it shows the EPA will offer buyouts and an early retirement program to some workers. The agency will also maintain a hiring freeze with very limited exceptions, even as the government- wide ban expires.

Three hundred and fifty jobs went unfilled at the EPA under the Trump administration's hiring freeze and no new positions could be created. The union that represents EPA employees says the administration wants to cut between 3,000 and 4,000 full-time positions. That would be more than 25 percent of its workforce. The EPA has not responded to a CNN request for comment.

All right, time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joins us. Good morning to you, my friend.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Good morning. How are you, Alison Kosik?

KOSIK: Good.

CUOMO: We have much more on Bill O'Reilly's exit from Fox News. We're going to talk to people who shared a set with him. What effect does this make on Fox News as a political culture there? What about as a professional culture there, and is that going to change even if Bill O'Reilly is gone?

Now, there's another political implication to O'Reilly being gone. What does this mean for President Trump? I'm not talking about his support of Bill O'Reilly but you have to remember how formative, how important Bill O'Reilly was in the development, introduction, and motivation of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.

Also, on the other side of the aisle, the book that's making waves. It's called "Shattered" and it details what went wrong in Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. We have the authors on and we're going to get their reaction to the fierce criticism now coming from the Clinton camp. That will all be on "NEW DAY."

KOSIK: OK, that's good. I will be watching.

CUOMO: Thank you.

KOSIK: Good to see you. All right, some more bad headlines for Wells Fargo this morning. Federal regulators had at least 700 chances to stop the fake account scandal, but failed. We're going to explain when we get a check on CNN Money Stream, next.


[05:54:05] KOSIK: Congressman Jason Chaffetz, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announcing he will not seek reelection in 2018. The Utah Republican insisting he has no ulterior motives and simply wants to return to the private sector back home in Utah. Chaffetz is best known for heading up the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as Secretary of State. He has, in the past, expressed an interest in becoming governor of Utah.

The Syrian government now seeking shelter for its combat planes following the U.S. missile strike earlier this month. That strike in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack the U.S. says Syria launched on its own people. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has the details.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Alison, the U.S. missile strike in Syria now reverberating across the Syrian military. That missile strike took out about 20 percent of Syria's operational fighter jets and now the Syrians have apparently moved most of the rest of their inventory to a base along the coast quite close to the Russians, looking for that Russian umbrella of protection with Russian anti-air systems, Russian missiles. They may keep the Syrian aircraft but they can still launch additional attacks using their helicopters, artillery, and rockets.

[05:55:25] So, while the Syrians may think that they have solved their problem there is no indication yet that the Trump administration is calling it a day on any future attacks against the Syrians if they use chemical weapons again -- Alison, Dave.


KOSIK: OK, Barbara Starr, thanks very much. The U.S.-led coalition reporting a dramatic increase in ISIS' use of chemical weapons in Iraq. According to U.S. Defense officials there have been at least four incidents in the last week of ISIS fighters using chemical weapons, including mustard gas in Mosul. No deaths or coalition casualties have resulted from the attacks.

New military conduct regulations ban Navy and Marine personnel from distributing nude photos without the permission of the person depicted. The new rule effectively making any violation a crime that could be punished by a military court. It comes on the heels of a nude photo -- a nude photo-sharing scandal that's rocked all four branches of the military with photos of naked female service members being posted on Marines United and other private Facebook sites.

An attorney hired by the family of Aaron Hernandez says he will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the disgraced former NFL star. Corrections officials say Hernandez was found hanged in his prison cell Wednesday morning, an apparent suicide. His death coming just days after he was acquitted in a double murder case. Hernandez was already serving a life sentence without parole for the killing of Odin Lloyd. The Massachusetts chief medical examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream right now. Stock futures pointing higher this morning. Shares in Europe are mixed and stock markets in Asia closed mostly higher overnight. And this corporate earnings season -- first quarter earnings season kind of off to a rocky start.

Shares of IBM falling off a cliff, sinking almost five percent, and that was after the company reported that it beat profit estimates. But revenue missing badly here and investors dumping the stock as a result. IBM is one of the first big tech companies to report so investors are really going to be closely watching the sector over the next few weeks.

Big Blue weighed on the Dow, though, dragging the average to its second straight triple-digit loss. Look at the Nasdaq, though. It's up for the week. The S&P 500, flat.

A troubling government report on Wells Fargo showing regulators failed to act on hundreds, if not thousands, of red flags. That, according to an internal review published by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. One alarming red flag that went unheeded, in January 2010 the regulator was aware of 700 cases of whistleblower complaints about Wells Fargo's failed tactics. The report says regulators failed to confront executives or the company's board of directors, and it says the board knew about aggressive sales practices as early as 2004. Wells Fargo declined to comment.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, FOX NEWS "MEDIA BUZZ": Bill O'Reilly is leaving the network in the wake of mounting allegations of sexual harassment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is about women's right not to have the threat of a job hanging over us.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The Murdochs recognize a lot of change needs to happen at Fox.

TRUMP: I don't think Bill would do anything wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're cut from the same cloth. They're two of a kind.

TILLERSON: The Trump administration is currently conducting a comprehensive review of our Iran policy.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If there is trouble in the region, you find Iraq.

SPICER: The president said that we have an armada going towards the Peninsula. That is a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These kinds of mistakes could be problematic.

SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is really a rudderless administration from its aircraft carrier fiasco to their lack of coordination in their messaging.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, April 20th, 6:00 here in New York.

Up first, Fox News firing Bill O'Reilly after more than two decades as the face of the network. Fox's parent company caving to pressure as sexual harassment claims piled up and advertisers left his show.

CUOMO: All right. Now, O'Reilly always has and continues to say these allegations are completely unfounded, and he says that they are the price of celebrity. President Trump silent so far on the man he recently defended as a good person. Trump has said he didn't think O'Reilly did anything wrong. All this as the new administration talks tough on Iran and looks for new ways to pressure North Korea.

We have it all covered for you. Let's begin with "EARLY START" anchor Dave Briggs on Bill O'Reilly's demise. We should mention Dave, of course, worked at Fox News.