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EARLY START

Trump's Warning on North Korea; Flynn Controversy Grows; 1st Round of NFL Draft in the Books. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2017 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The most visible winner from this administration, an administration that championed the little guy on the campaign trail, is the investor class.

[05:00:03] Big business, big money, investors are winning big in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.

Amazon stock is closing in on $1,000 a share. The company's shares popped more than 4 percent after hours Thursday after strong earnings pushing the stock to around 960 bucks a share. Amazon sales continue to outpace estimates. Amazon sales hit $35 billion in the first quarter, up more than 20 percent from last year. Everyone is eyeing that $1,000 mark, a lot of analysts have a thousand dollars as their price target.

And speaking of on the eve of the 100-day mark, the Trump rally is now the second best since JFK was president. Take a look at this -- the S&P 500 up almost 12 percent since the election. That is just behind George H.W. Bush in 1989. President Kennedy saw an 18 percent surge in 1961.

But even if Trump's promises to American businesses have helped the recent spike, remember, the U.S. is in the second largest bull market of all time, that was well under way before Trump even said he was going to run for the presidency. The Trump bump is at the very end, I don't know if you can show that, we have a really great screen, the Trump bump at the end of the Obama bull market.

Do we have that one? No, darn. We have a really nice screen that shows just how big this rally is and the Trump up there.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Times are good on Wall Street indeed.

EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

ROMANS: The most direct warning to date about North Korea direct from the commander-in-chief. It comes in the same interview where he revealed being president is harder -- more work than he expected.

BRIGGS: And a new investigation in to Michael Flynn's accepting payments from Russia and Turkey when it comes to his security clearance. Why is the White House shifting blame to the Obama administration?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, April 28, it is day 99 of the Trump administration and it is the early hours of day 99, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We're really happy you're with us this morning.

Breaking overnight, an urgent warning from President Trump on North Korea's nuclear and missile development program. The president suggesting a military faceoff with Pyongyang is within the realm of possibility. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: The president telling "Reuters" the U.S. would prefer to achieve a nonnuclear North Korea through diplomacy.

BRIGGS: But he said, quote, "That is very difficult."

In this interview, Mr. President praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for, quote, "trying very hard to resolve the crisis", after previously criticizing Xi for not doing enough. In fact, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that China threatened sanctions against North Korea if it attempted another nuclear test. Tillerson set to chair a U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea later this morning, with the House of Representatives set to vote on new sanctions against Pyongyang next week.

For the latest, let's bring in CNN's Alexandra Field live in Seoul.

Good morning to you. A lot to unpack here. What is reaction on on all of this from Seoul?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Dave.

Well, certainly a lot of heads left spinning here. These are certainly the most blunt words that we've heard from U.S. President Donald Trump warning of the possibility of a major, major conflict as he puts it. He does go on to say, of course, that he hopes to resolve the situation through diplomacy.

But you've also had Chinese officials from the ministry of foreign affairs warning that the whole situation could spiral out of control. The Chinese along with the Russians have been calling for more open dialogue with North Korea, and that was something that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also left the door open for, saying that it could be possible if given the right agenda. If that sounds like a change of course, well, it is. You have heard

Trump administration officials say quite publicly in the past that the time is not right, conditions are not right to engage with North Korea in any kinds of talks at this point.

But you do have the secretary of state chairing this U.N. Security Council meeting later today. He will be calling on all members to strictly enforce all sanctions against North Korea. Also making headlines, you have the secretary of state saying he doesn't believe that Kim Jong-un is insane. He went on to say he might be ruthless, maybe a murderer, maybe irrational, but doesn't appear to be insane.

At the same time, the U.S. continuing its buildup of defenses right here in the region, means of protecting against provocative actions from North Korea. That in the form of this highly controversial THAAD missile system which is being installed on the peninsula as we speak. It said to be operational in a matter of days. The U.S. has trumpeted this system, which is controversial here in South Korea and beyond as a major priority, critical to countering the North Korea nuclear threat which continues to advance.

[05:05:06] But now, President Trump is saying in an interview that he believes that South Korea should pay for it, a billion dollars to foot the bill for the system that the U.S. will operate right here. South Korean officials were quick to respond. This is the first they seem to have heard that. They are saying it is their job to provide the site and the infrastructure, not to pay for its operations -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Alexandra Field, live for us in Seoul -- great job unpacking all of that.

ROMANS: All right. We are so lucky to help us count down day 100 of the administration. We have CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, senior editor at "The Atlantic".

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning. Good seeing you guys. Yes.

ROMANS: This "Reuters" interview is really fascinating.

I want to play a little bit more of the sound on it. Since we're talking about North Korea here, the president -- you know, so many world readers trying not to elevate Kim Jong-un. They try not to take the bait, to bring him to their level, right?

First rule of politics: never punch down. You kind of ignore the little guy who's and trying to go around him, unseats him. The president kind of humanizing Kim Jong-un. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: He's 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So, say what you want, but that is not easy especially at that age. I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit. I'm saying that's a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he's rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational. (END AUDIO CLIP)

ROMANS: Ron, could you please respond to that statement for me?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

ROMANS: I was really surprised to hear the president sort of put Kim Jong-un on the level of a normal leader.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. And how many times in 100 days have you said "I'm really surprised to hear the president say", right?

ROMANS: True.

BROWNSTEIN: It was a fascinating poll question in the CNN poll this week is, do you think President Trump is necessarily shaking up Washington or is he endangering American -- the country through kind of erratic -- essentially erratic behavior? And there was a narrow majority saying endangering.

I mean, what people who like President Trump like about him is that he is not as scripted or as careful or as diplomatically precise as others, and I think there are many Americans who simply feel that this style is unsuited for the most powerful job in the world. And that is exactly what, you know -- that is not what you would have heard from other presidents.

ROMANS: Dave and I are trying to figure out, is there a strategy in this North Korea? Because if you look, 24 days ago, he had a very different view, this administration.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

BRIGGS: Well, you said that a lot of world leaders choose not to punch low, to acknowledge the Kim Jong-un regime, including our administration, including the Trump administration. To Christine's point.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, right.

BRIGGS: Just a few weeks ago, our entire statement to a ballistic missile launch was, "North Korea launched another medium range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment." That was applauded because it was not recognizing --

BROWNSTEIN: There have been points similarly where Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson have seemed to be reading from an entirely different playbook early in the administration on Russia, right? And you do -- you know, normally in an administration, the words that come out of a president's mouth are the end of a very long transmission belt that has had a lot of care and precision attached to it.

You get the feeling in this administration that often, there is a completely separate process. There is kind of a diplomatic, bureaucratic process that is producing kind of the well-considered, carefully balanced American statements and then, you have the president speaking either tweeting or talking in interviews and they do not always seemed to be entirely connected.

ROMANS: He likes to talk. He's confident in what he's saying.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

ROMANS: Sometimes you can't diagram the sentence, but he really is confident in his own words. He speaks for himself. He doesn't focus group himself to death. He doesn't have a bunch of people giving him talking points.

BRIGGS: And his supporters love it, continue to love it.

BROWNSTEIN: It's what we're talking about before. But there's no question that a majority -- I think -- look, there are elements of his agenda that have been unpopular. The health care bill, executive order on immigration, for the Muslim (INAUDIBLE), but the biggest problem he is in public opinion is the majority of the country that is uneasy with the style and the temperament.

And that has been -- you know, that is why I think the biggest why his approval is so much lower than any other new president. There is a portion of the country that likes this. There are a lot of people who have -- don't forget, I always remind people this, on election day, in the exit poll, somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of the people who voted for him said he was not qualified to be president.

ROMANS: I remember that.

BROWNSTEIN: They were willing to vote for him because they wanted change and they did not want Hillary Clinton. But they were not entirely sold on the idea, and I think the biggest problem I think he has since taking office has done more to confirm than dissolve those doubts.

ROMANS: Let's listen to a little bit more eh said in that "Reuters" interview. Again, this fascinating "Reuters" interview last night where he talked about, I guess, his realization of the job ahead for him. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, I loved my previous life, I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. I actually -- this is more work than my previous life.

[05:00:00] I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of -- I'm a details-oriented person, I think you would say that. But I do miss my old life. This -- I like to work, so that's not a problem. But this is actually more work.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BROWNSTEIN: The actually in this sentence, like who thought it wasn't more work, right? Who thought being president of the United States was not more work than kind of running a business that was largely a marketing and licensing and development?

It was like when the president said, who knew health care was so complicated? Well, everybody knew. It took 60 years after Truman, Nixon, Clinton, for -- President Obama was the first to even get a vote on the floor of the House. No one had ever done that before. So this is kind of a little off putting.

BRIGGS: You mentioned health care. And clearly, the administration wanted to get some points on the board before this 100-day mark. But late last night, Ron, no vote, they don't have the votes with this MacArthur Amendment.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

BRIGGS: Will they be able to wrangle the votes? Because clearly the balance of power is shifting --

BROWNSTEIN: It's really, right.

BRIGGS: -- and the moderates are now uneasy.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think it's -- you know, it's a tipping point question that -- you know, historically the House Republicans since they have taken over has almost always be able to pass whatever they are trying to pass by moving it far enough to the right since 1995. That is 00 you know, if you would bet, you would bet on that. But I think they have run into a real problem.

And the core problem here is three letters people in Washington remember are BTU. 1993, when Bill Clinton came into office, Bill Clinton and Al Gore kind of coerced really House Democrats into voting for an energy tax that they knew had no chance to pass the Senate, they took the tough vote, many of them are hammered over that vote in the following.

If you are a Republican from any kind of competitive district, and you are looking at a bill that was at 17 percent approval before about they decided to take away the nationwide protections for preexisting conditions, which according to the "Washington Post" 70 percent of the public supports, there is very little chance that that MacArthur Amendment or anything like it will come out of the Senate. Why would you cast vote to give the president points on the board for something that has almost no chance of becoming law and yet you are virtually guaranteed will be used as a cudgel against you in the fall of 2018?

Don't forget, 60 percent of House Republicans represent districts that are older than the national average. And this idea of taking away pre-existing conditions really hammers older working people and they know it. Eighty percent of people age 50 to 64 in the "Washington Post"/ABC poll oppose the idea of essentially the MacArthur Amendment and that is a big number, 80 percent. And those are Republican voters. Those are Republican voters at this point. Yes.

BRIGGS: Still no CBO score to tell me how many will lose coverage.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. BRIGGS: Ron Brownstein, great to have you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

BRIGGS: We'll see you in about half hour.

BROWNSTEIN: All right.

BRIGGS: All right. So, why is the White House blaming the previous White House for some of the trouble surrounding Michael Flynn? We'll discuss that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:16:49] BRIGGS: New trouble this morning for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn over his decision to accept payments from Turkey and Russia after he retired from the military. We have new information that the Pentagon inspector general has opened an investigation into the retired army general and that the Defense Intelligence Agency warned Flynn back in 2014 against accepting foreign payments.

ROMANS: That's according to documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee released by ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings. He says the documents raise grave concerns about why Flynn concealed those payments.

BRIGGS: Asked about all this, Press Secretary Sean Spicer says he thinks it's, quote, "appropriate for the Pentagon to look into Flynn if they think there is wrongdoing." But questioned why Flynn wasn't more thoroughly vetted, Spicer pinned that on the prior administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was issued security clearance under the Obama administration in the spring of 2016. The trip and transactions that you're referring to occurred in December of 2015. All of that clearance was made by the Obama -- during the Obama administration and apparently with knowledge of the trip that he took.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: One source familiar with the case admits Flynn did make a mistake, failing to fill out the proper forms, seeking permission to be paid by the Russian state TV channel for a 2015 trip to Moscow. But the source strongly denies any effort to conceal that payment and says Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency before and after that trip.

BRIGGS: All right. Sports -- Philly fans have been known to boo even Santa Claus. And they went full throttle on Commissioner Roger Goodell at the NFL draft. Andy Scholes with the rowdy details in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:23:00] BRIGGS: To sports. First round of the NFL draft in the books. Let's just say some teams are happier with their picks than others.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.

Yes, the draft always great because, you know, no matter what team you're a fan of, you can be optimistic that these picks are going to help you get over the top. And the draft is also a good opportunity for fans to say hello to Roger Goodell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BOOS)

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: Come on, Philly. Come on. There you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: I like that he played along. You would have thought the draft was in Boston, though, not Philly by that reception.

Defensive end Myles Garrett out of Texas A&M going number one overall to Cleveland Browns. Fun fact about Garrett: he loves dinosaurs. He almost went to Ohio State over A&M because of their paleontology program.

Now, the Chicago Bears trading up big number two to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. Let's just say Bears fans were not very happy with this, the reaction from their watch party and all over the Internet? Well, it was priceless.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No! No!

(BABY CRYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Even babies did not like the pick of Trubisky.

Now, the moment of the night going to UCLA's Takkarist McKinley after he was picked by the Falcons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAKKARIST MCKINLEY, FALCONS 1ST ROUND SELECTION: I made that promise, man. I told her, I'm going to win my dream. I'm going to get out of Oakland and go to the NFL. I made that promise to her, man. Thirty seconds later, she passed away. This is what I'm doing it for. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: McKinley was raised by his grandmother. He carried around a framed picture of her all nigh long. McKinley promised her on her death bed that he would make to the NFL. And as you can see, he was overcome with emotion after fulfilling that promise.

All right. One of the top trending moments on BleacherReport.com, from the draft, is offensive lineman Garrett Bolles and his son, he went Lion King lifting his son.

[05:25:02] He was in a matching suit. Definitely a cute moment that the Bolles family will remember for a long time.

And, guys, this fun of the NFL draft is going to continue tonight with round two and three.

BRIGGS: The Lion King.

SCHOLES: Always got to love the Simba, right?

BRIGGS: Boston is on the clock, Scholes, because they've got to boo Goodell louder than Philadelphia. Can they do it?

SCHOLES: I'm 100 percent confident that fans in Foxborough are going to give Goodell a once in a lifetime reception for that NFL opener.

BRIGGS: That would be good next season. Thank you, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: An ominous warning from President Trump, he is on the record that the United States could be headed for a major military conflict with North Korea. All the overnight developments, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: President Trump with his most dire direct warning about this North Korean to date. What's the administration's plan to minimize the threat?

ROMANS: And new fallout from Michael Flynn's decision to accept payments from Russia and Turkey.