Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Government Funded Through September; Trump Invites Duterte To White House; Trump Humanizes Kim Jong-Un; New Health Care Bill; Tax Plan For Wall Street; U.S. Patrols Syria-Turkey Border; Deadly Storms In The Southern States; Deadly Shooting in San Diego. Aired at 4:00- 4:30 am ET

Aired May 1, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN EARLY START SHOW HOST: Breaking overnight, negotiators reach a deal to fund the government through September. The deal features some big wins for Democrats and funding for the president's border wall? That's out.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN EARLY START SHOW HOST: And some pushback over the president's decision to invite the authoritarian president of the Philippines to the White House. Why is the White House defending the strong man? Will Rodrigo Duterte show up? Good morning everybody and welcome to "Early Start." I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, May 1st, may day. Good morning, everyone! A new month and new week for you here. It's 4:00 a.m. exactly in the east.

Breaking overnight, congressional negotiators of both parties reaching a deal on a huge spending bill that if approved will fund the government through the end of September. The deal includes several significant wins for Democrats. It would add billions for the Pentagon and border security, but nothing for President Trump's promised wall along the Mexican border.

Democrats rejected border wall spending as premature since the president has not detailed plans for building the multibillion dollar barrier, which he has vowed Mexico will pay for anyhow.

BRIGGS: Also, the bill has no money for a deportation force or federal cuts to sanctuary cities, no funding cut for Planned Parenthood, and there's a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health. Votes in the House and Senate expected by the end of the week. No response to this agreement yet from the White House, but the deal is the product of steady negotiation between this administration and both parties on Capitol Hill to avoid a government shutdown.

ROMANS: All right, he's accused of major human rights abuses. He once called President Obama a son of a whore. Now, the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has an invitation -- an invitation, to the White House . There is growing pushback this morning over President Trump's invitation to the Philippine strongman. He has a notorious human rights record. He has encouraged extrajudicial killings of some 6,000 Filipinos suspected of using or dealing drugs.

BRIGGS: He has also move to re-align the Philippines away from the U.S. and toward China, saying "America has lost." White House chief of staff Reince Priebus says human rights do matter but cooperating with Asian partners to deal with the North Korean threat takes precedence here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: This is a different level of problem that we need cooperation among our partners in Southeast Asia. The issues facing us developing out of North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure that we have our ducks in a row, so that if something does happen in North Korea, that we have everyone in line backing up a plan of action that may need to be put together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: CNN's Ivan Watson monitoring the situation for us from Hong Kong. He joins us now live. Great to see you, Ivan. Now, this is following with a pattern for President Trump of elevating these authoritarian strongmen, but in this case, Ivan, does the Philippines have any influence regarding North Korea and their nuclear program?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not much, Dave. I mean, they're not big players when it comes to the Korean Peninsula. They're currently the rotating chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but they're not a big player on that front. And that's important because the readouts from both the White House and the Philippines' president's office, it says that their conversation was warm, it was friendly, and addressed Korea.

But it also addressed the Philippines' controversial war on drugs, and that's where Rodrigo Duterte is so controversial, where he and his police have been linked to the killings of more than 7,000 suspected drug offenders, and then he makes really outlandish comments like this, where he admits to being involved in previous killings. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: I did kill. I was only three months mayor in 1988. At least I kill to protect people. I am not a dictator killing my political opponents to stay in power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: So, Dave and Christine, that's the kind of rhetoric that makes Rodrigo Duterte so controversial and it's part of why you've got criticism now coming in from human rights organizations and, of course, from the Democrats with the senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy, tweeting, "We are watching in realtime as the American human rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash." The White House showing that human rights is not the biggest priority

when it comes to negotiating and dealing with strongmen. You do have to point out though that

[04:05:00] Duterte was democratically elected in the Philippines, a longtime traditional ally of the U.S. Dave?

BRIGGS: That is flat out staggering. Ivan Watson, thanks so much for the insight. We appreciate it.

President Trump refusing to rule out military force against North Korea following the latest missile test by Pyongyang. Trump is downplaying Friday's test, even after saying the next nuclear test could result in a U.S. military strike, and for some reason, Trump is expanding on words of praise for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. Obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie, but we have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: On the subject of who will pay for deployment of the THAAD Anti-missile Defense System in South Korea, the United States will foot the bill, for now, despite comments to the contrary from President Trump last week. I want to go live to Seoul and bring in CNN's Alexandra Field for the very latest. And it felt to me as though on the Sunday shows there was a walk back from those comments from the president of the United States, who said, oh, no, no, South Korea's going to pay for this thing -- should pay for this thing. It looks to me like they're walking that back.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you've heard a turnaround on a couple of things here. You just heard that bite where U.S. President Donald Trump calls Kim Jong-Un a smart cookie, pointing out the fact that he was able to come to power and hold power at a young age. That of course in contrast with the comments made about a week ago wherein President Trump said that he doubted that Kim Jong-Un is a strong a leader as he purports himself to be.

The message that was coming from those weekend shows on Sunday also had to do with that missile launch, that failed missile launch over the weekend. Washington has been trying to minimize the response to that along with calling it a failed launch. You've got President Donald Trump saying that it was a small missile even though officials here in South Korea do point out that it was indeed what appears to have been the test of a new type of missile.

President Trump was also asked how the U.S. would respond in the event of a nuclear test. He said "we'll see." He was not willing to rule out military action. You've got these U.S. and South Korean joint drills that are continuing, and as you point out, what seems to be a reversal on THAAD.

You've got the installation still moving forward and you have the national security adviser seemingly trying to smooth over some tensions that were created when President Trump suggested that South Korea should be footing the $1 billion bill for this system. That would be in stark opposition to the deal that was agreed upon, in which the U.S. would pay for the deployment and operation of this controversial system and South Korea would provide the site on which that system is deployed.

This is a system that many South Koreans are against and it's also caused concern for neighboring countries like Russia and China, which have suggested that the radar in the system could be used to spy on them. In cleanup mode here, U.S. officials were saying that all systems are go when it comes to THAAD. They are moving ahead. The U.S. will pay for it, and you had the national security adviser going on to try to add more to the context around President Trump's context suggesting that South Korea should pay for it.

Really guys, this is more in line with the president's previously stated campaign goals of re-evaluating defense spending agreement with allies around the world, making sure that everyone would "|Pay their fair share." Still a national security adviser assuring South Korean now that the alliance holds and that the U.S. is fully committed to South Korea's security. Christine

ROMANS: Pay their fair share for something the United States insisted should be there in the fist place. That is a United States strategic influence should be there as well. Alright, thanks so much for that. Alex.

BRIGGS: Senator John McCain trying to calm jittery U.S. satellites about these mixed signals and miscommunications coming out of the White House. The republican stopped by CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. He was asked what he tells confused world leaders when President Trump and his aides contradict one another.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I tell them that he has surrounded himself with an outstanding national security team. I can't guarantee to world leaders that he will always listen to them, but he has so far. Sometimes it's important to watch what the president does, rather than what he says.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: What he does, not what he says? Words don't matter anymore. On the subject of North Korea, Senator McCain says the president should consider a pre-emptive strike only if Kim Jong-Un's regime is capable of delivering a nuclear weapon by ballistic missile. Christine, this is staggering. Of all the things the president said in two very fascinating interviews over the weekend, that right there was the most revealing words about our commander-in-chief.

ROMANS: Every day is fascinating, Dave, a 100 days in, we've got 100 --

BRIGGS: Words don't matter. Actions do.

ROMANS: But they do, but they do.

BRIGS: They should.

ROMANS: You're right. The White House has fingers crossed that Republicans leaders to shepherd the health care vote

[04:10:00] to a Congress this week. This week still unclear whether compromises or tweaks can be made that will lure moderates to vote for the latest draft of a bill, a version that the members of the hard right House Freedom Caucus have signed off on. President Trump offering comments on "Face the Nation" trying to ease concerns about coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, perhaps instead muddying the water further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Pre-existing conditions are in the bill and I mandate it. I said it has to be. They say we don't cover pre-existing conditions. We cover it beautifully. I'll tell you who doesn't cover pre-existing conditions, Obamacare. You know why? It's dead! It's not going to be here.

JOHN DICKERSON, FACE THE NATION SHOW HOST, CBS NEWS: In one of the fixes, it was discussed pre-existing was optional for the states.

TRUMP: Sure, in one of the fixes, and they're changing it --

DICKERSON: OK, so it would be permanent?

TRUMOP: Of course!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: In the CBS interview, every follow-up, usually a follow-up question clarifies the situation. Every follow-up I felt left the position of the president on pre-existing conditions in the states less clear.

BRIGGS: Muddied the water a little bit?

ROMANS: Am I right? Did you feel clear about that?

BRIGGS: Well, yes, I did from what I understand, not from those words, but that they are covered. Pre-existing conditions are covered, but they were going to a high-risk pool, if the states get that waiver, and they could cost a vast amount more money. They could raise their premiums exponentially.

ROMANS: It was interesting to me that the president kept saying that, you know, the federal government should be involved, not in your hurt knee or your bad back, but in North Korea, that something small like health care should be involved on the states. Health care's a fifth of the economy, so federal standards on health

care is almost one of the reasons why he was elected, right? Because people didn't like the health care that we have already.

BRIGGS: And wanting to stay out of foreign conflicts.

ROMANS: Right. True, true.

BRIGSS: So, that claim about pre-existing conditions could undermine the draft bill the White House is currently pushing on Capitol Hill, the deal between moderate and conservative Republicans would require insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, but unlike the mandate under Obamacare, insurers could charge them much higher rates if they let their coverage lapse.

ROMANS: A tax break that benefits Wall Street investment managers may be on the chopping block, that's according to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Speaking on ABC News Sunday, he had this to say about carried interest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRIEBUS: The president wants to get rid of carried interest, so that balloon is not going to stay inflated very long. I can assure you of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Priebus had no further details but said the administration would target the deduction in a tax overhaul. So, what is carried interest? It's the shared profit that hedge fund and other investment managers collect from clients due to a tax loophole. It's taxed at 23.8 percent, well below the top rate on ordinary income.

This rate is controversial since we're talking about big money -- private equity managed $4.2 trillion in 2015 alone. The president have been critical of the tax break on the campaign trail, but when the White House released its initial tax plan last week, the one-page outline did not mention carried interest. They initially had some on Wall Street celebrating.

BRIGGS: Right, absolutely.

ROMANS: They think this is the Wall Street president, right? The entire proposal was pretty sparse on details, though. What was revealed was very pro business. So, overall, they do really like what they see, folks on Wall Street.

BRIGGS: That will be interesting to see if what Reince said there is in this new bill.

Well, why are highly trained American troops beginning patrols along Syria's border with Turkey? We're live in the Middle East when we come back.

[04:15:] (COMERCIAL BREAK) BRIGGS: Right now U.S. troops are conducting patrols along Syria's central and northeastern border with Turkey. According to a U.S. official, armored vehicles clearly flying American flags are being manned by mostly Special Ops Forces. They're monitoring potential attacks by Turkish military units against U.S.-backed forces.

Now, the Pentagon will not say how many American soldiers are involved. CNN Jomana Karadsheh is monitoring the latest developments. She joins us live from Amman, Jordan. Good morning to you. Is there reaction from Turkey president Erdogan as to what the U.S. is doing here?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've heard from President Erdogan, Dave. He's very unhappy. He says that Turkey is upset to see the United States carrying out these patrols and says that this is something he is going to address with President Trump when they meet later this month in Washington. What we basically are seeing is, as you know, as you mentioned, you have these U.S. Special Forces that are now patrolling the border region between Syria and Turkey, essentially creating a buffer zone.

They're really trying to stop a breakout of an all-out conflict between these two U.S. allies. You've got on the one hand the YPG, that is the Kurdish militia in northern Syria that the United States considers its most reliable, most trusted ally when it comes to the fight against ISIS. And on the other hand, you have Turkey, of course, a key U.S. ally.

A fellow NATO member state, and tensions between the two really spiked last week after we saw Turkey carrying out air strikes against these Kurdish groups in Syria and in Iraq and Turkey vowing to carry out more. Now, Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization because of its links to another Kurdish group, that is the PKK, that is considered a terrorist organization by both the United States and Turkey.

So, of course, a very complex situation there. Turkey is vowing to continue its air strikes and as we mentioned, to address this issue with President Trump later this month because of the United States' support for these Kurdish groups presenting the president with yet another foreign policy dilemma that he's going to have to deal with, and of course, raising questions about the situation when it comes to the fight against ISIS in Syria.

BRIGS: Yes, and that Erdogan visit just over two weeks away. Jomana, thank so much.

ROMANS: Alright, 19 minutes past the hour. Violent weather this weekend leaving death and destruction in its wake, just tragedy there in Vandyke County, Texas. And now that weather system is turning north, we're going to tell you where.

[04:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, one person has now died from injuries suffered in a shooting at an apartment complex in San Diego on Sunday. Seven others were wounded. Police say the alleged gunman identified as Peter Sellis, opened fire on people in the pool area and appeared to be reloading his weapon when officers fatally shot him. Some of the shooting victims are in critical condition. Investigators still trying to determine a motive.

ROMANS: All right, people in four southern states battered by a string of deadly storms and now beginning the task of cleaning up. At least 13 people were killed, dozens more injured

[04:25:00] as storms tore through Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi over the weekend. Check out this church in Emery, Texas, destroyed by a tornado. Debris scattered everywhere. The storm spawning twisters and floods, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Now that same system is heading north. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri tracking the latest.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine. Yes, this threat here far from over across parts of the northeast for this afternoon. The storm system by around say lunchtime will really begin to blossom out across portions of say western Pennsylvania, western New York. As we get in towards the evening hours, the severe threat at the highest here.

About 80 million people in line for severe weather, so we're talking one in every four people in the country when you do the math and look at it that way, but places such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, around Richmond, Raleigh as well, the severe weather threat there generally the highest for winds. And of course, the storm system has had a history of a lot of wind damage, upwards of 300 severe weather reports, more than 240 of them related to wind damage.

But the one tornado that we know that was the most significant as far as width -- how about this, 17 football fields in width at its widest point, according to the National Weather Service. Of course, several fatalities left behind by that system as well, but much cooler air coming in with this.

Some wet weather expected across the upper Midwest as well over the next 24 hours. Temps in St. Louis, only at 53, Washington into the 80's, New York City warm ahead of the storm after about 75 degrees, guys.

ROMANS: We wish all those people well everywhere who are cleaning up from that storm. And again, some of that bad weather is turning on northeast here. Alright, a critical spending bill appears headed for passage, but with Republicans in control, why are many of their priorities left out?

[04:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)