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Replacing Comey; Global Cyber-Attack; Trump Travel Ban; North Korea's Escalation; South Korea and U.S. Condemns Missile Launch; Saturday Night Laughs; Eastern U.S. Heating Up; Global Markets Higher; Waymo & Lyft Team Up On Self-Driving Car. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 15, 2017 - 04:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, "EARLY START" HOST: With vetting under way for a new FBI Director, President Trump is looking to escape the shadow of James Comey, but top Democrats won't let the firing go and say they may stonewall confirmation of Comey's replacement.

DAVE BRIGGS, "EARLY START" HOST: North Korea escalating its threat against the United States and claiming its newest ballistic missile can carry a bigger nuclear weapon.

ROMANS: And one of the biggest cyber-attacks of all time could strike again today. How companies worldwide are bracing for more fallout and who's behind all of this.

Welcome back to "Early Start." I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is a scary deal.

ROMANS: It really is.

BRIGGS: 150 countries have been struck by this, are we next? Samuel Burke will answer those questions for us, but we begin with a critical moment in Donald Trump's presidency, who will he nominates to be the next FBI Director?

At least eight candidates interviewed this weekend at FBI Headquarters by Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and his number two at the Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein. A White House official says the president will get reports on the interviews and speak to leading candidates himself to make a final decision.

ROMANS: And that could happen as early as this week, as shock turns to anger over the firing of James Comey. Listen to a Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. He fears a total breakdown of the federal government because of the actions of this president.


JAMES CLAPPER, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE FORMER DIRECTOR: I think in many ways our institutions are under assault both externally and that's - that's the big news here is the Russian interference in our election system, and I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Internally from the president?

CLAPPER: Exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's firing the checks and balances?

CLAPPER: Well, I think, you know, the founding fathers in their genius created a system of three co-equal branches of government and a built-in system of checks and balances, and I feel as though that's - that's under assault and is eroding.


BRIGGS: Wow. Democrats are threatening to block the nomination of a new FBI Director unless a special prosecutor is named for the Russia investigation. All the chaos taking the focus off of the president's first foreign trip since taking office, CNN's Athena Jones has more on a very busy week ahead at the White House.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. The fallout over the president's surprise move to fire the FBI Director continues with Democrats ramping up the pressure to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the Russia investigation, one of those Democrats, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who talked about this on "State Of The Union With Jake Tapper." Watch.


CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The silence of my Republican colleagues is choosing party over country at a time when we can ill- afford it. Foreign manipulation of our elections, no matter who did it, is a very, very serious issue. It damages people's faith in our government. So, our Republicans should be stepping up to the plate and joining us in asking for a special prosecutor.


JONES: We've also heard from Senator Mark Warner, who was the Virginia Democrat who was the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee that's one of the committees that's carrying out its own Russia investigation. Senator Warner has said that Democrats should stand in the way of a vote for the next FBI Director if Republicans don't join his call to appoint a special prosecutor.

The problem there is that you need Republicans to join that call because they just need 51 votes to confirm any FBI Director. I should note that as of right now, Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein has indicated that he doesn't think that a special prosecutor is necessary, all of this coming on the same week. The president is preparing to leave on his first foreign trip. He's leaving on Friday.

Before he does that, though, he'll be meeting with the Turkish President, Erdogan, where he's likely to discuss Syria, peace in the Middle East, and more specifically, when it comes to Syria, his decision this past week to allow limited arming of Syrian Kurds to help in the fight against ISIS. So, a lot on the agenda as this fallout continues. Christine, Dave?

ROMANS: All right, Athena at the White House, thank you.

President Trump is still trying to defend his decision to fire Comey. He is calling Democrats hypocritical for criticizing the move. In an interview to Fox News, the president insists he believed Democrats would actually be pleased by Comey's dismissal.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I guess I was a little bit surprised because all of the Democrats, I mean, they hated Jim Comey. They didn't like him. They wanted him fired or whatever. And then all of a sudden, they come out with these glowing reports.

Look, I thought that this would be a very popular thing that I did when I terminated Comey, because all of the Democrats couldn't stand him. But because I terminated him, they said, ah, we'll get some political points, we'll go against Trump.


[04:35:00] ROMANS: The president also denied any collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin, claimed that it is very important to him to resolve the issue of Russia's meddling in the U.S. Election.

BRIGGS: Several influential Republicans are expressing serious concerns about the future of the FBI under Donald Trump's presidency. Listen to Senator Lindsey Graham strongly suggesting the president choose Comey's successor from within the bureau.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, SENATOR, SOUTH CAROLINA: About the idea of an FBI agent leading the FBI, promoting within the ranks, there are so many good agents, men and women out there capable of leading the agency. This is up to the president. He has a duty and obligation to pick somebody beyond reproach, outside the political lane.


ROMANS: The president's decision-making and its impact on the public also being called into question by members of his own party. Here's Nebraska's Republican Senator, Ben Sasse speaking out on the Sunday talk shows.


BEN SASSE, SENATOR, NEBRASKA: We are in the midst of a civilization warping crisis of public trust, and we need to talk honestly about our institutions that need to be restored and need to have the ability for people in five and eight and 10 years to trust these institutions.


ROMANS: You know, it's so fascinating, so much of the first Soviet, now Russian, you know, foreign policy initiatives have been undermining Democratic institutions.

BRIGGS: Chaos.

ROMANS: And that seems to be where we are here when you have members of both parties really concerned Jim Clapper, Ben Sasse and others really concerned about the erosion of those institutions.

BRIGGS: And why has it eroded? I would have liked one more question to Senator Sasse about why has all this eroded. Why is nothing trusted at this point? Well, in part, because the president has thrown up so many things out there that's hard to know what to trust.

But meanwhile, members of both parties calling on the president to turnover any secretly recorded conversations he may have had with Jim Comey before firing him. Of course, this is based on a tweet from Mr. Trump last week when he said, "Comey, better hope there are no tapes."

Many are taking that as a veiled threat against a former FBI director. Comey has already said he is not concerned about any tapes, insisting he never said anything to the president to worry about.

ROMANS: All right, we're getting a fresh read on voter reaction to the Comey firing this morning. A new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll finds just 29% of Americans say they approve of the president's decision to dismiss the FBI director, 38% disapprove, 32% say they don't have enough information.

The poll found a sharper divide when party affiliation is factored in. Look at this, 58% of Republicans support firing Comey, only 9% of Democrats backed the firing. Remember, Democrats were furious about Comey just a few months ago...

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: ...around election time of a shake-up that's having little impact on the president's overall approval rating, which remains at a historically low 39%.

BRIGGS: And that's where the story is, Republicans say that the fury should be that Democrats can't stand Comey, and now they're furious that he was fired. So, again, two completely different narratives being pushed by the two different parties.

But, later today, a federal appeals court will hear a hearing in Seattle to decide whether to uphold the president's revised travel ban. The administration wants the ninth circuit to lift the injunction issued by a federal judge in Hawaii.

The ninth circuit blocked President Trump's first travel ban, but now a different three-judge panel will weigh a revised version. The fourth circuit based in Richmond, Virginia heard arguments on the matter last week.

ROMANS: All right, North Korea's latest missile test reaching a performance level never seen before. We're going to go live to Seoul with why it could foreshadow a bigger nuclear threat. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:40:00] ROMANS: All right, welcome back, growing concerns this morning over North Korea's rapidly growing nuclear program after a successful ballistic missile test over the weekend. The Kim Jong-un Regime now claims it is capable of striking the Mainland United States. Pyongyang also warns its latest missile test proves it has growing capacity to launch bigger nuclear weapons. CNN's Alexandra Field live in Seoul with the latest developments for us. Good morning.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there. Good morning, Christine. This is a launch that is being celebrated as a big success in Pyongyang, and it is being noticed by the rest of the world. You've got even U.S.-based analysts who are saying that this ballistic missile launch was a launch that performed at a higher level than anything they've seen from North Korea before.

This is a missile that went higher and farther than any recent ballistic missile launches. It landed closer to Russia than it did to Japan and you have a group of analyst in the U.S. who are saying that this seems to demonstrate that North Korea could capably hit or strike a U.S. Base in the Pacific, Guam.

That said, what is most significant, it seems, about this latest launch, is that analyst perceived it as a major step forward in the North Koreans' effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile. That would be a missile capable of reaching the U.S. Mainland. Kim Jong-un has said repeatedly it is his goal to develop an ICBM that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead all the way to the U.S.

In the past, North Korea has made claims that it has been able to make a nuclear weapon small enough to mount on a missile. Those claims can't be independently verified by analysts, but again, it's a similar claim that Kim Jong-un is now making - saying that this latest missile launch over the weekend could carry a large weapon, Christine?

ROMANS: And, now it feels as though this test - these tests and these launches are almost becoming routine. We've seen various responses to North Korean tests in the past. How are the U.S. and the South Koreans responding this time?

[04:45:00] FIELD: Highly routine these tests are and the response has varied. Sometimes the White House tries to downplay the provocations from Pyongyang, particularly in the case of failed launches, but as this is being regarded as a significant launch, you are seeing a response from the White House. They're calling North Korea a menace.

They're calling on countries to fully enforce sanctions against North Korea in an effort to further isolate the regime and force some kind of cooperation when it comes to the goal that is shared by so many of denuclearization on the peninsula.

The White House also putting out a statement saying that the president assumes that Russia would not be pleased with this latest launch, again, the projectile landing closer to Russia this time than to Japan. This is also a test, Christine, for the newly elected president of South Korea who came into office just in the last week.

He campaigned on a platform of advocating for greater engagement with North Korea versus the hard line that the Conservative Party that was his predecessor had advocated for. He had to come out in the aftermath of this latest provocation, of course, condemning the launch, but also saying that the possibility of talks with North Korea remains, if North Korea demonstrates it can change its attitude. Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Alex for us in Seoul where it is 5:46 p.m. there. Thank you very much for that. It was Monday morning here.

BRIGGS: No sign of North Korea changing its attitude, but it's being called the world's biggest cyber-attack. We'll tell you who it hurts, what you need to know in "CNN Money Stream", next.


[04:50:00] ROMANS BRIGGS: No shortage of material for the cast of "Saturday Night Live", thanks, of course, to President Trump's firing of the FBI Director. Christine, take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back to James Comey, your staff has been insisting all week that you didn't fire him because of his Russian investigation?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I fired him because of Russia. I thought, he's investigating Russia, I don't like that, I should fire him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's obstruction of justice.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, so, did I get him? Is this all over?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, I didn't? Nothing matters? Absolutely nothing matters anymore?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. Nothing's going to stop me because I've got the Republicans in the palm of my hand. Look at this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You called for ice cream, sir. Here's two scoops.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am so excited to be working with President Trump on an agenda that benefits...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beat it, nerd. Just get the hell out of here, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many people are drawing comparisons between you and Richard Nixon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, I am nothing like Nixon because I am not a crook, OK? Plus, I'll bet Nixon only got one scoop of ice cream for dessert, but I get two scoops, OK? Two scoops, two scoops.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, Mr. President. You're also very different from Nixon because he won the popular vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, O.J., you are being very mean to me, OK?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This week you also met with the Russian Ambassador in the oval office. You must have known the Optics on that would be terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, do you think I care about Optics? Look at me, I sit on every chair like it's a toilet, OK?




ROMANS: I thought that was some of the funniest bit. The stuff with Sean Spicer was so mean. It was like, I thought it was too mean about Sean Spicer.

BRIGGS: I thought - yes, the whole thing came across as mean- spirited.


BRIGGS: That was actually good comedy.


BRIGGS: And Paul Ryan, that's actually substantive. The question is, what will make Paul Ryan turn? It doesn't appear much right now.

ROMANS: Paul Ryan mostly just says he wants to focus on the things that he has...

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: ...his control.

BRIGGS: He doesn't talk about the tweets.


BRIGGS: He doesn't get down in the mud.

ROMANS: All right, companies around the world bracing for more fallout from that big, huge cyber-attack, the biggest ever, 200,000 users in 150 countries were hit by attacks. It started late Friday and sort of rolled through the weekend. Law enforcement warns there will be more victims this morning as this workweek begins.

Already attacks being reported overnight in China, Japan, South Korea. Here's what happens. The virus locks users out of their computers and then demands hundreds of dollars to regain control. Global Companies like FedEx and Nissan, hospitals, universities, even some government agencies abroad have been hit by the so-called Ransomware, holding your computer hostage, basically.

The software targets a flaw in Microsoft Windows, and now Microsoft released a security patch back in March. So, if you updated, you're fine. If you didn't, you're not. But the virus hit networks that had not updated their systems. Microsoft stressed the importance of that in a statement Sunday but also in a remarkable smack at the U.S. Government said this attack is a wake-up call for governments.

That's because the tools used here in this attack were stolen from the NSA. Microsoft wrote that governments should consider the damage of stockpiling cyber weapons as they -- and they should treat cyberspace as they would physical weapons. That's remarkable.

BRIGGS: This is a major story, folks. Let's get more on the global impact here and what's in store today with CNN's business and technology correspondent, Samuel Burke, live in London...

ROMANS: Hi, Samuel.

BRIGGS: Samuel, great to have you because it's an important story. New cases today, but first, Christine says, you know, if you didn't update, you're in trouble. Are we in trouble in the United States? And what can people do right now to protect themselves?

[04:55:00] SAMUEL BURKE, CNN BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY OF CYBERATTACK: Anybody can fall victim to this, no matter where you are. Luckily, simple patch, just update windows. If you haven't done it since March, you're vulnerable. That's that little update you get in the lower right-hand corner to restart your computer. Do it and you will be safe, but so many developments on this story this morning.

In China, people going back to work for the first time since this hit computers and seeing that they, too, are victims, 40,000 cases there including 4,000 universities. Amazing to see how many countries this is hitting, including China and Russia.

Also, new strains of this virus, maybe the same group has changed the code so they can keep on spreading it, or maybe other cyber criminals have seen how profitable this can be and now they might be picking up on it. Plus, emergency meetings here in the UK, remember, NHS Hospitals, those are the national hospitals from the government here -- they were hit incredibly hard.

Technology actually affecting people's lives here. Outpatient appointments cancelled. The UK Government is trying to decide how they should move forward. But to me, the most interesting thing out of all this is what Christine was saying about Microsoft. I just want to pick up and show you a line that Microsoft put in a blog.

Usually, they're very polite. They don't name governments by name. Here they're squarely saying this is because of the NSA, and they go on to say something pretty dramatic, "repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage. An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. Military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen."

So, Microsoft is saying look, the NSA was using this tool to spy on people, hopefully for the good, hopefully keeping us safe, but now it's gotten into the hands of some very bad actor.

ROMANS: So, what is somebody supposed to do if you wake up this morning and you're locked out? Do you have to pay the 300 bucks or the 600 bucks? Do you call the police? What are you supposed to do?

BURKE: You have to make a decision. How valuable is the data on my computer? Can I live without it? Is it backed up somewhere? Or is it so important to me, or do I have compromising photos of myself on that computer and do I want to pay the $300?

But what is so gobsmacking here is the fact that these cyber criminals want to be seen as giving good customer service. Oftentimes, they have phone numbers that you can call up and talk to them. You can chat online with them, because they want to get a good reputation. Why?

Because they want people to have some type of incentive to know if I pay, I will get my data back. So they act the way a normal tech company would, the way a normal business would, trying to get that good customer service reputation, but of course, stealing your money and committing crimes along the way.

ROMANS: It is the Wild West out there in terms of your information. It is the Wild West. All right, Samuel Burke, thank you. Come back in about half hour. We'll keep us up to speed on what's happening this morning.

BURKE: See you then.

BRIGGS: See you in a bit.

If it's warmth you crave, it's going to feel like mid-July in the Eastern United States later this week. Let's get the latest from meteorologist, Pedram Javahari.

PEDRAM JAVAHARI, METEOROLOGIST: Dave and Christine, look at these conditions here for a pretty large area of the Southeast and the Central portion of the country staying above average. Could see a few strong storms that around West Texas and up around the Northeast, that's where the most dramatic change going to be felt here in the next several days.

Could see those temps rise some 10 to 15 degrees above normal. We do have a storm system that is exiting the picture. Kept it kind of soggy and unsettled through much of the weekend there, especially on Sunday. There is what is left of it. Could see a few showers sneak into portions of say Boston, into parts of Connecticut and eventually see these exits through the afternoon and the evening hours.

So that will keep your temps much quieter here with the northerly flow. Boston at 61, New York only at 64 today, and then you notice back towards St. Louis and Chicago 80s and 90s in place. But over the next several days, pretty dramatic rise again for Washington, for New York, how about almost 90 degrees come Wednesday afternoon in places like New York, where it should be closer to 70 for this time of year.

And you notice, not only do we climb there, we stay there for a couple of days but as we approach the weekend, much more comfortable temperature is expected coming back down to around 70 degrees, guys?

ROMANS: Wow, that is something. All right, that's your weather.

Here's your money this morning. Let's take a look at Wall Street Futures, the U.S. Futures and global markets mostly higher, despite the possible fallout from that worldwide cyber-attack. The Dow and the S&P500 closed lower Friday. That's the first weekly loss in three weeks. Wall Street was dragged down by retail stocks. Even in a strong earnings season, retail earnings have not been very good at all.

And investors will tune in for more this week, focusing on, among others Gap, Target, Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has been a bright spot in retail. That's because it has expanded its digital offerings, boosting sales. In fact, sales last quarter at Wal-Mart grew at a faster pace than amazon.

Two of Silicon Valley's biggest transportation players teaming up to make a self-driving car, Lyft and Waymo. The driverless car division of Google apparent Alphabet they confirm they'll team up on a pilot car. Each brings an asset to the agreement. Waymo has a software. Lyft has the network of drivers and this deal is bad news for Uber. Not only are two of it's biggest competitors teaming up, but Waymo is currently suing Uber for allegedly stealing its self-driving technologies. The battle of the self-driving cars heats up there.

BRIGGS: All right, fascinating. "Early Start" continues right now.

[05:00:00] ROMANS: President Trump weighing his options for a new FBI director, but some top Democrats says no replacement for James Comey should be confirmed until a special prosecutor is appointed for the Russian investigation.

BRIGGS: An ominous warning for the U.S. from North Korea following their latest missile launch. Pyongyang says not to provoke them because America is range of a missile strike.

ROMANS: And companies of computer users worldwide bracing for fallout from a cyber-attack, that some are calling the biggest ever what it means for you who could be behind it and what happen --