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EARLY START

Trump Tweets Ugly Remark About TV Host; Revised Travel Ban Takes Effect; Police: Venus Williams at Fault in Fatal Car Accident. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Despite the universal cry that this was beneath the dignity of the office, and it is, it's going to take more than this to dislodge Trump supporters from him.

[05:00:01] There is a lot of their identity sort of, you know, bought into his success. So, if he's not successful, then, you know, they feel as though their wants, needs, and aspirations won't be successful. So, for the moment, you know, it -- something else might do it. But it's going to take something much more to dislodge them from him.

And part of that is that, you know, Mika and Joe are part of the media. We as the media are not particularly very popular either. If it were someone like, you know, maybe Pope Francis or, you know, someone from the Little Sisters of the Poor, someone like that who has no association with the media, it might be a different sort of reaction, a different sort of pushback.

But for right now --

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Easy target.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Easy target, yes.

ZITO: Yes.

ROMANS: Is there strategy there? Do you think it's strategy or an impulse with this president? You have written about men and women and watched him and interviewed him. Was there a strategy behind this?

ZITO: I don't -- I don't -- honestly, I mean, I'm speculating here. I don't think there was a strategy behind this.

You know, I mean, if you watch "Morning Joe" for any period of time, it is volatile against him. And you know, so what? But you know, he has shown that he has a thinner skin when it comes to something like that. It may be that he hasn't watched it, but also maybe that there's someone whispering in his ear saying, hey, hey, they're really ripping on you over there. You need do something.

ROMANS: We know he consumes a lot of cable TV. He consumes a lot of --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he watches all the morning shows, and we know that because guests then get phone calls afterwards if they did defend him.

But it is notable, guys, that Dan Scavino, one of Trump's aides, was tweeting about "Morning Joe", about a half hour before the president did. I wonder if the president was encouraged to do this yesterday.

BRIGGS: Where are we, Brian, day two of the story?

STELTER: Normally, we'd be talking about an apology. But instead, we're talking about the president's defensiveness. I guess we're going to hear from Joe and Mika, their side of the story. I'm really struck by these two newspaper covers, the tabloids this morning. The president will be seeing them.

The first one, this is "The New York Daily News" cover we can put on screen, a bald eagle humiliated, I think channeling a lot of the country, Trump skeptics in the country. But then "The New York Post," this is Trump's favorite tabloid. What's notable is here. the story is not as big but it says, what a twit, talking about the president. What a twit.

That's notable because this is "The New York Post". Salena writes for the "New York Post." Trump has grown up with "The Post". Really takes -- he takes this paper seriously and cares about what it says about him. So, I'm curious to see his reaction to that.

I think these papers, the news coverage, it's channeling the shock in the country about the tweets.

ROMANS: I want to read again the Melania Trump statement from her office, because as -- immediately everyone wondered what she thought about this.

STELTER: Right.

ROMANS: As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.

And I think it's pretty clear he punched back, punched back sharply. We were talking about something that Ivanka Trump said recently about what has surprised her about this experience in Washington, and she decried the viciousness toward her father. Listen --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVANKA TRUMP, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: There's a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience. But this isn't supposed to be easy. I think some of the distractions and some of the ferocity was I was a little blindsided by on a personal level.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Here we have another distraction, and more ferocity coming from the president of the United State states. We haven't heard a statement from her yet on this. But it's interesting to me that she's going to be the one doing women in the workplace and family issues in the workplace for the White House, and this is just -- remarkable.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes. I think it speaks to just how much this family is a rookie to the political climate. The reality is, if you've been paying attention to politics, you'd see that attacks on presidents and political figures isn't new. What is new is responding to them in this way.

And that's something that the president has initiated in a way we haven't seen in the past. I think what's very interesting, when you look at Melania's statement saying that when he's hit, he will hit back harder, particularly for someone who's been championing cyber- bullying as a problem, the question becomes, when is enough enough? Because people aren't going to stop attacking the president. The question is, is he going to stop responding when the reality is people want him to pay attention to far more important things?

STELTER: Some people -- I think a lot of people like the counterpunching, though. If he tweeted, liberal Joe and liberal Mika are out to get me, that would have been, I think, within the realm of 2017, this discourse, perfectly fine, there wouldn't be 24 hours of reaction.

[05:05:01] Because of how personal --

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: That's right, that's right.

BRIGGS: Let's point out, Joe Scarborough is a former Republican congressman. Republican lawmakers --

STELTER: True --

BRIGGS: -- condemned the tweets from the president. Let's start with Ben Sasse, the Nebraska senator who was quick to punch back --

ROMANS: The first.

BRIGGGS: -- at the president. I think the first that we all saw.

Please just stop. This isn't normal. It's beneath the dignity of your office.

Lisa Murkowski, Alaska senator, who's very key in his health care battle. Stop it. The president's platform should be used for more than bringing people down.

Then, there were Senator Susan Collins of Maine and the House Speaker Paul Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The president did speak eloquently after the shooting of the congressman and others at the congressional baseball game. And that's why I was particularly surprised to see him revert to this kind of language, because he clearly recognized that he has a role to play in uniting and healing the country. And unfortunately, he threw some gasoline on the embers.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Obviously, I don't see that as an appropriate comment. I think -- look, what we're trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. And this obviously doesn't help do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Salena, the president is not new to vulgarity. He's also very familiar with marketing. What's the damage to the brand of the Republican Party?

ZITO: Well, luckily for the Republican Party, there's not an association between Republicans and Trump, right? I mean, you look at Paul Ryan, he is a completely different sort of brand, and then -- and Sass and Lindsey Graham and all of them. And part of it's the establishment. Part of -- they're career politicians.

Donald Trump stands alone on his brand, especially in moments like this. You know, it's just -- he doesn't -- as Eugene said, he doesn't do the same things that other political people do. He doesn't know how to react, in a lot of ways to this criticism.

I mean, President Obama received so much criticism across the board on social media, on television, on FOX News, and I'm sure when he went home, he probably talked to the wall or his wife, whatever, and said the same kind of things. But he didn't say it publicly.

This is a guy who's not a polished politician, and this -- whether we like it or not, this is who the American people elected. And this is how he reacts to things. I don't think it's good --

STELTER: I don't know if the novice argument can last much longer, right? That -- inauguration day was January 20th, and we're about to enter July. How long can we say he's not a politician?

ROMANS: He's a seasoned businessman. And a businessman would lose his job if he ran his business that way. Honestly.

ZITO: Yes. Yes. But you know, I don't mean to imply that he's a novice. I mean to imply more so that he is an outsider. And this is how he does business.

And even as a businessman, he's always been an outsider, right?

ROMANS: Yes, true.

ZITO: He wasn't like the other guys on Wall Street or -- or in real estate. They weren't like that. And this is just him.

I always tell people please read his book, "The Art of the Deal." Not to give him money but to understand who he is and how he behaves.

STELTER: I hope nobody's still waiting for the pivot. He was going to change. No.

BRIGGS: Right.

SCOTT: I think --

BRIGGS: Or the moderate once his wife moves into the White House.

STELTER: I forgot about that.

SCOTT: It's quite frankly been the Republican Party. I think we're a bit naive to think he hasn't made the Republican Party in his image in some ways. This is the new norm.

I think critics are looking at it and him saying that are you changing things opposed to continuing to put the party and move the country in a direction that is actually going to unify, like you said it would.

BRIGGS: All right. We have to leave it there for now. More ahead on all of this. Thank you. Thank you, guys, all of you.

ROMANS: All right. The travel ban is now in effect. There's a last- minute change on who could enter and a last-minute legal challenge to the new rules. We're live in the Middle East.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:13:27] BRIGGS: There's explosive new reporting this morning that a longtime Republican operative tried to get his hands on emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server, likely by Russian hackers. Part two of this "Wall Street Journal" scoop is that the operative suggested to others that he was working with Michael Flynn who later became the national security adviser.

"The Journal" reports the veteran GOP opposition researcher Peter W. Smith told associates and people he tried to recruit to help him that he was, quote, talking to Lieutenant General Flynn about the project. Emails written by Smith and one of his associates back up the story. Flynn's role, if he had any, is still unclear.

ROMANS: Again, this is the "Wall Street Journal" reporting. Flynn was then a senior adviser to candidate Trump. In an interview with "The Journal", Smith said he knew Flynn but never said Flynn was involved. The 81-year-old Smith died ten days after the interview.

A Trump campaign official says Smith did not work for the campaign, and they had no knowledge of any involvement by Flynn. Flynn himself has offered no comment. And CNN has not independently confirmed the "Wall Street Journal's" reporting.

BRIGGS: The scaled down Trump travel ban now in effect. It includes a last-minute change, though. Fiances will be allowed to enter the country after the State Department originally said they did not qualify as a bona fide relationship.

ROMANS: Just before the ban, restricting travel from six Muslim- majority nations took effect, the state of Hawaii filed a court challenge over the definition of bona fide, asking the judge to clarify that the Supreme Court ruling can't be interpreted to limit which family members can and cannot come to the U.S.

[05:15:02] The Hawaii judge has now ordered the DOJ to respond to that motion by Monday.

As for how the ban is affecting travelers coming to the U.S. from the six countries, CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joins us now with more on that from the Middle East.

So, how is this rolling out, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, here in the United Arab Emirates, you know, there are two main airports, Dubai, Abu Dhabi. Neither of them is experiencing any great difficulties. They do have passengers, for example, that transit through here from Iran, which is one of those six. From Sudan, which is again, one of those six Muslim-majority countries that were affected by the ban.

But they say, you know, the way that this has been rolled out this time, that there's been some advance knowledge ahead of this. That anyone who has correct documentation and shows up at the airport is going to be able to get on the plane. The passengers seem to understand it.

The airlines seem to have enough information to go on. This isn't a case where people are getting on the aircraft and flying halfway across the world to the United States and suddenly find the document they have is no longer valid. So, that seems to be working.

So, what isn't being interpreted very well here at the moment is the way the family is being interpreted legally. They're saying grandparents, grandmother, grandchildren, cousins, aunts, still part of that close family circle. That's the way family life is here for many in the Middle East.

So, it's not surprising that you had the foreign minister of Iran, one of the affected countries, really taking a shot at the United States over this. And he's tweeted this, this is what he says, "U.S. now bans Iranian grandmothers from seeing their grandchildren in truly shameful, blind hostility to all Iranians.

Not surprising that Iran would really target back the United States. But that is a sentiment here that people feel that this is not being fairly interpreted, people are being unfairly affected.

ROMANS: All right. Nic Robertson for us this morning in Abu Dhabi -- thank you for that, Nic.

BRIGGS: All right. Up next, the mom of a pro golfer steals the show at the European French Open. Andy Scholes has those details next in our "Bleacher Report". I'm intrigued.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:21:37] BRIGGS: Welcome back.

Police in Florida say Venus Williams is responsible for a recent car accident in Florida in which caused injuries to a 78-year-old man who later died.

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

Hey, Andy.

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

You know, according to the Palm Beach Gardens Police, the accident occurred on June 9, and the victim, Jerome Barson, was a passenger in a car that was driven by his wife, Linda Barson. Now, according to the police report, Linda Barson told police she was traveling west in the right lane and approaching an intersection, slowing for a traffic light.

The report states the light changed to green, and Barson said she drove through the intersection when Williams' 2010 Toyota Sequoia cut across in front of her car. Linda Barson said she was unable to avoid crashing into Williams. The report said Venus, who was going just five miles per hour, is at fault for violating the right of way of the Barsons.

Now, there's no mention in the report of Williams being cited. Williams' attorney in a statement tells CNN this is an unfortunate accident, and Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one.

All right. Yankees rookie Dustin Fowler finally realizing his dream of playing in the big leagues last night. But his debut one to forget. Fowler crashing into the wall in right field in the first inning. He suffered an open rupture of the patellar tendon in his right knee. Fowler eventually had to be carted off of the fields, his season is now over. The Yankees' manager Joe Girardi said afterwards that he was in tears because he knows how hard fowler has worked to get to this point.

All right. Li Haotong was so frustrated after bogeying the 13th hole at the French Open, he chucked his putter into the water. Well, that putter may have had sentimental value because his mom went into the water after it. Once she realize it's broken, she throws it back into the water.

And you got to check out all of the players that were around the hole. They -- a big chuckle about the whole thing.

The Timberwolves introducing star Jimmy Butler yesterday. And Butler had a message for all of his critics --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY BUTLER, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: My phone's in my back pocket right now. If whoever has anything to say to me, feel free, 773-899- 6071. So, if you want to interview, there you have it. Please do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And yes, that was Butler's real phone number. He even then facetimed with some fans that kept calling him from an airplane.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTLER: Hey, I got 1,000 facetimes to answer. I appreciate you calling. See you soon. Bye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And, guys, I tried calling Jimmy's phone a few minutes ago to see if he wanted to Facetime with us live here on EARLY START, but guess what? The phone has been disconnected.

BRIGGS: That's why we don't do that, Jimmy.

ROMANS: All right.

SCHOLES: It's an epic moment, though. I love it.

ROMANS: Good. All right. Thanks. Nice to see you.

BRIGGS: Thanks, my friend.

ROMANS: President Trump's team on defense after a tweet about a cable news host draws near-universal condemnation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Kind of like we're living in the twilight zone. They do this day after day after day, and then the president responds and defends himself. And everybody is appalled and blown away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: More on the presidents' day shuttling between degrading Twitter insults and diplomacy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:59:06] ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Get some spine. Stop justifying this. Stop finding ways of excusing it. What is inexcusable must be inexcusable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Republican strategist Ana Navarro last night on CNN. A blistering response even from Republicans after the president's tweets attacking a cable news host. And now, moments ago, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough with their response on "The Washington Post." We'll get to that with Brian Stelter in a moment.

ROMANS: Headline -- Donald Trump is not well.

BRIGGS: That is the headline. It continues along those lines. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Twenty-nine minutes past the hour.

In an era of unbreakable political gridlock, there's one thing nearly everyone seems to agree on -- President Trump's degrading personal attacks and tweets regardless of the target must stop. This issue resurfacing at the top of the political agenda after the president attacked the cable news hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.

This is the tweet that launched all this outrage: I heard poorly rated "Morning Joe" speaks badly of me. Don't watch anymore.