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President Trump Attacks CNN; Trump and Putin to Meet At G20 Summit; White House Request for Voter Data Denied; Gender Pay Gap in the White House; New Jersey's Budget Impasse; Amtrak Train Derails; Deadline for Qatar delayed. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2017 - 04:00   ET




SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president in no way, form, or fashion, has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: If that's the contrary, we hesitate to ask. What counts as encouraging violence? The president's latest assault on the media stirring up very real concerns about safety for journalists.

And with the president getting set for his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, we're getting set for our insight into what will and won't be discussed at the G20 Summit later this week.

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START.

I'm Dave Briggs. Christine Romans has the day off. It is Monday, July 3rd, 4:00 a.m. in the east. We're here in CNN keep doing our job, the president should start doing his. That is the network's official line after the latest escalation in the President's Trump war on the media.

The president tweeting out this, edited clip from a WWE wrestling broadcast originally posted on Reddit. The 2007 video of Trump body slamming WWE owner Vince McMahon was altered to make it look like he was attacking a figure with a CNN logo for a head. It has since become one of the president's most shared, most re-tweeted posts ever -- sadly.

Some of the president's fans laughed at the clip and members of the media, some of whom have faced threats for their reporting, took it very seriously. And it came just three days after presidential spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this.


SANDERS: The president in no way, form, or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: CNN's official statement on the wrestling tweet calls that Sanders statement a lie. Meantime, some twitter users flagged the tweet saying it violates the social media company's ban on "hateful conduct" but Twitter decided it did not cross the line. Official reaction from Washington and beyond has been mostly one sided against the president in part because it's been radio silence from most Republicans.

But just before Trump posted this tweet, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said on Sunday that he's been troubled by the president's recent attacks on the news media.


SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: There's an important distinction to draw between bad stories or crappy coverage and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain that and trying to weaponize distrust. The first amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment and you don't get to separate that freedoms that are in those.


BRIGGS: For more reaction let's bring in White House reporter Kaitlan Collins traveling with the president at his New Jersey club.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Democratic members of Congress have wasted no time attacking the president after he tweeted a video of himself tackling a man with a CNN logo imposed on his head. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said, "violence and violent imagery to bully the press must be rejected. This July 4th, celebrate freedom of the press, guardians to our democracy."

Congressman Frank Pallone echoed her sentiment saying, "Donald Trump promoting violence against the press is a disgrace, a threat to the presidency and our democracy. We must all speak out." The president has ramped up his war on the media in recent days starting with a personal insult to a television host on Thursday and only escalating it with a video he posted on Sunday.

White House officials have not responded to several requests for comment, asking if they stand by their statement that the president has never encouraged violence in any form. The only administration official who has responded to the president's tweet is Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert when he appeared on ABC Sunday morning. Here's Bossert's reaction to the president's tweet.


TOM BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don't. But I do think that he's beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to and that he does that regularly so -- MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: And you don't think that's a threat to

anyone? You don't think that's sending a message, do that to the media, do that to CNN?

BOSSERT: No, I certainly don't. I don't think so. And I think that importantly here he's a genuine president expressing himself genuinely. And to be honest, I think that's why he was elected.


COLLINS: The White House often says that the president is his own best messenger, and that twitter is a platform where he can speak directly to his base without going through the media. Instead of using that platform to tell 33 million people about the health care debate or to preview his upcoming foreign trip where he will meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin for the first time, he's using it to attack the media.

BRIGGS: Kaitlan, thanks.

President Trump's attack on CNN is only his most recent aggression. He spent the past week relentless berating the news media including CNN, MSNBC, CBS, "The New York Times" and the "Washington Post."

[04:05:07]On Sunday, he used more than a minute and a half at a Kennedy Center event honoring veterans to still slam the media.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The press has destroyed themselves because they went too far.


Instead of being subtle and smart they used the hatchet and the people saw it right from the beginning.


The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I'm president, and they're not.


BRIGGS: For those keeping score at home, here's a tally of President Trump's tweets attacking the media. At 94, there are nearly as many blasting the press as the next two topics -- jobs and the military -- combined. Meanwhile, President Trump's trying to focus on the North Korean nuclear threat during phone calls with the leaders of China and Japan.

Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreeing to hold a trilateral summit with South Korea on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 meeting in Germany. They plan to appeal to Beijing to do more to isolate Pyongyang. The G20 will also mark the first face to face between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. As CNN's Elise Labott explains, the president will face a number of

thorny issues on the high-stakes overseas trip.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Trump has a full agenda this week before he even sits down with President Putin. He visits Poland on Wednesday to take part in a gathering of leaders from central Europe, the Baltic States, and the Balkans to boost regional trade. Now, the president wants to promote U.S. natural gas exports there, but this is making European leaders a bit nervous.

They see President Trump as supporting the right wing nationalist government in Poland with their disputes with the E.U. Now, when he arrives in Hamburg, Germany Thursday for the G20 meeting, he could also be headed for a collision course with European leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has predicted very difficult talks with President Trump over climate change and trade when the leaders meet.

Now since his last visit to Europe, the president has pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, he's repeatedly criticized Germany over its trade surplus, and then of course there's the meeting with President Putin. Now both sides are playing down expectations. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has said there is no agenda, just what the president wants to talk about.

Now obviously everybody wants to know whether the president will bring up Russia's meddling in the U.S. election, warn him not to do it again. I think we're more likely to see the leaders put the elections aside and move forward on issues like Syria and Ukraine. The body language in the meeting is going to be very interesting and telling.


BRIGGS: It is indeed, Elise.

Meanwhile, a request for detailed voter information by the White House Commission on Election Integrity, yes, election integrity -- forget about Russia's meddling -- is running into resistance from well over half the states. South Dakota and New Mexico is joining a growing list of at least 29 states refusing to turn over voter data or expressing reservations. The Trump administration claims it simply wants to investigate voter fraud. The president and his commission asking all 50 states to turn over full names of registered voters along with dates of birth, party affiliation, voter history, and partial social security numbers.

Several of the states objecting to the request that are led by Republicans, that includes Kansas where the Secretary of State Kris Kobach is co-chairman of the Voter Fraud Commission. He says privacy laws prevent him from sharing some personal voter data. All this not sitting too well with the president who tweeted, "numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished voter fraud panel. What are they trying to hide?"

All right, the White House pays women 80 cents for every dollar it pays men and that pay gap is wider than the national average. According to CNN analysis of White House pay data, the average salary for men is nearly $104,000. For women, though, $83,500, that's about $20,000 less on average. The number of men and women on staff is about even, so why the difference? Well, more women fill lower ranking jobs.

In fact, only 6 of the 22 highest paid employees are women. The White House has not responded to a request for comment and the president hasn't made the wage gap an issue with First Daughter Ivanka Trump focuses on helping working women, previously tweeting, "that we must work to close the gender pay gap." However, the Trump White House is not the first to pay women less than men. Past administrations including that of former President Obama also had a gender pay gap.

[04:10:04] Run for governor, and you can use beaches even when they're closed. That's the message from Chris Christie as New Jersey grapples with the government shutdown. Can they get parks and beaches open in time for the 4th of July?


BRIGGS: Governor Chris Christie convening both houses of the New Jersey legislature this morning in an attempt to end a disastrous budget impasse. It is now day three without a budget for the state, and that has 35,000 workers furloughed for the holiday. All state parks remain closed, ruining July 4th plans for thousands of beach- goers. But the governor and his family, they got to enjoy the sand and surf.

The Christies had full run of Island Beach Park at Barrier Island where the state-owned governor's residence is located. Christie shrugging off criticism as you've come to expect, telling reporters, "it's just the way it goes."


[04:15:00] GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Now, it didn't -- go ahead. I didn't get any sun today. No. No. There's no one on a beach state park. There are no lifeguards. There's no one to pick up the garbage. There's no one providing any services at Island Beach State Park. Next. Next! Excuse me. Next. Next. I'm done. We're talking about the closure of government, and you're talking about your TMZ stuff.


BRIGGS: CNN's Polo Sandoval has more on the shutdown.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave, day three of this New Jersey state government shutdown and there has been little to no sign of any progress between Governor Chris Christie and lawmakers as they try to come up with a solution to this financial impasse happening at Trenton, New Jersey. As a result, some of the nonessential facilities have been closed and that includes liberty State Park which State Troopers have been blocking off since this budget ordeal started over the weekend.

As a result, we have seen people come here and not be able to gain access, especially on this 4th of July weekend. It certainly has turned into quite the inconvenience for people from around the world that travel here to perhaps check out the sights, check out the view. So the main question that folks in New Jersey are asking themselves this morning, how long will this shutdown last?

I can tell you the last time this went down was back in the December of 2006. It took about eight days for them to be able to come up with a budget and then get rid of that shutdown. Expected today will be yet another session in which the governor will call back lawmakers. But will there be any progress? That's going to be something that we will be closely watching throughout the day. Dave.

BRIGGS: Polo, thank you.

In Maine, the state government is also shut down by a budget impasse. Governor Paul LePage declaring a state of civil emergency. All nonemergency government functions grinding to a halt, but state parks at least will remain open. Maine lawmakers negotiating into Sunday night trying to reconcile a feud between Governor LePage, a Republican, and Democratic House Speaker Sarah Gideon. LePage is refusing to sign any spending plan that includes tax hikes. The governor is giving state employees and administrative leave today with pay.

To Washington State where investigators are trying to determine how an Amtrak train derailed with 267 passengers on board. Several people suffered minor injuries when the locomotive and baggage car left the tracks near the Chambers Bay Golf Course about 45 miles south of Seattle. Police used pollution control measures to stop fuel from leaking into the bay. The derailed cars came within several feet of slipping down a wall of rocks into the Puget Sound.

New details in the diplomatic standoff over Qatar. The deadline to meet a series of demands from regional neighbors has been pushed back. Now President Trump is getting involved. We're live in Doha.


BRIGGS: President Trump working the phones, speaking to three Persian Gulf leaders about the Arab world's widening rift with Qatar. The president speaking separately over the weekend with the Saudi king, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and the emir of Qatar on Sunday. The White House says the president expressed his concerns about the dispute and the urgent need to stop the financing of terrorism. Arab countries involved in the boycott agreeing to extend the deadline for Qatar to meet a long list of demands by 48 hours.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joining us live from Doha. Good morning to you Jomana, what's the latest?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. As you mentioned, those phones calls that President Trump made, it's important to note that some people in this region felt that the president's involvement in this crisis may have made it worse. While you had Secretary Tillerson trying to call for dialogue and mediation to resolve this crisis amongst the U.S. allies, President Trump was seen to be taking sides in the conflict, taking the side of the Saudi- led alliance, and singling out Qatar, the key U.S. military ally here in the region.

Now, this is where things stand right now. That 10-day deadline that was set by the Saudi-led alliance for their list of 13 sweeping demands that included reducing ties with Iran, shutting down the Al Jazeera network, scrapping plans for a Turkish military base that is being set up here in Doha, that deadline expired. Now, we haven't had an outright rejection by the Qatari but they have made their position clear.

And while we're seeing that this deadline has been extended at the request of Kuwait, that is the mediator in this conflict, and we know that the foreign minister of Qatar just arrived in Kuwait in the past hour carrying a letter from the emir of Qatar to the emir of Kuwait. In it is this country's response to the Saudi-led alliance and their demands.

Dave, it is pretty clear we know what the Qatari position has been throughout the crisis. They say they're willing to negotiate, they're open for dialogue, but they will not accept anyone trying to dictate what this country's foreign policy should be or trying to strip it of its sovereignty. And they feel that this is what it's all about and they say that list of demands proves that. It really is unclear what happens next. We've heard from UAE officials saying that there will be no escalation at this point, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Jomana Karadsheh live for us in Qatar. Thank you.

President Trump taking his war on the media to a whole new low level.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are President Trump's tweets considered official White House statements?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the president is the president of the United States, so they are considered official statements by the president of the United States.


[04:25:07] BRIGGS: So if this is an official statement, is the president advocating violence against journalists?



SANDERS: The president in no way, form, or fashion, has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.


(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Perhaps the White House just has a different definition of encouraging violence. The president's latest twitter tirade on the media prompting real concerns about the safety of people who cover the twitter troll-in-chief.

And we're getting our first insight into what's on the agenda for the president's first meeting with Vladimir Putin this week. Will the election meddling come up when they talk at the G20?

[04:30:03] Welcome to EARLY START.

I'm Dave Briggs. Christine Romans will be back tomorrow. Thirty minutes past the hour.