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President Trump Attacks CNN, Literally; Democrats Slam Trump For Slamming Media; States Deny White House Request For Voter Data; Governor Christie Orders Legislature To Convene. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2017 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's latest assault on the media stirring up very real concerns about safety for journalists.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs. Christine Romans has the day off. It is Monday, July 3rd, 5:00 a.m. in the east.

We at CNN will keep doing our jobs. The president should start doing his. That is the network's official line after the latest escalation in the President Trump's war on the media.

The president tweeted this edited clip from a WWE wrestling broadcast originally posted on Reddit. A 2007 video Trump body slamming WWE owner, Vince McMahon, was altered to make it look like he was attacking a figure with the CNN logo for a head.

It has since become one of the president's most shared, re-tweeted posts ever unfortunately. Some of the president's fans laughed at the clip. Members of the media, some of whom have faced threats for their reporting, took it very seriously.

It came just three days after presidential spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this --


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


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 that tweet, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said on Sunday that he's been troubled by the president's recent attacks on the news media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SENATOR 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 and complain about that, and trying to weaponize distrust. The first amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment, and you can't separate the freedoms that are in there.


BRIGGS: For more reaction, let's bring White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins traveling with the president at his New Jersey Golf 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 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. He does that regularly --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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. I think that importantly here he's a genuine president expressing himself genuinely. 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 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: All right, Kaitlan, thanks so much. Joining us this morning, Kyle Feldscher, breaking news editor at the "Washington Examiner." Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. Thanks for coming on.


BRIGGS: All right, let's talk about these tweets and we have a breakdown of what the president has been tweeting about in recent times, showing his -- let's call them #presidentialpriorities, right? That's what they are. Attacks on the media, 94 tweets, more than jobs and the military combined. Kyle, what does that tell you about the president's priorities at this time?

FELDSCHER: Well, it just goes to show that this is kind of a constant campaign for the president. As much as he could be talking about policy, talking about the health care bill, and talking about real wins that his administration had last week with Kate's law going through the house, or the travel ban being in part approved by the Supreme Court.

He's talking about "Morning Joe" on MSNBC and talking about CNN. He's not talking about these real policy issues. He's talking about the media. That just shows that he enjoys playing the victim. It plays up to his base.

He ends up just ginning up the support, as if he was still running for office instead of governing. It shows that really the president is more concerned about being approved than he is governing, you know, and running the country.

BRIGGS: I don't know about you, Kyle, but my social media feed is filled with Trump supporters who not only are OK with this, but like these tweets and want more of it. That perhaps is the most shocking part.

Here's what Congressman Lee Zeldin, a Republican, said about the way the president has behaved on Twitter. This is on CNN yesterday.


REPRESENTATIVE LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: When I was my daughter's age, I was 10 years old, we looked up to the president of the United States. We're trying to understand the difference of right from wrong, trying to set our own moral compass to be future leaders. You know, being presidential is setting -- being that role model. I don't believe that some of what's he's doing on Twitter is setting the right example for my kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: That is a rare voice of criticism coming from the right. We talked about Ben Sasse, the senator from Nebraska, who talked about weaponizing mistrust, but didn't directly point it at the president's tweets, but certainly one of the few who has been somewhat critical. Do you expect more Republicans to come out and say enough is enough?

FELDSCHER: It really depends on -- especially if you're talking about the House representatives or the senators who are running for office in 2018. It depends on how contested their seats are because like I said, the Trump base, the 45 to 50 percent of people who voted for him, are just not going away.

They need these votes. So if they're going to be critical of the president, they have to be relatively confident in their position, or they have to be in a place where if you're like Lisa Murkowski or you know, like someone who is in a state that needs a bipartisan poll, more moderate centrist state.

It's a little bit of -- it depends on which state you're in, which district you're in, whether or not you can expect these guys and girls to actually criticize the president.

BRIGGS: The problem here, Kyle, is when you've got that tweet coming the same day the president of the United States spoke with the leaders of China and Japan about the North Korean nuclear threat, it just blows your mind when you have headlines like this crap.

There is real problems going on in the world, and it happens in the same week that the president will sit down with Vladimir Putin, and from what we're told, not talk about election interference in the 2016 election. How does he begin to prepare for the seriousness ahead at the G20?

FELDSCHER: Well, it seems that we have a cognitive dissidence here because we're expecting, you know, Donald Trump has shown us who he is since he started running for president. He has been who he was in this tweet yesterday showing a video of him wrestling.

At the same time, the president of the United States has real responsibilities, has a real job to do including foreign affairs. He has to go meet with Vladimir Putin this week and so it gives no insight into how he operates.

With many presidents you can kind of look at their public statements as a signal of how the administration will operate. This president is completely the opposite.

You can't expect that he's going to go into a room with Vladimir Putin and clothesline him to the ground like he did to Vince McMahon in this video that he posted yesterday.

It's just not how the same way he operates. So there are no real insights, you know, based off his Twitter account.

BRIGGS: Yes. You know, world wrestling, they get their place in this country. They're an extremely entertaining organization. I've reached out to Vince McMahon for comment. We'll see if we hear back on how the president doesn't know where to draw the line.

But let's talk about this Voter Commission that the president has started, trying to get voter data from all states. Twenty nine states voicing some type of hesitation or outright rejection to this.

The statement from the Mississippi secretary of state drawing particular attention, I don't know if you've seen this. A Republican secretary of state saying, quote, "They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi, is a great state to launch from.

Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state's right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral process."

Kyle, what does it say that the president continues to look into these bogus voter fraud claims and reports that he will not discuss Russian interference in our election ahead of the G20?

FELDSCHER: Well, again, it just shows where his priorities are and what he has been saying since the vote, that he lost the popular vote because of three million to five million illegal votes as opposed to the alleged Russian interference in the election that the intelligence community says is a fact.

It just shows that he doesn't want to believe that he had any help from any outside source. It goes back to the victimization that he plays up as his main narrative and so it shows this -- this statement like you're pointing to from Mississippi.

These secretaries of state take this seriously. They're not going to just roll over and provide data when they're being accused of not knowing what's going on in their states on the voter rolls.

It's telling that Kansas, Chris Coback, is leading this commission, and even his state is not turning over all the information. So it just shows, again, goes back to priorities and what the narrative the Trump administration wants.

BRIGGS: All right, Kyle Feldscher from the "Washington Examiner," thanks for coming on. We'll see you in about 20 minutes and we'll do this again.

Ahead, a government shutdown has New Jersey parks and beaches closed for the holiday, but who did get to the beach. What Chris Christie says about his family's day in the sun ahead on EARLY START."


BRIGGS: Governor Chris Christie convening both houses of the New Jersey legislature this morning in an attempt to end a disastrous budget impasse. This is day three without a budget for that state.

And as 35,000 workers furloughed for the highway, all state parks remain closed, ruing July 4th plans for thousands of beach-goers. But the governor and his family, they got some time on the sand and surf. The Christies had full run of island Beach Park, a barrier island where the state-owned governor's residence is located. Christie shrugging off criticisms, telling reporters, quote, "That's just the way it goes."


CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: No, it didn't -- go ahead. I didn't get any sun today. No. No. There's no one on the beach state park, 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! I'm -- excuse me. Next. Next. I'm done. We're talking about the closure of government, and you're talking about your TMZ stuff.


BRIGGS: That's the governor in his final year with a 15 percent approval rating. 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 Fourth of July weekend. It certainly has turned into 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 summer of 2006. Took about eight days for them to be able to come up with a budget.

Then get rid of the 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, sir.

The state government in Maine 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. LePage refusing to sign any spending plan that includes tax hikes. The governor is giving state employees an administrative leave today with pay.

Investigators in Washington State trying to determine how an Amtrak train derailed on Sunday with 267 passengers on board. Several people suffered minor injuries when the locomotive and the baggage care left the tracks near the Chambers Bay Golf Course about 45 miles south of Seattle.

Police used pollution control booms 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.

Ahead, Tom Brady's supermodel wife insisting her husband suffered a concussion last season. Now the Super Bowl-winning quarterback is finally breaking his silence on the subject. Coy Wire up early on July 3rd. More in this morning's "Bleacher Report" next.


BRIGGS: Tom Brady is speaking out regarding his wife's comments that he had concussions last year that were not reported by the Patriots. Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, buddy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Dave. Gisele Bundchen told CBS in May that her husband, Tom Brady, had concussions last year. That comment raised a lot of questions. As you mentioned, Dave, Brady was never listed as having a head injury by the Patriots.

Well, while on a good little trip to Asia, Brady explained that Giselle is a caring and concerned spouse.


TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: She's there every day. We go to bed every night. She knows when I'm sore, tired, when I get hit. We drive home together. So but she also knows how well I take care of myself. You know, she's a very concerned wife and very loving.


WIRE: Brady neither confirmed nor denied he had a concussion last season, but he's been incredibly healthy throughout his career. The five-time Super Bowl champ hasn't missed a game due to injury since 2008.

This year's Major League all-star selections were announced last night and it was Washington star, Bryce Harper, leading the way on the National League side in votes. It was Yankees' rookie, Aaron Judge, who drew the most votes in the American League.

The 25-year-old slugger leaves the entire league in Homers. He wasn't even to be on the Yankee's roster before spring training, an incredible run. The 6'7", 280-pound judge has made a huge splash. Check him out alongside Bello all start the Astros' 5'6" Jose Altube.

CNN sports contributor, Hines Ward, is in South Korea this week where he was just named one of the honorary ambassadors for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyongyang. Hines was born in South Korea.

When he was 1 year old, his family moved to the states where he eventually would become a Super Bowl MVP, a two-time champ. He joins other notable ambassadors like skiing phenom, Lindsey Vaughn. The 2018 Winter Olympics are now just seven months away.


HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: It means the world to me. To come back home in my birth country and to be accepted, to be, you know, an honorary ambassador for the 2018 Winter Olympic games is just amazing, who -- I never would have thought something like this could ever happen, but I hope my mom, she's super proud.


WIRE: I think she is quite proud and we are very happy for Hines. Dave, remember, Wimbledon starting today. The women's field is wide open since Serena Williams is out, pregnant with her first child. Will Venus step up? We'll see.

BRIGGS: I hope so. All right, how many concussions did you have that you didn't report, do you know?

WIRE: I don't remember.

BRIGGS: I guess that's a perfect answer.

WIRE: I had two that were documented, Dave, and I will say there were other times when I was dinged. We know now that's not a thing. Concussions are very serious --

BRIGGS: I know that's a serious issue. My apologies for that --

WIRE: And I can do this.

BRIGGS: Coy Wire, thanks.

All right, President Trump taking his war on the media to a whole new level.


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the president is the president of the United States so they're considered official statements by the president of the United States.


BRIGGS: So if this is an official statement, is the president advocating beating up on CNN and other journalists?