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Donald Trump Backs Plan to Curb Legal Immigration; Trump's Approval Rating At A Record Low; Trump: Russia Sanctions Bill "Seriously Flawed"; Happy 40th Birthday, Tom Brady. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 3, 2017 - 05:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: In response, Facebook says it isn't where it wants to be or where it would like to be. Since 2014, tech companies like Facebook have voluntarily released these reports.

[05:00:02] The aim is to counter the industry's diversity problem. However, advocates say the results are still largely underwhelming. That's where I think education comes in, schooling comes in. You've got to push, you know, push this kind of -- these STEM courses in lower grade.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: OK, we'll push on to the next hour of EARLY START.

More on the latest Russia sanctions bill and polling on the president.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy.


KOSIK: President Trump unveiling an ambitious new plan to slash legal immigration by half. The bill is already facing an uphill battle in Congress.

BRIGGS: A record low. President Trump's approval ratings plummeting to just 33 percent. We'll dig deeper into what's behind the sharp decline.

KOSIK: President Trump signing and then slamming the Russia sanctions bill. We're going to go live to Moscow for heated reaction from Russia.

Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs.

Do you know who turns 40 years old today?


BRIGGS: Tom Brady. Tom Brady. Five Super Bowl rings.

KOSIK: He's young and accomplished so much.

BRIGGS: He's pretty much done it all. Happy birthday, Brady.

It's Thursday, August 3rd, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And we start with the president. President Trump throwing the full weight of the White House behind a new immigration plan, the most far- reaching overhaul in decades. This proposal aims to move the U.S. toward a skills-based immigration system like those in Canada and Australia while slashing legal immigration in the U.S. -- to the U.S. by half. It would also cut back on so-called chain immigration by limiting family member immigrants could bring over mainly two spouses and minor children.

KOSIK: The measure by Republican Senators David Purdue and Tom Cotton would award aspiring immigrants points based on age, education, English language test scores, whether they have a job offer with a high salary or, hey, won a top award like a Nobel Prize or Olympic medal or are a major investor in a new business. Applicant spouses would be scored the same way.

BRIGGS: Now, the proposal reigniting the debate about national identity and immigration, that was the central theme of President Trump's campaign. The White House on the defensive almost as soon as the president's backing was announced, battling with reporters and taking fire from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who were slamming this bill.

Let's get to CNN's Jim Acosta who's right in the center of it all.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, the White House is bristling at questions over its plan for sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system that would install a point system for people coming into the country legally. The president's policy adviser, Stephen Miller, sparred with reporters who were asking questions about the president's proposal and seemed to suggest that the Statue of Liberty is not the beacon of hope to immigrants that it's been for generations. An inscription on the Statute of Liberty says: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Here's what Miller had to say about that.

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: I don't want to get into a whole thing about history, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty enlightening the world. It's a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you're referring to was added later is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty. More fundamentally, this history -- but more fundamentally, this history --

ACOSTA: You're saying that does not represent --

MILLER: I'm saying that the notion --

ACOSTA: -- what the country has always thought of --

MILLER: I'm saying the notion --


ACOSTA: I'm sorry that sounds like some national park revisionism.

MILLER: No, what I'm asking you is --



ACOSTA: The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country, and they're not always going to speak English, Stephen. They're not always going to be highly skilled. They're not always going to be --

MILLER: Jim, Jim, Jim, I appreciate your speech. I appreciate your speech. Let's talk about this.

ACOSTA: Top Republicans are already balking at the president's immigration plan, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who said the proposal would damage his state's agricultural and tourism industries -- Dave and Alison.


BRIGGS: Jim Acosta, fighting the good fight there at the White House.

Joining us to break all of this down from Washington, CNN politics reporter Tal Kopan.

Tal, good morning to you.

KOSIK: Tal, good morning.


BRIGGS: Let's talk about, real quickly, this White House press briefings are not about Jim Acosta or Jon Karl or John Roberts, or Kevin Corke or anyone else. They're primarily about the American people. They're to sell the administration's policies, explain them to the American people.

So, when it comes to this immigration policy, how well they did sell it to the American people yesterday on your opinion?

KOPAN: I think that, Dave, there is a portion of the American public that really responded very well to this. And it's, you know, very highly correlated with the base that elected Donald Trump. [05:05:03] There's certainly a group that have been sort of yearning

for a proposal like this. But absolutely there's another large segment of the American population that was probably turned off.

And, you know, that Statue of Liberty aside was bizarre, debating about whether the poem represents America. But there's a divide over what our American immigration system should be doing. The White House is certainly hitting that nerve. And I think you're seeing strong reactions on both sides of the issue in response to the press conference. I'm not sure that anyone who doesn't understand this issue deeply came away better understanding it.

BRIGGS: Exactly. They came away with this confrontation. To your point, some loved it. The Ann Coulters of the world loved it. And some just took away this fight. But the policy of it, they say this is good for the American worker. Is it?

KOPAN: That's a very complicated question and gets exactly to the heart of the immigration debate. And there's certainly studies on both sides that sometimes misconstrue the numbers or paint them a certain way. There's a very strong number of economists who say this is not what the country needs. That cutting my immigration would actually hurt the economy. Anything that damages the low-skilled work force could have potentially huge ramifications when you think about the restaurant industry, the agriculture industry, the hospitality industry, including, you know, may I remind you, some of Donald Trump's businesses where in the past, he has hired foreign workers and said you cannot find the labor that you need.

Now, this bill does not affect any short-term workers. Those visas are not touched by the bill. What the bill actually cuts is anyone who can be on a path for permanent residency via a green card and potentially someday citizenship.

But the problem is, you have all those workers who come in who can't pursue a life in the states. And it creates downward pressure on them.

So, there are many economists who argue what the White House is proposing is not actually good for the American economy. But there's a question about whether it could have an affect on wages in those low skilled --

KOSIK: Yes. I mean, you look at the U.S. economy, the jobs picture. We have an aging population. Those lowered skilled jobs. Those are valued positions in construction and in agriculture.

But let's move to the bill itself, introduced by David Purdue and Tom Cotton. You know, already getting some feedback from Republicans like Lindsey Graham, saying that -- he's calling this legal immigration bill as a misreading of the economy. And he says he does back the merit-based idea, but then says this. Listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't want an economy that doesn't recognize how diverse we are as a nation and to take all the green cards and put them in one end of the economy is just, I think, ill-advised. And I can't support that.


KOSIK: So, no support there. Why introduce something so controversial that many are saying has little chance of going anywhere?

KOPAN: A lot of reporters were tweeting yesterday how surreal it was to see Stephen Miller at the podium talking about this bill because absolutely when he was working in Jeff Sessions' office, this is the exact type of thing that Sessions would introduce and it did not get widespread report. It's really not overstating it that the idea has been around Washington for a very long time, have typically been at the margins and do not have a lot of support.

You know, there was an effort to have some point-based systems and address chain migration in the big Gang of Eight compromise in 2013. But they went about it a different way. And overall, they plussed up the number of people who could be getting into the country in the ways they could get in. So, it was a completely different approach. That's the approach that had almost 70 senators sign on.

So, you know, you have folks in the White House who come from this school of thought that's been around a long time, not picking up support. They're in the driver's seat when it comes to pushing out policy. But it's very unclear what kind of path this would have in the Senate, unless you start making massive compromises and start building on top of this in ways that would really change the underlying principle.

BRIGGS: Yes, hard to imagine that, finding 60 votes. But there were plenty of votes for the Russian sanctions bill that sailed through the House and Senate. Only five no votes combined. And yet the president said almost nothing about it, nothing about Russian retaliation. And then once he signed legislation behind closed doors, he said this, I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That was a big reason why I was elected.

[05:10:01] As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

John McCain slammed it -- look, the president would have a public signing bill to declare today Thursday.

What does it say that he said almost nothing about this until it's actually signed and then slams Congress?

KOPAN: It really seems like for the White House anything to do with Russia instantly puts them on the defensive. And they really don't feel they can talk about it without, you know, somehow feeling like they're on attack or under attack in terms of what happened with the 2016 election. And so, I think you see the echoes of that. It's certainly -- certainly bizarre what you saw play out with the bill.

KOSIK: All right. Tal Kopan, still lots to talk about. We're going to bring you back in 20 minutes. See you then.

The Dow's latest milestone getting a shout out from the markets' cheerleader-in-chief, President Trump. Take a listen.


TRUMP: The stock market hit an all-time record high today, over 22,000. We've picked up substantially now more than $4 trillion in net worth in terms of our country, our stocks, our companies.


KOSIK: While candidate Trump called stocks an ugly bubble, President Trump sounding very different. He's citing record highs as a sign of confidence in his policies.

This is the Dow's third milestone since he took office. An enthusiasm for things like tax reform, that did prompt the initial rally. But as we see the agenda stall, Wall Street's actually focusing on the economy and corporate earnings. Stocks are thriving under these goldilocks fundamentals that are just right including moderate growth and improving labor market and big corporate profits.

In fact, an earnings fueled surge in Apple stock, that's what carried the Dow past 22,000 yesterday. And the so-called "Trump bump", that's actually the tail end of an eight-year bull market. The Dow up 21 percent since the election, but it's risen 236 percent since its 2009 low. All about the facts.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

OK. The Russian government now speaking out about the sanctions bill signed by Congress, by President Trump. Russia's prime minister slamming the bill and saying President Trump has been, quote, humiliated. We'll go live to Moscow and Oren Liebermann, next.


[05:16:28] KOSIK: Welcome back.

The new Russia sanctions bill signed by President Trump drawing an angry response from the Kremlin.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev posting this on Facebook: The U.S. president's signing of the package of new sanctions against Russia will have a few consequences. First, it ends hopes for improving our relations with the new U.S. administration. Second, it is a declaration of a full-fledged economic war on Russia. Third, the Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way.

For more, let's go live to Moscow and bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann.

It looks like Russia's trying to push some of Donald Trump's buttons there. You know, there were expectations under Trump that there could have been an improvement of U.S./Russia relations. But this does seem to be the end of those relations.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Trump signing the sanctions bill seems to be the proverbial nail in the coffin of those expectations that things might improve, that relations might improve between the U.S. and Russia. Those expectations, those hopes effectively all but over now with the signing of this bill.

Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as the foreign ministry leaving open the possibility of more retaliations from Russia against the U.S. for the sanctions bill. But at least for not saying they're not that likely. Putin said he has a lot of options and will evaluate them. Now, there is some interesting subtlety to some of the Russian responses we've seen in that they seem to hold Washington politicians responsible, saying that they have a case of anti-Russia hysteria.

Meanwhile, Trump himself seems to get bait of a softer approach. They see the Trump approach to the sanctions bill is flawed and implying they want to pursue it another way, they see that as almost vindicating the Russian position even as they call Trump effectively a weak president for signing this bill at the pressure of Congress.

Alison, it's worth noting that the secretary of state and Russian foreign minister will meet this weekend in the Philippines. No expectation for any real improvement there.

KOSIK: Oh, I would like to be listened to that meeting. Fly on the wall.

CNN's Oren Liebermann, thanks so much.

BRIGGS: So, what do you get an NFL quarterback with five Super Bowl rings, millions of dollars --

KOSIK: You of all people know --

BRIGGS: -- a supermodel wife --

KOSIK: What would you get?

BRIGGS: I have ideas, I have ideas. When he turns 40 years old. Happy birthday, Tom Brady.

Coy Wire, he has gifts for Mr. Brady, when we come back for "The Bleacher Report".


[05:23:20] BRIGGS: All right. Baltimore Ravens denying a report that their owner, Steve Bisciotti is resisting signing quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

KOSIK: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison. Good morning, Dave. The ESPN report came out yesterday saying that Ravens head coach John

Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome both support signing Kaepernick, but Bisciotti is blocking the move. Now, Newsome responded in a statement saying, quote, "We're going through a process and have not made a decision. Steve Bisciotti has not told us we cannot sign Colin Kaepernick, nor has he blocked the move. Whoever's making those claims is wrong, unquote.

The Ravens are interested in signing Kaepernick as a backup whose on- field play has diminished since his 2012 Super Bowl room. The team Website says they have public opinion about signing the man who created intense polarized reactions when he protested against social injustice and police brutality during national anthems last season.

So, the question remains, will the Ravens or any team take a chance on Kaepernick, determining that his ability to help the team win outweighs his potential to be a distraction and hurt the team's bottom line?

The sports world went crazy over this. Cleveland's Austin Jackson Tuesday night at Fenway Park, saying it's the catch of the year, the decade, one that couldn't be topped. Well, Marlins slugger John Carlos stands as a competitor and he sure did try to top it.

Check out the 6'6"', 245 pound, in motion, leaping at the wall, robbing them the Nationals of 3-run homer. His display of grace and athleticism out of a huge human being is our must-see moment of the time.

[05:25:04] It preserved the shut-out and ended the game. Marlins win 7-0.

Tom Brady, happy birthday, man. You robbed my former team, the Falcons, of the Super Bowl with the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. But it cannot be denied, you are awesome. The five-time Super Bowl champ turns the big 4-0 today. It's mind-blowing that he's not showing any signs of slowing down.

He recently sat down with CNN International's Anna Coren and talked about his wealth and wellness.


TOM BRADY, 5-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMP: Whatever may come for me over the course of, you know, my entire career, because of the approach I take, I'm very confident, you know, that I can continue to play and love what I do. Everyone should love what they do.

Life is great. Life is great especially when you're active and you can play with your kids, you can play with your friends. And a lot of people aren't able to do that. And I think we have to look at our bodies as this really holistic, you know, beautifully, body we've been given. We've got to treat it that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WIRE: You can see his passion, guys. I love seeing that. His big tight end, Ron Gronkowski, was asked what are you going to get him for his birthday. He said, touchdowns.

The first preseason game tonight, Cardinals/Cowboys, hall of fame game in Keene, Ohio. Football season is here.

BRIGGS: I'd get him the original artwork behind that courtroom sketch of Tom Brady because the guy is so perfect. He's got it all. Just poke fun -- given that awkward image of Brady.

But the guy just keeps getting better. Plays until 45. What do you think?

WIRE: At least. At least. I mean, incredible. I have the utmost respect for him. And I truly do believe unless something -- I think he's going to be the one to walk away when he's ready.

BRIGGS: Happy birthday to the GOAT. All right.

KOSIK: Happy birthday.

Thanks, Coy.

BRIGGS: Thanks, Coy.

All right. President Trump playing to his base this morning after throwing support behind an immigration bill aimed at slashing legal immigration by 50 percent. More on the backlash and the likelihood of it passing, next.