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Trump: Maybe "Fire and Fury" Not Tough Enough; Trump Talks McConnell, Russia and More. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 11, 2017 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:09] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If anything, that statement may not be tough enough.

REPORTER: What would be tougher than fire and fury?

TRUM: Well, you'll see. You'll see.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: What could be tougher than fire and fury? Hopefully, we will never know. But the president is standing by his strongman stance on North Korea.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Trump's new comments on North Korea delivered in his most wide-ranging public comments in months. What he said about the Senate majority leader, the Russia investigation, and this curious comments about Vladimir Putin.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUEZ: And I'm Miguel Marquez, in for Dave Briggs. TGIF. It is August 11, 4:00 a.m. here on the East, 5:00 p.m. in Seoul, South Korea, 11:00 a.m. in Moscow.

President Trump going further, much further on North Korea than any U.S. president has gone before, escalating his combative warnings to Pyongyang and criticizing past administrations for not doing enough to curb North Korean aggression. Not only is he not backing down from his threat to unleash fire and fury, the president says maybe he didn't go far enough.


TRUMP: The people that were questioning that statement, was it too tough, maybe it wasn't tough enough. They've been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years. And it's about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries. So if anything, maybe that statement wasn't tough enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: The president added he is concerned sanctions won't even work against the regime. This one day after North Korean state media said a plan would be formulized within days to launch missiles toward the U.S. island territory of Guam.

Our coverage begins this morning with Jeff Zeleny at the White House.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Miguel, President Trump doubling down on the words he said to North Korea, not backing down from the fire and fury he said earlier in the week. At his golf course and resort in Bedminster on Thursday, President Trump answering many questions from journalists. More than he has in months, but specifically on North Korea. He made clear that he will not take their threat lightly.

TRUMP: If North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about attack of anybody that we love or we represent, our allies or us, they can be very, very nervous. I'll tell you what, they should be very nervous, because things will happen to them like they never thought possible.

ZELENY: Now, again, the president making his policy, his doctrine indeed, toward North Korea clearer than he has ever before. He's saying that he will not accept any action from Kim Jong-un. But not saying what the United States will do. He did not rule out preemptive strike on North Korea. Of course, most presidents do not do that. He did manage to criticize all of his predecessors -- President Bush, President Clinton, indeed, President Obama.

But President Trump said that he would be different. Of course, that is yet to be known. He made clear the remarks made earlier in the week are indeed the policy of this administration -- Christine and Miguel.


MARQUEZ: Thanks to Jeff Zeleny.

President Trump's heated words coming moments after North Korea threatened the United States with a shameful defeat and final doom if it continues to apply military and economic pressure. North Koreans officials releasing a statement claiming they will, quote, mercilessly wipe out the provocateurs, making desperate efforts to stifle the socialist country.

We want to go live to Seoul and bring in CNN's Anna Coren.

This is pretty typical -- as harsh as the words are, this is pretty typical rhetoric for the North Koreans, yes?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely right, Miguel. I think when Donald Trump addressed the media yesterday, many were hoping that he would obviously ease tensions, that did not happen, as we heard from the report earlier. If anything, he doubled down on those fire and fury statements, saying that they didn't go far enough.

Well, North Korea responded as North Korea does, through its state media, KCNA. As you said, it stated that the U.S. would suffer shameful defeat and final doom if it pursues some extreme military adventures, sanctions and pressure. Now, here in Seoul, South Korea's national security adviser spoke to his U.S. counterpart, H.R. McMaster. They spoke about working closely together, as they do. Obviously, South Korea, one of the United States' closest allies. At a time like this, South Korea definitely needs the U.S.

So, just reiterating really that closeness and need for transparency in working together to try and ease tensions here on the Korean peninsula. Also, what we've learned that U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, when he was asked about the United States' readiness and what sort of action may be taken, military or not, he responded by saying, I don't tell the enemy in advance what I'm going to do.

[04:05:15] Our readiness -- we are ready.

And as for the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, General Joseph Dunford, he's on a scheduled trip to the region, going through Hawaii, South Korea, Japan, as well as China, where, of course, Miguel, North Korea will be top of the agenda.

MARQUEZ: All right. A lot of messages out of the White House and the administration. The president also meeting with Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., today. It is a busy time.

Thank you very much, Anna Coren in Seoul.

ROMANS: On Wall Street, greed is out, caution is in, as tensions with North Korea escalate. U.S. stocks closing sharply lower after President Trump's latest round of rhetoric. The Dow shedding 200 points. The S&P 500 fell nearly 1.5 percent. But it was the Nasdaq that took the biggest hit, down more than 2 percent. And a drop in high-flying tech stocks including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix.

Global stocks are extending the slide this morning. So, this selling is not over, folks. Some analysts say investors may be using geopolitical concerns for a reset, if you will. Stocks have been on a record-breaking year.

Volatility is back. Wall Street's fear gauge, the VIX index, surging 44 percent yesterday. Now back to the highest level since the election.

And money is moving into so-called safe havens like gold and bonds. Still, perspective is really important here. The market has had a few fits and starts this year, mostly ignoring headlines, rising instead on a solid economy, big corporate profits. And even with this latest drop, all three major stock market averages are all up at least 8 percent this year.

MARQUEZ: Now, President Trump touched on a dizzying array of topics on Thursday, more than he has in months. In one curious moment, he had a compliment for Vladimir Putin when he asked if he had a response to the Russian leader ordering sharp cuts in U.S. diplomatic staff.


TRUMP: I want to thank him because we're trying to cut down on payroll. As far as I'm concerned, I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people. Now we have a smaller payroll. There's no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate that they've been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We'll save a lot of money.


ROMANS: I don't think those people were fired, have they?

MARQUEZ: I think he must have joking there.

I'm sure the embassy doesn't see is that way in Moscow.

The move by Putin came in response to the sanctions bill passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate and reluctantly signed by President Trump.

ROMANS: President Trump also telling reporters that he has no plans to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, this despite having repeatedly called the Russia investigation a witch hunt.


REPORTER: Mr. President, you thought about or considered leading the dismissal of the president counsel?

TRUMP: I haven't given it any thought. I've been reading about it from you people. You say, oh, I'm going to dismiss him. No, I'm not dismissing anybody. I mean, I want them to get on with the task.


ROMANS: The president says he is eager for House and Senate committees to finish their investigation into meddling -- election meddling by Russia.

MARQUEZ: Now, President Trump also saying he was, quote, very, very surprised by the FBI's early morning raid last month on the home of his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort -- or his campaign chairman. Sources tell CNN that Manafort is dropping his old legal team and hiring new lawyers with expertise in tax investigations, a sign that the special counsel's probe is focusing at least in part on possible tax crimes. Manafort has denied any wrongdoing.

ROMANS: The president's impatience with Congress' inaction rearing its head again. The president calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for Republicans' failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. He says he is disappointed in McConnell but is taking a wait-and-see approach on whether McConnell should keep his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Should Senator McConnell consider stepping down as majority leader?

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what, if he doesn't get repeal and replace done and if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question.


MARQUEZ: The president's been going after McConnell on Twitter since the Republican Senate leader said he thought Mr. Trump had excessive expectations about how much Congress could get done. The two had what's described as an animated conversation -- I'm sure it was very animated, on the phone Wednesday night.

Now, members of McConnell's GOP conference are coming to his defense, with several senators including Jeff Flake, Orrin Hatch, and Thom Tillis tweeting out support for their embattled leader.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency. A surprise announcement coming two days after Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price indicated the president would not be making that declaration, suggesting it was not necessary.

[04:10:10] The president is now vowing to spend a lot of time and money on the problem.

MARQUEZ: Declaring the opioid crisis an emergency means federal and state agencies will receive more resources to fight it. The bipartisan White House Commission studying the epidemic told the president last week that declaring a national health emergency would be an immediate help.

MARQUEZ: All right. A twist in that acoustic attack on U.S. embassy personnel in Cuba. Could covert devices been used inside the homes of Americans in Havana? That's next.


MARQUEZ: Some bizarre new developments in the acoustic attack on employees of the American embassy in Havana. A U.S. government official sells CNN this was not a case of eavesdropping gone wrong, and the possibility of a third country being involved is now under investigation. The theory is another country could be trying to drive a wedge between the White House and Cuba.

[04:15:02] It's now believed some sophisticated audio device was used outside or potentially inside residences of U.S. diplomats in Havana.

ROMANS: Several report hearing loss and concussion-like symptoms. Government officials in Havana are allowing FBI agents on to the island to investigate. The attacks have subsided for now. At least one Canadian diplomat in Havana has also suffered unusual symptoms. The Canadian embassy is about three miles from the U.S. embassy. MARQUEZ: Now, a New York City police officer saved by his bulletproof

vest after being shot twice in the chest. Police say a gunman opened fire on the officer and his partner when they responded to the call of an emotionally disturbed person at a home in Brooklyn on Thursday. The officer was hit twice in the vest and once in the arm. The suspect killed himself after the standoff with police. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praising the officer and saying he was definitely saved by his vest.

ROMANS: All right. A woman who works for an Orlando daycare center arrested in the death of a 3-year-old boy. Police say Deborah Denise St. Charles left Myles Hill inside a daycare van all day. They say the temperature inside the vehicle soared as high as 144 degrees. Authorities also say the 51-year-old was not an approved driver for the daycare center, did not do a proper head count. Myles Hill was found dead on the floor of the van on Monday.

MARQUEZ: A miracle baby who spent three days stuffed inside a garbage bag is recovering this morning in a New York state hospital. Doctors in Elmira say the 8-month-old girl is doing well. She was discovered by a neighbor who heard a noise coming from a bag and ripped it open. The child was badly dehydrated and had stopped breathing. The infant's mother, identified as 17-year-olds Harriet Hoye (ph) of Pennsylvania is charged with attempted murder.

That is horrible.


All right. Almost 17 minutes past the hour.

The governor of Louisiana declaring a state of emergency in New Orleans. The city's water-pumping system is malfunctioning after last week's torrential rains, flash floods, and more storms are in the weekend forecast. New Orleans officials scrambling to repair equipment that was damaged by a fire at a power plant Wednesday night, causing multiple pumping stations in the east bank section to fail. New Orleans' public schools were closed Thursday and are scheduled to be closed again today.

MARQUEZ: Widespread showers and thunderstorms over the eastern half of the country this weekend.

Meteorologist Karen Maginnis has the outlook.


KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, what are you guys doing this weekend, Christine and Miguel? If you are staying in New York City, chances are you'll be dodging some raindrops.

We've got a stubborn weather system that's going to be pushing across the area, triggering some showers and thunderstorms. Not just New York City but the whole I-95 corridor. At least the temperatures are going to be running just about average, in the low 80s for the most part. New York City, low 80s expected there. Philadelphia, low to mid 80s. Washington, D.C., it's going to be pretty warm there. Boston, can't rule out showers popping up there, as well.

So, here's New York City's forecast. We look through the next seven days. Yep, we've got 80s all the way. Overnight low temperatures mostly in the 60s, but about a 70 percent chance of some thunderstorms rumbling around there, going into Friday night and then into Saturday.

Here's what the forecast radar looks like going into Friday afternoon. New York City, Philadelphia, scattered back over toward Buffalo and Cleveland, watch out, but nothing very dramatic happening in the forecast.

So, have a great weekend. Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you for that.

Taylor Swift took the stand at the civil trial in Denver that centers on her charge that she was groped by former radio deejay David Mueller when they took a picture together at a fan meet and greet back in 2013. Shift was combative at times with Mueller's attorney, describing the incident as horrifying and shocking and telling the lawyer, quote, I'm not going to allow you or your client to make me feel in any way that this is my fault because it isn't.

Mueller claims Swift's allegation ruined his career. He is suing her for $3 million. Swift is countersuing for $1. The trial resumes later this morning.

MARQUEZ: "Saturday Night Live" finally gets a crack at a few wild months.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All my father did was give me some advice. He said, "Son, go out there and tell the truth."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then he winked --



MARQUEZ: That plus who "SNL" casts as Anthony Scaramucci. We'll tell you coming right up.


ROMANS: It has been a long wait, but "Saturday Night Live" finally got to give its take on this wild summer in the premiere of "The Weekend Update" special summer edition series, we also got a chance to see who "SNL" would have cast as Anthony Scaramucci if the Mooch had lasted long enough.

MARQUEZ: A lot of material here.

ROMANS: Here's a sample.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier this week, North Korea issued a new threat against the United States. Not to be out-whackaddoed, President Trump responded with this --

TRUMP: They will be treated with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, unfold your arms. You look a Jeff Dunham puppet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also, you can't threaten anyone sitting down. Even FDR stood up when he was talking tough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, is someone trying to Facetime us now, really? Oh, it's Anthony Scaramucci. Are you serious? I guess we should take it.

I got to admit, we did hope that you'd stick around a little bit longer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me, too. But the Mooch has no regrets, baby! All I did was sell my company, miss the birth of my child, and ruin my entire reputation all to be king of Idiot Mountain for 11 days.



MARQUEZ: I think Bill Hader could have used sunglasses.

ROMANS: Maybe, perhaps.

MARQUEZ: President Trump says maybe a threat of fire and fury wasn't tough enough for North Korea. And that's not all he said, hitting topics from the Senate majority leader to Russia and why he is thanking Vladimir Putin -- all of that, next.



TRUMP: If anything, that statement may not be tough enough.

REPORTER: What would be tougher than fire and fury?

TRUM: Well, you'll see. You'll see.


ROMANS: What could be tougher than fire and fury? Hopefully we'll never know. But the president is standing by his strongman stance on North Korea.

MARQUEZ: North Korea is just one topic the president addressed in his most wide-ranging public comments in months.