Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Ratchets Up North Korea Rhetoric; Trump Talks McConnell, Russia and More; Roger Goodell Returns to New England. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 11, 2017 - 05:00   ET



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?

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


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

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea just one topic the president addressed in his most wide-ranging public comments in months. We have what he said about the Senate majority leader, the Russia investigation, and a curious comment about Vladimir Putin.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Miguel Marquez, in for Dave Briggs. Good morning.

ROMANS: Nice to have you here this week.

MARQUEZ: It's been a lovely week.

ROMANS: I'll miss you next week.

MARQUEZ: I know.

ROMANS: Dave Briggs will be back. He was on vacation.

I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday, August 11th, it's 5:00 a.m. in the East. It is 6:00 p.m. in Seoul, noon in Moscow.

President Trump did not use the exact words "fire and fury", but he didn't back down on his warnings to North Korea, in fact, escalating his combative warnings to Pyongyang, criticizing past administrations for not doing enough to curb North Korean aggression.

[05:00:10] 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.


MARQUEZ: Now, this one day after North Korea state media said a plan would be formalized within days to launch missiles toward the U.S. island territory of Guam. The president effectively drew a new red line, saying if Kim Jong-un does fire toward Guam, he would respond.

Our coverage this morning begins 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.


ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks for that.

Let's bring in CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and Princeton University professor.

Good morning.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning. ROMANS: So, we finally heard from the president at length yesterday. You know, there have been clamoring for media availability, to answer some questions, and he did. And he criticized his predecessors on North Korea and was pretty tough still on his -- in his analysis of -- and threats for North Korea.

But I don't see where the red line is, the red line keeps moving a little bit this week. Am I wrong?

ZELIZER: Well, it's not clear what the red line is for President Trump. It's not clear that there's a thought-through strategy other than being bellicose and issuing threats. So, that becomes a problem. You don't know what exactly it will be that North Korea does that triggers some kind of military response. And that is creating jitters all over Washington.

MARQUEZ: Well, it is, I mean, Tuesday, he said if they continued to threaten us, I will act. Yesterday, he said if they attack Guam, I will act. The secretary of defense saying, we are ready, we have all the resources ready, but we're on a diplomatic track. The secretary of state saying we are engaging everybody, the president meeting with Nikki Haley today. They seem to be doing everything and saying everything at once.

As a historian, as a guy who studies politics, is this a -- I mean, it doesn't seem to settle Americans' minds about where this is, how will this work internationally, as well?

ZELIZER: Well, you need some kind of game plan. It's -- it's very important in a situation like this when you have an adversary that is unpredictable, that is provocative, not simply to respond to every statement. This has been essential in the Clinton administration, in the Bush administration, Obama administrations. They understand part of what North Korea does is to try to provoke.

ROMANS: Right.

ZELIZER: And if the president responds instantly, that sets into motion a more dangerous path.

MARQUEZ: And inside game and an outside game.

ROMANS: We heard yesterday also about Mitch McConnell who is, of course, the Senate majority leader. And the person that Donald Trump, the president, needs to get anything done. He needs to work with this guy. The president has been critical of him and was again yesterday. Let's listen to that.


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.


ROMANS: How unusual is it for a president to be so critical of the leader of his own party, the person who's the top guy in Congress?

[05:05:02] ZELIZER: Look, it's not totally unprecedented. Often presidents find Congress extremely frustrating, even when their own party controls the House and the Senate.

But as with everything, President Trump is that much more dramatic in his rhetoric and is that much more theatrical in taking on the Senate majority leader. What's different is the relationships are just so poor all around. This is not a president who has ever worked with Congress from day one. And so, this kind of tension is all we have right now. It's dangerous for the president.

MARQUEZ: Also animated by his own base which is unhappy with the mainstream Republican Party, and why aren't they just going along with the president. He was -- this was a historic election --

ROMANS: Republicans are at war though basically --

MARQUEZ: He does feel -- everything that was there before the election is starting to rear its ugly head again.

ZELIZER: Absolutely, but the problem is McConnell doesn't really care about that. McConnell is pretty safe right now, and he has a lot of clout on Capitol Hill. And what presidents learn is you can attack Congress, but they can really cause problems for you.

Congress doesn't care about national polls. Congress cares about what's going on in their states and their district, and they can tie up a president where they can investigate a president.

ROMANS: This president really, really wants tax reform. He wants tax cuts. And he wants tax reform, you heard him say tax reform and cuts.

He wants infrastructure. Maybe there's overlap with what Democrats want on infrastructure. You know, where does it go from here if you've got the president and Mitch McConnell who are at odds like this, Republicans who are fighting like crazy over what tax reform should look like. I mean, where do we go from here?

ZELIZER: Look, it's a common thread, overseas and back on Capitol Hill. There's a need for diplomacy in this administration. It can't just be a war of words. And the administration has to start doing some hard work, building relations, starting with members of its own party on Capitol Hill.

MARQUEZ: While he's beating up on his own party, he's saying nice things about Vladimir Putin.



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. So, I greatly appreciate that they've been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We'll save a lot of money.


MARQUEZ: Now, this must have pay joke. This was the president seemingly maybe joking about Vladimir Putin cutting hundreds of staffers in response to U.S. sanctions across the -- across Russia. What did you make of that comment?

ZELIZER: It's stunning, the kind of words he uses for members of his own party or for many other countries are not words he uses for one of the main adversaries now of the United States. And that kind of a joke reflects a general demeanor that the president seems to have. He will not be critical of almost anything that Russia does, and obviously that then fuels all the questions that are at the center of this ongoing investigation.

ROMANS: This president, we've noted it many, many times, he uses words differently than other presidents have before. You know, and we import maybe too much meaning sometimes the things the president says. But I wonder if in all of these cases, the president says what he's feeling at the time, and then the strategy or the message comes after the fact. Or is there a message and a strategy and the president is being extemporaneous. I don't know what is first here.

ZELIZER: I don't think the strategy is so well thought through. What we're learning is his comments on North Korea were not well-planned. It wasn't something that his own generals knew about.

And so, there's often a search with President Trump for some kind of meeting or strategy behind everything he says. But it might be he is literally saying what's on his mind. This unfolds in real-time. That's a very hard way to make policy on complicated issues.

MARQUEZ: And international affairs particularly difficult because you're speaking to the public, your own public, the enemy, and the world at the same time. And you really have to have a sharp message.

ROMANS: Come back the next half hour, we'll talk about what he said about the special counsel. That's interesting stuff yesterday, too. Thanks, Julian Zelizer. Nice to see you.

Nine minutes past the hour.

On Wall Street, greed is out and caution is in as North Korean tension escalates. U.S. stocks closing sharply lower after President Trump's latest round of rhetoric. The Dow shedding 200 points. The S&P 500 down. The tech-heavy Nasdaq took the biggest hit, losing more than 2 percent. Some of the big, high-flying tech stocks got hit. Apple, Amazon,

Netflix, Facebook. Global stocks extending that slide this morning.

Some analysts say investors might be using the geopolitical concerns for a reset. Stocks have been making and breaking records all year. But volatility is back now. Wall Street's fear gauge, the VIX index, surging, the highest level since the election now, and money flooding into so-called safe havens like gold and bonds.

Still, the markets had a few dips this year, mostly ignoring headlines, rising instead on a solid economy, big corporate profits.

[05:10:00] Even with this latest drop, I want to show the three major stock market averages. They're still up at least 8 percent. The Nasdaq still up, you know, something like 15 percent so far this year.

MARQUEZ: It's Friday. So, my fear index, way down.

ROMANS: I can tell you exactly that the stock market's going to close at 4:00 p.m. today.

MARQUEZ: Really? Wow. You're amazing.

A twist in the acoustic attack on U.S. personnel in Cuba. Could covert devices have been used inside the homes of Americans in Havana? We will get into that, coming right up.


MARQUEZ: President Trump declaring an opioid crisis a national emergency. The surprise announcement coming two days after Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price indicated the president would not be making the declaration, suggesting it wasn't necessary. The president now vowing to spend a lot of time and money on the problem.

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.

[05:15:07] ROMANS: Some bizarre new developments in that acoustic attack on employees of the American embassy in Havana. A U.S. government official tells 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. It's now believed some kind of sophisticated audio device was used outside or potentially inside residences of U.S. diplomats in Havana.

MARQUEZ: There are several reports of hearing loss and concussion- like symptom symptoms. Government officials in Havana are allowing officials to investigate. The attacks have subsided for now. At least one Canadian diplomat in Havana also suffered unusual symptoms. The Canadian embassy is about three miles from the U.S. embassy. ROMANS: 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 little 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 that van on Monday.


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 and flash floods. And more storms are in the weekend's 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.

Now, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell returning for the first time since deflate-gate erupted. Well, how did the Patriots fans react?

Andy Scholes putting on his helmet and flak vest and he'll have that for us next in the "Bleacher Report."

So, if you're traveling to Austin, Texas, and want to sample the local flavor, some of the country's best barbecue can be found at some iconic locations.


MEAGAN FRITTS, ACCESS ATX TOURS: Welcome to Texas, y'all. Barbecue capital of the world.

On our Texas Barbecue Trail Tour, we start in Austin and head eastward to Lockhart, Texas. Lockhart is where Texas barbecue can claim its roots. And we have barbecue joints that have been smoking brisket since the 1900s.

We explore the history of Texas barbeque, the techniques, and cooking styles along the way. Texas barbecue is different for a few reasons. The first being that since it came from the German immigrants, they brought over their traditions including smoked sausage. We also don't do all of that sauce nonsense. Here in Texas, sometimes the meat is prepared with something as simple as salt and pepper.

RICARDO RODRIGUEZ, TERRY BLACK'S BBQ: This is an art. Yes, it's an art, a science. I've given plenty tours, and people walk away amazed.

FRITTS: Nothing epitomizes the wild, wild west of Texas and our pioneer spirit better than Texas barbecue.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:22:38] ROMANS: All right. For the first time since the deflate- gate saga, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was in attendance at a Patriots game.

MARQUEZ: Andy Scholes has more with this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Good morning, Andy.


You know, Patriots' fans had been anxiously awaiting Roger Goodell's return to Foxborough so that they could give him a nice, warm welcome. They haven't seen him in person since he suspended Tom Brady.

But, unfortunately, no one even knew Goodell was at the game. This was a surprise visit. The broadcast never even showed Goodell. All we have is a Twitter picture of commissioner and Patriots owner Robert Kraft's book at one point.

But then check this out -- there are at least three Patriots fans that aren't still mad at Goodell, taking a picture with him. Fans in New England will get another chance to see Goodell soon as he's scheduled to be at the NFL season opener in Foxborough on September 7th.

Golf's fourth and final major of the year teeing off yesterday in Charlotte. Jordan Spieth looking to become the youngest golfer ever to win all four majors, which is known as the career grand slam. A 24-year-old Texan with an up-and-down first day, shooting a one over. His five shots back of the lead.

Spieth may not be in first now, but he had the most star-studded gallery. His new buddy, Michael Phelps, followed him around in round one.


JORDAN SPIETH, 3-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: It was great. Michael's followed us a few rounds. He's become a good friend and mentor, which is pretty awesome to have a mentor like that.


SCHOLES: All right. Finally, St. Louis baseball fans are scouring the city looking for the rally cat who is now missing. Wednesday night, the cat became a hero because it ran on the field, battled the groundskeeper, and on the next pitch of the game, the Cardinals hit a grand slam. Apparently a woman tried to take the cat home but then lost it in a nearby park. The Cardinals are now hoping that they can find the cat so they can find it a nice home.

So, guys, if you're -- if anyone's walking around St. Louis, downtown St. Louis this afternoon, look for a small -- small kitty because this cat is famous, and the team would love to find him. He's kind of become the St. Louis Cardinals' mascot. Kind of funny to say that a cat is the Cardinals' mascot.

MARQUEZ: There is an irony there. Oh, Andy Scholes, you're so ironic this morning.

But, you know, scruff of the neck. Hello, that's how you carry a cat, right? That poor kid.

SCHOLES: His finger was mangled.

[05:25:01] He did a lot of interviews afternoon and night, and he actually had to get it taking care of. And the cat did quite a number there.

MARQUEZ: I wonder if the cat was rabid. Give him the rabies shot-- the shot. Ooh, so painful. You know, I have a special place in my heart for rally cat, as I was a backup singer in a band, rally cat.

SCHOLES: I forgot about the high school band, rally cat.

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

MARQUEZ: Rock on.

SCHOLES: All right.

MARQUEZ: Have a good weekend.

President Trump says maybe a threat of fire and fury wasn't tough enough for North Korea. That's not all he said. Topics from the Senate majority leader to Russia and why is he thanking Vladimir Putin? All that and more, next.