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EARLY START

Trump: Racism is Evil; CEOs Quit Presidential Council; Driver Who Slammed Into Demonstrators in Court; North Korea Backs Off Missile Threat; Trump Moves to Crack Down On China. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 15, 2017 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[04:33:03] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump denouncing white supremacist groups after two days of silence on the topic. But then hours later, back to re-tweeting an alt-right activist and defend why it took so long.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It was too long, and it was too little, too late for some top CEOs who say they will no longer advise this president. Three quit his CEO council.

BRIGGS: Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 33 minutes past the hour this Tuesday morning.

So better late than never, or is it too little too late? President Trump finally responding after two days of harsh criticism from all directions in the wake of that hate-filled violence in Charlottesville that left three people dead. The president issuing a brief statement Monday.

He began these prepared remarks, he stayed on script. He began with a boast about the economy, the stock market, job market, and then he delivered a full-throated condemnation of hate groups.

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TRUMP: As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. It has no place in America. Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you'll be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Indeed got it right there. But as a reminder, this was President Trump's initial response on Saturday to the violence in Charlottesville.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:35:02] TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides -- on many sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: All right. Let's get more now from CNN's Sara Murray at the White House.

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SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

The president only clarifying his stance after days of backlash. Not just from some of his backers on Wall Street and not just from Democrats but also from members of his own party as it appears clear that the White House and Trump's advisers were caught flatfooted by the developments.

Now, when President Trump was asked why it took him days to condemn these actions by white nationalists, he said only that they are condemned. But that explanation rang hollow to some, in part because this is a president who has repeatedly fumbled his efforts to denounce the white nationalists that have rallied in his name.

Remember, it took him multiple attempts to say he disavowed the support of David Duke, a former KKK leader. This is a president who at different points has re-tweeted white supremacists. And this is also someone who rose to prominence in part by questioning whether President Barack Obama, the first African-American president, was born in the United States.

These are some things that lead people to believe that there are more nefarious efforts underway behind this delay in President Trump's comments and an indication that this controversy is not going to evaporate from the White House any time soon.

Back to you, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Sara Murray, thank you.

The president arriving at Trump Tower in New York last night, his first time back since taking office. He was greeted by a storm of protesters shouting messages like, no hate, and impeach. Mr. Trump turning to Twitter to vent and sparking a new controversy. He re- tweeted a post from a prominent alt-right activist best known for indulging in outrageous conspiracy theories. The post questioned why the media was covering the Charlottesville story instead of the violence in Chicago.

ROMANS: Yes, the president's critics saying that's what about-ism again for this president, for this administration. Don't look here, look at something else.

The president has been under fire for not specifically rejecting the support of white supremacy groups or immediately calling them out by name and hasn't explained why.

Listen to this exchange with CNN's Jim Acosta.

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JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORERSPONDENT: Mr. President, can you explain why you did not condemn the hatred by name over the weekend?

TRUMP: They've been condemned. They have been condemned.

ACOSTA: And why are we not having press conferences today? You said on Friday we would have a press conference.

TRUMP: We had a press conference. We just had a press conference.

ACOSTA: Can we ask more questions, sir?

TRUMP: That doesn't bother me at all, but, you know, I like real news, not fake news. You're fake news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So, that -- that wasn't a press conference. A press conference is when reporters ask questions and the president answers them. That was a statement, a scripted statement the president made on camera and an insult to a member of the press who is there to get the president's message out.

The president followed up that exchange with this Twitter attack on the press: Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realized once again that the fake news media will never be satisfied. Truly bad people.

Business leaders are not happy with President Trump's response to Charlottesville. Three CEOs, three CEOs quit his manufacturing council as a result. The heads of Intel and Under Armour are stepping down. Following lead of one of America's most prominent black CEOs, Merck chief Kenneth Frazier.

Frazier quit the council after Trump's initial failure to condemn white supremacy, saying that America's leaders must clearly reject hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy. Trump lashed out on Twitter saying that now Frazier will have more time to rip-off drug prices. So, the president in a heartbeat insulting this man, this respected

business leader, where it took two days for him to condemn white supremacy groups. The president later, of course, called neo-Nazis repugnant and had the presidential message many thought he should have had on Saturday.

Corporate America quick to rebuke Trump on many issues including immigration, climate change, but very few CEOs have broken with the White House. Perhaps because their companies and their stocks still benefit from Trump's pro-business environment. They really want a big tax cut from this president.

There are a few exceptions here. The former uber CEO left the president's council after the travel ban. The Disney CEO, Bob Iger, and the Tesla founder, Elon Musk, they quit after the president broke with the Paris climate agreement.

CNN asked two dozen executives on the manufacturing council if they would stay. While those that responded denounced hatred, at least seven companies said they would remain including Dow Chemical, Whirlpool, Campbell's Soup, and General Electric.

You know, they cite the importance of participating in the discussion on U.S. manufacturing. You know, they want a seat at the table. They want to be able to -- they want access to his ear. They want to tell the president --

BRIGGS: Sure.

ROMANS: -- other CEOs that have complained that -- you know, they're flying across country for a meeting and photo op at the White House and weren't sure the president was listening.

[04:40:00] BRIGGS: Kevin Plank really wanted a way out after criticism from some of his athletes, including Steph Curry.

ROMANS: Yes, that's interesting, right?

BRIGGS: This happened to be that way out.

OK, James Fields, the 20-year-old man accused of plowing his car into a crowd of Charlottesville demonstrators, is being held without bond this morning. We're finding out more about him.

Here's CNN's Brian Todd.

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BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, suspect James Fields made his first court appearance. He was video linked in to the courtroom on Monday morning from his jail cell in Charlottesville, outside Charlottesville actually.

The judge told him about his charges which include one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and a hit- and-run charge. He asked James Fields if he could afford an attorney. James Fields said he could not afford an attorney.

And interestingly, the judge then said he could not appoint a public defender for James Fields because a member of the public defender's office had a relative who was affected by Saturday's violence. So, the judge went down his list and appointed an attorney named Charles Weber to represent James Fields. And we moved on with the proceedings there.

We reached out to Charles Weber for comment on this case, and we have not heard back from him.

Also, on Monday we got word from a security firm in Ohio that James Fields had worked for that firm, a firm called Securitas. They said he worked for them from May until July of 2016 and then from November of 2016 until the present. That firm said that he took a vacation leave to come here to Charlottesville, and that he has since been terminated -- Christine and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Brian Todd, thank you.

The hate-filled violence sparking protests in North Carolina to take down a confederate statue at the courthouse in Durham.

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BRIGGS: Saddam Hussein-like. They attached a rope to the statue memorializing confederate soldiers and pulled it down. North Carolina's governor responding in a tweet saying: racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable, but there's a better way to remove these monuments.

Durham police say no arrests were made, noted the incident occurred on county property, where county law enforcement has jurisdiction.

Meantime, the government of Arizona says he 100 percent condemns white supremacist hate groups but has no plans to remove confederate monuments from their state grounds.

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GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R), ARIZONA: It's not my desire or mission to tear down any monuments or memorials. We have a public process if the public wants to be engaged in this. I invite them to get engaged in it. I don't think we should try to hide our history. I think we ought to try to teach it and make people understand we've overcome a lot of mistakes.

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BRIGGS: Arizona has six confederate memorials. This debate far from over. Certainly will spread around the country.

ROMANS: There are 15 confederate memorials in 31 states, you know? So, it's just a fascinating, fascinating trend. All right. Defense Secretary Mattis telling North Korea the U.S. is

ready for war with North Korea. Is Kim Jong-un now backing off now? We're live in Seoul.

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[04:47:22] BRIGGS: North Korea backing off its threat to launch a missile attack on Guam. State-run media saying Kim Jong-un has finished reviewing an attack plan and will hold off on a decision depending on what the, quote, foolish Yankees do next. The statement coming hours after Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned that if North Korea fired on the U.S. territory, it would be, quote, game on.

Meantime, South Korea's President Moon says his government is determined to resolve tensions on the Korean peninsula peacefully.

CNN's Paula Hancocks lives for us in Seoul with the latest.

Good morning to you, Paula.

Tough talk for the time being appears to be working for President Trump.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, we can certainly see that Kim Jong-un is not pushing the rhetoric forward as he has in the past. He's effectively said he's going to wait and see what the Americans do. Now, it's uncertain whether or not he is -- this particular article was reacting to what the Secretary of Defense Mattis has actually said he said if they attack, it's game on. Usually, there's a bit of lag, a bit of a delay for the North Korean state department media.

But the fact of the matter is North Korea have said that they have looked at the plans to be able to fire these missiles. This is what they said they were going to be doing. And now, they're going to wait and see. Potentially what they're looking for is next week when there could be U.S./South Korean military drills that happen every year.

They are defensive in nature, according to the U.S. that's not the way that North Korea sees them. They see them as provocative, as a dress rehearsal for an invasion of North Korea. But General Dunford here in Seoul just Monday evening has already said they will go ahead. There's absolutely necessity for them to go ahead.

Now, also, the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, made a speech at liberation day from the liberation from the Japanese occupation. Actually, a day that North and South Korea agree on and celebrate pretty much in the same thread.

And he said that he will do everything in his power to make sure there is not a second Korean war on the peninsula. He's said that it is up to South Korea what happens on the Korean peninsula, and there will be no war -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul this morning, thanks. ROMANS: This morning, China is threatening to retaliate now that

President Trump's chief trade negotiator has been asked to discover whether an investigation of Beijing's trade practices is needed. The move could pave the way for the president to impose tariffs on Chinese imports. The administration turning the screws on China in order to get more cooperation, perhaps, on the North Korea crisis.

Let's go live to Hong Kong and bring in CNN's David McKenzie.

I have to say, this was a big campaign promise from this president.

[04:50:00] On day one, he said he was going to hold China to account for, you know, for what he said are unfair trade practices and stealing American intellectual property. What's the view from the Chinese?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Chinese, Christine, have said they're expressing grave concern about these moves. They are deliberate moves, it has to be said. Even if they do decide in the U.S. to investigate formally Chinese practices, particularly the alleged stealing of intellectual property rights, amongst U.S. companies that are working in China by the Chinese, it will take some time.

So, it is more deliberate and not necessarily as strong as some American companies would have hoped when Trump came into office. When he said, as you say, that he would deal with these issues on day one.

ROMANS: Companies for years, as you know, have complained about their intellectual property being stolen. You know, it's cost businesses, they say, billions and billions of dollars a year. But perhaps the Trump -- President Trump is being strategic here, soft pedaling on trade to persuade China on North Korea?

MCKENZIE: Well, It possibly is. But the U.S. officials over the weekend speaking to CNN and the Chinese have said, well, they shouldn't conflate these two issues. We can talk about trade and separately, we can talk about the North Korea issue. But many analysts believe that this is a way for Trump to hold this thread over the Chinese, to try to push them to turn the screws on the North Korean economy -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. I think we know pretty clearly that trade and North Korea aren't really separate issues. All of this is the same conversation that's been going on for years. We'll see if anything new happens this time.

David, thank you so much for that. Nice to see you this morning.

BRIGGS: All right. Jimmy Fallon responding to the events in Charlottesville with an emotional plea last night.

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JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT HOST: It's important for everyone, especially white people in this country, to speak out against this. Ignoring is it is just as bad as supporting it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Jimmy's call to action going viral this morning. That's next.

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[04:56:28] BRIGGS: Late-night hosts putting the comedy on hold to address what happened in Charlottesville. Jimmy Fallon delivering a heartfelt monologue to open the "Tonight Show."

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FALLON: My daughters are in the next room playing, and I'm thinking, how can I explain to them that there's so much hatred in this world? They're 2 years old and 4 years old. They don't know what hate is.

They go to the playground, and they have friends of all races and backgrounds. They just play and they laugh, and they have fun. But as kids grow up, they need people to look up to, to show them what's right and good. They need parents and teachers, and they need leaders who appeal to the best in us.

The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful. It's important for everyone, especially white people in this country, to speak out against this. Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.

Remember, there are people who have given their lives to make sure this kind of hate doesn't spread. They fought and died on the right side of history. One brave woman in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, died standing up for what's right at the age of 32. I can't look at my beautiful, growing, curious daughters and say nothing when this kind of thing is happening.

We all need to stand against what is wrong, acknowledge that racism exists, and stand up for what is right and civil and kind, and to show the next generation that we haven't forgotten how hard people have fought for human rights. We cannot do this. We can't go backward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Wow. That's a long way for him. Remember when he touched Donald Trump's hair and he was criticized by other comedians for humanizing Donald Trump. That was a specific criticism of the president.

BRIGGS: Seth Meyers took down presidential leadership, as well, without doing comedy. But, you know, what Jimmy said there is by not condemning white supremacy, you are supporting it. I put something similar on Facebook and was attacked personally --

ROMANS: Really?

BRIGGS: -- relentlessly for two days. It just really surprised me about the dialogue happening now.

ROMANS: You're right. It's an odd and unsettling moment in American history.

BRIGGS: Strange time.

ROMANS: All right. Fifty-eight minutes past the hour.

All right. Let's check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Global stocks higher today following Wall Street's lead. U.S. stocks had the biggest rally all summer as fears over North Korea fade. Last week, threats between the president and North Korea drove stocks to their worst performance in five months. As the tension eases, the S&P 500 is jumping 1 percent with the Dow climbing 135 points.

There are other signs fear on Wall Street is fading. Gold, a typical safe haven, fell after days of gains. Wall Street's fear gauge, their volatility index, plunged.

Get ready to binge watch. Netflix plans to spend $16 billion on new original programming. That includes a multi-year deal with Shonda Rhimes, creator of mega hits like "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal." Rhimes will develop new shows exclusively for Netflix. This deal is not only a clear sign in the race for talent between old and new media but also a big blow to Disney. Rhimes is moving her production series from Disney-owned ABC to Netflix. Just last week, Disney announced it's pulling its content from Netflix to start its own streaming service.

The maker of Tiki torches wants you to know it has nothing to do with white nationalism. That's right. That's where we are in America, where a manufacturer of Tiki torches has to say, no, we don't like racists.

You may have seen photos of the white nationalists carrying Tiki torches over the weekend. So, Tiki brand is reminding customers it does not support their message, and that it is deeply saddened its products are being used this way, adding that its torches are for positive events like backyard gathering.