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Trump Unveils New Afghan War Plan; Defense Secretary Mattis in Iraq; USS McCain Lost Steering Control Before Collision; Suspected Barcelona Van Driver Killed By Police; 33 Passengers Injured in Train Accident Near Philadelphia. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 22, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:02] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life, I've heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump revising the American strategy in Afghanistan. He said there will be more troops. There will be no deadlines. How does all this change what happens on the ground in Afghanistan?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.


There is a lot of questions after last night's speech, indeed. After months of planning, President Trump has unveiled to the nation his new vision for the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the longest war.

The president breaking from his campaign rhetoric when he promised to pull out of Afghanistan, but keeping with the America-first theme, saying the days of nation-building are over. The strategy is light on specifics. The president reaffirming he does not want the enemy to know his plans, and a hasty withdrawal like that in Iraq is not an option.


TRUMP: The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks. We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.


ROMANS: Now, the president signaled the U.S. would increase troop levels in Afghanistan, but he offered no numbers. Mr. Trump also put no end date on America's longest war.

So, how exactly is the path to victory different from the predecessors he criticized? CNN's Athena Jones with more on the president's speech from Arlington,




President Trump laid out a new plan for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and South Asia, emphasizing the importance of a regional approach to preventing terrorists from gaining a safe haven from which they could threaten America. The president called on Pakistan to do more to fight terrorist groups and on India to help in the area of economic assistance for Afghanistan.

The president also said a core pillar of the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan would be a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions on the ground.

TRUMP: We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.

JONES: And notably, the president did explain the evolution in his thinking from favoring a full withdrawal as a candidate and before that to supporting a continued presence in Afghanistan, arguing that a hasty withdrawal from the country would create a vacuum that terrorist groups like ISIS or al Qaeda could exploit.

The president also said he would expand the authority for American armed forces to target the terrorists and criminal networks that sow violence and hatred in Afghanistan. And the president repeatedly throughout this speech said that the U.S. would ultimately win the fight there, ensuring a victory that has so far eluded this country for 16 years -- Christine, Dave.


BRIGGS: Athena Jones, thank you.

President Trump sending a pointed message to the Afghan government that he expects results in exchange for the human and financial investment being made by the United States. Listen to him demand Afghan leaders do their fair share.


TRUMP: Our commitment is not unlimited and our support is not a blank check. The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results. Our patience is not unlimited.


ROMANS: So, how is the president's plan being received in Afghanistan?

Nic Robertson is monitoring the latest developments live from London for us.

Our patience is not endless, the president said. But, you know, he didn't give firm contours of what the new plan looks like, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: He didn't, and he said why he wasn't doing it, not to give the game away to the enemy, but I think to the rest of the world it feels very much like this is what we've heard before, this is the way we've seen the problem in Afghanistan tackled in the past. He is giving more power to the generals. He does have support, we heard from President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan today, saying that he supports this. That no time has the U.S./Afghan cooperation and alliance been stronger, the Afghans will do their part to take on this fight, the common threat of terrorism.

We've heard from a Pakistani opposition parliamentarian, not from the government itself, responding to what President Trump said, more pressure required on Pakistan to get them to stop harboring terrorists.

[04:35:01] And the opposition politicians said typical the United States is blaming Pakistan again for its failed and flawed policies in Afghanistan. Perhaps that statement is not unsurprising.

But I think in the few details we have there, there are some interesting points. President Trump says that there may be a place in a political place for the Taliban, some Taliban, in the future of Afghanistan. He leaves the door open there, essentially to talks with the Taliban.

The Taliban for their part in response to this say if the United States continues with its war fighting, we will fight them. But they also are caveating, saying if they will leave the door open.

Now, of course, President Trump as we know is differing a lot of authority and a lot of influence on himself to his generals. And his generals, of course, like everyone else, are looking for the exit strategy. The Afghan president says the strategy going forward is a political one, and whether it can be achieved or not, the door does seem to be here to be opened to the Taliban.

And just adding there, President Trump did differentiate between the Taliban and ISIS and al Qaeda. Crush al Qaeda, obliterate ISIS. Taliban, just stop them taking control of the country.

ROMANS: Yes, the Taliban controls more territory today than before the U.S. invasion. So, you know, clearly, clearly a big problem.

All right. Thanks, Nic Robertson for us in London, thank you.

BRIGGS: The president's speech on Afghanistan started on a rather surprising note. He attempted to first address the visions here at home in the wake of the Charlottesville attack. He did not specifically mention the violence in Charlottesville, but he was clearly attempting to clean up some of those explosive comments with this reference to our military.


TRUMP: The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other. As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas, and we will always win, let us find the courage to heal our divisions within.


ROMANS: President Trump's handling of Charlottesville a big focus for House Speaker Paul Ryan during a CNN town hall. Ryan said the president fell short.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think he made comments that were much more morally ambiguous, much more confusing. And I do think he could have done better. I think he needed to do better.

So, I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it -- it sounded like a moral equivocation or, at the least, moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity.


ROMANS: Ryan is opposed to any measure censuring the president which some Democrats are pushing. Ryan says it would be counterproductive to let this issue transcend -- descend rather into a partisan food fight.

BRIGGS: President Trump heads today to Arizona, despite pleas from the Democratic mayor of Phoenix to stay away. He'll be headlining a campaign-style Make America Great Again rally with Vice President Pence expected to join. Still no word, though, whether he plans to pardon controversial former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio tells CNN he has not been invited to the rally. The president said last week he was seriously considering a pardon, but the White House has not reached out to the Justice Department office that traditionally handles petitions for clemency. The president also plans to stop in Yuma, Arizona, that's the central point of operations for the U.S. border patrol.

ROMANS: This morning, Defense Secretary James Mattis is in Iraq. Mattis arriving in Baghdad just a couple of hours ago for meetings with Iraq's prime minister and Iraqi military leaders. It is the latest stop on his visit to countries in Europe and the Middle East, reaffirming America's strategic partnerships.

Let's go live to Baghdad right now. I want to bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh. What's on the agenda, Jomana?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, prior to his arrival in Baghdad, Secretary Mattis also traveling with him is the U.S. presidential envoy for the Global Coalition Against ISIS, Brett McGurk, they were here in Amman, Jordan. They held a round table with traveling press and they discussed their trip to Iraq, talking about how they see a long-term relationship with that country.

But, right now, they say the focus is the fight against ISIS and getting Iraq back on its feet. And the secretary's trip to Iraq comes at a time where over the weekend, Iraq has launched a fresh offensive, to try and recapture what is ISIS' last major urban stronghold in northern Iraq, the city of Tal Afar. That is expected to be a tough fight in which the Iraqis are leading the fight on the ground, but they're also getting U.S. support.

Really high up on the agenda, too, is that scheduled referendum in Northern Iraq, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, on September 25th.

[04:40:03] That is when the Kurds have announced that they will be holding a referendum on independence. The United States and other countries are pushing them to postpone this. They don't think it's a good idea to do this right now. A lot of concern about this potentially sparking a conflict in Iraq or with other regional countries.

The Kurds are adamant that they will hold this referendum. That it will go ahead on September 25th. And we've heard from Brett McGurk saying that if this does take place, that this could potentially be catastrophic to the fight against ISIS -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Jomana Karadsheh for us this morning from Amman, Jordan -- sorry, I misspoke when I said you were in Baghdad. Thank you so much for that, Jomana.

BRIGGS: All right. Navy and Marine Corps divers now searching for 10 sailors still missing after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker. We're live in Singapore with the latest developments next on EARLY START.


[04:45:12] ROMANS: A Chinese automaker is setting its sights on Jeep, but its bid for the iconic American brand will face political backlash. Great Wall Motors is reportedly exploring an offer for the Jeep brand. Jeep is Fiat Chrysler's crown jewel. It accounts for most of its profits with low gas prices spurring demand. Jeep sells 1.4 million cars globally. That's more than any other brand in the U.S.

Fiat Chrysler tells CNN Great Wall has not approached the company yet. But Fiat has been looking for a buyer, partner for years. Costs are rising for things like meeting fuel standards and developing new tech.

But a Chinese buyer for a Detroit automaker, that faces political hurdles. The U.S. is currently re-examining its economic relationship with China, especially over manufacturing. And this deal runs up against President Trump's America first mantra. Trump has criticized automakers including Fiat Chrysler for moving production outside the U.S., threatening U.S. jobs. Currently, about half of the Jeeps sold are still built in the U.S.

BRIGGS: Navy officials say the USS John S. McCain suffered a, quote, steering casualty, just before it collided with a commercial tanker near Singapore. The head of naval operations expected to order a rare operational pause across the entire Navy in the wake of the latest incident involving a U.S. ship in Asian waters.

Meantime, new resources are being deployed in the search for ten missing crew members.

Let's go live to CNN's Matt Rivers in Singapore.

And let's start with. That the all-important search continuing for those ten missing. Good morning, Matt.


That remains the priority here as the sun begins to set in Singapore. That damaged ship actually down the shoreline from where we are. And we know that the U.S. Navy has actually deployed divers to the damaged portion of that ship. They're trying to access the compartments that were sealed during the flooding that took place after that accident happened to see if any of the sailors might be inside.

We also know the U.S. Navy continues to search the area in the waters where that incident took place early Monday morning.

Now, as for why this happened, you mentioned it off the top, there was apparently, according to U.S. Navy officials, a steering failure. But it's not clear at this point if that is exactly the cause of this accident. But that's, of course, going to be investigated as a part of what they're calling this comprehensive review, because this is the fourth accident involving U.S. Navy ships deployed to this part of the world in this year alone.

And part of that will be that operational pause, what that will look like, different commands from across the world will take one day each over the next several weeks to pause operations for one day and examine their safety standards and see if any of these issues are systemic. We are expecting, though, in terms of this particular incident to get another update. We are expecting to hear from the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at a press conference at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, 7:00 p.m. here in Singapore later on this evening -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Keep us up to date about the search. Matt Rivers live for us in Singapore -- thanks.

ROMANS: All right. New details about the suspected van driver in last week's deadly Barcelona terror attack. Police say he was wearing a fake explosives belt when they shot and killed him during a operation Monday 30 miles west of Barcelona.

For more on how they tracked him down and the latest on the investigation, let's go live to Barcelona and bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz.

They have been hunting for this man, and now he is dead.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL PRODUCER: That's right, Christine. An extraordinary nationwide manhunt is over for this 22-year-old Moroccan national, Younis Abouyaaqoub, the one accused of coming barreling down this very street I'm standing on right now, Las Ramblas, killing 13 people. He was found just outside Barcelona after a woman called police saying, I've seen CCTV footage of him, and I believe I've found your man.

Shortly afterward, the interior ministry has announced the cell behind this horrific attack has been dismantled. But this does not mean the work is over yet for authorities. Remember, the cell of 12 had a much more sinister plot in mind. They wanted to build bombs. And they were doing just that in a home 100 miles south of here in Alcanar.

Now, out of these 12, there are four that are still alive and in police custody. They've shown up in court today in Madrid and they will be giving testimony to authorities. The key questions that remain are, was this cell given training to build these bombs? If so, by who?

Remember, ISIS claimed responsibility for this attack. Most importantly, Christine, how did a cell this extensive have a bomb- making factory set up and go undetected by authority? Christine?

ROMANS: All right. Salma for us this morning in Barcelona, again, that van driver on the run, has been killed by police.

All right. Forty-nine minutes past the hour.

Baby-boomers, blame the boomers for everything. The boomers, they're retiring at a rapid pace.

[04:50:00] And that might actually be hurting how much money you make.

BRIGGS: Selfish.

ROMANS: We'll tell you why on CNN "Money Stream", next.


BRIGGS: Breaking news overnight: 42 passengers injured in a high- speed train accident outside of Philadelphia. Officials say an incoming train struck an occupied train car inside the transit terminal in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. The local mayor says four people including the conductor were taken to area hospitals. All of the injuries are said to be non-life-threatening. The cause of the accident now under investigation.

[04:55:00] ROMANS: A stunning twist in the shooting of a judge outside of a courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio. Judge Joseph Bruzzese is recovering this morning. He and a probation officer returned fire, killing the suspect. The suspect identified as Nate Richmond.

Now, he is the father of one of two players, football players, convicted in a 2013 rape case involving the Steubenville high school football team. Remember that? That was the case drew national headlines. Richmond was also a plaintiff in a wrongful death case overseen by the judge.

BRIGGS: The local sheriff calls the attack a cold-blooded attempted murder.


SHERIFF FRED ABDALLA, JEFFERSON COUNTY: I urged him years ago to carry a gun. If you're sitting on a bench, you have to carry a gun because there are so many nutcases out there that want retaliation.


BRIGGS: Officials are drawing no official connection between the Steubenville rape case and the shooting. But Richmond's son, Ma'Lik, was told just a few weeks ago he could not play college football this season after his status as a walk-on generated outrage at Youngstown state -- Youngstown State University.

ROMANS: All right. Fifty-six minutes past the hour. We've got a really good look at some stunning images from Monday's total solar eclipse.

Check out this awesome shot from Nasdaq. This was the scene in Madras, Oregon. How about being in the sky? Alaska Airlines tweeting out this image.

Here it comes of the eclipse. It's coming. It's coming. Alaska Airlines. Where is it? There it is!

BRIGGS: There it is!

Very nice. Very cool. Crowds gathered across the country. Daytime turned to darkness.

ROMANS: It's cool. Look at that.

BRIGGS: Very quickly -- check that out in Salem. Most of us did not realize how dark it got in spots. We hope you followed experts' advice and did not stare straight at the eclipse.

Some people did including our president. Unlike Attorney General Sessions, Ivanka and others, he took a peek without the protective eyewear, but not for long. He eventually popped on the eyewear to protect the eyes because he had to read the teleprompter in a very important speech.

ROMANS: Can I tell you? One of the most googled things is, I looked at the eclipse, will it hurt my eyes? I read this morning that if you look at probably one split second, maybe not. Even ten seconds, you can damage your eyesight.

BRIGGS: He got it right.

ROMANS: You won't have to wait an entire century for the next total solar eclipse, just seven years. Another solar eclipse will be visible in a diagonal path from Texas to Maine on April 8th, 2024.

BRIGGS: Will you always remember where you were during the eclipse or no? No?

ROMANS: I don't know.

BRIGGS: Not so much. Did you already forget?

ROMANS: I already forgot yesterday. I'm just moving ahead.

BRIGGS: It is clear.

ROMANS: Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets are higher after Wall Street stocks rose. Tech and financial stocks, though, fell. Keeping a check on gains, they have been two of the best performing sectors all year. Earnings season is winding down, and the president's economic agenda appears stalled. Hence, the market is showing its first signs of caution.

I'm watching one important measure. The Dow's Transport Average, it's down about 7 percent since July. Dow Transports tracks the largest shipping companies. It's a traditional precursor to a broader stock market decline.

But, hey, it's too soon to call the end to this bull market. No question, all three major indices up at least 8 percent this year.

Foxconn's plan for a Wisconsin plant is moving along. Approval for the $3 billion in incentives heads to the state's Senate today. It passed the state assembly last week.

That money was used to secure a $10 billion investment from Foxconn. It plans to build a new LCD plant in House Speaker Paul Ryan's district by the year 2020.

Now, that $3 billion price tag, though, is causing controversy. Foxconn says it will create up to -- up to 13,000 new jobs. That means Wisconsin will pay $19,000 per job per year, six times the typical cost per job for a public incentive package.

Blame the boomers for something else. Baby-boomers are retiring at a rapid pace. That might be hurting wage growth. The labor market is tight. Unemployment is at a 16-year low.

There are a record number of open jobs. That should translate into big wage gains, and it hasn't. A new study finds that's because departing older workers are being replaced by younger, cheaper workers. Those who were sidelined during the recession, keeping a lid on wages. Right now, about 44 million Americans are retired, 44 million. That's

up 36 percent from the year 2000.

Something like 10,000 baby-boomers are retiring every single day.

BRIGGS: Right. But again, more jobs are open. So, if they weren't retiring, they'd be holding on to those jobs anyway.

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: We don't blame the baby-boomers.

ROMANS: No. I blame the baby-boomers.

BRIGGS: You do.

All right. EARLY START continues right now with a new strategy in Afghanistan, or is it?


TRUMP: Micromanagement from Washington, D.C., does not win battles. We will fight to win.