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Trump's Phoenix, Arizona Rally Speech; Navy Removing Commander of U.S. 7th Fleet; Violent Protests After Trump Speech; Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 23, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:31:18] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hit them with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacist, the neo-Nazi, I got them all. Let's see. Yes. KKK, we have KKK. I got them all.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Some say the president did not hit them all going wildly off prompter. The president defends his Charlottesville response, but the glaring omission he declines to mention he blamed both sides and no mention of the very fine people that marched with torches there on that fateful Friday night.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. That was a good 75, 77 minutes of Trump off prompter, of course, because he's in that room campaign style --

BRIGGS: Half of it.


BRIGGS: Blaming the media.

ROMANS: Half of it blaming the media. That was a vintage Donald Trump campaign event.

I'm Christine Romans. It is 32 minutes past the hour. You know, and it was a night after preaching to the nation about healing, sticking to a teleprompter. The president did a 180 with a speech at a campaign rally in Phoenix. The president again defending his response to the violence in Charlottesville. He spent nearly 15 minutes -- 15 minutes going back and recounting his words, but with an omission.

BRIGGS: Mr. Trump neglected to mention he initially blamed those clashes on many sides. For context, here's what the president said last night and what he said 10 days earlier.


TRUMP: Here's what I said on Saturday. "We're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia." This is me speaking. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence." That's me speaking on Saturday.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country."


BRIGGS: That of course just one moment in a speech that has some including the former director of National Intelligence, a career military man, James Clapper, questioning his fitness to hold the office.

ROMANS: The protests last night turning ugly outside the Phoenix Convention Center after President Trump's speech. Three people were arrested.

Let's get more from CNN's Miguel Marquez. He's on the ground in Phoenix.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Christine, what started off as a loud, angry yet peaceful protest against the president here ended up with the police using pepper spray, tear gas and flash bang grenades to disperse the crowd. This is sort of the end. Police have basically backed off now and are opening back up traffic. I want to show you what the worst of the worst was like when it all went down.

Phoenix Police were treating this as a big event like the Super Bowl saying that they had all hands on deck for this including the National Guard if needed. It was not needed but it did seem to come very close.

I saw two bottles of water thrown at police. Then they deployed pepper gas and at that point the crowd started to disperse. More things were thrown at police and then it was on.

This is clearly not the picture that Phoenix Police or the city of Phoenix wanted the world to see tonight -- David, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Miguel Marquez. Thank you, Miguel.

Let's bring in Zachary Wolf, our CNN Politics digital director.

His 77 minutes, half of it blasting the media, not a surprise there, I think. He went off prompter, not a surprise. But this is a -- this is a candidate who seems to get oxygen to honestly recharge his battery at events like this. We suspected this would be a very different Trump than the Trump who gave the Afghanistan policy speech and it certainly was.

What is your takeaway from what the president achieved last night in Phoenix?

[04:35:05] ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL EDITOR: It's almost like we have Dr. Jekyll and President Trump on this very specific issue where he says something inflammatory, walks its back, says something inflammatory, walks it back, and then goes out and says the inflammatory thing again and defends himself.

It's all about the president in his own mind here and the day after having this kind of message where he used the word love repeatedly and said we all need to come together as a nation to essentially pick at these wounds, to pick the scab.

It's a remarkable thing, unlike something we've ever seen. You know, we knew it was going to be a campaign style rally, but just the disconnect between his two messages on successive nights is remarkable and you wonder if he's sort of -- is trying to, you know, burn things down. If you go into a place where there are protesters protesting you and you say something like this and you're the president, I'm not sure what you expect is going to happen.

BRIGGS: It's as though teleprompter Trump should be ignored as we go forward. Now the president, the big question was, would he pardon Joe Arpaio? He did not but he hinted that he would. And would he name check and attack two Republican Arizona senators? Well, he didn't name them so maybe John Kelly can take a victory from that but there was no doubt who he was attacking right here.


TRUMP: We were just one vote away from victory after seven years of everybody proclaiming repeal and replace. One vote away. But you know, they all said, Mr. President, your speech was so good last night, please, please, Mr. President, don't mention any names. So I won't. I won't. No, I won't vote -- one vote away. I will not mention any names. Very presidential, isn't it? Very presidential.

And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator who's weak on borders, weak on crime, so I won't talk about him.



BRIGGS: Wow. He also went after Mitch McConnell who by the way delivered the president his one signature accomplishment which is the Supreme Court seat. That's the one thing he accomplished major that he continues to talk about. Mitch McConnell made that happen by gumming up the works on Merrick Garland.

Name-checking all these Republican senators. Is there a strategy here, Zach?

WOLF: I'm -- I'm not going to pretend to say there's a strategy or not. I mean, it pumped up his base. It probably made him feel good. We've reported that Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump aren't speaking to each other. Usually you would think that people of opposite parties in Congress and the White House aren't speaking to each other. In this case it's two Republicans. Donald Trump is not going to get anything done legislatively. Zero.

He cannot get anything done legislatively without Mitch McConnell. This is somebody he needs in the White House to help him. So it's pretty remarkable.

Yes, I'm not sure. Maybe there's a strategy that I don't understand, but I -- if it is I don't -- I don't understand it.

ROMANS: So the president bashing members of his own party, you know, imperiling his legislative agenda, frankly. You know, isolating himself from some of these people who he's going to need to get something done especially tax reform or even the tax cuts, yet he talks about Kim Jong-un and respect. I want to play this little piece of sound.


TRUMP: And you see what's going on in North Korea. All of a sudden -- I don't know, who knows, but I can tell you what I said, that's not strong enough. Some people said it was too strong. It's not strong enough. But Kim Jong-un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us. I respect that fact.


ROMANS: The word respect three times in that sentence. He's referring to his fire and fury comments a short time back.

Donald Trump is -- it's interesting how he can be so brutal and critical of people who are, you know, allies for him, people who are Americans, yet he talks in such different ways about our enemies.

WOLF: Yes, he might there be trying to take a little bit of credit after the last time, you know, he said those inflammatory things and basically, you know, threatened war for lack of a better way to put it with Kim Jong-un if he did any more with the nuclear missiles. Un did but then it's been quieted down. So maybe he's trying to take a little credit there. Again, though, you know, he has often spoken admiringly of people who in U.S. foreign policy terms are bad people.

[04:40:06] Kim Jong-un, you know, there -- you know, Vladimir Putin, you know, these are people he respects that power it's pretty clear and you know, that's something that Mitch McConnell does not have the same kind of power that Kim Jong-un has. He has to get people to agree with him.

BRIGGS: Zach, what do you make of the fact that of all those Republican senators he did name-check, he has not said a word nor tweeted about Bob Corker, the Tennessee senator, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee who questioned his stability and competence? What do you make of the fact that there's been no reaction to that?

WOLF: I'm -- you know, I'm not sure. Bob Corker's day will come if I were a betting man. I would think he'll probably turn there when he can. Last night he was in Arizona, you know, going into the lion's den of John McCain and Jeff Flake so those are the people he was turning his focus on.

And this is the second time he's mentioned John McCain by the way, you know, pretty recently at one of those -- at his press conference when somebody asked about McCain who had, you know, criticized his earlier statement about Charlottesville. He said oh, you mean the McCain who didn't help me get my health care bill. So that's clearly something that is on his mind constantly. I'm not sure Bob Corker's quite there yet.

ROMANS: All right, Zach Wolf. Don't go away. We've got a lot to talk about today. Great stuff. 77 minutes. Big long campaign-style rally. There's a lot we need to talk about. Thanks so much, Zach.

Also last night candidate Trump promised to put coal miners back to work. But President Trump's commitment to save coal country apparently has its limits. The CEO of one of the largest coal companies says the president has broken his vow to the coal industry.

Robert Murray claimed Trump promised to use an obscure emergency order to protect coal fired power plants. That's according to a letter to the White House confirmed by CNN. Without it Murray says he would have to lay off tens of thousands of miners.

Now the order allows power plants to temporary -- a temporary exemption from environment rules during an emergency. An emergency like war or a natural disaster. Murray argues the current emergency is possible bankruptcy. Regulations that are not fair. He's calling that an emergency just like war because of too many environmental regulations.

Ultimately the Trump administration decided the emergency order was simply an unnecessary response. A rare clash between the struggling coal industry and the president. He has been on their team really from day one and --

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: I think these -- the coal industry was surprised that the administration didn't move their way.

BRIGGS: Well, one thing that he liked is the Interior Department cancelled a study that was looking into the health effects of coal mining so they cancelled that.

ROMANS: Of mountain top removal. Right.


BRIGGS: Entire mountain top removal. That's right.

All right. The rift is widening between the president and the Senate majority leader. These two haven't spoken in weeks and Mitch McConnell has doubts the White House can get on track.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:47:05] BRIGGS: Welcome back. President Trump and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell are not talking. In fact it's been two weeks since a phone call between the two men erupted into a profanity laced shouting match.

Sources tell CNN the August 9th conversation unraveled when the president began to express frustration with the Russia investigation and the Russia sanctions bill passed by Congress.

ROMANS: Since then the president and McConnell have been publicly questioning each other. The "New York Times" now reports McConnell is privately questioning whether Trump can salvage his presidency.

BRIGGS: A senior White House official dismissing the seriousness of this rift but is not denying reports the two men are not talking. The president and McConnell will have to work together, though, if Republicans want to tackle tax reform, a spending package and raising the debt ceiling.

Here's what the president said about doing away with the filibuster and working with Mitch McConnell in the future last night.


TRUMP: The Senate, we have to get rid of what's called the filibuster rule. We have to. And if we don't, the Republicans will never get anything passed. You're wasting your time. We have to get rid of the filibuster rule right now we need 60 votes and we have 52 Republicans. That means that eight Democrats are controlling all of this legislation. We have over 200 bills. And we have to speak to Mitch.


BRIGGS: Now as the president also pointed out last night they could not get all Republicans lined up for the health care legislation and as Mitch McConnell has repeated time and time again, zero appetite.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: From Republicans doing away with the filibuster. None.

ROMANS: And the president continues to hammer on it.

All right. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's wife Louise Linton apologizing for a now deleted Instagram post that triggered in angry backlash. There she is. Coming off of a government plane. And she was boasting about flying with her husband to Kentucky. This glamorous she put on Instagram along with the tags for the fashion lines she wore on the trip.

And I'm not talking about Kohl's and Target. I'm talking about Valentino and Tom Ford and Hermes.

BRIGGS: The brands that I do nothing about, my friend.

ROMANS: Yes. Exactly. BRIGGS: The post did not sit well with Instagram user Jenny Miller,

not to mention thousands of others. The mother of three from Oregon, she commented, "Glad we could pay for your little getaway, #deplorable." Linton fired back in a sarcastic tone telling Miller her life looks cute, saying she and husband have given more to the economy and touting her own family's wealth and personal sacrifice.

ROMANS: Yes, she basically said we make so much money we pay more in taxes than you do. And was very passive aggressive about it.

[04:50:03] Once the backlash hit, Linton's post was deleted and her account was set to private. The Treasury Department says the Mnuchins are reimbursing the government for Linton's travel.

It wasn't just this one incident, too. In "Town & Country " magazine, a fancy, you know, chi-hic magazine, there's a whole spread from before Louise Linton married Steven Mnuchin, talking about all of her diamonds. There's a whole story about her diamonds.

The point being here is that these are people who are in charge of America's economy. You know, the Treasury secretary in charge of America's economy? Completely looking, completely out of touch with the people this economy supposed to help.

BRIGGS: Just a tad tone deaf.

All right. Chelsea Clinton has been there and the former first daughter is coming to the defense of the president's youngest son after an article attacked baron Trump's casual attire.

Chelsea tweeting, "It's high time the media and everyone leave Barron Trump alone and let him have the private childhood he deserves.

TAPPER: Her comment coming after the conservative "Daily Caller" Web site criticized the 11-year-old's fashion choice saying of Barron, quote, "The least he could do is dress the part when he steps out in public."

The story getting strong pushback from both sides of the political aisle and parents everywhere who say leave the kid alone.

BRIGGS: The kid dresses better than my kids on their best day.

ROMANS: I have an 11-year-old.

BRIGGS: I could tell you why.

ROMANS: He is fine. Leave the kid alone.

BRIGGS: Got a lot of style.

Late last night First Lady Melania Trump tweeting this response to Chelsea Clinton. "Thank you, so important to support all of our children in being themselves. #Stopchildhoodbullying." That tweet came during the president's speech in which some say he was in fact, bullying. And Chelsea Clinton is arguably the biggest attacker of her husband. Just check her Twitter timeline. Interesting to retweet. It's true.

ROMANS: Yes. Leave Barron alone.

ESPN deciding to pull announcer Robert Lee from the University of Virginia's college football season opener -- the announcer, play-by- play announcer -- because of his name. Robert E. Lee of course was commander of the Confederate Army. ESPN confirming the decision was made as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding. Lee who is Asian has been assigned to another game.

Their response online, pretty much uniformly ESPN, get over yourself.

BRIGGS: Wow. Blasting the network.

ROMANS: Right?

BRIGGS: It is the number two trending story on Twitter behind only the Phoenix rally. Not going well.

ROMANS: All right.


ROMANS: Google and Wal-Mart are teaming up to take on Amazon. We're going to tell you how they plan to beat the online shopping power house. CNN Money Stream next.


[04:57:01] BRIGGS: The United States Navy has now officially removed the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet after the guided missile destroyer, USS John S. McCain, collided with a commercial tanker Monday, off the coast of Singapore.

CNN's Matt Rivers live with us on the phone in Singapore with the very latest just before 5:00 p.m. there.

Good morning to you, matt. What's the latest?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, the latest is that people do appear to be -- they are now being held accountable from a leadership perspective for this series of incidents that happened over this last year. Four different incidents involving U.S. Navy warships deployed to this part of the world and we now know that the commander of the 7th Fleet which has in its ranks three of the four ships that were involved in incidents, he has now been relieved of his command.

The Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift announced that he has relieved Joe Aucoin, Vice Admiral Joe Aucoin of his command for a lack of competence in his ability to command. This after two fatal accidents in the last several months alone. Of course you'll remember as the U.S. Fitzgerald collided with a container ship back in the middle of June and seven U.S. sailors died and now there are 10 U.S. sailors missing after the John S. McCain was involved in a crash with an oiler tanker, we know that remains have been covered, although it's unclear how many of the 10 sailors have been recovered so far.

That search and rescue operation still going on. But clearly men are now being held accountable in leadership positions.

BRIGGS: Matt Rivers live for us in Singapore, just about 5:00 p.m. there. Thank you, Matt.

ROMANS: All right. Just about the top of the hour, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. Global stock markets are mixed after a great day on Wall Street.

The catalyst yesterday, renewed hope for U.S. tax reform. Stocks here rallied whispers the White House and lawmakers are moving ahead on reform. The Dow surging almost 200 points. Its biggest one-day gain since April, the NASDAQ and the S&P both gave at least 1 percent .

Many credit the promise of tax reform. The Dow is up about 20 percent since the election. And all this again is before the rally last night where the president, you know, struck out at members of Congress very sharply, the very people who he will need to get tax reform done.

A shakeup for one of the world's largest oil companies Chevron. CEO John Watson may be stepping down. "Wall Street Journal" first reporting that the company is looking for new leadership with an expected transition next month.

Now Chevron didn't confirm the rumor telling CNN doesn't comment on speculation. However, Watson's likely exit comes during a dramatic time for oil companies. They're looking for new ways to cut costs as crude prices remain low.

Google and Wal-Mart teaming up to take on Amazon. Wall-Street will start offering hundreds of thousands of products on Google platforms including voice ordering through Google assistant. A direct threat to Amazon's void shopping with Alexa. This is the first time Wal-Mart is selling its products not on its own Web site, proof of the mutual threat both Google and Wal-Mart face from Amazon.

A team of does not ensure us success over Amazon, Amazon is still the primary stop for most inline shipping.