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President Trump Versus Senator Corker; Questions Loom After Pence Walkout; White House Unveils Dream Act Wish List; Giant Balloons To Help Connect Puerto Rico; Weinstein Forced Out Of His Own Company; Investigators Decipher Gunman's Note. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 9, 2017 - 05:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Some wondering if this was a pre-planned stunt.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And Nancy (inaudible) in "USA Today" says the Pence walk out makes a mockery of the anthem staged like a political theater actually undermines what they have been trying to do.

BRIGGS: Also, his own team, the Colts, he was there to support, did not take a knee. So, was he supporting them? You decide.

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, October 9th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the east. Welcome, everyone here.

Capping off an extraordinary volley of personal insults, influential Republican Senator Bob Corker now the first lawmaker to go public with what many in the GOP have been saying privately for months.

In an interview Sunday with the "New York Times," the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the powerful chairman of that powerful committee, accused President Trump of treating his office like a reality show with reckless threats that could set America on the path to World War III.

Corker said he's alarmed by a president who acts, quote, "like he's doing "The Apprentice" or something." And telling the "Times," he concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.

BRIGGS: The verbal combat escalating Sunday when the president launched a Twitter tirade against Corker. Trump tweeting "The retiring Republican senator doesn't have the guts to run again." After Trump supposedly denied Corker's request for an endorsement, a claim denied by Corker's chief of staff.

Corker was quick to punch back tweeting, "It's a shame the White House has become an adult daycare center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."

ROMANS: Just look at that for a minute. That is a powerful senator of the United States speaking about his president. BRIGGS: And that's been retweeted more than 124,000 times to date. The trouble between the senator and the president has been brewing for weeks. Underscored by this remark from Corker last week.


SENATOR BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.


ROMANS: That was Wednesday. Three weeks ago, Corker questioned the president's stability and competence after he assigned blame for the violence in Charlottesville last summer to quote both sides.

Senator Corker's vote will be critical for many of the president's legislative goals including tax reform policy challenges like the Iran nuclear deal. He is a retiring senator, yes, but, he's going to be around for some time here, and the president will need him for that very, very slim margin he has in the Senate.

BRIGGS: You can only lose two Republicans if you have no Democratic support. So, any issue is going to be tough to get done.

ROMANS: It's a good thing he didn't insult John McCain.

BRIGGS: Who knows? All right. Joining us now "Washington Post" political reporter and CNN alum, Eugene Scott. Good to see you, sir. She brings up a good point. He wouldn't attack John McCain, right?

He'd attack Corker, Jeff Flake, Mitch McConnell, Dean Heller, McCain, Graham, Sessions, all of these Republican senators, Sessions a former senator, what are the implications here? What is the impact of this massive Twitter feud?

EUGENE SCOTT, POLITICAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": I think this latest disagreement highlights just how ideological diverse at best chaotic at worse, the Republican Party is within itself.

I mean, the reality is when you look at the Trump administration's inability to put forward not legislation, but just a whole vision that they believe will be able to actually make America great again, it hasn't been the Democratic Party that's made it most difficult for them. It's been internal conflict.

And when you see tweets come out like this in the open, you can only imagine what's being said behind the scenes.

ROMANS: You know, this is just one out of 100 senators, though. Is this a critical mass here? You know, is this something that others will be brave enough or foolish enough to jump on to?

SCOTT: Well, I think that's what everyone's interested in seeing. I mean, Corker has come out and said in the "New York Times" that he is not the only Republican senator who feels this way. And for as much talk as being made about the fact that he is heading out of the door, he's still here for like another year at least. He could change his mind. And, I saw some whispers actually on Twitter people hoping to get behind Corker as an alternative to President Trump in 2020.

So, you can see other people coming out and take this is approach depending on what their long-term goals are.

BRIGGS: Yes. You can't imagine many Republican senators up for reelection would be willing to take on Trump supporters that would be a very risky bet. Let's talk about the vice president, Mike Pence, at the Colts-49ers game on Sunday because Pate Manning was being honored.

He leaves after the national anthem because members of the 49ers took a knee. Remember the Colts did not take a knee. There are two criticisms emerging from this. One is the cost to taxpayers for the short, very, very brief visit, $240,000.

And some are suggesting that perhaps this was a manufactured scandal, that this they saw this coming, new it was going to happen. The 49ers have taken a knee every game since Kaepernick did it and announced he would do it before this game. Do you think it was manufactured?

[05:05:12] SCOTT: Well, that's certainly the thought. I mean, think about it, the Trump White House had said they campaigned on the economic anxiety. Those concerns of their base, but taking a flight from Vegas to Indianapolis then back to California for a few minutes doesn't seem like a decision one would make if they are actually concerned about economics.

It's the cultural anxiety that it was such a common theme among Trump supporters that I think this move speaks to. It speaks to people who are frustrated about what they view as the progressive direction of the United States.

But, at the end of the day, it's put Pence in a bad situation because it's forcing this White House which has had so many problems with planes and travel already to justify why they made that decision.

ROMANS: Yes. The timing certainly curious. Let's talk a little bit about the news that dropped last night at the White House with its list of demands. If they're going to be an extension for the DREAMers, the DACA.

The White House has a wish list that is pretty much everything about the kitchen sink in terms of immigration restrictions, right? Stopping unaccompanied minors entering illegally, funding for the border wall, targeting visa overstays, removing undocumented immigrants.

It goes actually beyond all of these. These are some of the cornerstones here because you're also talking about restricting the ways that the family members of people who are in the country can get a pathway to citizenship. They are really shutting off that pipeline. This is going to be a non-starter for Democrats, right? SCOTT: Absolutely. Trump got a lot of criticism for being willing to work with the Democrats on DACA. I think this shows that perhaps he isn't really willing to work with them as much as some in his party feared.

Democrats have been very vocal. They're not getting behind a wall. So, for President Trump to stand up and say the only way I will entertain extending DACA is if you give me money for a wall. I think it's both sides saying we're not going to find middle ground on this issue.

ROMANS: This is what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said yesterday, "We told the president at our meeting that we were open to reasonable border security measures alongside the Dream Act, but this list goes so far beyond what is reasonable. This proposal failed to represent any attempt to compromise.

If the president was serious about protecting his Dreamer, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so." I do like to say I think it's interesting his staff because maybe they're giving the president a little wiggle room here. You know, saying --

BRIGGS: We know this isn't what you want.

ROMANS: We had a different deal. There's also -- you could argue, the president is a negotiator. He's deal maker. He could have put everything on the table and step back from there, Eugene.

SCOTT: Yes, I think what the president is serious about is maintaining the support of his base. We are talking about a leader who has such low approval ratings across the board except for people who already backed him.

He feels like he cannot risk harming them. I think when you look at a lot of decisions made since Friday including some of the decisions about protecting the religious freedoms of people of faith, with some of the legislation and decisions put forward on Friday.

This response to the NFL yesterday and this immigration decision, he's looking to keep the support, keep people on the Trump train, who he fears could be jumping off like many other Americans.

BRIGGS: All right. All these are important stories, but they seemed to pale in comparison when you look at the prospect of nuclear war. Here's the president's tweet about that.

"President and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years. Agreements made, massive amounts of money paid, haven't worked. Agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of U.S. negotiators, sorry, but only one thing will work." When asked about that remark, he left another reality show-like tease for reporters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the one thing that will work with North Korea?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, you'll figure that out pretty soon.


BRIGGS: OK. Eugene, he's probably right about the 25 years not working. What do you make of the continued teasing of nuclear war?

SCOTT: I think it's really interesting. To me, it highlights this constant disagreement with Tillerson, right? Tillerson has not been vocal about the fact that only one thing will work. We've seen President Trump come out on Twitter pushing back on what he thinks the secretary of state's approach is.

But I think one thing that's important to keep all of this in context, if you go back to the Corker disagreement, much of that disagreement actually is about foreign policy, right?

We know that Corker is head of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and many of his challenges with President Trump right now are his approach to international affairs and his inability to respond to very serious situations with the wisdom and intelligence needed to approach them.

And so, what that one thing is isn't clear. What is clear is that this White House, according to many people, is in chaos when it comes to responding to this issue.

[05:10:05] ROMANS: All right. Eugene Scott, so nice to see you bright and early this Monday morning, reporter for the "Washington Post," thank you.

Harvey Weinstein, fired, fired now by the movie company he cofounded, days after that bombshell report accusing him a sexual harassment dating back decades, really ugly stuff, folks. More next.


ROMANS: All right. Giant floating balloons could bring internet and cell service back to Puerto Rico. Right now, about 80 percent of the island lacks cell service, but Hurricane Maria wiped out infrastructure so the FCC is using an innovative approach to restore connectivity.

It's issuing an experimental license to X, a moonshot company run by Google. X uses giant balloons as floating cell towers. It's called "Project Loon." It sends balloons 12 miles into the air, from there they connect with on the ground telecommunications systems, and the project works.

[05:15:05] It helped Peru provide coverage after that country flooded earlier this year. There's one big difference, though, Loon had conducted tests in Peru for months before going online. In Puerto Rico, they're starting at square one, but its spokesperson told CNN Project Loon is making solid progress in Puerto Rico and declined to give a time frame, but certainly high hopes for that.

BRIGGS: Very interesting. A rapid fall from grace, media mogul, Harvey Weinstein has been fired from the film company he cofounded. The action comes days after a "New York Times" investigation revealed incidents of alleged sexual harassment spanning decades.

The board of directors at the Weinstein company including his brother released a statement saying the decision was made in light of new information about misconduct by Weinstein. Some clients have said they may stop working with the company if he's still associated with it. So far, no comment from Weinstein.

ROMANS: All right. The bright lights that are the trademark of Las Vegas dimmed last night for 11 minutes to honor the victims and the heroes of last week's tragic mass murder. Many of the strips flashing lights went dark from 10:05 to 10:16 local time. Exactly one week to the minute after the shots rang out.

BRIGGS: As for the investigation, well, police now believe they know the significance of a note with handwritten numbers on it found on the shooter's home. Officials say the numbers are calculations for the distance and trajectory from the gunman's 32nd floor window to the audience at the country music concert where he was targeting below.


DAVID NEWTON, LAS VEGAS POLICE OFFICER: He must have done that calculations or gone online or something to figure it out, of what his altitude was going to be, on how high up he was, how far out the crowd was going to be, and what, at that distance, what the drop of his bullet was going to be. He hadn't written out the calculations. All he had was written out the final numbers.


ROMANS: The mass of his kill zone, it's just so disturbing. Police still trying to work out the gunman's motive. Again, they searched his home in Mesquite, Nevada east of Las Vegas. Over the weekend, officials released some personal effects left behind in the chaos of the attack and they began returning them to their rightful owners.

BRIGGS: Country music star, Jason Aldean, who was performing in Las Vegas as the attack started trying to find some healing this weekend on "Saturday Night Live."


BRIGGS: Aldean opened "SNL" with a rendition of Tom Petty's hit song "I Won't Back Down." Petty's death last week largely overshadowed by the Las Vegas massacre. He also gave an emotional tribute to the victims.


JASON ALDEAN, COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER: We hurt for you and we hurt with you. You can be sure that we're going to walk through these tough times together every step of the way. Because when America is at its best, our bond and our spirit, it's unbreakable.


BRIGGS: Aldean flew back to Nevada Sunday visiting the University Medical Center to sit with victims of the shooting. Great stuff from Jason Aldean. Got to listen to that rendition. We tweeted it out earlier.

All right. The Yankees in need of a bounce back to stay alive in their post-season series with the tribe. Coy Wire has the report from the Bronx in this morning's "Bleacher Report."



BRIGGS: Take a knee continues. The Cowboy's owner, Jerry Jones, says his team will stand for the national anthem or else.

ROMANS: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. Yesterday, Jerry Jones made one thing clear. He doesn't want any of his players to kneel during the national anthem.

He told the "Dallas Morning News" in part, quote, "If there's anything disrespecting the flag, then we will not play, period. We're going to respect the flag and I'm going to create the perception of it.

We know that there's a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. Just so we're clear," unquote.

Yesterday, CBS' NFL reporter, Jason (inaudible) said he spent a few hours with Colin Kaepernick and reported that Kaepernick would stand for the national anthem if he signed with an NFL team. That was not true. The report was picked up by several major news outlets.

Kaepernick''s girlfriend tweeted that the reports were completely false. He never asked Kaepernick about kneeling and was relaying what had been previously reported. Kaepernick tweeted a quote from Winston Churchill saying, quote, "A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on," unquote.

The NFL lost two of its brightest stars to major injuries yesterday. Texans and Houston area hero, J.J. Watt went down with a broken leg during the first quarter of last night's game against the Chiefs.

He'll be out indefinitely. The Chiefs ended up winning that game, 42- 34. They remain the league's only undefeated team. Then, things went from bad to worse for the Giants. Not one, not two, but four receivers got hurt in their lost to the Chargers including that man right there, superstar, Odell Beckham, Jr. The team confirming he suffered a broken ankle and will have to have surgery. The Giants are now 0-5.

Back and forth multiple lead changes in the fourth quarter of the Packers Cowboys match that made it arguably the most exciting game yesterday. In the end, with the game on the line, the Cowboys had the lead and all they have to do was stop Aaron Rodgers from stealing victory from them. They couldn't do it. Just as Rodgers did in last season's playoff, he dissected the Cowboy's defense. Packers went 35- 31 and moved to 4-1 on the season.

[05:25:05] How about that late-night baseball in the Bronx? The Yankees living to fight another day against the Indians. The real pitcher's duel in this one. One run on the scoreboard then it was bye-bye birdie. Home run by Yankees first base, Greg (inaudible).

Former Yankee and ace reliever, Andrew Miller. Masahiro Tanaka with seven strong innings. Yankees win 1-zip. Game 4 is tonight at Yankee Stadium. Red Sox staying alive as well. They had 10-3 win over the Astros. Game four later this evening in Boston. Exciting stuff. Can't beat baseball in the playoffs. Also, some exciting NFL games yesterday.

BRIGGS: Yes. Tough losses though with JJ and OBJ. That hurts. Sox play at 1:00 today Eastern to try to even that one up. Thanks, Coy.

ROMANS: All right. Republican Senator Bob Corker on the record with careful, cutting criticism of this president after calling the White House an adult daycare center, Corker says the president's actions could lead to World War III.


ROMANS: President Trump is a concern to anyone who cares about our nation. That from a Republican senator warning the president's actions could set the nation on a course for World War III.

BRIGGS: Wow. The White House releases hardline requirements for immigration deal, demands threatening to derail the president's deal with Democrats to help Dreamers.

ROMANS: And the vice president accused of a big political stunt. He left the football game after players took a knee.