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Trump Versus Corker: The Feud Escalates; Trump Campaign Fundraises on NFL Walkout; Deadly California Wildfires; Google Found Russian Ads Related to Election; North Korea Nuclear Threat; CNN: Harvey Weinstein Says Firing Was a "Takedown". Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 10, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: More to come. New details on the feud between President Trump and a leading senator from his own party. White House officials telling CNN, the president, he could have more in store for Senator Bob Corker.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: White House doubling down on Vice President Pence's walkout from an NFL game. Trump's reelection campaign now fundraising off of that move.

ROMANS: And, Dave, at least 10 dead after wildfires roar across California. Mandatory evacuations and curfews in effect as firefighters struggle to contain the flames.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. It is Tuesday, October 10th. It's 4:00 a.m. in the East and it's 1:00 in California, where evacuations are under way. We'll get to that fire in a moment.

We begin, though, this morning with new details on the president's escalating feud with a leading member of his own party, Republican Senator Bob Corker, the powerful chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Former White House chief of staff, Steve Bannon, now calling on Corker to step down immediately.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: McConnell and Corker and the entire clique, establishment, globalist clique on Capitol Hill have to go. And if he needs any -- if we need any more proof about what they think you heard it tonight. It's an absolute disgrace. If Bob Corker has any honor, any decency, he should resign immediately.


BRIGGS: Sources tell CNN the president angry that he stuck his neck out for establishment Republican Senator Luther Strange of Alabama and is losing special election against Roy Moore.

ROMANS: The president backed Strange at the request of other establishment Republicans like Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell but still getting flack from Republicans like Corker anyway. Flack like this.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I do worry that he's -- sometimes I feel like he's on a reality show of some kind, you know, when he's talking about these big foreign policy issues. And, you know, he doesn't realize that, you know, that we could be heading towards World War III with the kind of comments that he's making.


ROMANS: That is Senator Corker in that 25-minute "New York Times" interview that made so much news. Sources also tell CNN the president is lashing out at Corker in part over frustration that his legislative agenda is stalled in Congress, even though the president needs senators like Corker to get that agenda passed.

One GOP source in touch with the White House tells CNN, Corker has more allies in the Senate than the president and the feud is a bad idea for Trump. And there could be more to come. More on that from CNN's Sara Murray.



This is a feud that could continue. White House officials say Trump is not yet done with Corker. That's not necessarily good news to everyone here in the East Wing. This is after President Trump spent the weekend going after Corker on Twitter, saying the only reason Corker has decided not to run for reelection is because Trump wouldn't endorse him and Corker knew there is no way he would win without Trump's backing.

Now, Corker's staff has taken issue with that characterization, disputing it, insisting the president said that if Corker would reconsider and would run again, that Trump would back this senator.

Some are concerned that Trump could be alienating a key ally both on foreign policy and on budget issues.

Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: All right. Sara Murray, thank you.

President Trump using the controversy around Vice President Pence's walkout of that NFL game over the weekend, over the national anthem, using that very incident to raise money. This as critics charge that Pence's walkout was in reality a staged stunt paid for buy taxpayer dollars. In Monday's fundraising email, the president slammed members of the San Francisco 49ers who took a knee during the anthem, writing, your vice president refused to dignify their disrespect.

BRIGGS: The president last night also praising one NFL team owner in a tweet.

A big absolute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will bench players who disrespect our flag. Stand for anthem or sit for the game.

One administration source telling CNN that some in the White House believe this issue plays well for the president.

For more, let's turn to CNN's Rene Marsh.



It appears the vice president made the trip on Air Force Two knowing that he'd walk out before the main event. And it comes as government watchdogs are investigating several Trump cabinet officials for their use of private jets and military planes. Well, Pence left the Indianapolis Colts versus San Francisco 49ers game in his home state when players from the 49ers took a knee during the national anthem.

Well, Sunday started with Pence tweeting that he was looking forward to cheering on the Colts. Once at the stadium, his aides told orders that Pence may depart the game early and that they should stay in their vehicles. Well, after around 30 minutes in the stadium, Pence tweeted he left the game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag or our national anthem.

And then later, the president tweeted, he and Pence discussed walking out beforehand. I asked @VPPence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I'm proud of him and Second Lady Karen.

Well, the walkout is drawing some sharp criticism, with some calling it a very expensive political stunt on taxpayers' dime. It costs $30,000 per hour to fly Air Force Two. Pence flew from Las Vegas to Indianapolis on Saturday, then flew from Indianapolis to Los Angeles on Sunday. The cost? Nearly a quarter million dollars.

The flight cost estimates do not include the cost of advance personnel, Secret Service and support on the ground. We will say that Pence's office contends if it wasn't for the game, he would have flown back to Washington, D.C., and they say that would have been a greater cost -- Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: Thank you, Rene.

So, if it weren't for the game, he would have wasted more taxpayer money. You understand?

The White House standing by its hard line demands for any deal to protect the undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers. Democratic leaders in Congress calling President Trump's immigration wish list a non-starter, with one aide saying the decision to release it on a Sunday night before Columbus Day looked like an effort to bury it. The Republican adviser to the president says, quote, Democrats have to compromise to get their goals or why bother.

ROMANS: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi suggests her side of the aisle might with hold spending bills if there's no deal on DREAMers. That needs to happen by March or some 690,000 young people brought to the U.S. as children will lose protections, allowing them to work and stay in the country legally.

We get more from CNN's Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave and Christine, here's the reality. That is a complete non-starter with Democrats. And in the U.S. Senate, nothing will happen on DACA without at least eight Democrats. They need 60 votes to be able to move this forward. Republicans only control 52 seats in the chamber.

So, where does that leave things right now?

Well, as I noted, Democrats saying this absolutely won't be part of any deal. Republicans saying, calm down, this is kind of a starting point of a negotiation, a negotiation that will continue over the next couple of months. But the drawback here that I think both sides will acknowledge is any clear path forward that they hope to have in kind of a near-term fashion for an issue that is very, very personal to so many people, well, that has certainly gone up in smoke right now. And the clear path forward they hope to get to by November or December, well, that at least at this point doesn't exist -- Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: Phil Mattingly there on the Hill -- thanks.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt set to sign an order repealing clean power rules today. According to the proposal leak to CNN, Pruitt making the case that the Obama era rule amounts to overreach by the EPA. The leak proposal also reveals Pruitt has not decided if the agency will create new regulations for greenhouse gases.

ROMANS: So, the Clean Power Plan requires states to meet carbon emission reductions based on their energy consumption. It rewards states for deploying renewable energy and low income energy efficiency programs ahead of schedule. Under the Obama administration, the EPA estimated that Clean Power Plan could prevent 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.

Earlier this year, EPA Chief Pruitt insisted the plan kills jobs and is beyond the scope of the agency's authority.

BRIGGS: Even with all this, the president remained largely out of view on Monday except for a round of golf with the frequent critic, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. The White House says they discussed immigration, tax reform, health care and government funding. South Carolina Republican later tweeting: Really enjoyed a round of golf with President Donald Trump today. President shot a 73 in windy and wet conditions.

How bad did he meet me? I did better in the presidential race than today on the golf course. Great fun, great host.

ROMANS: So, Senator Lindsey Graham got the memo. And we heard this when the president was getting ready to travel to Europe, remember, for some of those G7 meeting.

BRIGGS: Praised the president?

ROMANS: Make sure you praise the president. Always bring it back to praising the president.

BRIGGS: Especially on golf.

ROMANS: He needs a little pat on the back.

Google has uncovered Russian-backed ads related to the election, the latest tech company used to spread in misinformation, misinformation in 2016. Sources familiar with the investigation told CNN, Google found that Russian accounts bought tens of thousands of dollars in ads using YouTube and Google to push divisive campaigns on race, immigration and gun rights.

[04:10:13] Google's reach is huge. It's the largest seller of online ads in the U.S. And YouTube, which Google owns, is the world's largest video platform.

Google still doesn't know how many ads are connected to the Internet Research Agency. That's a Kremlin linked troll farm that bought ads on Twitter and Facebook, too. But Google says it's taking, quote, a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems. And like Facebook and Twitter, it will publicly testify on Capitol Hill in November. Google also plans to meet privately with intelligence committees before the hearing.

I think this is the tip of the iceberg what we're hearing from these companies.


ROMANS: They've always had kind of a civil libertarian approach here to, we provide the platforms, and free ideas will reign, and that is good for democracy and it's good for capitalism, it's good for people and freedom around the world. What we're seeing is that very platform for democracy and free speech has been exploited by people who want to kill democracy and free speech.

BRIGGS: Where do they draw the line? How much do they interfere in this platform?

ROMANS: Absolutely. I mean, do they curate it? Do they -- are they editors, do they have to become better editors? And it's that sensorship. BRIGGS: Many already feel that's what's happening on Twitter with the hashtags that happen to trend.

All right. Anyway, fires raging across California at this moment. At least ten dead with mandatory evacuations across the state. We'll have the latest for you, next.


[04:15:42] BRIGGS: Deadly destructive wildfires raging across California, forcing evacuations and reducing homes and businesses to ash. The largest fires burning in wine country, Napa and Sonoma Counties, 10 people already killed and that number expected to climb. More than 100 people now being treated at local hospitals for fire- related injuries or health conditions caused by smoke.

More than 119,000 acres spanning eight counties now burned. One fire in Anaheim spreading to over 4,000 acres, destroying at least six buildings in its path.

CNN's Dan Simon with more from the Santa Rosa, the heart of California wine country.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, this fire has been so explosive, pushed by the high winds. At one point, the fire gusting to 40 to 50 miles per hour.

Take a look at this one neighborhood. This is the Sky View neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California. Devastation as far as the eye can see.

You can see some of the burned out vehicles as well. The fire smoldering here but we're told that the fire is still active in certain places. Crews doing whatever they can to get the blaze under control. I'm told by a fire official, though, that the fire activity is outpacing any resource they can throw at it.

We've seen so much devastation. I saw a McDonald's that burned to the ground. I saw a furniture store, a hotel, a Kmart. Really, it's just unbelievable. At this point, 20,000 people or so have been evacuated. Two hospitals actually had to be evacuated. They took the patients south towards San Francisco, towards Marin County to get those people to safety.

Hopefully, the weather cooperates and crews will be able to get the upper hand on this blaze. But for now, things are still looking grim.

Dave and Christine, back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Dan Simon, thanks.

So, will the weather cooperate? Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera for the very latest forecast.


IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's going to cooperate more in the last couple of days here.

I just want to show some of these pictures, neighborhood here, the before and after. Just unbelievable in Santa Rosa, California, just completely wiped out. This doesn't happen unless you have incredible weather conditions and we certainly did that. We have basically hurricane force winds across this region, and along with a very low humidity. That was able to spread the fires in dramatic fashion.

Look at Hawkeye in Sonoma County, 79 miles an hour wind gusts, that is certainly hurricane force winds and we did that again in Mt. Diablo as well. We are not going to see any winds anywhere that speed today. In fact, we're going to go lower, much lower and they're come from the other direction.

Well, we have moisture. We have the Pacific. And that's going to be bringing in much needed moisture the next few days, not only for our friends in north California, but here across the southern part of the state, where Anaheim has been dealing with their own fires.

The rest of the country looking at a front moving through across the Southeast. And, by the way, the warm whether they're been seeing across the east, that will be coming to an end. But the cool air beginning to move in and it will drop the temperatures a good 10 degrees by Friday.


ROMANS: All right, Ivan. Thanks for that. Look, it's like the Napa Valley, the Sonoma Valley just surrounded by blazes. It's unbelievable.

BRIGGS: Those winds are devastating.

ROMANS: All right. Celebrities speaking out against Harvey Weinstein after the Hollywood mogul is fired over sexual harassment accusations. New details on the conspiracy Weinstein thinks caused his downfall, just ahead.


[04:23:25] BRIGGS: All right. Now to the widening nuclear crisis with North Korea. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson scheduled to have lunch with President Trump today, and this will likely be the topic of discussion.

With tensions high, Mattis says the U.S. is still seeking a diplomatic solution of the standoff. But he's quick to add the military, quote, must stand ready if diplomacy fails. All this as the CIA warns of yet another possible provocation by the Kim Jong-un regime. Let's go live to Seoul and get the very latest from CNN's Alexandra


Good morning to you.

Another consequential day on the North Korean calendar.


You've got a national holiday happening in North Korea. That always seems to underscore the possibility of another provocation. Of course, we haven't seen that today. But it does bring further into focus the looming threat that continues to be posed by North Korea, and certainly that is the issue that we would expect the president will be discussing with his secretaries of defense, with the secretary of state.

You know, publicly, his top administration officials have been very much pursuing a policy of diplomacy, in order to resolve the crisis with North Korea. But at the same time, you've got a president who has taken to Twitter where he has taunted the leader of North Korea, calling him little rocket man and issued a series of somewhat cryptic threats or messages.

First, it was, we'll do what we have to do. That was about a week ago. Then, it was, only one thing will work when it comes to North Korea. Now, another tweet saying that 25 years of efforts toward North Korea have failed that the policy won't work.

You do have the secretary of defense, however, saying that the diplomatic option is the option that is being most heavily pursued when it comes to resolving this crisis.

[04:25:03] He says that that diplomatic approach is being buttressed by economic sanctions. But, of course, he's the secretary of defense and he does continue to point out that the military's job is to continue to provide options to the president and to be prepared. You've got the U.S. Army chief now bringing into focus the fact that stakes are high here, saying there is no risk-free option.

He's pointing to the fact that, of course, a war with North Korea would have nothing but horrendous and horrible outcomes, but he mentioned that equally horrible the option of allowing them to have a missile capable of hitting the continental United States. He also points out the fact that the time to make decisions concerning North Korea is not indefinite, given the acceleration of their missile and nuclear program. Right here in South Korea, we're hearing from the join chiefs of staff. They continue to closely monitor movements inside North Korea and maintain their full defense posture here -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Alex, we'll check back with you next hour. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: Yes. That's clearly the top of the agenda, I'm sure, at the lunch today. BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: New details this morning on the firing of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, his firing from the company that bears his name. A long-time friend tells CNN Weinstein believes his firing was a takedown and not a reaction to sexual harassment allegations, stretching back decades.

According to this friend, Weinstein is convinced he was betrayed by his brother, Bob, who he believes is behind the "New York Times" reporting and the decision by the board of directors to fire him.

BRIGGS: The two brothers co-founded the Weinstein Company in 2005. Now, there are growing questions about just how much the board and his brother Bob knew about this improper conduct with women. We're also learning that Harvey Weinstein e-mailed Hollywood executives in a last-ditch attempt to save his job.

In a leak email, he says, quote, if you could write this letter backing me, getting me the help and time away I need, and also stating your opposition to the board firing me, it would help me a lot. I'm desperate for your help, just give me the time to have therapy. Do not let me be fired. If the industry supports me, that's all I need.

ROMANS: Hollywood A-listers who worked with Harvey Weinstein are now condemning him. Meryl Streep penned this: the behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power is familiar. Each brave voice it has raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.

From Judi Dench: I was completely unaware of these offenses which are, of course, horrifying and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out.

BRIGGS: Glenn Close adding: I have been aware of the vague rumors that Harvey Weinstein had a pattern of behaving inappropriately around women. Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad.

And this from Kate Winslet: I had hoped that these kind of stories were just made up rumors. Maybe we have all been naive. It makes me so angry.

ROMANS: Hollywood's men also speaking out against Weinstein.

George Clooney telling "The Daily Beast": I've heard rumors. It seemed like a way to smear the actresses and demean them by saying that they didn't get the jobs based on their talent. I didn't hear anything about the payoffs and I don't know anyone that did. There's nothing to say except that it's indefensible.

All three network late night hosts also spoke out last night, slamming Weinstein's behavior, a day after being criticized for largely ignoring this, over the weekend, ignoring it. Last night, they let it fly. BRIGGS: And "SNL" over the weekend I think got due criticism. They

had jokes in according to "The New York Times" about Harvey Weinstein, ended up taking them out in the final tape. And I think it was a New York thing, as --


ROMANS: It was a New York thing. You heard that from one the other late night hosts. He said, look, we thought he was sort of inside baseball, that he was like New York, Hollywood-New York that maybe in the work. We're talking to the whole country. That maybe he was just too much of like a celebrity.

BRIGGS: Isn't that why you should speak out because you are speaking to the whole country, you set as an example?

ROMANS: A lot of people are saying, where are the Clintons? Where are the Obamas? Where are the people who stood up and taken money from Weinstein. He was a liberal champion.

Hillary Clinton spoke for the first time last night in UC Davis, since this whole story broke, she did not mention Harvey Weinstein.

BRIGGS: She spoke for 90 minutes. It wasn't 15. So, she had prepared remarks and a Q&A, and neither address Harvey Weinstein. He gave at least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, he gave at least $46,000 to Hillary or her PAC supporting her.

President Obama had a fundraiser, $38,000, a couple hosted by Harvey Weinstein.


BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, the public feud between President Trump and outgoing Republican Senator Bob Corker. The White House saying there may be more to come. That's ahead.