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The President Versus the Media; California Blazes Destroy 3,500 Structures; Clinton "Shocked" by Weinstein Allegations: Yankees Stun Indians to Advance in Playoffs. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2017 - 05:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's frankly disgusting the way the press was able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump taking aim again at the news media, the free press in America, as new reporting reveals major turmoil inside the White House.

[05:00:07] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Devastating fires continue to ravage northern California. The death toll is rising and hundreds are still missing. Just devastating winds fueling these fires, 50 miles an hour.

We are praying for everybody out there in California.


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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, October 12th, 5:00 a.m. in the East. It is 2:00 a.m. in California.

But let's begin with this. The president escalating his threats against the media, suggesting news organizations whose reporting he does not like should possibly be shut down in the United States of America. The president tweeting: Network news has become so distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and if appropriate revoked. Not fair to the public.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska responding immediately with a tweet of his own. Mr. President, are you recanting the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect and defend the First Amendment?

BRIGGS: The president specifically lashing out at NBC News over its report he wants a ten-fold increase in the nation's nuclear arsenal. A report Secretary of Defense James Mattis called absolutely false. Last night, the president went even further.


TRUMP: The media is bad. They are really dishonest people. These are very, very dishonest people, in many cases. In many cases.

But when you're the one being written about, you know whether it's good or bad, and it's always they try to make it negative. So, the media has turned I call it fake media. It's media. It's so much fake news.


BRIGGS: President's latest feud with the media comes amid reports of turmoil behind the scenes at the White House.

All right. Helping us break all of this down, CNN politics digital reporter, Tal Kopan, live in Washington.

Good to see you this morning.

ROMANS: Good morning.


BRIGGS: Cubbies in a trouble, but we don't have time to discuss that.

ROMANS: Stop. We're not talking about the Cubs.

BRIGGS: It could be an interesting series, my friend.

But let's talk about the accusations from the president saying they should do something about it. The tweet from the president: network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to the public.

Here is the FCC rules. I printed them out for the president, 33 pages. All you got to do is get to page eight to find out the problem with that statement. Licenses are for local affiliates. NBC news, CNN, those aren't licenses.

What's the other problem with this stuff, Tal?

KOPAN: Well, yes, there's a bigger problem than the fact this doesn't make any sense. The problem is that, you know, in trying in our Constitution in the First Amendment is that the government cannot abridge freedom of the press. When you have a president suggesting that perhaps if coverage is something he does not find flattering because let's be honest, he's not talking about whether the media is being fair. He's upset with coverage that he does not find favorable towards him.

And that is not what he is entitled to and what the press is asked to do. The press has many internal checks to ensure that what it reports is true and factual. But beyond that, it doesn't have to be favorable. And so, this comments made about the equal time that don't really make sense, even jokes he's made about trouble with reporters while standing next to fairly authoritarian foreign leaders who cracked down on the press on their own country, it amounts to a troubling set of comments that suggest he's going after in some ways, the freedom of the press. BRIGGS: And just to be clear, NBC News for their point says they had

had three people inside the room, and it was a very small meeting to relay that story.

ROMANS: So, you know, as he's bashing the press and trying to go after the press and even talking about -- I mean, undoing the freedom of press, there is a "Vanity Fair", a new "Vanity Fair" piece which is fascinating with unnamed sources. The president yesterday said the media makes up their sources, like to assure everyone watching, we don't make up our sources. The chain of approval is long and tedious.

But here's what is in this Gabe Sherman piece. And correct me if I'm wrong, Gabe Sherman has had some amazing reporting over the past year or so about the Trump administration. His reporting has borne out many cases.

Let's look at what Steve Bannon is reported to have said here in this "Vanity Fair" piece. Steve Bannon said to the president essentially that impeachment wouldn't be his problem. His biggest problem was the 25th Amendment. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, what's that?

According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it to the full term.

Dave yesterday was noticing that the 25th Amendment was trending on Twitter.

BRIGGS: Most of the day.

ROMANS: People looking up what that meant. That's a significant to be talking -- saying the words President Trump and 25th Amendment in the same sentence, especially when you're talking about Steve Bannon.

[05:05:01] KOPAN: Yes, that's right. And, you know, it's very hard to know what kind of joking tone he may have used, how serious that was. I mean, that's just very difficult for us to know based on the comments that had been reported.

But certainly, you know, Democrats have been the one mostly talking about the 25th Amendment to this point. And, you know, as we were just showing, there's a piece of the 25th Amendment, which deals with presidential replacement, that if the cabinet and the vice president were to tell Congress that the president is unfit to serve, there's a procedure for that transferring power to the vice president.

Now, this is sort of conceived as if the president is potentially comatose or under the effects of anesthesia. There's a way to have an acting president in power, it was not at least been used to remove someone from office and strip their power, but there's a theory out there that it could be used in that way. And so, you know, to hear not just Democrats who have an ax to grind with the White House, but even one of the former White House officials raising this amendment is a certainly a remarkable development.

BRIGGS: Yes, that's what's really interesting. Not just enemies, but his biggest ally.

Let's talk about what the president wants the conversation to be about right now, which is tax reform, tax cuts.


BRIGGS: His suggestion yesterday that the middle class would get a $4,000 tax break.

ROMANS: Pay raise.

BRIGGS: Pay raise, which enthusiastic applause in that room, what math is he relying on and is this something they can back up? Do they have a good shot if that is true?

KOPAN: Well, I believe the analysis was this could happen potentially over eight years. And so, you know, this is something -- this happens every time you have a debate about taxes, of course. Both sides sort of mathematical equations to make it seem like they are the ones helping the middle class, but it's a very risky gambit because if you promise and you don't deliver, that is devastating. And so, the president certainly has to be careful about what match he's using when he makes a claim like this.

ROMANS: Well, the president -- you know, the president want this is to be a middle class miracle. When you talk to people close to him, when he's talking about taxes, he says, I want this to be for people. I want this to be for truckers, I want it for the plumbers, for small business owners. I don't want this to be for rich people.

When you look at the plan the team put out, about a third of middle- class families could see the same or higher taxes. So, that's where this $4,000 pay raise comes from.

BRIGGS: And relies on a lot of assumption.

ROMANS: It relies on a lot of assumption, as does everything in taxes and pay. Now, they are trying to make the case, the president's case that the middle class tax cuts are good for the middle class by saying what's good for companies is good for the middle class. What's good for companies will be eventually be good for you.

BRIGGS: The truth abound.

ROMANS: Right. So, that's -- I do believe the president wants this to be a middle class tax cut. I do believe the plan that the team put forward is not that. So, that's where we are here on that.

Tal Kopan, thank you so much. Come back in a half hour and we'll talk some more.

BRIGGS: All right. This dangerous and deadly wildfires ravaging northern California. We'll speak live with the Sonoma County deputy sheriff, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:12:33] ROMANS: All right. Sad to report that the death toll in those devastating wildfires in California rose overnight. It is now 23. We have 285 people missing in Sonoma County alone. Statewide, firefighters battling 22 blazes.

You know, Wednesday, they had to cope with shifting winds blowing up to 50 miles per hour in some places. Those gusts are troublesome for firefighters.

BRIGGS: More than 20,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes, including the city of Calistoga. Residents in the city of Napa had been told to prepare for possible evacuation. A total of 115 flights cancelled in San Francisco International Airport yesterday due in part to this reduced visibility from the wildfires.

To help us figure out where this is headed, let's bring in Deputy Brandon Jones. He's spokesman for the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

Good morning to you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Let's talk about the missing there in Sonoma County and all throughout the Napa Valley. How do you get a sense of how many people are missing and account for them?

DEPUTY BRANDON JONES, SONOMA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: So, we have established a hot line here at the Sonoma County EOC office where people can call in and report their loved ones as missing. Obviously with the fire damaging some of our infrastructure towers, communication has been very difficult. So, we have been able to recover or locate a lot of missing people just by having them surface in shelters and getting to phones, and then they end up be able to call in to their family members and loved ones.

So, every day when dawn arise, we end up driving that statistic up higher and higher, which is making all of us really, really happy.

ROMANS: Yes. I know we're looking at pictures of the wind gusts and what the firefighters are doing. Those firefighters and those fire crews be exhausted because there hasn't really been a let up that you can really get your teeth in here for trying to fight this fire. What are you guys saying in terms of containment?

JONES: So containment figures, the latest containment fires I have from Cal Fire are unfortunately still low. But they are there. And for the first 48 of the 72 hours that we've had zero containment. And we're actually getting positive containment now.

So, we're really happy with the progress we have made. It's been a trying time for all of us here in Sonoma County, but we're out there and we're fighting and we're starting to fight back. And it's making all of us hopeful this is going to be over sooner rather than later.

ROMANS: Certainly, there's a little bit of good news. I know that some of those fire crews, some of those fighters have lost their own homes or don't know if their homes have been lost. In many places, there's no electricity. You can't even get back in there.

Glad to see there's a little containment, but a lot more work to do, Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, what is the biggest challenge for these brave, exhausted souls fighting these fires?

JONES: The weather. We are fighting the weather. The ferocity of the fire came from a series of factors. You know, high fuel area, very, very conditions for extended period of time before, and then a weather pattern that came in that was conducive to wildfire and it just happened to be three factors came together and one pick up.

And it's been raging. We need the wind to go away. We need the wind to go away and a rainstorm would be lovely. But we'll take the wind to go away for now so we can get in there and get more air attack going, get more land crews in there and really start fighting this thing.

ROMANS: Sheriff Brandon Jones -- Deputy Sheriff Brandon Jones, thank you so much for stopping by. We wish you the very best. You're the deputy sheriff of the Sonoma County Sherriff's Department, a spokesman there.


ROMANS: Two-fifteen a.m. for you. One night, one morning ahead. Thanks. Hope these look better at dawn.

JONES: It's very dark and very smoky, but we are here and we are fighting.

ROMANS: Thank you, sir.

BRIGGS: All right. Thank you, sir. We really appreciate it.

OK. Move over Reggie for a new Mr. October, Didi Gregorius, powering the Yankees to a stunning victory over the tough luck Cleveland Indians. A berth in the ALCS for the Yanks.

Coy Wire has the details in the "Bleacher Report".


[05:21:18] BRIGGS: All right. The New York Yankees back from the brink of elimination to advance to the ALCS.

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

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Dave, the Bronx Bombers were down 2-0 against the AL champs, the Indians. But like the Yankee Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said, it ain't over until it's over.

Someone needed to step up and that someone would be shortstop Didi Gregorius. The Dutchman who speaks five languages, paints on road trips and hits home runs too. This solo shot in the first inning, he only had one hit in 13 at bats this series coming into this game. Well, in the third, he hits another home run, which scored 2 runs.

They say he's overrated, he's no Derek Jeter, he's no legend. Well, his performance legendary for Yankees fans. New York advances to the ALCS with a 5-2 win.


DIDI GREGORIUS, YANKEES SHORTSTOP: For me, it just you know, I always believe in myself. You know, there's always people that was going to doubt you, that's going to do everything. But at the end, it's up to you how you want to work.

JOE GIRARDI, YANKEES MANAGER: So the emotions, these guys had my back and fought and again, they'd be a really good team.


WIRE: Yankees can't celebrate too long. They take on the Astros in Houston starting tomorrow night.

Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg has had a reputation for not pitching well in the playoffs. Make that had a bad reputation. His club is facing elimination against the Cubs last night in Chicago. Strasburg was sick all week. His manager said Tuesday he wasn't going to play in this game. He dug deep and pitched seven scoreless innings breaking his own post season franchise record. Teammates rallied too. They were up 1-0 in the eighth and Michael Taylor hitting Washington's first ever playoff grand slam. Nats tie this series winning 5-0. Now, we're going to have a winner takes all, game five tonight on our sister network TBS at 8:08 Eastern.

Now, after it was falsely insinuated and tweeted yesterday that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was demanding that players stand during the national anthem, the commissioner spoke out.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: There's been no policy change. What we've had is unprecedented dialogue over last year with our players, our owners, with community leaders, law enforcement, and what we planned to do is have a very community in-depth discussion with players and owners next week and make sure we truly understand the issues and also understand the approach that we want the to take together with the players.


WIRE: In a profound move, the league and players association are setting aside their contentious relationship and the league has invited executives from the NFLPA, including players to attend the annual owners meeting in New York City next week. We'll see what comes of that.

All right. Here's your feel good sports story of the day. Assistant UNLV hockey coach Nick Robone who was shot in the chest during the Las Vegas shooting walked out of the hospital under his own power yesterday. And right there beside him, his brother, paramedic Anthony Robone.

Anthony wasn't on duty during the shooting. He was there enjoying the concert with his brother. He was the one who dragged him to safety. Story of inspiration. He helped save his brother and his life before the ambulance arrived on the scene.

BRIGGS: That is outstanding, my friends. As are those glasses, we like that look.

ROMANS: Very sharp.

WIRE: I didn't have time to do my makeup, so I had to cover as much as I could.

BRIGGS: You don't need makeup, Coy Wire. Beautiful man.

ROMANS: All right. Twenty-four minutes past the hour.

President Trump lashing out at the press and even threatening to ban major news organizations.

BRIGGS: And we're also following the dangers in deadly fires in northern California, where authorities continue to battle the catastrophic inferno.



[05:29:26] TRUMP: It's frankly disgusting the way the press was able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it.


BRIGGS: President Trump taking aim at the media and the First Amendment as new reporting reveals major turmoil inside the White House.

ROMANS: Devastating fires ravaged northern California. The death toll is rising and hundreds are still missing.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 29 minutes past the hour.

We start with President Trump escalating threats against the media, suggesting news organizations whose reporting he does not like should possibly be shut down. The president tweeting, quote, network news has become so partisan, disported and fake that licenses must be challenged and if appropriate, rebuke, not fair to public.