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Tillerson, No Tension With Trump; Trump And McConnell To Meet Today; At Least 40 Dead In North California Fires; Ophelia Packing Hurricane-Force Winds; President Trump Recent Remarks Infuriated Iranians; SNL Targets Kellyanne Conway. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 16, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:31:33] DAVE BRIGGS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: Secretary of the state Rex Tillerson speaking out, talking about his relationship with the President and the administration's plans on Iran and North Korea.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: President Trump trying to mend bruised relationships with members of his own Party. On the line, the Republican's tax reform plan health care and so much more.

BRIGGS: Plus a rising death toll in northern California, at least 40 people killed, hundreds still unaccounted for. Deadly wildfires continue to rage. Welcome back to "Early Start." I am Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Certainly hope for a turning point. 31 minutes past the hour. I am Christine Romans. Nice to see you all this Monday morning. Let's begin with the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaking out about his relationship with President Trump saying it is not tense. And that he and his unconventional boss are working together to force action on important global issues, on CNN's state of the union, Tillerson told Jake Tapper that his conversations with the president are frank and candid. The Secretary also firmly refused to address reports he called the President a moron over the summer.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff. This is a town that seems to relish gossip, rumor, innuendo and feed on it in a very destructive way. I don't work that way. I don't deal that way and I'm just not going to dignify the question. At the end of the day he makes decisions and I go out and do the best I can to execute those decisions successfully.


BRIGGS: Secretary Tillerson also laughed off a comment by Republican Senator Bob Coker that the President is trying to quote, publicly castrate him on foreign policy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't want to say anything about the Senator calling -- suggesting you've been gelded before the world? That is not anything that bothers you?

TILLERSON: I checked. I'm fully intact.



BRIGGS: Well played. Tillerson also suggested the President's unusual approach to foreign policy with his combative tweets and demands to renegotiate treaties and agreement is all part of a deliberate strategy.


TILLERSON: He himself is an unconventional President. He does not accept the status quo with the many threats that we're confronting in the world today. He is going to take forcing action and oftentimes the tweets are decisions that he makes to force this action to get off the status quo, to force people to take action. And to move to a different place.


ROMANS: Two areas where the President is taking an unconventional approach, Iran and North Korea are also amongst tense areas in the world right now. The Secretary said about diplomacy, let's bring in CNN's Ryan Brown in Washington.


RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY: Good morning, Christine and Dave. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed a series of topics, most specifically the Iran nuclear deal and President Trump's recent decision to not withdraw from it, but to decertify it, handing it over to congress in an effort to see if it can be strengthened and address what the administration calls serious flaws in the arrangement. President Trump and Secretary Tillerson both said they want to work with European allies to find ways to strengthen it and to address what they see as Iran's other provocative behavior particularly its missile development and support of militant groups like Lebanese, Hezbollah and the Hooties in Yemen.

[04:35:01] Secretary Tillerson also touched on North Korea saying that President Trump still supports a diplomatically led effort there despite recent tweets saying the direct negotiations with a waste of time. Tillerson saying the diplomatic effort will continue until the first bombs are dropped.



TILLERSON: I think he want to be clear what Kim Jong-un that regime in North Korea that he has military preparations ready to go and has the military options on the table and we have spent substantial time perfecting those. Be clear the president also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically. He is not seeking to go to war. He has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts, which we are, and as I told others those efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.


BROWNE: Now it remains to be seen what actions the administration can take with its European allies and congress to bring about a new arrangement on Iran and to see hot to con-curb North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Back to you guys.


BRIGGS: Ryan thanks. The President also working to repair frayed ties with key Republican Senators. He and Mitch McConnell will sit down for lunch along with the Vice President Mike Pence, it is a follow up to the president's phone call with McConnell on Saturday. The same day he called with frequent foe Lindsey Graham then on Sunday the President had links with Senator Rand Paul.

ROMANS: All three lawmakers key to advance to the president's agenda. Senator Paul seemed optimistic about moving ahead on with President Trump on issue dear to both their hearts, tax reform.


RAND PAUL, REPRESENTATIVE KENTUCKY: I've been very excited about the President's plan. I'm for that now. Congress is trying to make money as well as make sure we realize we're competing with the rest of the world.


ROMANS: President Trump expected to talk tax reform with McConnell's at today's lunch, if the tax bill pass this year. The senate will have to move on a budget this week.

BRIGGS: A woman who has accused President Trump of sexual assault has formally subpoenaed his campaign for all documents relating to her or any women, who alleged Trump touched her inappropriately. Summer is a former candidate on the apprentice in the homestretch in the last year of campaign. She accused Trump of kissing her twice on the lips during the 2007 lunch meeting in his New York city office, says on a separate occasion in Beverly Hills, Trump kissed her aggressively and touched her breasts.

ROMANS: During the campaign Trump called the claim total fiction and said to be clear I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago. That is not who I am as a person and it is not how I conducted my life, in fact she continued to contact me for help, e-mailing my office April 14 of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California.

BRIGGS: She filed suit last year in response to Trump's denials. The President's lawyers have been trying to get the lawsuit thrown out. The White House deferred to the campaign which will not return a request for comment.

ROMANS: All right. New allegations surfacing this weekend against disgrace Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. British actress Lysette Anthony claiming Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the 1980s on multiple occasions, one taking in her own home. London's metropolitan police confirming the sexual assault investigation has been launched. With Weinstein believe to be the target and three women making accusations. A representative for Weinstein has released a statement on behalf of his client Quote, any allegation of nonconsensual sex is vigorously denied by Mr. Weinstein.

BRINKLEY: Meanwhile Weinstein's legacy as a top show Indie producer gradually being dismantled. French President's Emmanuel Macron starting to process of stripping him of the country's highest order of merit, that is the legion of honor. Over the weekend Weinstein was also expelled from the organization behind the Oscar, the academy of the motion picture, arts and scientist. The producer's guild will reportedly meet later today to consider a similar actions.

ROMANS: All right. A strong job market should lead to higher inflation and that could mean another interest rate hike this year. The central bank target inflation rate is 2 percent, a goldilocks level that is not to high, not too low, just right. But despite a strong U.S. economy the actual rate has stayed below that. Yellen told a group she expects inflation to hit 2 percent next year. The central bank hesitates about hiking rates when inflation is low but Yellen's optimism could signal another bump this year. What does this mean for you? Higher interest rates, for credit cards, auto loans, savings accounts? This comes during a time of heightened individual ability. President Trump says it's considering five candidates and Yellen among them. If she would not be reappointed, it is the custom to re appoint a person even if they are appointed by a president. She would be the first one since 1979 to not have two terms.

[04:40:14] BRIGGS: Where's your money going?

ROMANS: I don't know. There's a couple of non-economists actually on the list. Ask me in a week.

BRIGGS: I will ask you in an hour, how about that? At least 40 dead in wildfires in northern California, residents finally being allowed back waiting to see if the homes even survived these fires. That is next.


ROMANS: All right. Firefighters are slowly gaining the upper hand on several deadly wildfires in California. The death toll stands 40. Hundreds of people still unaccounted for and thousands of structures has been destroyed. The weather conditions are improving dramatically and some counties are now preparing to allow evacuees to return to the homes if those homes are still standing. CNN Dan Simon has more.


04:45:05] DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, for the first time in a week, firefighters are now striking an optimistic tone about the fires because the witness have died down. There are still trouble spots. This is at Oakmont fire. Firefighters are leaving those blazes alone because they're not threatening any populated areas, but they are watching things very carefully. There are number of firefighter in the area. Just to make sure things don't get out of control and we don't see any more structures going up in flames. It was a tough Saturday night for the community of Sonoma. That is when the winds kicked up and saw a number of structures burned there. But Sunday a different story with the winds dying down, no longer under a red flag warning and once again firefighter like what they're seeing. They are beginning to make progress, the Tubbs fire, the most destructive fire in Santa Rosa, the containment numbers are way up. 60 percent or more. Hopefully firefighters are now turning a corner. Christine, Dave back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Certainly hope you're right. New this morning seven people injured, one person apparently missing following a blast at a Louisiana oil rig. Look at this flames here. It happened just after 7:00 local time on Sunday night. Nearby residents reported hearing what sounded like a sonic boom from the platform which is used to transport oil from wells. Officials are trying to find the valve to shut off the oil. It is unclear what caused the explosion.

BRIGGS: Ireland and the United Kingdom bracing for a major storm in a matter of hours, Ophelia is no longer classified as a hurricane at this hour. It will be packing hurricane force winds when it hit the at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time and expected to trigger some significant flooding. I want to bring in CNN Phil Black, Phil good to see you. What are you expecting?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a wet blustery windy morning here. That is not unusual in this corner of the world but it's nothing compared to what is expected to hit over the coming hours. It is what people are describing likely to be the worst storm to hit Ireland in many decades. As you say, it is no longer a hurricane but the winds with gusts of 80 to 90 miles per hour. The authorities have put in place the highest level of weather alert, what they call a red warning, not just for the coastal areas but for the entire republic of Ireland. They're worried about the wind and flooding. They're also worried about the big seas, swells, storm surge that is likely to hit the coastal areas with the storm as well. Someone who might also be taking a passing interest in the progress of this storm will be the President of the United States. There is a Trump international hotel and golf course just a short drive up the west coast from where we're standing. It is right in the path of where this storm is expected to track. Over the coming day. Back to you.

BRIGGS: Interesting. Phil Black live in Kildee, Ireland.

ROMANS: All right 40 minutes pass the hour at least 276 people killed over the weekend in a double car bombing in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. According to Somalian law maker, the first explosion destroyed dozens of buildings including the popular Safari hotel in the heart of the city. Moments later, a second car bomb explosion ripped through the nearby medina district. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Mogadishu have endured terrorist violence for years. But the Al Qaeda affiliate, (inaudible) tearing several deadly car bomb attack, 276 fatalities.

Big changes coming to twitter. The company CEO announcing new rules to top online harassments. Details on CNN Money stream next.


[04:53:35] BRIGGS: Iran lashing out at President Trump for decertifying the nuclear deal and dropping the matter into the hands of congress. Tehran says if the agreement is canceled it will no longer allow international inspectors to make unannounced inspections of its nuclear program. CNN Frederick Pleitgen live in Tehran this morning with the latest, Greg good morning.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Good morning, Dave. Iranians are saying if the U.S. decided to impose new sanctions or drop the agreement, the inspectors would not be allowed in unannounced, but the agreement would go away. We could ramp up our nuclear program again very quickly, now the Iranians have always maintained they're not after a nuclear weapon but belief they have a right to a nuclear program and that would be greatly expanded without this nuclear deal in place. They are saying they could actually ramp that up pretty quickly. Of course in the aftermath of President Trump's tweet there was a lot of anger here in Iran, but we went out on the streets of Tehran and asked what angered you the most about the speech. They said it was the fact that he referred to an Arabian golf rather than the Persian gulf that is seen as a national thing of anger here by Iranian, not just here in the country but on social media as well if you look. There is a great deal of anger but of course at the same time a lot of folks here in this country very concerned about the future of the nuclear agreement. Many of them thought could bring better relations with the U.S. And bring economic gains here in Iran. Certainly there are people who fear that Nuclear agreement could very much be in jeopardy, Dave.

[04:55:15] BRINKLEY: All right Fred. Thanks we appreciate it.

"Saturday Night Live" cast member Kate McKinnon reviving the role of presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway with a major twist. The Kelly Anne character donning clown makeup and hiding in a sewer and a parody of Stephen King's Pennywise character from the movie IT. Watch as she tries to lure a fictional Anderson Cooper into the sewer with her.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's me. Kellyanne Conway. Dancing clown. It's Kellyanne --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do to your makeup?




How about this? So Puerto Rico was worse before hurricane Maria and they did blow some buildings back together and I don't know why Elizabeth Warren won't tweet about that.


BRIGGS: OK. Nightmares. Last one also targeting disgrace film producer Harvey Weinstein after initially remaining silent about the allegations against him, take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weinstein has been accused of multiple accounts of sexual assault is reportedly going to Europe for sex rehab. Somehow I don't think that is going to help anybody. He needs a specialized facility where there are no women, no contact with the outside world, metal bars and it's a prison.


BRIGGS: The show also confronted criticism it was slow to react to the allegations, a big Democratic fundraiser.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tough spot for a comedian because it's so hard to make jokes about sexual assault but so easy to make jokes about a guy that looks like this. He looks like chewed bubble gum rolled in cat hair.


BRIGGS: SNL had an additional skit about sexual harassment that was a bit too vulgar for our show. When asked why they did not initially target Weinstein, executive producer (inaudible) reportedly said it was a New York thing and that the allegations might not be familiar to a national audience.

NBC sport the caster Al Michaels apologizing this morning after this joke during Sunday night football.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's face it the giants are coming off a worst week than Harvey Weinstein and they are up by 14 points.


ROMANS: No. No, no.

BRINKLEY: Yikes. It took him about a half hour to acknowledge the joke was inappropriate and in poor taste. Here is what Al's said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry I made the reference earlier. About

somebody very much in the news over the country and it was not meant in that manner, so my apologies. And we'll just leave it at that.


BRINKLEY: Thoughts. None. Just shake your head.

ROMANS: Don't joke.

BRIGGS: Just stay away. Broncos lost the game.

ROMANS: I can go on with my day.

Check on CNN "money" stream. Wall street rose on Friday after positive data in retail. That pushed the dow and S & P 500 to a fifth straight week of gain. Expect more this week. So far this year has been good time for big American companies. Profits were fantastic in the first two quarters, but, I think you're going to see S & P 500 companies reporting slower profit growth in the third quarter. Look how well companies did in the first and second quarter. I think it's the hurricanes. Effects of Harvey and Irma. Particularly on the insurance industry. Twitter's CEO says new rules are coming to stop on line harassment. The rules would combat unwanted sexual advances, tweets that glorify violence adding they're taking a more aggressive stance. They've been criticized for years for allowing hate speech and harassment on its platform. He gave no timeline for the changes. They've also been criticized to are allowing Russian trolls to use its platforms to meddle in the 2016 election, those trolls learn about American politics from a surprising source, Netflix house of cards. An interview from a member of the Kremlin link group of independent Russian TV station, it was first reported by Yahoo news. The House of Cards is one part of the group's strategy to understand the American political system.