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Trump Wants Tax Reform By Year End; Escalates Gold Star Family Feud; Niger Is Trump's Benghazi; Iran's Role In Iraq; Trump Roasted At Mark Twain Honors; Revelation Bad News For Fox News and O'Reilly; Timberlake To Headline Super Bowl LII Halftime. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 23, 2017 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: --publicized the call. Now she says the Niger attack will go down as Trump's Benghazi. Just as you thought it is was over, we are far from. Good morning everyone. Welcome to "Early Start." I am Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I am Christine Romans. It is Monday October 23rd, it is 4:00 a.m. in the east. President Trump urging house members to pass the senate's budget this week. Paving the way for tax reform. He said the move would be historic. During the GOP conference call Sunday, telling "Fox News" he wants his plan passed soon.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hopefully before the end of the year but maybe much sooner than that. There's a great spirit for it. People want to see it and I call it tax cuts. It is tax reform also, but I call it tax cuts. It will be the biggest cuts ever in the history of the country.


ROMANS: Passing the revise the budget last week gives that tight deadline a shot. The president wants to rewrite the tax code in 10 weeks. It took lawmakers in the 1980's more than a year. Trump said that the Reagan tax cuts in an op-ed Sunday writing that his plan will also help hard working families restoring our competitive edge so we can create better jobs and higher wage workers for American. Ivanka Trump traveling to Pennsylvania today to pitch an expanded child tax credit. Still the biggest tax cuts go to the wealthy and many details disproportionately favor the rich. Trump dismissed that critic Sunday, calling it a Democrats talking point.

BRIGGS: Achieving any of the goals will require Republican unity on Capitol Hill, something Party leaders say they're confident they can achieve. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell down playing, sniping the president and congressional Republicans. Appearing on the State of the Union he emphasize their shared agenda, but after seeing the President waiver on a bipartisan health bill last week McConnell says Trump needs to be clearer on what he actually will sign. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNEL,R-KY.: We need a bill the President will actually sign. And I'm not certain yet what the President's looking for here, but I'll be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump would sign it.


ROMANS: McConnell sharply critical of former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and others who are working to defeat what they call establishment Republicans. "Fox News" ask the McConnell about Bannon's crusade to back primary opponents for nearly all senate Republicans running next year.


MCCONNEL: This is not about personalities. This is about achievement and in order to make policy, you have to actually win the election. The kind of people that are supported by the element that you just have been referring to are specialists in defeating Republican candidates in November.


BRIGGS: To McConnell's point Bannon did back a winning challenger in the Alabama senate primary Roy Moor, but in a recent Fox news poll that deep red state won Trump by 28 points that I more tied with the Democrats in the December election. McConnell also told CNN he trusted President Trump as a negotiating partner. As about Trump's attacks on him, McConnell replied, not particularly concern.

ROMANS: All right. The widow of slain Sergeant La David Johnson said to give her first national interview since her husband and three other soldiers were killed in ambush in Niger earlier this month. She expected to discuss the condolence call she got from President Trump in an interview this morning with ABC. The controversy from that condolence call publicized by Democratic congresswoman has not subsided.

BRIGGS: The President tweeting whacky Congresswoman Wilson is a gift that keeps on giving. You watch her in action and vote R.

The President says his chief of staff John Kelly was outraged by congress Wilson listening in on the condolence call.


TRUMP: He was so offended that a woman would be, that somebody would be listening to that call. He was, he actually couldn't belief it. Actually, he said to me, sir, this is not acceptable. This is really not acceptable.


ROMANS: It didn't take long for the Congresswoman Wilson to hit back. She claims the tragedy in West Africa will come back to haunt him.


REP FREDERICA WILSON, (R) FLORIDA: I think ethic is going to be this administrations Benghazi. This is going to be Trump's Benghazi, Trump's Niger.


BRIGGS: Congresswoman Wilson is demanding an apology from the chief of staff Kelly for calling quote, empty barrel, and the women of congressional black caucus also calling on Kelly to apologize to Wilson.

ROMANS: I point out also she was not eavesdropping on that conversation. That was a conversation facilitated by a member of the military in the car with them riding to the, to pick up the body of her husband on speaker phone in the car.

BRIGGS: Right. It's up to the mother. She decided she wanted everyone to hear the call, not to politicize it but the widow. Right. She wanted everyone to hear that call.

[04:05:02] ROMANS: All right. Details of the deadly raid that took his life, the life of Sergeant Johnson and three other soldiers. Details remain murky this morning. Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters the senate arms committee will hold hearings this week. "New York Times" reported U.S. and Niger soldiers who were on the patrol are giving conflicting accounts about whether they were simply ambushed or attack while trying to chase down an Islamic insurgents.

BRIGGS: Military officials from Niger tell the Times a lightly armed convoy of about 50 soldiers from the U.S. and Niger pursued the insurgents on motorcycles. Americans service members insist they did not chase the insurgents, but simply noticed them. Meantime the senior state department official tells officials CNN, the U.S. Ambassador to Niger did not deny support or protection from military personnel involve in the ambush. L.A. Times reported that ambassador had resisted military requests to add surveillance flights and military medical support in Niger.

ROMANS: Senator John McCain seeming to take a new swipe at President Trump in an interview about Vietnam. He criticized wealthy young men who avoided the draft. Listen.


SEN JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: One aspect of the conflict by the way that I will never ever (inaudible), is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong.


ROMANS: The President attended the private New York military academy as a teenager. He had five draft deferments during the Vietnam War including a medical deferment bone spurs in his foot. There has been no response yet from the President. He told a biographer and some journalist that his medical issues healed over time.

BRIGGS: He is awfully busy on the golf course.

ROMANS: Five hours yesterday?

BRIGGS: Yes, very busy. Don't expect President Trump to rein in the twitter habit anytime soon. The president believes, it might not be the White House without the social media platform. His newest take on tweeting on this interview with the Fox Business Network.


TRUMP: I have friends that say oh, don't use social media. I don't call it tweets. Tweeting is like a typewriter. I was always a good student, like a person that does well with that kind of thing. I doubt I'd be here if it weren't to social media. When somebody says something about me, I'm able to go bing, bing, bing, and I take care of it. The other way I wouldn't be able to get the word out.


BRIGGS: Republican leaders and close friends regularly urge Trump to avoid or cut back on tweeting, don't hold your breath folks.

ROMANS: Some of that interview was widely shared on social media about the Feds, for example, some lacked a little bit of clarity. It was unclear what the President was saying about the Fed.

BRIGGS: I saw it. I would share that characterization.

ROMANS: All right. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with a message to Iranian militia's in Iraq.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Any foreign fighters in Iraq needed to go home. Allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their lives with the help of their neighbors.


ROMANS: We're live in Iraq with more on Iran growing influence, what the U.S. is or is not doing about it.



[04:12:30] TILLERSON: The Iranian militia's that are in Iraq, now that the fight against dash and ISIS is coming to a close, those militia's need to go home. Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control of areas that have been overtaken. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on Iranian backed militias in Iraq to leave the country. Shiite militias back by the Iranians were critical and helping the Iraqi army drive ISIS out of Mosul and several other strongholds. That accomplished Tillerson insists those militias no longer did belong on the battle field. Let's go live to Erbil Iraq and bring in Ben Wedeman. Ben good morning to you, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems a bit concern about Iran's growing influence in the region.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think as far as Iran's influence in the region, he is a bit late on this one. The keep in mind that Iran and Iraq share a 911-mile land border. It's a bit like the Russia complaining about American influence in Mexico. These countries have a long history of interaction. The Iranians, whether you like them or not, were critical in essentially saving the Iraqi state from ISIS in the summer of 2014, during their Blitz Krieg across the country where they took almost 50 percent of the territory. I've spent time with, there are no Iranian militia's in Iran I should stress. There are Iranian advisers. The Iranians have provided training and weaponry. I've spent a lot of time with those Iranian- backed militias. And without them, the government in Baghdad would not exist today.

They have huge influence within the government in Baghdad. Now, yes, Secretary Tillerson was in Saudi Arabia where he met with the leaders there, as well as the Haider al-Abadi the Iraqi Prime Minister. And the Americans are now rather late in the day trying to build up some sort of anti-Iranian coalition, but the Iranians are so deep into this country that it's a bit of a fantasy to think that they can actually influence can be eliminated. It simply is so deep that is really, Dave, mission impossible.

[04:15:00] BRIGGS: All right. Should be interesting. Rex Tillerson characterizes that situation moving forward. Ben thanks.

ROMANS: All right. Legends of comedy honored David Letterman and saved some of their best lines for the commander in chief.


JIMMY KIMMEL, JIMMY KIMMEL SHOW: My gift from Dave is a box full of neck ties, when you turn them over there's a special label that says the Donald J. Trump signature collection.


ROMANS: Hear what David Letterman has to say about the political climate next.


ROMANS: On a night celebrating David Letterman's television career, the President was also center stage. Comedy legends came out to honor Letterman receive the Mark Twain's prize for American humor with a night filled with political commentary, some pointed, some poignant.


KIMMEL: Look what's going on now and I think this is your fault. All of it. Everything was fine until you went off the air. You abandoned us, went out for a pack of cigarettes and let us to live with an abusive orange stepfather.

DAVID LETTERMAN, THE DABID LETTERMAN SHOW HOST: Jimmy Kimmel, the man who got more done in congress this year than anybody else. Mark Twain, there's a million quotes from mark twain and I'm going to wrap this up now with a quote. I hope I get it correct. It has to do with patriotism. And Mark Twain's definition of patriotism is this. Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.



BRIGGS: All set. Michele Obama and a videotaped message said Dave was a quote knowledgeable and passion interviewer who we all knew would be there for us with a laugh. The show will air in TBS next month, on PBS, excuse me.

ROMANS: All right PBS, 21 minutes past the hour. A lot of questions for "Fox News" and Bill O'Reilly this morning, in the wake of a "New York Times" report that O'Reilly paid a staggering $32 million to a "Fox News" colleague to make per threatened sexual misconduct suit go away.

BRIGGS: Fox News under the microscope, because the network resigned O'Reilly to a lucrative deal just weeks after the settlement. Fox News knew about the settlement but not the price tag. Much a little comfort to former "Fox News" anchor Gretchen Carlson, who first brought complain about the culture at Fox into the mainstream.


GRETCHEN CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: I think it's horrifying and outrageous that any company after dismissing somebody from allegations such as that, would not only resign a contract, but allow that person to come back on the air.


BRIGGS: O'Reilly says he'll address the issue today. For all the latest, let's bring in our CNN correspondent Brian Stelter.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: hi Christine, Hi Dave, good morning. This $$32 million figure is boomeranging around the TV industry. Everyone is I know is talking about why Bill O'Reilly would have been willing to pay $32 million to a woman accusing him a sexual harassment. It is something of a mystery, because we will never know exactly what Lis Wiehl was alleging. Wiehl was a long time Fox News legal analyst. A regular on O'Reilly show. She came to him in January, threatening a harassment lawsuit. The New York Times broke the story over the weekend, now O'Reilly said he is working on a response. But the facts are pretty clear. O'Reilly was willing to pay $32 million to Wiehl. I've seen the affidavit which says, she no longer has any claims against O'Reilly. This has been newly embarrassing for both "Fox News" and for O'Reilly.

For Fox, there's an ongoing federal investigation by the department of justice into other settlement payments made by Fox involving former "Fox News" boss Roger Ailes. We don't know in these new revelations could affect that investigation. As for Bill O'Reilly, he is trying to find a new job somewhere in the TV business. I remember he went back on Sean Hannity's show last month. I don't think we're going to see O'Reilly back on Fox anytime soon, not in the wake of this revelation. $32 million is just an extraordinary sum of money. And we will never know exactly why it was paid. But O'Reilly says he is never mistreated anyone. He told the "New York Times" this whole story is bogus and said on twitter he is working on a response that will come out on Monday. Christine, Dave?

ROMANS: Wow. To pay $32 million and then to have the contract, a new contract signed. If they knew about the money, it doesn't look good. If they didn't know about the money, it doesn't look good.

BRIGGS: In the context of all this the Harvey Weinstein coverage. They've been all over it. Fair point. But their coverage was focus on the fact that the liberal Hollywood that enabled this Weinstein harassment to go on and on and on. So what about Bill O'Reilly? They enabled his behavior to continue, and in fact maybe encouraged it.

ROMANS: We're going to hear from him today?

BRIGGS: I am sure he'll fire back on twitter. All right. The big super bowl rematch. Not much of a game at all. Patriots look back in form. Tom Brady threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns and defense get Matt Ryan in check in a 23-7 win. You see the big story in New England. The fog.

[04:25:00] Eerie cloud parked itself over the field most of the game. Supposedly from fireworks before the game. No confirmation whether it was the latest Patriots cheating scheme. That is the theory anyway that grew on twitter throughout.

ROMANS: Oh gee.

BRIGGS: I can say I drove through fog all morning long. To get here to work.

ROMANS: Wow. All right. 14 years after the infamous wardrobe malfunction, Justin Timberlake will be at center stage in the Super Bowl. The NFL announcing Sunday that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl 52 halftime show in Minneapolis on February 4. His last Super Bowl performance is with Janet Jackson memorable for a costume reveal that went wrong exposing parts of Jackson's anatomy on live television. Timberlake also performed in Super Bowl 35 in 2001 with his N-sync. Janet Jackson fans are saying wait a minute.

BRIGGS: That is a moment that changed so much. FCC in delayed broadcast. YouTube was kind of (inaudible) website, no Twitter. Think it was a different world.

ROMANS: It really was. The President wants the biggest tax cut ever. The biggest tax cut in history, he wants it done by the end of the year. Can the Republicans actually do that? And are Democrats right that this would really just benefit the rich?