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Manhattan Terror Suspect in Court; Trump Lashes Out; Astros Take World Series with 5-1 Game 7 Win; Russian-Backed Ads on Social Media Revealed; Obama Pushes For Obamacare. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 2, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Disturbing details emerging about the suspect in this week's terror attack in New York City. He began planning a year ago. Self-radicalized in the U.S. and says he feels good about what he's done.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to get much less politically correct. We're so politically correct that we're afraid to do anything.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president is now calling for the death penalty for the attacker, and his decision to quickly politicize the attacks is drawing scrutiny and scorn from some quarters.

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

BRIGGS: Good to see you, my friend.

I'm Dave Briggs. Thursday, November 2nd, 4:00 a.m. in the East, 3:00 a.m. rather in Houston, Texas, where they're I think still partying this morning, celebrating a World Series championship. We'll get to that in a moment.

We begin, though, with troubling new details about the terror suspect who pulled off the deadliest attack in New York City since 9/11. Sayfullo Saipov appearing in federal court charged with proving material support to ISIS, authorities say. The Uzbekistan native self-radicalized in America after arriving in 2010.

ROMANS: The complaint against him says he intended to use a truck to inflict maximum damage against civilians and chose to strike on Halloween because he believed there would be more on the street.

Authorities revealing one of the suspect's cell phones contained about 90 videos, most of them ISIS-related.

We get more this morning from CNN's Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Dave, the suspect appeared in federal court last night. He appeared a wheelchair. He did not enter a plea. That will come later.

He is facing two counts, including providing material support to a terrorist organization. That organization being ISIS. The U.S. attorney has 30 days to indict and at that time that is when he's expected to enter a plea.

But he's already talking, giving investigators a great deal of information about his state of mind. And in fact, when he was interviewed in his hospital room, apparently he told investigators that he felt good about what he had done, and at one point asked if an ISIS flag could be hung in his hospital room.

Also, according to the federal complaint, more information revealed as well. He rented that rental truck at 2:06 p.m. on Wednesday, but it was actually on October 22nd that he also rented a truck so he could practice doing turns, we are told.

Also, at one point, he thought about hanging ISIS flags on his rental truck but thought in some way that that might draw attention. And initially, the original plan was for him to go beyond the West Side Highway and continue on to the Brooklyn Bridge, but of course, he was stopped when he crashed into that school bus.

Once again learning more about his connection to ISIS from a letter that was left behind near the truck, which basically was written in Arabic and in English which included ISIS propaganda -- Christine, Dave.


BRIGGS: All right. Jason Carroll, thanks.

President Trump already taking heavy criticism for politicizing this terror attack. It made things worse with a late night tweet. He said this, quote: New York City terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed eight people, badly injured 12. Should get death penalty.

Legal experts were quick to point out this sort of public suggestion could taint any jury pool if the suspect is tried in New York City.

ROMANS: This came hours after Mr. Trump lashed out at the justice system.


TRUMP: We also have to come up with punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. We need strong justice, much quicker and much stronger than we have right now, because what we have right now is a joke and it's a laughingstock.


ROMANS: He is in custody and has been charged.

When asked about that comment, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders misrepresented what the president actually said.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He said the process has people calling us a joke and calling us a laughingstock. He's simply pointing out his frustration of how long that this process takes, how costly this process is.


BRIGGS: Not the case.

Earlier, the president went after the system that allowed the terror suspect to enter the country.


TRUMP: Diversity lottery sounds nice. It's not nice. It's not good. It's not good. It hasn't been good. We've been against it.

So, we want to immediately work with Congress on the diversity lottery program, on terminating it.


[04:05:08] BRIGGS: The president target New York Senator Chuck Schumer on Twitter, calling the diversity visa lottery a, quote, "Chuck Schumer beauty".

ROMANS: Schumer was a sponsor of the 1990 legislation. It's a legislation, it's a law that distributes 50,000 visas to countries where there is a low rate of immigration to the U.S. But he also played a part in the other bill, and that removed the diversity lottery program.

Dave, when we talk about immigration reform and lots of different iterations, the diversity lottery usually gets thrown out when you're talking about remarking the American immigration system. That's a failure of Congress as a whole --


ROMANS: -- to have a sane legal immigration system. Diversity lottery just keeps living.

BRIGGS: Also, speaking like a candidate in some sorts, forgetting the fact that he's been the president with both houses for nine months and certainly could have acted on these policies.

Earlier in the day, the president said he would consider sending the terror suspect to Guantanamo Bay. But later, the White House clarified that comment, saying he had signaled support, but was not necessarily advocating for the move.

Meantime, critics are calling out the administration for proposing sharp cuts to counterterrorism programs. In his 2018 budget proposal, more than $300 million will be cut to a number of grants from the Department of Homeland Security to combat terrorism and violent extremism.

ROMANS: All right. Today, Republicans will unveil the long awaited tax bill a day after they missed their first self-imposed deadline. There are disagreements over key details here. House Ways and Means chair Kevin Brady set to release the bill this morning.

Here's what to expect. A simpler tax code removing most tax breaks and big tax cuts for individuals and businesses. In fact, President Trump has come up with a catchy name for the plan the "Cut, Cut, Cut" bill. That's according to a source in touch with multiple White House officials.

Trump has consistently advocated significant cuts, even as Republicans struggle to explain how to pay for them.

One way to pay for them, getting rid of tax breaks, like the popular state and local tax deduction. Nixing it would raise more than $1 trillion. But Republicans from high tax states don't want to touch that. It affects mainly middle class households, so tax riders may keep part of the deduction namely for property taxes. House Republicans originally planned to release their tax bill yesterday. Despite the delay, they say they are on track to approve the bill next week.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, one of President Trump's closest advisors meets private next week with congressional investigators, looking into Russia's election meddling. Sources telling CNN Keith Schiller is expected to appear Tuesday before the intelligence committee. He's a long-time Trump confidant who left the White House back in September.

ROMANS: This afternoon, Paul Manafort and Richard Gates appear in court for a bail hearing. Both men are under house arrest with Manafort's bail set at $10 million and Gates at $5 million. The president telling the "New York Times" he's not angry at anyone and, quote, I'm not under investigation, as you know.

CNN has learned President Trump did not dismiss the idea of meeting with Vladimir Putin when former campaign aide George Papadopoulos proposed it at a March 2016 meeting of foreign policy advisers.

BRIGGS: According to court filings, the idea was shot down by the chairman of the president's national security team, then-senator and now attorney general, Jeff Sessions. The White House insisting President Trump does not remember Papadopoulos, even making the suggestion. CNN has been told Papadopoulos attended another campaign policy meeting which the president did not attend. Sessions did attend and sat next to Papadopoulos.

ROMANS: The nomination of former Trump campaign Sam Clovis to the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist position could be in trouble. Source familiar with White House thinking says Clovis may have to withdraw. This comes amid questions about Clovis' connections with George Papadopoulos. Clovis said in an e-mail to Papadopoulos that he had done great work for suggesting a meeting between the campaign and the Russians.

BRIGGS: New concerns about North Korea's nuclear capabilities one day before President Trump takes off for Asia. CNN has learned North Koreans are already working on advanced version of their existing KN- 20 intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially reach the United States. All this unfolding less than six months after North Korea's first ICBM launch. The development of an advanced ICBM just one element of Kim Jong-un's nuclear acceleration. U.S. officials say additional upgrades are underway to the regime's nuclear fuel, missile launchers and guidance and targeting systems.

Ahead, plenty of joy this morning in Houston, Texas.


BRIGGS: The Astros bringing home the first title in franchise history, the highlights and celebration, next on EARLY START.


[04:14:12] BRIGGS: Well, the city of the Houston sure has something to celebrate in morning. The Astros are champions of baseball, winning Game 7 of the World Series last night 5-1 over the Dodgers. Houston jumping out to an early lead with two runs in the first, three more in the second. Who else, George Springer once again sparking the Astros offense with a double and his record time tying fifth home run in the series to take home MVP honors after struggling mightily before the series.

When the last out of the night was recorded, the Astros had their first World Series title and franchise history and a year that has sent the city of Houston to its core, World Series trophy will be a blissful distraction.

ROMANS: And speaking of blissful, here's our resident Houston Astros fan, Andy Scholes, in L.A. for the deciding game 7.


[04:15:03] ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave and Christine, the champion and beer never tasted so good for the Houston Astros after an amazing world series. The Houston Astros beating the Dodgers in game seven and for the first time in their 55-year history, they are World Series champions, and it couldn't have come at a better time after what the city of Houston went through after Hurricane Harvey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was huge. You know, I think that was something that we all embraced. We didn't shy away from, from the fact that a lot of people are going through a hard time in that city and to be able to lift their spirits in some way or form and give them a reprieve, things are going hard, to get something to get away from and just cheer and have a good time with their home town team going to a world series and then winning a World Series, I mean, what a special bond that creates between a city and its team. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding me? It's what you dream about as

a kid. We're so fired up. We did it for the city of Houston. So proud to call Houston home. It's unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wanted to pick up our city going through all this tragedy and really trying to pick up a city, to bring a championship from day one. If it we could do it after a tragedy, even better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This means the world. It's incredible. I'm lost for words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You make me the happiest man in the world. Will you marry me?


SCHOLES: What do you think of Carlos proposing right after you won?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew he was going to do it. He told us yesterday, hey, papi, I'm going to propose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew it was coming. He got a ring. She gets a ring. Everyone's happy.

SCHOLES: You knew it was coming, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yes. We knew. We knew we were going to win and he was going to propose. It's going to be a great day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dang rock looks almost as big as this clubhouse. But it's great. They're great together and I'm happy for both of them.

SCHOLES: In 2014, "Sports Illustrated" predicted the Astros would win the World Series this year and on that cover was George Springer and he had an amazing World Series, tying a record with five home runs. He was your World Series MVP, but, Dave and Christine, that prediction is going to go down as one of the best in sports history.


ROMANS: All right. Andy having a good time.


ROMANS: I have one question about that proposal. The teammate said if they won he was going to propose. If they lost was, she's not going to get the ring?

BRIGGS: That's supreme confidence. I don't think we'll ever know. But no, I don't think you lose game 7 and propose. I think he was coming to win and to get the yes.

ROMANS: All right. Win on all fronts.

BRIGGS: Congratulations to the Astros.

All right. Lawmakers are not happy with new revelations about Russian ads on social media during the election. Now, powerhouse tech companies promising to take action.


[04:22:05] BRIGGS: A Russian government linked troll group stoking both pro and anti-Muslim sentiment before the 2016 election. The group promoted two opposing events on the same day, the same location in Houston. That tactic was just one thing to emerge as Facebook, Google and Twitter wrapped up days of hearings in Congress about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

ROMANS: All three social media companies now promising more transparency and authentication efforts to know who is behind the ads. Lawmakers frustrated, really frustrated over how long it has taken these tech companies to come forward with what they know.

CNN's Dylan Byers has the latest.


DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Christine and Dave, what came out of those hearings was this: one, we finally got to take a look at some of the ads that the Russian Internet Research Agency bought on Facebook as well as some of the accounts backed by Russians that appeared on Twitter. Basically, there was a great deal of deep-seated frustration among senators and congressmen over how long it has taken these tech companies to sort of play ball and come forward with what they know.

Also, a lot of frustration over the question of whether or not these tech companies are actually taking the problem seriously.

There's effectively two different world views here. There's the Silicon Valley world view which says, look, we're open platforms. We can't be responsible for everything that comes up on our platforms. We're also global companies. We don't necessarily put the interests of the American government first.

Obviously, that did not sit well with the American government especially in light of what we learned about Russian' meddling in the U.S. election and in American politics generally.

The fact that Russian agents are using issues like race, religion, immigration, and exploiting the tensions that exist in this country in order to sow an atmosphere of discord and influence the politics is something that these lawmakers say represents a grave threat to the sovereignty of the American electoral system and the American democratic project.

Back to you, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS: And these companies say they're going to do a better job. Lawmakers want to make sure they're doing a better job very quickly, because we have more elections coming up.

Twenty-four minutes past the hour.

Jurors in the corruption trial of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez set to hear closing arguments from prosecutors this morning. On Wednesday, the judge spent almost three hours delivering final instructions to the panel, imploring them to use common sense when weighing the evidence. Jurors were also ordered to disregard the fact that Menendez and his co-defendant chose not to testify.

The Democratic senator is accused of accepting gifts from a wealthy long-time friend in exchange for using his influence to lobby on behalf of that friend's business interest.

BRIGGS: The current administration won't do that job, so former President Barack Obama is making the case for his namesake health care law. The 44th president rolling out a video on Twitter and Facebook, touting the benefits of the Affordable Care Act as open enrollment got underway.

[04:25:05] The Trump administration has been downplaying the signup season, slashing advertising for enrollment by 90 percent and reducing support for outreach and assistance.

President Trump marking open enrollment with a tweet to promote repealing the law's individual mandate which requires Americans to have coverage or pay a penalty. Not clear if that will happen. Congressional Republicans not warm to the concept of talking about the tax cuts.

ROMANS: Amazing. Obama pushing for Obamacare, helping people figure out how to get signed up as open enrolment begins there.

All right. Michelle Obama taking a subtle swipe at President Trump without referring to him by name during a conversation with poet Elizabeth Alexander. The former first lady offering young people this advice on tweeting.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: This whole "tell it like it is" business, that's nonsense. You know, you don't just say what's on your mind. You don't tweet every thought. I'm not talking about anybody in particular. I'm talking about us all.


ROMANS: Mrs. Obama went on to say most initial thoughts are not worthy of the light of day.

BRIGGS: Take politics out of it, great advice.

ROMANS: I think so actually. BRIGGS: For all of us. No question.

All right. President Trump says the man accused of mowing down eight people on a New York bike path this week should get the death penalty. Could that complicate the case down the road?