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Trump Leaves on Major Asian Trip; Trump's Tax Plan; Brazile: DNC Was Rigged for Hillary Clinton. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 3, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:19] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea is the focus for president Trump as he readies for the longest foreign trip of his presidency. He leaves for Asia this morning and its show of force overnight is raising tensions with Pyongyang.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The biggest tax overhaul in a generation. What's in it? What it means for you, and can Congress pass this thing?

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

We'll also talk about those 11 minutes that Twitter stood still and Washington held its breath.

But first, President Trump taking off this morning on a marathon overseas trip. Air Force One departs Joint Base Andrews at 9:00 a.m. en route to Hawaii, then Japan on Sunday, followed by South Korea, China, Vietnam and ending in the Philippines on November 12th.

Ahead of the trip, the president spoke out on the North Korea threat, touting America's relationship with Japan.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Japan is a warrior nation and I tell China and I tell everyone else that listens, I mean, you're going to have yourself a big problem with Japan pretty soon if you allow this to continue with North Korea.


ROMANS: National security adviser H.R. McMaster says the president is thinking about putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism as a, quote, threat to the entire world. We're also learning Pyongyang may be getting ready to carry out new missile and nuclear tests.

For the very latest, let's bring in CNN's Matt Rivers live for us this morning from Beijing, taking the temperature for us ahead of the president's trip.

Good morning.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Yes, the big topic of this upcoming trip for the president will, of course, be North Korea at each one of his stops. And he's going to have plenty to talk about given the developments we've seen over the last 24 hours or so. It was on Thursday, that the U.S. military said it flew two B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula. He said it was a planned drill. It is the kind of thing we've seen before.

But the North Koreans didn't see it that way. Through their state media outlet KCNA, they called it a dry one for a potential nuclear strike to be conducted against North Korea by the U.S., of course, something that the United States denied.

And at the same time on Thursday, we heard from a South Korean intelligence agency that said they've seen activity in North Korea that would suggest that Pyongyang is preparing for yet another missile test and that they're ready at any moment to push the button on another nuclear test. So, there's going to be those kind of issues for Donald Trump to deal with in the short term, as he tries to come up with a long term with other countries in this region, to solve this ongoing crisis.

But it's not just about North Korea. This is a huge region with massive implications over issues like trade, for example. The United States pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership. So, the United States with some countries is really starting with square one in developing potential trade agreements. And then the president, of course, coming to China has said he wants to talk about their role in the opioid crisis in the United States and also about their continued military expansion in the South China Sea.

So there is a lot for the president to talk about. North Korea, of course, topping the list, but there's lot of other topics that the president is going to want to talk about.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. Absolutely. All right. Matt Rivers, thanks so much for that in Beijing, where it's afternoon. Nice to see you.

BRIGGS: One more thing about the president's Asia trip. Expect Trump to be Trump.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster telling reporters the president does not plan to tone down his rhetoric on North Korea when he's in the region.


H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The president will use whatever language he wants to use, obviously. I don't think the president really modulates his language. Have you noticed him do that?

I mean, he's been very -- he's been very clear -- he's very clear about it. I've been aware of the discussions about, hey, is this inflammatory? Now, what's inflammatory is the North Korean regime and what they're doing to threaten -- to threaten the world.


ROMANS: The president's visit wraps up with a meeting with the authoritarian president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. McMaster claims President Trump is a staunch advocate of human rights, but the president doesn't believe, quote, yelling about it in public is effective.

ROMANS: The Trump administration says it will be the biggest tax cut ever. But now, lawmakers begin debate on a bill that House Republican leaders have put forward.

The president is optimistic tweeting last night: great tax cut rollout today. The lobbyists are storming Capitol Hill. But the Republicans will hold strong and do what is right for America.

The Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the bill has plenty for lawmakers to agree on.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Many of these issues are not nonpartisan issues. This is about creating middle income tax cuts and about creating a competitive business system to bring jobs back here. So, we hope for and look forward to there being Democrat support.


ROMANS: One sticking point for lawmakers will likely be who's winning big with this plan? Corporations get a huge tax cut down to 20 percent from 35 percent is their stated rate. The administration believes this will spur growth, create jobs and raise wages.

The ultra rich are also big winners. The bill repeals the estate tax in the year 2024 and it doubles the exemption to about $10 million before that. It also repeals the AMT, another plus for some wealthy taxpayers.

What about the losers? People in high tax states. No more state and local tax deductions for income or sales tax. And they can only deduct property taxes up to 10 grand.

Home builders will also feel that. Their stocks tanked yesterday for new home purchases, the mortgage interest deduction is cut in half now to $500,000.

BRIGGS: And did you know there's one high profile figure mentioned in the tax bill?


BRIGGS: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors, citing the tax cut against the rich.

ROMANS: I did not know that. BRIGGS: He tweeted about it.

ROMANS: I did not know that.

BRIGGS: All right. New signs this morning. Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is reaching the president's inner circle and it may be extending beyond Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. CNN has learned investigators have started asking about senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law.

Sources telling CNN the investigators want to know about Kushner's role in firing the FBI Director James Comey and events surrounding the meeting at Trump Tower, the one between Russians and the top Trump campaign officials.

ROMANS: What is not clear right now is how Kushner's advice for the president might relate to the Russian investigation or to possible obstruction of justice in the Comey firing.

Our correspondent Evan Perez has more from Washington.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, sources tell us that Jared Kushner voluntarily turned over documents that he had from the campaign and the transition, and these related to any contacts that he had with Russia. Now, the documents are similar to ones that Kushner gave to congressional investigators.

This all comes as investigators have begun asking witnesses about Kushner's role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Now, we heard different accounts from sources. Some say Kushner was a driver of the president's decision. Others say that he simply didn't oppose it, and it was something that the president had already made up his mind about.

Now, sources close to the White House say that base on what they know, Kushner is not a target of this investigation. White House official says there's no surprise that the Mueller team would be asking questions about Kushner. They also say that Kushner would be among a list of people that investigators would be asking about.

A lawyer for Kushner did not comment and the White House declined to comment for the story -- Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: Evan, thanks.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions facing new scrutiny for claims he head about contacts with Russia during the presidential campaign. CNN has learned exclusively that former Trump policy adviser Carter Page testified Thursday he told Sessions about a trip he was making to Russia during the campaign. Sessions previously told Congress he was not aware of any campaign contacts with the Russians. ROMANS: This comes after CNN reported Sessions himself rejected a

proposal for a Trump Putin meeting. That proposal pitched in March of 2016 by George Papadopoulos, the campaign foreign policy adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in a Russia probe.

We get more this morning from CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.



Now, Carter Page who was of candidate Donald Trump's foreign policy advisers during the campaign season testified on Capitol Hill yesterday is part of the House Russia investigation. Now, we are learning some new details about exactly what he said behind the scenes. One key detail is that he revealed to lawmakers that he told then Senator Sessions, now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, about a trip that he planned to take to Moscow just before he took that July of 2016 trip.

Now, why this is significant is this. Jeff Sessions was asked on a number of different occasions on Capitol Hill when he was testifying, whether he knew about any campaign connections, any communications with Russians any efforts to reach out to Russia and every single time he either downplayed it, he said it didn't occur or he didn't recall. On a number of different occasions he said he didn't recall.

But he did not disclose this to lawmakers. A number of questions on Capitol Hill particularly from Democrats who were saying that Sessions either mislead lawmakers or at worse, perjured himself.

Now, Republicans aren't going that far but even senior Republicans are telling me, Christine and Dave, that Sessions should at least clarify what's going forward and is a worthy area to explore as lawmakers try to understand exactly what Sessions said and what he did -- Christine and Dave.


BRIGGS: Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

The Internet red alert has been canceled, folks. The president's Twitter account is back up and running. After briefly going offline and how is this for a plot twist. It wasn't the glitch after all.

It turns out an unnamed Twitter employee pulled the plug on the account on his or her last day at work. The president's account was restored within 11 minutes. It was down long enough to trigger a wave of sarcastic jokes and conspiracy theories online, including this from Brian Fallon, former spokesman for the Clinton campaign.

[04:40:07] Human error a better check on Trump than General Kelly.

Kind of that "Bruce Almighty" line. Jim Carrey -- I can't say it on television, but he threw a newscast back to the desk. ROMANS: I think what it does tell you, though, is just take one

person to alter.

BRIGGS: A lot of power.

ROMANS: Yes, very careful.

All right. Forty minutes past the hour. New allegations support the idea DNC rigged the primary for Hillary Clinton and some Democrats are angry.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you agree with the notion that it was rigged?



ROMANS: What Bernie Sanders' camp is saying, next.


BRIGGS: Frustration boiling over for many Democrats following some stunning allegations from the former head of the party.

[04:45:04] Former interim chairwoman, Donna Brazile, suggesting the nomination was rigged for Hillary Clinton. In her forthcoming book, Brazile mentions an agreement arranged in August 2015 between the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Brazile says it gave the campaign a significant measure of direct influence over the party's finances and strategy.

ROMANS: Now, many Democrats are angry including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who tells our Jake Tapper this party has to rebuild and past.


WARREN: This is a real problem. But what we've got to do is Democrats now is we've got to hold this party accountable. You have got to put together a Democratic Party in which everybody can have confidence that the party is working for Democrats rather than Democrats are working for the party.

TAPPER: Very quickly, Senator. Do you agree with the notion that it was rigged?



ROMANS: Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, calls the DNC actions egregious and undemocratic. Clinton, through, his spokesperson, declined to comment. BRIGGS: President Trump could not help but weigh in, tweeting Donna Brazile just stated the DNC rigged the system, adding major violation of campaign finance laws and money laundering. Where's our Justice Department?

ROMANS: It is important to note, Donna Brazile herself has admitted to helping the Clinton campaign. Leaked emails show when she worked at CNN, she sent questions to Clinton's campaign in advance of a CNN debate and a town hall.

Meantime, the president lamenting his lack of influence to the Justice Department. Mr. Trump spoke to radio host Larry O'Connor. The host said his listeners want the feds to go after Hillary Clinton to which the president said this.


TRUMP: The saddest thing is that because I'm the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I'm not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I'm not supposed to be doing the kind of things I would love to be doing and I'm very frustrated by it.



President Trump himself under scrutiny concerning his interactions with the Justice Department. We learned last week he wanted a gag order lifted on an undercover informant in a case that could involve Clinton and it's still not clear if the president did anything improper by firing former FBI Director James Comey.

ROMANS: If you ever have a feeling President Trump believes the only person in the federal government who matters is him? He's confirming it.

In his latest interview with FOX News, the president was asked about open positions at the State Department going unfulfilled. His response? No problem.


TRUMP: We don't need all the people that they want. You know, don't forget. I'm a business person. I tell me people we don't need to fill slots don't fill them, but we have some people that I'm not happy with --

INTERVIEWER: But assistant secretary of state, you're not getting rid --

TRUMP: Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I'm not only one that matters because when it comes to it, that's what the policy is going to be. You've seen that, you've seen it strongly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: That should go over well at State.

President Trump nominated 79 people for State Department jobs with 33 of them confirmed. Way behind Barack Obama and George W. Bush at the ninth month mark of their presidencies.

How that's for morale? We've heard long about the morale at the State Department has been awful in these nine months. They're not helpful.

ROMANS: Right. But some of the reason is because they think some of these jobs aren't necessary.

BRIGGS: Right, made clear, inefficiencies.

ROMANS: Exactly. But is it getting in the way of doing business?

It's jobs day in America. Labor Department will release numbers for October later this morning. Look, I'm expecting pretty good. Maybe a major rebound for the losses posted in September because of those hurricanes. We'll tell you why when we get a check of CNN "Money Stream", next.


[04:53:08] ROMANS: Ivanka Trump touching down in Tokyo, ahead of her father's stopover in Japan. She was there briefly to speak about women participating in the economy at the annual world assembly women conference hosted by the Japanese government. The president's daughter personally invited to attend by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

She used the occasion to call out business and government leaders to pave the way for quality and respect in the work place.


IVANKA TRUMP, ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: In some countries, women are not allowed to own property, travel freely or work outside of the home without the consent of their husbands. Countries like the United States and Japan cannot be complacent. We must continue to champion reforms in our own countries.


ROMANS: The first daughter dines with the Japanese prime minister tonight before returning home to help in the push for tax reform.

BRIGGS: ISIS is claiming the attacker in this week's deadly truck ramming in New York City is a, quote, soldier of the caliphate. The terror group's weekly newspaper did not name that suspect nor claim direct responsibility for the attack. The article also stopped short of providing any credible evidence ISIS had knowledge of the attack before it happened or even played a role in its planning. This is the first time ISIS made such a claim in its newspaper before boasting through its regular news agency.

ROMANS: The University of Notre Dame announcing it will no longer cover birth control for students, faculty or staff. The Catholic institution making the move less than a month after the Trump administration added a loophole to Obamacare's contraceptive mandate.

New rules allow employers to stop covering birth control if they have a sincerely held religious objection. The school says it honors the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. Employees will lose contraceptive coverage starting December 31st. Students, August 14th.

Staff and readers shocked after some popular local news sites abruptly shut down. The move happening a week after journalists at New York- based DNAinfo and Gothamist voted to unionize.

[04:55:01] In a message to Website visitors, billionaire owner Joe Ricketts said, progress hasn't been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense.

No secret Ricketts was opposed to unions.

BRIGGS: Affiliate sites in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco were also shuttered. Staffers tell CNN Money they were stunned to find out they were unemployed in what appeared to be a normal workday. "The New York Times" says the decision puts 115 people out of work.

ROMANS: Allegations of sexual misconduct against actor Kevin Spacey now reaching the set of "House of Cards". Eight current or former show employees tell CNN Spacey created a toxic work environment through a pattern of sexual harassment. All eight people describing the actor's behavior to CNN as predatory. It follows the accusations by actor Anthony Rapp who says Spacey made sexual advances toward him when he was 14 in 1985.

BRIGGS: Spacey issued an apology in response to Rapp's account. Now his publicist and talent agency are parting ways with Kevin Spacey without specifically saying it's because of these allegations. Netflix has indefinitely suspended production on the sixth and final season of "House of Cards".

ROMANS: All right. Fifty-six minutes past the hour.

Warmer temperatures in store for the South this weekend. And for that, a look for weather for the New York City marathon on Sunday. Let's bring in meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.


IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys, good morning.

Across the Southeast, warm-up continues here with temperatures in the 70's and 80's after that scold snap last week. That's long gone at this point here.

Northeast, of course, we've dealing with our warm temperatures. We'll do that again I think today, in the lower 70s and cool down behind this front. The air mass behind is not that cold, right, but just cooler that we have been, so highs in 50s and 60s as opposed to the 70s.

The big storms are across the Northern Rockies and plains getting in as well with a plenty of accumulating snowfall for the higher elevations. There's frontal boundary with showers and storms continuing along the southern end of it, across the northeast, kind of falls apart in a little bit, just some showers in the forecast as it makes through.

The bigger story will be on the backside the front. We'll have temperatures going from 70's from today and get in where Syracuse and Detroit are, temperatures in the 50s for highs by the time we get into Saturday and to Sunday. You'll see that in the 3D forecasts. There's Boston 70, then 50s.

But we actually warm back up. So, it's a brief cool snap and then temperatures going in the other direction by the early part of next week -- Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks for that, Ivan.

Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning. U.S. stock futures pointing higher. The Dow hit a record high on Thursday after Republicans released their tax plan and President Trump nominated Jerome Powell to lead the Fed.

Powell is a current fed governor who has supported recent policy decisions. He likely won't push for faster interest rate hikes.

Stock markets in Europe are up right now. Shares in Asia closing the week higher. The market could get a big boost from the October jobs report due out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Here's the forecast: a surge of 301,000 new jobs thanks to increase the hiring following the hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida. That, those hurricanes had caused a loss of 33,000 jobs in September. Look for a bounce back.

The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at very low 4.2 percent. And wages, they are expected to tick down slightly 2.7 percent there. For wage growth.

Finally, it's the day crazy Apple fans have been waiting for, the iPhone X hits stores this morning. The cheapest model costing a cool grand.

But there are reports Apple stores across the globe, these pictures outside the Pasadena apple store in California where a small crowd was camped out.

Apple is trying something new this year, releasing different models six weeks apart. There had been big concerns about supply constraints but Apple expects to make fat profits off these phones through the holiday shopping season. Multiply $1,000 times every one of those sold, and that means profits. BRIGGS: Apple earnings back up, huh?


BRIGGS: Rebound.

OK. EARLY START continues right now.


BRIGGS: North Korea is the focus for President Trump as he readies for the longest foreign trip of his presidency. He leaves for Asia this morning, and a show of force overnight raising tensions with Pyongyang.

ROMANS: The biggest tax overhaul proposal in a generation. What's in it, what it means for you? How good is it for business? Can Congress even pass it?

BRIGGS: Very good for business.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Friday, November 3rd. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East. It's 11:00 p.m. in Hawaii, where the president will be soon, and 5:00 p.m. in Tokyo.

President Trump taking off this morning on this marathon overseas trip. Air Force One departing at Joint Base Andrews at 9:00 a.m. So, just five hours wheels up, on route to Hawaii, then to Japan on Sunday, followed by South Korea, China, Vietnam and ending in the Philippines on November 12th.

Ahead of this trip, the president spoke out on the North Korea threat, touting America's relationship with Japan.


TRUMP: Japan is a warrior nation and I tell China and I tell everyone else that listens, I mean, you're going to have yourself a big problem with Japan pretty soon if you allow this to continue with North Korea.