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EARLY START

Trump: North Korea "A Worldwide Threat; Air Force Didn't Report Conviction; Uber Pledges Millions to Prevent Harassment. Aired 4:30- 5a ET

Aired November 7, 2017 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[04:30:15] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea is a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action.

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says pressure on North Korea has resulted in some movement on the nuclear issue. All options remain on the table, including options, he says, he hopes to God never to use.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the Air Force acknowledges it did not relay a court-martial conviction of the Texas church gunman. Now, the Pentagon is investigating that failure which allowed the gunman to buy his weapons.

Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

I'm Dave Briggs. Thirty minutes past the hour.

Just moments ago, President Trump holding a news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Mr. Trump saying, quote: It's time to act with urgency and great determination against the North Korean nuclear threat.

ROMANS: The president calling Pyongyang a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action.

Ahead of all of this, just hours ago, North Korea welcomed President Trump's arrival in Seoul with a fresh knew clear provocation.

Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is in Seoul with the president.

Bring us up to speed about provocation from the North.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, there's no question that North Korea's watching President Trump's every move here as he travels across Asia and certainly when he's here in South Korea holding that joint news conference just a short time ago as you said. One thing I'm struck by, President Trump backing down from his words before, defending the rhetoric he has been using, but certainly taking a more measured tone, also casting this as a worldwide problem. He called on other leaders to act.

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TRUMP: North Korea's sixth test of a nuclear device and its missile launches are a threat not only to the people of South Korea, but to the people all across our global. We will together confront North Korea's actions and prevent the North Korean dictator from threatening millions of innocent lives. He is indeed threatening millions and millions of lives, so needlessly.

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ZELENY: So, the president there, again, offering a more measured tone, if you will, certainly from the speech he gave to the United Nations just a couple of months ago when he was talking about rocket man. Certainly, his language from earlier in the summer talking about how North Korea would see fire and fiery, unlike the world has ever seen. He's casting this as indeed a worldwide problem, casting this as something that, you know, the global community must continue to squeeze through sanctions and other means.

But, again, importantly did not rule out military force at all. In fact in very stark language, talked about the fact that the U.S. and its allies were indeed ready to do that, should they be provoked. But certainly, an interesting moment for this president visiting the Korean peninsula for the first time some 35 miles away from the North Korean border here, a measured but still firm approach towards the North Korea regime -- Dave and Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny for us in Seoul, where it is evening time -- thank you, sir.

ZELENY: All right. Joining us now, CNN political analyst Josh Rogin, columnist for "The Washington Post".

Good morning, Josh.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

ZELENY: Anything surprise you from the speech, from the remarks and the Q&A?

ROGIN: Yes. The president claimed we're making progress with North Korea. He wouldn't tell us what that progress was. He was very coy about it, no pun intended. But he --

ZELENY: Koi pond for those of you that missed that.

ROGIN: He seems to think that there's progress being made. Now, what could that be? We don't know. Perhaps there's none. Perhaps he's just saying that. But as Jeff Zeleny pointed out, someone seems to have gotten to the

president to tell him that really bellicose brinksmanship -- intense rhetoric would not go well in South Korea, OK? The South Koreans living under the shadow of the North Korea nuclear threat every day, there's been several logistical decisions made during this trip to make sure that tensions aren't pushed to the limit.

Notice that the president didn't go to the demilitarize zone.

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: Although that was debated heavily inside the administration, right? They decided that they don't want to turn the volume up any more than it already is. This is a profoundly dangerous situation.

You saw several efforts by President Trump to say this can be solved. We don't want to go to war. We want to figure this out. We want to figure out a way to get the dialogue.

Now, substantively, he hasn't changed any of his policies, OK? He's not giving on what terms -- on what terms we would sit down with the North Koreans.

[04:35:04] He's not saying we're going to do something like freeze, or exercises, or any of the other things that the North Koreans, that the Chinese and the Russians want us to do.

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: But just the change in rhetoric can go a long way to sort of taking us off of the edge, taking us off the brink of what is a very risky sort of rhetorical escalation that's been going on between our two countries for these many weeks and months.

ROMANS: You make this great point that strength does not equal progress, and the president has been projecting so much strength, that doesn't necessarily equal progress.

I want to -- you talk about the temperature rising. This is what the North Korea said, this commentary they published in state media. As long as the U.S. and its followers continue their hostile acts against us, we will further bolster our nuclear treasured sort of justice, and defend our sovereignty and justice with nuclear weapon.

I'm reading --

BRIGGS: That was ahead of the speech.

ROMANS: That was ahead of the speech.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: So, you do still have this bellicose rhetoric from the North Koreans. What do you think how the North Korean's receive what we just watched on television there? ROGIN: Well, for the North Koreans, they really only have one goal.

Their goal is to reach the capability to send an ICBM to the United States tipped with the nuclear warhead.

Until that happened, nothing else matters. They don't care about the pressure, they don't care about the engagement, they don't care what President Trump says, they don't care what Xi Jinping says. That's what they're going to do.

Now, that's the reality that people who work on this issue understand. That it's difficult to talk about, because once you think that way, then, you know, what President Moon said and what President Trump said doesn't really make any sense because there's not going to be any dialogue, there's not going to be any negotiation as far as the North Koreans are concerned until they get to that point.

And what you see in the North Korean rhetoric is a response to our rhetoric, right? We're strong. OK, well, we're strong too. We have this many missiles. OK, well, we have many missiles. It doesn't really get us anywhere.

In fact, there's an argument to be made that ramping up the rhetoric actually feeds North Korean propaganda. It feeds the North Korean narrative that they're under attack and helps the North Korean government lie to its own people to tell them that they have no choice but to spend all of their money on nuclear weapons instead of food, OK? These are starving people whose food money is going to build missiles and weapons.

And when we threaten North Korea, the North Korean government turns around to its people and say see, this is why we took the food out of your children's mouth and spend it on these nuclear weapons. So, where does that leave us? It leaves us in a place where the time for dialogue is probably not now. And, you know, that's the reality of the situation.

Now, what can we do? We can do what we're doing, which is to ramp up the pressure, but we can do one more thing, which is we can establish an off-ramp. We can give the North Koreans a path out of this crisis. That's what's missing.

That's what President Moon was talking about when he said, OK, if they freeze their activities, then we can sit down. That's not what the U.S. is saying. You see a gap between the South Koreans and United States in that manner.

BRIGGS: What both countries acknowledge is we need China to step up and do more economically, and we also need Russia. The president talked about both of those things just a short time ago.

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TRUMP: I think we're making a lot of progress. I think we're showing great strength. I think they understand we have unparalleled strength. There has never been strength like it. You know, we send three of the largest aircraft carriers to the world,

and they're right now positioned. We have a nuclear submarine also positioned. We have many things happening that we hope, we hope -- in fact I'll go a step further. We hope to God we never have to use.

North Korea's a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action. We call on every responsible nation, including China and Russia, to demand that the North Korean regime end its nuclear weapons and its missile programs, and live in peace. As the South Korean people know so well, it's time to act with urgency and with great determination. It is unacceptable that nations would help to arm and finance this increasingly dangerous regime.

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BRIGGS: All right. Much television time and newspaper ink has been devoted to China's role in all of this, but not a lot of discussion certainly from the president on Russia's role in assisting the North Koreans. What is it and what does the president need from them?

ROGIN: Right. I think that's exactly right. What we've seen is that not only Vladimir Putin's Russians undermining sanctions, but outright opposing sanctions.

Meanwhile, the Russian government and Russian companies have been giving the North Korea regime a life line. They've been giving North Korea industry a life line. They've been helping the North Korean economy, which actually grew last year despite the sanctions, and that sort of puts the light of this entire myth that we're all working together to solve this problem.

[04:40:09] Now, President Trump seems to think he can do something about that. He's going to meet with Vladimir Putin while he's on this trip. He's going encourage him to see the light and help us pressure North Korea.

I'm skeptical that Vladimir Putin is going to do that. But let's wait and see.

You know, the question really is how much of our diplomatic and political attention and credibility and capital do we want to spend on this North Korea problem, right? There is a level of pressure we can apply to Beijing and then to Moscow in order to get them to move on North Korea. But w have to balance that with all of the other things we have to do, with these very big and very important countries.

So, one meeting is not going to solve anything. But the thing it could do is bring a little bit of attention, as you said, to this under-covered aspect of the North Korean problem. Everyone talks about how China needs to do more. Nobody talks about how Russia needs to do more, but Russia definitely needs to do more.

ROMANS: All right. Josh Rogin, so great to see you. Thank you for helping us break that all down.

BRIGGS: Thanks, my friend. ROMANS: All right. Another record day for Wall Street. The Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P 500 all hit record highs. The Dow alone this year up 20 percent. But are stocks too hot?

I recently asked famed activist investor Bill Ackman.

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BILL ACKMAN, ACTIVIST INVESTOR: I think there are certainly specific pockets where valuations are perhaps very high. I think the biggest risks of the markets are politics.

ROMANS: If they don't do a tax cut?

ACKMAN: Well, I think corporate tax reform will be a driver for the economy, and I think also for the stock market. If that fails, that will be a negative. I think there's a growing belief that that's going to happen although I would say it's not particularly reflected in the market prices. I think the bigger risks are kind of geopolitical. North Korea is kind of an obvious one. The markets ignored any terrorist act and I think it's generally been right to. But, you know, God forbid there's some kind of a nuclear incident, I think that's going to cause people to really reassess risks.

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ROMANS: Ackman's latest battle or investment is with human resources firm ADP. He says the company has become complacent, has a lot of potential, but he would like three seats on its board to shake things up. That shareholder vote is today.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, the Air Force failed to relay critical information about the Texas gunman. Now, it seems that failure allowed the shooter to get his hands on the stockpile of weapons. More from Sutherland Springs, next.

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[04:46:40] ROMANS: The investigators say they have recovered more than 15 empty magazines with 30-round capacities from the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs where those 26 people were killed Sunday. That's just some of the evidence painting an angry and violent picture of the gunman Devin Patrick Kelley.

BRIGGS: Retired Air Force chief prosecutor Don Christianson telling CNN Kelley fractured his stepson's skull, in an incident that led to his bad conduct discharge. And now, the Air Force acknowledges it failed to properly relay Kelley's court martial conviction to civilian law enforcement, a move that could have prevented him from buying weapons.

CNN's Alex Marquardt with more from Sutherland Springs.

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ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

Well, we are learning a lot more from the authorities about the attack. We are learning a lot more about his dark and angry past, specifically a chapter that might explain how he was able to accumulate such a formidable arsenal with which he was able to carry out this horrific attack. It happened in 2012 when the attacker was in the Air Force and he was convicted on two counts of domestic assault against his then ex-wife and stepson.

But it appears that the Air Force never communicated that information to the civilian authorities. He's never entered into what is known as the National Criminal Information Database. So, when he went to buy weapons, he wouldn't have popped up in the regular FBI background checks as someone with that kind of criminal record would have.

The Air Force is now saying they're going to carry out an investigation into what went wrong along with the Pentagon -- Christine, Dave.

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ROMANS: All right. Alex, thank you for that.

Arizona Senator John McCain promising rigorous oversight by the Armed Services Committee as the military investigates what led to the Air Force's failure to relay Kelley's conviction to civilian law enforcement. And McCain chairs the Armed Services Committee.

BRIGGS: We're also learning the gunman originally faced multiple weapons charges at his 2012 court-martial, that included two charges of pointing a loaded firearm at his wife. Kelley was also arrested on animal cruelty charges in 2014 in Colorado after witnesses reported he punched a dog several times in the head and neck.

ROMANS: As for why he targeted the Sutherland Springs, Texas church, evidence points to personal dispute. Police say Kelley had a contentious relationship with his former mother-in-law who was a church member. We know he sent her threatening texts that morning. She was not at the church at the time of the shooting, but his ex- wife's grandmother, Lulu White, was there and she was killed.

BRIGGS: President Trump says it would have made no difference if the Texas shooter had undergone tougher screening. At this morning's news conference in Seoul, the president was asked whether he would back extreme vetting for gun purchases. And here was his response.

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TRUMP: There would have been no difference three days ago. And you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or rifle in his truck go out and shoot him and hit him, and neutralize him. And I can only say this. If he didn't have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead.

REPORTER: Going forward --

[04:50:00] TRUMP: The city with the strongest gun laws in our nation is Chicago. And Chicago is a disaster. It's a total disaster.

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ROMANS: The mass shooting in Texas reviving calls for tougher legislation against gun violence.

All right. Uber is still recovering from its sexual harassment scandal, but now, it's pledging money to help prevent harassment. Details on CNN "Money Stream", next.

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BRIGGS: President Trump's former bodyguard, Keith Schiller, set to face questions from the House Intelligence Committee today. Schiller worked for the president for 20 years. Congressional investigators will be grilling him about Trump's 2013 visit to Moscow, as well as the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

[04:55:07] ROMANS: And we've learned former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page asked for input from the campaign regarding his 2016 remarks in Moscow. Page always maintained he visited Russia as a private citizen, unrelated to the Trump campaign.

But this e-mail to campaign officials suggests otherwise. Page writes: Please let me know if you have any reservations or thoughts on how you'd prefer me to focus this remarks. The e-mail was provided to the House Intel Committee last week and related to CNN by a Democratic member of the House Intel Committee.

BRIGGS: Page claimed the email was purely a courtesy. And so, the response from the campaign was they wanted to remain involved. Meanwhile, former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates will stay under house arrest with GPS monitoring. The judge refusing to make a decision on their bail until she gets more information about their finance.

ROMANS: All right. The man charged with assaulting Senator Rand Paul, Rene Boucher, was not motivated by politics. That's according to his attorney. He calls the indent a regrettable dispute between two neighbors over something most people would consider trivial.

According to another neighbor, Senator Paul and Boucher had a long running dispute over grass clippings and leaves blowing on to each other's lawns. And it's not clear that that led to the attack but the senator sustained five rib fractures and bruised lungs.

BRIGGS: Over lawn maintenance.

Day two of jury deliberations in the federal corruption of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. He's accused of abusing the power of his office by pressuring government officials to help his friend, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen. Prosecutors say in exchange, Menendez accepted more than a half a million dollars in political contributions, private jet flights and a Paris hotel suite. The senator telling reporters Monday he is very confident that jurors will return a not guilty verdict, saying his defense team did an extraordinary job of dismantling the government's case.

Julie Briskman out of a job for flipping the bird at President Trump. Briskman was riding her bike last month in Sterling, Virginia, when the president's motorcade passed by. She says her middle finger said what she was feeling -- anger and frustration.

The photo of her bird flip went viral. Briskman used the picture on her Facebook and Twitter pages. When Julie's company, Akima LLC, saw it, they fired her for violating the firm's social media policy. Julie tells CNN she's not ordinarily the bird flipping type.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning. Global stock markets higher after another record day on Wall Street. The Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P 500 all fresh record highs. That's thanks to movement on tax reform and some big corporate deals. Broadcom offered $103 billion by fellow chipmaker Qualcomm. That would be the biggest tech sector deal ever.

Meanwhile, Disney recently tried to buy a large chunk of 21st Century Fox. Fox shares jumped nearly 10 percent on that news. The talks first reported by CNBC are no longer active but Fox planned to sell its entire entertainment business to Disney, including its movie studio, television production unit and entertainment networks. And that would help Disney's struggling TV business, leaving Fox to focus on news and sports.

Neither Disney nor 21st Century Fox commented on that new. But, boy, did that stock move.

Now reports of sexual harassment are hitting Hollywood, media and tech. Now, Uber is pledging millions of dollars to help prevent harassment. It is donating $5 million to combat sexual assault and domestic violence. Uber, of course, is still reeling from its own sexual harassment scandal earlier this year. The investigation resulted in a firing of 20 employees.

Certainly, there is -- don't you think that there's really a tipping point that's happened here with bad behavior in the workplace?

BRIGGS: Yes, cleaning up of corporate culture in all industries.

ROMANS: We'll see if it lasts, we'll see if it lasts, and it's truly --

BRIGGS: It will, right?

ROMANS: I think it will, too.

(CROSSTALK)

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START continues right now with the president's remarks from South Korea on the North Korean nuclear situation.

(MUSIC) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: North Korea is a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action.

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BRIGGS: President Trump says pressure on North Korea has resulted in some movement on the nuclear issue, but all options remain on the table, including options he says he hopes to God to never use.

ROMANS: And the Air Force acknowledges it did not relay a court- martial conviction of the Texas church gunman. Now, the Pentagon is investigating the failure which allowed that gunman to buy his weapons.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's Tuesday, November 7. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East. It is 4:00 a.m. in Sutherland Springs.

We will have the latest on the shooting and what the Air Force did not do, shortly.

It is 7:00 p.m., though, in Seoul, and that's where we begin this morning because just a short time ago, President Trump holding a news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.