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Democrats Sweep Big Races; Trump to North Korea: "Do Not Try Us". Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 04:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president arrived in Beijing overnight. We'll take you there live.

EARLY START's coverage from China, Virginia and Pyongyang continues right now.

[04:00:04] Interestingly, the president started talking about human rights, something he's largely left out of the conversation until now.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, November 8th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East. It is 5:00 p.m. in Beijing.

But let's begin here with politics in the U.S. A blue wave crashing ashore for Democrats last night, giving them a much needed morale boost. Election night a strong one for the Democrats with key wins in Virginia, in New Jersey, New York City and other local races.

The Virginia race closely watched as a national referendum on the Trump presidency.

BRIGGS: Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam beat former RNC Chairman Gillespie by a wider than expected margin. Democrats now looking to build on their momentum as the countdown begins to next year's midterm elections.

CNN's Brianna Keilar has more from Northam headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam winning and winning in a much earlier evening than expected. They were biting their nails and expecting a very late night. But in the end, that's not what happened. And they're saying that this is an indication of a bigger picture of anti-Trump sentiment.

Ralph Northam spoke about that to the crowd here.

RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: Virginia told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry and to end the politics that have torn this country apart. KEILAR: So, a lot of confidence the Democrats across the country are

feeling coming out of this Virginia governor's race. They are definitely looking at the bigger picture, saying that in 2018, it is going to be difficult to run as a Republican. As One Democrat very deeply involved in this campaign said, there's a big Democratic turnout right now. If you are up in 2018, that's got to be scary if you have an "R" next to your name -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Brianna Keilar, thank you for that.

The state of New Jersey also going blue Tuesday. Democrat Phil Murphy will take over for Chris Christie as New Jersey's next governor, scoring a double digit win over Christie's lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno.

BRIGGS: In New York City, no contest in the mayoral race. Democrat incumbent Bill de Blasio easily cruising to victory over three challengers.

Danica Roem making history in Virginia. The 33-year-old former journalist elected the nation's first openly transgender state lawmaker. She defeats 13-term incumbent Robert Marshall who proclaimed himself Virginia's chief homophobe.

ROMANS: Also in Virginia, former television anchor and Democrat Chris Hurst winning the 12th district House race. You might remember, Hurst, his girlfriend Alison Parker was tragically killed on live television in 2016.

And in Maine, voters approved an expansion of the state's Medicaid program under Obamacare. It's a major setback for Republican Governor Paul LePage. He's, of course, a staunch ally of President Trump who vetoed expansion bills five times.

BRIGGS: President Trump weighing in overnight on the election results from the other side of the world.

White House reporter Kaitlan Collins now in Beijing, following the president.

Kaitlan, good morning to you. Good evening.

What are we hearing from the president and the White House on what looks like a bad night for Republicans.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. The president is effectively trying to keep himself at an arms length from this loss. Just minutes before his speech in South Korea earlier this morning, he tweeted, Ed Gillespie worked hard, but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don't forget, Republicans won four out of four house seats. With the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win bigger than before.

So, we are seeing the president try to distance himself from this loss, even though just hours before this tweet, the president was encouraging his followers to get out and vote for Ed Gillespie because he said he would be tough on crime and that his opponent was weak on crime, weak for veterans and Trump claimed anti-Second Amendment.

But the president, this isn't the first time we have seen him try to distance himself from a loss. As you remember, Dave, he did the same back in Alabama during that primary race, with a candidate he endorsed Luther Strange.

And even though he had gone to Alabama to rally for him, in a campaign rally, the president deleted his tweet supporting Luther Strange just hours after he lost. So, this is a president that demands loyalty from those around him, but rarely returns it. This calls into question if the president's support can help bring these people, these Republicans to victory -- Dave.

BRIGGS: It's a complicated race to read nationally. Kaitlan Collins live for us -- thank you.

ROMASN: President Trump also delivering a pointed message to North Korea last night in a speech to the South Korea parliament. The president made it clear, he is more willing than past U.S. presidents to use military force against Pyongyang if it continues to threaten America and its allies.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The regime has interpreted America's past restraint as weakness.

[04:05:08] This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. Do not underestimate us and do not try us.


ROMANS: Let's go live to Beijing and bring in CNN's Matt Rivers.

Do not underestimate us, do not try us. This is a forceful President Trump here.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And it's the kind of rhetoric we have gotten used to Donald Trump. It's a big change that we've heard from past administrations who had been more cautious in their language when discussing North Korea.

This speech did see the president continue that hard line against North Korea. It did have some slight differences, though, in the fact that it didn't have the direct threats against North Korea that we heard. For example, when the president spoke to the United Nations General Assembly not long ago, he didn't threaten to completely destroy North Korea, didn't call Kim Jong-un little rocket man as he did in that speech.

But he did keep up his strong rhetoric, that we're expecting him to kind of take that hard line now that he's in Beijing, into his meetings with President Xi Jinping over the next 36 hours. We know the president has toured the Forbidden City, that iconic imperial palace here in Beijing. He's expected to have dinner there later tonight.

And then the hard stuff really happens tomorrow when they get down to the brass tax of negotiations. But really the substance of today was that speech in South Korea, speaking in front of lawmakers, saying that if Kim Jong-un continues to develop these weapons, the only thing he does is make his country less safe.

Now, one thing we know that the Koreans were watching for is, will the Trump administration put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism? It's something President Trump has brought up as a possibility and now, a senior administration official tells CNN that by the end of the trip, the president will make that determination, something the North Koreans will be unhappy about if he so did that.

And finally, just a little bit about a photo-op that didn't happen, the president had long said that he wasn't going to visit the demilitarized zone, the DMZ, the border between North Korea and South Korea, as other presidents have done before him. That said, he was going to make a surprise trip this morning. He went so far as to get on Marine One, his helicopter, and started flying towards the DMZ for a surprise joint appearance with South Korea's president.

But as they were flying there, weather conditions deteriorated. The decision was made that because of the fog, they needed to turn back. That cancel what would have been a very dramatic photo-op.

ROMANS: The photo-op, Matt Rivers, that didn't happen. So fascinating.

All right. Thank you so much for that.

Korean peninsula experts who were telling us, he shouldn't do that because it would be seen as kind of like antagonistic to the North Koreans. But it looks like he was going to do it, but then couldn't.

BRIGGS: Mother Nature had the right idea.

All right. How are North Koreans reacting to this warning from President Trump? CNN's Will Ripley, the only Western TV journalist reporting from inside Pyongyang. He joins us live, next.



[04:12:16] TRUMP: The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face. North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: President Trump giving what he called a direct warning to the North Korean regime last night. How are his words going over in Pyongyang?

CNN's Will Ripley is there. He is the only Western TV journalist reporting from inside North Korea. I think his 17th trip. He joins us now live from Pyongyang.

What can you tell us about the reaction from the North Koreans, specifically on this issue of human rights? That North Korea is a hell to live in.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's really the first time we have heard president Trump give such a pointed attack on North Korea's human rights record that's been laid out in a number of United Nations reports. This is a sensitive subject I have discussed with North officials many times over the last several years. And they come up with the kind of argument that was published today in North Korea's leading newspaper, the "Rodong Sinmun".

Now, keep in mind, this article was probably written before President Trump's speech in Seoul, but the content of this is noteworthy because this is the argument that North Korea throws back at the United States, and, in fact, officials throw back at me as an American citizen, when I ask them about North Korean human rights.

The quote says: The U.S. should not impudently style itself as a human rights judge, but mind its own poor human rights records in its land where racial discrimination, gun-related crimes and other social crimes prevail.

The North Koreans say that this is not a hell. The government officials say they are providing a safe place for citizens to live, a collective society. But, obviously, people who have left this country and testified to the United Nations paint a very different picture of a grim life in North Korean gulags, where secret police crack down on any dissenting voices.

And, frankly, it is true when you walk on the streets of, anywhere in North Korea, you will never hear anybody criticize the government. You just won't hear it because it's not tolerated here.

North Korean officials, we did also speak with them just after President Trump speech and they reiterated a statement that they gave to me just before he spoke, trying to downplay the significance and the impact of his words. They said, quote, we don't care what that mad dog may utter because we've already heard enough. And they accuse the president and U.S. military by having three U.S. air carriers strike groups in the waters off the Korean peninsula of pushing this situation in this region very close to an all-out military conflict -- Christine.

ROMANS: It makes you wonder, you know, and I don't know if you heard our reporting on this, but Matt Rivers is reporting from Beijing that the president actually did try to go to the DMZ with the South Korean president for a sort of surprise photo-op. [04:15:12] It didn't happen because of weather.

One wonders, Will, how that would have been received by the North Koreans, the picture, the images of President Trump right there on the border.

RIPLEY: Well, the North Koreans have become increasingly media savvy and they realize that President Trump was looking for a photo-op, to land at the DMZ in his large helicopter Marine One, because he easily could have driven there. It's about a half hour drive or so from Seoul. But he wanted to have the theatrics of arriving by helicopter, standing there, you know, gazing over the DMZ.

And so, the North Koreans would have listened to what he said there, had he said any insulting or inflammatory remarks, it would have certainly aggravated them, especially given how sensitive that area is. But they are really trying to downplay how much his words impact them here. They say they are really looking at the rhetoric that led up to this trip and the United States actions as a whole.

And they say they are determined to continue to round off their nuclear program. They say there will be more nuclear tests and missile launches at a time and place of their choosing. The big question and part of the reason why we're here in Pyongyang for the duration of President Trump's Asia visit is a lot of people are wondering if they are going to do something while he is here in the region.

ROMANS: Well, they have their nuclear sword of self-defense.

All right. Thank you so much for that, Will Ripley.

All right. These are live pictures of the president and Melania Trump in Beijing. We told you there, in the Forbidden City, the Imperial Palace. They're going to be having dinner tonight.

BRIGGS: The first ever U.S. president to have dinner in a Forbidden City. Very symbolic as President Xi Jinping rolls out the real red carpet for president Trump. They are well aware there that flattery is the way to President Trump's heart.

President Trump needs a lot, though, from Xi Jinping. He wants his help on the North Korean nuclear threat. He wants concessions on closing this trade gap.

What does Xi Jinping want from President Trump? Why this flattery? Why this symbolism? Why so much pomp and circumstance?

ROMANS: It could be very well that Xi Jinping knows that this president has the toughest language of any president in recent memory of any president about the Chinese trade relationship, about what China should be doing, as you say, with North Korea.

Look, the camera is going dark there. We're looking at these pictures here live. I guess it was the opera. Nice night at the opera. BRIGGS: OK, very nice. This visit, the dinner there says as much

about Trump as it does Xi Jinping and the power he now has in China, consolidating, some view him as an emperor-like figure there in China right now.

ROMANS: All right. We'll continue to monitor those pictures and all those developments there --

BRIGGS: Extraordinary pictures.

ROMANS: -- as those pictures come out of the president's trip to China.

Meanwhile, back at home, Vice President Mike Pence heading to Sutherland Springs, Texas, today. He will visit with the victims of the deadly mass massacre and plans to escape at a prayer vigil. This morning, we have new details about the gunman who killed 25 people and unborn child. Devin Kelley escaped from a behavioral health facility in New Mexico back in 2012, months after he was accused of abusing his ex-wife and her child.

BRIGGS: Documents show he was sent there for pretrial confinement. Law enforcement was advised he was a danger to himself and others after he was caught sneaking firearms on the Holloman Air Force Base. The suspect's phone has been sent to an FBI lab. But so far, investigators unable to crack it.

ROMANS: Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas says he's working on federal and state level to make sure information that could stop dangerous people from buying guns is recorded to the National Criminal Background Check system in a timely fashion.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: This seems to be an area where there is bipartisan support to come in and fix the background check system, to make sure that we keep firearms out of hands of convicted felons, people with mental illness, people who commit domestic violence and the like. If we can address that and close those gaps, I think that would be a big improvement.


BRIGGS: Certainly some progress. According to an ATF official, there is no evidence that bump stop was used by the Texas gunman.

We're learning that Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on bump stocks. That's in response to the Las Vegas massacre last month.

ROMANS: Ten victims from the Texas church shooting remain in critical condition. Families of those killed will receive $6,500 each to help cover funeral services from a state fund. Officials says a company stepped forward to donate all the caskets.

ROMANS: This morning, shock and sadness around Major League Baseball and the entire sports world. We are following news that former star pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash. He was 40 years old and leaves behind a wife and two children.

Authorities say Halladay was piloting a small single engine aircraft when it crashed in shallow water off the coast of Florida Tuesday. He was the only person on board the two-seater plane and police they received no distress calls. The NTSB is investigating the crash.

[04:20:03] Halladay retired in 2013 after 16 stellar seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, winning more than 200 games, two Cy Young Awards. He also owned the only no-hitter in national league postseason history, also threw a perfect game.

The Blue Jays released a statement saying the organization is grief- stricken by the loss of, quote, one of the franchise's greatest and most respected players, but even better a human being. It's impossible to express what he meant to this franchise.

On a personal note, I grew up with Roy Halladay. I played against Roy for many years. I played with him in Little League for several years and against him again in high school. Here is our Little League team photo. Roy is in the top road, second from the left, I'm just below him.

What a great man, not just a great pitcher, a great father. He loved to fly. And I will tell you, he was great from the first time he ever picked up a baseball. We knew right away this guy was different.

ROMANS: Really? So, when you were eight years, you saw that he was a star.

BRIGGS: Day one, Christine. He was great from the first time he touched the baseball. But perseverance defines Roy Halladay. He was sent down to single "A" ball in 2001 after a miserable season in 2000.

Many thought his career was over. It wasn't even close the beginning. He redefined himself and became, to me, the best pitcher of our era. But I'll miss him. He's a great, great man.

ROMANS: I'm sorry, Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, great guy.

All right. Twenty-one minutes past the hour.

Most Americans will get tax cuts under the GOP plan. But millions of households might pay more. That number will grow over time. We'll tell you why, next.


[04:26:04] BRIGGS: The United States is the only nation in the world not to join the Paris climate agreement now that Syria has signed up. Syrian officials calling on all developed countries to live up to their legal and human responsibility at the U.N. climate conference in Germany.

Syria was one of the throes of a civil war during the 2015 negotiations for the climate agreements which commits to lowering emissions and strengthens nation's ability to deal with the effects of global warming. Nicaragua was the other only hold out but recently announced it intends to be part of the plan.

President Trump announced in June the U.S. is withdrawing from the climate accord by the year 2020.

ROMANS: All right. We are in the midst of frenetic selling of tax reform. And most American households will get tax cuts under the GOP plan. But millions may face higher taxes right away and that number could grow over time. We're talking about new analysis here.

The tax writing committees are still fighting over the GOP bill. But this new congressional study finds it will hit American households differently, even if they earn the same amount of money. Let me give you an example. Take a middle class household earning $75,000 to $100,000 a year, 84 percent of those households, so most of them will get a tax cut in 2019. But 11 percent of those households will pay more.

The difference is due to the complexity of the bill. It's a mix of rate cuts, eliminated deductions and expiring tax credits. So, a household's tax bill will on things like where they live, how many children they have and if they plan to borrow in the future. That's why the number of losers will grow over time. By the year 2027, fewer than half of American households will still be seeing tax cuts. And nearly one in five households will pay more.

That may be the reason only 31 percent of Americans support the GOP bill. This is from a new CNN poll. About 45 percent say they oppose this tax plan.

BRIGGS: Twitter users, Mr. President, can now put twice as much in their tweets. A new 280 character limit is now in effect, double the previous limit of 140. The company has been testing the 280 character limit tweets with a small group of users since September. Interestingly, though, Twitter says after the novelty of tweeting more characters wore off, most people in the test groups stopped tweeting the full length. They say just 5 percent of their tweets were longer than 140 characters.

We believe less is more, Christine.

ROMANS: Less is more. Brevity, brevity, brevity.

BRIGGS: It's part of the beauty of the platform.

ROMANS: I know, I know, I think so, too. We'll see.

All right. Let's talk about weather. Unseasonably cold air pushing east to finish out the workweek.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Dave and Christine, get ready for cooler air here over the next couple days. Right now, they are watching what is essentially a seasonably cool temperatures in place here, 50s and 60s at least for the last couple days. The chilly air gets replaced here with significantly cooler air coming in especially Friday into Saturday across parts of the Northeast and Midwest as well.

When you look at the calendar, early November, certainly you expect 50s and 60s. But notice this the Friday forecast, high temperatures in Chicago, 33 degrees. That is a Christmas day average temperature there for Chicago on Friday.

Cleveland fails to get above the freezing mark, that is a January 14th temperature. New York City 36 degrees expected temperatures, something you'd expect in the middle of January and same story goes for Boston as well. So, big-time cooling here in store over the next couple of days.

Speaking of that wintry weather across parts of Northern Texas here with cold air in place, 34 in the morning hours in Amarillo while still hanging on to 74 down in Corpus Christi. Some of that cooler air, certainly some of the wet weather pushes in towards the East Coast, but the big story becomes that significant shift in temperatures there coming in on Thursday and Friday.

Highs today, 50 in New York. Look what happens again towards Friday down into the middle 30s -- guys.


ROMANS: All right.

BRIGGS: I think he was trolling you there.

ROMANS: About Chicago?



BRIGGS: We're going to Chicago, 33.

ROMANS: We're going to Chicago, it's going to be cold. I love Chicago. And I love Chicago.

BRIGGS: You enjoy that.


BRIGGS: EARLY START continues with pictures from the president's trip to Beijing.