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EARLY START

Charles Manson Dies Of Natural Causes At 83; Trump: I Should Have Left UCLA Player In China; President, Flake Hurl "Toast" At Each Other; CNN: Mugabe Agrees To Terms Of Resignation. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 20, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs. I need sufficient praise and thanks --

ROMANS: I'll do my best.

BRIGGS: -- when I do good deeds.

ROMANS: Thank you. You're wonderful.

BRIGGS: I appreciate that. It's Monday, November 20th, 5:00 a.m. in the east.

Breaking news overnight, one of America's most notorious killers, Charles Manson has died. The California Department of Corrections says the wild-eyed '60s cult leader died of unspecified causes. Manson was 83. He had been in prison since 1971 for his role as ringleader of what became one of the '60s' most sensational mass murderers.

ROMANS: Prosecutors said Manson wanted to spark a race war and ordered his followers to kill five people one night, including Actress Sharon Tate Polanski and a married couple, the Labiancas, the next day.

He was originally sentenced to death, which was automatically commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole when a court abolished California's death penalty in 1972. Manson was up for parole 12 times over the decades, rejected each time.

BRIGGS: President Trump says he should have left one of three UCLA basketball players in a Chinese jail after the player's dad was not sufficiently thankful. Lavar Ball, father of UCLA's Li Angelo Ball and L.A. Lakers rookie, Lonzo Ball, dismissing the president's role in getting his son released.

The outspoken Mr. Ball telling ESPN, who? What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out." Now the president slamming Ball as ungrateful. CNN's Boris Sanchez has more from the White House.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, President Trump never known to back down from a fight. This latest spat with LaVar Ball over the release of his son from prison in China over alleged shoplifting. This all started while the president was on his 12-day, 5-nation tour of Asia.

Those three UCLA players were detained. The president found out about it, we're hearing from White House officials, and personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping if those students could be released and safely returned to the United States. They were.

And in that process, the president aloud on Twitter, wondered whether or not those players would thank him. They did, and he tweeted about them, warning them to be weary of the many pitfalls in life.

But then just as soon as we thought it was over, on Friday, LaVar Ball, the father of Li Angelo Ball, one of those three students, made a comment to ESPN, downplaying the president's role in their release.

So, he tweeted about the situation once on Sunday morning and then again hours later, writing, quote, "Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be. Five to ten years in jail. But not to Father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!"

Now, the president has caught some flack for suggesting this idea that he would not have helped release these U.S. citizens, these student athletes from a Chinese prison if he had known that one of their parents would not give him credit in public -- Christine and Dave.

ROMANS: All right, Boris, thank you so much.

BRIGGS: He says with a smirk. Yes, we all do.

ROMANS: Joining us, CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University. Let's start with this conflict with the father of the basketball player. It almost started when the president originally tweeted, you know, I hope they realize I'm helping them get out, you know, I hope they say thank you. I mean, what --

BRIGGS: This is really happening, by the way. This is real.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Just another day in the Trump presidency.

ROMANS: You know, I was going to ask you, is this presidential, but Dave says we already know the answer to this question. This is not presidential behavior in the long history that we've had.

ZELIZER: No, this is not presidential behavior, but it's totally predictable and part of the Trump presidency, and these are the fights he loves to have. He selects his targets, and then he unleashes, and I think it works. It works for his supporters and it doesn't work for the rest of the country, and this won't go away.

BRIGGS: Democratic Congressman Jim Himes tweeted this -- "Kaepernick, Khan, cast of "Hamilton," Rep Wilson," who is the Florida representative that the president took on about the condolence calls, "LaVar Ball, apart from Hillary Clinton, his infantile attacks correlates with skin color."

You talk about how he targets Twitter feuds. Does he target them by skin color, or is there something else we are missing?

ZELIZER: Well, we don't know what motivates him, but it's been part of the pattern of the presidency. Whether it's directly attacking African-Americans or his comments about Puerto Rico or his silence in Charlottesville, race seems to be part of the mix. We can't understand exactly what motivates him, but I think the criticism is there and the criticism is there for a reason.

[05:05:05] BRIGGS: Because it's not just Hillary. The president has Twitter feuds with people of all races, all skin colors, but it does seem like there's a pattern developing there.

ROMANS: There is. And you know, he lashed out at Jeff Flake, Senator Jeff Flake this weekend after this hot mic moment where Jeff Flake essentially said, if we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast. The president, you know, went after him. So, he goes after people in his own party as well. Let's listen to that hot mic moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we will be toast.

MAYOR JOHN GILLES, MESA, ARIZONA: I'm not throwing smoke at you, but you're the guy that could, just for fun -- think how much fun it could be just to be the foil and to point out what an idiot this guy is. You know, anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's the Mesa, Arizona, Mayor John Gilles, a Republican from there. You'll notice Jeff Flake didn't say I'm going to do that. He just sort of laughed and moved on, but what does that moment tell you about what's happening, I guess the existential struggle in this party?

ZELIZER: Well, some of this is played out in public, and this reflects comments Flake has already made in his book and on television and in print. It reflects an unease and discomfort with what the Republican Party has become.

And I think there are quiet discussions, and there are some public discussion because what kind of damage will President Trump do to the Republican Party in the short term, but just as important, in the next 10 or 15 years.

And then add to it someone like Roy Moore possibly being a senator for the Republican Party. Republicans are totally in the cusp, but this is their party, and you can't separate yourself from the president of the United States. BRIGGS: And what this president needs is this tax bill. That would be his only chance of major legislation in this first year and he took on Jeff Flake on Twitter, saying he won't support tax cuts. Flake has been largely supportive of this bill. Can this president usher through, sell this tax bill? Ron Johnson has said he does not like this bill as the president constituted, Susan Collins has concerns. Can they get it through?

ZELIZER: It's 50/50. I mean, the good news is corporate tax cuts are desired by a lot of Republicans so put President Trump aside. There are Republicans who want to deliver a bill and don't want to deliver the cuts. The problem is, this comes along with a big tax hike for a lot of middle-class Americans.

And so, that's what Republicans are also pushing, and that's where that support in the Senate could waver in the next few days, and that's what we're watching.

ROMANS: They really want their corporate tax cuts, they really do. And I feel like this was packaged -- you know, the president called this the biggest middle-class tax cut in history, which it just is not.

ZELIZER: Right.

ROMANS: And so, they're trying to make this tax reform what the president is saying it is, but at the same time, it really is a vehicle for corporate tax relief. And Republicans and Democrats have been bipartisan agreement that that has to be fairer and simpler. The corporate tax code, they're having a hard time I think selling it that way.

ZELIZER: Well, most Americans are not overly enthused about giving corporations a tax cut, even if you make the argument this will bring jobs. The thing they want the most is tax cuts for themselves or they want other kinds of government services. And the president and the Republicans are going to run into the facts.

That's what happened with health care, and that's what this Senate battle will be about. This is not a middle-class tax cut. It's a middle-class tax hike. And somehow, the Republicans have to sell that, and they have to sell it with a president who isn't particularly good at selling legislation.

BRIGGS: And that's interesting. That's what he's done throughout his entire career is market things and sell them. We'll ask you about that in about 30 minutes. Julian Zelizer, thanks.

Breaking news overnight in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe agreeing to step down. What we're learning about the agreement he struck with generals behind the apparent coup.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:12:57] BRIGGS: The lawyer for White House senior adviser to the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, accusing Senate investigators of playing what he calls gotcha games with his client. This comes after the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the first son-in-law, saying he failed to hand over key documents covering information on the campaign's contacts with Russia.

Justice correspondent, Evan Perez, spoke to Kushner's attorney and has the latest from Washington.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, for months, there's been a growing perception that Jared Kushner hasn't been up front about Russian contacts, from his failure to list on his security clearance application to this past week when the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a bipartisan and public letter to Kushner, saying he hadn't turned over documents that the committee knew existed.

The committee says that the documents cover everything from campaign contacts with Wikileaks to a Russian back-door proposal to connect Russian President Vladimir Putin with the campaign, an idea that Kushner rejected.

In an interview with me on Sunday, Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney, pushes back against those accusations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABBE LOWELL, ATTORNEY FOR JARED KUSHNER: The committee investigations, unfortunately, are devolving into political gotcha games. If committees selectively leak parts of interviews or send me letters through the media or turn Jared Kushner's very clear e-mail that there should be no contacts with anybody in a foreign country into what they call is a missing document, then they're undermining their own credibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREZ: The bottom line here is that Kushner is not promising to provide an interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and while his attorney says he's cooperating with Congress, Kushner has another investigation to keep in mind.

That's the criminal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And right now, Mueller is working through the roster of White House officials who are coming in for interviews. We expect Kushner will be one of them -- Dave, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, thank you for that.

Breaking news overnight, the embattled president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has agreed to resign. A source with direct knowledge of the negotiations telling CNN Mugabe has accepted terms from the nation's generals to step down. A letter has been drafted to make that move official. [05:15:04] That letter must now be sent to the speaker of Zimbabwe's parliament. CNN has learned Mugabe and his wife will be granted full immunity and will be allowed to keep their properties under the agreement.

One border patrol agent is dead, another seriously injured, and the FBI now searching for suspects and potential witnesses to the attack over the weekend in Southwest Texas. The 36-year-old Rohilio Martinez (ph) and his partner were patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border in the big bend sector when they reported being injured.

Customs officials are not releasing any other details. Both agents were transported to a hospital where Martinez died. His partner is in serious condition. President Trump responding on Twitter last night, tweeting in part, "We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will and must build the wall!"

BRIGGS: Actor Jeffrey Tambor signaling he may not return to his Emmy- winning role in the show "Transparent." The 73-year-old actor accused of sexual harassment by at least two people. Amazon is investigating the allegations.

According to the website "Deadline." Tambor denies any wrongdoing in a statement released by his publicist, which reads, "The idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue. Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don't see how I can return to "Transparent."

"Deadline" reports the allegations come from two of the actor's transgender colleagues, his former assistant, Dan Barnes, and fellow "Transparent" actor, Trace Lysette. Barnes implied on a blog, "Post It," Tambor repeatedly propositioned and groped her. Lysette alleged Tambor made lude remarks and physically pushed himself on her while on set.

ROMANS: This morning, Actor David Cassidy is fighting for his life. His longtime publicist tells CNN Cassidy is in critical condition with organ failure at a hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She tells us the 67-year-old is in intensive care and has a breathing tube, adding he is conscious and surrounded by family and friends. The popular '70s heartthrob rose to fame after starring in the hit tv show "The Partidge Family." Cassidy told "People" magazine earlier this year he was battling dementia.

BRIGGS: Ahead, the feud between President Trump and LaVar Ball, the father of three young basketball players, getting the attention of one outspoken NBA coach. Steve Kerr has harsh words for both men. Coy Wire has this morning's "Bleacher Report" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:21:53]

BRIGGS: Well, it seems everyone has an opinion on the developing feud between President Trump and LaVar Ball. That includes the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr. ROMANS: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine and Dave. Lavar Ball is the father of LiAngelo, one of three UCLA players arrested on shoplifting charges in China, and he publicly down played the president's role in freeing his son and his teammates.

President Trump tweeted that he wished he'd left the players in jail, since LaVar Ball was unaccepting of the help he provided. Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr has been an outspoken critic of President Trump and he chimed in on the situation before yesterday's game. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE KERR, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS HEAD COACH: People seeking attention and they're both getting it, so, I'm sure both guys are really happy. It would be nice for all of us if both of them would just be quiet. Wouldn't that be great?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: All right, remember, after the White House revoked the Warriors' invitation after their championship, Kerr wrote a letter to the president which was published in "Sports Illustrated," saying, quote, "don't divide us, bring us together."

All right, Oakland and New England squared off in Mexico City yesterday and star running back, Marshawn Lynch, sat during the American national anthem, but according to the "Boston Globe," he then stood for the Mexican anthem. There did not appear to be any other sorts of protests during the anthems in the game.

This is not the first time, remember, that an NFL player knelt during the anthem on foreign soil. Earlier in the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars knelt during the anthem while playing in London but then stood for "God Save The Queen."

Feel-good story of the day, a moment that a young Minnesota Vikings fan will remember forever. Vikings receiver, Stefon Diggs, noticed the young boy wearing his jersey during pregame warm-ups. Not only did he invite the child on to the field with him, he then decided to play a little catch, and does the young man have hands?

Yes, he does. Can't see enough of these moments in sports, men realizing and pro athletes realizing the impact they can have on the lives of others and taking full advantage of them.

Just to leave you guys, about two hours here, at 7:30, the implosion of the iconic Georgia Dome here in Atlanta. CNN is going to be covering it live in just about 12 to 15 seconds, 1.6 million square footage of the only venue in the world to have hosted an Olympics, a Super Bowl, and a final four, will be surmounted to rubble, a pile heap. It's going to be shown live on our air. So, stay tuned if you're in the mood for that this morning.

A little sentimental for me, guys. That was the last NFL game that I played was in that stadium! So, yes.

ROMANS: Wow. I love it, blowing stuff up early in the morning, that's nice.

BRIGGS: Speaking of implosion, the Bills quarterback, Nathan Peterman with five interceptions? He completed six to his team, five to the other team. That's an implosion in and of itself, is it not?

WIRE: Yes. Of course, replacing Tyrod Taylor there. So many wondering what that the right move and even Richard Sherman, the outspoken star defensive player of the Seahawks tweeted about it yesterday, saying "bad move" by the Bills.

BRIGGS: Nathan Peterman. All right. Coy Wire, thanks, man.

WIRE: You're welcome.

BRIGGS: Looking forward to the implosion.

[05:25:04] ROMANS: We are following breaking news out of California this morning, Charles Manson is dead, 83 years old. The latest reaction to the notorious killer's death, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: All right, some breaking news out of California, 1960s cult leader-murderer, Charles Manson has died at 83 years old. The latest reaction on the notorious killer's death.

ROMANS: Plus, President Trump lashing out on Twitter, saying he should have left those three UCLA basketball players in a Chinese jail. What one of their father said that upset this president.

BRIGGS: Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore standing his ground in a new interview. Why he says he can prove the yearbook signature is not his. And we're still on standby waiting for the president to weigh in on Roy Moore on Twitter. It's not happening yet. Welcome back to EARLY START.