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EARLY START

Judge: DHS Must Resume DACA Program; Trump Says He'll Sign Whatever Congress Approves; White House Staffing Exodus?; Deadly Mudslides in Southern California; South Korea's Leader Credits Trump's "Huge" Contribution. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 10, 2018 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, a federal judge says the White House has to keep the program to protect dreamers for now. How will that affect government funding talks with next Friday's deadline looming?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The national security advisor, the White House counsel, two of the officials who could exit this White House. The president is struggling to staff the building amid constant chaos.

BRIGGS: And devastating mudslides from California. More than a dozen are dead after areas decimated by wildfires were slammed with raging water and stone. They're now left to clean up after another natural disaster.

We have reports this morning from Washington, from California and Seoul, South Korea.

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, January 10th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin with this court ruling. A major court ruling with implications for talks on immigration and government funding. A federal judge in California temporarily blocking the Trump administration's effort to end DACA. That's the Obama era program protecting about 700,000 Dreamers. Dreamers are young people who were brought here illegally as children.

BRIGGS: The judge ruled the Department of Homeland Security must resume taking DACA renewal applications while the lawsuit proceeds. The ruling does not require the administration to process papers for first time applicants.

ROMANS: The White House planned to wind down the Dreamer program by early March. The judge said the plaintiff showed they are likely to win their claim that the move was, quote, arbitrary and capricious, the justice department says the ruling does not change the position the Obama administration illegally circumventing Congress when it created the DACA program. BRIGGS: The suit was filed by four states and the University of

California. UC president Janet Napolitano helped create the DACA program when she was homeland security secretary under President Obama.

Let's discuss this with CNN legal analyst and civil rights attorney, Areva Martin, via Skype from Los Angeles.

Good morning to you.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Thanks for being here so bright and early or late in your case.

Let's talk about this ruling and first, what does it mean for the some 700,000 Dreamers here?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This is a huge victory for the Dreamers. Essentially, it rescinds the policy enacted by the Trump administration in September. It says that those Dreamers that are here have an opportunity to reapply and to remain in the United States.

And the irony is this is -- this ruling comes on the same day that Trump is meeting with Republican and Democratic senators, trying to work out some kind of deal to address the issue with the DACAs that are supposed to be under the Trump administration deported starting in March.

ROMANS: So now you can still file for a renewal of your DACA status, but not new DACA applications. That seems to be a little bit of a wrinkle here.

But in the end isn't it going to be Congress that's going to have to fix this, the president and Congress? How much say or how much leeway do the courts have here?

MARTIN: Well, this is a temporary victory for those DACA recipients. We can expect the Justice Department to appeal this decision and for this fight to play itself out in the court system and probably make its way to the Supreme Court and we'll have to see what does Congress do.

But you're right. Essentially this is going to be a decision that has to be made by legislation, either a bipartisan agreement between Republicans or Democrats, or maybe the Republicans going it alone and President Trump signing some piece of legislation to deal with the DACA recipients.

For now, they have a brief repeal. I'm sure there's a lot of celebration happening, but this story is far from over.

ROMANS: You know, Dave and I looking at the front cover of "USA Today" this morning which really I think puts the --

BRIGGS: It's a tale of two-folds, above and below.

ROMANS: Trump declares he wants immigration bill of love. Below the fold, American dream darkens for the USA for Salvadorians. On the one hand, you see this court victory for DACA. You see the president talking about a bill of love and potentially a pathway to citizenship even if you really listen to what he said yesterday for people already here. But for those people, 200,000 people from El Salvador, they're going to use their temporary protected status.

What do you see about the strategy here, the continuity or lack of it in immigration?

BRIGGS: Areva, can you hear us?

MARTIN: I'm sorry. I -- there's a lot of confusion in terms of what the president wants in terms of immigration. If you look at that bipartisan meeting that was held in the White House on one hand he first agreed with Senator Dianne Feinstein saying a DACA bill could be decided or what would happen with the recipients could be decided separate from the border wall and then minutes later he's saying it has to be tied to a broader immigration policy.

So, the president in that same meeting flip flopped on the issue of what should happen with those recipients and I think it remains to be seen what comes out of that discussion that happened yesterday and ultimately a larger immigration policy.

[05:00:03] ROMANS: Bill of love and American dream darkens. You're right. A tale of two-folds.

Areva Martin, thank you so much for that.

MARTIN: Thank you.

ROMANS: DACA is all but guaranteed come up when the president holds a joint meeting today with the president of Norway.

What's unclear this morning is exactly how the judge's order will affect talks between the White House and both parties in Congress.

BRIGGS: Democrats had been demanding a deal on DACA in order to vote for government funding, so the question now is whether this temporary reprieve for DACA is enough for Democrats to back off the threat of a government shutdown.

ROMANS: Before the ruling president Trump was holding the line on Twitter saying a border wall must be part of any DACA deal. That does not square with his remarks at that bipartisan White House meeting earlier in the day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This should be a bipartisan bill. This would be a bill of love.

If we do this properly, DACA, you're not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform. If you want to take that further step, I'll take the heat, I don't care.

That doesn't mean 2,000 miles of wall, because you just don't need that, because of nature, because of mountains and rivers and lots of other things. But we need a certain portion of that border to have the wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A certain portion. That is not what the president has said before.

BRIGGS: In the event that DACA does remain a sticking point, yesterday's extraordinary session at the White House could go down as a turning point. Instead of usual brief opportunity, the president kept engaging with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on camera. His positions kept involving as the cameras kept rolling.

ROMANS: A senior administration official says it was done intentionally to seize the megaphone on the immigration issue and to put to rest the question about the president's mental state.

Joining us now to look at the political impact of the DACA ruling and all of this, CNN politics digital director Zach Wolf live in Washington.

So, Zach, what do the Dems do with this?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: I think they take it and run with it if they can. Although I think after that meeting already, we're starting to see some of those normal divisions play themselves out again.

You know, Democrats are one thing here, and they really want DACA and Trump sounded open to that and open even to comprehensive immigration reform, so that's great. But I think more importantly is going to be Republicans who control the Senate and the House and the floor and everything that's going to actually go into legislation.

So, Democrats are kind of foils to that Republicans who are actually going to decide what's in here.

BRIGGS: As for this a 55 minute meeting it was in Lindsey Graham's words fascinating. John Cornyn called it extraordinary. Dick Durbin said it's head-spinning.

There was evolutions all over the map within this portion. But then you can consider the evolution of President Trump on immigration in the grand scheme of things and it's hard to wrap your mind around.

Let's listen to the president talking about this bill yesterday and then juxtapose that with what he said about Jeb Bush's characterization of immigration. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There should be a bill of love, truly it should be a bill of love and we can do that.

If you remember he said they come as an act of love. OK? Tell that to the families and there are many, many, many families who lost a loved one. Act of love.

OK, there's no act of love. It's tough stuff, it's mean stuff and it's going to be taken care of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: And that is why Donald Trump is the president of the United States. Largely because of what he said about immigration.

Those immigration hard liners, not so impressed by yesterday's meeting. Ann Coulter tweeting this: Nothing Michael Wolff could say about President Trump has hurt him as much as the DACA lovefest right now.

The president says he can take the heat. Have we any sense of how hot it's about to get?

WOLF: Yes, and it will be incredible. Lindsey Graham was talking about the difficulty of conservative talk radio and Trump said he'd take the heat on that. Well, you know, this is a guy who loves to consume media. I'm not sure, you know, the folks at Fox News are ever going to turn on him with regards to this. But it would be that kind of thing, I think, that would really frustrate him as he moves forward.

But what we really saw was a guy who wants another win. He wants to have things behind his name. He wants to, you know, get things done in his own mind.

And I would point out, you know, we were all kind of spinning around, Dick Durbin, what does he actually want in this bill? He didn't say during that meeting but he did clarify afterwards that a wall has to be part of it.

You know, during the meeting we're clear, is it a big wall, is it a little wall? Is part of it going to be a river? So, he basically doesn't want to be involved in the details. It felt like he didn't care what was in the immigration bill. He just wants to sign something.

ROMANS: Even a pathway to citizenship. I'm telling you right now, there are die hard Trump supporters who did not elect him to oversee a pathway of citizenship for people 11 million in this country illegally.

[05:10:06] I mean, that -- that was really a stunning headline to me yesterday.

WOLF: Yes, it is a total reversal of the political brand that brought him to the White House. But on the other hand, if you want to get any sort of thing done in Washington, you have to be a little bit malleable. So, those are two competing interests. ROMANS: Or this is the art of the deal. He puts all this out there

with Democrats in a big show of bipartisanship and now the deal making begins, you know?

BRIGGS: But then he introduced the concept of bringing back earmarks -- well, you talk about draining the swamp.

We don't have time to get into it now. Hopefully we will in about 30 minutes. That concept was eyebrow-raising.

Zach Wolf, thanks.

WOLF: Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. There are signs the White House may be facing an exodus of key staffers in the coming months. Aides have been told they should decide by the end of January whether they will stay or leave through the midterms. Among the top officials on the possible departure list, White House counsel Dan McGahn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

ROMANS: Revolving doors, of course, common in any administration, especially at the one year mark. But several sources tell CNN President Trump is finding it especially tough to fill vacancies. Potential hires, they see a chaotic White House and that's on top of the ongoing Russia investigation, which one source called a potential ticket to the grand jury. As one senior official put it, it's been a year, but doesn't it feel like a decade?

The Senate Judiciary Committee's Russia investigation could be in jeopardy after Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein released 312 pages of testimony from Fusion GPS cofounder Glen Simpson. His company hired former British spy Christopher Steele to compile the now infamous dossier on Donald Trump.

BRIGGS: According to the transcript, Simpson told the Senate committee Steele was concerned Mr. Trump was being blackmailed. The release of Simpson's testimony undermines Republican attempts to discredit Steele's motives.

ROMANS: Republican Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa blasting Feinstein for releasing Simpson's testimony. Grassley says it undercuts that committee's ability to bring in new witnesses.

BRIGGS: Although as we learned in a "New York Times" op-ed, Simpson wanted this testimony released. Among the fascinating details in this testimony, the suggestion that someone was murdered as a result of this dossier -- has not been confirmed by CNN or any other outlet, but wow.

More than a dozen people are dead after powerful mudslides in California. We'll take you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:16:37] BRIGGS: All right. There's widespread devastation from flooding and mudslides in parts of southern California that were already ravaged by recent wildfires. At least 13 people are dead, more than 100 others taken to hospitals. Emergency crews remain in search and rescue mode.

ROMANS: The flow of mud forcing heavily traveled roads to close. The 101 freeway, one of the main arteries connecting southern and northern California remains shut down. Some of these rescues have just been harrowing. One 14-year-old girl trapped in her house for hours pulled out alive.

CNN's Paul Vercammen has more from Montecito.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Christine, I'm in Montecito, hard hit by this flood that came down from the burn area left by the Thomas Fire in its fiery wake.

If you look right here, the remnants of a car, now just half a car mangled up with trees and more.

Behind me, the historic Montecito Inn, the front of it now devastated, the sign broken apart. What happened here with this high velocity flood, it goes from about 3,000 feet to sea level in no time here in Montecito and Carpinteria. They just worried about that.

And once that rain hit those denuded hillsides, it just came roaring down, brought rocks with it, trees, debris of all manner. If you look over on this direction, you will see that there's a car in the garage at the Montecito Inn, completely submerged. And the roads turned into rivers here in Montecito just torrents.

It came all the way toward the ocean with nothing to stop it and it came right down here. This is the 101 Freeway, the main artery, one of the main arteries between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

It knocked out a guardrail here and then you can see another boulder precariously perched right over the edge of the freeway. It is completely impassable. Off in the distance, work crews trying their best to start clearing.

You can see that there's a submerged car in the distance, an absolute mess as some called it, a disaster of huge proportions. This was the first bit of rain to hit after the Thomas Fire and you can see what it's done.

Back to you now -- Dave, Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Just devastating. Paul, thanks.

North Carolina will have to quickly redraw its 13 congressional districts after a federal court ruled the map was partisan and unconstitutional. The three-judge panel rejecting the map drawn by the Republican-controlled general assembly. The state has about three weeks to file a new plan with the court so it will be in place before the midterm elections.

ROMANS: It is the first ruling to strike down a congressional map to strike down a map as a partisan gerrymander. Ten of the 13 North Carolina districts are currently in Republican hands. The head of the North Carolina GOP attacked the judge who wrote the opinion as an activist, calling the ruling a hostile takeover.

BRIGGS: This could have major implications from coast to coast.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: Gerrymandering is massively impactful in terms of these races.

All right. Ahead, a summit between North and South Korea could be on the agenda and South Korea's president says President Trump deserves some of the credit. How much? We're live in Seoul.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:24:20] ROMANS: South Korea's President Jae-in crediting President Trump for setting up talks with North Korea. Moon saying he welcomes the restored dialogue but does not want immediate unification.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul with the very latest for us.

Good morning, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, hello, Christine.

We did see a very upbeat President Moon Jae-in this morning with that press conference and he also gave some credit as you say to the U.S. President Donald Trump. Now, we know that Mr. Trump has taken credit for himself, has claimed that it's his hard line stance that has led to these North-South Korean talks.

But we certainly saw that from the South Korean president as well, potentially because he wants to give a message that there is no wedge between the U.S. and South Korea.

[05:25:04] There's been speculation that Pyongyang by wanting to talk to Seoul and not to Washington almost sideling Washington was trying to draw a wedge within that alliance and the South Korean president making it clear that hasn't happened today.

He also said that President Trump was very happy that the North and South were talking, saying he loved the idea of North and South coming together. He said that he is willing to meet with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and have a summit, but not a meeting for a meeting's sake. He wanted more substance to it and more conditions to be met.

He also said the denuclearization was very important, important because at the end of the meeting on Tuesday, the North Korean chief negotiator said that South Korean media got it wrong, saying that denuclearization was talked about. That was nonsense -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Paula Hancocks in Seoul, where it is 7:30 in the evening. Thank you.

BRIGGS: You just wonder if the net result of all that is legitimizing Kim Jong-un and his regime. How much credit do you want for those talks?

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: We shall see.

A judge says the White House can't end the Dreamers program just yet. Will Democrats back off their shutdown threat? And how will Republicans react to the setback?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)