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Trump: I Am Not A Racist; DACA Deal Dead; Changes After False Alarm In Hawaii; Wall Street Big Tax Winner; North And South Korea Holds Second Round Of Talks; Amazon Grocery Bet Delivers; SNL Takes On Fire And Fury; Minny Happy Returns; Florida Casino Shuttle Boat Fire. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 15, 2018 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:45] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, no, I'm not a racist. I'm the least racist person you have ever interviewed.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Stark words from the President of the United States after reportedly using an expletive to describe African- American nations. Now who can and can't remember exactly what was said at the immigration meeting. A bipartisan issue.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Like everything else.

The President blaming Democrats for bringing the country to the verge of a shutdown. Can talks on immigration deal can be salvaged before Friday's deadline?

ROMANS: And changes in Hawaii after a false alarm of an inbound missile. The warnings sent millions running for cover. Fearing the worse after months of heated rhetoric.

Welcome back to Early Start everyone. Happy Monday. I am Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Not the happy weekend in Hawaii. I am Dave Briggs, 31 minutes past the hour on MLK day. We start with the President defending himself after days of controversy over those remarks to describe Haiti and African nations. The President is said to use an expletive to describe African Nation while talking immigration with lawmakers, Thursday. Last night the President pushed back against accusations his words reflect racist beliefs. Now lawmakers even within the GOP disagree on whether the President used the explosive term.

ROMANS: The President also talked about the possibility of a government shutdown the clock ticking to Friday's deadline. The sides remain far apart on the deal from DREAMERS. Our White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is traveling with the President. He has more from West Palm Beach.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Christine and Dave, the President taking a few moments before dinner with house majority leader Kevin McCarthy on Sunday night to answer reporter's questions and he made news on a variety of fronts. For one, having to answer that uncomfortable question that came up this week after the President reportedly made some disparaging remarks about African nations and Haitians during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House. Here is the president answering the reporter's question, are you a racist. Listen to this.


TRUMP: No. No, I'm not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.

SANCHEZ: Getting back to the question of whether the President said those controversial remarks at a meeting with lawmakers on Thursday, Sunday night the President asked reporters, did you see what Senators said about that meeting? The interesting thing about that is that there are very many different answers even just from Republicans about what the President said. Christine and Dave?


BRIGGS: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you.

The partisan wrangling over exactly what the President said in that immigration meeting becoming increasingly bitter. Listen to two Republican Senators and the homeland security secretary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying the President did not use the word that is being so widely reported?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you he did not use that word, George and I'm telling you it's a gross misrepresentation. How many times you want me to say that?

TOM COTTON, ARKANSAS SENATOR: I didn't hear that word either. I certainly didn't hear what Senator Durbin said repeatedly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying in that room you didn't hear any of this sort of lumping everybody together. Is that what are you saying?

COTTON: I did not hear derogatory comments.

About individuals or persons, no.

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Knie1 I don't recall him saying that exact phrase. I think he has been clear and I would certainly say the President will use, continue to use strong language when it comes to this issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To say I don't recall seems implausible. If the President of the United States used the word blank hole talking about countries in the oval office or didn't say it, I would know.

NIELSEN: I understand the question. It was an impassioned conversation. I don't recall that specific phrase being used.


BRIGGS: Homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen appears tomorrow at a senate judiciary committee oversight hearing. That sets up an interesting possible face-off with committee member Dick Durbin, a Democrat who said the President definitely used that vulgarity.

ROMANS: Senator Lindsey Graham, the only Republican in the meeting with a different answer. He did not directly confirm or denied Trump's comments in the statement Friday. The New York Times reports Graham told the president quote, American is an idea not a race adding that he himself is a descendant of immigrants who came to the U.S. from s-hole countries with no skills. In an initial statement from the White House did not deny the President later said he did not use that specific expletive.

[04:35:03] BRIGGS: President Trump blaming Democrats from the lack of progress in immigration talks, no deal inside of immigration reform. The government shutdown looming at the end of the week. The President insisting Democrats don't want an agreement.


TRUMP: But I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal. The folks from DACA should know the Democrats are the ones that aren't going to make a deal. I don't know if there will be a shutdown. There shouldn't be, because if there is our military gets hurt very badly. We cannot let our military be hurt.


ROMANS: The Trump administration is now taking renewal applications for DREAMERS. Immigrants brought here illegally as children. A federal court order has blocked the White House from terminating the DACA program.

BRIGGS: Another semantic debate this morning. Did the President say I have or I'd have? This makes a difference as the White House disputes in a quote in the "The Wall Street Journal." the President was answering a question about North Korea and was quoted by the journalist saying I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders challenging that quote claiming the President actually said I'd probably have as in I would have. President Trump following with a tweet calling the "The Wall Street Journal" fake news. Now remember, the journal is a conservative Murdock owned publication.

ROMANS: The White House said the newspaper both releasing audio of the comment. Here's the clip from the administration.


TRUMP: And I'd probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong- un.


ROMANS: All right. Let's listen again. This recording provided by the "The Wall Street Journal."


TRUMP: And I'd probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong- un of North Korea.


ROMANS: The President calling out the "The Wall Street Journal" while insisting the door is open for talks with North Korea.


TRUMP: As you know, quoted totally wrong, but we're going to see what happens with North Korea. We have great talks going on. The Olympics you know about. A lot of things can happen.


ROMANS: When asked if he has spoken directly with Kim Jong-un the President again refused to answer.

BRIGGS: Interesting situation. I'm not sure what I hear there.

ROMANS: When you see -- when you see it written you can hear it exactly --

BRIGGS: You can hear exactly the way you want to hear.

ROMANS: my question is in the moment and the hours after that interview was first published, why didn't the White House immediately say -- because the journal editors told the White House folks, our lead is going to be of this wide ranging interview. It's going to be the President saying I probably have a good relationship with Kim Jong-un. Has he talked -- that was all the discussion there? The President saying that and there wasn't pushback immediately. I don't know when the White House began asking for a correction maybe on Friday.

BRIGGS: This is a Thursday interview. If you're a reporter and you're sitting there listening to that your follow-up question is, you just said I have a good relationship, but this will continue.

Meanwhile in Hawaii the emergency management officer who sent a false alarm about an inbound missile has been reassigned. Not fired, not yet. The mishap that sent Hawaiians scrambling for cover came during a routine drill following a shift change. Officials say an officer in the emergency operations center mistakenly picked the wrong message template. One for sending a warning to the public not just internally. ROMANS: Then the officer clicked ok to confirm that incorrect

message. Here what it says. Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii, seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill. That warning sent to TVs, radios and every single cell phone in Hawaii. It took 38 minutes, 38 minutes to send a follow-up alert that the first message was a false alarm. Emergency officials and Congresswomen Tusli Gabbard tweets saying there was no missile threat, but she says the alert itself is not the main issue.


REP. TUSLI GABBARD, (D) HAWAII: What makes me angry is, yes, that this false alarm went out and we have to fix that in Hawaii, but really we've got to get to the underlying issue here of why are the people of Hawaii in this country facing a nuclear threat coming from North Korea today and what is this President doing urgently to eliminate that threat.


BRIGGS: It took so long to cancel the false alarm, because they had no template for that. An omission that is now been fixed. A manager on duty will have to confirm any future alerts. President Trump called it a state issue. The White House say he was briefed although he did not mentioned the issue for more than a day while tweeting on other topics.

ROMANS: Meantime CNN Barbara Starr reports the Pentagon is about to issue is nuclear posture review. They not only want to modernize the aging U.S. Arsenal. They want to add new ways wage nuclear wars at Russia, China and other adversaries bolster their own arsenal.

[04:40:05] BRIGGS: Some breaking news this morning. 72 people were injured when an entire floor collapsed at a stock exchange Jakarta Indonesia. The second floor inside tower two fell Monday around 12:30 p.m. She says the area's an open space that is frequented by tourists. Trading resumes at normal and the afternoon session.

ROMANS: All right. Time for an early start on your money. President Trump loves to take credit for good economic numbers and it's been a great first year for him. Low unemployment, a booming stock market. But there's one statistic he used to mention all the time.


TRUMP: 94 million Americans are out of the labor force. The 95 million people out there that aren't working.

96 million really wanting pay job and they can't get. The real number.


ROMANS: That real number is 95 million and it's Americans out of the workforce. 95 million American out of the workforce. It's a number that hasn't budged a bit in the last year. Who are these people? About half are retired, 44.5 million. They're not looking for a job. They're required because they most likely want to be. Most of the remains of 50 million are either in school, taking care of a loved one or physically unable to work. What about the rest? 1.6 million that looks for a job in the past year and 6 million are listed as other. We don't know much about these workers, these 6 million. The majority out of the workforce aren't looking to get back in. They are missing from the workplace. It is a number that the President used on the campaign trail to talk about the weakness of the Barack Obama recovery. He would use it always to say the stock market's rising but look at these people out of work. The unemployment is falling, but look at these people out of work. Same number of people out of work. It's a misleading statistic, but it is a number that has not budged.

BRIGGS: All right. Everywhere I go people go awfully about the economy, its direction, the unemployment, the stock market. Ahead. North Korea and South Korea back at the negotiating table. Their second round of talks in a week about the Olympics and more. We're live in Seoul ahead.


[04:46:17] BRIGGS: 4:46 Eastern Time. North and South Korea returning to the table. They held a second round of talks overnight on the North's participation. And next month's winter Olympics in South Korea. The talks are taking place in the truce village. Let's go live to CNN Paula Hancocks as she is in Seoul, South Korea, good morning to you Paula. What do we know?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was the second round of talks and it was a lot more detailed this time. It was working level, lower level to try and get to the nitty-gritty of how North Korea can send a delegation to the Pyeongchang winter Olympics next month. Now they were talking such specifics as where to put a stage for one of the entertaining groups from North Korea to perform. What we saw is one member the leading member of an all-female pop group from North Korea which we have seen North Korean leader Kim Jong-un being entertained by in the past. She was also part of that delegation so it does raise the question could they be coming to South Korea as well, one of the best known North Korea exports when it comes to pop music.

Also we know from the South Korean side they want to have an inter- Korean team, they want an ice hockey team for women that is part North Korea and part South Korean. We know that North Koreans officials or going to go to Switzerland on Saturday to talk to the IOC and the Olympic committee and find out exactly how many athletes they're going to be allowed to have at the Pyeongchang winter Olympics. The talks will continue as well on Wednesday. We understand there will be higher level and this is hopefully where we'll hear more about whether there will be that inter-Korean team. Dave.

BRIGGS: Paula, any hint of any concessions by the north?

HANCOCKS: Absolutely none at this point and they also have a lot of articles talking about how South Korea media was suggesting they were talking about denuclearization, calling that nonsense, calling it rubbish. At the same time across the table with the South Koreans they're slamming them in the media.

BRIGGS: Outstanding. Paula Hancocks, live for us in Seoul, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. An investigation is under way after a commercial airliner skidded off a runway in Northern Turkey this weekend. Look at these coming to rest on a seaside cliff. Its nose just yards from the water. Officials say if that Boeing 737 had gone into further down the slope, the plane would have likely plunged into the black sea. 162 passengers and crew were on board the Pegasus airline flight from Ankara. The airline in a statement says everyone was able to make it off the plane uninjured.

BRIGGS: Terrifying situation there.

ROMANS: Amazon's grocery business getting a big boost. We'll get a check on that on CNN "money" stream next.


[04:53:26] ROMANS: All right. "Saturday night live" returns taking on the Trump tell-all fiery and fury. A former SNL heavyweight was unmasked at Steve Bannon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here to talk about it, Steve Bannon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm working on a web series for crackle. It's called cuts and cars. I'm also coming out with a new line of wrinkle barn jackets called frompers for guys. Springtime, skin care line. Blotch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The book fire and fury, a salacious expose of the Trump White House was released last week and then this week, the sequel wrote itself. During an oval office meeting. Trump attacked protections for immigrants from African countries which he called s- holes. That is what NBC asked us to say, by the way, even though the President can say (BEEP) hole. They also said that instead we could take more immigrant from countries like Norway, a Norwegians were like, America? We're not going to that shatter hoven.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I be honest? When with someone asks me did you hear what Donald Trump called Haiti and Africa, I was like oh, boy did it start with an "N" but then I heard what he said and I was like that is it. I've said that about countries for not having a CVS. Donald, you do realize how rich these places are in resources, right? They're in bad shape, because they've been robbed and exploited for centuries by western powers. So the President of the United States calling Africa a (BEEP) hole is like telling a kid you molested, boy did you grow up to be weird? [04:55:15] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a thrill it is to be alive in a

time where porn star black males President is like the fourth biggest story of the week.


At this rate in year from now we'll see the headline, Trump found with dead hooker right next to the cross word puzzle.


ROMANS: There's so much going on. Such huge international consequence that the porn star story didn't even rate.

BRIGGS: Stormy Daniels did not make it. Google it. It's another "The Wall Street Journal," story in fact.

15 people suffering injuries after a fire Sunday aboard a casino shuttle boat in Port Richey, Florida. Authorities say the 50 passengers on board the "Island breeze" jumped into the frigid water to escape the flames. The boat was about a half mile from the shore. All 50 have now been accounted for. Fire officials say it likely started in the engine room and spread quickly. No one exactly what cause the fire?

ROMANS: That is terrifying. A rough start for the American women of the Australian open. Shocked on day one, she was beaten by Switzerland Belinda Ben Chich in straight set. Venus lost to her sister (inaudible) in an Australian open final just last year and the reigning U.S. open champ, America (inaudible) losing her open match too. She lost in three sets to Shang Sway of China, since winning her grand slam title in September. Stevens has been in a long slump. She lost eight straight matches.

BRIGGS: All right let us talk some football. The Vikings are headed to the NFC championship game after a miracle in Minneapolis. Minnesota with a stunning last second victory over New Orleans. The Vikings dominated this game early taking a 17-0 lead into the half. The Saints fought back. The lead really seesawing in the fourth quarter with the teams trading field goal. 25 seconds left, there the Vikings down to their final play with the clock and their season about to expire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steps in to it, pass is caught, Diggs, side lined, touchdown! Unbelievable!


BRIGGS: Case Keenum to Diggs, 61 yards for the score, final score 29- 24 Vikings. They head to Philly next week for the NFC title game. The eagles beat the falcons Saturday over in the AFC. How about the Jaguars put up 45 points to beat the Steelers. First appearance for AFC by the Jags since 1999. They head to the New England to take on Tom Brady and the super bowl champions. They're a nine point underdog. The Pats beat the Titans Saturday that is their seventh straight conference title game. Minnesota could be the first team ever to play at home for the super bowl.

ROMANS: Wow. All right. Let's get a check on money stream this morning. Markets are closed today in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday. Investors return tomorrow with some solid gains to start the year. Let me show you how investors have fared so far. The DOW up 14.4 percent. The S&P 500 that is the broader, up 500 stocks. The DOW climbed 228 points to another record high Friday. The S&P 500, the NASDAQ also hit all-time highs.

Two high profile executives are leaving Disney's board of directors over potential conflict of interest. Facebook CEO Sheryl Samberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are stepping down from their positions on Disney's board. That is according to FCC filing from the company. A Disney spokesman said it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to avoid conflicts relating to board matters.

Amazon's multi-million dollar bet on whole foods seems to be paying off. They have helped boost sales on the grocery delivery service amazon fresh, up 35 percent to $135 million in the last four months of 2017 compared to the previous four months according to the "The Wall Street Journal." Amazon acquired whole foods back in August for $13.7 billion. A lot of people in retail, a lot of people in the grocery space watching very, very careful to see how this works out.

BRIGGS: You ever buy groceries online.

ROMANS: I don't like all the boxes. I hate getting the boxes in my garage. I do sometimes.

BRIGGS: I have to pick up the produce myself.

All right. "Early Start" continues right now.


TRUMP: No, no, I'm not a racist. I'm the least racist person you have ever interviewed.

ROMANS: Stark words from the President after reportedly using an expletive to describe African nations, now who can and can't remember what was said at that meeting. Suddenly it's become a partisan issue.

BRIGGS: The President blaming Democrats for bringing the country to the verge of a shutdown. Talks on immigration deal being salvage before Friday's deadline.