Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Mixes Tough Talk & Calls for Unity; North Korea to Display Hundreds of Missiles Before Winter Olympics. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 31, 2018 - 04:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: They were having a practice drill, and this person was coming on or off the shift and thought it really was happening?

[04:30:06] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Thought it was really happening. And many were confused after this alert came out on the phones because the Apple news sent out it about a dozen times it. I wonder if they hired that worker.

ROMANS: Oh my gosh.

All right. The president says this is a new American memorial tournament. He stood by his agenda in the first State of the Union. What's in store for year two of this administration?



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people dreamed this country, the people built this country, and it's the people who are making America great again.


ROMANS: President Trump in his new American moment mixing a divisive agenda with calls for unity in his first State of the Union. He touted his accomplishments and warned the nation about threats foreign and domestic. And the first lady, it's huge applause when she walked in the room.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 33 minutes past the hour.

We start with reaction from the president's first State of the Union speech in which President Trump walked a fine line in his first State of the Union. He held fast on the tough-talking populism he emboldened in year one, while making some effort to reach across the aisle.

The one hour and 20-minute speech, the third-longest State of the Union ever behind two Bill Clinton speeches. The president touting the economy, defending his America-first approach, even taking a bit of a jab at NFL players for not standing during the national anthem.

ROMANS: The push for his immigration deal that includes a border wall and a path to citizenship for Dreamers.


TRUMP: As president of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, my constant concern, is for America's children, America's struggling workers, and America's forgotten communities. So, tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed.

My duty and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream, because Americans are dreamers, too.


ROMANS: There are emotional tributes. Among those honored, Police Officer Ryan Holets and his wife who adopted a baby from a mother addicted to heroin. The parents of teenage girls killed by MS-13 gang members, and the parents of Otto Warmbier, the college student imprisoned by North Korea who fell gravely ill, was released, and returned to the U.S. just days before he died.

[04:35:01] BRIGGS: The first lady, Melania Trump, broke from tradition, arriving alone at her husband's speech to loud applause. She has been out of the spotlight lately since news broke of a reported payoff to a porn star to keep an alleged affair quiet. The president and first lady did return to the White House together after the speech.

ROMANS: Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts gave the Democratic response. He called out the president on the Russia probe, civil right, school shootings, and Charlottesville.

He also said this --


REP. JOE KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Bullies may land a punch, they may leave a mark, but they have never, not once in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.


ROMANS: All right. That was one of five speeches that Democrats gave last night on a fractured response, some say.

Let's bring in "Washington Examiner" commentary writer, Siraj Hashmi, in Washington this morning.

Good to see you, my friend. What did you think? How did the president do in his first State of the Union Address?

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Compared to a lot of speeches, this may be the best speech he's ever given. I say that with some reservations and things not mentioned. There was obvious red meat that he threw out to the base.

But, by and large, this was one of those type of speeches in which he extended an olive branch to Democrats in an effort to try build unity and some bipartisanship moving forward on 2018. I mean, he didn't get into much of the weeds with respect to policy, but you know, focusing on infrastructure and focusing on DACA and coming together on an immigration deal, those are areas in which, you know, infrastructure and a good area where he can get bipartisanship, and immigration will always remain the challenge.

So, if he can somehow reach both deals -- deals on both, that's a pretty successful year for him.

ROMANS: And the response from people watching was positive, you know, very positive, 48 percent, said it was very positive, 22 percent somewhat positive, 29 percent said negative. You talked about immigration, interesting that so many people were sort of calling out the president for conflating gang members, MS-13, with Dreamers almost.

Listen to what the president said about people who come to the country illegally as children.


TRUMP: Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as illegal, unaccompanied alien minors.

Today, I'm calling on Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13 and other criminal gangs to break into our country. What the Border Patrol and ICE have done, we have sent thousands and thousands and thousands of MS-13 horrible people out of this country or into our prisons.


ROMANS: Is that the red meat you're talking about for his base? But that's also the very thing that just sort of angered Democrats?

HASHMI: In a way. I mean, there is truth to what President Trump said with respect to MS-13 gang members taking advantage of the DACA program and coming into this country illegally --

ROMANS: I think it's (ph) 10,000, right?

HASHMI: Somewhere around there. Yes, you know, I'm not up to speed on all the exact numbers. But yes, individuals take advantage of legal loopholes all the time.

I mean, there are terrorists who are taking advantage of the refugee resettlement program to come into this country, despite the fact that, of course, you know, I can't say for a fact that any refugee has actually engaged in a terrorist attack. But yes, there are individuals who are attempting to do it.

I'm not going to say definitively that all refugees or immigrants are bad, because I'm a son of an immigrant. My dad's Pakistani. I mean, of course, it's not the full case.

But you know, when it comes to, say, chain migration, you know, he got booed for saying that. That's an issue that until recently the word "chain migration" wasn't controversial. But since he came out -- since those comments about poor nations being, quote unquote, I'm not going to say it, but being trash countries in a way, you know, the word has become politically charged.

BRIGGS: Well, many feel the term is family reunification. That chain migration they feel is an insulting derogatory term.

But there was an interesting moment last night. And you certainly expected the president to out to his economic achievements. His conservative principles have been good for the economy by most standard, but when he mentioned a record low black unemployment rate, there was an interesting cutaway the Congressional Black Caucus in which they wanted no part of giving any applause or credit to the president.

That moment really resonated across social media platforms, which brings us I think to 2018 and the question of, what is the message, what is the economic message, for Democrats, and what about the resistance last night?

[04:40:00] Was it a good night for them or not?

HASHMI: It was not a good night for the resistance. I mean, the Congressional Black Caucus looked like they were ready to go the "Black Panther" premiere rather sit for the State of the Union address. I mean --

ROMANS: What do you mean?

HASHMI: The movie "Black Panther," the Marvel film that just premiered. I'm just saying they didn't look happy to be there at all. And that's a joke I saw on Twitter.

I thought it was interesting to note that, you know, people don't -- Democrats don't want to admit that special of the areas like with respect to the economy, that Trump is doing well on, and with respect to the GOP tax cuts where, you know, it's an issue that companies are paying out bonuses to their employees, upwards of around $1,000. That's something they don't want to admit as something being a positive for everyone.

ROMANS: Yes. BRIGGS: All right. Siraj Hashmi from "The Washington Examiner" --

thanks for being --

HASHMI: Before I go, happy birthday, Christine.

ROMANS: Thanks.

BRIGGS: There he goes.

ROMANS: Thank you very much.

BRIGGS: Well played.

ROMANS: Thank you very much.

BRIGGS: A unifying message there.

ROMANS: Yes, we can all get behind my birthday. We can get all behind my birthday.

BRIGGS: OK. President Trump also said the U.S. must modernize and rebuild its nuclear arsenal, pointing to North Korea.


TRUMP: Perhaps someday in the future, there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.

North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland. We are waging campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from ever happening.

Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administration that got us into this very dangerous position.


BRIGGS: Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector, was a guest of honor. The president describing how a train ran over his limbs after he collapsed from hunger as a child.

ROMANS: The president said Ji Seong-ho travelled on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom, and he brought the crutches with him to Washington. Now, Pyongyang is promising a new show of force.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Will Ripley live in Seoul, South Korea.

And I can't imagine having like having a North Korean defector is not going to antagonize the North. What do you expect?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Christine, you're absolutely right. There are so many things that are going to really enrage North Korea, featuring a defector who has called for regime change, having him stand right next to the first lady of the United States. That's number one.

Number two, President Trump didn't really talk much about diplomacy and he left it pretty ambiguous about a potential preemptive strike against on North Korea. And, of course, Victor Cha, who was a candidate for the ambassador to the South, believes that he's no longer being considered for post of South Korean ambassador because he disagrees with the Trump administration that preemptive military strike is even an option. He says it could kill tens of thousands of people.

And now, overnight, I confirmed with two diplomatic forces that next week, North Korea is preparing a major show of force. They're going to be unveiling many dozens, perhaps up to 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles in their military in Pyongyang, hundreds of missiles and rockets altogether, all of it to send a strong message to the United States.

My sources are even not ruling out the possibility of a North Korean missile test before or even during the Olympics -- Christine.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right. Thanks so much for that. Will Ripley for us this morning in Seoul.

BRIGGS: Gosh. Eight days from the Olympics.

OK. The president wants to lower drug prices. That comes a day after three business titans announced a plan that could rock the health care industry.


[04:47:59] ROMANS: President Trump has a goal for 2018.


TRUMP: I've directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of my top priorities for the year.


ROMANS: Lower drug prices are one way to fix what many call a broken health care system. But three titans of industry might just do it first. Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon, and Warren Buffett are teaming up to combat high health care costs. Their companies, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase will form a new company to provide better health care benefits for their U.S. workers. Buffett calls rising costs, get this, a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.

Details are scarce, but the company will be free from profit making incentives and constraints. Given the resources of the three companies, they could disrupt health care. And that spooked health care stocks. Shares of leading insurers and big drug companies and stores tanked yesterday. Top insurer UnitedHealth fell 4 percent, helping drive the Dow down 360 points yesterday. It was the worst day for stocks since May.

BRIGGS: What a fascinating revelation from a few of the world's richest men.

President Trump's attorneys trying to keep him from testifying in front of Robert Mueller's team. They're arguing the special counsel has failed to meet the high threshold required to interview a president even though Mr. Trump has publicly state he is looking -- stated he is looking forward to meeting with Mueller.

Mr. Trump's lawyers asking the team to demonstrate that only the president can give them the information they require.

ROMANS: "The Washington Post" reporting top justice officials met Monday with White House chief of staff John Kelly about the dangers of publicly releasing a Republican memo alleging abuse at the FBI. FBI Director Chris Wray, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attended. Rosenstein quested the memo's accuracy and warned Kelly that releasing it could jeopardize classified information.

After the State of the Union, the president was heard having this exchange with Republican Congressman Jeff Duncan.


REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let's release the memo.

[04:50:01] TRUMP: Don't worry. A hundred percent. Can you imagine that?


BRIGGS: CNN has learned the Democratic rebuttal memo from Congressman Adam Schiff takes aim at the Intel Committee's chairman, Republican Devin Nunes. Schiff claims the Nunes memo was an attempt to provide cover for the White House in the Russia investigation.

Interesting because, look, the president has no public appearances today. Will they release that memo and then that takes over the narrative and wipes the State of the Union off the coverage map? It should be interesting next 24 to 48 hours.

ROMANS: And what about the Democrat rebuttal of the memo, as well, if that's made public or not.

All right. Can peacocks fly? Not on United Airlines. The airline barred this bird from a recent flight. Details in CNN "Money Stream" next.


[04:55:11] BRIGGS: Late night comedian Stephen Colbert going live after the president's State of the Union Address, instead of pre- recording, as it's usually the case. Here's what's surprising.


STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE NIGHT COMEDIAN: The night began with one huge surprise, Trump was able to lift a glass with one hand. (APPLAUSE)

Then as part -- the beginning of the speech, he listed some of the natural disasters we've endured this year.


TRUMP: We have endured floods and fires and storms.


COLBERT: And Stormys, don't forget her. She was one of the most expensive disasters for you personally.


BRIGGS: As for Stormy Daniels, she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel. He asked her about a statement that was released in her name yesterday denying an affair with President Trump. The signatures looked dramatically different. And Stormy Daniels says she doesn't know where it came from.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!: I know you either do or don't have a nondisclosure agreement which if you didn't have a nondisclosure agreement, do you have a nondisclosure agreement?


KIMMEL: You can't say whether you have a nondisclosure agreement, but if you didn't have a nondisclosure agreement, you most certainly could say I don't have a nondisclosure agreement, yes?

DANIELS: You're so smart, Jimmy.

KIMMEL: Thank you very much.

OK. Is any of that true?

DANIELS: Define true.

KIMMEL: So do you feel like you're a victim in any sense?

DANIELS: Lately yes.

KIMMEL: Lately you do. A victim of whom?

DANIELS: The Internet. Yes.

KIMMEL: You're reading things people are writing about you?

DANIELS: I'm trying not to.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Interesting to say so little but reveal so much. The interesting takeaway is all this is true, though she can't say it. What "The Wall Street Journal" is reported it indeed true if you watch that interview, though she cannot say it.

ROMANS: And she stretches her 15 minutes into a good 30 this morning.

BRIGGS: Oh, it's going to go long after this. She's got a nationwide tour plan.

ROMANS: Oh, yes, make America -- I'm not going to say it.

BRIGGS: Yes, please don't.

ROMANS: All right. Fifty-seven minutes past the hour.

Hillary Clinton says she did not fire 2008 campaign faith adviser accused of harassment because she did not think it was the best solution to the problem. But in a Facebook post minutes before the start of the state of the Union, Mrs. Clinton admits she would not make the same decision today.

Her decision not to fire Burns Strider was met with frustration from longtime aides then and now after a female staffer accused Strider of sexually harassing her. Clinton reassigned the accuser, and Strider's harassment continued with other women.

BRIGGS: OK. CNN has learned FEMA plans to stop shipping food and water to Puerto Rico starting tomorrow. The agency says the hurricane-ravaged island still has ample water, meals, and snacks ready for distribution. FEMA also has 5,000 personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico and says it is open to restarting shipments if the need arises. The government of Puerto Rico said it was not informed of the decision and did not authorize it.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream." It's that time of the morning. The calm on Wall Street has finally broken. Apparently, stocks can't go down, folks. The Dow dropped 363 points, its worst day since May.

It's lost 600 points in the past two days. One concern, the bond market has been selling off, raising the fears that the era of low interest rates is over.

Health care also dragged down stocks. You can blame Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon, Warren Buffett, those three big-time CEOs unveiled a plan to disrupt the health insurance business. Right now, global stocks and U.S. futures are mixed. The Dow futures up a bit. You could see a bounce.

The U.S. government is investigating Apple for slowing older iPhones. Apple admitted to limiting the performance of older models. Now, the Justice Department and the FCC are involved, looking into possible violations of securities laws. Bloomberg reports this investigation is in the early stages. Reps for the DOJ and the SEC declined to comment. Can peacocks fly? Not on United. The airline barred this emotional

support peacock from a flight last weekend. "The Jet Set", that's a travel show, first reported the incident. United said the bird did not meet guidelines to board the flight.

Recently, airlines have been tightening rules for emotional support animals. Delta now requires multiple forms and a doctor's note before taking a pet on board. Delta, a 70-pound dog tackled a passenger in a boarding last year.

There are 250,000 of these animals fly. They are dogs, they are possums, turkeys, pigs, spiders, snakes to help people with their fear of flying or emotional support during flying.

BRIGGS: That right?

ROMANS: You're seeing airlines clamp down on that.

BRIGGS: I thought it was a late-night comedian trolling us. It's not. She's an artist with a colorful Instagram account.

EARLY START continues right now with the reaction from President Trump's first State of the Union speech.