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Porter Urged To Stay And Fight; GOP Senators Release Immigration Plan; Would U.S. Talk With North Korea?; Trump Says No Timeline For Mid-East Peace Plan. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 12, 2018 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:31] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Stay and fight. That's what Rob Porter says he was told by senior officials at the White House despite allegations of domestic abuse. His story does not line up with the chief of staff.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The invitation is on the table. Kim Jong-un's sister said South Korea leaders are welcome in Pyongyang. Now, the vice president is hinting the U.S. could find itself at the table as well.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Are they listening and acting fast enough?


HARLOW: Congress.

GINSBURG: Congress is not acting.


BRIGGS: Even if Congress does nothing, #MeToo is here to stay. A revealing talk with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- 84 years old and she is not slowing down one bit.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's 31 minutes past the hour this Monday morning. Good morning, everyone.

The White House struggling to move beyond the Rob Porter scandal this morning. There is new reporting and tweeting suggesting Porter was urged not to quit after accusations arose of domestic violence.

"Axios" reports Porter is telling associates some senior White House officials strongly encouraged him quote "stay and fight" to keep his job as staff secretary. He's a key gatekeeper for President Trump.

Porter also claiming he never misrepresented anything to Chief of Staff John Kelly. BRIGGS: Now, that does not square with Kelly's version of events. CNN reported last week Kelly's defenders in the West Wing insist Porter misled them. That story backed up by an unnamed member of Congress who told "Axios" Porter promised Kelly the story concerned verbal and emotional abuse, not domestic violence.

After days of speculation about Kelly's future, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said this to Jake Tapper.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I spoke to the president last night. I told him I'd be with you today and he said please tell Jake that I have full faith in chief of staff John Kelly and that I'm not actively searching for a replacement. He said I saw that all over the news today. I have faith in him, and he does.


ROMANS: And the president, this weekend, also weighing on the Rob Porter scandal. He did not identify the White House aide by name but he tweeted this.

"People's lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new.

There is no recovery for someone falsely accused -- life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as due process?"

That tweet followed this remark on Friday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you probably know, he says he's innocent and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent, so you'll have to talk to him about that. But we absolutely wish him well.


BRIGGS: All right. Well, look, there's not enough mention of the victims with this president -- or any mention of the victims.

ROMANS: No, no. When he talks about due process a lot of folks this weekend were talking about Central Park Five -- you know, the young men who the president --

BRIGGS: Yes, the black and Latino teenagers.

ROMANS: Right. He, you know, publicly went on a crusade, really, against these young men who later, after going to prison, were found to be exonerated by DNA evidence.

BRIGGS: A busted moral compass. All right.

The president's statement drawing a heated response from Jennie Willoughby, one of Porter's ex-wives who says he abused her.

She writes in "Time" magazine, "Everyone wants to talk about how Trump implied I am not to be believed, as if Trump is the model of kindness and forgiveness. As if he readily acknowledges his own shortcomings and shows empathy and concern for others.

I forgive him. Thankfully, my strength and worth are not dependent on outside belief. The truth exists whether the president accepts it or not."

ROMANS: All right.

The ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee says he plans to meet with the FBI to hear concerns about a Democratic memo. The document is a rebuttal to the Republican Nunes memo alleging FBI surveillance abuses.

Last week, the White House barred publication of the Democrats' memo claiming it contains numerous classified and especially sensitive passages. Democrats called that hypocrisy since the FBI warned against releasing the Republican document, but the House did it -- White House did it, anyway.

BRIGGS: A group of Republican senators just released a version of President Trump's immigration plan ahead of this week's floor debate.

It comes from some of the chamber's most conservative members and resembles the proposals outlined by the president which includes a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million eligible immigrants in exchange for a border wall and enhanced border security, plus a number of new laws that would make it easier to detain and deport immigrants. It also included tighter immigration enforcement and limited family-based visas even further.

[05:35:06] This week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expected to allow senators a chance to offer different proposals to compete for the 60 votes needed to advance.

ROMANS: All right.

Today, President Trump will unveil his long-awaited infrastructure plan. At his State of the Union, he laid out his vision -- $1.5 trillion to fix America's infrastructure. We know the broad strokes, but a draft obtained by "Axios" spells out the details.

The White House declined to comment on this leaked plan but based on that here's what to expect.

The White House will invest up to $1.5 trillion but only $200 billion will be direct federal spending. The rest would be a mix of private investment and state and local tax dollars.

Breaking that $200 billion down further, $100 billion goes to local government incentives, $20 billion for transformative projects, $50 billion for rural block grants. States can spend that on transportation, broadband, water, waste, power projects. The rest will support infrastructure-related undertakings.

How will it be paid for? Well, the Trump administration does not propose a specific funding mechanism here. They say that is a discussion for Congress. But that discussion is complicated by two things, the new tax bill and the president's budget proposal, expected today as well. Both of those will add to the deficit.

BRIGGS: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says the #MeToo movement will have what she calls staying power. Here's what she told CNN's Poppy Harlow at Columbia University.


RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I don't think that there will be a serious backlash. It's too widespread. My concern is that it shouldn't stop with prominent people.

It's amazing to me that for the first time, women are really listened to because sexual harassment had often been dismissed as well, she made it up or she's too thin-skinned. So, I think it's a very healthy development.


ROMANS: Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee want to know how the office overseeing federal courts is addressing sexual misconduct. A CNN investigation found that just four -- four of more than 1,300 complaints filed during the 2016 fiscal year were referred to a special committee for investigation.

BRIGGS: The sale of Harvey Weinstein's film studio could be in jeopardy today. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filing a lawsuit against the disgraced movie mogul and his former company.

Schneiderman's 4-month investigation revealing quote, "vicious and exploitative mistreatment of employees that started in 2005 and continued all the way through October of 2017."

ROMANS: Schneiderman wants any sale of the studio to include compensation for Weinstein's accusers.

Weinstein's attorney releasing a statement claiming there was no criminality in his client's behavior, something that some of his victims disagree with --


ROMANS: -- very vigorously.

The suspect in the shooting death of two Ohio police officers charged with two counts of aggravated murder. Police say Quentin Lamar Smith shot and killed Westerville police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli as they were entering Smith's apartment. They were responding to a 911 hang-up call involving possible domestic abuse.

This chilling 911 call made by the suspect's wife, Candace Smith. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

911 DISPATCHER: 9-1-1-, what's your emergency?

CANDACE SMITH, WIFE OF QUENTIN LAMAR SMITH: Please help, please help, please help.

911 DISPATCHER: What's wrong? Tell me what's going on.

SMITH: My husband shot -- he shot the police officer. Please hurry up. Please hurry up.

911 DISPATCHER: Your husband did it? Where is your husband now?

SMITH: My daughter is in there. Please --

911 DISPATCHER: OK. Where -- where's your husband?

SMITH: Please help. I don't know but my daughter is in the house. She's just one years old. Please --

911 DISPATCHER: OK, there's a 1-year-old in the house with your husband --

SMITH: Yes, yes.

911 DISPATCHER: -- and your husband shot the officer?

SMITH: He shot the police officer, yes.


BRIGGS: The 1-year-old was not hurt.

Police records show officers have previously been called to the Smith home for domestic violence reports.

President Trump spoke last night with Ohio Gov. John Kasich who is from Westerville. The president also tweeted his thoughts and prayers to the officers' families.

ROMANS: Breaking this morning, the entire Baltimore metro SubwayLink system shutting down for up to four weeks of emergency repairs. The decision came after a thorough safety inspection over the weekend. The system is being temporarily replaced by shuttle buses paid for with emergency funding from the state.

All right.

Kim Jong-un's sister with a charm offensive at the Winter Games. Will South Korea accept her invitation to Pyongyang?

We go live to the Olympics and we'll speak with Josh Rogin of "The Washington Post" who talked to Vice President Pence on his way back to the U.S.


[05:44:08] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I know that people are watching for a wedge between South Korea -- Republic of Korea, in other words -- and the United States. There's no wedge there -- no wedge that could be driven between us by North Korea.


ROMANS: The Secretary of Defense James Mattis on a flight to Rome, rejecting the idea North Korea could hurt relations between the U.S. and South Korea.

That suggestion heard more often since the start of the Olympics where Kim Jong-un's sister put on quite a show, extending an invitation to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us in PyeongChang, South Korea. Good morning.


Well, it's interesting because there is that invitation for the South Korean president to head north, but we also know there's an invitation for the IOC president. This is the head of the International Olympic Committee.

[05:45:00] We understand from this spokesperson that Thomas Bach will be going to Pyongyang. He was asked back on January 20th when the two Koreas met with the IOC to figure out how this would work with the delegation of athletes coming here to PyeongChang. No date set at this point, though.

But there is that invitation for the South Korean president as well, which came from Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo Jong. We have seen a lot of her over the past few days. She's now back in Pyongyang.

I spoke to one man, a governor of this province who was in those meetings, saying that the meetings were very warm. They were very soft. It was like brothers and sisters together with the North and South Koreans.

Now, we do hear from the South Korean officials that they're going to make sure that the U.S. is involved with this. That they are also engaged in this discussion with North Korea.

And then also, we heard from a senior diplomat with knowledge of North Korea that they thought it was a missed opportunity that the U.S. vice president Mike Pence was here and was sitting meters away from the North Korean delegation, but there was no kind of interaction between them.

ROMANS: Fascinating. All right, Paula, thank you so much for that from PyeongChang where it's 7:45 in the evening.

BRIGGS: All right.

Let's bring in CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin, whose body thinks it's 7:45 p.m. in the evening. Right, Josh, because you just got --


BRIGGS: You just got back from there so I get that. You're probably feeling like you're ready to go and grab a cocktail, which you can do when we're done here.


BRIGGS: But first, let's talk about this breaking news you have in this fascinating piece in "The Washington Post."

And first, let's just remind folks of when you ask most Americans what they think about the U.S. and North Korea's relationship, they think of President Trump saying various things like this.


TRUMP: I would get China to make that guy disappear in one form or another very quickly.

North Korea best not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

"Rocket Man" is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.


BRIGGS: So, a bit of an evolution from what the president has said there numerous times to what the vice president told you about the possibility of U.S.-North Korean talks.

What'd he tell you?

ROGIN: Yes. So, I was with Vice President Pence in Japan and South Korea for five days. He met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in twice -- once at the Blue House and Thursday and once at the speedskating arena in PyeongChang on Saturday night.

On the plane ride home, he told me that in those conversations he had managed to bridge the gap between the U.S. and South Korea on whether or not further engagement with North Korea can proceed.

Now, you showed all those quotes by Donald Trump. You could have shown one in January where he said that talking with North Korea is fine, as far as he's concerned. You might have also shown one by Secretary of State Tillerson which said we should just sit down with the North Koreans without any preconditions.

So, there's been an evolution going on inside the Trump administration but heading into last week's diplomacy they still had not been on the same page as the South Koreans. That's the gap that Mike Pence and Moon Jae-in bridged in their two meetings -- once in the Blue House and once on the speedskating rink.

It represents a small window of opportunity -- a chance for diplomacy to move forward first, by the South Koreans and then eventually, possibly between the U.S. and North Korea directly. It's not a solution to the problem but it's a step in the right direction.

ROMANS: And it's also unclear how durable it could be --

ROGIN: Exactly.

ROMANS: -- because you have different voices within the administration saying different things.

In Cairo, just a moment ago, this is crossing the wires, Josh, that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it is up to North Korea to decide when it is ready to engage in sincere talks with the U.S.

Does that differ from what we've seen -- or where does that leave us?

ROGIN: No, I think that's actually 100 percent consistent with what --

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: -- Vice President Pence was saying. He's saying we're ready to talk. He's also saying we're not going to relieve the sanctions unless you do real things to move toward denuclearization, and that's the nuance here.

We can have maximum pressure and engagement at the same time. That's what Vice President Pence said to me on the plane.

Now again, that's what Rex Tillerson has been saying --

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: -- for a long time. But, Vice President Pence was amongst the more hawkish members of this administration when it came to North Korea.

I went with him in April and he was singing a very harsher tune. And now, here we are 10 months later and he's saying sure, we'll talk to the North Koreans if they want to talk, but they shouldn't expect any presents just for sitting down. That's not going to happen and the South Koreans agreed to that.

ROMANS: Let me ask you about the sister, Kim Yo Jong. How -- what kind of a serious role does she have in diplomacy for this? I mean, how seriously should we take the North Koreans?

ROGIN: Yes, she was the tip of the spear of North Korea's charm offensive in Seoul and PyeongChang. She dominated the news.

Mike Pence was there to remind people about the brutality and evil nature of the Kim regime --


ROGIN: -- and she was there to smile and get good press, and she succeeded -- OK. She dominated the coverage. Now that could be seen as a propaganda victory for the North. You know, that's just the reality.

[05:50:00] ROMANS: Yes, she's no Kate Middleton. Let's remember what this regime is --

ROGIN: Right.

ROMANS: -- but she did get a lot of favorable press there.

ROGIN: Everyone said she was the North Korean Ivanka Trump. That's ridiculous.


ROGIN: She's not the North Korean Ivanka Trump. She's the sister of a mass murderer, OK?

Nevertheless, there's an understanding in South Korea that you have to deal with these mass murderers if you want to avoid war. And there's a sensitivity, at least now, amongst the top level of the Trump administration that we have to let South Korea try to make progress. It's their country. It's a war that would affect millions of their people.

It's also our security so we've got to work together on this. And that effort to get on the same page was a big part of what happened in that fascinating, behind-the-scenes diplomacy that Vice President Pence read out to me.

BRIGGS: It's just as if -- we wish there was a caveat to all this coverage that yes, he ordered the killing of his half-brother, ordered the killing of his uncle, starve their own people, the expense of a nuclear program. This is a brutal and murderous regime.

This is interesting, fascinating news you have in "The Washington Post." Folks, check it out --

ROMANS: Thanks, Josh.

BRIGGS: -- online right now. Josh, thank you.

ROGIN: Anytime.

ROMANS: All right.

Last week, Elon Musk shot his Tesla into space aboard SpaceX's latest rocket. Now, NASA keeping tabs on that car. Details on "CNN Money Stream," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:55:33] BRIGGS: President Trump says he is not convinced the Israelis nor the Palestinians are committed to the peace process, and when it comes to releasing a plan for peace the president tells an Israeli newspaper quote, "We have to see what happens."

Right now, the region is seeing a troubling spike in tension between Israel, Iran, and Syria.

Ian Lee, live from the Golan Heights area along the border of Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Good morning, Ian.


You know, we're learning more about that Iranian drone that infiltrated Israeli airspace. It was a copy of an American RQ-170. This is a drone that is a stealth drone. The CIA lost one of them over Iran back in 2011.

In 2014, Iran said they were able to reverse-engineer that drone to make their own copy. Well, it doesn't seem to have the stealth capabilities because the Israeli military said they were able to monitor it from the moment it took off to the moment it entered Israeli airspace and they shot it down.

In the retaliation for that, Israel launched a number of airstrikes in Syria and they also lost an F-16 from Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Now, Israel's Air Force commander has said that despite that plan going down that they will continue to operate freely inside Syria -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Ian Lee live for us. Thank you.

Meanwhile, the lights are starting to come back on after an explosion and fire caused a blackout in parts of northern Puerto Rico on Sunday. No one was injured.

It is not clear what caused it. According to the island's power authority, several municipalities were affect, including parts of San Juan.

Difficult to determine how many people have been out of power right now in northern Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria way back in September.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

After last week's turmoil global markets are turning up, starting the week higher. Right now, most European and Asian stocks are up. London and Paris, more than one percent.

U.S. futures are also higher and Dow futures are up about 270 points right now. It's a little bit more than one percent. We'll watch that. It's been very, very volatile.

Of course, it was the worst week in two years -- same for the Dow, same for the S&P 500. The Dow did climb 300 points Friday, capping off a week that was just full of violent swings.

Here the core of this. Fears about inflation and soaring bond yields drove the Dow down about 1,300 points during the week.

All right. The trial for the future of self-driving cars is over -- settled. Uber and Waymos settled their trade secret lawsuit Friday.

It's been a year since Waymo accused Uber of stealing self-driving technology, claiming it cheated to get ahead in the race for self- driving cars. Uber denies the accusation.

Waymo accepted a settlement offer from Uber of about $245 million.

NASA keeping tabs on Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster. Remember that car was shot into space last week about the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket? David Bowie blasting in the background and a dummy behind the wheel.

Now, NASA will track the car as part of its Horizons database, a directory of more than 755,000 asteroids and 3,500 comets. The Tesla now has its own entry labeled as a mere earth object.

BRIGGS: There's got to be a commercial coming soon, right?

ROMANS: I know, I know, right?

BRIGGS: The greatest ad of all time. "Ground Control to Major Tom" is still in my head from that.

ROMANS: Me, too.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" starts right now. Erica Hill in alongside Chris Cuomo.

We'll see you tomorrow.


TRUMP: It was very sad when we heard about it and certainly, he's also very sad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He continues to -- not to speak up for the people who abuse, but for the abusers.

CONWAY: He says that Gen. Kelly is doing a great job and that he has full faith in him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no way he didn't know about this. He's up to his neck in it and he chose not to deal with.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: We've got to hear from John Kelly as to what he knew.

BRIGGS: The Senate set to begin debating immigration today. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's secure our border and let's solve the problems for the DACA recipients and Dreamers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're a few weeks away from the March deadline and we still don't have a resolution here.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: What's being proposed in the Senate is not going to be acceptable to conservatives in the House.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It's real debate on an issue where we really don't know what the outcome is going to be.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your new day. It's Monday, February 12th, 6:00 here in New York.

Alisyn is on assignment so the one and only Erica Hill joins me. It's good to have you back.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to be with you.

CUOMO: Thank you for being here. Quite the day for you.

HILL: You bet.

CUOMO: Here's our "Starting Line."

The Trump White House struggling to give just one consistent story about the scandal rocking the West Wing now for nearly a week.