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Trump to Meet with Kim Jong-un; Trump Imposes Tariffs; Probe Widening in U.K. Poisoning Case. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 9, 2018 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:33] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: How far we've come. President Trump in a stunning move accepting a meeting with Kim Jong-un. It's a decision the South Korean president calls miraculous.


TRUMP: The workers who poured their souls into building this great nation were betrayed. But that betrayal is now over.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president defying pretty much everyone imposing new import tariffs. Allies are saying they'll be forced to respond. How are markets reacting this morning?

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday morning. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

And a lot to bring you up to speed on here.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

ROMANS: Let's begin with President Trump accepting an offer to meet with Kim Jong-un. That's right, the president of the United States and the North Korean leader setting up what could be a summit of the century. This extraordinary face-to-face encounter expected to happen by May.

Kim extending the invitation through a South Korean delegation that visited the White House on Thursday. The president himself confirming in a tweet the historic meeting is in the works, saying a commitment by North Korea to discuss denuclearization was the catalyst to move forward.

BRIGGS: The announcement took everyone by surprise, including the Pentagon.

If this breakthrough does materialize, Mr. Trump would become the first sitting U.S. president to ever meet with his North Korean counterpart. No phone call has ever happened between the two.

CNN's Andrew Stevens live for us in Seoul this morning. An astounding day.

Good morning, Andrew.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning. An astounding day indeed.

And here's an interesting little point for you. This is the, as you say, this is the first time there would be a summit between these two. But Kim's father and grandfather were both pushing hard for a meeting with respect to U.S. presidents which never happened. So, you would think this is seen as a coup in North Korea, as well.

But there is absolutely no mention in the latest bulletins in North Korea about this meeting taking place, which is interesting.

We are getting more details on other parts of the meetings between Kim Jong-un and the two envoys from South Korea. It makes some pretty fascinating reading as well, saying that Kim Jong-un is very aware of the labels he's been called by Donald Trump, little rocket man, et cetera, et cetera. He was making a few jokes about them to the envoys there. They said it was a very, very relaxed time, meeting and meal with Kim Jong-un. The booze was flying by all accounts and it was conducted in very good spirits, indeed. So, a little bit of insight there into that meeting which has led to had historic agreement between the two.

There has been some really eyebrows raised about the fact that Donald Trump agreed without any sort of preconditions. A lot of people see a meeting with the U.S. as a carrot. To get to that meeting with the president, you actually have to make a few concessions. Nothing has been made here at all.

The administration says, well, you've got two people meeting each other who can make decisions. So, it doesn't matter about the preconditions. You don't need them because you've got to two people who can actually get things done.

And just very quickly, where is it going to be held? We don't know yet. So, there's been nothing on that. Suggestions that it might be in the DMZ, the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas. Some suggestions it may be in a completely neutral country, somewhere like Switzerland. Kim Jong-un was in Switzerland, a boarding school. Switzerland has been used for these sorts of geostrategic meetings before, the U.S. and USSR, for example.

So, we don't know and maybe the U.S. might put the conditions on where they meet as a way of starting to get some action from the Kim regime, Dave, about denuclearization and verifiable stuff North Korea needs to do to keep on this path to denuclearization. BRIGGS: And to your point, we don't know the where or who. Who could

do this negotiation? We have no real diplomat in the region capable and familiar with the North. But what's the reaction in the region this morning?

STEVENS: Well, the reaction has been positive. Positive but also some clear eyed clarity with that. Almost miraculous was the description used by the president of South Korea.

Remember, President Moon has been instrumental in pushing this process forward to this stage. Again, though, he is saying, look, it's too early to be too optimistic about this.

[04:35:02] This is a step one step in a long, long process. The meeting is a good start.

The Japanese -- they are much more, basically, we've got to keep maximum pressure, economic pressure on North Korea. That is the point the U.S. and South Korea both agree on, as well. The Japanese saying, look, we've been down this path before. We know from history that North Korea has not been a reliable negotiating partner. So, let's see what he they do rather than what they say before we move at all on any sanctions.

Australians saying pretty much the same thing although calling for the negotiations to be held in good faith. China, too, happy to say it happened, also warning it's going to be a very long path, Dave.

BRGGS: Several administrations have been fooled before.

Andrew Stevens, live for us in Seoul this morning, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are now reality. A 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent on foreign aluminum both take effect in two weeks. Canada and Mexico are exempt for now. The move is the rattling U.S. allies and laying bare fault lines within the GOP.

The president framed the decision as keeping a campaign promise and he railed against the trade practices he blames for decline of American manufacturing.


TRUMP: The American steel aluminum industry has been ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices. It's really an assault on our country. It's been an assault.


ROMANS: The president is using an obscure national security provision to impose these tariffs, but excluding Canada and Mexico to gain leverage in NAFTA negotiations could undercut that rationale. Other countries are also able to apply for exemptions.

But the flexibility didn't satisfy House Speaker Paul Ryan. He is pushing back strongly against the tariff.

And Arizona Senator Jeff flake is threatening legislation to nullify them. Stock futures are pretty calm here right now. Markets seem to be relieved that the tariffs allowed for exemptions.

There are still fears of a trade war. The head of the European parliament is promising to respond firmly. China calls the tariffs a, quote, serious attack. And South Korea says it will respond, as well. And that's really fascinating geopolitically, because this came just a few hours after the South announced the U.S./North Korea talks.

Retaliation against U.S. goods is likely with many American industries preparing caught in the crossfire here. U.S. farmers in particular could be collateral damage since America exports most of what it grows.

BRIGGS: President Trump and the rest of the world heading in opposite directions on trade. On Thursday, 11 nations signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping agreement once thought to be dead after the president pulled the U.S. out of negotiations. The White House is instead seeking one-on-one trade deals. The president first withdrew from the TPP, some leaders declared the agreement meaningless. They eventually revived the agreement.

ROMANS: Defying a request from the House Oversight Committee, the White House has failed to provide details about Rob Porter security clearance fiasco. Representatives Trey Gowdy and Elijah Cummings sent a bipartisan letter to the administration last month asking for a detailed timeline of Porter's background check by the FBI. They also want to know when White House officials became aware of the domestic abuse allegations against Porter.

BRIGGS: Answered were expected by February 28th. Instead, there was a brief response last night from White House aide Marc Short, pointing to changes Chief of Staff Kelly made to the security clearance process, while ignoring the question about Porter. It's not clear how Gowdy and Cummings will respond.

Two new developments in the Stormy Daniels scandal this morning. The woman named in the settlement between Daniels and the president's lawyer accuses the president of unwanted advances. Adult film star Jessica Drake who also goes by Angel Ryan was listed in the settlement as having confidential information about Mr. Trump. The president has said he doesn't know the woman


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I haven't put -- I haven't put a second of thought into this. Just not on my radar screen.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I don't know that we necessarily have to get involved. You can sure if any of that were happening with a Democrat, the Republicans would be very involved in it. But our time should be spent making the future better for the American people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Multiple sources telling CNN some officials are worried the salacious accusations and thorny legal fight could wind up being a bigger problem than some of the president's past transgressions.

BRIGGS: Sara Sanders will have a briefing today at 2:00. It should be interesting.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort set for trial July 10th. On Thursday, he entered a not guilty plea to branch fraud and tax charges in federal court in Virginia. This will be the first of two trials for Manafort this year. He faces federal charges of money laundering and lying to investigators in Washington, D.C.

ROMAN: Manafort denies all charges against him in both cases. He was first indicted last fall alongside Trump's campaign deputy and long- time business partner Rick Gates who has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

[04:40:03] BRIGGS: The Interior Department defending the nearly $139,000 price tag to upgrade the doors. Yes, doors to Secretary Ryan Zinke's office. Doors, $140,000.

A spokesperson says the project is necessary to replace old doors in disrepair and pins the high cost on the historical nature of the building which was built in the 1930s.

The spokesperson says the work was driven by career facilities and security officials. Zinke himself was unaware of the expense.

Several government agencies are being scrutinized for excessive spending. Last month, you might remember, HUD Secretary Ben Carson withdrew an order for $31,000 of dining room furniture.

ROMANS: A lighthearted moment, a goof by the president at his tariff announcement, it came after a steelworker Scott Sarge, president of a local union in Pennsylvania, shared a moving story about his father Herman who lost his job in the steel industry in the 1980s.


TRUMP: Your father Herman is looking down, he's very proud of you right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's still alive.

TRUMP: Oh, he is? Well, then he's even more proud. Then even he's even more proud.


ROMANS: And that was a great recovery. President worked that room very well.

That was a photo-op that played very well for this president. It elicited a lot of warnings and concerns from our major trading partners, America's major trading partners, but in terms of a photo-op after such a chaotic rollout of that policy, that photo-op I think was a success.

BRIGGS: The globe's concerned but in Pennsylvania, it may look like good politics.

Ahead, the Florida teachers union was the governor to veto a key section of a new bill addressing guns and school safety. That's next.


[04:46:20] ROMANS: All right. Time for an early start on your money.

Will the jobs report shake the stock market again? We'll find out in about four hours when the Labor Department releases the report for February. In January, average hourly wages rose 2.9 percent, that was the fastest since 2009. Good news for Main Street was bad news for Wall Street. Fear of inflation and higher interest rates sparked selling dragging the major indices into correction territory. Remember that?

So, was January's wage gain an anomaly for February? Economists expect paychecks rose 2.8 percent. They also predict the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs and unemployment rate ticked lower to 4 percent. That is a 17-year low.

Another labor market indicator claims for first-time unemployment benefits rose slightly last week. Two weeks ago, they fell to the lowest level in 48 years. One economist says the numbers signal the best job market in a generation. Let me say that again, the best job market in a generation. He says low jobless claims indicate there are almost no skilled workers left and that could stymie efforts to rebuild, frankly, the steel and aluminum industries.

BRIGGS: Florida's teachers union urging Governor Scott to veto funding for a program that would allow some teachers and school staff to be armed on campus. The program, part of a gun and school safety bill lawmakers approved in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. The union is not asking Scott, just to use his line item veto power to cut the program that would allow school employees with training to carry guns.

ROMANS: Governor Scott has said he's not interested in arming teachers. The governor now has two weeks to decide whether to sign this bill. Among other things, it would raise the age to purchase the firearm to 21 from 18 and give law enforcement more authority, to seize weapons from people being mentally unfit. Governor Scott will meet families of the Parkland victims today.

Meantime, the final patient from the school shooting is back in the ICU. He is 15-year-old Anthony Burgess (ph) who was shot five times has been downgraded from fair to critical condition. I got to tell you, that kid is a hero. He stood at the door when he heard those shots. He stood at the door, he was shot five times by that gun. It gives me goose bumps to think about it. While all of his friends who are hiding in that classroom were unharmed. I mean, that kid, we wish him the best.

BRIGGS: Just amazing courage, huh?

A glitch in the 911 system being blamed for the death of a Missouri police officer who was dispatched to the wrong house. Officer Christopher Ryan Morton was shot and killed Tuesday at a home in Clinton, Missouri. He was somehow sent there by 911 operators who could only hear two women screaming during an emergency call. It turns out Morton should have been dispatched to a different house about 15 miles away.

The error is being investigated by the state highway patrol. Two other officers were injured in the shoot-out. SWAT team members later found the gunman dead inside the home.

ROMANS: Emergency crews in San Antonio, Texas, finally able to reach a high school student who was trapped in a cave for some ten hours. The 18-year-old girl was on a school field trip to the robber baron cave in San Antonio Thursday. She became wedged in a narrow passageway. About 70 emergency responders were on the scene chiseling rock to free her. They were finally able to get her out overnight. She is said to be fine but at a hospital for evaluation.

BRIGGS: Time to spring forward this weekend.


BRIGGS: Yes, it is. Sorry, Romans.

Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time which begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday.

But lawmakers in Florida approved a bill to keep daylight saving time all year long. It took the state Senate less than a minute to pass the Sunshine Protection Act.

[04:50:03] The bill now goes to Governor Scott. If he signs it, the plan would still need congressional approval. It likely won't happen until 2019 if never.

Isn't it time to do away with this?

ROMANS: I don't know. I have no solid opinion or judgment on that.

BRIGGS: You will Sunday morning when you lose that hour.

ROMANS: Closing stores may not be enough to save Toys "R" Us. More drastic measures could be in the works. A check on CNNMoney, next.


[04:55:09] BRIGGS: The probe is widening in the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain. Police revealing 21 people received medical attention after the incident. Three of them Sergei Skripal, his daughter and a police officer remain in the hospital. Western intelligence services say all signs point to Russia as a leading suspect. But the Kremlin seems to be laughing this off.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen live for us in Moscow with the latest.

What is going on here, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's interesting, Dave, because on the one hand, they seem to be laughing it off. They are still saying they have nothing to do with it, but on the Twitter account of the Russian embassy in London, they're already naming Skripal as an agent for the MI6, which is, of course, the British intelligence service.

Now, we got some information from the Russian intelligence service, the FSB, where they claim that this man Skripal, he was turned by the Brits sometime in the 1990s, and then, of course, later arrested by the Russians. So, some very bad blood in Russia towards him.

But then you have the gloating. There was anchor on Russian TV yesterday who came out and made pretty some condescending remarks. Let's listen in.


RUSSIAN TV ANCHOR (through translator): The traitor's profession is one of the most dangerous in the world. According to statistics, it is much more dangerous than being a drug courier. Those who choose it rarely live in piece to a venerable old age. Alcoholism, drug addiction, stress, severe nervous breakdown and depression are the inevitable occupational illnesses of the traitor. And as a result, heart attacks --


PLEITGEN: And it doesn't stop there, Dave. The Russians also in the form of Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister, just today saying that, of course, they could help with the investigation. They also likened to the investigation into the election meddling in 2016, saying they could help there, as well. They claim all of this is anti-Russian propaganda.

The Brits are not having any of it. They say that if it does turn out that it was the Russians, that there will be severe consequences, Dave.

BRIGGS: Fred Pleitgen, live for us in Moscow, thank you.

ROMANS: The State Department warning U.S. citizens not to travel to Playa del Carmen in Mexico. An emergency message says there is information about a security threat and government employees are barred from traveling to the resort town.

Playa del Carmen is a popular destination for American college students on spring break. The State Department did not specify the nature of the threat, but last week, an undetonated explosive device was discovered on a ferry and a week earlier, a device detonated on another ferry injuring several passengers. Let's get a check on CNNMoney this morning.

President Trump's tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are not rattling the market this morning. Investors see them as less severe than initially feared. All of those carve-outs and exceptions for major American trading partners, the market is calm about that. Global markets are mixed. U.S. futures are flat. Investors are waiting for the February jobs report. That's out in less than four hours.

Economists expect paychecks rose 2.8 percent. They predict the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 4 percent, a brand-new 17-year low, nearing full employment.

Happy birthday to the bull market. Bull market turns nine years old. Since March 9th, 2009, the S&P 500 has climbed 300 percent. It is now the second longest and second strongest bull market in history. Number one lasted from 1987 to 2000 for a gain of 582 percent. So, this bull would have to go almost four years and double its gains from here if it were to become the longest and strongest bull market ever.

Toys "R" Us reportedly preparing to close all U.S. stores. Sources say the weak holiday season hurt the chain's stores. It wanted to keep store open. The retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September. It is $5 billion in debt, already announced plans to close 184 stores.

How's this for a juxtaposition. Amazon shares hit a record high yesterday. That to me in a nutshell is the retail story. An icon like.

BRIGGS: That tells a story.

ROMANS: An icon like. You know, I can sing the jingle from Toys "R" Us. And Amazon --

BRIGGS: They may keep some open though. They say there are a couple plans still alive. We'll find out as early as Monday.

ROMANS: We'll see.

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START continues right now with the stunning news that there's a face-to-face between Kim Jong-un and President Trump in the works.



TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.


BRIGGS: How far we've come. President Trump in a stunning move accepting a meeting with Kim Jong-un. It's a decision the South Korean president calls miraculous.


TRUMP: The workers who poured their souls into building this great nation were betrayed, but that betrayal is now over.


ROMANS: The president defying pretty much everyone, imposing new import tariffs. Allies say they will be forced to respond.