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Trump Agrees to Meet With Kim Jong-un; Trump Signs Aluminum and Steel Tariffs, Lighting Fuse on Possible Trade War; Stormy Daniels Scandal; Teachers Union to Governor: Don't Arm School Staff. Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired March 9, 2018 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:30:45] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
CHUNG EUI-YONG, NATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTOR, REPUBLIC OF KOREA: President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The workers who poured their souls into building this great nation were betrayed, but that betrayal is now over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president defying pretty much everyone, imposing new import tariffs. Allies saying they'll be forced to respond. How are markets reacting this morning?
Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.
ROMANS: And, I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday morning where it's 5:31 in the east.
Let's begin with this miraculous face-to-face. The president accepting an offer to meet with Kim Jong Un, setting up what could be the diplomatic summit of the century. This extraordinary encounter expected to happen by May.
Kim extending the invitation through a South Korea 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: And the announcement took everyone by complete 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. There has never even been a phone call between the two.
CNN's Andrew Stevens tracking the latest live from Seoul. Good morning, Andrew.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Dave.
Yes, and on the North Korean side, this is something that three generations of North Koreans have tried to pull off. Kim Jong Un's father and grandfather both tried to orchestrate meetings with the U.S. president. Those meetings failed as negotiations broke down, so Kim Jong Un, the first of the Kim dynasty to actually have a meeting accepted.
Interestingly though, Dave, you would have thought this would be playing out very, very sort of significantly on the local media scene in North Korea, but there's not a word of it we can understand. The latest bulletins are leading with stories on commuter shipping and education. Not a whisper about this meeting.
That may be because the North Korean leadership feels that they need to soften the blow because generations, literally, of North Koreans have grown up seeing the U.S. as basically the great -- the great evil so they may have to take some time to actually bring them around to the idea that there will be a meeting between their own leader and the U.S.
Now, on that meeting, the question is where is this going to happen. We don't know that yet.
There were suggestions that it could be Pyongyang, it could be Washington or perhaps more likely it's going to be the DMZ because if you think about it the DMZ is -- it is the demilitarized zone. It's still in Korea. It's unlikely to see Kim Jong Un prepared to go to the U.S. and even less likely to see Donald Trump prepared to go to Pyongyang.
Or it could be in a neutral country -- a third country altogether. Something like Switzerland. We'll have to wait and see about that one.
And just finally, it's important to remember yes, that the optics are good and there is a meeting but all of the key players in this that North Korea -- sorry, excuse me, the South Koreans, the Americans, and the Japanese say that they're going to keep that economic straightjacket around North Korea until they see some significant movement on the North Korean part as far as denuclearization is concerned.
BRIGGS: Obviously, North and South are central here as other nations (ph). What about China and Japan, the reaction from them this morning?
STEVENS: Yes, the Japanese -- Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, actually spoke to Donald Trump very soon after that announcement. I mean, Japan has some concerns about being left out of the loop on this and considering that missiles are being fired directly over Japan you can see their concerns about this.
Japan's line is that it is all well and good to have meetings but the proof of the pudding will be in the meeting (ph), in that they want to see something actually concrete come out of this which is why they're saying you've got keep these sanctions in place.
[05:35:05] And they're also pointing out very clearly that we've been down this path before. The North Koreans have agreed to some sort of nuclear disarmament which went actually nowhere.
Likewise, China. They're welcoming the move which is not surprising given that China, all along, has said dialogue is the only way to solve the nuclear issue in -- on the Korean Peninsula. But again, they're also warning that this is going to be a very, very long and quite possibly bumpy path before we get to any significant undertaking involving denuclearization.
BRIGGS: All right, good stuff.
Andrew Stevens live for us in Seoul this morning. Thank you.
ROMANS: All right, that was great analysis and we have more here. Let's go to Washington and bring in CNN military analyst, Colonel Cedric Leighton.
You heard Andrew Stevens say we need some clear-eyed realism here because there's a lot to get through before that meeting actually happens, and there's a lot to consider here. You know, the United States government has been very careful about legitimizing this rogue human rights violator regime here.
How dangerous is it, do you think, these next few days as this -- as this meeting gets planned?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR TRAINING, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Well Christine, it's going to be very dangerous because what we're looking at is really changing about 70 years of diplomatic activity between the United States-South Korea on the one side and North Korea on the other.
These countries have been very hostile to each other. There's been a lot of really back-and-forth. A lot of hope at some points.
You know, going back to the mid-80s there were a lot of efforts to try to actually balance the way in which North Korea would look at the rest of the world and we would, of course, eventually recognize them as a -- as a sovereign nation.
None of that materialized, as Andrew pointed out, and there are a lot of different things that could happen here. This is going to be a very long slog if it's going to be done at all and it's going to require a lot of patience on the part of the people in the United States and in other parts of the world who are not necessarily known for their patience.
BRIGGS: We heard shortly -- just a bit ago, the fire and fury sound- bite from President Trump and we've heard it often, frankly, but that was seven months ago. So from fire and fury to face-to-face in seven months is one thing but even in recent weeks there was talk of a military strike on the North.
So what happened? Is the North starving from sanctions, are they fearing a military strike, or are they bluffing?
LEIGHTON: Well, I think it could be a little bit of both. I think what you're seeing here Dave is the idea that the sanctions are biting. I think there is certainly an increased pressure that's been put on North Korea. We have reports that one-tenth of the normal trade volume that is -- that goes across the Chinese-North Korean border is what's going through now, so they're only getting one-tenth, approximately, of the good that they were used to getting.
LEIGHTON: Now, that can have a significant effect on the way in which the North Koreans react to things.
Now, they are going to try to play the hand that they are dealt and they're very good poker players. And what they can do is they can try to -- through bluffing, through other means, try to ameliorate -- try to make things better for the people in North Korea.
One of the big goals that Kim Jong Un has is to better his country's economy -- to modernize things -- and there have been a lot of efforts that they've made to make them more modern. You know, not necessarily join the rest of world but at least have some of the accoutrements of joining the rest of the world.
So what we're looking at is -- I think, is the North Koreans are trying to find a path where they can get rid of the sanctions but where they can also have better relations with the U.S. because it's going to help them. If at some point they find that that path is not exactly what they had hoped for they will revert back to weapons tests --
LEIGHTON: -- to other things that are more belligerent.
ROMANS: One of the -- some of the things that the North Koreans want, we're told, sovereignty, security, a dramatic reduction of U.S. troops on the Peninsula, scaling down of U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
Is there any chance the United States would really pull back its troops from South Korea given everything that's happening in the region? It's not just about North Korea, it's about security for Japan, it's about a rise of China. There's a lot going on there.
LEIGHTON: Absolutely, and I think the answer to that is no, at least not in the short-term -- I mean, unless there is some real big surprise that happens in this meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
It would be a very big mistake, I think, for the United States to withdraw any portion of its forces from South Korea because those forces have really served as a guarantor not only of South Korea's independence but also its economic viability.
[05:40:02] South Korea is an economic powerhouse because we have protected it. We have put it under our nuclear umbrella. We have made it really a part of the world economic system and it is one of the top 10 economies in the world.
That is due to our relationship with them and their willingness to keep our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in that country.
The North, of course, wants them gone and they want to reunify the Korean Peninsula under their terms. That would not be what we want and it's certainly --
LEIGHTON: -- not what South Korea and its people want.
BRIGGS: All right, Col. Cedric Leighton, we appreciate you being with us. Great analysis this morning. Thank you.
ROMANS: Thank you.
BRIGGS: All right.
Just days before a special election in Pennsylvania, the president plays to his base with new import tariffs. That's despite a revoke in his own party, anger from allies, and fears of a trade war.
We'll look at how the markets are responding this morning, next.
[05:45:36] ROMANS: President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are now reality. A 25 percent tariff on foreign steel, a 10 percent tariff on foreign aluminum takes effect in two weeks. Canada and Mexico are exempt for now. The move is rattling U.S. allies, 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 blamed for that decline of American manufacturing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The American steel and aluminum industry has been ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices. It's really an assault on our country. It's been an assault.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: The president is using an obscure national security provision to impose those tariffs, but excluding Canada and Mexico to gain leverage in NAFTA negotiations could undercut that national security argument.
Other countries are also able to apply for exemptions but that flexibility did not satisfy House Speaker Paul Ryan. He's pushing back strongly against the tariffs.
Stock futures pretty calm right now. Markets seem relieved the tariffs allowed for exemptions but there are still fears of a trade war.
The head of the European Parliament is promising to respond firmly. China calls the tariffs a serious attack. South Korea says it will respond as well.
Retaliation against U.S. goods is probably pretty likely -- many American industries caught here. U.S. farmers, in particular, could be collateral damage since America exports most of what it grows.
BRIGGS: All right. Let's go live to Washington and bring in Greg Valliere, political economist and chief strategist for Horizon Investments.
ROMANS: Hey, Greg.
GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST, CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: Morning, guys.
BRIGGS: Morning, Greg.
BRIGGS: So, eight days ago the president just threw this out there -- surprised the entire world. There was no interagency process, no details on this.
BRIGGS: Still today, we don't have a lot. We know that there are temporary exemptions for Canada and Mexico.
What are the implications where we stand today with a lot more blanks still to fill?
VALLIERE: Well Dave, I think many in the markets thought yesterday it could have been worse so the markets didn't sell off sharply.
But there's more to come, whether it's sanctions against Levi's or Harley Davidson, whether it's a big fight looming against China, whether it's real anger in Germany, Brazil, Japan. There's more to this story to come and I would argue that this is going to get worse before it gets better.
ROMANS: It was a really big win though for the president. That photo op --
ROMANS: -- with him standing there with those steelworkers and the man talking about how his father lost his job and how it devastated a family of six. That's exactly why Donald Trump -- with six kids -- that's exactly why Donald Trump was elected because he --
ROMANS: -- because he was speaking to those people --
ROMANS: -- when Democrats and Republicans, for years, have not.
My question is how many jobs is it going to create? Where are they going to find the jobs? We've got a four percent unemployment rate, we could find out today. And will it hurt jobs in other manufacturing parts of the economy?
VALLIERE: I think it's still not well appreciated by the president just how tight the labor market is. I mean, in a little under three hours, as you say, we'll get another jobs report. It will probably show just how tight this market is.
I'm not sure where you find the extra workers, especially when the president wants to curb legal immigration, not just illegal immigration. So I worry that with maybe a better climate for steel and aluminum you're not going to find the workers.
ROMANS: He didn't talk about automation yesterday, either.
BRIGGS: Not a mention.
ROMANS: He had a -- he had a 1950's -- you know, like just a glowing view of the American economy and things have changed so much and so much of the steel capacity now is produced with less labor.
BRIGGS: Less is creating a lot more.
BRIGGS: And he says if you don't have steel you don't have a country. One of those things he's continued to hit home.
But let's talk about this situation in North Korea from fire to --
BRIGGS: -- fury. You have a face-to-face meeting before May between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Any economic implications here and who's our point man on this with the State Department and the Pentagon completely caught off guard?
VALLIERE: And understaffed. There are no real experts on Korea in this administration. I think that's one of the problems heading into that meeting.
So, I do think there are implications with China. Everywhere I look I see the U.S. pulling away from China with a big new trade fight. We're not going to need China maybe to lean on North Korea quite as much.
But I think bottom line, for the markets at least, this is a good story. Anything that reduces the chances of a horrific war is a good story.
ROMANS: I think that's one of the reasons why the market didn't fall out of bed on these tariffs, too. I mean, I think the tariffs --
ROMANS: -- are more of a Swiss cheese kind of thing with lots of holes to work around, you know --
ROMANS: -- so the president can have his big win with U.S. steel, adding a few hundred jobs and Granite City, Illinois. But then, in the bigger -- the bigger picture, maybe there are ways to undercut some of the negative implications.
[05:50:04] And then you have this meeting with North Korea. Both of those things together, I think, are salve for the markets here.
VALLIERE: One other quick point I'd make.
I think life got more complicated for Chairman Powell at the Federal Reserve. These tariffs will bring with them the threat of inflation which he has to worry about, but the threat of a trade war also could upset the markets. So somewhere, Janet Yellen is probably thinking to herself she got out at just the right time.
ROMANS: Yes, her timing is impeccable.
BRIGGS: And there's still that question of what if the NAFTA talks do break down because the exemption --
VALLIERE: Yes. BRIGGS: -- for Canada and Mexico --
BRIGGS: -- is only if we get a better deal on NAFTA. Well, that's still a big if with Gary Cohn out and Peter Navarro on the rise.
VALLIERE: And frankly, guys, I don't see the correlation between NAFTA and steel tariffs. It's apples and oranges.
That we're going to pressure the Canadians and the Mexicans into cutting a better deal. So that's still very much an open issue. There still could be tariffs against two of our allegedly great friends.
ROMANS: That's what they call -- you know, market players call it headline risks.
ROMANS: Headline risks everywhere the eye can see. All right.
Greg Valliere, have a great weekend.
VALLIERE: You, too.
ROMANS: Thank you, sir.
VALLIERE: You bet.
ROMANS: Closing more than 100 stores. Was it enough, maybe, to save Toys R Us? Every store could soon be gone -- that's right.
We'll get a check on "CNN Money," next.
[05:55:18] BRIGGS: Five fifty-five eastern time.
Defying a request from the House Oversight Committee, the White House has failed to provide details about the Rob Porter security clearance fiasco.
Representative Trey Gowdy and Elijah Cummings sent a bipartisan letter to the administration last month asking for a detailed time line of Porter's background check by the FBI. They also want to know when the White House officials became aware of the domestic abuse allegations against Porter.
ROMANS: Answers were expected by February 28th. Instead, there was 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 questions about Porter.
It's not clear how Gowdy and Cummings will respond.
BRIGGS: A woman named in the settlement between Stormy Daniels and the president's personal 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 through a spokesperson he doesn't know her.
Lawmakers on both sides trying to distance Congress from the mess.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I haven't put a -- I haven't put a second of thought into this. It's just not on my radar screen.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I don't know that we necessarily have to get involved in any of that. You can be sure if any of that were happening with the Democrats 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 tell CNN some officials are worried the Stormy Daniels accusations and the thorny and now legal fight could wind up a bigger problem than the president's past transgressions.
BRIGGS: Florida teacher's union urging Gov. Rick Scott to veto funding for a program allowing some teacher 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 shooting.
The union is not asking Scott to veto the bill, just use his line item veto power to cut the program that would allow school employees to carry guns.
ROMANS: The interesting part of that story is that insurance companies will not cover anything that happens if the gun is used in a -- in a --
ROMANS: -- problem.
Governor Scott has said he is not interested in arming teachers. The governor now has two weeks to decide whether to sign the bill. He'll meet with families of the Parkland victims today.
Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning.
President Trump's tariffs on imported steel and aluminum not rattling the markets this morning. Investors see them as less severe than initially feared. Global markets are mixed. U.S. futures are flat.
Investors waiting for the February jobs report. It comes out in less than three hours.
Economists expect paychecks rose 2.8 percent. They predict the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs, but the unemployment rate ticked down to four percent -- a brand new 17-year low.
Toys R Us -- wow, battling for survival here reportedly preparing to close all of its stores in the U.S. Sources tell "The Wall Street Journal" a weak holiday season hurt the chain's plans to reorganize. The retailer file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in September. It's $5 billion in debt.
It already announced plans to close some 184 stores and retool others to a, you know, more consumer-focused experiential stores.
How's this for a juxtaposition? Amazon shares hit a record high yesterday.
BRIGGS: Boy, that would be a massive job loss here in the United States.
ROMANS: We'll see. You know, there's already been a lot of retail job loss and those jobs have been moving into other jobs like warehouses for Amazon and the like.
BRIGGS: For a --
Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.
BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. Have a wonderful weekend. Set those clocks forward --
ROMANS: No --
BRIGGS: -- on Sunday.
ROMANS: -- no.
BRIGGS: We'll see you next week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: "Rocket Man" is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
YONG: President Trump said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is unprecedented and historic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very concerned about the chances for success but look, I'm always a fan of diplomacy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been doing the same thing, banging our head against the wall for 25 years. Let's try something different. WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim Jong Un is looking at all of the cards on the table. This was a Hail Mary pass and President Trump caught it.
TRUMP: You don't have steel, you don't have a country.
RYAN: I actually think there is a better way to address unfair trade practices.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The process is evolving but at least they're getting to the right spot.
LARRY KUDLOW, CNBC SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR: Tariffs are prosperity killers. They always have been and they always will be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Friday, March ninth, 6:00 here in New York, and here's our "Starting Line."
A potentially historic moment for the Trump presidency. After months of trading insults and provocations, President Trump accepting an invitation from the North Korean leader to meet by May.