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Trade War Escalates, China Hits U.S.; British Believe Kremlin Behind Poisoning; Trump's Anti-Immigrant Easter Tirade; Shulkin Declines To Endorse V.A. Nominee; U.S. and South Korea Resume Military Drills; Classroom Labor Strife Nationwide; Notre Dame Takes Women's National Title. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired April 2, 2018 - 04:00   ET



RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, China makes good on the promise hitting the United States with $3 billion in tariffs. The move is retaliation for the President's tariffs on China. And how will the White House respond this morning?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And no more DACA deal. The President with the warning and tirade taking help for dreamers of the table and demanding Mexico to take actions to stop drug deal.

MARSH: And was the poisoning of the former spy in the U.K. directed by the Kremlin? British authorities say yes. Good morning. Good morning and welcome to "Early Start," I'm Rene Marsh.

BRIGGS: Good to see you Rene, nice to have you in for Christine Romans. I'm Dave Briggs. It is Monday, April 2nd, 4:00 a.m. in the East, 11:00 a.m. in Moscow, 5:00 p.m. in Seoul. I hope you had a wonderful Easter. We start with trade. All right, China making good on its trade threats opening fears of a trade war starting today. China will slap tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. goods. Retaliation against President Trump's duties on foreign steel and aluminum.

The Chinese tariffs at 128 U.S. product ranging from agriculture exports, pork, fruit, nuts to steel pipes, and aluminum. This move the latest in escalating tensions between China and the United States which only get gets worst. The President has more trade actions in the works like tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Experts warn they could cause further retaliation and a trade war would be devastating for U.S. consumers, investors and companies.

The President has long accused Beijing of unfair trade practices that steal American jobs. His first year in office though he did not make any major trade moves, however, the exodus of a number of globalist from the White House like Gary Cohen and Rex Tillerson may be freeing the president to follow through on trade threats. China has repeatedly it does not want to trade war, but warns it will take firm counter measures if necessary.

MARSH: Well, President Trump on an anti-immigrant rant on Easter Sunday, much of it on Twitter. Here are the tweets, "Border patrol agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the border. Getting more dangerous. Caravans coming. Republicans must go to nuclear option to pass tough laws now. No more DACA deal."

We will have more on those caravans in a moment. The Twitter tirade, just the latest example of the President going with his gut at a key moment on several policy and political fronts. His tone drew swift and sarcastic pushback from many inside and outside of Washington. Among them Ohio Governor, John Kasich, he tweeted, "A true leader preserves and offers hope. It doesn't take hope from innocent children who call America home."

Remember, today is Easter Sunday and this from Republican Congresswoman, Lleana Ros-Lehtinen, such a strong message of love and new beginnings from Donald Trump on Easter Sunday. Get the sarcasm there? Our White House Correspondent, Boris Sanchez, has a lot more on this from Mar-a-Lago.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Rene and Dave, no confirmation yet from the White House on specifically why shows to spend Easter Sunday delivering this message about immigration, but we should point out that just a few moments before he sent these tweets, there was a report on the cable news station about this caravan of immigrants moving through Central America into Mexico, some of them with the intention of asking the United States for asylum and there by entering the country.

The President obviously angered by that report. So, he took to Twitter, to attack Democrats, to say that the DACA deal was over and then to demand that Mexico do more when it comes to stopping the flow of immigrants. The President did meet with the press for a short time before heading into Easter service on Sunday morning. Listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mexico has got to help us at the border. And a lot of people are coming in, because they want to take advantage of DACA and we are going to have to really see, they had a great chance. The Democrats blew it. They had a great, great chance, but we have to take a look.


SANCHEZ: Donald Trump going even further on Twitter saying that he would end the North American Free Trade Agreement unless Mexico did more. Unclear specifically what he wants Mexico to do. Dave and Rene.


MARSH: All right. Well, did Veteran's Affairs Secretary, David Shulkin, resign or was he fired? It is a very basic question getting different answers depending on whom you ask. The White House this weekend said Shulkin resigned, but on "State of the Union," the former V.A. Secretary told CNN's Jake Tapper, that is not the case.


JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: Were you fired or did you resign?

DAVID SHULKIN, FORMER V.A. SECRETARY: Well, Jake, I came to run the Department of Veteran Affairs, because I'm committed to veterans and I'm committed to fighting for them.

[04:05:05] And I would not resign, because I'm committed to making sure that this job was seen through to the very end.

TAPPER: So you were fired.

SHULKIN: I did not resign.



MARSH: Well, asked to respond to this, the White House spokesman said our statement still stands. Shulkin also offering tempered praise for the man named to replace him.

BRIGGS: Admiral Ronny Jackson, President Trump's personal position. Shulkin commended Jackson's values and in his report with the president, but declining to give a full endorsement. He said it is up to the Senate. Jackson facing criticism over his lack of management experience.

And those growing resistance, President Trump announcement that the U.S. will pull out of Syria, quote, "very soon." The President also placed a hold on more than $200 million in recovery funds for Syria last week. Demanding more information on the money being spent. Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, warns withdrawing American troops from Syria would be a dangerous mistake that could undo gains made against terrorist groups.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When it comes to Syria, do not read the Obama playbook. This is the Obama playbook. One foot in, one foot out. That the single worst decision the President could make. I have seen this movie before when Obama did the same thing in Iraq and quite frankly gave Assad a pass and Syria when he had them on the ropes. We got ISIS along the ropes. We didn't want to let them off the ropes, remove American soldiers.


BRIGGS: The President's remarks last week about pulling out of Syria came hours after the Pentagon said the opposite. Two members of the U.S.-led coalition including Master Sergeant, Jonathan Dunbar, of Austin, Texas were killed in a battle the same day. MARSH: Well, breaking over -- breaking overnight. British

investigators now say they believe the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal likely had the approval of the Kremlin. CNN's Matthew Chance, is live for us this morning in Moscow. Matthew, do they have any evidence of this at this point?


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not that I have seen and certainly this latest information comes to CNN from unnamed sources in the United States who are familiarity with the British investigation. The British themselves have not gone so far at this point to lay the blame at the feet of Vladimir Putin, the Russian President for this.

But they have gone some -- somewhat towards that point. The British authorities said, they believe this was an unlawful chemical weapons attack -- this nerve agent attacks on the Skripal's in Salisbury, Southern England. Most likely or highly likely carried out by the Russian state.

One alternative theory that the British have floated is that some of this Novichok nerve agent may have fallen into the criminal hands and had access and control of the Russian State and had been used by criminals to exact revenge against the rival, but they have no evidence for that either.

But, it does seems that this latest reporting indicates that the British have moved more towards the theory this was something orchestrated by the Russian state. In terms of the Russian reaction, well, there has been no specific reaction to the latest claims, but in general, the Russians categorically deny that any involvement in the poisoning of either Sergei or Yulia, his daughter, Yulia Skripal, they've actually come out with their latest theory, is it the British themselves carried this act, in order to fuel Anti-Russian sentiment in the United Kingdom.

MARSH: Conspiracy theory is now all coming to the surface. Matthew Chance reporting for us live this morning. Thank you, Matthew.

BRIGGS: All right, as military drills between United States and South Korea resuming this weekend, but will this round be different with relations thawing on the Korean peninsula? We're live in Seoul.


BRIGGS: 4:12 Eastern Time. The U.S. and South Korea kicked off their traditional springtime military training exercises. In the past, these drills have angered North Korea and upset Beijing, but this year, response may be different. CNN's Paula Hancocks, live for us in Seoul. Good to see you Paula, what do we expect?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, what we know at this point, it was a very low key, a very quiet start to these military drills. And they are shorter than they usually are, we are expecting them to last just one month this around. It is usually up to two months, it was last year. But the Pentagon does say that they will be the same scaled, the same scope as they are happening in years past.

But one interesting fact is, usually by this point, I know exactly which of these drills I'm going to be allowed to go to, to film, to show the world and of course, North Korea, what the U.S.-South Korean capabilities are. There is nothing like that as far as we know this year. So, certainly they are trying to downplay this, so it doesn't provoke North Korea at a time when these relations are thawing.

And speaking of thawing relations, we saw on Sunday night, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, going to a concert of k-pop stars, South Korean singers in groups that where in Pyongyang for a very rare concert. Now, he also met with these k-pop stars. Fairly ironic considering when -- this kind of pop culture from South Korea is smuggled into North Korea, they are punished if they are found watching it. So the regime punishes its own people for watching exactly what Kim Jong-un watched last night. So, we really kind of underplay just how interesting it is that this kind of cultural event is taking place. At the same time as we are seeing the sporting diplomacy really making great changes between North and South Korea. Dave.

BRIGGS: Paula Hancocks. I know a huge red velvet fan, K-pop playing around the clock there. 5:14 p.m. thank you, Paula.

MARSH: Well, China's defunct space lab made a final reentry into the earth's atmosphere overnight. China's Man-Space Agency says, the spacecraft was mostly vaporized as it plummeted to the earth over the South Pacific.

[04:15:04] China launched the ambitious unmanned space lab in September of 2011. It was part of China's effort to build a manned space station by 2022. The Chinese government later announced that the spacecraft ceased functioning in March of 2016, but it didn't say why.

BRIGGS: I had a 10-year-old at home who was terrified, the space station might come down on her home in Connecticut.

MARSH: Oh no.

BRIGGS: It did not. Ahead, teachers in several states started a rally in Capitol this morning as part of the growing wave of discontent on teacher pay.

And the finish for the ages in Women's March madness. The second game winner of the weekend for Notre Dame. That finish, you have to see, next.


BRIGGS: More than 40,000 teachers across Oklahoma had promise to walk off their jobs this morning. Last week, the legislature rushed through a $60-$100 teacher pay raise which the governor signed, but the educators say it is not enough. Many schools are closed today as thousands of teachers and their supporters head to the State Capital for a rally. MARSH: Oklahoma -- only the latest state facing teacher trouble.

Teachers are also expected to protest in the Kentucky State Capital. More than 20 Kentucky County's had schools closed Friday. Angry teachers called out sake after the state legislature approved changes to their pension plans. State Republican leaders call it a necessary compromise, but elements of that measure were tucked in to another bill about sewage services. Many Kentucky schools are closed today for spring break.

BRIGGS: Teachers in Arizona also threatening to walk off the job if they don't get a pay raise. A lot of renewed frustration stemming from the West Virginia and their teachers strike, were the teachers were off the job for nearly two weeks, but did win significant concessions.

MARSH: A new crime figures reveal violent crime in Chicago remains on the steady decline. March was the 13th consecutive month of declining gun violence in the city. Year to date, murders have dropped 22 percent and shootings 25 percent. Chicago police attribute the drop to hiring more officers, stronger community policing efforts and investment in technology. Like predictive find software to help deploy officers. Chicago Police Chief, Eddie Johnson, says despite the steady progress, the city still has a long way to go. He says it is a marathon, not a sprint, but still good news.

BRIGGS: The car that went over a California cliff in to the ocean last week may have driven off intentionally. The authorities say data from the SUV reveals it accelerated about 70 feet before plunging off the cliff along the Pacific Coast Highway. Investigators say there is no evidence to suggest it went over the edge at an angle. It appears it went straight off the cliff. Two mothers, Jennifer and Sarah Hart and three of their children perished in the crash. Three other children still missing. No suicide note was found at the family's house in Washington State, but investigators say, they are evaluating some items found during the search.

MARSH: Well, Hollywood is remembering a giant in the television business. Legendary -- Producer, Steven Bochco, who died Sunday after a long battle with leukemia. Bochco created ground breaking series like "Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue" and "L.A. Law" in that 1980's and in the 90's. Shows that pushed boundaries and help define modern television drama. He was nominated for a primetime and the 30 times, as a writer and producer winning 10 times. Steven Bochco is survived by his wife and three children. He was 74.

BRIGGS: He is the influence on almost every night of the week in primetime.

Spring has finally arrived in the south of winter refusing to leave the northeast. Let's bring in meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys. Good morning. If it helps, I will start off by saying that we will have temperatures by mid-week in the 60's, but we have a ways to go. In fact, we have snow to go through here and we are talking about several inches of accumulation. There is the winter weather advisory which would not typically be a big deal, except for the fact that, yes, it is the first week in April. My goodness. Here comes the snow.

Far away it has been snowing all the way down trough Kansas City and this thing started that along the central plains. It is now on top of us here. It is a quick mover though, sort of we have a quick shot although of heavy snow. We will continue to see this movement. Watch the clock there so that by midday, we are still snowing especially across portions of New England and in this thing is out of here actually by the evening commute. And we will have temperatures warming up in New York into the mid-40 this afternoon.

So, it will be melting whatever falls here. As far as accumulations anywhere from 2 to 4 inches. Alleghany Mountains overlooking at (inaudible) 18 to 10 inches, now out of the question. Cross a higher elevation, there it is. A warm day and then will cool back down with temperatures falling back into the 40s and 50s, but no snow by the end of the week. Guys.

MARSH: I don't like that.

BRIGGS: Brutal.

MARSH: Terrible news.

BRIGGS: It's spring break time here.

All right. It will be Michigan versus Villanova tonight in the National Championship game. The Wolverines beat the tournament's Cinderella Loyola-Chicago in the semifinals. Michigan riding a 14- game winning streak. There goes Sister Jean. Villanova is going for the second national championship in three years. The Wildcats just destroyed Kansas International semifinals setting up a final four record with 18 three-pointers.

[04:25:00] Michigan-Villanova, hard pressed the top to thrilling finish though to the Women's National Championship game late last night.






BRIGGS: That is good stuff. Notre Dame beating Mississippi State. Last second three--point shot by Arike Ogunbowale to win the national title. Fighting Irish trailed by 15 points in the second half Sunday. They came back to win their second national championship. This was Ogunbowale's second game-winner this weekend. She knocked down the last-second shot to beat undefeated UConn in the final four on Friday. And that celebration, that is what March and now April is all about. Good stuff.

MARSH: Yes. Amazing.

BRIGGS: Congrats to them.

MARSH: Yes. Amazing finish there too. That three points.

BRIGGS: Terrific shooter.

MARSH: Well, fruits, nuts, and wine, steel pipes and pork. Just some of the American made products now facing new tariffs in China. What it means for American manufacturers and relations with Beijing, coming up next.