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Trump Makes Urgent National Guard Deployment to Mexican Border; White House Works to Ease Trade War Fears; Oklahoma Teachers Walkout Drags for a Second Day. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 5, 2018 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:34] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump follows through officially ordering National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. But so many questions remain, including why now.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: And the White House tries to downplay talk of a trade war after China retaliates with more tariffs.

BRIGGS: Plus a CNN exclusive. The Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team questions wealth Russians if they illegally channeled cash into the Trump campaign.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. It's almost Friday. I'm Dave Briggs. Almost.

MARSH: And I'm Rene Marsh. It's 31 minutes past the hour.

President Trump last night signed a memorandum ordering the National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. The memorandum says the situation has reached a point of crisis and adds, "The security of the United States is imperiled by a drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border."

It's unclear when troops might actually show up at the border. A senior administration official says details are still being worked out between DHS, the Department of Defense and border states.

BRIGGS: The National Guard's mission is also unclear. Federal law bars the military from involvement in immigration enforcement. In the past, when Presidents Obama and George W. Bush deployed Guard troops to the border they worked in support roles like training, construction, and intelligence.

For more let's turn to CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Rene, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House making steps to send National Guard troops down to the U.S.-Mexican border, part of President Trump's directive to increase the strength of Border Patrols.

Now this coming as a rather fast announcement this week. The president is saying the laws are not strong enough. He's saying Congress has not acted. But the question of why this is so urgent came up in a White House briefing on Wednesday when I asked the Homeland Security secretary, why now?


ZELENY: Why is this such an urgent priority right now for the president to sign?

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: April traditionally is a month in which we see more folks crossing the border without a legal right to do so. We are seeing more and more advertising, very unfortunately by the traffickers and smugglers to our south, specific to how to get around our system and enter our country and stay.

Why today, not yesterday, tomorrow? Today is the day. Today is the day we want to start this process. The threat is real, as I mentioned.


ZELENY: Now Secretary Nielsen and other administration officials deny that there was any rush to this but the reality here is based on our reporting the president was not pleased at the amount of funding for that border wall. We do know that he signed that omnibus spending bill a couple of weeks ago that only had $1.5 billion dedicated to the wall. He had asked for some $25 billion.

He was attacked in conservative media on FOX News and other places saying he was not focused enough on this, so this new immigration policy is certainly coming out of that.

Now the president is flying to West Virginia for a quick stop this afternoon talking about the economy and other programs. He'll be back in Washington this evening. Certainly, this immigration plan now front and center this week. The president going to West Virginia later today with an eye on immigration -- Dave and Rene.

BRIGGS: Jeff Zeleny, thank you, sir.

The Trump administration's tit-for-tat with Beijing driving wild swings on Wall Street. The Dow erasing a 510-point loss to close up 1 percent after White House officials tried to calm fears of a trade war.

First the U.S. detailed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Hours later China retaliated with its own proposed tariffs targeting American soybeans, chemicals, planes and cars. That sent stocks tumbling led by big declines in companies like Boeing, GM and Ford.

The president insisting in a tweet that this is not a trade war and since neither tariff package goes into effect yet. Economic advisor Larry Kudlow calls this negotiation strategy.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER: There's no trade war here. What you've got is the early stages of a process that will include tariffs, comments on the tariffs, then ultimate decisions and negotiations. There's already backchannel talks going on. So look, I understand the stock market's anxiety. I get that. But on the other hand, don't overreact.


BRIGGS: That assurance may have worked. Stocks later rebounded but as trade tensions escalate, investors are still concerned. A trade war would be devastating for both U.S. consumers and businesses.

[04:35:04] Companies like Apple, Boeing, Starbucks and Intel rely on China for a huge portion of their sales. And China's tariffs are strategic, striking at many agricultural exports, those produced in particular in farm belt states that voted for Trump in 2016.

MARSH: Well, despite those assurances from the White House the Trump administration insists that there is no trade war. But what is the view from China?

CNN's Ivan Watson has all that this morning live from Beijing.

So what's the word there as this tit-for-tat appears to continue?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're not hearing much from the Chinese government today because it's a holiday here but the Chinese ambassador to Washington, he was coming out of the State Department, spoke to journalists and he said, quote, negotiations would still be our preference but it takes two to tango.

And that's what we're just starting to hear from the Chinese officials on Wednesday. They have retaliated, they say, for the Trump administration's proposal of $50 billion -- tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. The Chinese have proposed a similar package on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods. A 25 percent tariff. They said they will match every step that goes forward, but now they would prefer to negotiate.

If negotiations don't happen, well, they see it as a strategy to hurt Trump voters essentially economically. And that's echoed here in the "China Daily" state newspapers, an editorial today that says, quote, "Soon farmers, ranchers and other U.S. workers will now be adding their voices to the chorus of blame directed towards President Trump."

It's part of why they chose soybeans for a 25 percent tariff because 8 of the 10 top soybean producing states all voted for Trump in 2016. And they would presumably take an economic hit if this trade war escalates further -- Rene, Dave.

MARSH: Ivan, thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. The withdraw of U.S. troops from Syria was a sore spot for President Trump. At a meeting with military leaders and National Security aides, the president has repeatedly said it's time to withdraw troops from Syria. Sources tell CNN the president grew irritated at the Tuesday meeting when his National Security team argued the battle against ISIS is not yet complete and immediate withdrawal would be a mistake. The sources say Trump backed down and said he's willing to keep

American forces in Syria in the short term. But the president said he wants Arab allies to take over and pay more of the cost of stabilizing Syria.

MARSH: Well, as the president plans his exit strategy, the leaders of three major players in Syria, Russia, Iran and Turkey, they ended a summit Wednesday without a commitment to achieving a lasting cease- fire in Syria. Notably absent at the summit were two other major players in the conflict, the U.S. and the sides in the Syrian civil war itself.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live for us in Damascus, Syria with more.

Good morning, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rene. And those three countries, Russia, Iran and Turkey, also they had some points in the final declaration that they had that were clearly against America's interests in Syria. And obviously as you said, the U.S. was not at the table. At the same time, many people here in Damascus and other people in Syria who believe that President Trump has shown his hand. He's shown that he wants to get out of Syria.

Of course there are some groups that the U.S. has been working with here in this country for years especially to fight ISIS who now believe that the U.S. is not committed to them anymore while at the same time, those three countries, Russia and Iran and Turkey, have shown that they are committed.

And, you know, it's one thing for them to have that summit that they had yesterday, but of course they're also creating military realities on the ground here. And those realities are that Syrian government forces of President Bashar al-Assad backed by the Russians and the Iranians are making huge gains here in Syria and the Turks are doing the same thing as well.

Again, forces that are allied with the U.S. are losing ground and now they're not even sure whether the U.S. is going to stand by their side in the long run -- Rene.

MARSH: Fred live for us in Damascus this morning. Thanks, Fred.

BRIGGS: In an unusual move, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has started questioning Russian oligarchs who travel to the U.S. CNN reporting exclusively this morning that Mueller's investigators stopped at least one ultra wealthy Russian when his private jet landed in the New York area., interviewing him and searching his electronic devices.

The person briefed on the matter says at least one other oligarch was stopped and a third who has not recently visited the U.S. was asked to voluntarily submit to an interview and hand over documents. Sources say investigators want to know whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled money into the Trump campaign or inauguration, through think tanks, political action committees or straw donors. [04:40:06] MARSH: The Trump administration is expected to sanction

several oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin as punishment for Russian interference in the 2016 election. Two senior administration officials say the sanctions will likely be announced later this week. On Tuesday, outgoing National Security adviser HR McMaster used his final public remarks to lash out at Russia, warning that the U.S. has, quote, "failed to impose sufficient cause for Kremlin aggression."

President Trump himself said Tuesday that nobody has been tougher on Russia, although his actual criticism of Putin and the Kremlin has been muted.

BRIGGS: Embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt says he was unaware two of his top aides were getting big raises and has put a stop to it. A source says the White House had rejected the two staffers' raises which totaled more than $80,000. One for more than 50 grand. The "Atlantic" reports the increases for them put through anyway using a loophole in federal salary rules.

FOX News' Ed Henry yesterday pressed Pruitt for an explanation.


ED HENRY, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: If you're committed to the Trump agenda why did you go around the president and the White House, and gave pay raises to two staffers?

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: I did not. My staff did, and I found out about that yesterday and I changed it.

HENRY: So --

PRUITT: PPO process should have been respected and I issued a statement yesterday walking back those pay raises that should not have been --

HENRY: Should somebody be fired for that?

PRUITT: That should not have been done. And it --

HENRY: So who did it?

PRUITT: It may be -- there will be some accountability.

HENRY: A career person or a political person?

PRUITT: I'll have to -- I don't know. I don't know who --

HENRY: You don't know? You run the agency. You don't who did this?

PRUITT: I found out about this yesterday and I corrected the action.

HENRY: So --

PRUITT: We are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: So he didn't know one of his close aides got a $56,000 raise. Pruitt also pushed back against criticism over his lease of a room on Capitol Hill for below market rate from energy lobbyist whose firm lobbies the EPA.


HENRY: President Trump said he would drain the swamp.

PRUITT: I don't think --

HENRY: Is draining the swamp renting an apartment from the wife of a Washington lobbyist?

PRUITT: I don't think that that's even remotely fair to ask that question.


BRIGGS: EPA's top ethics watchdog now says he did not have all the facts when he cleared Pruitt's room rental. In a memo obtained by CNN, the Ethics Office says he assumed Pruitt was complying with the lease agreement as written. But he says there are new allegations that was not the case. Stay tuned. It sure sounds like arguably his most effective Cabinet member certainly is on some thin ice with the multiple allegations.

MARSH: Again as we've been reporting, the White House going increasingly agitated with all these negative headlines.

BRIGGS: Especially when they come on that other network. That's what the president does not like.

MARSH: Yes. Certainly. Well, just ahead, just hours before she opened fire, the woman who shot three people at YouTube headquarters talked to police. You'll hear from the chief next.


[04:47:10] MARSH: We're learning more about what the YouTube shooter told police hours before she opened fire inside the company's headquarters. The Mountain View police chief says 11 hours before the deadly shooting, police found Nasim Aghdam sleeping in her car in a parking lot about 30 miles southeast of the YouTube headquarters in California. During her 20-minute chat with police she never mentioned anything about YouTube or indicated that she was ready to commit an act of violence.


CHIEF MAX BOSEL, MOUNTAIN VIEW POLICE DEPARTMENT: There was nothing by her body language, her conversation, her demeanor or the information that we received from the family that suggested that we should handle this in any other manner in which the officers handled it.


MARSH: The shooter opened fire at YouTube's headquarters on Tuesday injuring four people. One remains in the hospital in serious condition this morning. Police say it appears she committed suicide.

BRIGGS: The Chicago suburb of Deerfield is moving to ban the possession, sale and manufacturing of certain types of semiautomatic firearms. They include the AR-15 which has been used in several mass shootings including the Parkland school massacre. The new village ordinance also bans large capacity magazines. Owners are being given until June 13th to remove the banned firearms from village limits or face daily fines.

MARSH: Police now say a mysterious crash off the California coast that killed at least five members of a family was not an accident, but a crime. The Mendocino County sheriff says there were no skid marks in the area off the Pacific Coast Highway where the SUV went over a cliff last week. The bodies of Jennifer and Sarah Hart were found inside the SUV, three of their children were found nearby, three other children are still missing.

Police say data from the vehicle software suggests it had stopped at a scenic highway overlook and then accelerated rapidly driving off the cliff.

BRIGGS: The House Ethics Committee extending its investigation into whether Republican Congressman John Duncan Jr. of Tennessee misused $100,000 from campaign and leadership PAC funds on personal expenses including baby showers and wedding showers at a country club. A new public report from the non-partisan Office of Congressional Ethics made the recommendation for further review. Duncan has denied the accusations. He announced last year he will not seek re-election.

MARSH: Well, action superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is not ruling out a run for the presidency but he says maybe not in 2020. "Rolling Stone" asked the wrestler-turned-film star about all the political buzz and the creation of the Run the Rock 2020 campaign committee. He responded, quote, "It's so flattering that people are excited," but added that being president is a skill set that requires years and years of experience.

[04:50:05] Johnson would only promise that he will be more vocal about who he supports in 2020.

BRIGGS: Years and years of experience. Not anymore. Not necessarily.

MARSH: Not so much, right?

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, Facebook's data crisis is getting worse. It now says it exposed millions more users than be originally reported. Probably you. Details on "CNN Money" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:55:07] MARSH: It will be another day without classes for thousands of students in Oklahoma as a teacher walkout drags on. Teachers and supporters plan to rally again at the state capitol today. They are demanding higher pay and more school funding.

We get more from CNN's Nick Valencia in Oklahoma City.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Rene, the teachers' walkout here in Oklahoma continued for a fourth straight day with thousands of teachers descending outside the capitol. Many of them finding their way inside as well.

The anger of the teachers today was focused mainly on Governor Mary Fallin who made some controversial comments against teachers early in the week comparing them to spoiled teenagers who were asking for a nicer car. What they did get, though, was a breakthrough. And an Amazon sales tax that would bring $20 million in additional revenue for education funding. It falls short of the $200 million that the teachers are asking for. The teachers I spoke to say something is better than nothing.


AMANDA GIRDLER, 4TH GRADE TEACHER: I think they thought we were not going to come out in the forces that we did especially throughout the week. I think they thought maybe Monday, Tuesday. But we're holding strong and you don't -- don't mess with teachers when we're trying to fight for our kids. It's not going to happen. Not going to fly.


VALENCIA: The rally is expected to continue again later this morning -- Dave and Rene.

MARSH: Nick, thank you.

New England Patriots star Julian Edelman may have prevented a potential school shooting in Michigan. After a threat was posted on his Instagram account the NFL player's assistant contacted police in Boston. Well, they helped Michigan authorities track down the 14- year-old boy who admitted to making the threat. The teen is now in custody charged with making a false report of a threat of terrorism. Macomb County, Michigan, where the school is located has seen a spike in threats since the Parkland school shooting.

BRIGGS: Well played, Edelman.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning. Global stocks rallying overnight the Trump administration's latest tit-for-tat with Beijing drove wild swings on Wall Street. Stocks plummeted early when China proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods. A response to the U.S.'s own tariffs on Chinese goods. That stoke fear of a trade war. But stocks surged after the White House officials urged caution. The Dow jumped more than 700 points yesterday erasing a 510-point loss to close up 1 percent. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also closed more than 1 percent higher. Do you travel on Delta Airlines? If so your payment info may have

been breached. The airlines says it was the victim of a cyber attack last fall. It involved Delta's online chat services provider. However, Delta says only a small subset of customers were affected. And that no other personal information was exposed. Delta promises to help any traveler whose payment information was stolen. It's also set up a Web site to update customers.

Facebook's data crisis is getting worse. It now says it exposed millions more users than originally reported. Trump campaign consultants accessed the info of 87 million users without their consent. 71 million Americans estimate put the total number at 50 million. Facebook promises to tell people if they were exposed starting next week.

In a call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg accepted responsibility for the leak which has angered users, advertisers and lawmakers. Many in Congress want him to testify about user privacy. And yesterday, Zuckerberg confirmed he will head to Capitol Hill next week, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Good news. Hopefully some transparency here. But the chances are, if you're on Facebook, you're watching right now, something was compromised. 71 million Americans. That is a massive total.

MARSH: Yes. And I'm sure this sort of information is really making people think twice about --

BRIGGS: They should.

MARSH: You know, whether they want to stay on this community platform.

BRIGGS: Yes. Should think twice indeed.

MARSH: Well, EARLY START continues now.

BRIGGS: President Trump follows through officially ordering National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. But why now?

MARSH: The White House tries to downplay talk of a trade war after China retaliates with more tariffs.

BRIGGS: Plus a CNN exclusive. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team questions wealthy Russians to see if they illegally channeled cash into the Trump campaign.

Good morning, everybody. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

MARSH: And I'm Rene Marsh. It is Thursday, April 5th, it's 5:00 a.m. in the East. Noon in Damascus and Moscow. We'll have reports from both of those cities very shortly.

But first, President Trump last night signed a memorandum ordering National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. The memorandum says the situation has reached a point of crisis and adds the security of the United States is imperiled by a drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border.

It's unclear when troops might actually show up at the border. A senior administration official says details are still being worked out between DHS and the Department of Defense and border states.