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Trump Expected to Leave Iran Deal; New York Attorney General to Resign After Reports of Assault; Volcanic Activity Briefly Subsides in Hawaii; Cavaliers Eliminate Raptors from Playoffs. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 8, 2018 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Comcast could crash Disney's plans for Fox. But it's waiting on another big media deal to decide. In December, Fox agreed to sell Disney its entertainment company for $52 billion.

[05:00:05] Now, "Reuters" reports Comcast may try to break the deal, preparing a $60 billion all cash offer. But Comcast hasn't decided yet. It is waiting on the outcome of the government's lawsuit blocking AT&T's take over of Time Warner, the parent of CNN. Sources say that if the deal survives, Comcast will go after Fox.

Watch the media space, folks.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: EARLY START continues right now with some breaking news from New York state.


ROMANS: Decision day for President Trump on the Iran nuclear deal. All signs point to leaving the agreement. How would Iran respond and could the U.S. pay a price?

BRIGGS: And New York's attorney general forced to resign. The stunning move came less than three hours after report laid out assault allegations by several women.

ROMANS: And Hawaii's governor says visitors should stay away from the erupting Kilauea volcano on the big island. Activity has slowed at least for now, but officials are taking no chances.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's 11:00 p.m. there in Hawaii. Thanks to the governor for joining us. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Breaking news overnight, the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, once a champion of the Me Too movement and rising star in politics forced to resign after several women came forward with assault allegations. Schneiderman's resignation came just hours after a report in "The New Yorker" which featured from -- stories from four women, two of them on the record.

ROMANS: Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam told the magazine they have been romantically involved with Schneiderman, but they said the violence was nonconsensual, required medical attention, often happened after Schneiderman had been drinking. Each woman said Schneiderman hit her, slapped her hard, choked her, threatened to kill her if she broke up with him. Selvaratnam also claimed Schneiderman threatened to have her phone tapped.

BRIGGS: The attorney general firmly denied the claims, saying in a tweet he engaged in role playing and other consensual sexual activity, but that non-consensual sex, quote, is a line I would not cross.

As the uproar grew last night, top officials including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Governor Andrew Cuomo called on Schneiderman to step down and he obliged. He said in a statement, quote, serious allegations which I strongly contest have been made against me. While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, it will effectively prevent me from leading the office at this time.

ROMANS: Schneiderman had been a rising star in the Democratic politics. A vocal advocate for the Me Too movement. He brought legal action against film mogul Harvey Weinstein and the Trump administration.

One woman who came to Schneiderman's defense was his ex-wife. Jennifer Cunningham. She said that is inconsistent with the man I know.

A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney says the office has opened an investigation into Schneiderman.

BRIGGS: President Trump widely expected to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal today. The announcement scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. If he decides not to extend waivers on sanction against Iran, the United States would effectively be scrapping the agreement.

For more on the potential impact of the U.S. pullout, let's go live to London and bring in CNN's Nic Robert.

Nic, good morning.


I mean, one of the impacts is Iran's ability to sell its own oil, which could have an impact on the price of oil globally, which could affect the prices of your gas at the gas pump. Certainly, the view from Europe here, remembering Britain, France, Germany, who are partners with President Trump, and Russia and China, as well as the European Union, in getting Iran to make this agreement in the first place.

The expectation here is that President Trump is not going to do what the Europeans have been asking, which is continue with the waivers, stand by that agreement, the JCPOA, until there is something better on the table. They all agree with President Trump that there needs to be changes, they just don't want to make that move right now. And, of course, how President Trump handles this and what he says today could have an impact on his nuclear negotiations with Kim Jong-un of North Korea in the coming weeks. Certainly, that would be watched closely from North Korea.

John Kerry, former U.S. secretary of state, who was architect in part of the JCPOA, has been meeting behind the scenes with the Iranian foreign minister and his foreign counterpart who was again somebody he negotiated with to make this deal. President Trump has been criticizing that effort.

But the expectation at the moment is President Trump is going to shake things up, change the deal and not clear if he will make a clean break. The Iranians saying they could do anything from increasing the enrichment of uranium which could fast track to a bomb, or whether they might just simple knuckle down. We've heard from the president of Iran today saying that they can essentially weather this storm.

[05:05:05] BRIGGS: A major day in global politics. Nic Robertson live for us in London -- thank you.

ROMANS: And here in politics in the U.S., primary season for the 2018 midterms, getting into full swing today. Voters heading in the polls in four state, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio and West Virginia. Look, this is a test of the states that President Trump won in 2016. Will the anti-establishment wave be put to the test today?

Much of the focus on this GOP Senate primary in West Virginia. Republicans are openly agonizing about the possibility that guy, Don Blankenship, will win. One of the Senate's leading Republicans, South Dakota's John Thune says about a Blankenship victory, quote, let's hope and pray that doesn't happen.

Blankenship is a former coal industry executive who spent time in prison after the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster that led to 29 deaths in 2010. He has attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him, quote, Cocaine Mitch, and gone after McConnell's wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, referring to her father as a, quote, China person.

ROMANS: Joining us now from Washington, CNN politics multiplatform editor, Brenna Williams.

Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: Let's talk about West Virginia, because you're going to have this test I think of the Trumpism, the appeal of Trumpism and some of these places that he won. But in particular, this Blankenship. You know, he had the Cocaine Mitch ad where he tried to tie the shipping company owned by her father, his wife's father to cocaine trafficking. Listen.


DON BLANKENSHIP (R), WEST VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Swamp captain Mitch McConnell has created millions of jobs for China people. By doing so, Mitch has gotten rich. In fact, his China family has given him tens of millions of dollars. I will beat Joe Manchin and ditch Cocaine Mitch for the sake of the kids.


ROMANS: Wow. Wow. Is that going to work?

BRENNA WILLIAMS, CNN THE POINT, MULTI-PLATFORM EDITOR: You know, I watched that ad probably 20 times and it makes me wide eyed every time. You know, I don't know if that will work.

It is interesting because Blankenship has been running as the Trumpesque candidate. But President Trump himself said do not vote for this man. Blankenship is coming out even, you know, as you said, giving the Cocaine Mitch nickname. Very Trumpian move there.

But it's very interesting because Blankenship doesn't have the support of the Republican establishment, yet he is running in the state where Republicans should be able to win. Trump won by 40 points in 2016. But they really do need a strong candidate to beat Joe Manchin. And I don't know if Blankenship is the guy.

BRIGGS: 2018. A racist ex-con. Internal numbers show him leading, though, in West Virginia. What would it mean for the president and for Republican politics for the brand if he were to win today?

WILLIAMS: You know, you say that, but it's funny because, you know, that sounds like 2018. That sounds like where we're right now.

BRIGGS: I know.

WILLIAMS: You know, you can't write this stuff. It would be really interesting. I mean, hypothetically were Blankenship to get the nomination and hypothetically, if he were to win, this should be a pretty easy race for Republicans in theory. He would then go to the Senate where he is not making friends.

You showed that Thune quote. Mitch McConnell probably not so thrilled with him and as I said, the president not his biggest fan to begin with. So, you know, we have to step back and remember the Senate is very, very close. Republicans need every seat they can win or keep, and putting up weak candidates is not going to help them here. So, you know, not helping the balance of power struggle.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the event yesterday with Melania Trump where she unveiled her platform, a three-pronged platform. Her husband sitting in the front row.

One prongs of that platform, of course, is, you know, bullying on the Internet and positive action on social media. "Be Best" is the name of the initiative.

What do you make of that moment? A lot of folks wonder if she was talking directly to her husband. She has a higher approval rating than he does with 57. BRIGGS: Fifty-seven to 41, I believe, yes.

ROMANS: He has 41 percent. And some thinks that the reasons her approval rating was up 10 points quite frankly because she has separated herself in the public view from her husband.

WILLIAMS: Yes, absolutely. Everyone loves an independent woman. But I really liked that, I thought it was interesting at least that she did hold her event in the Rose Garden, which is on the West Wing side of the White House. So, was that sending a message or just a pretty setting? Could be both. Who knows?

But it was interesting. Yes, people have called out Melania Trump for having the cyber bullying as a kind of component of the Be Best campaign.

[05:10:04] But, you know, despite what President Trump does on Twitter and what he says on Twitter regularly, there are children all across the country and the world who are dealing with cyber bullying. And, you know, in spite of and because of -- it's good to support the children. I mean, kids are committing suicide over cyber bullying and that's a horrible.

ROMANS: They had a kid two put together a buddy bench where you sit down if you need someone to ask you to join. I think that's a --

BRIGGS: She is entitled to her issue. But should she give a nudge to her husband? The cyber bully in chief. She also wants to fight opioids. And we want to ask you in about 20 minutes about this Iran deal and the political implications of that for the president. We'll see you in a bit.

ROMANS: You know, Sarah Sanders says he is not the cyber bully in chief. She seemed surprise that anyone would draw that connection.

BRIGGS: There's that.


BRIGGS: OK. Ahead, residents are riding out the uncertainty in Hawaii as lava from the Kilauea volcano destroys more buildings and changes more lives. Look at this swallowing a car, destroying everything in its wake. Hear what the governor told us just moments ago.


[05:15:21] ROMANS: All right. Fifteen minutes past the hour.

President Trump's Iran deal decision is today. Fears he will withdraw are propelling oil prices higher. That means higher costs for many companies and potentially you. U.S. oil prices are near a four-year high, up 13 percent in the past month. The investors will bail out of the Iran nuclear deal.

That deal allows Iran to export more oil, reimposing sanctions, could disrupt oil supply. Higher oil prices pressures transportation companies, airlines, railroads, trucking, delivery, paying more after years of low fuel costs. Consumer companies also spend on oil to manufacture and ship products.

Think Hershey, Estee Lauder, Clorox, General Mills, of the Oreo maker Mondelez. Oil makes up a fifth of their expenses.

Automakers are also at risk. SUVs and trucks drive auto sales but big vehicles become less appealing, as gas prices rise. Higher oil prices translate into higher gas prices. This summer will likely be the most expensive at the pump in years. You'll pay 14 percent more from last year.

GasBuddy says prices could spike another 30 cents per gallon if the president withdraws from the Iran deal.

It's not all bad news. Higher crude helps the bottom line of companies like Exxon and Chevron. So, if you are an oil investor, this is great for you. U.S. oil producers are ramping up production. They are hiring workers, they are buying equipment as they pump out a record 10 million barrels per day.

BRIGGS: Officials in Hawaii warning the public to stay away from the hazardous volcanic activity. Dozens of structures destroyed around the erupting Kilauea volcano on the big island. Hawaii's Governor David Ige telling us in our last hour that lava is dangerously unpredictable and told us why toxic gasses being emitted are more dangerous than usual.


GOV. DAVID IGE (D), HAWAII (via telephone): Typically, an eruption occurs miles away from residents. The toxic gasses have lots of time to escape. These fissures are in the middle of the subdivision and the sulfur dioxide and other gasses clearly at the event is very harmful and dangerous. It does dissipate quite quickly once it gets into the air.

And so, we have been encouraging residents to stay away from the vents, you know, to watch and monitor activity and really be prepared to evacuate if something should change or the status of the volcano should change.


BRIGGS: The governor says homeowners with fire insurance should be covered if their homes are destroyed by lava. The good news, officials say, volcanic activity has eased a bit at least for now.

Ahead, LeBron James and the Cavs swept away the Raptors. But it can't unmatch the pure, unadulterated joy felt by the Washington Capitols fans. The team closed out the Pengiuns.

Lindsay Czarniak tells us how long it's been for the Caps next in the "Bleacher Report."


[05:22:49] BRIGGS: All right. For the third straight year, LeBron and the Cavs eliminated the Raptors from the playoffs.

ROMANS: Lindsay Czarniak has more in this morning's bleacher report. Hey there.


So, basically, this means LeBron James get to catch up on some much needed plays, and the Raptors are going to see LeBron James in their nightmares. Yes, the Cavaliers earning a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals that won't begin until Sunday at least after Cleveland swept the Raptors last night in swift fashion. LeBron shredded Toronto's defense and scored 29 points.

But he wasn't the only one, because all of the Cavs starters put up double digits with the 128-93 blowout win.

Cleveland advances to the eastern conference finals for fourth straight season, where they will face the winner of the Sixers and Celtics series. And speaking of that series, Sixers trying to become the first team in NBA history to win a best best-of-seven series after falling behind 3-0. And things got chippy in the second quarter. Joel Embiid and 6-foot-2 Terry Rozier got tangled up, resulting in a double technical.

Well, after the game, Embiid who's much taller had some words for Rozier who he said tried to punch him multiple times.


JOEL EMBIID, PHILADELPHIA SIXERS CENTER: He tried to punch me twice. I assured he could not get to my face. But, you know, I didn't understand why it's a double technical.


CZARNIAK: A little shot taken right there, right? Sixers win 103-92 to avoid the sweep. Boston can close up the series tomorrow at home.

And speaking of closing out a series. The Washington Capitals broke a 20-year drought last night and beat the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in the NHL, after being knocked out the last two seasons by Pittsburgh, Capitals getting their revenge. Game winning goal in overtime with the caps with a 2-1 win.

Alex Ovechkin, arguably, the best player in all of hockey, advances to the conference final.

Why are you shaking your head, Briggs? We can talk about that later.

BRIGGS: I believe he once was.

CZARNIAK: This is the first time in his career he's done it and will face top-seeded Tampa Bay. The Stanley Cup Twitter account having a perfect reaction to this, saying it's been a great two years, Penguins, but I think it's time we see other people.

Finally, fashion on display at last night's Met Gala, a few people turned heads like Tom Brady. Check out this tuxedo that Pat quarterback rocked on the red carpet. And not everybody can pull this off, guys. Obviously, Giselle beside you makes everything better.

You don't think so? I mean --

BRIGGS: She dragged him in that suit.

CZARNIAK: You think so? I don't know. I mean, I wonder.

We know he does have a good sense of humor. So, I think he appreciates the opportunity to step out and turn heads and maybe get social media fired up, right?

BRIGGS: Yes, he looks like he believes in the power of magic.

ROMANS: Bond villain?

CZARNIAK: Matador.

BRIGGS: Tom Brady can pull off anything. They are beautiful people. But I thought Rihanna and Blake Lively had my favorite outfits of the night. I did spent time looking --

ROMANS: I love that you are more read in on the Met Gala.

BRIGGS: You should check them out.

CZARNIAK: Did you see Kim Kardashian?

BRIGGS: I did not.


BRIGGS: Well, check out Blake Lively and Rihanna. Do yourself a favor.


ROMANS: Sports and fashion all in one hit. Thank you.

President Trump is widely expected to abandon the nuclear deal with Iran today. What's the fallout here and how will Iran respond?

BRIGGS: And the attorney general of New York state forced to resign after being a champion for women's issues. Several women now say Schneiderman assaulted them. The latest, next.