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President Trump Welcomes American Detainees At Joint Base Andrews; North Korea-U.S. Summit; Israel Retaliates Against Iran; Michael Cohen Accused Of Selling The White House; Boston Celtics Win; New York Yankees Record In Baseball. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 10, 2018 - 05:00   ET



DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Didn't have enough air support. So will those operations change and will their be any political pressure to draw down the numbers of U.S. troops on the ground. Dave, Christine.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. David McKenzie live for us in Johannesburg. EARLY START continues right now with the latest on three Americans released and returned from North Korea to the United States this morning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight they're letting them go before the (inaudible). Frankly, it's the (inaudible) happen and it did.


BRIGGS: Home at last. Three Americans released by North Korea. Touched down a short time ago greeted by the President. Now work begins on diplomacy in search of a deal on Pyongyang's nuclear program.

CHRSTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And tensions flare in the Middle East. Israel and Iran exchange rocket fire. The most direct confrontation between these adversaries. We have live reports this morning from Joint Base Andrews, from Seoul, Jerusalem, Tehran and Johannesburg. Good morning welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning. I'm Dave Briggs. Thursday, May 10th, 6pm on the Korean Peninsula, noon in Jerusalem. It is 5am in the east. We begin with this breaking news. Three Americans released from North Korea back on U.S. soil. The American military medical plane carrying the former detainees touching down just over two hours ago at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

ROMANS: The three men greeted by the President, the First Lady, Vice- President Pence, his wife and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who came on a plane just ahead of them from his second trip now to North Korea. Jeff Zeleny live from Joint Base Andrews. It's clearly a big win for this Administration and clearly for the families of those three men.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine, good morning. No question about it. A big win for the Trump Administration and a big step forward in his quest to have nuclear talks with Kim Jung-un. Now this was certainly one of the things that the President wanted to see, in the Administration's view, how serious North Korea was about sitting down to have hard conversations about their nuclear program.

By releasing these three men and they arrived here as you said just a couple hours ago in an overnight ceremony. which was steeped on symbolism and substance as well. The President said that this starts all of the dialogue off on an new footing in his words. And he said that he believes he can accomplish something no one's been able to do. That's denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. He had a bounce in his step here this morning as he arrived watching this with First Lady Melania Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Proudest achievement will be, this is a part of it, but will be when we denuclearize that entire peninsula. This is what people have been waiting for, for a long time. Nobody thought we could be on this track in terms of speed. So, I'm very honored to help the three folks. They're great people. You know I got -- I got to speak to them on the plane. These are great people. They've been through a lot but it's -- it's a great honor. But the great -- the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons.


No not at all. We very much appreciate that he allowed them to go before the meeting. It was sort of understood that we'd be able to get these three terrific people during the meeting and bring them home after the meeting. And he was nice in letting them go before the meeting. I mean, frankly, we didn't think this was going to happen and it did. So you -- you could say we're a little bit -- it was a very important thing to all of us to be able to get these three great people out.


ZELENY: So you can certainly see the President's optimism there. Certainly he was enjoying what really was a made for television moment. The White House crafted this so the planes would arrive, you know, essentially at the same time. The President did something he rarely does. He was on the ground first and he was waiting for others. Once these three Americans landed, he and the First Lady walked out and boarded their plane and had a private moment with them. And of course he was also briefed by his Secretary of State.

This is so significant. Mike Pompeo, the new Secretary of State, Former CIA Director back from his second meeting here. So now, when the sun comes up here in Washington certainly many preparations will be made for that historic summit which we're told will be next month likely in Singapore. Christine and Dave.

ROMANS: All right. A big night. Thanks so much Jeff Zeleny in Maryland.

BRIGGS: So with the detainees back on American soil, what's next in the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea. Joining us live from Seoul, International Correspondent Paula Hancocks. Paula, good morning. The President saying we're starting off on a new footing.

[05:05:15] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Dave, we certainly have some positive reaction from North Korea. State run media talking about their meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-un in very warm terms which you certainly did not have a matter of months ago. Also saying that the U.S. President asked Kim Jong-un through Mike Pompeo to release these detainees and Kim Jong-un had decided to grant them, as he called, amnesty. Now we know from the South Korean point of view, the Blue House has welcomed this but they are also reminding the world the U.S. and North Korea, there are still six South Korean that are being held in North Korea.

They are calling for them to be released. They weren't released before the North -South Korean summit, before, during and after and that was a disappointment to many in South Korea. Japan also saying that they have 17 people they know have been abducted, more than 800 more that have been missing over recent decades that they can't rule out have been abducted as well by North Korea. They want those back too.

BRIGGS: All right. Paula Hancocks live for us tonight in Seoul. Thank you. For more on this let's join Harry Kazianis the Director of Defense Studies at the Center for the National Interests live in Washington. Good morning Harry. What brought arguably the world's worst human rights abuser to the point that he released these three American's today?

HARRY KAZIANIS, DIRECTOR OF DEFENSE STUDIES, CENTER FOR THE NATIONAL INTERESTS: Well I think that's a really important question and I think there's some context with that we're missing here. South Korea media, about six weeks ago had some very interesting reports that was talking about how the North Koreans could be on the potential verge of bankruptcy. We think by October maybe by December, the North Korean's will be out of foreign exchange reserves. Now that essentially means that their economy's bankrupt.

Very hard to do a lot of trading. Very hard to do a lot of importing/exporting. If you don't have dollars to back that up and -- and finance those transactions. So, you know, if you don't have a stable economy where the economy's working, you can't provide food to your people and you also can't build nuclear weapons and long range ICBMs. So this maximum pressure campaign might be working in really being the catalyst to driving North Korea to the bargaining table.

ROMANS: So counterfeiting U.S. currency, you know, organized crime, you know, cyber, you know, cyber warfare and these are the things that the regime does is not enough to sustain it basically. KAZIANIS: No it's not. And we have to remember as well the size of the North Korean military in relation to their economy. Their economy's only worth $14 billion. Just to provide some context, that's one third the size of my home state of Rhode Island. You can't really build that massive of a military unless you're essentially starving your own people and -- and -- and doing things to -- to really build that up. So you're not going to have enough money through, you know, counterfeiting currency or selling drugs or, you know raiding crypto-currency, accounts and things like that. So it's important to think about.

ROMANS: So what does Kim Jong-un want then? I mean, it -- what does he want in exchange for what the U.S. wants? Which is they keep saying PVID, you know, Permanent Verifiable Irreversible Dismantling of the nuclear program.

KAZIANIS: Well I think this might be the $100 billion question. And I keep waiting for this -- this sort of Dr. Evil moment where, you know, Kim Jong-un basically announces what he wants. And I keep coming to an amount of really about $100 billion because he's going to want a lot to get rid of those weapons. The thing that's very important here to understand is in a military conflict with the United States or South Korea or anybody else, the North Koreans are -- are going to lose that conflict.

The only thing that really guarantees their survival is potentially as many 60 nuclear weapons. And, you know, if they use those weapons millions of people would die. So to give those up, he's going to want I'd say at least $100 billion in economic aid. He's probably going to want a security guarantee from the Chinese and that might be the reason he's gone to China so many times --


KAZIANIS: -- to try and get that guarantee. So he's going to want a lot. The question is will we be able to pony up. Is the price big enough? Can the President expend the political capital and convince the American people that it's worth it in that Kim Jong-un won't cheat.

BRIGGS: And can we get you to take your Dr. Evil reference all the way with an impression next half hour. We shall see. But Trump foreign policy largely driven by gut, criticized here at home and around the world. Is it time to reconsider it's success?

KAZIANIS: I think so. I think that the President -- I think what we need to understand when it comes to President Trump, whether you're Democrat, Republican, hate him love him. The policies are working by in large. Especially when it comes to North Korea. Think about this just for a quick second. Even if we don't get North Korea to give up it's nuclear weapons, we have a strategy to box the -- the North Korean's in. It's called containment.

It's what we used to basically box in the Soviet Union for 40 plus years and eventually saw the Soviet Union get thrown into the scrap heap of history. We can do this again with North Korea. I mean, North Korea is a country that has nuclear weapons. But it is not a -- a threat that is, you know, overwhelming towards the United States. We've dealt with (inaudible) countries that have nuclear weapons. We can do this again.

ROMANS: You made a good point. He's got chemical weapons and other stuff too that's very dangerous. So this is still -- this is a tender box situation with a lot of work to do.

BRIGGS: We've been here before.


BRIGGS: With North Korea.

[05:10:15] ROMANS: Harry Kazianis we'll talk to you in a few minutes. Thank you so much for getting up early for us to watch this history honestly. History unfolding overnight. Also breaking overnight, Israel retaliating after rocket fire from Syria targeted it's soldiers in the Golan Heights. Those rockets according to the Israelis were fired by the Iranians marks the most direct confrontation to date between Israel and Iran. Let's go to Jerusalem. Ian Lee is there. He is tracking the latest developments where you say it was a -- it was a frightening evening for some folks there.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Christine. You know, this morning there's still this tension that we're seeing but last night definitely frightening for the residents of the Golan Heights who had to scramble to bomb shelters as sirens blared across that area. As the night sky was lit up, you had Iran launching over 20 rockets at -- at Israel and Israel retaliating. We know that Israel's Iron Dome System shot down some of those rockets.

Israel retaliating going after dozens of sites inside of Syria including a logistics' headquarters, military weapon's depots, as well as Syrian anti-aircraft batteries that targeted Israel's missiles that they were using. We heard from Israel's Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman this morning he said that most of Iran's infrastructure in Syria was hit. He also gave a warning to the Iranians saying that when it rains in Israel there will be a biblical flood in Syria. We know that Israel talked to the United States and Russia before these strikes. Russia urging both sides to de-escalate. Israel says they want the same thing.

ROMANS: All right. Ian Lee in Jerusalem. Thank you sir.

BRIGGS: All right. So what's Iran saying about all of this? Senior International Correspondent Frederick Pleitgen live in Tehran for us. Fred, what's the other side?

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning Dave. Yes, Iranians really taking their time to respond to this at all. It's interesting because just a couple of minutes ago an Iranian general from the Revolutionary Guard, which is apparently part of the Iranian military that was hit in Israel came out and made absolutely no mention about what happened over night there near the Golan Heights on Syrian territory. It's interesting because Iranian media is actually quoting the Israelis and saying that they're pointing the finger at Iran and also saying they're still waiting for something official from the Iranian government.

So far, nothing forthcoming. Not necessarily unusual. We've had skirmishes like this in the past couple of months as things have been heating up. Usually takes a while for the Iranian government to respond especially if they need to acknowledge that Iranian soldiers inside Syria would have been killed. But of course, all this comes at an extremely important time right after President Trump pulled out of that nuclear agreement where the Iranians are trying to now start an international diplomatic effort to somehow salvage it. The Iranian President speaking last night to the French President trying to see whether they can work this thing out. Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Fred Pleitgen live for us in Tehran, 1:42pm there. Thanks Fred.

ROMANS: Our man in Tehran. OK. I'm the guy you should hire. I'm closest to the President. That's how one Republican says Michael Cohen tried to bring in potential clients after the President was elected. Was -- was Cohen trying to sell access to the White House? And it's heroes welcome for three Americans detained in North Korea. The President and the First Lady personally greet them just a couple of hours ago at Joint Base Andrews. What it means for that big summit coming up between the U.S. and North Korea next.


[05:17:42] ROMANS: A heroes welcome for these three Americans detained in North Korea. Released overnight. The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bringing them home. The President of the United States and the First Lady welcoming them in just the past couple hours at Joint Base Andrews. We'll have more on this breaking news coverage in just a few moments.

BRIGGS: And up next, that summit we expect late May, early June in Singapore between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. CNN has learned that when Donald Trump won the election his personal lawyer Michael Cohen made an aggressive pitch to turn that victory into big business. Cohen's actions while legal raise serious questions of influence peddling. Sources tell us Cohen reminded potential clients of his proximity to President Trump.

ROMANS: One Republican strategist described Cohen's pitch this way. I don't know who's representing you but you should fire them all. I'm the guy you should hire. I'm closest to the President. I'm his personal lawyer. Cohen's efforts paid off landing him lucrative consulting deals. CNN's Sarah Murray filed this report from Washington.

SARAH MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL COREESPONDENT: Good morning Dave and Christine. The President's personal attorney Michael Cohen is under scrutiny yet again. But this time it's amid questions about whether he engaged in influence peddling. Now Donald Trump's unexpected victory in November 2016 sent corporate American scrambling. They were looking to hire anyone who could offer insights into the new Administration. Cohen, who's Trump's long time attorney, jumped at the opportunity and the money started flowing in.

Korea Aerospace Industries paid Cohen $150,000 for what they call legal advice. AT&T which is trying to buy CNN's parent company Time Warner paid Cohen at least $200,000 saying he was hired to provide insights into understanding the new Administration. Now paying for access is nothing new in Washington and Cohen hasn't been accused of wrong doing when it comes to these payments. But he is already under criminal investigation. And Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been scrutinizing some of these transactions.

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis says it was also contacted by the Special Counsel over it's payments to Cohen. That's after paying him more than $1 million over the span of a year. A source says Cohen promised Novartis access to the White House when it came to healthcare policy. But the company said they quickly discovered Cohen couldn't deliver. As for Cohen and his lawyer, they did not comment. Back to you guys.

ROMANS: All right Sarah. Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. From the swamp to the stadium, the Baby Bombers growing up fast. The New York Yankees, baseball's best after a thrilling win over the Red Sox. Not all bad news for the city of Boston though. Lindsey Czarniak tells us why in The Bleacher of course this morning. --

[05:20:13] BRIGGS: (inaudible) perspective. They had a pretty good night in Boston. You know.


[05:24:59] BRIGGS: Let's talk some hoops. The Celtics finished off the process knocking out the 76ers to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for a second straight year.

CHRSTINE ROMANS: Lindsay Czarniak is here. She's got more in The Bleacher report. Good morning.

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey you guys. It was a great night. Celtics -- for the Celtics. Right? Their head coach Brad Stevens saying that the advice he gave his players ahead of facing LeBron James and the Cavs in the Conference Finals Sunday was to get outside. Basically, go play. Take a break. They earned it. Certainly that opportunity after the Celtics put an end to their series with the Sixers in five games. Thanks to large part to Brad Stevens, the coach that a lot of folks thought should have been named --

[05:25:15] CZARNIAK: -- Coach of the Year. The Sixers kept it close until the very end. But Boston's (inaudible) who knew the veteran had (inaudible) like this and rookie Jayson Tatum who led his team with 25 points and the go ahead basket with just over 22 seconds to go. Tatum addressing the joy and proving critics wrong after the win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAYSON TATUM, BASKETBALL PLAYER, BOSTON CELTICS: (inaudible) going the Eastern Conference Finals so we're just, you know, continuing to prove people wrong. And, you know, I had fun doing it.

AL HORFORD, BASKETBALL PLAYER, BOSTON CELTICS: They want to be great and they -- they understand that it's bigger than them. It's about the team. We're pulling for each other and we're trying to do things the right way.


CZARNIAK: Speaking of right way, there's no wrong way right to win. But the Yankees are sure keeping fans on their toes. Late game theatrics continue (AUDIO GAP) off the Red Sox. Craig Kimbrell gave the Yankees a 7-6 lead and then Aaron Judge effectively dismissing the chances of a Red Sox comeback with this two run, homerun. The Yankees win 9-6. They now get sole possession of first place in the AL East. They have won 17 of their last 18. That's incredible. Best stretch in more than half a century in that time span.

Finally, they start teaching fans at a young age in Philadelphia. During the first inning of the Giants-Phillies game, look at this. Brandon Belt hit's a foul ball down the first base line. A Giants fan tries to be nice and give the souvenir to a young fellow there. He's not wanting anything to do with it. I'll chuck that thing right back. Tossing it back on the field. Delaying the game momentarily, the Phillies do give this young fan the gift of an 11-3 victory. That's one of those times where you go, no. Right?


BRIGGS: Nice little arm there. I was going to say.

CZARNIAK: Right. Yes. And he's happy about it.

BRIGGS: We didn't mention the Mets. They've lost 6 -- 12 of 16. They batted out of order.


BRIGGS: They batted out of order yesterday. Sorry I have a Mets fan off camera. I had to throw them under the bus there.


BRIGGS: Good to see you Lindsay. Thank you.

ROMANS: The Vice-President calls it a great day to be an American. Overnight, President Trump welcomed three detainees back from North Korea. A heroes welcome. Historical moment from Joint Base -- Joint Base Andrews next.