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First Lady Recovering From Kidney Procedure; How Hard Is It To Apologize; Deadly Day in Gaza; Remembering Margot Kidder; Warriors Beat Rockets in Western Showdown. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:01] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Graduating this year? Expect to make about 50 grand per year right out of school. That's the average starting salary for the class of 2018, $50,390. Little change from last year.

Even with record number of job openings in the U.S., there are 6.6 million open jobs. Of course, pay varies by industry. And those in the STEM field, science, technology, engineering, math, you know this story. They earn a lot more. For example, an entry level software developer will make about 67 grand in their first year out of school.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Not journalism, my friends. That is a lot more than this guy made out of college.

EARLY START continues right now.


BRIGGS: The first lady at Walter Reed Medical Center this morning after a procedure on her kidney. She is expected to remain there in the rest of the week. More details in a moment.


RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It's going to be dealt with and has been dealt with internally. This is an internal matter. It's being addressed internally.


ROMANS: The White House unable to put the brakes on the story that could have been resolved last week. Pressure builds from John McCain's colleagues to apologize for mocking the senator's cancer battle.

BRIGGS: And it's jarring split screen. Celebrations in Jerusalem and deadly protest escalating in Gaza. More protests expected this morning.

We have reports from Gaza, from Tehran, Hawaii and England on a very busy Tuesday.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, May 15th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We begin though in Washington with the First Lady Melania Trump recovering this hour at Walter Reed Medical Center after undergoing a procedure to treat a benign kidney condition. The White House reporting all went well, no complications. Mrs. Trump is expected to spend the rest of the week in the hospital.

And our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta finds that unusual. He says the patients who undergo this type of procedure are typically hospitalized for just one night.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPODENT: An embolization procedure, it's not really surgery. It's basically threading this catheter near this -- near the kidney and injecting a glue type substance to try and stop blood flow, to an area of the kidney where this abnormality is.

Benign obviously is good. We don't want to be anything other than benign. But what exactly is it that was treated here? Some of the benign things that happened to a kidney are things like cysts. But those are not treated using embolization.

So, what was it? Was it some sort of mass? Was it something else?


BRIGGS: So many questions.

The first lady's hospitalization caught everyone off guard. She has been out in public frequently lately attending the state dinner for the French president, and greeting three U.S. detainees from North Korea last week with her husband.

President Trump tweeting yesterday: heading over to Walter Reed Medical Center to see our First Lady Melania, successful procedure. She is in good spirits. Thank you to all of the well-wishers. We, too, would like to wish the first lady a very speedy recovery.

ROMANS: It has been five days and the White House is still refusing to apologize for the aide who dismissed the influence of Senator John McCain because, quote, he is dying anyway. The silence from the administration and from the aide Kelly Sadler only enflaming the controversy. The White House focusing instead on the leak that brought Sadler's remark to light.

The president calling the story an over-exaggeration, even referring to members of his staff as traitors for leaking. The president is saying there are traitors in the White House.

BRIGGS: That's right. That's some language.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway selling the same message. She expects changes because of these leaks.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Some leaks exist to hurt I guess colleagues. Some leaks exist because they disagree with the policies that are being forth. But none of them are helpful. It's not so much leaking as using the media to shiv each other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you expect personnel changes as a result?

CONWAY: I do. Actually, yes, I do.


BRIGGS: Sources tell CNN Kelly Sadler's job is safe.

White House spokesperson Raj Shah reluctant to say much of anything.


SHAH: I understand the focus on this issue, but it's going to be dealt with and has been dealt with internally. The matter has been internally. It is being addressed internally. And I don't have anything further to add.

REPORTER: Is she being reprimanded?

REPORTER: Can you explain how it's being addressed internally?

SHAH: Obviously, if I explain all that, then it won't remain internal.


BRIGGS: If I explain all that, it won't remain internal, just try untying that verbal pretzel.

Let's go live to Washington and bring in Philip Wegmann, commentary writer for "The Washington Examiner".

ROMANS: Hi there.

BRIGGS: He's (INAUDIBLE) communications, mind you.

Philip, good morning.

You're Twitter analyst this morning, OK? So, here is what the president tweeted about all of this. The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over-exaggeration put out by the fake news media in order to make us look as bad as possible.

With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards and we will find out who they are.

[05:05:04] He also called Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning traitors.

But just that tweet, try to make sense of it. PHILIP WEGMANN, COMMENTARY WRITER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: So, if we are

doing political analysis by 280 characters, this shows two diverse paths. I mean, first of all, President Trump says on one hand that there is not a problem here. And then he turns around and says that the people who are causing this nonexistent problem are traitors and cowards. He just needs to pick a side and decide which way it's going to be.

Clearly, this is a problem when you have leaks about meetings designed to plug the leaks inside of the White House. It's clear that a lot of administration staffers are more than willing to talk to the press. Look, I'm going to take issue with the idea that anyone who leaks is somehow a traitor or coward.

The fact of the matter is, everyone in these White House leaks, even top level staffers. If you're going to leak, you are taking into your own hands your own fate because that could lead to you losing your job. So, this is -- this seems like rambling to be honest.

ROMANS: I thought it was interesting. There was no leaking from the East Wing about the first lady and a lot of folks are saying that shows you the level of respect and admiration that's going on in the East Wing and in the West Wing, it is the opposite of that. It is just leaking and leaking. And as even -- Kellyanne Conway said, people trying to shiv each other.

Let's talk about the ZTE reversal because this is fascinating to me. The president saying that he wanted to save Chinese jobs and he says, we want to help ZTE because there are U.S. suppliers for ZTE, two weeks after the Department of Defense said they weren't going to sell these phones on U.S. bases because of the national security concerns.

And when the U.S., you know, the Trump appointed heads of the intelligence agencies have said they would not recommend that Americans use ZTE phones for national security reasons. Listen to this.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Will you please raise your hand if you would use products or services from Huawei or ZTE? None of you would. You're obviously lead intelligence services, so that's something of a biased question. Raise your hand if you recommend that private American citizens use Huawei or ZTE products or services? None again. Thank you for that.


ROMANS: So, finally, this administration with a Commerce Department got tough on ZTE, banned it from buying U.S. supplies for seven years, essentially almost put it out of business, and now, the president's reversing. Is this treaty chess? What is this?

WEGMANN: I think this is more like a, you know, condominium salesman trying to do international relations, because this is incredibly dangerous. Let's be clear what ZTE is. They were kicked out of U.S. markets because they violated our sanctions and did business not just with Iran but also with North Korea.

A colleague of mine at "The Washington Examiner points out that if Trump is willing to turn a blind eye when it comes to ZTE in the fact that they are a front for Chinese intelligence, he is clearly not paying attention to those intelligence briefings and more interested in a deal and moving on.

This is incredibly dangerous. This is a bad precedent. And I'm all for free trade, but I'm for free trade when it doesn't threaten U.S. national security.

ROMANS: Could it be the North Korea issue, he needs the Chinese help with North Korea and he is willing to use this as a bargaining chip for other things he needs?

WEGMANN: Look, we exist in a massive economy. China is a huge trading partner. Obviously, the ZTE pushback is hurting their economy. But there's a myriad of other things that this president could do that wouldn't require us to go against the advice of all of the intelligence community.

BRIGGS: Politics could also be at play here. The president wanting relief from the Farm Belt who got hit hard by the Chinese. So, there's a lot of tangled webs here on the ZTE story.

All right, Philip Wegmann --

WEGMANN: Who knew trade wars were so complicated?

ROMANS: Yes, right. Who knew? Who knew? They are easy to win, though, right? OK, we'll check back with you next half hour.

Meanwhile, peace seems more out of reach than ever in the Middle East.

Just as the U.S. was opening its new embassy in Israel, in Jerusalem, protests along the Gaza border turned deadly. Israeli defense forces opening fire on Palestinian demonstrators, killing 59 and wounding thousands. The Israelis blamed the Palestinian militant group Hamas for inciting terror attacks.

Ian Lee live from Gaza where more protests are expected today, but still very calm there.

Hi, Ian.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Dave.

Yes, we are waiting to see if people come out here. Yesterday at this time, there were thousands of people here, thick black smoke behind me. Today, it is calmer.

We are expecting these funerals to happen within an hour's time. That's where a lot of people are right now. But yesterday was the deadliest day in Gaza since that 2014 war here.

[05:10:05] So, a lot of people reeling from that violence. You know, we talked to some of the people over in the camp here who spent the night out here. They say they are still energized, but wondering if they still have momentum to keep this protest movement going. Yesterday, with that violence, you had the White House blaming Hamas and Israel blaming Hamas. Hamas is blaming the United States for the bloodshed.

But, really, when you talk to people, there is a lot of anger about the current situation in Gaza. Gaza has been under an Israeli and Egyptian post blockade for over a decade, also anger over the embassy move. Now, we'll wait to see if that anger can still come out and translates today, where we will see protesters gather. But right now, Dave. It is calm on the border.

BRIGGS: All right. Hopefully, that remains. Ian Lee live for us in Gaza, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Who can forget the chemistry between Superman and Lois Lane?


MARGOT KIDDER AS LOIS LANE: Don't move! Sure you can move. Just don't fly away, all right?


ROMANS: Remembering actress Margot Kidder next.


[05:15:23] BRIGGS: Officials in Hawaii issuing a condition red health alert due to high levels of sulfur dioxide from the erupting Kilauea volcano.

Officials say it poses an immediate danger to anyone nearby. Eruptions have opened 19 fissures, spewing lava and toxic gases in the residential areas.

ROMANS: Two-thirds of the Hawaii volcano park is closed due to concerns of the explosion of the summit. The threat expected to last for a week.

We get more from CNN's Scott McLean in Hawaii.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, there have been 20 fissures opening up on the bottom side of the Kilauea volcano. They are spewing lava and destroying everything in their path.

You can see, this used to be a house. It is unrecognizable. You see the gas spewing. That is sulfur dioxide. In low concentrations, it can be an irritant. In higher concentrations, it can be downright dangerous.

A lot of people are trying to get their hands on face masks or gas masks. But officials say the best thing to do is simply stay inside of your home with the windows shut. The most recent fissures were active overnight. They continue to spew lava high in the air.

The other problem for officials is that a lot of people don't want to leave their homes. They want to stick it out and see what happens. Well, police say that if the escape routes get blocked, they will simply be trapped and then they are on their own.

The other big threat is the top of the Kilauea volcano and the potential for explosion. Officials are worried about big boulders that are falling into that main crater there, creating pressure and a potential for a larger release of lava.

Well, the U.S. Geological Survey now says that they have not seen a lot of pressure building up. So, that is good news for Kilauea at least for now -- Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: All right. Scott, thanks.

If you are planning to bring bugs, goats or hedgehogs to comfort you on your next American Airlines flight, you're out of luck. The airline expanding its no-fly list that now include those creatures, saying in a statement, we support the rights of customers with legitimate needs for a trained service or support animals. Unfortunately, untrained animals can lead to safety issues for our team.

The use of emotional support animals has ballooned. American says the numbers have increased 40 percent between 2016 and 2017. You can still bring miniature horses, though -- good news.

ROMANS: If they are trained.

BRIGGS: If they are properly trained.

ROMANS: If they're properly trained.

You know, the idea of a comfort tarantula just as terrifying to me.

BRIGGS: Let alone hedgehog.

ROMANS: And I know that last year, I mean, Delta has done this, too. I mean, they had fights -- they had -- things happen on planes with untrained animals. Not cool.

Eighteen minutes past the hour.

Actress Margot Kidder has died. She became famous for playing Lois Lane, opposite Christopher Reeves in the 1978 launch of the "Superman" film franchise.


CHRISTOPHER REEVES, SUPERMAN: Easy, miss. I got you. KIDDER: You've got me? Who's got you?


ROMANS: I love that rusty voice.

BRIGGS: I love it.

ROMANS: Kidder went on to appear in three "Superman" sequels. She also struggled with addiction and bipolar disorder and she went on to become an advocate for mental health awareness. Margot Kidder was 69 years old.

BRIGGS: So perfect as Lois Lane.

All right. The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors clashing in game one of the Western Conference Finals. Lindsay Czarniak is here with this morning's "Bleacher Report." It looks like Draymond, that's the same old trick.

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: This is going to be a series, right?


[05:23:12] BRIGGS: Let's have a little sports. The two best teams in the NBA squaring off in the Western Conference Finals.

ROMANS: Lindsay Czarniak has this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Nice to see you.

BRIGGS: Hey there.

CZARNIAK: Thanks, guys.

This is so exciting. This is really is the dream match up so many have been waiting for. You got Houston right with the best record of any team in the regular season. And then Golden State, winner of two of last three NBA titles.

Last night's game, it was well worth the wait. These teams came out swinging, I mean, literally, right? Draymond Green and James Harden mixing it up early on. Green with a technical foul barely a minute into this series opener.

Houston grabbed it quickly, they went up by nine fast. But there is no need to panic when you got Kevin Durant on your team, because his coach saying afterward, it is a luxury to have him on the team. But Durant's 37 made all the difference as the Warriors win on the road, 119-106.

And after the game, Durant saying there's more where that came from.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KEVIN DURNAT, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: I don't know if we hit our peak. I think we could be better. Stakes are high. We're playing in the Western Conference finals with the best team in the league, the number one seed, an MVP on their team. So, I mean, I think everybody just wants to enjoy this time. Not a lot of people get this opportunity. So, we want to take advantage of it.


CZARNIAK: Durant and Warriors will try to steal another win on Houston's home court tomorrow night before taking the series back to the Bay.

To hockey. Last year at this time, the Winnipeg Jets, they were watching the playoffs on TV and the expansion Vegas Golden knights, they didn't even have players yet. So, now, both teams are playing for a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. Vegas lost game one, but wasted no time evening up the best of seven series. The Knights scoring twice in the first period, they cruise to a 3-1 win. And now, the series shifts to the series for game three tomorrow night. The venue is becoming an entertainment destination that is sure to fuel the fires beneath this group of players.

[05:25:04] Vegas synonymous with the theme betting on sports getting a green light from the Supreme Court. The justices striking down a federal law yesterday that kept states from allowing gambling on the outcome of sporting events. Since 1992, this has only been allowed in Nevada due to a loophole. It could be a windfall for the states.

The American Gaming Association estimates at least $150 billion a year gambled on sports, with 97 percent of that illegally. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban saying it's going to be huge for his bottom line. He told CNBC, he thinks everyone who owns a top sports professional team saw the value of their team double, right? Think about that.

BRIGGS: That is the growth area for sports.

CZARNIAK: Oh, yes.

BRIGGS: They were quiet in embracing this ruling and cautious wanting congressional oversight. But they have to be, ultimately happy about it.

CZARNIAK: And what's so telling is that there is so many -- there's infrastructure already in place in so many states, right, that we see.

ROMANS: I will not quit my day job.

BRIGGS: I would not recommend it.

ROMANS: I will continue.

CZARNIAK: You never know.

BRIGGS: The house always wins.

ROMANS: Yes, the house always wins.

All right. Thanks, Lindsay.

The first lady recovering this morning after a kidney procedure. She is expected to stay at the hospital the rest of the week.