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North Korea Threatens to Cancel Trump-Kim Summit; Separating Families at the Border; Deadly Storms Pummel Northeast; U.S. Allies Condemn Gaza Violence. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 16, 2018 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:28] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, that big summit with North Korea suddenly in jeopardy. North Korea threatens to cancel the meeting if the U.S. demands Pyongyang drop its nuclear program.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And the White House exploring using military bases to hold children caught crossing the border. The homeland security secretary defending the latest effort that could separate families.

ROMANS: And a powerful storm hits the East Coast roaring from Virginia to Massachusetts. People are dead in New York and Connecticut. Late-night rescues in Maryland and more of the same is on the way. We've got this in my neighborhood. It's unbelievable.

BRIGGS: And it came out of nowhere. It was a beautiful sunny night, right, and --

ROMANS: Literally out of the blue.

All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Yanny or laurel, let us know what you think. We'll talk about this shortly.

But we start with a stunning reality check for the Trump administration delivered by Kim Jong-un. North Korea declaring it will not be pushed into a corner on abandoning its nukes while threatening to cancel the summit with President Trump in Singapore next month.

ROMANS: The Kim regime also suspending talks with South Korea that was scheduled for today. The reason -- U.S./South Korean military drills already scheduled. That North Korea now considers provocative.

Let's go live to Seoul. I want to bring in CNN's Ivan Watson.

And this feels like the North Korea of a year ago, right? Before all of this progress and all of this goodwill between these two countries. North Korea has long seen those drills between the U.S. and South Korea as -- you know, preparing for war or practicing for war. And now, it's really caught the White House by surprise that they're so upset. IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, it

feels like the North Korea of five or six months ago frankly. We haven't heard this kind of rhetoric coming out of North Korean state media in months now. And now, suddenly, there's this reversal in tone.

And we're right back into it where the North Koreans called this joint annual U.S./South Korea air force drills that are conducted every year, a quote, deliberate military provocation. And then arguing in a separate dispatch that North Korea would never trade its nuclear weapons for promises of economic development for the U.S. and saving some real vitriol for the White House's national security adviser John Bolton, angry that he would compare North Korea and a path towards nuclear disarmament towards the previous disarmament of Libya. Of course, Moammar Gadhafi brought down with the help of a NATO bombing campaign.

In that dispatch, going on to call that comparison a, quote, awfully sinister move and slamming Bolton saying that he was absolutely repugnant and then going one step further to say that the Trump administration is essentially playing from the same playbook as past U.S. administrations. And so, if it continues on this line, then the entire U.S./North Korea summit scheduled for June in Singapore is at risk.

And all the more striking because it was just Tuesday that the North Koreans were publicly announcing that they were inviting South Korean journalists to attend a planned dismantling ceremony of their main nuclear testing site next week -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, fascinating, this road to normalization on the Korean peninsula. Thank you so much for that, Ivan Watson.

WATSON: All right. While President Trump negotiates with China on trade, a state run company is entering a big venture involving the Trump Organization.

CNN's Matt Rivers has the latest live from Beijing.

Matt, some are saying this is a violation of the Emoluments Clause. Tell us more.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there's a lot of critics are saying that the timing of President Trump's, you know, statement or tweet that he put out there, trying to get the Commerce Department to back off of punishments against Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE, it's a bit sketchy given what we have seen with this deal going on in Indonesia. So, basically, the gist of it is that there's a theme park being developed in Indonesia that the Trump Organization rather back in 2015 leased some naming rights to. So, the Trump name would be on a golf course, luxury hotel, a residential development, and back in 2016, a Chinese construction firm entered an agreement in principle to help develop that project.

Well, just last week, that agreement in principle was finalized. And then a couple of days later, you saw Donald Trump make that tweet about ZTE saying he wants to strike a deal and get the Commerce Department to back off those punishments. So, what you heard a lot of people saying, oh, the timing is very sketchy there.

To be clear, there's absolutely no factual evidence at least publicly that the ZTE tweet from the president had anything to do with this deal, this development, in Indonesia. The Trump Organization denied it. The company that runs this theme park denied it. And so, that's where we're at.

That said, this is the president of the United States. Any presentation or any thought that this could be improper deserves to be examined, deserves to be looked at. That's what's going on here. But so far, David and Christine, it's all just optics at this point. No evidence that the Trump organization's involvement in Indonesia had anything to do with his recent moves with China.

BRIGGS: Another reason a blind trust would have cleared up a lot of these conflicts. Matt Rivers live for us in Beijing, thanks.

The Trump administration exploring the use of military bases to hold children caught crossing the border illegally. The latest sign that the White House plans to split up the immigrant families once they enter the country. The staffers from health and human services are informally looking at three sites in Texas, and another in Arkansas.

ROMANS: Early Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended policies that would separate children from their parents.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Your agency will be separating children from their parents and --

KRISTJEN NIELSEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: No. What we're doing is prosecuting parents who have broken the law just as we do every day in the United States of America.

HARRIS: I can appreciate that. But if that parent has a 4-year-old child what do you plan on doing with that child?

NIELSEN: The child under law goes to HHS for care and custody.

HARRIS: They will be separated from their parent and my question --

NIELSEN: That's what we do in the United States every day.


ROMANS: Families crossing the border previously been held together in family detention facilities. Secretary Nielsen did agree with senators that more needs to be done to protect children who come to the U.S. illegally. The DHS and HHS did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

BRIGGS: Pennsylvania, one of four states holding primaries Tuesday along with Idaho, Nebraska and Oregon. CNN projects Congressman Lou Barletta will win the Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania and take on incumbent Democrat Bob Casey in November. The race is one of 10 Democratic held Senate seats in the ballot this fall, in states President Trump in 2016.

The news not as good for Republican State Rep. Rick Saccone who lost the second House race in months. He was beaten in western Pennsylvania.

ROMANS: Also in the House, a big night for Democratic women. Seven are leading Pennsylvania races with others too close to call. One Republican woman also with the win. Pennsylvania's congressional delegation right now all men with two women set to face off in November. That's certain to change.

This is the first set of election contests with new boundaries created by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruling on gerrymandering.

BRIGGS: The Senate Intelligence Committee votes this morning in a closed session on Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director. She is expected to be confirmed now that several Democratic senators announced they are backing here, including Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Florida's Bill Nelson. Heitkamp and Nelson are both up for reelection.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, that committee's ranking member, also, supporting Haspel.

A final confirmation vote on the Senate floor could take place tomorrow.

ROMANS: President Trump floated the idea on Twitter. Now, a source telling CNN Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking the cue and considering scrapping some or all of August recess. Senate Republicans under mounting pressure to pass a series of spending bills ahead of the summer break in order to head off a messy year end battle to keep the government operating. Congress facing an October 1 deadline to pass 12 appropriation bills, funding vital parts of government like defense, homeland security and agriculture.

According to the Pew Research Center, Congress has failed to pass all 12 bills on time every year since, oh, 1997.

BRIGGS: They are consistent.

Melania Trump appears to be recovering nicely following a medical procedure to treat a kidney condition that the White House described as benign. After visiting the first lady Tuesday at Walter Reed Medical Center, president Trump tweeted she is doing really well. He expects her to leave the hospital in two or three days. The deputy White House press secretary says Mrs. Trump is in good spirits.

ROMANS: All right. The opioid epidemic rages on. Now states accused the maker of OxyContin for fuelling the crisis. Six states filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin. Texas, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, states accused Purdue of violating the consumer protection laws claiming it aggressively sold as pain killers, raking in billions, down playing that they had a high likelihood of leading to addiction.

[04:40:04] Many states grapple with how to deal with the both huge expense and human cost of the epidemic. More than 42,000 people overdosed on opioids in 2016. The main culprits were prescription pain killers. Prescriptions like OxyContin.

Sixteen other states have filed lawsuits against Purdue. Purdue denies the charges and hopes to resolve the concerns without heading to court.

BRIGGS: All right. Deadly storms pummeling the Northeast. An 11- year-old girl killed when a tree crushed her car in New York. A man in Danbury, Connecticut, also killed by a falling tree.

Serious hail pounding Ulster County, New York. Governor Cuomo declaring a state of emergency in Putnam, Duchess, Orange and Sullivan counties.

ROMANS: Officials in Frederick, Maryland, Frederick County, Maryland, are reporting over 60 rescues with cars stalling out in rising floodwaters. Also in Frederick County, 85 people were trapped on a double-decker commuter train and it's believed that a drainage culvert collapsed taking out the track. After two hour wait, the passengers were safely unloaded after midnight.

BRIGGS: For more on the storm and what's in store for the rest of the week, here's meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine. Yes, the severe weather concerns was in place yesterday and it produced upwards of 300-plus severe weather reports. About 70 percent concentrated across the Northeast. I can tell you what the conditions as far as the severe weather quieted down, but the wet weather not so the case here.

We do have a stationary frontal boundary locked in place and really conditions in place to produce a lot of rainfall across parts of the region. In fact from Baltimore points to the west north of Leesburg, two to four inches, heavy amounts upwards of six or more have fallen in a 12-hour period. The coolest time of the day is right now, so very little instability to around, but you fire up the afternoon warm there and expect those numbers once again to blossom. Baltimore, Washington, some of the areas of concern here and of course to the South, some tropical moisture being fed up northbound as well.

So, put this together, we have a lot of rainfall over the next couple of days or the next three days in particular. Washington, Baltimore, Philly could see an additional concern here for flooding. Rainfall amounts on top of what is falling as much as six more inches -- guys.



BRIGGS: Ugly in your neck of the woods.

ROMANS: I know. I put some grass seed out because it's going to be wet.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

ROMANS: All right. The U.S. and Israel increasingly isolated over the deaths of protesters in Gaza. Is there anything Israel could do differently to calm the criticism and still protect its border? We go live to Gaza.



[04:46:56 NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I ask my colleagues here in the Security Council who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would. No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.


BRIGGS: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley defending Israel after the military killed 60 Palestinians at the border with Gaza. Israel and the United States now facing harsh global condemnation, raising the question -- is there anything Israel could be doing differently along its border?

Let's go live to Gaza and bring in CNN's Ian Lee.

Ian, good morning. How is Israel responding to the criticism?


Israel is defending itself to the criticism, but here in Gaza, you know, people are taking stock of the seven weeks of protests where we saw over a hundred Gazans killed and Israel has come under criticism from the international community for what is called the disproportionate use of live ammunition. They say that Israel should have used more nonlethal means, also shown more restraint.

This criticism isn't just coming from, you know, just other countries. It's coming from key allies also. You have France, you have the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom is calling for an independent inquiry into the deaths so for the people of Gaza, you know, these past seven weeks the protests have been largely peaceful. There were Molotov cocktails thrown, rocks thrown. Israeli army said there were IEDs as well but we didn't see any rockets or mortars or Israeli soldiers killed or injured and that's why you're getting the international condemnation.

As far as achievements though, for the people of Gaza they have brought the international community's attention back to the coastal enclave. They have isolated Israel and the United States when it comes to the matters of Gaza. But the one thing that they wanted to achieve is likely not to happen and that is an easing of the blockade by Israel and Egypt here on Gaza -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Ian Lee, live for us, just before noon in Gaza, thank you.

ROMANS: Another midair scare, a Sichuan Airlines flight forced to make an emergency landing after the co-pilot was sucked halfway out of the cockpit. It happened when the windshield suddenly blew out in an altitude of 30,000 feet. The co-pilot suffered scratches and a sprained wrist. A flight attendant was also injured. None of the passengers were hurt. The aircraft landed safely in southern China.

One wonders what the pilot must have been doing to pull his colleague back into the airplane, right, and deal with the sudden depressurization of the cabin and got freezing, freezing cold in there. I mean, amazing.

BRIGGS: Remarkable job. Will that pilot get back into an airplane? That -- it would be hard to imagine.

All right. A law enforcement sources says a deadly explosion at a California medical facility appears to be intentional.

[04:50:02] More from Orange County, next.


ROMANS: All right. A deadly explosion at a California medical facility is being investigated as a criminal act. A law enforcement source telling CNN that this incident appears to be intentional although it's in the early stage of the investigation here. One woman was killed, three others injured in the blast in Aliso Viejo.

[04:55:04] That's in southern Orange County. The explosion blew out walls and windows. A witness says it felt like the earthquake, the fire and smoke popping out of the walls. Two people are in critical condition, no indication of any threats being made before the blast.

BRIGGS: Hawaii officials raising the aviation alert to code red because of the ongoing eruption of the Kilauea Volcano. The move prompted by the continuous emission of ash. The FAA put a temporary restriction in place. One plume of ash rising 12,000 feet into the air before dropping on to sections of the big island. Residents contending with sulfur dioxide emissions from 21 cracks in the ground and are being warned to stay indoors.

ROMANS: A Texas doctor pleaded not guilty in an alleged health care fraud and money laundering scheme that prosecutors say financed a lavish lifestyle. Sixty-one-year-old Jorge Zamora-Quezada is accused of falsely diagnosing patients and performing excessive medical procedures that resulted in $240 million in claims and $50 million paid to the doctor.

The indictment alleges Zamora-Quezada and his co-conspirators purchased private jets, luxury vehicles and exclusive real estate and obstructed the investigation by creating false and fictitious patient records and concealing medical records. BRIGGS: Iowa's attorney general is refusing to represent his state in

the lawsuit challenging its controversial new abortion law. Democrat Tim Miller recusing himself because he disagrees with the measure and believes it undermines protections for women.

ROMANS: The so called Heart Beat Bill would prohibit the doctors from abortions if a fetal heart beat can be detected. That can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Planned Parenthood and ACLU of Iowa are suing to block the law. The Iowa governor's office says it will be represented by the conservative anti-abortion law firm, Thomas Moore Society at no cost to taxpayers.

Manhattan's D.A. says his office will not take up cases for smoking or possessing small amounts of marijuana as of August 1st. New York's police commissioner saying that the department will undergo an honest assessment to determine why a disproportionate number of pot arrests have involved minorities. People who violate the law will be issued summons. The D.A. is discussing with Mayor de Blasio and police whether should be exceptions to the policy.

BRIGGS: All right . Twitter asking this question this morning, laurel or yanny, what do you hear? Listen closely and decide.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laurel. Laurel. Laurel. Laurel.


BRIGGS: The answer is obvious. Laurel.

ROMANS: American is divided here.

BRIGGS: Social media hopelessly as Christine suggested, polarized by the audio clip, brings back memories of the dress that was clearly blue and black. Though some like Romans felt it was what?

ROMANS: It's gold and white. They're saying yanny. It's so weird how you can hear and see things -- the same image. I think it's a metaphor for America, right? The same image, the same thing --

BRIGGS: You're right about that.

ROMANS: People see or hear it differently.

BRIGGS: We retreat to our corners. Tribalism.

ROMANS: And we are not in the same corner apparently.

All right, let's get a check on the CNNMoney this morning. Asian stocks falling overnight as North Korea suspends talks with South Korea and threatens the future meeting with President Trump. The bond rates hit the lowest level in seven years. Look at the 10-year treasury yield. Consumers spent more in April, sparking concerns about rising interest rate hikes. And bonds affect the for borrowing costs for credit cards. The benchmark 30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.88 percent this week. That's according to mortgage daily news. The mortgage rates started the year at 4 percent. Supply is tight, many are struggling to find affordable homes especially starter homes. The home prices are growing at the fastest pace in four years.

Prime members will get an extra discount at whole foods. Amazon's latest move in the grocery fight. You can be offered 10 percent off. Right now, it's just in Florida stores but it will roll out nationwide this summer. Morgan Stanley says the new perk can make whole foods cheaper than conventional grocers for prime members.

Really disrupting the $800 billion grocery industry. Whole Foods has 463 U.S. stores and that's growing since the Amazon merger.

BRIGGS: It's all about linking now. You have to download the Whole Foods app, you have to put your phone number. It's all grabbing your information isn't it?

ROMANS: Yes, and your dollar.

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START continues with the latest on the North Korean negotiations. Maybe not a summit on June 12th. We'll see.


ROMANS: Breaking overnight, the big summit with North Korea suddenly in jeopardy. North Korea threatens to cancel the meeting if the U.S. demands Pyongyang drop the nuclear program.