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U.S. Will Keep Preparations for North Korean Summit; Kilauea Volcano Shoots Ash 30,000 Feet Into Air; Meghan Markle's Mother Set to Meet Queen Elizabeth; Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 18, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:14] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's allies reportedly trying to expose a top secret source at the FBI as part of a campaign to undercut the Russia investigation. The bureau now trying to minimize the damage if that source is revealed.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And the president pushing forward with plans to meet with Kim Jong-un next month but he and his National Security adviser may not be on the same page on one key issue.

ROMANS: And China could be on the verge of boosting purchases of American goods by $200 billion. It would be a major success for President Trump on trade if it happens.

BRIGGS: And the royal wedding, just a day away, Meghan Markle's family meets the Queen today. We're live in England with final preparations.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is exactly 4:00 a.m. on Friday, May 18th. It's 9:00 a.m. in England, 5:00 p.m. on the Korean peninsula. We'll go there in just a moment.

But breaking overnight, the "Washington Post" is reporting President Trump and his allies are ramping up an aggressive campaign to undercut the Russia investigation by exposing a top secret FBI source. That has the bureau scrambling the contain the potential damage. The FBI now taking steps to protect other live investigations and lessen the danger associates might face if the informant's identity becomes known. The "Post" reported earlier this month an FBI informant had provided information early in the FBI's Russia investigation.

BRIGGS: The president doing his part to discredit the special counsel, where else, on Twitter, alleging his 2016 campaign was spied on. He's even predicting an ensuing scandal will be, quote, "bigger than Watergate."

This high-stakes standoff, pitting President Trump, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence House Committee, POTUS PI Devin Nunes, him and against the Justice Department and the U.S. intelligence agencies. Their leaders warn that publicly identifying the source would put lives in danger and compromise ongoing operations. Just yesterday FBI director appointed by President Trump, Chris Wray, said this.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The day that we can't protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.


ROMANS: White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani telling the "Washington Post" the president believes some law enforcement officials have been conspiring against him. Giuliani also suggesting the bureau might have embedded a spy inside the Trump campaign?

Listen to this exchange between a reporter and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does President Trump believe that the FBI had a spy at one point inside his campaign?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I haven't spoken with him directly about that but I've certainly seen the reports and if there is any truth to that it should certainly be looked into.


BRIGGS: The idea of an informant inside the Trump campaign originated with testimony by Glenn Simpson. Now he is the co-founder of Fusion GPS, that's the firm that authored the unverified dossier on the president. Simpson testified the former British agent who investigated Trump told him the FBI had intelligence from a, quote, "internal Trump campaign source." But a source close to Fusion GPS later said that Simpson was actually referring to someone outside the campaign who contacted the FBI.

ROMANS: All right. Stay tuned there. Meanwhile, President Trump says U.S. and North Korean officials are moving forward with preparations for a summit in Singapore next month, despite threats from Pyongyang to pull out of the talks over the issue of denuclearization. The president also assuring Kim Jong-un he will remain in power if he abandons his nuclear weapons program.

BRIGGS: Mr. Trump contradicting his own National Security adviser John Bolton, dismissing the notion of applying the so-called Libya model to North Korea. Bolton was referring to the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program and its weapons of mass destruction but the president appeared to be focused on the military operation that removed Gadhafi some eight years later.


JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We have very much in mind the Libya model from 2003, 2004. There are obviously differences, the Libya program was much smaller, but that was basically the agreement that we made. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Libyan model isn't

the model that we have at all when we're thinking of North Korea. In Libya, we decimated that country. That country was decimated. There was no deal to keep Gadhafi. The Libyan model, what was mentioned, was a much different deal.


BRIGGS: Got that? Let's bring in Paula Hancocks to unwrap all of this this morning, live from Seoul.

Paula, it appears the National Security adviser is talking about 2003, 2004 and the president is talking about some eight years later. What do you make of all this and what's the reaction?

[04:05:06] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, it's interesting because even though you've got that disconnect between the National Security adviser and the U.S. president talking about completely different things, in North Korea's mind these two would actually be linked. When they're saying that they don't want to be like Libya, they're not just thinking about having that Libyan model of the denuclearization deal, they are thinking about what happened in 2011 when the leader, Moammar Gadhafi, lost his life by rebels backed by Washington.

So consistently we've heard from Pyongyang that they don't want to be another Libya, they don't want to be another Iraq. And that is the reason that they have given the needing their nuclear weapons, saying that it is an insurance policy.

Now we also heard from the U.S. president mentioning President Xi Jinping of China. Kim Jong-un had a couple of meetings, going over to China twice in just two months. And this article from KCNA suggesting that they wouldn't want to meet the U.S. if the U.S. was going to push them into a corner, going to insist on unilateral nuclear disarmament. That came shortly after that second trip with President Xi. Mr. Trump making a connection there.

But certainly from this point of view in this region, there is a sense that some realism have been injected into this summit. No one expected it to be smooth. No one expected it to be easy. But at this point, most people do expect it to go ahead -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. China may make a big concession to President Trump, offering to buy $200 billion more in U.S. goods. In Washington, it's round two of trade talks between China and the U.S.. And U.S. officials -- this coming from the U.S. side -- they say China offered to buy more American goods, slashing the U.S. trade deficit with China by $200 billion. Now Reuters is reporting that China denies this.

But that top wide number matches what the U.S. demanded in Beijing just two weeks ago. China may struggle, though, to buy $200 billion more in U.S. goods. It bought only about $130 billion last year. Its two biggest purchases, planes and soybeans. So experts say a deal could ramp up sales for Boeing, China is its second largest market, or it could eliminate the current tariffs on $4 billion worth of U.S. farm products.

In fact just hours ago, China dropped its investigation into sorghum. Also unclear what China wants in return, though the U.S. is already working to lift a ban crippling the Chinese tech giant ZTE.

BRIGGS: All right. The Trump administration set to announce a new rule today aimed squarely at Planned Parenthood. Sources say clinics that provide abortions or even discussed the procedure with patients would be stripped of federal funds under this new regulation. Family planning laws already prevent direct federal funding of abortions. Planned Parenthood still accepts some federal dollars for annual screenings and checkups. The White House policy would force those services to be performed in a different place in abortions and by different employees if that facility is to keep federal funding.

ROMANS: The leak of that horrible John McCain joke leading to some operational changes in the White House Communications Office. According to a senior White House official, the daily staff meeting has not been held for several days and is not likely to resume. That's because someone leak aide Kelly Sadler's remark about Senator McCain's opinion not mattering since, quote, "he's dying anyway."

More than two dozen press and communications staffers normally attend the daily meeting but are now gathering separately in smaller groups, we're told, to streamline the operation and maybe make it easier to identify any leakers.

BRIGGS: Gina Haspel, the president's controversial nominee for CIA director, confirmed by the Senate, becoming the agency's first female director. Haspel winning confirmation by a 54-45 vote. It's the culmination of a roller coaster ride for her nomination which appeared to be in serious danger for Haspel's role in the post 9/11 interrogation and detention program.

Two Republican senators -- Republican senators -- opposed Haspel but six Democrats backed her. Most of the Democratic support coming from senators up for re-election in states won by President Trump in 2016.

ROMANS: House Republican leaders vowing to hold on -- hold a vote on conservative immigration bill. Sorry about that. GOP leaders are attempting to appease competing interests of immigration from both ends of their party. Conservatives were holding up a farm bill, demanding a path forward on immigration. But moderate Republicans are just a few signatures away from forcing a series of votes on immigration in the House, including a proposal to save the DACA program to help Dreamers.

BRIGGS: Those moderate Republicans trying to use a procedure that would let them bypass legislative roadblocks. Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan doesn't see the tactic working.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The question is, can we get legislation to the floor that has a chance of making it into law? I don't think -- I think it's futile to bring a discharge through which would guarantee nothing goes into law.


BRIGGS: Many of the moderate Republicans pushing for a vote are facing races, tough ones, in November.

[04:10:02] ROMANS: All right. A member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has his own theory on rising sea levels. Rocks. Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama denying the vast body of research showing rising sea levels over the past 100 years are a product of a changing climate.

Here is his exchange with climate change researcher Philip Duffy.


REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: Every time you have that soil or rock, whatever it is, that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise because now you've got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up. All of that displaces water, which forces it to rise. Does it not?

PHILIP DUFFY, CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCHER: I'm pretty sure that on human time scales those are minuscule effects.


ROMANS: So not rising sea levels but rising sea bottom levels.

BRIGGS: So he said.

ROMANS: A day later the Republican-led committee tweeted a link to a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed denying climate change is causing sea levels to rise.

BRIGGS: Rocks. They fall in and they -- you got it?


BRIGGS: Based on science, right?

OK. The Kilauea Volcano erupts from its peak, sending ash 30,000 feet into the air. Overnight new lava flow from reactivated fissures. More from Hawaii, next.


[04:15:26] BRIGGS: Hawaii's erupting Kilauea Volcano shooting ash and smoke 30,000 feet into the air.

Officials warning everyone in the area to stay indoors after handing out nearly 18,000 masks. The volcano activity expected to linger. So far this event is mirroring a similar eruption in 1924 that lasted 2 1/2 weeks. Overnight, several fissures reactivating with lava flows in Leilani Estates, that entire region devastated.

We get more now from CNN's Stephanie Elam.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, it was an early morning weak-up call as Kilauea continues to erupt. It was just after 4:00 in the morning when there was a sharp plume that came into the sky about 30,000 feet, they estimate. They have not been able to look inside the caldera just yet, but scientists do believe that this was in line with that steam event of the lava getting below the water table and the lava and water mixing, and then causing these eruptions.

While that is happening, there are still the issue of the people who live in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens. This is Leilani Estates. Take a look at me here. This was a road. You can see the power lines down and you could see the sea of lava. This road used to drop off, I'm told. But now it's rising up into a mountain of molten rock that is still steaming. You could still hear the crunch of the rocks underneath us and these massive fissures that are opening.

It's not clear if they will turn into the fissures that will ooze gas and then lava but still this is what the people in the neighborhood have been watching to see if it is going to engulf their homes and in some case, it has already done that -- Christine and Dave.

ROMANS: All right, Stephanie Elam.

All right. This story -- next story is for you, migraine suffers, the first drug designed to prevent chronic migraines approved by U.S. regulators. The Food and Drug Administration clearing the way for the sale of Aimovig. Within a week in one study patients receiving this once-a-month shot saw their migraines cut from eight days to four on average with some minor side effects. The drug costs 6900 bucks a year without insurance. Three other injectable migraine drugs are expected to win approval by next year and several pills for preventing migraines are now being tested.

BRIGGS: A man caught on tape delivering that racist rant in a New York City cafe has done it before. Two new videos now emerging showing other confrontations involving attorney Aaron Schlossberg. This one takes place in Boston two years ago. Willie Morris says Schlossberg bumped into him on a sidewalk when this happened.


AARON SCHLOSSBERG, ATTORNEY: What country are you from? I'm going to call the police. You don't run into people. I'm a citizen here. You're not. You're an ugly (EXPLETIVE DELETED) foreigner. So (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.


BRIGGS: Wow, side note. Willie Morris is from Massachusetts.

ROMANS: He's an American from Massachusetts. In this other disturbing incident, a man named Isaac Saul says Schlossberg yelled at an Orthodox Jewish man who was participating in a protest, accusing him of being a, quote, "fake Jew."

NBC caught up with Schlossberg on Thursday. He ignored questions for almost three minutes before making a -- there he is. Making a run for it. CNN has called and left messages at Schlossberg's law office but has not heard back. The company that operates the business center where Schlossberg's law office is located says it is terminating its agreement with him. So he may not have gotten some of our messages.

And you know, his firm is on Yelp and there was a one-star campaign on Yelp for people all over the country to give him one-star reviews.

BRIGGS: And this, they call the tactic Yelp bombing?

ROMANS: It's called Yelp bombing. But they, you know, had to -- Yelp had to clean up his Yelp review yesterday because it was just overwhelmed with people who are telling Yelp what they really think of that guy.

BRIGGS: Right. Schlossberg can backpedal, though. That's impressive.

ROMANS: I don't know. I don't know if it's a good business move to be out there on videos saying this stuff.

BRIGGS: Heavy rain in the forecast this weekend for the southeast. Severe weather threatening the Great Plains.

Let's get the latest from Derek Van Dam.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine. Rain continues to move into the mid-Atlantic states and it's basically knocking on the doorstep of New York City. But that won't come until tomorrow. In the meantime, more wet weather expected today for places like Baltimore, Philly and D.C. We have flash flood watches for those locations. Anywhere you see that shading of green, that's where the National Weather Service has issued the flash flood watch. Now in terms of rainfall totals, remember, we've had continuous days of rain throughout this region. So this is additional rainfall on what's already fallen, two to four inches not out of the question for southern Maryland, eastern Virginia and portions of coastal North and South Carolina.

[04:20:05] This is all thanks to a stationary front and tropical moisture streaming in from the southeast. That's going to keep our hot and humid conditions in place for these locations.

Middle and upper 70s for the Carolinas. 67 for D.C. 65 for New York City. And a cool day tomorrow with chances of rain but warming up nicely to end off the weekend. 80 by Sunday. Back to you.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks.

If meeting your in-laws was tough, welcome to Meghan Markle's world. Her mom meets the Queen today ahead of tomorrow's royal wedding. We're live in Windsor.


[04:25:02] ROMANS: Can you feel the anticipation building?


ROMANS: Just one day to go until Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot. Preparations in the U.K. in full swing for this royal event.

CNN's Anna Stewart live in Windsor with all the details.

So she's not going to walk down the aisle with her father, but her mother today meets the Queen. Give us all the details.

ANNA STEWART, CNN JOURNALIST: Yes. Today, the mother will come to Windsor Castle and meet the Queen. And actually that is exactly where I am now.

Christine, I managed to escape the crowds and rather regally I am now in the grounds of Windsor Castle, which is fantastic, particularly as the sun has finally come out. Now we are getting more preparations today. We're expecting Doria Ragland, Meghan's mom, to arrive. We're not sure what time. She'll be meeting with Her Majesty the Queen in her private residence within Windsor Castle.

And of course yesterday Doria got to meet Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, and the kids. So she's already met some of the in-laws, but the big ones to come, I would love to be a fly on the wall for that.

Now we are getting also information about the big day itself. For instance, the wedding cake. We've got a bit more detail. We already knew it was going to break with tradition. It wasn't going to be a fruitcake. It was going to be a lemon and elder flower cake. But today I can tell you exactly what's in it, and that includes not just 200 lemons but two -- sorry, 20 kilos of butter and 20 kilos of sugar. Sounds delicious but possibly a little calorific?


ROMANS: I know.

BRIGGS: Bring it on.

ROMANS: Well, the pictures we're seeing are so gorgeous. Excuse me. But there's going to be more than just that one cake if it's 20 kilos of butter and sugar, right? There's going to be a bunch of cakes?


STEWART: It will be a big cake, right? But those proportions, ooh, watch the waistline.

ROMANS: Unbelievable.

All right. Well, have a -- do you have a fascinator for tomorrow? Are you wearing a hat? A pretty hat?

STEWART: No, I'm not because I'm feeling a little bit left out. I didn't actually get an invite to the wedding itself and so on that I'm rebelling and I'm not going to wear a fascinator.

ROMANS: In your journalistic integrity, you're covering the even for us, not participating. All right, thanks so much. Nice to see you, Anna Stewart.

BRIGGS: We uncovered Alisyn Camerota's fascinator yesterday in her office.

ROMANS: I know. It was a bright pink, Dave looks great in it.

BRIGGS: I'll put that on Twitter, I'm not afraid. But she exposed a different fascinator in my office later so now there's mystery over what Alisyn will wear tomorrow.

ROMANS: Interesting. OK.

BRIGGS: Yes, one is blue, one is pink.

Ahead, President Trump and his allies reportedly trying to expose a top secret source at the FBI. It's part of an effort to undermine the Russia probe. The bureau scrambling to minimize the fallout.