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U.S. to 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 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 18, 2018 - 04:30   ET



[04:31:59] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's allies reportedly trying to expose a top secret source at the FBI, part of a campaign to undercut the Russia investigation. The bureau now trying to minimize the damage if that source is revealed.

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

BRIGGS: A U.S. official says China on the verge of boosting purchases of American goods by $200 billion. This could be a major success for President Trump but China pouring cold water on the report.

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

Forty -- how many -- how much butter was in that cake?

BRIGGS: Forty-four pounds. I love me some butter.


BRIGGS: Bring that on.

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 32 minutes past the hour. I know, will you get up early for the royal wedding?

ROMANS: I give up --

BRIGGS: If the kids let you sleep?

ROMANS: I do. I mean, I think it's fun to watch. But we fought a war so that we wouldn't have a monarchy. That's how I always (INAUDIBLE). Yorktown.

BRIGGS: All right. We'll get to that in a moment.

But breaking overnight, the "Washington Post" reporting President Trump and his allies ramping up a campaign to undercut the Russia investigation by exposing a top secret FBI source. Now that has the bureau scrambling 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.

ROMANS: 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."

The high-stakes standoff pitting President Trump and the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence House Committee Devin Nunes against the Justice Department and intelligence agencies. Their leaders warned that identifying the source would put lives in danger. Just yesterday the FBI director, Chris Wray, appointed by Trump, 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.


BRIGGS: 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.


ROMANS: The idea of an informant inside the Trump campaign originated with testimony by this man, Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of the firm that authored the unverified dossier on the president.

[04:35:04] Simpson testified he was told the FBI had intelligence, quote, "from an internal Trump campaign source." But then a source close to Simpson later said he was referring to someone outside the campaign -- someone outside the campaign who had contact to the FBI.

BRIGGS: I need another cup of coffee.


BRIGGS: President Trump says the 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 reassuring Kim Jong-un he will remain in power if he abandons his nuclear weapons program.

ROMANS: 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 the Libya's weapons of mass destruction program. But the president appeared focused on the military operation, years later, eight years later that removed Moammar Qadhafi from power.


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.


ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in Paula Hancocks live from Seoul.

Clearly, we know these remarks from Bolton really angered the North Koreans. Where do we stand now?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, at this point, as far as we know, the summit is being planned as expected, but certainly the North Koreans were annoyed by those Libya comments. And the fact is even though John Bolton was talking about something different than what the U.S. president was talking about when it comes to Libya, for the North Koreans that is one and the same thing.

What they have been talking consistently over recent years that -- saying that they didn't want to be a Libya, they didn't want to be an Iraq, they are talking about how the ending came for the leaders of those countries. So for them it's one and the same.

Now we do have some information just coming into us in the past few minutes as well that North Korea has rejected the visa applications for all South Korean journalists who were wanting to go to the shutdown of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Now previously Pyongyang have said that American journalists and South Korean journalists would be invited to go and witness that shutdown along with other experts. But as far as we know at this point those visa applications have been rejected, according to the South Korean government -- Christine.

ROMANS: And that's a big reversal because didn't the North Koreans invite the Foreign Press Corps to come and see this dismantling of this facility?

HANCOCKS: That's right. When they announced that they were going to shut down this nuclear test site in the northeast of the country, they specified South Korean journalists and American journalists because they said that they wanted it to be transparent. They wanted to have expert there as well.

This is a site where all six of the nuclear tests have taken place. So they made quite a thing about wanting this to be very public. But now we know, at least from the South Korean side, that the visas have been rejected.

ROMANS: All right. Fascinating.

Paula, thank you so much for that, in Seoul for us this morning.

Excitement overnight. U.S. officials say China plans to buy $200 billion in U.S. goods, making a big concession to President Trump and then now this morning China's Foreign minister throwing cold water on that. In Washington it's round two of trade talks between the U.S. and China. And U.S. officials say China offered to buy more in U.S. goods, slashing the U.S. trade deficit by $200 billion.

And then China denies it. But that top line number matches what the U.S. demanded in Beijing two weeks ago. You know, China -- if this were to happen, China would struggle to buy $200 billion more in U.S. goods. It only bought $130 billion overall last year. And those two biggest purchases were planes and soy beans.

Experts say a deal could ramp up sales for Boeing if they were going to try to reach that $200 billion number, you know, China is Boeing's second largest market, or, you know, China would have to 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 crippling ban on Chinese tech company ZTE.

But again this news just now from China's Foreign Ministry that no, they have not offered to do that. Bilateral consultations are still under way, this is an untrue rumor coming from the U.S. side, that they're going to cut that $200 billion. And they say don't over interpret or over think them ending their investigation of U.S. sorghum in the Chinese market.

BRIGGS: Could they purchase $200 -- could we even produce $200 billion extra in goods?

ROMANS: What they really want, they want high tech goods but under law, after Tiananmen Square, Congress made it illegal to sell to them.

BRIGGS: Can't be. Right.

[04:40:06] ROMANS: They can't sell military type grade issues, even military grade technology to China, that China could use to repress democracy and spy on its own people. That's what they liked about it.

BRIGGS: Hopefully some answers later today.

Meanwhile, 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 the 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 new White House policy would force those services to be performed in a different place than abortions and by different employees if that facility is to keep its funding.

ROMANS: 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 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.

BRIGGS: 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 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.


BRIGGS: "On human time scales." 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.

ROMANS: All right. The Kilauea volcano erupts from its peak. These pictures are just amazing. Ash, 30,000 feet into the air. Overnight new lava flow from reactivated fissures. More from Hawaii, next.


[04:46:38] ROMANS: There's a tug of war over the future of CBS and the boardroom drama could shape the media landscape. The battle is over leadership. On one side CBS chief Les Moonves. He and CBS are attempting to break free from the Redstone family. The Redstones have controlled CBS for decades. And yesterday 11 of the 14 board members voted to strip Sherry Redstone of majority control.

The Redstones say that tally fell short of the threshold needed to do so. Now the decision heads to court. At the center is CBS' belief that Redstone will force a merger with Viacom, the family's other media company. Viacom has struggled for years as its cable networks like MTV and Nickelodeon lose ad dollars. Meanwhile CBS has flourished. Redstone denies this plan, adding in a statement that CBS cannot wish away the reality that it has a controlling shareholder.

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

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

Good morning to you, Anna. What are you following this morning? What's the latest scoop there?

ANNA STEWART, CNN JOURNALIST: Well, this morning I've actually broken into Windsor Castle, in the castle grounds away from all the public after the last few days of being on the streets. It's quite nice here. The grass is like a carpet, Dave. It's lovely.

In terms of the latest information, we are expecting Dorian Ragland, that's Meghan's mother, to meet to Windsor Castle today to meet with Her Majesty, the Queen. Now we're not quite sure what time that will be but we'll keep our eyes peeled. Of course she met with Prince Charles yesterday at Clarence House in London as well as his wife, the Duchess of Cornwell. as well as Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge and their kids.

So she's already met some of the in-laws but the biggie is yet to come. And I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that. We're also getting lots of new details about the big day. We've had lots of information on the cake. And I was telling you earlier, it does sound delicious, but it sounds a little bit calorific. This is the lemon and elder flower cake which will include not just 200 lemons and 10 bottles of corn oil, but two kilos of butter and two kilos of sugar and two kilos of flour.

Of course there's a huge break from tradition, though, because this is a lemon and elder flower cake, not the traditional fruitcake which you normally see at a British wedding. And the reason you have that at a wedding actually is because the top tiers of the cake are often used as the Christening cake or the baptism cake for your first children because it lasts that long. So that's why it's fairly interesting.

ROMANS: That sounds terrible, to have a cake that can last for a couple of years. But I get British tradition.

STEWART: A bit grim, isn't it, Christine?

ROMANS: I get --

STEWART: I'm not sure you should be keeping any cake for that long.

ROMANS: I get British tradition.

BRIGGS: I don't know, lemon and butter. I can't go wrong with those two things. It sounds fantastic.

ROMANS: So presumably Meghan Markle has had a protocol practice before she goes and meets the Queen because there are all these rules. You know?

BRIGGS: Can you imagine the preparations there?

ROMANS: All right. Anna, nice to see you. Thank you.

BRIGGS: What's with the elder flower aspect of the cake?

ROMANS: I don't know.

BRIGGS: I thought you'd know. You're --

ROMANS: No. I don't know.

All right. Turns out speaking Spanish isn't the only thing that angers Aaron Schlossberg.


AARON SCHLOSSBERG, ATTORNEY: What country are you from? Who are you? 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.


ROMANS: And yes, there's more. Not that he wants to talk about it, next.

BRIGGS: Run, Aaron.



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 volcanic activity expected to linger. So far this event is mirroring a similar eruption in 1924 that lasted 2 1/2 weeks.

[04:55:06] 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. Thank you for that, Stephanie.

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: The 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 this 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.


SCHLOSSBERG: What country are you from? Who are you? 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: Side note, Willie Morris is from Massachusetts. That foreign country.

ROMANS: In another incident, a man named Isaac Saul says Schlossberg yelled at an Orthodox Jewish man who's participating in a protest, accusing him of being a fake Jew.

NBC, the intrepid NBC caught up with Schlossberg on Thursday. Sort of caught with him.

BRIGGS: Tried to.

ROMANS: He ignored questions for almost three minutes before making a run for it. CNN has called and left messages with Schlossberg's law office. That's right, he's got a law office in Midtown. We have not heard back from him.

The company that operates the business center where his law office is says it's terminating its agreement with him. So the landlord is not happy. He may have not -- maybe he didn't get some of our messages.

You saw the Yelp review? The --

BRIGGS: Yes. The Yelp bomb.

ROMANS: It was like Yelp bomb, one-star reviews on Yelp. The Yelp sort of like freeze --

BRIGGS: I'm just happy he can backpedal there on the sidewalk. Can he backpedal on these comments remains the question.

ROMANS: I don't know. There's so many of them. Maybe he doesn't feel he needs to or wants to.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning. Global stocks seem to be lower today following Wall Street's lead. U.S. stocks close down, a few reasons. Trade tensions between the U.S. and China, a decline in tech stocks, and the bond market. The 10-year Treasury yield is at a seven-year high. That's raising concerns about rising inflation and faster interest rate hikes.

Americans are shopping at Walmart big time, both online and in person. Walmart's overall sales grew last quarter. But the focus, online sales jumped 33 percent. Walmart is working hard on its digital side, it's been spending a lot of money there. It's a larger plan to shift perception of its brand. That's part of it there. It wants to appeal to younger, wealthier, maybe the Amazon customer. However, online sales still account for only a small part of Walmart's total sales.

The big day is almost here. The royal wedding is tomorrow and the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could easily cost over 1.4 million bucks. Beyond the price of the wedding itself, that includes the cost of cleaning statues, fixing roads and, of course, security. Including a ceremonial escort by the British Armed Forces. But who's picking up the tab? That turns out is a sensitive issue. In the UK, taxpayers will bear much of the cost.

BRIGGS: From what I understand, Meghan Markle will pay for her wedding dress, $200,000 some, so picking up some of that tab.

EARLY START continues right now.

President Trump's allies reportedly trying to expose a top secret source at the FBI. It's part of the campaign to undercut the Russia investigation. The bureau now trying to minimize the damage if the source is revealed.