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WaPo: Trump & Allies Trying to Expose FBI Source; Trump Contradicts Bolton on North Korea; China Proposes $200B Boost in American Purchases; Final Preps for Royal Wedding. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 18, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: 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 is now trying to minimize the damage if the source is revealed.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president pushing forward with plans to meet with Kim Jong-un but North Korea with a major reversal about its pledge for transparency, dismantling its nuclear facility.

BRIGGS: A U.S. official says China is on the verge of boosting purchases of American goods by some $200 billion. It will be a major success for President Trump, but China this morning throwing cold water on these reports.

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.

I'm not really a monarchist, though. You know, it's weird. It's a very weird thing. Americans are conflicted.

BRIGGS: You're very excited by this moment.

ROMANS: It's fun to watch an American marrying into the British royal family, but again, we fought a war to end monarchy in this country.

BRIGGS: Set your alarm, my friend.

ROMANS: Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's Friday, May 18th, 5:00 a.m. in the East, 10:00 a.m. in England, 6:00 p.m. on the Korean Peninsula.

Breaking overnight, though, "The Washington Post" reporting President Trump and his allies are ramping up a campaign to undercut the Russia investigation by exposing a top secret FBI source. That has the FBI scram scrambling to protect other live investigations and lessen the dangers associates might face if the informant's identity becomes known.

ROMANS: "The Post" reported earlier this month, an informant that provided information early in the FBI's Russian investigation. The president doing his part to discredit the special counsel,

alleging that his 2016 campaign was spied on, he's even predicting that an ensuing scandal will be bigger than Watergate. This high- stakes standoff pitting President Trump and Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes against the Justice Department and the intelligence agencies. Their leaders warned that identifying the source would put lives in danger.

Just yesterday, the FBI Director Chris Wray appointed by the president said this.


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


BRIGGS: The president's 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 or two inside the Trump campaign.

Now, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about that.


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

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I haven't spoken with him directly about that but certainly have 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, co-founder of the firm that authored that unverified dossier on the president. A close source to Simpson later said he was referring to someone outside the campaign who contacted the FBI.

BRIGGS: President Trump says U.S. and North Korean officials are moving forward with preparations for a summit in Singapore next month , despite the 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. But this morning a major reversal from Pyongyang, causing further concern about cooperation from the regime.

Let's bring in Paula Hancocks live from Seoul with this latest news.

Paula, good morning.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. We have just heard over the past half hour that North Korea has not

accepted the visa applications from South Korean journalists to go and view the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Now, this is the test site where six nuclear tests have been carried out by North Korea.

During that summit and the days afterwards, it was announced that would be shut down, it would be dismantled. North Korea said they would invite South Korean and American journalists to go and witness it, along with South Korean and American experts so that they had full transparency, is the way that they described it.

But the fact is that we're just hearing from the South Korean government now that they have, in fact, rejected or at least not accepted the applications for those South Korean journalists.

So the government trying to figure out what's going on at this point. But even today, another North Korean article slamming the joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea, the Air Force drills called Max Thunder, which happen every year, which the North Koreans see as hostile, also specifying that if the South Koreans don't understand that, that it will be very difficult for the North and South Korean leaders to be meeting in the future.

As of this moment, though, we do expect the U.S. summit to continue, at least that's what we're hearing from U.S. officials, and plans are still being made -- Dave.

[05:05:06] BRIGGS: All right. Paula Hancocks, so much to dissect there -- thank you.

ROMANS: Let's go live to Washington to talk about this a little bit more. Brenna Williams is with us. She's the multiplatform editor of CNN "The Point" in CNN Politics.

What we're hearing, it is not the smooth sailing to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula that it felt like it could be even a couple of weeks ago.

BRENNA WILLIAMS, MULTI-PLATFORM EDITOR, CNN "THE POINT": That's absolutely true. But I don't think that we normally associate smooth sailing and anything having to do with nukes. So I'm not really surprised.

I think it's really interesting to think about this in the broader context of the different issues that have been raised, the different kind of -- I don't want to say stumbling blocks but hurdles that have started popping up between, you know, the agreement to have this meeting and the meeting itself.

I don't think this will be the last stumbling block here. I don't think this will be the last surprise. Hopefully, a dialogue can stay open and that this doesn't jeopardize the talks, as we've been pretty close to talks before, but they haven't happened.

ROMANS: We just don't know so much about that country and what's happening inside that country that one wonders if Kim Jong-un has been moving forward with the global stage but there are elements inside the country who are more entrenched. Don't want to give up the nuclear program, finding reasons --

BRIGGS: That's what it feels like.

WILLIAMS: North Korea is not really known for its transparency with the press, right?

ROMANS: At all. At all.

BRIGGS: But also, we know this. We know that Kim Jong-un is arguably the worst human rights abuser in the world, imprisons people, kills family members and we're going to guarantee his security? I mean, the world is a safer place without nuclear weapons for Kim Jong-un, but imagine guaranteeing his security.

But at the heart of yesterday, Brenna, some miscommunication between John Bolton and President Trump. We're less than a month out from this summit. Does it appear that the president is full read in on the subject? He had no idea what John Bolton was talking about with Chris Wallace.

WILLIAMS: Well, it's interesting, because I feel like, you can really plug in is President Trump plugged in with -- insert name here -- on a variety of issues with a multitude of people in his cabinet and in his administration, right? Is anyone ever really on the same page in this administration? This is a story that we talk about again and again with a variety of topics.

So, I'm not really surprised that that's happening. I don't think that many people were. He has a month to get in on this. It's a complicated subject. If he digs down and does his homework hopefully he will share up prepared and hopefully they'll be on the same page. I think coming in with a united front and having a plan in place and a specific plan in place and goals, hopefully his penchant for negotiating will come in handy here.

ROMANS: China is a big player in this as well. The United States is trying to do a big trade negotiation with China at the same time, China is the enabler of North Korea, you know? So, you've got three dimensional chess going on in this way.

We just heard from the Chinese foreign ministry that, no, no, no, we are not going to buy $200 billion more of American goods. That's an untrue rumor. There's a lot flying around here about these trade negotiations, Brenna.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. And I think, I mean, obviously, you probably know better than any of us. How would they get to this $200 billion number, right? I mean, no one needs $200 billion worth of soy beans and I don't think that they need a whole lot more cars from us. It's -- where would these big-ticket items come from anyway?

So, I'm not surprised to hear that China is saying, whoa, what? Where is this coming from? ROMANS: I think they want high-tech exports that legally we can't

sell them because of laws after Tiananmen Square.

WILLIAMS: Right, exactly, where would that come from?

BRIGGS: Let's work backwards to our top story and these allegations of spying on the Trump campaign. Here's a tweet from the president, while word seems to be coming out of the FBI spied on the Trump campaign with an embedded informant. It's all caps. You have to read it with emphasis there.

Probably no doubt they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign. If so, this is bigger than Watergate. Here is Rudy Giuliani on that very subject on Thursday.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: I'm shocked to hear that they put a spy in the campaign of a major party candidate, or maybe two spies. Now I'm going through my brain. You know, I was a big part of that campaign. I'm trying to figure out who was the spy.


GIULIANI: Now, I'm wondering, was it this person, or that person, or this person? Now, if there's a spy, they got nothing from it.


BRIGGS: OK, Brenna, is it a spy or is it a source?

WILLIAMS: You can't write this stuff. I think it depends on who you ask, honestly. It depends on who you ask.

I mean, the FBI is saying they have a source who has helped them with this investigation and I think the major point here is revealing sources could compromise not only this investigation but ongoing investigations within the FBI, and future investigations, right?

[05:10:07] We were thinking about this in the broader context of, you know, other investigations and just even larger in the Iran deal, right? If America pulls out of that, what does that say to our foreign partners if we start revealing who sources are in investigations and really important investigations for national security and things like that, then in the future are sources going to trust our law enforcement? Right? This stems so much further than just this investigation.

BRIGGS: Yes. And the reporting is that this U.S. citizen, who is a source, not a spy, has provided information over the years to both the FBI and the CIA. So, just another effort to undercut the investigation.

Brenna Williams, thank you. We'll check in with you the next half hour.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Ahead, if meeting your in-laws was tough, well, welcome to Meghan Markle's world. Her mom meets the queen today. And now we know who is walking Meghan down the aisle. Breaking royal news, next, from Windsor.


[05:15:10] ROMANS: Just one day to go until Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot. The preparations in the U.K. in full swing, and just moments, we learned who will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle. Mystery solved.

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

This is remarkable to me because this is now the modern monarchy, divorced future king of England walking down divorced biracial American at Windsor Castle to marry Prince Harry.

It's just wonderful and the new -- the new royal family, I guess.

ANNA STEWART, CNN JOURNALIST: It's so exciting. This was really one of the last pieces of the puzzle that we were all waiting for. You know what? It wasn't what people were predicting. The kind of bets were Doria Ragland, Meghan's mom, may Prince William, maybe even Prince Harry himself.

But it's fantastic that it's Prince Charles, that he doesn't have any daughters he gets to walk a bride down the aisle. I think every man has to do that someday, right? And it's not a first time actually that something like this has happened. You know, Prince Philip, the queen's husband, had to walk the queen's sister, Princess Margaret, down the aisle once before.

So, you know, this isn't breaking with tradition there. We're finding out more about the lemon elder flower cake breaking with tradition again. It isn't a fruitcake that we were expecting for a British royal wedding. While it sounds delicious it's a bit calorific, 20 kilos of butter, 44 pounds I'm told by your very clever American producers who did the math for me, and the same amount of sugar. That said, although it's 10:00 in the morning here, I'm getting pretty hungry.

ROMANS: All right. And again, the breaking news, the breaking news, Prince Charles will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle.

BRIGGS: You called it. You predicted it.

ROMANS: Four hours ago. Women are having a hard time when people say who is going to give her away? Why are we giving women away?

BRIGGS: Walking her down the aisle.

Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano spewing ash 30,000 feet into the air. Officials warning everyone in the area to stay indoors after handing out nearly 18,000 masks. Volcanic activity expected to linger.

Overnight, several fissures reactivated with lava flows in Leilani Estates.

We get more now from CNN's Stephanie Elam has more.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, it was an early morning wake-up call as Kilauea continues to erupt. It was just after 4:00 in the morning when there was 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 -- the lava getting below the water table and the lava and water mixing and then causing these eruptions.

While that is happening there's still the issue of the people who live in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens.

It almost looks like we're on a different planet when you get to see up close what the lava has done inside of Leilani Estates. This is the first real look that we've been able to have to see what it's done to this neighborhood and it doesn't even look like homes were here.

This was a road. You can see the power lines down and you can 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 can 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 cases, it has already done that -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Stephanie.

BRIGGS: All right. You are about to witness the single greatest home run trot in the history of baseball. Lindsay Czarniak is here with the "Bleacher Report". A heartwarming one, next.

Those moments, you can't get enough of.


[05:23:34] BRIGGS: It's 5:23. Home advantage is not the series as Capitals drop another game at home.

ROMANS: Lindsay Czarniak has more in the "Bleacher Report".

Hi, Lindsay.


This is really incredible. The Capitals, they do not do well with high expectations. Alex Ovechkin kept saying that no one believe they would get this far. The moment they get into a high stakes situation where they are expected to achieve greatness, it seems as if it's too much. That's what happened last night, because after losing game three at home, Alex Ovechkin, he knew the importance of taking one more game before going back on the road.

Here he is, pregame, all focus. They're two wins away for a chance to play in the Stanley Cup final. Tampa a 2-1 lead. Capitals were able to hang in there. Ovechkin on a goal that tied it at 2 and gave the arena new life. But Tampa scored the game winner with eight minutes left.

Alex Ovechkin was so frustrated, he takes the stick, bangs it on the goal there. Neither team has won at home. Now, Tampa will be the first to try to do that first in the series, currently tied at two games a piece.

Now, losing one game is one thing. How about losing every game in the NFL season? That's what the Cleveland Browns did. Yesterday, HBO announcing Browns will be the subject of hard knocks this upcoming season. The NFL all-access reality show.

[05:25:01] As they rebuild around their top draft pick Baker Mayfield, they decided they're just going to put it all on display. GM John Dorsey was against this idea when asked about it last month, but then after sitting with people and hearing more about it, he actually thinks this would be good for his organization to show fans how hard they are working to win.

I know you have an opinion about this, Dave Briggs. Christine, you probably do as well.

BRIGGS: Awful idea.

ROMANS: I actually don't.

BRIGGS: Awful idea.

CZARNIAK: When you have a guy coming into the league --

BRIGGS: You're 0-16, you need less directions.

CZARNIAK: Right, but they think they're going to take it and run with it. We'll see how quarterback Baker Mayfield does with this situation.

We've got to show you this video right now. An incredible moment that happened on the baseball field after -- look at this kid. He's amazing. He hit a home run. He plays for a league called the League of Yes.

He hit that home run and you can see the reaction and celebration of his teammate. Isn't that awesome? Billy has Down syndrome, yes. And, Billy -- it's an awesome obviously moment for him. It's so important and so key because this league focuses on inclusion and self-esteem. Look at how he and his peers are reacting. What a special moment for Billy.

ROMANS: Love it.

BRIGGS: Sports rule, you know? That's what makes sports so beautiful.

CZARNIAK: It's awesome.

ROMANS: Lindsay Czarniak, thank you. Nice to see you.

CZARNIAK: Thanks, guys.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump and his allies are reportedly trying to expose a top secret source at the FBI, part of an effort to undermine the Russian probe. The bureau scrambling to minimize the fallout.