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Lawmakers to See Confidential Intel; South Korean President Visits White House; Kilauea's Growing Threat. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 22, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:14] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Lawmakers will get to see classified information related to the Russia investigation. Top intel officials met with the president who claims his campaign was infiltrated by an FBI source.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Critical day ahead of the North Korea's summit. South Korea's president comes to the White House to try to ease concerns about Kim Jong-un. Reports from Seoul and North Korea moments away.

BRIGGS: And these are live pictures. Ten p.m. in Hawaii. No signs of slowing from the Kilauea Volcano. New eruptions. New lava fountains. Glass flying in the air.

We have more from Hawaii. Just look at that, Christine Romans. Hard to believe this is not a movie set. This is for real.

ROMANS: The pictures, and sounds that go with the pictures just monumental.

BRIGGS: Good morning and good evening to everyone in Hawaii.

Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, May 22nd. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East here.

Let's start in Washington. The president demanded it, now Republican lawmakers will get their chance to review highly classified information about the Russia investigation. Top officials at the Justice Department agreeing to share the documents as controversy building over the bureau's use of a confidential intelligence source during the 2016 presidential campaign.

BRIGGS: The decision coming after President Trump met with three top intel officials at the White House.

We get more now from senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, it's another chapter in the development of President Trump's ongoing war with his own Justice Department. Some fascinating moments here at the White House on Monday, when the deputy director of the Department of Justice, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is supervising the Russia probe, came to the White House to meet with the president, as did the FBI director and the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.

They talked for an hour or so Monday afternoon. The result of it is essentially that the Department of Justice is going to at least look into the president's complaint that there was a confidential source, he says, inside the campaign, who was potentially providing information to the FBI, which launched this entire Russia investigation in more than a year and a half ago. Now, there has been nothing to back that up or corroborate that, but the inspector general at the Department of Justice is going to look into this.

One thing that came out of the meeting, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is apparently going to be sitting down with some congressional leaders in the week here to look over highly sensitive classified documents. Now, that is something they have been trying to look into. But at the root of all of this, it's a political fight over this Russia investigation. The president wants the investigators to be investigated.

The president's re-election committee was sending out a blast e-mail saying to fight the biggest scandal that has happened in Washington in decades. It's clear the president and advisers are trying to raise questions about this investigation. They seem to know something more about the investigation than we do. They seem to know that something may be coming. So, the president clearly putting more emphasis on trying on this to discredit all of this -- Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny at the White House -- thanks, Jeff.

Rod Rosenstein also a target from outside the White House. CNN has learned a group of external Trump advisors are aggressively campaigning to attack Rosenstein as part of the deep state plot against the president. They have been pressuring Trump-friendly media outlets and the president himself to force Rosenstein to reveal private details about the Russia investigation.

Leading that group, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and former deputy campaign manager, David Bossy. None of those reached for comment were willing to talk on the record.

BRIGGS: Three weeks to go before the U.S.-North Korea summit, President Trump meets with South Korean president Moon at the White House today. Sources tell CNN administration aides are growing skeptical about the meeting with Kim Jong-un, actually taking place after recent harsh rhetoric from North Koreans. Last night, Vice President Pence warned North Korea could like Libya if it fails to make a nuclear deal.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn't make a deal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people saw that as a threat.

PENCE: Well, I think it's more of a fact.


BRIGGS: Libya, of course, abandoned nuclear weapons in the early 2000s. But Muammar Gadhafi was overthrown by Washington-backed rebels a few years later and, of course, was killed.

Ivan Watson live from Seoul with the latest developments.

Good morning, Ivan.


You know, Vice President Pence went on to say in that interview that the military option for North Korea has never been taken off the table. And it's remarkable how much of a change we have seen from kind of the positive diplomatic messages that were coming out of both Washington and Pyongyang in recent months to suddenly seeing threats, pretty thinly veiled threats being sent now. And it's a sign of how rapidly it appears that the mood has changed.

Now, President Trump will be sitting down face-to-face in the White House with the South Korean president in a matter of hours. This will be an important meeting because the South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been styling himself as a mediator here, as a North Korean whisperer, if you will.

But North and South Korean relations have deteriorated as well with North Korea just publishing these broadsides on state media denouncing South Korea for its joint aerial defense drills with the U.S. this week and actually dis-inviting South Korean journalists from attending a ceremony in North Korea that's expected to take place later this week. That is supposed to be the dismantling of North Korea's main nuclear testing site, an agreement that came when things were looking far rosier. So, a lot more seems to be in the air right now just a few weeks out from this much anticipated meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un -- Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: A nice segue to that dismantling. We'll talk about that in just a moment. Ivan Watson, live for us in Seoul, thanks.

ROMANS: All right. The U.S. and China entering a deal that would save Chinese tech firm ZTE, part of both countries' pledge to put the trade war on hold.

"The Wall Street Journal" says the U.S. plans to life a sales ban on ZTE that was punishment for violating U.S. sanctions. The ban blocked ZTE from buying vital U.S. parts crippling it. Instead, ZTE will face management changes and big fines. In return, China may remove tariffs on farm products. The details are, of course, still in the works. ZTE's fate is of question as Washington and Beijing announce a trade

cease-fire. Both countries declared victory as they agree to hold more talks and work out a deal, including how China plans to buy more U.S. goods.

President Trump promises China will buy from, quote, our great American farmers, practically as much as our farmers can produce. But listen, folks, China gave no details and no timeline. And right now, China appears to be the bigger beneficiary in these negotiations. Why? The U.S. puts its $50 billion tariffs threat on hold, offered ZTE a lifeline.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross heads to China next week to work on a deal. Experts say a firm agreement will likely take some time. This is not a deal. This is a framework to eventually get a deal and the pause button gets hit on those $50 billion in products where they have tariffs.

BRIGGS: Which were justified as a national security concern.

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: So, those are going to go away, but ZTE, it looks like, will come back. All of the intel community agrees that is a national security concern.

ROMANS: That's absolutely right. That's absolutely right. Markets loved it.

BRIGGS: Quite a negotiation.

ROMANS: The markets loved it, by the way.


Plenty of news coming from the White House today for a third straight weekday. There will be no press briefing. And that's fine with former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

In an interview with C-Span, Spicer says the daily on-camera briefing is worth re-examining.


SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The briefing has become more of a show than an outlet of information for the media. And I think we should provide the media on a daily basis answers to the questions that they have, updates to issues that are ongoing. But I think the time and effort that it takes to get that briefing going and what you get on the outside -- you know, in return is not worth it anymore.


BRIGGS: You'll recall that Spicer's tenure as White House press secretary is marked by frequently contentious and confrontational briefings. Spicer himself was parodied to great acclaimed by Melissa McCarthy on "SNL."

ROMANS: All right. Nine minutes past the hour. Body cam video revealing an intense showdown as police are trying to find a gunman at Trump National Doral Resort in Miami Friday.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. Shots fired.


ROMANS: The Miami-Dade officer firing and ducking for cover before entering the lobby. The officer can be heard asking how to get downstairs before eventually going upstairs as the suspect's description comes in.

BRIGGS: Forty-two-year-old Jonathan Oddi was shot in the leg before he was arrested. He faces charges including attempted second-degree murder. Police say he draped an American flag across the front desk and shouted derogatory comments about the president before pulling out a gun.

ROMANS: All right. The pictures never cease to amaze. A lava fountain, glass shooting up. Now, more concerns of toxic gas and evacuations. More from Kilauea, next.


[04:14:08] BRIGGS: These are live pictures of lava spewing out of the Kilauea Volcano, 10:14 p.m. there in Hawaii as this eruption just continues to evolve day by day. Listen to this for a second.

Not a movie set. Those are live pictures happening right now as we speak. Posing danger on several levels. There was another explosive eruption at the summit just before midnight Eastern, 6:00 p.m. in Hawaii.

Now, new concerns that additional evacuations may be needed. We get more now from Stephanie Elam in Hawaii.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, from this vantage point, you can see that the Kilauea eruption continues. Let me step out so you can get a good luck at this lava fountain that continues to explode up to the sky here.

[04:15:03] At times, it gets stronger and softer. But the force is still quite obviously there, adding to that river of black lava that has coursed down the side here into the ocean and from here and from helicopter as we have seen the plume where the lava is running into the ocean is still very much releasing steam. That mixture of something called laze of hydrochloric acid, as well particles of glass which could be dangerous to the skin, the eyes and breathing as well.

That plume has been nonstop since the lava has hit the ocean and continues to hit there. The air quality is also still a very big concern for the people who live here as those plumes of volcanic gasses continue to erupt from the earth. Also, in the distance, you hear the loud sonic boom sometimes, every now and then. That would be volcanic gasses escaping from the earth, sometimes tossing up lava bombs, huge molten rock pieces that can come out of there. So, that's a danger as well.

But at this point, officials are asking anyone who lives south of this risk zone that runs here on the big island to be prepared without much notice, that they may actually have to get out of here as the lava continues to flow -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Stephanie for us, great work out there. Thanks, Stephanie.

To Texas now where the Governor Greg Abbott's re-election campaign has pulled a gun giveaway from its Website. The campaign was planning to giveaway a, quote, Texas made shotgun. But after last week's deadly high school shooting that left ten dead, the shotgun is now off the table in a $250 gift certificate replaces it. Students from the district will return to class May 29th. Teachers and support staff are due back tomorrow. Galveston County sheriff praising school officers for saving lives.


HENRY TROCHESSET, GALVESTON COUNTY SHERIFF: The heroes from the ISD engaged this individual in approximately four minutes, and stayed engaged with him, keeping him contained and engaged so that other heroes that continued to arrive could evacuate the teachers, administrators and students from this school.


BRIGGS: The sheriff does not believe any of the victims were killed by crossfire during the confrontation between officers and the shooter. Autopsy results, though, are still pending. Expect school safety to be a major topic when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies today over at the House Education Committee.

ROMANS: An Oregon judge ordering a teenager to pay $36 million for starting the Eagle Creek Wildfire last year. The teen admits tossing fireworks in the woods while hiking, igniting a fire that torched more than 48,000 acres. The teenager's attorney calls the ruling absurd.

But the judge argues the restitution is proportional because it does not exceed the financial damage that the teen caused. If the teen cannot make the entire payment, $36 million, he'll have to set up a pay schedule. In February, the teen apologized for his actions in court. BRIGGS: The NBA's eastern conference finals square at two games apiece. The Cleveland Cavaliers beating the Boston Celtics 111-102 Monday night. LeBron James dominating 44 points. LeBron's 24th post season game with 40 other more and sixth this post-season alone. The series now a best of five game tomorrow night in Boston, where the Celtics are undefeated at home.

And tonight, Houston and Golden State, 2-1 series there, Warriors.

ROMANS: All right. The secretary of state with the stern message to Iran.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Iran will be forced to make a choice. Either fight to keep its economy off life support or keep squandering precious wealth and fights abroad.


ROMANS: More of Mike Pompeo's warnings to Iran and the reaction. We'll live in the Middle East, next.



POMPEO: The Iranian regime should know that this is just the beginning. This sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the League of Nations.


BRIGGS: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo there threatening to crush Iran with economic and military pressure. In a speech Monday, Pompeo outlined the new policy toward Iran and he's promising the harshest sanctions to date if the Iranians don't change their behavior in the Middle East.

This tough rhetoric coming just weeks after President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

CNN's Sam Kiley live for us in Abu Dhabi.

SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think there is really any other way that this plan will be interpreted as anything other than regime change. It sort of echoes of 2002 and early 2003 with reference to Iraq, but this is about Iran.

Secretary Pompeo there saying that he wanted to encourage the minority ethnic groups Kurds, Baluchis, Arab speaking Iranians to rise up against the central government, imposing 12 conditions for future talks which would effectively demand an end to Iran's activities in the region, an end to the backing of Hamas and Hezbollah operations in Yemen and in Syria. All of which would be partly endorsed by the America's European allies, where they are very uncomfortable, and there is a high level meeting later on today, Dave, in Brussels to discuss this among the European capitals, the leaders from those capitals, because essentially what the United States is demanding is that the Europeans effectively impose sanctions, American sanctions by proxy.

[04:25:05] There is practically no trade between the U.S. and Iran that could be affected by sanctions, but there is some among the Europeans. As a consequence of that, Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign minister has issued a statement saying she fails to see how the American new policy would lead to stability in the region, would in anyway make the region safer from nuclear threat. Of course, the Iranians have been entirely dismissive of this new policy.

BRIGGS: As we expected.

Sam Kiley live for us in Abu Dhabi, thank you, sir.

ROMANS: All right. Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

The investigators are about to be investigated. Classified information related to the Russia probe will be shown to lawmakers.