Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

DOJ to Share Classified Information with GOP Lawmakers; South Korean President Visits White House; Kilauea's Growing Threat. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 22, 2018 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:30:09] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The investigators are about to be investigated. The president demands top intel officials show lawmakers classified information related to the Russia investigation.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Critical day ahead of the North Korea summit. South Korea's president at the White House to ease concerns. Reports from Seoul and North Korea moments away.

ROMANS: And a live look at what is happening at Kilauea. No signs of slow down for this volcano. New eruptions and new lava fountains. Glass forming and flying in the air. We have more from Hawaii.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 4:30 Eastern Time, 10:30 p.m. there in Hawaii. We'll check in there shortly.

We start, though, with the president and his demands. He demanded Republican lawmakers get to see highly classified information and now it will happen. Top officials at the Justice Department agreeing to share documents as controversy builds over the bureau use of the confidential intelligence during the 2016 campaign.

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

More now from senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: All right. Jeff Zeleny there at the White House, thank you.

Deputy Attorney General, meanwhile, 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, a Republican mind you, 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 manager David Bossie. None of those reached for willing to talk on the record.

ROMANS: All right. With 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 increasingly skeptical about the meeting with Kim Jong-un actually taking place after recent the harsh rhetoric from the North Koreans.

Last night, the Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea could end up like Libya if it fails to make a nuclear deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Libya, abandoned nuclear ambitions in the nearly 2000s, but Muammar Gadhafi was overthrown eventually by Washington-backed rebels a few years later.

Ivan Watson live from Seoul with the latest developments.

How is this flying -- these recent comments from the vice president?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We haven't gotten response from Pyongyang yet. But certainly what just a week ago looked like a possible peace process for the Korean peninsula now looks a lot more precarious, Christine, because Vice President Pence went on to say that the military option had never been taken off the table by the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, the North Korean government continues to bash South Korea in the North Korean-state media.

[04:35:03] It has punished it by basically dis-inviting South Korean journalists from attending a ceremony that the North Koreans have described as dismantling of their main nuclear testing facility which we expect could happen later this week. South Korean government has formally expressed regret about this.

And this is notable because it's the South Korean president who's about to meet President Trump in the White House today who has styled himself as the North Korea whisperer, the mediator who's trying to bring these two together to come to a peace deal. And instead, he is now criticized on almost a daily basis by the North Korean government. So, it's raised a lot of questions and it seems to have done away with a lot of the momentum, the diplomatic momentum, that we felt again just five, six days ago -- Christine and Dave.

ROMANS: Yes, remarkable how that changed.

OK, Ivan Watson for us in Seoul -- thanks, Ivan.

BRIGGS: OK. North Korea vowing to dismantle its main nuclear testing facility this week. The Kim regime promising to do it in a transparent manner, announcing international media will be invited to cover this event.

Very fortunate to have CNN's Will Ripley on the ground in Wonsan, North Korea -- Will.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, on the ground here, we, along with a small group of international press have been invited to the coastal city of Wonsan to witness what North Korea says will be their first step towards denuclearization, the destruction of their nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, the site of six North Korean nuclear tests. One last year, it triggered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that was even felt in China and detected all around the world. The North Koreans say they take us from this coastal city about 11

hours by train, four hours by car and then an hour hike after that to this remote mountain site, a place where foreign journalists have never been allowed before to witness for ourselves, what the North Korea says, is the dismantlement of this site. Something that they say is a gesture that they are serious about giving up nuclear weapons ahead of these crucial talks in Singapore scheduled for June 12th with President Trump -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Extraordinary reporting there from Will Ripley in North Korea.

Meanwhile, plenty of news coming from the White House, but for a third straight weekday, no press briefing. That is just fine with former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. He told C-Span on-camera briefings are worth reexamining.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Now, it's a show some argue that Sean Spicer started on January 21st, 2017, taking on crowd size theories from the resident, his tenure as press secretary, marked by frequent and contentious briefings. Spicer himself, as you know, parodied by Melissa McCarthy on "SNL".

ROMANS: All right. Primary voters heading to the polls in Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky and Georgia today. The big story is in Georgia, where former statehouse minority leader Stacey Abrams is trying to become the nation's first black female governor. If she wins the Democratic nomination will enter the general election as a heavy underdog in deep red Georgia. A total of 46 women have filed to run in governor races this year. That shatters the previous record of 34 back in 1994.

BRIGGS: "Politico" reporting President Trump uses a White House- issued cell phone that is not equipped with sophisticated security features, potentially exposing him to hacking or surveillance. Critics might also call it hypocritical given his attacks on Hillary Clinton for using a private e-mail server. The report says the president has rebuffed staff efforts to strengthen security around his phones. Officials say he uses at least two iPhones, one for making calls, the other equipped only with the Twitter app and reloaded with a handful of news sites. Aides urged the president to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis, but he has resisted those efforts, calling them too inconvenient.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GUNFIRE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. Shots fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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.

[04:40:06] ROMANS: A big vote on worker rights. The Supreme Court siding with companies, allowing them to block employees from banding together to fight legal disputes.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's appointee, wrote the rulings of the 5-4 majority. The court endorsed the practice of companies forcing workers to sign arbitration agreements. They resolve disputes outside a courtroom.

Companies love arbitration. It also means smaller payouts and blocks class action suits, which are harder to fight in individual cases. Companies face a growing number of class action claims especially about worker pay. But this ruling could apply to discrimination claims like those raised by me too.

In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the ruling egregiously wrong. She urged Congress to take action to protect workers rights. And there are companies who are saying that we're going to force people into arbitration anymore because how do you prevent the bad behavior in the workplace, right, if it's always settled quietly under the cover of darkness, you know? I mean, that was the big question with Me Too.

BRIGGS: Yes, too much of that is happening.

OK. The pictures, folks, they never cease to amaze. Also the sounds of the lava fountain and blasting shooting up in the air. More concerns of toxic gasses and evacuations. We have the latest from the Kilauea eruption, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:45:36] ROMANS: These are live pictures of ongoing eruption of the Kilauea volcano posing a danger on several levels this morning. There was another explosive eruption at the summit before midnight Eastern, that's 6:00 p.m. in Hawaii. And now, there are concerns additional evacuations may be needed.

Our Stephanie Elam has been there for several days, following all this for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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.

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Stephanie Elam, great reporting.

Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott's re-election campaign pulled a gun giveaway from its Website. The campaign was planning to give away a, quote, Texas made shotgun, but after last week's deadly high school shooting that left ten dead, the shotgun is off the table and $250 gift certificate replaces.

Students in the district will return to class on May 29th. Teachers and support staff due back tomorrow.

The Galveston County sheriff praising school resource officers for saving lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

BRIGGS: Critics are calling incoming NRA President Oliver North a hypocrite for these comments about the Santa Fe school shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLIVER NORTH, INCOMING NRA PRESIDENT: The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence. All you need to do is turn on the TV, go to a movie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: So, we did look at the movies and TV, and it turns out, in 2012, Oliver North worked as a promoter, consultant and voice actor for the first person shooter game "Call of Duty: Black Ops II." He also received a writing credit for 2014 episode of the FX espionage show "The Americans." And that episode contained a depiction of a young man having his throat slit.

ROMANS: All right. A 62-year-old North Carolina man facing murder charges for driving his car into the restaurant and killing his daughter and daughter-in-law. Roger Self making his first court appearance on Monday. Killed in the crash Self's daughter in law, Amanda, a nurse, and his daughter Katelyn, a deputy at the Gaston County jail where her father is now being held. A pastor at the family's church tells a local CNN affiliate Roger Self was dealing with mental illness and seeking medical help in recent months.

BRIGGS: New York City police investigating chef Mario Batali for alleged sexual misconduct. This follows the "60 Minutes" report Sunday in which former employees told Anderson Cooper about Batali's inappropriate behavior.

[04:50:01] One woman claims he grabbed her breast and says she saw him groped a woman who appeared to be unconscious or semi-conscious. Another spoke about a night she spent with Batali when she believes she might have been drugged. Batali said in a statement to CNN, he denies any allegations of sexual assault.

ROMANS: A monkey running amuck at San Antonio International Airport after escaping from its crate. Airport officials say the monkey had just arrived Monday on an American Airlines flight from Chicago when he made a break for it. The monkey briefly ran loose before being captured in a baggage handling area. No passengers or flights were affected by the incident.

He was basically heading for retirement from the lab, right? I mean, he was working with researchers I think at Brown University. He was on the way to an animal refuge. I mean, the little guy is smart.

BRIGGS: Twitter loved that monkey. He would be awesome coming out of the baggage claim, slide down, and ride around the carousel. That would have been a moment.

ROMANS: All right. The Obama's are coming to Netflix in a first of its kind deal for a former U.S. president. Details on CNNMoney, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:55:46] MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

The 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.

Good evening, Sam.

Many are feeling this is a plan towards regime change. What's the reaction from Iran?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hassan Rouhani, certainly from internal politics is concerned, the relatively moderate president, has been entirely dismissive of this latest policy announcement from the United States, saying that the United States doesn't get to dictate terms to other nations. Other nations have their own sovereign approach.

And, of course, he is appealing directly to the European nations who are meeting later on today in Brussels to discuss their next step forward with regard to the sanctions that the United States says it wants to impose to, quote, crush the economy or force change upon what they call the regime in Tehran. These really sanctions by proxy because the European Union has plans for a lot of business and some business in Iran, whereas the United States has practically none. So, any future sanctions would really impact most heavily on European nations and they are extremely uncomfortable with this new shift in American policy.

BRIGGS: Sam Kiley, live for us, just about 1:00 p.m. there in Abu Dhabi, thanks.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNNMoney this morning.

A trade war with China may be on hold and Wall Street loves it. Both countries agree to a trade cease-fire pushing the Dow 300 points higher, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also up. Stocks boosted by companies like Boeing and Caterpillar, both do big business in China. U.S. computer chipmakers also higher, especially those that supply ZTE.

The hope is the U.S. will save the Chinese company. That is the hope if you are a company supplying to ZTE, not necessarily the hope of the intel community here in the U.S. Right now, global stocks and the U.S. futures are mixed.

Big trouble for big food. America's cereal, soda and soup companies are in turmoil. Investors don't think they can keep up with changing consumer tastes. Think Campbell's Soup, General mills, Pepsi. Consumer staple shares are down 13 percent this year, on track for the worst year in a decade. The problem is sales growth is stalling as costs rice for oil, for shipping, for materials.

In the past, companies would just raise prices. But guess what? They don't have the pricing power today.

Blame the likes of Walmart and Amazon. They're waging a price war. They're lowering expectations for the cost of a box of cereal or a bar of soap. I guess that's all good for consumers.

The Obamas are coming to Netflix both in front and behind the camera. It's a first of its kind deal for the former president and first lady. They signed a multi-year production deal producing both scripted and unscripted series and documentaries. Sometimes the Obamas will be on camera as hosts and moderators. Other times they will be producers.

Netflix did not reveal the cost that the Obamas give Netflix valuable content for its 125 million members. Netflix is paying a lot for original programming. Planning $8 billion on content this year alone.

BRIGGS: Initially, there's little pushback from conservative subscribers of Netflix saying, we're going to get off the streaming service. They have been clear this will not address politics, will not or conservatives or Democrats or President Trump, but inspirational content.

ROMANS: Netflix has a wide variety of content, too, right?

BRIGGS: No question about that.

EARLY START continues right now.