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U.S.-North Korea Summit Back On Track?; North Korean Summit: Who Blinked?; Trump's Phony Tweet About White House Briefing; Giuliani Admits Strategy To Undermine Russia Probe; Trump To Attend Memorial Day Observance; Subtropical Storm Threatens Florida, Gulf Coast; New Volcano Evacuations In Hawaii. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2018 - 05:00   ET




ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, flash floods watching away part of a Baltimore suburb. The pictures are incredible. Ellicott City is completely under water for the second time in almost two years.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're looking at June 12th in Singapore. That hasn't changed.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: New efforts to revive the Singapore summit. U.S. team on the ground in North Korea. So, who blinked, the president or Kim Jong-un?

KOSIK: And while the president's unfounded claims of a spy in the campaign, his lawyer admits it is a tactic and blames the special counsel.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: They're giving us the material to do it. This is for public opinion.


BRIGGS: Rudy's at it again.

KOSIK: He is being really transparent.

BRIGGS: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START.

KOSIK: I'm Alison Kosik. Good morning to you.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Monday, May 28th. It's Memorial Day, 5 a.m. in the east. We are remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We start with the latest on North Korea. Just like that. The summit between the U.S. and North Korea may be back on.

An American delegation traveled to North Korea Sunday for talks to prepare for a possible meeting between President Trump and North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un. A delegation will focus on the substance of the talks while another team is focusing on the logistics. They left for Singapore this weekend.

KOSIK: Both moves among the signs the summit maybe back on track after President Trump abruptly pulled out last week. There was also this comment from the president. Listen.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think there is a lot of goodwill. I think people want to see if we can get the meeting and get something done. It is moving along very nicely. So, we're looking at June 12th in Singapore. That hasn't changed.


KOSIK: For the latest now, let's go to CNN's Matt Rivers joining us live from Seoul, South Korea. Good morning, Matt.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison. Yes, the big development over the last 24 hours or so is that the U.S. delegation made its way to the demilitarized zone meeting with their North Korean counterparts. We know the U.S. delegation is led by the current ambassador to the Philippines for the U.S., Sung Kim.

Sung Kim was previously the ambassador in South Korea and had a huge role in the negotiations with North Korea back in the mid-2000s. So clearly some experience there on the U.S. side.

That is followed several days really since that summit was canceled by the United States of optimistic signs. The North Koreans want it to happen. The Americans want it to happen and the South Koreans, more than anyone else, really pushing for this summit to happen here.

We saw that meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Kim Jong-un, a surprise meeting on Saturday. That meeting was all about trying to make the summit happen. We are hearing from the South Korean side that the North Koreans remain committed to denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

What they want in return for that from the United States is the big question. But clearly, the South Koreans are the third party here that is really trying to bring all of this together. That may be coming at the expense of a country like China.

China, of course, trying to do what it can to influence these discussions, North Korean side. And one quick note before we send it back to you, there was a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea within the last 48 hours, we're told, where U.S. Navy ships sailed close to those artificial islands the South China Sea.

That is a good reminder it is a good relationship. That is a sign what happens in one spot of East Asia can have an impact on these ongoing negotiations.

KOSIK: Exactly. And the trade negotiations that are ongoing between the U.S. and China also impacting what happens with North Korea as well. All right. Thanks so much, Matt Rivers live for us from Seoul.

BRIGGS: Let's chat more about this with Sarah Westwood, CNN White House reporter, up and early on Memorial Day. Good morning, Sarah. Thank you so much.

All right. Let's talk about the Singapore summit. What changed between the time the president sent out that premature breakup letter and now. Is it simply being nice to the president and then I'll meet with you?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN REPORTER: Right. It is almost as if President Trump never canceled the meeting. There seems to be, though, disagreement within the administration about whether it is still doable to hold that meeting on June 12th.

Because remember, not only did they lose several days between now and the cancellation, but U.S. officials have said the North Koreans were unresponsive for a week leading up to the cancellation. That is part of why President Trump issued that very interesting letter scrapping the summit all together.

So now we just have 15 days before the June 12th, the date of the summit. There is a lot of ground still to cover between the North Koreans and U.S. Not just logistically for the meeting of this size and caliber, but in terms of what the substance of the talks will entail.

[00:05:06] The North Koreans seemed to be making some demands of the Trump administration that go against what Trump ultimately said he would be willing to do. For instance, he said he was not willing to do easing out the North Korean sanctions incrementally.

He wanted North Korea to disarm completely before they considered lifting the economic pressure they've put on North Korea. It is not clear that that's going to be acceptable to Pyongyang. So, there's a lot to get done in these last 15 days and it's not clear what changed between now and Thursday.

KOSIK: It is also not clear yet if June 12th is really going to stick. It is something that we saw the president really pounce on after a "New York Times" article talking about the background briefing that happened at the White House on Saturday.

He tweeted this, "The failing "New York Times" quotes a senior White House official who doesn't exist as saying even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12th would be impossible given the lack of time and amount of planning needed. Wrong again. Use real people, not phony sources."

Here's the thing. This is not White House source. This meeting did happen in front -- this White House briefing did happen in front of hundreds of reporters. This happened on Saturday. It was a question and answer.

The deputy press secretary introduced this official. We had David Sanger from "The New York Times" saying this the Reason that this official was not named in our story is that the White House press office insisted that it's briefing for hundreds of reporters was on background.

Best way to alleviate the president's concern about anonymous sources would be for the White House to name the official." But at this point, Sarah, it looks like the president himself is calling this White House official fake.

WESTWOOD: Right. It's a particularly brazen attack from Trump, who has gone after the use of anonymous sources before because this was someone who was authorized to speak on behalf of the administration, who was delivering the party line from the White House. This was scheduled in advance.

This took place very close to the oval office. So, it is pretty remarkable for president Trump to go after someone who was tasked with explaining the administration's position on North Korea.

It shows just how clear and deep those divisions are within the administration about whether the June 12th summit is doable, logistics, substance. All of it is still up for debate internally.

With just 15 days left, I think that there is a lot of pressure right now on the White House to try to smooth that over. They have already given critics a lot of whiplash and room it to criticize the meeting that was generating a lot of skepticism in Washington beforehand. They definitely have a difficult task ahead of them.

BRIGGS: Not clear if the president knows or cares what a background briefing is. He gets his narrative out there. His supporters don't read David Sanger and Maggie Haberman. So, in the end here, he probably reinforces his fake news narrative whether or not it is false or not.

But let's talk about the PR strategy of the Mueller probe and how they are fighting back. Rudy Giuliani making more news on Sunday with Dana Bash. Listen to what Rudy said.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: They are giving us the material. I couldn't do it if they didn't have the material. Of course, we have to do it in defending the president. To a large extent, remember, Dana, we are defending here for public opinion. Eventually the decision here is going to be impeach or not impeach. Members of Congress, Democrats or Republicans, will be informed a lot by their constituents. Our jury is as it should be, the American people.


BRIGGS: Again, a stunning bit of almost transparency by Rudy. Just admitting what this is all about. Is this effective? Is this how you should defend an innocent client?

WESTWOOD: Rudy's candor continues to get the White House in trouble. I think he's saying what a lot of Democrats and critics suspected, which is that there is not legitimate concern within the White House or some Republicans that the FBI's authority was abused.

But they do just want to win for President Trump in the court of public opinion that eventually if the Mueller investigation does produce something that leaves Trump legally vulnerable. President Trump can inoculate himself against that by convincing large swath of the public that the investigation was not legitimate to begin with.

And that's clearly what they are doing. Rudy Giuliani admitting as much. That's going to make it difficult to push this whole conspiracy theory about the spy with credibility in the future.

KOSIK: And not to mention the tweet storm the president happening over the weekend. Did you count how many?

BRIGGS: I lost track.

KOSIK: I did too.

BRIGGS: All right. Sarah Westwood, we'll check back in with you about 30 minutes. Thank you.

Meanwhile, former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine after waking up Sunday morning experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue. He is expected to remain in a hospital a few days. His spokesperson is describing him as awake and alert.

Senior staff, Gene Becker, saying (inaudible) lot of friends and family saying Bush must have partied too hard with the American legion this weekend. Mr. Bush was admitted to a Houston hospitalized last month after contracting an infection one day after his wife, Barbara's funeral.

[00:10:02] KOSIK: America's fallen service members will be honored later this morning at the 150th Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery. The U.S. Army military district of Washington will conduct a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier followed by an observance program hosted by the Defense Department. President Trump is scheduled to attend. He is proclaiming this Memorial Day a day of prayer for permanent peace.

BRIGGS: State of emergency declared in Howard County, Maryland after the massive storm slammed the Baltimore region triggering flash floods in Ellicott City. Cars as you can see swept up in a wave of brown wall rushing right through the city's historic main street. Eight inches of rain fell in just a few hours.

It sent the nearby river to a record-breaking depth. In some areas, waters reached above the first floor windows. At one point, deputies moved a CNN crew and others in the area due to a suspected gas leak. The rushing water so powerful, it left cars upended. Check this out. Barely two years after the city was ravaged by yet another flood. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT HIBAN, ELLICOTT CITY RESIDENT: The floor was flooded with water. Water was coming in through the walls.

PHILEMON KENDZIERSKI, ELLICOTT CITY RESIDENT: It is hard to see every time it rains here. The community's heart stops. I don't know what we will do. I can tell you Ellicott City is the strongest community I've even been part with. We will rebuild the best we can here.


BRIGGS: Hope so. Fortunately, no injuries or fatalities had been reported.

KOSIK: OK, there is another major weather concern. Subtropical storm, Alberto, threatening Florida and the gulf coast. The first named storm of the 2018 season making for a messy Memorial Day. Delta has issued a travel waiver for Alabama and Florida ahead of Alberto. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar has more. Good morning.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alison, our first named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Alberto, is already bringing very heavy rainfall to the areas of the southeast. It will continue to take that heavy rain off to the north in the coming hours.

We expect landfall of Tropical Storm Alberto to happen within the next 12 hours. Even though impacts have already started for Florida within the last 24 hours. You can notice as it continues to the north that is going to weaken quickly. This is fantastic news.

However, that doesn't mean the storm will dissipate entirely. We still expect to have very heavy rainfall. Not just for the gulf coast states, but even further inland. Cities like Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, can still expect to have widespread amounts of 4 to 6 inches of rain with isolated spots especially along the coastal regions picking up 8 to 10 inches of rain.

Here is a look at the forecast. Again, you can see heavy rain pushing up the coast into states like Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and eventually up into areas of the mid-Atlantic, say, for example, around Washington, D.C. and Baltimore where they are still recovering from the flooding that took place on Sunday.

KOSIK: All right. Thanks, Allison. Hurricane season runs from June to November. Get ready.

BRIGGS: Ahead, lava fountains reaching as high as 200 feet in Leilani Estates. New evacuations from the Kilauea Volcano. The latest from Hawaii is next.



KOSIK: Breaking overnight. New evacuations under way in Hawaii, increased volcanic activity from Kilauea prompting officials to clear out Leilani Estates on the big island. One fissure producing lava fountains reaching as high as 200 feet. CNN's Miguel Marquez is there.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Dave, this is Leilani Estates. That is fissure seven. This is the most active fissure in the 24 that are now erupting in this massive complex of volcanic activity in the lower southeastern rift of Kilauea.

What are you looking at down the bottom of the road is hardened lava. This was a road that went through Leilani Estates. It is now blocked by 20, 25 feet of lava. It is fountaining above it. This is as impressive, mesmerizing, and terrifying as it gets.

One big problem that they have coming up is the wind is about to change direction. It has been blowing toward less populated areas and now it will start blowing toward Hilo and Poona. That will cause problems for people breathing. The island of Hawaii is a long way through from all of this -- Dave and Alison.

KOSIK: All right. Miguel, thanks very much.

BRIGGS: The king reigns again. Lebron James going back to the finals for the eighth straight season. Lindsay Czarniak is here with details in the "Bleacher Report."



BRIGGS: There's been a roller coaster ride for the Cavs and Lebron James, but they are headed to the NBA finals once again.

KOSIK: Lindsay Czarniak has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning.

BRIGGS: You can't beat him.

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: The Celtics were undefeated at home. We kept saying the one game they could not afford to lose was game seven. This was the Celtics favor. When it is do or die, Lebron James is not the man you want to be going up against. James willed his team to an unreal victory.

Eighth straight NBA finals appearance. James played all 48 minutes. He had 35 points, 15 rebounds, and then this, going for the dunk. I don't know what to say about that. What Lebron was doing is all he could.

The game was back and forth. Tatum playing like he was in that situation before. He led Boston with 24 points. Cavaliers overwhelmed the Celtics. They win 87-79. Lebron James knows how special it is to get back to the NBA final.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Roller coaster. It has been good. It's been bad. It has been roses. It's been thorns and roses. Everything you can ask for. It has been a challenging season.

TYROON LUE, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: The bigger the stage, the bigger the player. He has been doing it for us since we have been here. You know, a great quote from the great Doc Rivers is you want to go in game seven with the best player.

[05:25:13] We have the best player on our team going into game seven. I like our chances.


CZARNIAK: How lucky is that guy? Ty Lue. Who will they play? They have to wait and see. Game seven between the Warriors and the Rockets tonight at 9:00 Eastern on our sister network TNT.

To racing we go, the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Danica Patrick racing one last time before retirement. This is not what she wanted in the 68th lap. Ending her day as she crashed in the wall. She was visibly upset, disappointed with her finish.


DANICA PATRICK: It was not the way I wanted to end. I would not want to end any year like that. Of course, being the last one makes it a lot worse.


CZARNIAK: She didn't get to finish the race. It would be a good day for Will Power going on to win the race. He took the lead with four laps left to win his first Indy 500. He also becomes the first Australian to win the race. He said he is lactose intolerant. He said the milk tasted great.

KOSIK: It wasn't lactose free?

CZARNIAK: That's a good question.

BRIGGS: There is a question in the race that says pick your milk.

CZARNIAK: I was shocked one year. I did not realize they do it. You can do almond, chocolate 2 percent.

KOSIK: Hope he is feeling OK.

BRIGGS: That is the 17th Indy for Roger Penske and Team Penske.

KOSIK: Thanks, Lindsay.

Officials are trying to salvage the president's summit with Kim Jong- un. A U.S. team on the ground in North Korea. Another team in Singapore and is South Korea's president trying to get involved?

BRIGGS: Epic flooding in Maryland. Ellicott City is a Baltimore suburb under water for the second time in two years.