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U.S., North Korean Officials Prepare; Alberto Turns Deadly; Starbucks Closing for Anti-Bias Training; Warriors Beat Rockets to Advance to Finals. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 29, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All of this stuff is just piling up.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of people are banning straws in the United States. That is a tough one.

All right. EARLY START continues right now with the latest on the Singapore summit. On again? Off again? We'll let you know.


BRIGGS: Heighten urgency as President Trump tries to get the summit he canceled with Kim Jong-un back on track. Only two weeks to get it sorted out.

ROMANS: Subtropical storm Alberto turns deadly. Two members of the news crew killed when a tree falls on their van. Heavy rains today we'll make for more dangerous conditions.

BRIGGS: And don't go to Starbucks today for your afternoon latte. All 8,000 U.S. stores will close for anti-bias training, perhaps a good day for Dunkin Donuts.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm DAVIE Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, May 29, 529. College Savings Plan Day. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Today, the president heads to Nashville for a campaign rally and he is expected to focus on the economy and jobs. Plenty to fact check there.

BRIGGS: I'll bet you get a Nobel chant from the crowd.

ROMANS: We could, we could. Maybe lock her up.

It's now just two weeks until the on again/off again and now maybe on again summit with Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Urgency is escalating as the president pushes his aides to make that meeting happen on the original target date of June 12th, a meeting he himself canceled just five days ago.

BRIGGS: Now, "The Wall Street Journal" reports the U.S. has decided to hold off on pushing for major new sanctions against North Korea. The White House had been set to announce the new sanctions as soon as today, but decided Monday to press pause while talks with Pyongyang proceed.

For more, let's check in with Matt Rivers.

Matt, you're live in Seoul.

We're on again. We're off again. Where exactly are we at 5:01 Eastern Time?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're basically in the same place that we've been over the last couple of days, Dave, in the sense that what we're seeing is consistent efforts on working level diplomacy from the Americans, the North Koreans, the South Korean, everyone pushing towards that goal of getting the summit to actually happen even if it's not officially announced yet.

So, here's where we are. We got an American delegation in Seoul right now. Yesterday, they went to the demilitarized zone, crossed into the North Korean side and met with the North Koreans side trying to come up with the agenda for the possible summit that could take place on June 12th as originally scheduled. That's a tough thing.

The other thing we found out today, North Korean official went to Singapore to meet with the American logistics team that's already there, trying to figure out exactly what the summit will look like, where it will take place, et cetera.

And finally, one interesting thing here -- a man called Kim Jong Chul, often called Kim Jong-un's right hand man, the top nuclear negotiator for North Korea was seen in the Beijing airport. And typically, that's where North Korean diplomats go when they're transiting to another country to engage in some sort of diplomacy.

Where is he going? Is he staying in China? We're not sure. But it's very interesting and it's probably related to this ongoing summit.

But we are just two weeks away from this summit. So, the fact that we have so many balls up in the air right now, the fact that there is no agenda for the summit yet shows you the monumental task diplomats have ahead of them right now, trying to make the summit is now officially cancelled actually a reality.

BRIGGS: As the reality of television presidency continues.

Matt Rivers live in Seoul, thank you.

ROMANS: President Trump honoring the fallen and himself on Memorial Day. At Arlington National Cemetery, the president remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice, calling their love for country, quote, more deep and more pure than most will ever know.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They marched into hell so that America could know the blessings of peace. They died so that freedom could live.


ROMANS: Before making those remarks, the president used the memory of fallen U.S. soldiers to tout his economic accomplishments, tweeting: Happy Memorial Day. Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades. Lowest unemployment numbers for blacks and Hispanics ever and women in 18 years, rebuilding our military and so much more. Nice!

BRIGGS: Then came the blowback. Among many critics, former Joint Chiefs chairman, General Martin Dempsey, tweeting: This day of all day should not be about any one of us no matter how prestigious or powerful, no matter how successful we perceive ourselves to be. Rather, this day should be about those who gave their lives so that we could live ours in freedom.

Not many characters needed for this from former CIA and NSA director, Michael Hayden, who summed it up with a simple, OMG.

How about this? A powerful image from Memorial Day emerging from Monday's Atlanta Braves game. A junior ROTC member standing at attention next to the stadium's POW-MIA chair as a fan shielding him from the rain with the umbrella. The Braves posting it on Twitter with the one word caption: Respect.

[05:05:04] The team dedicated the chair last year to remember servicemen and women who remain unaccounted for since World War I. There are more than 82,000.

ROMANS: President Trump working on a trade deal with Beijing at the moment Ivanka Trump scores a batch of Chinese trademarks. The Chinese government granted Ivanka Trump's brand seven new trademarks for things like kitchenware, furniture and kitchen products, cosmetics, raising concerns again over conflicts of interest. Ivanka Trump no longer runs her business, but she has an ownership stake and it bears her name.

And since global trademarks are granted by foreign government, there's worry of political influence, especially in China, currently working with the U.S. on a trade deal with tens of billions of dollars of tariffs on the line, along with the fate of Chinese telecom ZTE. Last month, a U.S. sales ban on ZTE basically put it out of business, punishment for violating U.S. sanctions.

Now, a lifeline from Donald Trump who prefers a fine and management changes.

But Senator Marco Rubio says Congress will not allow that.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: One of the things I hope Congress will do is not only -- not even allow Chinese telecom companies to operate in the United States. It's not just ZTE, it's Huawei. All of them depend on U.S. semiconductors. None of these companies should be operating in this country. None of them.


ROMANS: Last week, the powerful Senate Banking Committee moved to block any deal with ZTE, saying that puts an economic bargaining chip over national security, warning that technology could help spy on the U.S. and steal corporate secrets.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's bring in political economist Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Horizon Investments, joining us from San Francisco.

I'd say this morning, but it's more like this evening, 2:00 a.m. there, sir? Thanks for staying up late for us I think.

GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST: I'll be asleep in about an hour, guys, yes.


BRIGGS: Don't worry. So will I, sir.

So, let's pick up there, where Marco Rubio left on ZTE. Is there a coming collusion between Congress and the president on Chinese trade, on issues like ZTE or is Marco Rubio simply the one stepping out?

VALLIERE: I think there is a common collision. You know, you talk to people, Dave and Christine, in Washington. Republicans and Democrats, they are confused. They can't figure out what this administration wants on trade.

The one area where they are surprising bipartisan agreement is that Chinese thievery of U.S. technology, U.S. intellectual property rights has to be punished, but support for something strong is widespread.

ROMANS: This Ivanka Trump story I think is interesting about the trademarks because on the one hand, look, if you are someone like Ivanka Trump with a global brand, you need to have your trademarks recognized by China, because you will get ripped off, right? I mean, you make the point of Michael Jordan for years.

But it also highlights just how tricky this is here. The president and his team is negotiating with China on very thorny issues even as his family, which is a brand name, is doing business and expanding around the world.

VALLIERE: You know, you talk about sanctimony, all the talk from the Trump family about the Clintons and Clinton Foundation and whether they profited, the idea that Ivanka Trump is profiting from negotiations that are going on with China I think would tell most people that the swamp has not been drained.

BRIGGS: Let's talk about the North Korea summit now. On again, it's off again.

VALLIERE: Yes. BRIGGS: It does appear, though, that the president cancelling this summit with the letter on Thursday did take back at least some perception, some control in this relationship. Is this the one spot where the unpredictability of the president might be paying off?

VALLIERE: I think so. I think he stunned the North Koreans by pulling this back. I think Kim wants a deal as much as Trump wants a deal. So, my guess is they will meet on the 12th. There will be happy photo-ops.

There will be some general agreements to continue talks. There is no way you can get a deal in the next two weeks. It's going to take months to iron out details.

But I think a modest success on June 12th is still the most likely scenario.

ROMANS: You know, I was in the Midwest this weekend where a lot of people are saying, hey, look, you know, we have the three guys back from North Korea. At least they are talking about a summit. That was less concern about the back and forth than more the general direction of the relationship.

And, Greg, it is the economy, stupid. It's economy, stupid. You know, the economy is doing well. We have 6.1 million jobs open today that employers can't find workers for and the unemployment low and the stock market with the best May since, what, 2009.

You know, he president will speak about the economy tonight. He took a little bit of a victory lap in the Memorial Day tweet, which is getting blowback for.

But the bottom line: is he right? That the economy is good and the most important thing you think for the electorate?

[05:10:03] VALLIERE: It's a big factor and it's a major reason why I have not joined the group that says there's going to be a wave election, a tidal wave for the Democrats this fall. I'm not so sure about that. I think by Labor Day, unemployment would be 3.5. GDP growth could be over 3.

So, the next big thing to look for is this Friday's unemployment report. I think it will be pretty strong, 180,000 new jobs. So, he is right. I mean, the economy is not perfect, but I think the economy is in pretty good shape right now.

BRIGGS: You vote on national security and you vote on the economy, maybe not that blue wave.

All right. Greg Valliere, don't go back to sleep yet. We need you one more time.


BRIGGS: All right. Alberto meanwhile downgraded, but no less dangerous. Flooding possible in the southeast as heavy rains head north. The storm blamed for the death of the local news crew in North Carolina.


[05:15:00] ROMANS: Subtropical storm Alberto is being blamed for the deaths of a local TV anchor and his photographer killed while covering dangerous weather in Polk County, North Carolina. WYFF anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer had just finished interviewing the fire chief when a tree crushed their news van.


GEOFF TENNANT, TRYON, NORTH CAROLINA FIRE CHIEF: We talked a bit about how he wanted us to stay safe and how we want him to stay safe. Then, of course, 15 minutes later, we get the call and it was him.


BRIGGS: Chief Geoff Tennant says in 44 years of fire service, he's never seen a tragedy like this. Officials are warning everyone in the region to stay off the roads because the ground remains saturated and more trees could still fall.

ROMANS: Alberto downgraded overnight to a subtropical depression after making landfall in Florida. Downgrade does not mean the storm threat is over. More than 6,000 customers in Florida are without power.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us -- Pedram.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

We are watching what's happening along the Gulf Coast here because of the slow moving system through parts of southern Alabama. Notice the center of the low right there in southern Alabama. We think Montgomery will get in on the action next as far as the heavy rainfall is concerned. Eventually, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham certainly could see the shift across parts of Mississippi as well and into Tennessee eventually.

But notice, upwards of almost 30 million people underneath a flood watch associated with the system. And that is beginning to push north and moisture drawn back from the South as well. So, part of Florida who already been hit with very heavy rainfall in recent days once again into South Florida with additional rounds of rainfall over the next several days.

And again, this system will track its way up to the Upper Midwest. As it does, this area experiences temperatures in the 90s the last several days. And, frankly, this is a little bit of relief. We drop into the 80s and eventually 70s after a brief warm up in Thursday in Chicago with a high of 68 come Friday afternoon.

Even the New York City see the cooling trend there as we approach the later portion of the week, into the upper 70s and upper 60s before the week is done -- guys.


BRIGGS: All right, Pedram. Thanks.

A Maryland National Guardsman still missing this morning after historic flooding in Ellicott City, Maryland. Emergency responders searching for Sergeant Eddison Hermond. He left a birthday party to help a woman rescued her cat when the flooding started. Witnesses say he was swept away. So much damage in Ellicott City.

First floors of homes and businesses wiped out, cars just washed away. Remarkable video. Gas shut off up and down Main Street, Baltimore Gas & Electric unable to provide a timeline for restoring service.

ROMANS: Starbucks will shut down some 8,000 company-owned locations this afternoon to give 175,000 employees mandatory anti-bias training. Participating stores will close around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. local time. The training stems from an April incident in which two men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks. A store manager called police because the men were sitting in the store waiting placing an order. The men said they were waiting for a friend.

Starbucks CEO has apologized. The company has changed policy to allow people to use Starbucks restrooms and spend time in stores if they have not used purchases. There are limits however. And employees will still have to use their discretion. Closing the stores is expected to cost Starbucks about $12 million in lost revenue.

So, I think some of the airport locations will be opened. So, if you are flying, you might be OK.

BRIGGS: OK. The NBA finals showdown all set. We have seen this film before, Cavs and Warriors part four. Return of the king.

Lindsay Czarniak is here with the "Bleacher Report" and how it went down late last night.

Did you stay up? You stayed up for the Cubs.


[05:23:11] BRIGGS: Fourth straight year, Cavs and Warriors in the NBA finals. Both teams coming up road wins in game seven.

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

Hey, Lindsay.


LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be fun, right? We have seen this film before.

Warriors, though, they looked like a different version of themselves from the first half of game seven and it wasn't a good version. But they did what they do well, right? They adjusted and dominated the Rockets in the third quarter earning the fourth straight trip to the NBA finals.

James Harden was trying to get there, but he was trying without Chris Paul who was out with that injured leg. The Rockets led by 11 at the half and they went ice cold. They missed a playoff record 27 straight three-pointers after their hot start.

Golden State it seems couldn't miss after the half. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry hitting big shots after big shots, and they took the 12- point deficit, turned it into a seven-point lead heading into the fourth. The Warriors won 101-92.

Next stop, LeBron James and the Cavaliers for the fourth straight season. Game one Thursday night in Oakland. Curry saying he's not looking that far ahead just yet.


STEPH CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: The way this has gone, it's been such a hard fight, we didn't have a chance to say we're in the finals. So, all those hurdles we got over them. It is unbelievable feeling. Winning a championship is hard. So, this is a testament to that.


CZARNIAK: There'll be a lot to watch.

For the NHL, game one of the Stanley Cup final was entertaining. Four lead changes on this one. A Stanley cup final record. The Golden Knights trying to become the first expansion team to win a title in their first season. While the Capitals ending that 20-year finals drought.

And this is something that had everybody talking. Washington's Tom Wilson with the big hit on that he never saw coming. The league office reviewing that one. It drew plenty of boos from the Vegas crowd.

[05:25:05] They ended the night celebrating the Golden Knight's 6-4 win in game one. Game two is tomorrow night also in Vegas.

To tennis, Serena Williams set to come her back to playing tennis after the birth of her daughter at the French Open today, but she may have to wait longer because of rainy conditions in Paris. It has been 15 months since Serena played in the major, winning the 2017 Australian Open. She was ranked number one when she left to give birth. She is ranked 451st. She will not be seeded when takes on Kristyna Pliskova.

And, finally, the season is over for basketball star Joe Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. The seven-footer bounced the ball off the poor guy's face and takes it to the hoop for the windmill slam.

Making himself feel good. BRIGGS: That makes him feel better?

CZARNIAK: They don't look like worthy opponents. They look athletic, but not up to par. I'm sure they have a tremendous story are to tell.

BRIGGS: Is that camera planted? I'm going to go bounce this ball?

CZARNIAK: A creative high angle shot, isn't it?.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

CZARNIAK: Guys, good to see you all.

ROMANS: Breaking moments ago: Top North Korean official is on his way to the United States. President Trump is pushing to reschedule the summit with Kim Jong-un days after he canceled it. We've got the latest.