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EARLY START

"Roseanne" Cancelled After Barr's Racist Tweets; Gowdy Defies Trump Conspiracies; Pompeo to Meet Former North Korea Spy Chief; Ongoing Eruptions Spark Extensive Power Outages; Israel and Hamas Militants Exchange Fire; Ukraine Officials: Russian Journalist Killed in Kiev. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 04:30   ET

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


[04:30:18] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: "Roseanne" reboot no more, canceled after racist comments from comedian Roseanne Barr. Overnight, a series of new apologies, she blames Ambien and says others have gotten away with worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: This from Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy after a classified briefing. He says the FBI acted correctly in the Russia investigation despite constant claims otherwise from the president.

BRIGGS: And with the North Korea summit on the line, the secretary of state set to meet with North Korea's former spy chief on the ground in New York.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Hey, busy Wednesday morning.

BRIGGS: It is indeed, especially for Roseanne, who's still tweeting this hour.

ROMANS: I know. I'm Christine Romans. Look, it's 31 minutes past the hour.

Let's begin there. The stunning fall for one of Hollywood's most successful comedy comebacks. Roseanne Barr fired and her hit sitcom revival canceled by ABC after she went on this racist Twitter rant. Network executives woke up this morning -- woke up yesterday to this -- Muslim Brotherhood and planet of the apes had a baby, equals V.J. V.J. is Valerie Jarrett, an African-American adviser to President Obama.

BRIGGS: In another tweet which was re-tweeted by Donald Trump Jr., Roseanne wrote that liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros is a Nazi who turned in his fellow Jews to be murdered in German concentration camps. Trump Jr. defends the retweets, claiming it wasn't anti-Semitic. The false Soros theory has been repeatedly debunked after blowback erupted on the web. Roseanne apologized. She was quitting Twitter -- remember -- but then reemerged late last night in a big way.

Don't feel sorry for me, guys. I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people and wonderful writers, all liberal, and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet.

ROMANS: That was just the beginning. She followed with a series of retweets of people defending her. She also apologized again, including twice to Valerie Jarrett, said she was, quote, Ambien tweeting and said she's, quote, was tired of being attacked and belittle more than other comedians who have said worse.

Senior media correspondent Brian Stelter following the story all day. He's got more for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christine. Hey, Dave.

Hollywood has never seen something quite like this. "Roseanne" the sitcom was the number-one new show of the season. It was expected to come back in the fall and bring a huge amount of advertising revenue. But now, all of the sudden, it's been canceled because of the off-air behavior of Roseanne Barr.

Of course, what Barr tweeted about 24 hours ago was racist, Islamophobic, and outrageous. It was the kind of thing no company was going to stand behind. It was pretty quickly decided on Tuesday morning that ABC was going to pull the plug, essentially to boot the reboot.

Now, there was a really interesting conversation behind closed doors between Barr and ABC. But around 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, ABC made it public, announced the cancelation, which came as a real shock throughout Hollywood and throughout the entertainment industry.

In some ways, ABC was putting morals over money. And now, there's a sense of pride inside the network about the decision. Barr had a long, controversial history on Twitter, including some racist comments in the past.

But ABC executives were hoping she could tone it down and focus on the revival of the show. It turns out that did not happen. The risk here did not meet the reward. ABC felt it had to pull the plus, and now, it's left with a big hole in its primetime schedule this fall.

But executives believe they've done the right thing. They've decided to be on the right side of history. As one Disney source said to me, enough was enough.

Christine, Dave, back to you. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Brian Stelter, thank you.

Roseanne's co-workers on the show reacting quickly to ABC's decision to shut down the production. Actress Emma Kenney who played Roseanne's granddaughter tweeted she was in the process of quitting when she learned the show had been canceled. And consulting producer Wanda Sykes tweeted she was done with the show, about 90 minutes before ABC pulled the plug.

ROMANS: Roseanne's longtime producing partner Tom Werner whose company owns the now-canceled sitcom says he hopes Roseanne seeks the help she so clearly needs.

And this from Valerie Jarrett --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I'm fine -- I'm worried about all the people out there who don't have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense.

The person who's walking down the street, minding their own business, and they see somebody cling to their purse or walk across the street -- those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:35:03] ROMANS: President Trump publicly supported Roseanne's new show when it made a debut. Last night at a rally in Nashville, he never mentioned it.

BRIGGS: A stinging rebuke of President Trump and his conspiracy theories from House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy. The South Carolina Republican declaring he is more convinced than ever that the FBI acted appropriately in its handling of the Russia investigation. That's not stopping the president from stepping up 'tis attacks on the special -- his attacks on the special counsel investigation. He's insisting with no evidence that the FBI embedded a spy in his campaign.

ROMANS: Here's what Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, has to say about that less than a week after he received a classified briefing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOWDY: I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: U.S. officials have told CNN a confidential intelligence source was not placed -- planted inside the Trump campaign. Still, the president kept beating the conspiracy drum at his Nashville rally last night.

Yesterday, he went as far as saying the Mueller investigators will be meddling in the midterms.

BRIGGS: "The New York Times" reporting President Trump pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself from the Russia investigation. And now, special counsel Mueller is investigating the discussions. Sessions flew to Florida to have dinner with the president in March of 2017 and berated about his decision to recuse but he refused to reverse it.

The special counsel appears to be focusing on obstruction of justice in his inquiry. And Sessions could be a critical witness if the president did pressure the attorney general to shield him from the investigation.

ROMANS: All right. Political turmoil in Italy threatening the future of the European Union. And that is rocking global markets. Did you see this yesterday?

The Dow dropped nearly 400 points. The S&P also fell more than 1 percent. That spread to Asian stocks. They just closed their session lower.

Italy is headed for new elections. The concern here -- radical parties could gain ground, fueling fears Italy could leave the E.U., robbing the Eurozone of its third biggest economy. That will be a big blow after the U.K. voted to leave in 2016.

Trade fears are also affecting markets here. The White House plans to slap tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, that caught investors off-guard. Remember, just 10 days ago, the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a trade war with China was, quote, on hold.

Both of those events sparked volatility. Wall Street's fear gauge spiked nearly 31 percent while investors fled to so-called safe havens, the bond market. The ten-year treasury yield fell to 2.7 percent. Yield, of course, moved opposite to price and that hurt financial stocks. It also affects borrowing rates, making it harder for companies to make money on interest they charge on loans or credit cards. JPMorgan Chase shares dropped 4 percent. American Express and Goldman Sachs both lost 3 percent.

Quite a day on Wall Street yesterday.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

All right. Well, it's the meeting that could make or break the Trump- Kim summit in Singapore. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sitting down today or tomorrow in New York with Kim Yong Chol, one of North Korea's highest ranking officials and a former spy chief.

Let's bring in CNN's Nic Robertson live with us from Seoul -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Dave, not only a former spy chief, but a man who's been intimately and intrinsically involved in many of North Korea's negotiations and talks with South Korea and others over the past couple of decades, a man who is widely regarded as being self-made, smart, speaks several languages. So, he will go into the meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, certainly feeling that he really has his -- an intimate and detailed understanding of the issues that he wants to talk about and what Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, wants to get out of this.

And, of course, central to this is the issue of denuclearization. Kim Jong-un says that he wants denuclearization of the North Korean peninsula. The United States is looking for something that is verifiable, that is lasting, and that is not possible for North Korea to reverse sometime later. What we're seeing at the DMZ talks here between the U.S. representatives led by the former ambassador, the U.S. former ambassador to South Korea, now the ambassador to the Philippines meeting with North Korean counterparts, they met Sunday, they didn't meet Monday, Tuesday. They met again today for about five hours.

And according to South Korea's minister of unification, they have managed to narrow the gaps on the nuclear issue. Of course, regime security for Kim Jong-un is also going to be important, will be a topic undoubtedly that Mike Pompeo will be hearing about from Kim Yong Chol -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Less than two weeks away.

Nic Robertson live for us in Seoul, that meeting appears to be on at this point.

[04:40:02] ROMANS: It appears to be on now.

All right. Breaking overnight, more torrential rains in the Carolinas. A flash flood emergency in one county, as landslides threaten a dam. We have more on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, mandatory evacuations in McDowell County, North Carolina. Officials declaring a flash flood emergency, concerned about imminent failure of the Tahoma Dam.

[04:45:02] Evacuations remained in place until that dam can be inspected in daylight hours. There's already been a series of landslides and mudslides. Floodwaters have reached levels not seen since 2004 with hurricanes Frances and Ivan.

No injuries or fatalities so far. Still, the National Weather Service in Greenville warning the situation is dangerous.

BRIGGS: Authorities have found the body of Sergeant Eddison Hermond. He's the Army national guardsman who was swept away by floodwaters in Ellicott City. Sergeant Hermond was found on the Patapsco River just east of the heavily damaged community. Maryland's governor ordering flags to fly at half-staff in Hermond's

honor. Residents and business owners are now being allowed back into Ellicott City to collect personal belongings. Yes, that was an actual -- those two cars, right. That happened. They are a long, long cleanup ahead of them.

ROMANS: Wow.

All right. Embattled Missouri Governor Eric Greitens will resign Friday over scandals that have rocked his time in office. The Republican faces accusations of sexual misconduct including blackmail and felony charges connected to alleged political misuse of a charity donor list. During a speech to reporters, Greitens very poignantly did not admit legal wrongdoing, but he said the scrutiny has become too intense to continue as governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ERIC GREITENS (R), MISSOURI: This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family. Millions of dollars of mounting legal bills, endless personal attacks designed to cause maximum damage to family and friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The St. Louis prosecutor says a resolution of the pending charges against the governor has been reached. More information is expected today.

BRIGGS: Tennessee Congresswoman Diane Black has a new explanation for school shootings. Pornography. Black made the claim at a listening session with local pastors last week. Audio of the event was obtained by the "Huff Post."

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. DIANE BLACK (R), TENNESSEE: What makes them do that? Because as a nurse, I go back to the root cause. Pornography, it's available, pornography. It's available on the shelf when you walk into the grocery store. Yeah, you have to reach up to get it. But pornography's there. And I think that's a big part of the root cause.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Black does not explain what it is about pornography she thinks causes school shootings. Her campaign spokesman tells CNN, quote, the context is pretty clear, that the breakdown of families and communities plays a significant role.

ROMANS: OK. Officials in Hawaii say first responders will no longer go door to door in dangerous areas to help residents refusing to evacuate during the Kilauea eruption. Meantime, operations at the thermal venture power plant have ceased as lava inches closer. Ongoing eruptions have damaged more than 400 power poles and prompted extensive power outages. At this point, lava still entering the Pacific creating hazardous conditions. That's where we find CNN's Scott McLean. He's got more for us off the

coast of Pahoa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Christine, from this vantage point, you can just see how much lava Kilauea has pumped out toward the coastline. All of this black rock that you see along the coastline, this is all brand new. Just within the last couple of weeks since Kilauea started erupting once again. And you see from this glow here of the lava, this is actually the area where it's entering the ocean.

Now, geologists say that it's slowed down over the past couple of days. But just seeing what is going into the ocean is absolutely spectacular to see. Now, this white plume here, that's something called lava haze or laze, and it is actually potentially a deadly mixture of hydrochloric acid, tiny bits of glass particles, and of course, the steam that you get as the lava actually hits the ocean.

As you can imagine, there are restrictions here on how close boats can actually get to this because of the dangers associated with this laze. Also notice which direction that it's going in. That is not normal. Usually, it goes along the coast, down toward the southwest with the trade winds.

Right now, it's going back on to land. This is a potential problem for air quality in those population centers where people actually live. It means the fissures that are giving off the sulfur dioxide, they're also pushing into back onto land again into some of these towns and villages where people live.

The real story, though, is beyond where we can see from here in the Leilani Estates neighborhood and areas around there where new fissures or old fissures have reactivated sending new lava down parts of streets that have not seen it so far. There have been more than 80 structures destroyed already, about half of those are homes. And the people here simply do not know when Kilauea will finally stop erupting -- Dave, Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[04:50:02] ROMANS: What a remarkable assignment for him. Love the pictures.

BRIGGS: Yes, stay safe, my friend.

All right. For the third time in four years, a Russian reporter at odds with the Kremlin shot dead. Live in Moscow with who he was and why this matters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Overnight, Gaza militants launched the largest barrage of mortar and rocket fire into Israel since 2014.

[04:55:02] Israel says the Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted several of the launches. No injuries were reported.

Earlier, Israel said it struck 25 Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip. The U.N. Security Council holding an emergency meeting today.

Let's go to CNN's Phil Black. He is live for us in Israel near the Gaza border. He's got more.

Bring us up to speed, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine.

So through the day and night, rockets and mortar fire launched out of Gaza into Israeli territory, more than 70 projectiles in all. Some of it knocked out of the sky by Israel's defense system, some of it got through. Israel responded with air strikes, more than 65 against what it says were militant targets in the territory, including a munitions factory, sheds, housing, drones, and even a big tunnel that stretched from Gaza under Egypt and around into Israeli territory there.

Now, all of this, as you say, the biggest exchange of firepower in four years since Israel last went to war against Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. Israel blames Hamas but also says Iran had a hand in this recent dramatic escalation. And that's through another militant group called Islamic jihad which Israel says is heavily influenced by Iran and which on this occasion has been firing Iranian weapons.

Now, here at the moment, there is calm. There is even talk of a cease-fire, mostly from the Palestinian side. They say that through an intermediary, likely Egypt, that they agreed to a cease-fire of some kind.

Egypt as not confirmed -- I'm sorry, I should say, Israel has not confirmed that. Their repeated stated view is that they didn't start this, they don't want to escalate this, but they will defend Israel as necessary.

Christine, back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Phil Black. Thank you so much for that, Phil.

BRIGGS: A prominent Russian journalist critical of Moscow's policies in Ukraine and Syria has been shot and killed in Kiev. Ukrainian state media reporting he was shot in the back at his home.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the latest for us live from Moscow.

Fred, what's happening here?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dave.

Yes, this man is called Arkady Babchenko. And he fled Russia in 2017 after what he called a campaign of political harassment because he was critical of Russia's involvement in Syria and also in Ukraine, as well. Now, we have to keep in mind this is not the first time a Kremlin

critic or critic of Vladimir Putin or journalist has been targeted. We had in 2015, we had the killing of Boris Nemtsov, who is a very prominent Russia critic. And then in Kiev in 2017, there was a former Russian lawmaker who was killed, shot, as well.

And then, of course, the poisoning of the Skripals just a couple of months ago, which some have laid the blame at Russia for. The Russians themselves are saying in this case, they have nothing to do with it. They blame the Ukrainians for not being able to keep people safe in Kiev and other states.

Ukraine, of course, having none of that. They are already pointing the finger of blame at the Russians. So, a lot of back and forth going on, and yet another Kremlin critic who has been killed -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes. Boris Nemtsov, you mentioned there, also shot in the back.

Fred Pleitgen live for us in Moscow this morning -- thank you.

ROMANS: All right. It is just about the top of the hour. Let's go check CNNMoney.

Political turmoil in Italy threatening the future of the European Union, and that is rocking global markets. The Dow dropped nearly 400 points yesterday. The S&P 500 also fell more than 1 percent. That dour mood spread to Asian stocks, they just closed lower. Europe just opened flat.

The concern here in Italy, radical political parties could gain ground fueling fears that Italy could leave the E.U., robbing the Eurozone of its third biggest economy. Trade fears also hitting markets. The White House plans to slap tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Remember just 10 days ago, the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, he said a trade war with China was on hold, and then this big reveal yesterday of new tariffs. The Department of Justice approving a $66 billion merger between Bayer and Monsanto, creating one of the world's largest agrichemical companies.

The DOJ's approval has one condition. They must sell $9 billion in assets, including its entire seed and herbicide business. The goal is to prevent the combined company from controlling prices. That is what consumers and farmers pay for agricultural products. The DOJ has been investigating the deal on concerns it would drive up prices.

De Beers has long scorned lab-made diamonds. Now it will sell them at the fraction of the cost of natural diamonds. For decades, De Beers relied on the scarcity of mined diamonds to charge high prices. Now, the world's largest diamond miner will launch as line of synthetic diamonds, charging as little as 200 bucks. De Beers says it is responding to consumer demands.

Synthetic diamonds have the same chemical make up as mined diamonds, but offer a cheaper, ethically sourced alternative, adding that the new line might not be forever, but it's perfect for right now.

BRIGGS: But will women want to know who has a synthetic diamond and the real deal?

ROMANS: I don't. I don't know. I'm not a diamond market. I got one -- I'm out of the diamond market.

BRIGGS: OK, EARLY START continues right now with the cancellation of "Roseanne".