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ABC Pulls the Plug on "Roseanne"; Gowdy Defies Trump Conspiracies; Pompeo to Meet Former North Korea Spy Chief; Serena Makes Winning Return to Grand Slam Tennis. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:05] DAVID BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: OK, EARLY START continues right now with the cancelation of "Roseanne".


BRIGGS: The "Roseanne" reboot is no more, canceled after racist comments from comedian Roseanne Barr. She is still up and tweeting at this hour, blaming Ambien and says others have gotten away with worse.


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.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: How about that? A shocker from Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy. After he had a classified briefing, he says the FBI acted correctly in the Russia investigation, despite those 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 in New York.

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

Ambien is trending at 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

ROMANS: I know. I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, May 30th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

A stunning fall for one of Hollywood's most successful comedy comebacks. Roseanne Barr fired and her sitcom revival canceled by ABC after she went on this racist Twitter rant. Network executives woke up to this yesterday -- Muslim Brotherhood and "Planet of the Apes" had a baby, equals V.J. V.J. is Valerie Jarrett, a top 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 fellow Jews to be murdered in German concentration camps. Trump Jr. defends the retweets, claiming it was not anti-Semitic. The false Soros conspiracy, it's been repeatedly debunked.

After blowback erupted on the Web, Roseanne apologized. She said she was quitting Twitter, but then, boy, she reemerged late 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. She said she was, quote, Ambien tweeting and says she's tired of being attacked and belittled unlike other comedians who have said worse.

BRIGGS: Roseanne's co-workers on the show reacting quickly to ABC's decision to shut down 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.


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.


ROMANS: President Trump publicly supported Roseanne's show when it made a debut. Last night at a rally in Nashville, he never mentioned it. And Roseanne I guess still tweeting. I cannot keep up --

BRIGGS: She's still going. She did not stop overnight and just tweeted in the last 15 minutes.

So, joining us this morning from Washington, CNN politics digital director Zach Wolf and Twitter analyst like rest of us in 2018.

All right, Zach. Is it to possible to separate President Trump from Roseanne Barr? You have a column on this on posting in an hour.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Well, yes, there's a big difference between the things that she tweeted, I think certainly, and the support that she had for him and the show, although the show was built around that. I think it's important, however, to compare the backlash that she faced and consequences she faced with some of the consequences he faced when he announced his run for president.

Remember, he said Mexicans were rapists, and there was an immediate backlash amongst Hollywood, corporate America. Macy's dropped his clothing line. The PGA removed, you know, events from his courses.

There was a huge backlash. But he ultimately weathering it. He stayed where he was, and now, he's president. So, it's kind of an interesting, I think, way to look at it. But you can certainly compare the two backlashes.

ROMANS: Yes, NBC Universal dropped him at the time, that was in 2015. And then, you know, two years later, he was -- he was inaugurated. So, the difference is corporate America can very quickly move on Roseanne Barr and cancel a very popular show that some have said is sort of a proxy for a Trump viewing audience, right? The Trump supporters.

But Donald Trump himself keeps his job.

WOLF: That's right. And, in fact, gets a new job given to him by the people. So, I'm not sure what lesson to take out of that. But it's -- you know, you have to notice it, I think.

BRIGGS: Here's what I can't figure out, Zach. Everything is tribal today, we know that. Every issue gets people a reason to run to their corners.

I thought we all agreed on the fact that racism was just flat-out wrong. Why in the hell is this tribal? Why are people standing up and defending her right to say awful, deplorable, racist things? Why is this making people run to their corners? Shouldn't we agree on this?

ROMANS: How can you be polarized about racism?

WOLF: Yes. I mean, the people you see doing the defending, that's on -- that's on Twitter, which is kind of an anonymous place for people, for the trolls.

So, I think you have to separate trolls from actual human beings. There's a big difference there. And somebody who's saying that stuff in public versus somebody who's tweeting about it.

ROMANS: Let's talk about Donald Trump Jr., as somebody who is re- tweeting stuff on here that is -- this all started, a little bit complicated, but Roseanne Barr was in this fight on Twitter with Chelsea Clinton, and she said Chelsea Clinton is married to a nephew of George Soros. Chelsea Clinton said, no, I'm sure the Soros people are very nice, but I'm not married to a nephew of George Soros.

And then she tweets this, sorry to have tweeted incorrect information about you, meaning Chelsea Clinton. Please forgive me. By the way, George Soros is a Nazi who turned in fellow Jews who would face death in concentration camps and stole their wealth. This is all wrong. This is all completely, completely wrong. He was a child, by the way, during --

BRIGGS: He was 9 when the Holocaust started.

ROMANS: Soros called the overthrow of the U.S. constitutional republic, blah, blah, blah. I mean, all of this is just wrong.

And then Donald Trump Jr. re-tweeted it. See, give -- still --

BRIGGS: But he left it up.

ROMANS: It's still up. It's just giving oxygen to this just garbage. And that is part of political discourse, right, when the son of the president of the United States is retweeting stuff like this.

WOLF: Yes. You know, and let's not inoculate Donald Trump Sr. from spreading conspiracy theories. He does plenty of that. He did it in a last night in a rally in Nashville. He did it.

So, he's kind of setting, you know, the pace here. He's setting the example on that. And his son has clearly taken the ball and run with it on this and many other things. He's been in the Twitter space re- tweeting things he probably shouldn't.

BRIGGS: But conspiracy theories live on regardless of whether they are true or false. And that you can also look at with the Russia investigation. With this whole spygate notion, that Republican Trey Gowdy, who has seen the classified documents on spygate or the embedded source or whatever you want to call it, the confidential source.

Here's what Trey Gowdy said last night on Fox News about why the investigation began.


GOWDY: I am even more convinced that the FBI does 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. President Trump himself in the Comey memos said if anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it.

And it sounds to me like that is exactly what the FBI did. I think when the president finds out what happened, he's going to be not just fine, he's going to be glad that we have an FBI that took seriously what they heard. He was never the target. Russia is the target --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, it sounds to me as --


BRIGGS: OK, you saw the time there, just after 7:00 p.m. about an hour later, the president went on stage in Nashville and talked again about people infiltrating our campaign.

To Trey Gowdy's point, will the president be thankful why this investigation was started and agree with the Republican? WOLF: I can't imagine the president's going to be thankful. There

have already been, you know, guilty pleas, there have been indictments. His former campaign chairman -- I don't think president Trump is ever going to read a report. Who knows what it will say. That's part of this. We don't know ultimately what Robert Mueller is going to come up with.

I can't imagine he's going to read something and say, oh, this was OK, especially after he spent the last year plus calling it a witch hunt, essentially trying to tear it down before it happened, after he went after Comey. So, you know, intensely and fired Comey and people who are under him at the time.

It's like you can't come back from that and be OK at this point. You can't spend that long trying to tear something down and then build it back up. That doesn't make sense.

BRIGGS: All right, Zach, come back in a few minutes. We'll talk about your column that's going to post in a few minutes and all the news of the day. Thank you, sir.

WOLF: Thanks.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's switch now to international issues. 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 former spy chief.

[05:10:08] Let's bring in CNN's Nic Robertson live from Seoul with a little more on who exactly this man is.

Good morning, Nic.


This is a man who's been at the heart of -- heart of North Korea's negotiating team since about 1991. So, he's intimately familiar with the details of what he'll need to discuss with secretary of state Mike Pompeo, that he will be -- he will intimately understand precisely what Kim Jong-un wants to get out of it.

And at the center of this is likely to be the issue of denuclearization. Precisely what both sides mean and what can they actually agree to. Kim Jong-un says that he wants a denuclearized Korean peninsula. The United States wants complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. Can those two statements line up side by side and find some common ground?

We do know today that the U.S. delegation meeting here today with North Korean counterparts in the DMZ between North Korea and South Korea after five hours of talks today according to the South Korean minister of unification, that they have been able to close some of those gaps on the issue of denuclearization and also on the issue of sort of the security guarantees that Kim Jong-un is going to want going forward in reference to his regime.

BRIGGS: Nic Robertson live for us, 6:11 there in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks, Nic.

ROMANS: All right. The U.S.-China trade battle is back on, threatening the next rounds of trade talks in a move that baffled trade watchers. The White House announced plans to slap 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods and limit Chinese investment in high-tech industries.

This is a big reversal. Recently, top U.S. officials have talked down a possible trade war with China. The White House is defending this move, saying that this is need to protect U.S. intellectual property from China's, quote, discriminatory and burdensome trade practices.

Now, the news caught Beijing off-guard. The U.S. and China announced a trade cease-fire less than two weeks ago. China calls this action a violation of that agreement and says it is ready to fight back. In fact, the "Wall Street Journal" says these tariffs threaten to derail trade talks scheduled for this weekend.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross heads to Beijing Saturday. Now, that trip could be in jeopardy. The White House will release a full list of these tariffs by June 15th. They will go into effect shortly thereafter. And the sort of export controls will go into effect June 30th.

There's some have been saying that the president felt like he wasn't being hard enough. He wants people to know he's being tough about intellectual property with China. And that's what this is all about.

BRIGGS: OK. Breaking overnight, more torrential rain in the Carolinas. A flash flood emergency in one county as landslides threaten a dam. More next.


ROMANS: Breaking overnight, mandatory evacuations in McDowell County, North Carolina. Officials declaring a flash flood emergency, concerned about imminent failure of the Tahoma Dam. Evacuations remain in place until the dam can be inspected in the daylight hours. There's been a series of landslides and mudslides.

The floodwaters have reached levels not seen since 2004 with hurricanes Frances and Ivan. No injuries or fatalities, thankfully so far. Still, the National Weather Service in Greenville is warning this situation is dangerous.

BRIGGS: Embattled Missouri Governor Eric Greitens announcing he will resign Friday over the 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 did not admit legal wrongdoing

but he said the scrutiny has become too intense for him to continue as governor.


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.


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

Several Twitter accounts have been highly critical of Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid and one of his teammates. Now, a report says the accounts were operated by the team's own general manager.


BRIGGS: Hmm. Lindsay Czarniak here with the details in "Bleacher Report."


[05:22:58] BRIGGS: All right. The general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers denying a report that he has five secret Twitter accounts, seems to criticize his own team.

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

Wow, this is something that's a 21st century story.

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I can't even. This is not going to go away any time soon either. This is unbelievable.

It was an anonymous source who tipped off the Website, the ringer, back in February, linking Sixers president of basketball operations, Bryan Colangelo, to five anonymous Twitter accounts. In May, the same day "The Ringer" shared the handles of two of the alleged Twitter accounts with Sixers team personnel, three other accounts went from public to private within hours.

Colangelo's alleged accounts were critical of 76ers players including starting center Joel Embiid, calling him, quote, a bit lazy and selfish. They also accused head coach Brett Brown of sabotaging the team by benching number-one draft pick Markelle Fultz. Colangelo confirmed he does operate accounts but only one to follow other and monitor news.

He did release a statement denying the report saying in part: This storyline is disturbing to me on many levels as I am not familiar with any of the other accounts that have been brought to my attention, nor do I know who is behind them or what their motives may be in using them.

Embiid joked about the tweets. He posted on Twitter, Joel told me that former GM Sam Hinky is better and smarter than you, #burneraccount.

Sixers star Joel Embiid did tell ESPN Colangelo called specifically to deny the story and that he had any involvement.

Turning to the NFL, a week after owners approved a new policy requiring policies on the field to stand during the national anthem or face a fine, players are now speaking out. Former Eagles receiver Torrey Smith who recently joined the Panthers says the rule might not put an end to the demonstration.


TORREY SMITH, FORMER EAGLES RECEIVER: I think it could stir things up which is a problem, because you're stirring things up because you've been told to be quiet. And when it could have been done together to figure out what we can do to move forward and what would be best for the players.

[05:25:05] CHRIS LONG,PHILADELPHIA EAGLES : I've had a lot of people, some of my friends, tell me -- well, I have to -- I can't politically protest at work. But at their job, they don't have to stand in front of millions of people for the anthem and not have a choice on how they do that.


CZARNIAK: Yes, a lot of different reaction around the league. New York Giants' linebacker Mark Herzlich saying he would like Trump to visit the locker room. Last week, Trump voicing support for the policy saying players who don't stand should leave the country.

To tennis -- new mom Serena Williams is back, and she's playing like she never left the court, and she is doing it in style. Serena unseeded at the French Open but that didn't matter. Her opening round, she was flawless, impressive in her straight sets win over Kristyna Pliskova yesterday.

This is her first grand slam appearance since winning the Australian Open last year and giving birth to her daughter. But take a look at this outfit, guys.

BRIGGS: Awesome.

CZARNIAK: The body suit. Cat suit. It's awesome. Looks like a superhero.

But afterwards, she tweeted that the cat suit was for all the moms out there who went through tough pregnancies. I love it, turning it into female empowerment.

ROMANS: Yes, good for her.

CZARNIAK: She looks tremendous.

BRIGGS: She should be a superhero. That would be a good film.

Yes, she's unseeded at the French Open which a lot of people did not like.

CZARNIAK: It was controversial.

BRIGGS: Right, because all that happened is she took time off to have a child.


BRIGGS: Was the best player in the world before she left --

CZARNIAK: I think the thinking is, they know this is going to happen, right? She comes back, she bounces back exactly where she left off.

BRIGGS: They made her path a lot more difficult.

CZARNIAK: I would say so.

BRIGGS: Lindsay, thank you.

ROMANS: Thanks, Lindsay.

The "Roseanne" reboot canned after racist tweets from the comedian. She is still tweeting overnight. She's telling people not to defend her while she retweets people defending her. And she's tweeting right at her co-stars right now. So, we got that after the break.

BRIGGS: Former.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly. Former co-stars.