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Shinzo Abe Meets with President Trump Ahead of North Korea Summit; Guatemala Volcano Death Toll Rises; Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 7, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump thinks the upcoming G7 is a waste of time. A distraction from the North Korea summit. Now a testy phone call with Canada's prime minister has many asking if the president knows history or he made a very bad joke.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, the Justice Department will allow top lawmakers to see more documents related to the confidential source during the campaign. It is a major concession from the DOJ which said the life of the force could be on the line.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sit down. Sit down. Sit your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) down.


BRIGGS: And police in Arizona facing hard questions after surveillance video captured the beating of a suspect. What his lawyer and police are saying now.

ROMANS: That's hard to watch.

BRIGGS: Yes. Unfortunately we've seen far too many uncomfortable police videos the last couple of years.


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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, June 7th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

President Trump expressing serious reservations about going to Canada for the G7 summit tomorrow. The "Washington Post" reports the president has vented privately about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trade tensions between the two spilled into public view after President Trump imposed big new tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the EU, alleging national security threats from those imports. According to "The Post," the president believes the G7 is a distraction from his upcoming summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

BRIGGS: CNN learning exclusively Trump and Trudeau at a tense phone call two weeks ago over the new tariffs. Trudeau asked the president how he can justify the tariffs on national security grounds, Trump quick in response, "Didn't you guys burn down the White House?" A reference to the war of 1812. Of course it was the British not Canadian troops who set fire to the White House in 1814. Asked if the comment was taken as a joke, one source on the call said, quote, "to a degree that one can ever take what is said as a joke." But the source points out the impact of tariffs on Canada and workers in the U.S. won't be a laughing matter.

ROMANS: No. A senior administration official declined to comment on the 1812 anecdote but did try to justify the national security grounds for tariffs arguing the steel and aluminum industries in the U.S. are so depressed, they could not mount a world war type mobilization. Even Defense Secretary James Mattis who rarely delves into politics weighed in.


JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Will the trade war have an impact, effect on the security relationship? Right now I don't see that. And I think it's still premature to call it a trade war because as it starts maturing, you know, there is always give and take on these things. Along the path, going there, certainly it will be a little rocky, a little bumpy at times. But so far, I do not anticipate any effect in the security arena.


BRIGGS: In Congress, Senator Bob Corker tells CNN the president called him, telling the foreign relations chairman to back up his effort to curb the president's power on trade. President telling Corker the move would hurt his leverage in negotiations. Corker says he responded, he has a duty as a senator to push ahead. Maybe so, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling Sirius XM in an interview to air this morning, the Senate does not need to rein in the president through legislation.

ROMANS: U.S. trade willing to be the focus of tomorrow's G7 summit. The meeting of the world's largest economies. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow says President Trump is not backing down from his aggressive trade stance. Setting the stage for a showdown with U.S. allies.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: We will do what is necessary to protect the United States, its businesses and its workforce. He has always said, and I agree, tariffs are a tool in that effort. And people should recognize how serious he is.


ROMANS: He is serious. And that stance has isolated the U.S. at the G7. It has been called the G6 plus 1.

For the first time certainly in my career covering G7s, the United States is alone here. You can expect this is the first chance for G7 leaders to confront President Trump about those steel and aluminum tariffs. It will likely also be the focus of his separate bilateral meetings with tee French president Emanuel Macron, the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. Last week, U.S. metal tariffs unleashed a rare rebuke from the G7 finance ministers. Canada and Mexico quietly hit back with tariffs of their own.

And now the EU making good on its own tariff threat. That's right, the EU is now targeting $3 billion in U.S. goods starting in July, including denim, peanut butter and motorcycles and bourbon. Classic American products and strategic, hitting states governed by senior Republicans.

[04:05:05] BRIGGS: Breaking overnight. A sharp turn from the Justice Department. A senior official tells CNN the DOJ will offer top lawmakers the chance to review documents related to the FBI's use of a confidential source during the 2016 campaign. The Justice Department had resisted providing the materials fearing the source's life could be at risk.

ROMANS: CNN was told some new materials will be offered but other documents were available at a briefing two weeks and went unread by House and Senate leaders. President Trump has seized on the use of the confidential source to claim without evidence the FBI infiltrated his campaign to spy on it.

BRIGGS: Meantime, three top Republicans now breaking with the president on his unfounded spying claims. Last week after an intel briefing, Congressman Trey Gowdy said the FBI did exactly what it was supposed to do in its handling of the confidential source. Yesterday Senator Richard Burr told CNN, "I think Trey Gowdy's description of the process was correct." And House Speaker Paul Ryan added this.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Normally, I don't like to comment on classified briefings. Let me say it this way. I think Chairman Gowdy's initial assessment is accurate. I think -- but we have some more digging to do. We're waiting for some more document requests. We have some more documents to review.


ROMANS: The Republicans' break with the president the latest indication that he lacks any evidence to back up his claim of a major political scandal. The only Republican briefed on the intel at issue who has not broken with the president is Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence chairman. He has demanded more documents as part of his investigation.

BRIGGS: President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani furthest escalating efforts to discredit the Mueller investigation. At the Globe's Capital Market conference in Tel Aviv, Giuliani misrepresented both the formation and purpose of the Mueller team with this bold claim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: A group of 13 highly partisan Democrats that make up the Mueller team, excluding him, are trying very, very hard to frame him. They can't emotionally come to grip was the fact that this whole thing of Russian collusion didn't happen.


ROMANS: Giuliani also said First Lady Melania Trump does not believe Stormy Daniels' claim that she had an affair with Mr. Trump. And he took personal shots at Daniels' credibility.


GIULIANI: Excuse me. When you look at Stormy Daniels, I know Donald Trump and look at his three wives. Right? Beautiful women. Classy women. Women of great substance. Stormy Daniels? The business you were in entitles you to know degree of giving your credibility any weight.


ROMANS: Daniels' lawyer called Giuliani's comments disgusting and a disgrace.

BRIGGS: Stormy Daniels filing a new lawsuit against her former attorney Keith Davidson and the president's personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Daniels says the two men colluded to manipulate her in order to help Donald Trump. Her lawsuits claims Cohen hatched a plan to have her appear on Sean Hannity's FOX News show and falsely deny her alleged affair with Donald Trump.

ROMANS: Included in Wednesday's lawsuit are alleged text messages between Cohen and Davidson that appear to show them trying to coordinate Daniels making an appearance on Hannity. But one person familiar with Cohen's thinking tells CNN the texts were only intended to ensure the nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed was being honored. Lawyers for Cohen and Davidson are blasting the lawsuit as simply a publicity stunt.

BRIGGS: President Trump paying a visit to FEMA headquarters for a briefing on the upcoming hurricane season, but not a word about the staggering new death toll estimates from Hurricane Maria. 4600 people killed by the storm. The president did briefly mentioned Puerto Rico, but offered no indication the U.S. response was being reviewed. Instead praising FEMA and other U.S. officials for their work but there was this bizarre claim about Coast Guard rescues in the Texas Hurricane Harvey rescue.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think this year the Coast Guard, maybe in terms of increased branding, the brand of the Coast Guard has been something incredible. What's happened. Saved 16,000 people. Many of them in Texas for whatever reason that is. People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane. That didn't work out too well.


ROMANS: "Went out in their boats to watch the hurricane." You know, there is no evidence the president's claim is true. And it did not sit well with first responders. They give credit to hundreds of civilians who used their own boats to rescue neighbors. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales telling "The Houston Chronicle," "I'll be sure to invite the president to ride out the next hurricane in a jon boat in Galveston Bay the next time one approaches."

BRIGGS: Two of the closest aides to embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt have resigned. Sarah Greenwalt, a senior counselor to Pruitt, and Millan Hupp, his

scheduling director.

[04:10:04] Pruitt came under scrutiny for approving pay raises for both without White House approval. Hupp recently testified she did many personal tasks for Pruitt.

ROMANS: On Wednesday, Pruitt also appeared to confirm recent reports he tried to help his wife open a Chick-fil-A fast food franchise. He defended the effort in an interview calling Chick-fil-A a franchise of faith and saying we need more of them. Despite mounting troubles for Pruitt, the president remains in his corner saying yesterday people are very happy with the job being done at the EPA.

BRIGGS: And we all agree, we need more Chick-fil-As. I mean --

ROMANS: I can use some Chick-fil-A right now.

BRIGGS: It's delicious.

Fifty-three-year-old Alice Marie Johnson is a free woman this morning. The latest persons granted clemency by President Trump. Johnson was sentenced to 1996 on cocaine possession and money laundering charges. Last week, Kim Kardashian once met with the president in the Oval Office to request a pardon for her. Her sentence commuted yesterday.


ALICE JOHNSON, GRANTED CLEMENCY BY PRESIDENT TRUMP: I will not waste this second chance in life. I believe that God has given me the second chance so that others may one day have a second chance. So I have an obligation not only to my family who has waited all of these years for me, but an obligation to the people who have been left behind.


ROMANS: Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department denied three clemency petitions for Johnson. Prosecutors claimed she was heavily involved with the drug cartel even though she was never charged for it. CNN has learned President Trump is currently eyeing pardons for dozens of people with some of the cases involving what he considers Justice Department overreach. BRIGGS: Ahead, the prime minister of Japan visits the White House

today to critical meeting that lay ground work for the North Korea summit next week. We're live in Tokyo with the latest.


[04:15:48] BRIGGS: 4:15 Eastern Time. CNN learning U.S. officials are laying the ground work in case President Trump and Kim Jong-un want to hold a second day of meetings in Singapore. Their summit starts Tuesday. And now former NBA star Dennis Rodman who has made at least five visits to North Korea could be inserting himself into the narrative.

ROMANS: Rodman's agent tells CNN his client is considering traveling to Singapore. A senior administration official tells CNN Rodman is not part of anything the White House team is doing at the summit.

The president today hosts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a key meeting ahead of the North Korea summit.

CNN's Anna Coren live in Tokyo.

And, Ana, I mean, Dennis Rodman is probably who knows the president. I mean, he was --

BRIGGS: He was fired.

ROMANS: He was fired by the president and he knows the North Korean leader. That's a little interesting.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dennis Rodman, yes. I think his agent has said we'll see what happens. But the fact that it's even out there is a little dubious. I think this needs to be, you know, kept as a very serious issue which is why the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Washington to meet with President Trump today at the White House. He has an hour and 30 with him. And this will be their seventh meeting.

This is a sense of desperation from the Japanese that has been perceived to make sure that the U.S. is on the same page as Japan as far as they're concerned. Japan has been living the story for the last 30 years. They have a very healthy dose of cynicism when it comes to dealing with the North Koreans. They've watched their nuclear weapons program develop. They've had North Korea missiles fly over their territory, landing on their waters.

They've even had North Korea threatened to attack Japan. So Abe wants Trump to go into this meeting with Kim next week with his eyes wide open. There is also a concern that Trump is perhaps softening his tone with the North Koreans. And that perhaps a full denuclearization will no longer be on the table and that he may somehow come up with a compromise in which Kim gets rid of his long-range ballistic missiles and not his shorter range missiles which obviously affect Japan.

The other issue is abductees. There have been at least 17 Japanese nationals kidnapped from Japanese mainland to North Korea. And the Japanese want them back. That is a very, very important issue for them, Christine.

ROMANS: Absolutely. And just another reminder of what kind of regime we are dealing with overall.

All right, Anna, thank you, in Tokyo.

BRIGGS: Officials in Guatemala said the death toll in the eruption of the Fuego volcano is now at 99. People whose towns were buried in ash and soot are looking for missing loved ones.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Guatemala with the latest.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, we are just down the road from one of the hardest-hit areas, a town that was basically wiped out. We were up there a little bit earlier and there were houses that were buried in ash. Right now rescue officials say it's just too dangerous to go up there. An explosion could take place at any point from this volcano.

We have seen some people coming down with their belongings they've been able to rescue from destroyed homes and even some of their pets. Other people, though, say that they're very concerned that there's still 200 people missing. They are concerned that their relatives are among them and that no word after 72 hours is causing them to lose hope -- Dave, Christine.

ROMANS: Just remarkable what's happening there.

All right, thanks for that, Patrick.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, Samantha Bee back on the air for the first time since using vulgar language about Ivanka Trump.


SAMANTHA BEE, HOST "FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE": I'm Samantha Bee. Sorry for breaking America?


BRIGGS: What Bee says about her mistake and the broader message, next.


[04:23:55] ROMANS: A police sergeant and three officers with the Mesa Police Department are on leave after surveillance video showed them beating an unarmed man. The police chief tells CNN affiliate KNXV Robert Johnson was with a friend who tried to enter an ex-girlfriend's apartment. She called 911. The responding officers were told about a possible weapon.



BRIGGS: After police found Johnson was unarmed, he is seen leaning against the wall before being surrounded by officers and punched multiple times. Johnson's attorney said he lives in the building and was not trespassing. The officers involved are now under internal investigation. The police chief says he is disappointed by the video. The local police union contended it does not include the full context of the encounter.

ROMANS: Samantha Bee back on the air Wednesday night for the first time since making a vulgar comment about Ivanka Trump. She addressed it right at the top of her show "Full Frontal" apologizing again for crossing a line while also delivering a broader message.


BEE: If you are worried about the death of civility, don't sweat it.

[04:25:04] I'm a comedian. People who hone their voices in basement bars while yelling back at drunk hecklers are definitely not paragons of civility.

I am. I'm really sorry that I said that word. But you know what, civility is just nice words. Maybe we should all worry a little bit more about the niceness of our actions.


ROMANS: While she aims for her show to be challenging and honest, Samantha Bee says she never intended it to hurt anyone except Ted Cruz.

BRIGGS: The Golden State Warriors now one win away from their second straight NBA title, third in the last four years. They beat LeBron James and the Cavaliers 110-102 to go up three games to none in the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant leading the way with 43 points, a career playoff high including a three-pointer in the final minute to secure the win. Golden State can sweep the Cavs and win the title game four Friday night in Cleveland. LeBron James, though, a triple-double in the loss. He's been super human.

Ahead, the G7 summit testing the president's ego and his patience. He thinks it's upstaging the North Korea summit and thinks sitting with leaders who disagree with him might be a waste of time.