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Shinzo Abe Meets with President Trump Ahead of North Korea Summit; Guatemala Volcano Death Toll Rises. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 7, 2018 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:07] CHRISTINE ROMANS, 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 leader has many asking if the president knows American history or he made a very bad joke.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, the Justice Department will allow top lawmakers to see more documents related to a confidential source during the campaign. A major concession from the DOJ which says a life of the source could be on the line.

ROMANS: Well, police in Arizona facing some hard questions for this surveillance video capturing the beating of a suspect. What his lawyer and police are saying now. Hard to watch that.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. 30 minutes past the hour on a Thursday.

We start with 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. According to "The Post," the president believes the G7 is a distraction from his upcoming summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

ROMANS: CNN has learned exclusively Trump and Trudeau had a tense phone call two weeks ago over those new tariffs. Trudeau asked the president how he can justify the tariffs on national security grounds. Trump quipped in response, quote, "Didn't you guys burn down the White House?" A reference to the war of 1812. Of course it was the British not the Canadians 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 the degree 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. will not be a laughing matter.

BRIGGS: Senior administration officials 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 weighing in. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.


ROMANS: In Congress, Senator Bob Corker tells CNN the president called him, telling the Foreign Relations chairman to back off his effort to curb the president's power on trade. The president told Corker the move would hurt his leverage in negotiations. Corker says he responded, he has a duty as a senator to push ahead. Senate 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.

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 those materials fearing the source's life would be at risk.

BRIGGS: CNN has 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 confidential source to claim without evidence the FBI infiltrated his campaign to spy on it.

ROMANS: Meantime, three top Republicans now breaking with President Trump 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 then 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.


BRIGGS: 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.

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


[04:35:04] 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.



BRIGGS: Giuliani also said First Lady Melania Trump does not believe Stormy Daniels' claim 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 no degree of giving your credibility any weight.


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

ROMANS: President Trump paying a visit to FEMA headquarters for a briefing on the new hurricane season, but not a word about the staggering new death toll estimates from Hurricane Maria. 4600 killed by the storm.

The president previously had given the federal response a 10 out of 10 rating. He did briefly mentioned Puerto Rico, but offered no indication the U.S. response is being reviewed. Instead praising FEMA and other U.S. officials for their work. There was this bizarre claim about Coast Guard rescues in Texas during Hurricane Harvey.


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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: There is no evidence the president's claim is true. And it did not sit so well with first responders. They give credit to hundreds of civilians who used their own boats to rescue neighbors.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez telling "The Houston Chronicle," quote, "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."

ROMANS: Yes. Civilians were praised, widely praised for what they did to help their neighbors and how quickly they spring into action.

BRIGGS: Off to sea along the Gulf Coast.

ROMANS: We had interviewed so many of them who -- they had, you know, phone networks and systems where they were all helping each other.

BRIGGS: The best of human nature.

ROMANS: That's right.


ROMANS: All right. I'm not sure where the president was getting that.

Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. 63-year-old Alice Marie Johnson is free this morning. The latest person granted clemency by President Trump. Johnson was sentenced in 1996 on cocaine possession and money laundering charges. Last week, Kim Kardashian West 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.


BRIGGS: Alice Johnson says her first meal after leaving prison was red lobster. 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. Some of the cases involving what he considers Justice Department overreach.

ROMANS: Just over 43,000 apprehensions at the Mexico border in May. A slight increase of about 2,000 from April and March. The number of unaccompanied children taken into custody last month soared nearly 50 percent to 6400. The total number of families apprehended holding steady in May around 9500. That suggest Trump administration's enforcement tactics including separating migrant families from their children are not having an immediate deterrent effect.

BRIGGS: Senate Republicans accusing the Obama administration of secretly trying to give the Iranians access to the U.S. financial system as part of the Iran nuclear deal. A report released by the Republican senators says the plan would have allowed Tehran to convert billions of dollars in assets into euros. GOP lawmakers alleged the Obama White House did not tell Congress because it was trying to side step sanctions on Iran that remained in place following the agreement. Obama administration officials say Republicans are exaggerating a one- time effort to meet the obligations of the nuclear deal.

ROMANS: All right. Mick Mulvaney taking another swipe of his consumer watchdog bureau, firing all 25 members of the CFPB's consumer advisory board. The board is a group of outsider advocates, academics, industry execs. It helps the CFPB shape policy on things like fair lending and underserved communities.

[04:40:02] But lately some members began to criticize Mulvaney's leadership as acting director, mainly that he cancelled legally required meetings. So in a conference call yesterday the board was told they were all being replaced. They could not reapply for spots on the new board.

CFPB insists nobody has been fired. The Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren slammed this move, writing, "This is what happens when you put someone in charge of an agency they think shouldn't exist." Mulvaney has long accused the CFPB of overreach. As a congressman, he tried to abolish it. Under his leadership, the CFPB has delayed payday loan rules and weakened provisions protecting both fair lending and student borrowers.

BRIGGS: OK. Coming up, the prime minister of Japan visits the White House today. A critical meeting to lay ground work for the North Korea summit next week. We are live in Tokyo ahead on EARLY START.


[04:45:30] ROMANS: CNN has learned U.S. officials are laying the ground work in case Trump and Kim Jong-un want to hold a second day of meetings in Singapore. Their summit starts Tuesday. Now former NBA star Dennis Rodman who has made at least five visits to North Korea could be inserting himself into the narrative.

BRIGGS: 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 for us in Tokyo this morning.

Hi there, Anna. ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, you're absolutely

right. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be meeting with President Trump in the coming hours at the White House. This will be their seventh meeting and some are saying this is a real act of desperation on the part of the Japanese. The reason being is they want President Trump to take their concerns to the summit when he meets with Kim Jong-un in Singapore on Tuesday.

They have lived this story for the last 30 years. They've watched the North Koreans develop their nuclear weapons program. They've had North Korean missiles fly over Japanese territory, land in their waters. They've had North Korea threaten to attack Japan. So there is a real healthy dose of cynicism when it comes to dealing with the North Koreans.

And no doubt, Prime Minister Abe will tell Trump be careful who you're getting into bed with. You have to go into this meeting with your eyes wide open. There is also a real concern that perhaps the U.S. is somewhat softening its tone in dealing with the North Koreans. And Japan wants that commitment that there will be full denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. And they feel that Trump may somewhat come up with a compromise with Kim Jong-un.

The other major issue for Japan is the abductees. This is something out of a spy novel where back in the '70s and '80s there were a number of Japanese nationals who were kidnapped from Japan, taken to North Korea to teach their spies how to speak Japanese and behave like the Japanese. The North Koreans have admitted to taking 13. The Japanese say there are 17 if not more. They want them to return and Abe will be asking Trump please make this plea when you sit down with Kim Jong- un next week -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Abe and President Trump will take questions in the 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time hour.

Anna, thank you.

ROMANS: The State Department reports medical screening of U.S. personnel in China reveals possible new cases of acoustic incident similar to the sonic attacks experienced by embassy workers in Cuba. As a result, officials say a number of people have been sent back to the U.S. for further evaluation. The screenings came after a U.S. government employee in China became ill earlier this year reporting abnormal sensations of sound and pressure that resulted in a mild brain injury.

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

CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Guatemala for us 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: All right. Patrick Oppmann on that story for us.

The cost of your summer airfare is about to go up. How much and why? That's next.


[04:53:58] ROMANS: Welcome back. 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 but also delivering a broader message.


SAMANTHA BEE, HOST, "FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE": If you are worried about the death of civility, don't sweat it. 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, quote, "except Ted Cruz."

BRIGGS: Several players on the Philadelphia Eagles addressing the canceled White House visit as the team resumed its off-season activities. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the more outspoken players, delivered a powerful response to the Super Bowl champs being disinvited by the president without saying a word.


[04:55:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think he's going to answer the (INAUDIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't say --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you surprised that you guys eventually decided not to go to the White House?


BRIGGS: Instead, Jenkins held up handwritten signs that said, "People aren't listening." pointing to the treatment of minorities in the criminal justice system supporting Colin Kaepernick and crediting teammate Chris Long who gave a year's salary to educational initiatives.

The White House cited crowd size and national anthem issues in cancelling the Eagles visit without addressing racial issues underlying the controversy.

ROMANS: A police sergeant and three officers with the Mesa, Arizona, Police Department on leave after this 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.


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


BRIGGS: After police found Johnson was unarmed, he is seen leaning against a wall before being surrounded by officers and punched multiple times. Johnson's attorney says 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 contends it does not include the full context of the encounter.

ROMANS: All right. In Hawaii, an ash plumed reached 10,000 feet after an eruption at the Kilauea summit. Officials say surrounding areas may be affected. Meantime, lava flow obliterates Hawaii's Green Lake within minutes. The lava causing all of the 400-year-old fresh water lake to boil off. It has been more than a month since lava from the Kilauea eruption began its slow destructive path. About 7.7 square miles of land have been covered by lava.

BRIGGS: The Golden State Warriors are one win away from their second straight NBA title and third in the last four years. They beat LeBron James and the Cavs 110-102 to go up three games to none in the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 43 points, a career playoff high including that dagger in the final minute to secure the win. Golden State can sweep the Cavs and win the title game four Friday night in Cleveland. You see LeBron James there, a triple- double in the loss.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning. What trade war? Global stocks higher right now. The London Stock Exchange opened an hour late today delayed by a technical glitch. Wall Street also closed higher ignoring escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and the rest of the world. The Dow rose 1.4 percent, back above 25,000. The Nasdaq hit its third straight record close. Speaking of trade, the U.S. trade deficit fell to a seven-month low in

April, down 2.1 percent according to the Commerce Department. Imports fell while exports hit a record high lifted by an increase in oil and soybeans.

Tesla stock up 10 percent after CEO Elon Musk promised that Model 3 production is back on track. Wednesday was Tesla's best day in more than two years, though shares are still down 9 percent from a year ago. Tesla has consistently missed production deadlines for the Model 3, its first mass market car. Musk admitted to investors that Tesla has made a lot of mistakes but is addressing them and will likely reach its production goal by the end of the month.

OK, are you flying this summer? Rising fuel prices mean you will probably pay more. Global oil prices are up 12 percent this year putting pressure on airline profits. So carriers warn they will likely hike ticket prices. Hard to predict by how much but experts say airlines will probably boost base fares by about 10 bucks or add a fuel surcharge to the ticket price.

But keep in mind, competition pretty fierce between carriers during the busy summer travel season. That could limit extreme price hikes.

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START continues right now.

ROMANS: President Trump thinks the upcoming G7 is a waste of time and a distraction from the North Korea summit. And now a testy phone call with Canada's leader has many asking if the president knows basic American history or made a bad joke.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, the Justice Department will allow top lawmakers to see more documents related to a confidential source during the campaign. A major concession from the DOJ which says that the life of the source could be on the line.

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

All right. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning, too. Good morning, everyone. It's Thursday, June 7th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. We start with the President Trump expressing some 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 --