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Mike Pompeo Makes It Clear Denuclearization Before Sanctions Relief; Michael Cohen Switches Legal Teams; Trump to be Briefed on Clinton E-mail Report; World Cup 2018 Kicks Off Today; Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 14, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:14] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The secretary of State firming up requirements for North Korea to denuclearize. He says sanctions relief depends on it and verification is required.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's mind now back on the Russia investigation. His lawyers are set to sit with the special counsel. But first, they'll talk with the president to strategize.

BRIGGS: And a possible tornado tears through northeast Pennsylvania. Buildings torn apart, and cars overturned, and power is out for thousands.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Nice to see you all. It's Thursday, June 14th. Happy 72nd birthday to President Trump.


ROMANS: It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

We begin with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a nuclear shovel diplomacy mission. Flying this morning from Seoul to Beijing, he will discuss North Korea with President Xi and other Chinese officials. Overnight Pompeo underscored the U.S. view that North Korea must denuclearize before easing of U.N. sanctions. And he tried to ease concern about verification.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Sanctions relief cannot take place until such time as we have demonstrated that North Korea has been completely denuclearized. The summit created this enormous historic opportunity. For us to move forward together and fundamentally really shape the relationship between the United States and North Korea. Verification is central to that. Complete denuclearization certainly encompasses that idea very clearly.


BRIGGS: Pompeo pushing back against criticism the joint declaration signed by President Trump and Kim Jong-un did not have the words verifiable or irreversible. Pompeo insists the word complete which is in the statement encompasses both terms in everyone's minds, and he called questions about the word's omission, quote, "insulting, ridiculous, and frankly ludicrous."

We turn to senior diplomatic editor Nic Robertson live for us in Seoul.

Nic, he went full thesaurus on that. Good morning to you.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, he did. He was very clear. He clearly understood that this is where there was a lot of pushback, that the language that everyone had expected to make it very clear to Kim Jong-un absolutely what he was signing up to wasn't there, but as Secretary of State Pompeo said, complete covered it all and everyone in the room understood that.

But we heard from the South Korean president today as well saying that this was a new era for peace, that he was also very happy to have the opportunity of face-to-face talks with Secretary of State Pompeo, that it was -- that it was good to get the detailed explanation of everything that have happened in Singapore. I think this underlines some of South Korea's concerns about the announcement of the stopping of the joint military exercises.

We certainly heard South Korea's Foreign minister reference that. She said that this was an issue between the two countries, the United States and South Korea, and that this is something that would require consultations between the two countries not only now, but going forward as well. So that was a clear line drawn there.

But to the issue that we've heard coming from the North Koreans and their state media indicating that there will be sanctions relief if the negotiations and dialogue goes well. No mention of denuclearization for the sanctions to be lifted from the North Korean.

Again, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo making very clear no relief until the denuclearization has happened. The view from South Korea, it's a good start, they want speed and they want the details as well -- Dave.

BRIGGS: OK. It is a good start indeed. Nic Robertson live for us in Seoul. Thank you.

President Trump standing by his glowing praise for his summit partner, Kim Jong-un. In post-summit interviews, the president appeared to justify the brutal actions of the North Korean regime.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: You call people sometimes killers. He -- you know, he is a killer. I mean, he's clearly executing people. And --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, with tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don't care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have, if you can do that at 27 years old, you -- I mean that's one in 10,000 that could do that, so he's a very smart guy. He's a great negotiator. But I think we understand each other.

BAIER: But, I mean, he's still done some really bad things.

TRUMP: Yes, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done. Now, look, with all of that being said, the answer is yes.


BRIGGS: The comments about Kim Jong-un's actions echoing the rhetoric the president had used in the past to defend Russian leader Vladimir Putin when the president said you think our country is so innocent.

[04:05:01] ROMANS: All right. As President Trump flew back home from the historic North Korea summit, his attention returned to the Russia investigation. Sources tell us he called his lawyers to talk about a potential showdown with Robert Mueller over the president's willingness to answer questions from the special counsel.

The president's team is waiting to sit down with Mr. Trump to game out their next moves. Trump's lawyers meet with Mueller's team this week or next.

BRIGGS: Meantime, the president's personal attorney Michael Cohen moving to split with his own legal team, some suggesting Cohen may flip and testify against the president but another of the president's lawyer, his spokesman Rudy Giuliani dismissed that claim last night.


RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I checked in with him last night. It's not so. He's not cooperating nor do we care because the president did nothing wrong. We're very comfortable if he cooperates. There is nothing he can cooperate about.


BRIGGS: Now he found the right language. More now from chief political correspondent Dana Bash in Washington.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Michael Cohen realizes that the legal jeopardy he is in right now requires a law firm or maybe more than one law firm that has experience with and expertise in the Southern District of New York where he's being investigated. In fact to that end I'm told that Cohen spent much of the day on Wednesday meeting with potential lawyers, at least three law firms that fit the bill.

Now the question is why now. My colleague MJ Lee is told by someone close to Cohen that he's fully cognizant of the real possibility that he could be indicted. So going to New York and having somebody with expertise there is one thing. The other reason he seems to be intent on switching law firms is money. He does not want to spend all of his savings on legal fees.

I'm told that he owes a lot to his current lawyer Stephen Ryan and his firm. They've deployed seven or eight lawyers to spend countless hours going through literally millions of documents for Cohen and those legal fees of course have added up. Financial pressure may play into concerns that people around Cohen or maybe even more importantly people around the president are saying that they have -- that Cohen could actually flip. That he could cooperate with investigators.

So I am told that they are not there yet. That there hasn't been a specific conversation between prosecutors in New York and Cohen or anybody in his orbit about the potential for a deal -- Christine and Dave.

ROMANS: All right. Dana Bash for us. Thank you, Dana.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will brief President Trump today on the FBI's handling of this Hillary Clinton e-mail probe prior to the 2016 election. This highly anticipated and potentially explosive report from the Justice Department's inspector general will be made public later in the day. Ahead of its release, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think it will help us better fix any problems that we have and reassure the American people that some of the concerns that have been raised are not true.


ROMANS: We get more this morning from CNN's Laura Jarrett.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, good morning, Dave and Christine. This highly anticipated report from the internal watchdog at the Justice Department is expected to cover all of the key issues leading up to the 2016 election. Everything from some of the more unusual moves from the former FBI director James Comey, those public statements on the Clinton e-mail investigation that he made that we all remember so well, to the tarmac meeting between then Attorney General Loretta Lynch and President Bill Clinton, where she came under fire for as it was in the middle of the Clinton e-mail investigation in 2016.

Now Donald Trump, both on the campaign trail and as president, has called into question the legitimacy of the Clinton e-mail investigation suggesting at times that the FBI had it rigged for Clinton. It was somehow biased in her favor. So one of the key questions for the inspector general to look at will be how do the motives of the FBI impact the actual outcome of that investigation, or whether he's more concerned with the process and whether they flouted department norms.

Dave and Christine, back to you. BRIGGS: All right. Thank you.

After Tuesday's primaries, no denying the GOP is the party of Trump. Corey Stewart a prime example. The projected Republican Senate nominee in Virginia winning despite being a champion of confederate symbols and supporting a far-right figure. Last night on "CUOMO PRIMETIME" Stewart was asked about his past support for ultra conservative commentator Paul Nehlen.


COREY STEWART (R), VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, when you are losing the argument, you know what you do? You know what the left does? They play the race card. They play the race card. We have a president --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You don't think that card applies to the people that you hung out with, with a confederate flag waving around?


STEWART: You never want to condemn the extremism on your side of the aisle.

CUOMO: There is none on my side of the aisle.

STEWART: And I have condemned that extremism time and time again.

CUOMO: My aisle is the truth.


ROMANS: Senator Cory Gardner heads up the National Republicans Senatorial Committee, he tells CNN his committee does not plan to endorse Stewart.

[04:10:01] Meantime, South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford reflecting on his defeat in the GOP primary for his own seat. Sanford is a notable critic of the president. He hopes his loss won't have a chilling effect on fellow Republicans.


REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think it's important that we have vigorous dissent. It is never in my lifetime been so tied to an individual personality and a litmus test of are you completely compliant and, you know, are you on board with me as a person as opposed to are on you board with the ideals that this party is based on.


ROMANS: That was earlier. Retiring Senator Bob Corker called out fellow Republicans for being loyal to the president over party and policy.