Return to Transcripts main page


Lack of Civility in Politics Examined; China Trade Issues Discussed; Sports Headlines. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 26, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- due to poor holiday sales. Two main reasons for the downfall of Toys 'R' Us. Increased competition from big box stores and online retailers, and it just had a huge debt load.

China is blocking access to HBO's Web site after comedian John Oliver made jokes like this one about Chinese President Xi Jinping.


JOHN OLIVER, HOST, "LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER": Xi Jinping is very sensitive about his perceived resemblance to Winnie the Pooh. And I'm not even sure it's that strong a resemblance, to be honest.


ROMANS: Winnie the Pooh aside, last week Oliver ran a 20-minute segment criticizing the authoritarian policies of China's government. Since then China has censored mentions of Oliver on social media and restricted access to HBO. HBO is also owned by Time Warner, parent of CNN.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: It was a terrific segment, by the way. Check it out on YouTube.

EARLY START continues right now with the plea for civility in politics. Don't hold your breath.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're allowed to disagree, but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: I have not called for the harm of anybody. This president has lied again.


ROMANS: The collapse of civility in politics has everyone agreeing on one thing. It's not their fault. BRIGGS: Renewed trade concerns tank the markets. Companies being

forced to rethink global supply chains as open trade comes under threat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I get everybody off?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Everybody is off.


ROMANS: Dramatic moments off the Florida coast. Look at that. Six people rescued after their boat bursts into flames. It happened so quickly. Three or four minutes from the first spark to engulfed.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Can we elect those guys? Because they know what civility is all about. They didn't care what politics they're into. They jumped into action to save somebody.

Tuesday, June 26th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East. Good morning.

We'll start with this plea for civility. But when it comes to taking responsibility for the uncivil tone, nobody wants to own it. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaking out for the first time since she was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant over the weekend.


SANDERS: I was asked to leave because I work for President Trump. Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important. But the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable.

We are allowed to disagree, but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm. And this goes for all people regardless of politics.


ROMANS: The restaurant owner's decision not to serve Sanders igniting a less than civil debate including this from Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters on Saturday.


WATERS: And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them and you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere.


BRIGGS: President Trump adding to the uncivility referring to Waters as an extraordinarily low IQ person while tweeting, "Be careful what you wish for, Max." The president adding to it in South Carolina.


TRUMP: They're only good at one thing. What's their term? Resist. It's the party of Maxine Waters -- do you believe her? No, no. No. No. This has become the party of Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi.


BRIGGS: Maxine Waters is trying to clarify her original remarks.


WATERS: I believe in peaceful, very peaceful protests. I have not called for the harm of anybody. This president has lied again when he is saying that I called for harm to anyone.


ROMANS: Waters dialed it back after criticism from several Democrats. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said this, "Trump's daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable." And this from Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: No one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That's not right, that's not American.


BRIGGS: So how have we gotten here? Well, critics of the Trump administration insist it starts at the top.


TRUMP: Knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously. OK. Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.

We're not allowed to punch back anymore. I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court. Don't worry about it. Whacky Jacky is campaigning with Pocahontas, you believe this?

[05:05:01] He's not a war hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a war hero.

TRUMP: He is a war hero --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five and a half years as a POW.

TRUMP: He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured. OK? Get that son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off the field right now. Out.

He's fired. He's fired.


ROMANS: Even with all the vitriol from the president, many Democrats are concerned the emotional response to him could fuel the president's claims his supporters are being disrespected. Social media driven confrontations including public heckling of several Trump officials and backers have opened a rift in the Democratic Party over whether stoking anti-Trump outrage is helping or hurting its candidates ahead of the midterms.

BRIGGS: OK. Let's bring in CNN politics multi-platform editor Brenna Williams live with us this morning.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning, Brenna.

A surprise poll from Marist on civility. Well, pretty much everyone agrees that civility is on the decline. 67 percent of Americans overall say it has gotten worse since President Trump was elected. And here is Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary last night on FOX talking about who's responsible.


ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In the House of Representatives where she serves, all need to get asked, do you agree with Maxine Waters? The press needs to have a feeding frenzy among the left as they always do on the right where they try to ask Republicans, do you agree with this or that when somebody else said. It's her turn now. This does lead to things that go too far. And you need to stand up now for civil discourse. And it's up to the Democrats to lead that charge.


BRIGGS: No one is standing up for what Maxine Waters said. Even her own party criticizing her. Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary, alongside another White House press secretary, former, saying the Democrats need to lead that change. Do they? Or does it start at the top?

BRENNA WILLIAMS, CNN POLITICS, MULTI-PLATFORM EDITOR: Well, I mean, ultimately in politics as in life, we're all responsible for the things that we say and do, and how we treat other people. Right? I think that the big difference here as you showed the president -- now president -- has been saying kind of incendiary things since the campaign. Often at rallies and often kind of in a safe space for him. Right? Around supporters and things like that.

I think what's changed here is now people are being encouraged to whatever extent you read into it to take that out of these spaces where among like-minded people and kind of confront people who may not think the same way as us. Right? So taking it out of our heads, taking it out of -- you know, maybe even Twitter and taking it to the streets. Taking it to restaurants and things like that. So I think that that's the big shift here.

I mean, politics has never been a civil game. But, you know, Trump was never really insulting John McCain to his face. Right? People were never really saying mean things other than maybe at a debate. But now it's kind of -- it's shifted and it's gotten uncivil in a new arena. And I think that that's the big difference here.

ROMANS: Senator Marco Rubio tweeted something I thought that was really interesting and sort of perfectly reflects, you know, my unscientific polling over the Midwest over the long weekend from Trump supporters. "Trump haters still haven't realized how much they helped him with their condescension of those who either voted for him or don't share their hatred of him, and how much they help him with their irrational hostility towards those who work for him."

You know, this idea -- this president was elected to rock the boat and to overthrow the establishment. And every bit of anxiety about civility feeds into that narrative really. This is why the president --

BRIGGS: It helps.

ROMANS: Right -- was elected for and the more the mainstream and the status quo is up in arms about the behavior of Trump and his affiliates or that Trump has started a wave of incivility in Washington, you know, his supporters frankly love it, Brenna.

WILLIAMS: They do. And, you know, I think people just like to feel like they're heard. Right? They like to feel like, you know, somebody is fighting for them. Fighting for their values. Pushing back against people who might not agree with them. But I think that there's this line, right? There's a dangerous line. We've seen this, we've seen this with -- like the tragic congressional baseball shooting last year.

We saw this with Gabby Giffords a few years ago. Some very tragic things can happen, you know, from people on the end of both spectrums on the very fringes obviously. But I think that that's something that we need to think about and supporters need to understand, yes, it's wonderful to be heard, but there are civil ways to go about that. And I think politicians should set an example. Right?


WILLIAMS: They should talk to each other civilly. They should talk to each other in the same room and not yell at each other. Like I said, politics has never been super civil, but there's definitely a spectrum and we're definitely kind of edging toward one side of it, it seems.

BRIGGS: And last night in South Carolina the president criticized John McCain who is dying of brain cancer, accused him of grandstanding. [05:10:02] Hit Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Apprentice" ratings, Jimmy

Kimmel, called him terrible. Stephen Colbert, called him a low life. And Jimmy Fallon looks like a lost soul. But you have to give the president credit, his political instincts have been spot on in the past. They were in 2016, and now he's shifted those same two issues that he won on, immigration and trade.

So when it comes to immigration, he appears to like this fight as well. Where are we heading legislatively? Is there anything that might come out of the House or the Senate?

WILLIAMS: Well, late last week, Republicans were kind of scrambling, trying to find a compromise on a bill that -- and trying to struggle to see whether they should go narrow or whether they should go broad, which has kind of been the issue for a while now, right? What they should focus on, what can pass, what can get support. Not only from other Republicans in Congress, but also from the president.

It's interesting because as long as we've been seeing this story line it's kind of been the same thing. It's all focused on House Republicans and how kind of divergent their interests and needs and asks are, and where they can marry that with President Trump. President Trump said late last week why are they even trying, they should just deal with this in the midterms. And I think there's kind of a powder keg last week with all those images coming out, seeing children separated from their families that's kind of lighting a fire under Congress to do something since constituents are demanding it.

BRIGGS: OK. Brenna Williams live for us in D.C. this morning. Thank you. See you in about 20 minutes.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Brenna.

WILLIAMS: Great. Thank you.

BRIGGS: Special primary day today in five states with votes in Colorado, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma and Utah. Among the notable races, Mitt Romney likely to win the nomination for Utah's Senate seat against Republican state rep Mike Kennedy. In New York, former congressman Michael Grimm fighting to get his old job back after doing time in federal prison for tax evasion. Oklahoma voters bring a controversial ballot measure to make theirs the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana.

Also runoffs today in Mississippi and South Carolina. President Trump again in South Carolina last night to back incumbent Governor Henry McMaster who was forced into a runoff against his Republican challenger, businessman John Warren.

ROMANS: All right. Asian stocks falling overnight after President Trump's trade policy backfires on Harley-Davidson. The company shifting some production overseas to avoid new tariffs from the EU. A response to Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum. The EU tariffs will make Harley motorcycles $2200 more expensive. Instead of passing that along to customers, Harley plans to move some production to be closer to its second largest market which is the EU. That's bad news for U.S. workers. You know, and the president has

long championed Harley-Davidson as an American manufacturer. He met last year, high profile meeting with executives there. Now he is tweeting he's surprised that Harley would be the first to wave the white flag on trade.

On Wall Street, Harley's stocks fell 6 percent proving the Trump's trade battles do have consequences for U.S. companies. The Dow fell more than 300 points led by American exporters and big tech stocks.

You know, Dave, tech as we've been saying had been immune to trade fears. But now that White House plans to block Chinese investment in the U.S. tech targeting Xi Jinping's made in China plan to dominate industries like aerospace, robotics and electric cars for the year 2025. You know, that is on the crosshairs. Tech is worried about that now.

Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin denied yesterday that China was the target, even though reporters had been briefed that China is the target. Instead saying it would be all countries that are trying to steal our technology. And then the trade adviser Peter Navarro came out on the cable news shows and then contradicted Mnuchin.


PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: There's no plans to impose investment restrictions on any countries that are interfering in any way with our country. This is not -- this is not the plan. So this whole idea that somehow there's going to investment restrictions to the world, please discount that.


ROMANS: So it's either to China or not to China. It's either that everyone -- anyway, he called this market drop an overreaction. We've been waiting for some time now for this two-part really approach to China. One, tariffs. Two, export restrictions. And we're waiting to hear more about that by the end of the week.

BRIGGS: And not a good split screen for Navarro when you see the Dow dropping 400 points.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: On the other side of the screen there.

Speaking of all that China and trade issue, the secretary of Defense landing overnight in China on a critically important trip with North Korea, trade and security issues at play. Will Ripley live for us in Beijing straight ahead on EARLY START.


[05:18:48] BRIGGS: Defense Secretary James Mattis touching down in China overnight. Mattis making the first visit to China by a secretary of Defense since 2014. Let's go live to Beijing and bring in Will Ripley, 5:18 p.m. there.

Will, the conservative "Wall Street Journal" described President Xi's approach as a bare-knuckle approach that makes a bruising fight more likely. So if he's likely to listen, what is Mattis going hear?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. President Xi is saying that he will punch back and that the Chinese will punch back against the United States. There's $50 billion in tariffs due to kick in next month. An announcement expected this week citing national security as the reason why the Trump administration wants to block Chinese investment in U.S. technology. They accuse China of stealing American technology.

So the Defense secretary has to talk about all of those issues, relating them to national security but yet he also needs to convince President Xi to keep up the pressure up on North Korea because the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign simply would not work without Chinese cooperation. So they're going to have to be addressing that along with the Chinese expansion in the South China Sea.

Those what analysts have called permanent aircraft carriers, the militarization of the South China Sea, the U.S. stepping up its freedom of navigation patrols, sailing its war ships near those disputed islands.

[05:20:03] So certainly a lot on the agenda here in Beijing as the secretary kicks off those very high level meetings -- Dave.

BRIGGS: And the contentious tone it sounds. Will Ripley, live for us in Beijing. Thank you.

ROMANS: And then this. Good Samaritans rushing to rescue a group stranded in a burning boat off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale. The Barriger family visiting from Connecticut, they saw the blaze from a nearby boat. One person, as you can see, almost went overboard trying to get and jumped into action. One person almost went overboard trying to get from the burning boat on to the rescue boat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the people were out on the bow so I just went around it. Came up alongside the boat. It went from smoke to fire within three to four minutes. I'm telling you, it was ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grateful. Lots of thank yous from him, including the captain and the crew. We just had to help out and do our jobs. Not a bad day. And we also caught fish.


ROMANS: Also caught some fish. All right. Ft. Lauderdale fire and rescue responded to the scene. You know, they tried to save that but look at how quickly it's burning. It's already sunk by the time -- wow. That's not your typical half-day tour. (LAUGHTER)

BRIGGS: Caught some fish. Drank some beers. Saved some humans. That is a good day, my friend.

ROMANS: That's a good day.

Third time was the charm for Houston Rockets star James Harden. Your new NBA MVP. Styling in that jacket. Andy Scholes, a former Rockets ball boy, celebrating this, next in the "Bleacher Report."


[05:25:52] BRIGGS: Ronaldo and Portugal advancing to the knockout stage of the World Cup but just barely.

Andy Scholes, with the "Bleacher Report" this morning. Good to see you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, guys. You know, we're into the final group stage games. This is when the World Cup really starts getting good. As teams were playing for their tournament live. And Ronaldo, you know, he's been fantastic so far in this tournament but check him out the night before the game. Coming to his window in his hotel, calling fans, hey, can you keep it down so I can get some sleep? Well, maybe Ronald didn't get enough sleep. Because he really wasn't at his best in this one against Iran.

Ronaldo missing a penalty kick in the second half. That rarely happens. Now all Portugal needed in this one was a tie to get through. Iran had to win it. Tied at 1-1 in the 94th minute. Iran, a golden chance but their shot wide left. They lose the game by inches. Their World Cup is over. Portugal and Spain moving on from group B. So Ronaldo is through to the knockout stage.

Will Messi join him? Argentina in a must-win situation later today against Nigeria. They have to win and hope Iceland does not beat Croatia in order to make it through. Four games on tap today. The action is going to get started at 10:00 Eastern.

All right. After leading the Rockets with 65 wins this season, James Harden was named the NBA MVP last night in the award show seen on TNT. He beat out LeBron to win the award for the first time in his career. And Harden brought his mom up on stage with him to accept the trophy.


JAMES HARDEN, 2018 NBA MVP: I won't get emotional. I'm not going to get -- I'm not doing all that. But she's my backbone. Good times. Bad times. Ah --


HARDEN: Yes, man, you only get one life and I'm happy she's my mom. I wouldn't have it any other way. For real.


SCHOLES: And guys, we didn't play it for you but the best part about that speech, at least in my eyes, was when Harden thanked the ball boys for helping him win that MVP award.

ROMANS: There you go.

SCHOLES: Because, you know, NBA franchise, you can't really get anything done without the help of good ball boys.

BRIGGS: When are we going to get a photo of you as a ball boy, man?

ROMANS: I got to see that.

SCHOLES: I have plenty. I'll have to bring some for you.

BRIGGS: OK. And then we need to get you with the photo wearing that James Harden suit. Because that thing.

ROMANS: That thing.

BRIGGS: Wow. He was at the cover of "GQ."

ROMANS: Love the shout-out to the mom.

BRIGGS: Thanks, man.

ROMANS: Moms rule.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: 28 minutes past the hour. Everyone claims they want civility, but no one seems willing to prove it. Democrats facing a midterm dilemma over how to counter the president.