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EARLY START

Pompeo En Route to North Korea; Supreme Court Pick May Be Made Today; Woman Protests Migrant Policies at Statue of Liberty; British Couple Exposed to Deadly Nerve Agent. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 5, 2018 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- billion dollars worth of toys in 2017.

[05:00:04] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Not virtual, you can actually hold and flip through.

ROMANS: It will be an actual catalog.

BRIGGS: For us old school people, it's still like --

ROMANS: Who are you calling old school?

BRIGGS: EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

ROMANS: The secretary of state on his way back to North Korea. The pressure is on Mike Pompeo to show concrete steps now toward denuclearization.

BRIGGS: A full scale lobbying effort on both sides of the aisle as the president narrows his short list for the Supreme Court.

ROMANS: And Fourth of July protest at the seat of Lady Liberty. Police apprehended a protestor who vowed to stay until all the children are released.

Do you know what? That is gorgeous. I could watch that all morning long. Not the hotdog eating stuff. The hotdog eating stuff kind of grosses me out, but that is -- those are the images of Fourth of July that I love.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everyone.

BRIGGS: Yes, a terrific fireworks display in San Francisco and New York and it was Independence Day, not independent day, which was trending all throughout the day. America cannot spell, but that's OK. The fact is everyone was expressing their gratitude in this country and Twitter is probably a positive.

ROMANS: Happy birthday plus one, America. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Yes. I'm Dave Briggs. Good to see you, everybody. It's Thursday, the 5th of July. Five a.m. in the East, 6:00 p.m. in North Korea, 4:00 p.m. in Thailand.

The president is off to Montana to rally for Jon Tester, but first, let's talk about the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his way to North Korea where he'll meet with Kim Jong-un, the highest level of diplomatic engagement since the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore. Pompeo looking for a road map for North Korea's nuclear disarmament.

CNN's Paul Hancocks is live in Seoul with the latest.

And, Paula, this comes with a backdrop of reports that they were ramping up at least apparently their nuclear program and their ballistic missiles, a tall task for the secretary of state.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dave. And certainly the pressure is on at this point.

Sources telling CNN that the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is well aware that he has to come back with some kind of concrete plan for the path forward. Now, we heard from the intelligence official just last week saying that there will be some kind of detailed list of tasks that North Korea has to accomplish. It has to carry out in order for this denuclearization process to go ahead.

Now, we know also there were talks on Sunday at the DMZ, a source with knowledge of U.S./North Korea relations telling me that a letter was handed over from the U.S. to the North Koreans at that point. No details on what was in the letter, though, but also pointing out they're trying to hammer out the scheduling, the agenda for the Pompeo meeting and saying that they wanted more clarification when it comes to the remains as well that North Koreans had actually signed, saying in that declaration in Singapore that they would hand over remains of up to 200 U.S. service members from the Korean war. That hasn't happened.

The U.S. military is still on stand by for when that will happen. So, clearly, that will be something that Secretary of State Pompeo will be pushing for as well. We also had a cool handout letter from journalists who are in North Korea at this point there are North and South Korean basketball games on going saying that Kim Young Chul, the point person for Washington and these negotiations says that he is looking forward to meeting Pompeo tomorrow.

BRIGGS: All right. Paula Hancocks, live for us in Seoul this morning, thank you.

The America First president repeatedly floated the idea of invading Venezuela. A senior administration official tells CNN the president asked top officials about it last August, aides including. Then national security adviser H.R. McMaster strongly urged him against an invasion. They warned such a dramatic response to Venezuela's political and economic crisis could backfire.

A source chucked up the president's comment to thinking out loud but the following day, Mr. Trump said it out loud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to rule out a military option and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and they're dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Over the next month, the president kept pressing Latin American leaders about invading Venezuela, including on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. All the leaders firmly opposed the idea. President Trump has repeatedly tried to ratchet up pressure on the social government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Overnight, Maduro ordered Venezuela's armed forces not to, quote, lower their guard. He said no empire is going to choose for us.

BRIGGS: President Trump expected to make a final decision on his Supreme Court pick as soon as today.

[05:05:01] His choice expected to be a closely guarded secret in an otherwise leak-prone White House.

An 11th hour lobbying campaign in full swing in Washington. Conservatives hoping to see their choice nominated while liberals pushing moderate senators against supporting a hard right pick.

ROMANS: So far, the president has interviewed seven candidates. Sources tell CNN the president narrowed it down to two or three options. All appeals court judges, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Raymond Kethledge.

For the latest, we turn to our Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, President Trump is nearing a final decision on that pick for the Supreme Court. White House officials tell me that he is likely to make that decision either today or Friday. But, of course, not announce it until Monday evening here in a primetime address from the East Room of the White House.

Now, the president, of course, has been interviewing at least seven contenders here at the White House this week. Vice President Mike Pence also talking to more than one contender although we don't know how many.

Now, going into the weekend, the White House war room here that's been established, a group of aides to essentially start fighting the summer confirmation fight is going to have a list, I'm told, of two or three possible names. They're not going to know who the president has decided, but they're going to gear up for this epic fight that's going to unfold across Washington.

Now, the president, of course, could always change his mind. It's one of the reasons there will be two or three potential contenders. But he is narrowing in on a list. A behind the scenes lobbying push also going on at the 11th hour, with the president taking phone calls even as he was on the golf course, or driving to the golf course on the 4th of July from some senators and from some conservative activists clearly trying to persuade the president or have a final word of say -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks.

Meanwhile, DNA testing being conducted as part of the family reunification process. A federal official says it's a precaution against children being trafficked or smuggled by adults claiming to be their parents. But one immigration group calls the practice deplorable. All of those border visits by members of Congress could be slowing down the reunions. Homeland security officials say visiting lawmakers are draining resources that would be dedicated to the separated families.

ROMANS: One immigration attorney tells CNN, excuse me, nine clients received bond on Wednesday, a big step toward being reunited with their children.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JODI GOODWIN, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: One of them fell down on her knees and just cried. She couldn't believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Those clients will still have to pay the immigration bond, the $1,500 or $2,500 before they're released and then figure out where their children were taken and work with the Department of Health and Human Services to reunite with them.

BRIGGS: A woman who climbed to the Statue of Liberty to protest the separation of migrant families in federal custody this morning. Authorities tried to talk Therese Okoumou down for three hours but she refused to leave until all migrant children in government custody were released. Earlier in the day, other members of Okoumou's group had a banner at the base of the statue calling for the abolition of ICE.

At least seven people were arrested. Statue cruises which provides trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island had to turn away as many as 3,000 customers on the 4th of July because of the police activity.

ROMANS: Police say a couple in southern England was exposed to the same military grade nerve agent used against a former Russian spy and his daughter in March. Now, investigators try to determine if the two cases are somehow connected.

Erin McLaughlin is live from Amesbury, England.

And the assumption is there was left over nerve agent from that attack in March that somehow this couple stumbled upon. ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, that is a

potential working theory, Christine, but the bottom line is authorities here in the United Kingdom simply have no idea. They say they are keeping an open mind. They just don't know how an ordinary British couple in their mid 40s came across what authorities believe is characterized as a weapon of mass destruction, the Novichok nerve agent that was used four months ago to poison Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, as well as his daughter Yulia.

And today we heard the security minister Ben Wallace say that even with the case of the Skripal, though they have identified the source of the poisoning believed to be placed on the Skripal's front door, they still don't know how it got there and who did it. British authorities squarely blaming the Kremlin at this point, something that Russia strongly denied and now, Ben Wallace, the security minister, asking Russia for the full picture, full information as to what exactly happened to the Skripals, how that poisoning unfolded, hoping to get clues, information as to what happened to this seemingly ordinary couple just nine miles away in Amesbury last Saturday found unconscious in an apartment building behind me.

[05:10:08] We have heard from Russian authorities. The Russian embassy to the Netherlands tweet out earlier this morning, pointing to the World Cup saying how dumb they think Russia is to use again so- called Novichok in the middle of the FIFA World Cup.

So, you know, this continues. At this point authorities, again, still trying to figure out the source of the contamination for the latest incident but it took them weeks to figure out exactly how the Skripals were poisoned.

ROMANS: Yes, and that Russian diplomatic response from that diplomat very fascinating, trying to I guess blame the British for undermining the World Cup somehow with the latest poisoning.

All right. Erin McLaughlin, thank you so much for that. It's a really bizarre reaction.

BRIGGS: Yes, imagine how on edge the population is there and for not knowing what is safe and what is not.

ROMANS: Yes, where that came from, where that came from.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: All right. Rescue teams have an emergency plan to evacuate those boys trapped in the cave if the situation does worsen. For now, crews are looking for another way in and weather is the biggest concern. We're going to go live to Thailand.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: All right. Twelve days into the ordeal with those soccer players stuck in a cave in Thailand. Officials say weather is the biggest worry in pulling them out and their coach. He went on to say even though they are pumping water out of the cave, monsoon season is just beginning and water is continuing to flow in regardless.

CNN's David McKenzie is live on the CNN with the very latest.

David, good morning to you. What is the biggest challenge ahead in terms of getting those boys to learn to swim, to learn to scuba-dive and pulling them out? Does that still seem like the number one option?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, it's possibly the only option. Good morning.

You know, the rescue workers were having a briefing just moments ago behind me. The Thai government is being helped by U.S. military, by Australian special divers. This is really an international effort to get these 12 boys and their coach out deep in the mountain behind me, as you say, stuck with 12 days.

And, you know, they're keeping their spirits up, smiling, waving at the camera, sending messages to their parents but they even struggled to get a phone line through those narrow dark passengers, through the water, Dave, to connect their kids to their parents.

[05:15:04] So, imagine how difficult it is to get a human being through these narrow passages. But, yes, that's the option they're looking at, trying to put full face masks on the boys and get them through the sections that are flooded somehow. When you look at the guys who are going down into these caves, these specialists, they have hundreds of hours of training and expertise in these things. These boys didn't expect when they went into this cave system for a field trip that they would be stuck there and be the center of the world's attention.

They're also on the mountain behind me also scouring and looking for those chambers, those chimneys that might lead to a direct route there. I think that's according to experts that I have been speaking to is pretty slime chance. So, what they're doing is getting guys like these, these specialists, the cavers, divers to go in and out and set up a series of checkpoints for the actuality.

If the rain comes, Dave, if it starts pouring here which it will the next day or two, then the real rush against time happens because those caves could just flood all over again -- Dave.

BRIGGS: But, David, they have not located the spot directly above where the boys are trapped. It's believed that it's more than a half mile but they still don't know the exact spot if they wanted to drill down.

MCKENZIE: Well, that's right. You also, if you drill, you run the risk of collapsing the cave system, this is not a mine situation like what we had with the Chilean miners. They are scouring over the forest top to look to see for openings to see where they can send ground teams. It might seem counter intuitive.

But even if a cave is relatively well met underground, it doesn't mean you know at what point above ground you need to drill down and find that specific chamber. So, at this stage, it does look like the diving option or best case scenario if they can pump enough water out of those chambers to crawl out to a large degree and dive just for a small portion, that's the best case scenario.

When the rains come though the clock will be ticking and that's why you've got all of these rescue workers from around the world here, Dave, trying to marshal their resources and human ingenuity to get these 12 boys out. It's a miracle that they survived, but now, getting them out will be a harder challenge indeed.

BRIGGS: Yes, long run ahead. Nice to see some images of those boys smiling through it all. David McKenzie, live for us in Thailand, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. It is trade war go time. The U.S. and China gearing up for the next trade battle, but Beijing won't fire the first shot. The U.S. will hit China with tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods and China will hit the U.S. with equal value. But Beijing is 12 time zones ahead of Washington, meaning midnight there is noon in D.C.

Chinese officials have long said publicly they won't start a trade war with the U.S. So, Beijing will wait 12 hours to put its tariffs into effect. The finance ministry writes: We absolutely will not fire the first shot. The U.S. and China called a brief trade truce in May after several rounds of talks. Since then the administration has ramped up trade actions against China, punishment for stealing tech and trade secrets.

The U.S. tariffs target the high tech industries. China plans to hit high value American exports, cars, crude oil, and cash crops like soybeans. Those farm goods are strategic in states that voted for President Trump.

BRIGGS: The Indonesian government says the captain of a ferry that capsized off its coast on Tuesday deliberately crashed the vessel into shallow water when he realized it was sinking. Officials say the captain was trying to save as many lives as possible. The ferry had a maximum capacity of 139 people but there were 189 on board. Chilling video here showed passengers in orange life vests clinging to the side of the ship as it tilted into the water. 34 people died.

Now, this is some major league, eating the man they call jaws, breaking his own record. Andy Scholes has the gluttonous details in the bleacher report.

ROMANS: I can't watch it. I can't watch it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:22:47] BRIGGS: The LeBron James of competitive eating, Joey Chestnut, crushing hotdogs with buns and the field to win his 11th Nathan's hotdog eating contest.

ROMANS: Yes, soaking the hotdog buns, making them wet, gross.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report". Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I'm like you, Christine. I got to look away a lot of times. I can't watch their faces.

But you think about the great sports dynasties in the past 20 years, you got the Warriors, the Patriots, Alabama football, but Joey Chestnut is right up there with them. Chestnut crushed the field in 102nd Nathan hotdog eating contest. He devoured a record 74 hotdogs in 10 minutes beating, his the previous record by two and in case you were wondering, 74 hotdogs, that's more than 22,000 calories.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEY CHESTNUT, 11-TIME CHAMPION: It makes it so much easier when you love the food and there's people supporting you and I've been supported today.

Growing up, I didn't want to be committed here, but I fell in love with it and I'm riding this wave. I had no idea it would take me here and I'd be back so many times but I just keep pushing it to the next level.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Chestnut is now won 11 of the past 12 contests. He trains for months on his big day on July 4th every year and Chestnut has said he feels like garbage after a competition but so what, most people feel like garbage after a long day of work.

All right. Serena William cruising into the third round at Wimbledon yesterday, winning in straight sets. She's trying to win her first grand slam since giving birth to her daughter last year. The 36-year- old will be back in action tomorrow.

All of England right now still abuzz over the team's run in the World Cup. They're in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006 and check out this moment when a plane that left London during the Columbia game landed and the flight attendant delivered the score.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

SCHOLES: Pretty awesome. No World Cup again today. The quarterfinals get going tomorrow. Uruguay and France at 10:00 Eastern followed by a big game between two of the favorite, Brazil and Belgium.

All right. Finally, Carlos Gomez did not have a great 4th of July at the ballpark after striking out, check him out, takes out his fury on this cooler. On the bright side, he didn't miss the cooler once. And then watch this, ground out upper cut to this that cooler.

Guys, you know, we've covered it a few times this year, baseball players punching things and injuring themselves. Apparently, he was fined after that, but the cooler is not --

BRIGGS: No. The guy is making 4 million bucks a year, he's hitting below.200, he ought to be pissed, I mean --

SCHOLES: Yes, hitting under .200, but he's hitting 1.000 when it comes to the coolers.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Andy.

BRIGGS: Thanks, Scholes.

SCHOLES: All right.

BRIGGS: All right. A lot to get to this morning. The secretary of state in route to North Korea. In the U.K., two more people poisoned with a nerve agent. The president could decide his Supreme Court pick as soon as today and in Thailand that soccer team still waiting for a solution to get them out. We'll have all of those stories next on EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: The secretary of state on his way back to North Korea. The pressure is on Mike Pompeo to show some concrete steps toward denuclearization.

ROMANS: A full scale lobbying effort on both sides of the aisle, as the president narrows his short list for the Supreme Court.

BRIGGS: And a July 4th protest at the feet of Lady Liberty. Police apprehended a protestor who vowed to stay until all the children are released.