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Secretary Of State Pompeo Traveling To North Korea To Meet With Kim Jong Un; British Couple Exposed To Deadly Nerve Agent; Eleventh Hour Supreme Court Lobbying Effort; Rescue Teams Prepared To Evacuate Trapped Boys In Thai Cave. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 5, 2018 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And a July Fourth protest at the feet of Lady Liberty. Police apprehended a protester who vowed to stay until all the children are released.

(Fireworks from New York City)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: That's New York. Nobody doesn't like New York. San Francisco is nice too, I will say.

BRIGGS: San Francisco did a nice job. Nashville is always one of my favorite fireworks displays --

ROMANS: Really?

BRIGGS: -- on Independence Day.

Happy fifth of July, everybody. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. If you're getting up this early with us you probably missed the fireworks in your --

BRIGGS: The chances are good.

ROMANS: -- in your town, so we wanted to give you a taste. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

Let's begin here. This morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way to North Korea where he will meet with Kim Jong Un, his third trip there in as many months. Pompeo is looking for a roadmap for North Korea's nuclear disarmament.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us this morning in Seoul with the latest and he is en route right now.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right Christine, and certainly the pressure is on the secretary of state this time. As you say, the third trip.

He knows, according to sources telling CNN, that he has to come back with some kind of concrete plan to show what the path forward is going to be for the denuclearization. Just last week there's one of the intelligence officials telling us

that the Americans are expected to hand over some kind of detailed list of tasks that the North Koreans have to do in order to show that they are pushing towards denuclearization. Trump administration officials saying that very quickly they will be to find out if Pyongyang is serious about giving up its nuclear weapons.

Now, also on Sunday, there was a meeting between the U.S. and North Korean delegation at Panmunjom in the DMZ. A source with knowledge of U.S.-North Korea relations telling me that a letter was handed over. No details on exactly what was in that letter.

But also saying that apart from the schedule and the agenda for Pompeo's meeting they wanted to hammer out when exactly they were going to see the remains of the U.S. service members from the Korean War, which North Korea had promised to give back when they met -- when Kim Jong Un met with Donald Trump in Singapore. That was actually part of the declaration that he signed.

The U.S. military on alert and waiting for those remains but we really haven't seen anything beyond that at this point. So clearly, that will be something that Sec. Pompeo will be bringing up as well -- Christine.

ROMANS: Absolutely. In Seoul for us, Paula, thank you very much.

The 'America First' president repeatedly floated the notion of invading Venezuela. A senior administration official tells CNN the president asked top advisers about this last August.

Aides, including then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster, strongly urged him against an invasion of Venezuela. They warned such a dramatic response to Venezuela's political and economic crisis could backfire.

Our source chalked up the president's comments to thinking quote, "out loud." But the following day the president said it out loud.


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.


BRIGGS: 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 socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Overnight, Maduro ordered Venezuela's armed forces not to lower their guard. He said, "No empire is going to choose for us."

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.

Erin McLaughlin live in Amesbury, England with this latest incident. Good morning, Erin.


And we just heard a diplomatic response to all of this from Russia, suggesting that this is sort of -- some sort of elaborate plot to spoil the World Cup now underway in Russia. Worth noting England is there competing.

The Russian embassy in the Netherlands tweeting out how dumb they think Russia is to use quote, "again, so-called Novichok in the middle of the FIFA World Cup."

This, as the security minister here in the United Kingdom, Ben Wallace, is calling on the Kremlin to provide answers as to what exactly happened to Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury four months ago, saying that there are still unanswered questions in that investigation.

They've since been able to identify the source of the poisoning using the weapons-grade military nerve agent Novichok smeared on the couple's doorknob but they don't know how it got there.

[05:35:08] And, British authorities believe that that could provide vital clues as to what happened to this British couple -- middle-aged couple -- Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, who were found unconscious on Saturday in the apartment block just behind me.

Now, British authorities believe that the couple was not targeted but they don't know how they came across the nerve agent that was also used in the attack against the Skripals. And that is the fundamental question that about 100 counterterrorism police are furiously trying to answer here not far away from the Stonehenge here in Wiltshire, England.

BRIGGS: And circling back to that World Cup theory, Russia and England could play in the semifinals in Russia if they both win their game. That should be an interesting match.

Erin McLaughlin live for us in Amesbury. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. The president expected to make a final decision on his choice for the Supreme Court as soon as today. His pick expected to be a closely guarded secret in a leak-prone White House.

An eleventh hour lobbying campaign is in full swing. Conservatives are hoping to see their choice nominated. Liberals are pushing moderate senators against supporting a hard-right pick.

BRIGGS: So far, the president has interviewed seven candidates. Sources tell CNN the president narrowed it down to a handful of appeals court judges Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Raymond Kethledge.

Jeff Zeleny with more from the White House.


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 prime time 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 for 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 are not going to know who the president has decided but they are going to gear up for this epic fight that is going to unfold across Washington.

Now, the president, of course, could always change his mind. That's one of the reason also they'll be two or three potential contenders, but he is narrowing in on a list.

Now one thing is interesting. A behind-the-scenes lobbying push also going on at the eleventh hour with the president taking phone calls, even as he was on the golf course or driving to the golf course on the Fourth of July, from some senators and from conservative activists clearly trying to persuade the president or have a final word of say -- Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Thank you for that, Jeff.

DNA testing is being conducted on separated migrant parents and children as part of the family reunification process. A federal official says it is a precaution against children being trafficked or smuggled by adults claiming to be their parents.

One immigration group called the practice deplorable.

And this -- all those border visits by members of Congress to see for themselves what is happening down there on the border, well it could be slowing up the reunions. That's what Homeland Security officials say. They say lawmakers are draining resources that would be dedicated to the separated families.

BRIGGS: One immigration attorney telling CNN nine clients received bond 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.


BRIGGS: Those clients will still have to pay an immigration bond of $1,500 to $2,500 before they are released. Then they have to figure out where their children were taken.

ROMANS: All right.

A woman who climbed to the robes of the Statue of Liberty to protest the separation of migrant families, she's in federal custody this morning. Authorities tried to talk Therese Okoumou down for three hours. She refused to leave until, she said, all migrant children in government custody were released.

Earlier in the day, other members of Okoumou's group unfurled a banner at the base of the statue, calling for the abolition of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). At least seven people were arrested.

Statue cruises that provide trips to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island -- they turned away as many as 3,000 customers because of the police activity.

You know, you have to get a reservation to go to the -- you know, to go to the crown or to go beyond the base, so --

BRIGGS: Way out.

ROMANS: Yes, way out, so people plan those trips.

BRIGGS: That's really tough for those thousands of people.

OK. Ahead, rescue teams have an emergency plan to evacuate those boys trapped in a cave as the situation worsens. Crews looking for another way in and weather is the biggest concern.

We are live in Thailand with an update, next.


[05:43:38] ROMANS: Running out of time, running out of options. Experts say having 12 boys and their soccer coach dive out of a flooded cave in Thailand is the last resort.

Twelve days into the ordeal officials say weather is their biggest worry now. Crews are pumping water out. The monsoon season is just beginning and water continues to flow in.

CNN's David McKenzie is live on the scene for us with the -- with the very latest. And certainly, anybody who has put on scuba gear knows how difficult

cave diving can be. We can't imagine the idea of pulling 13 people out who are not experienced divers in such treacherous conditions. That is the last resort here.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is. It might be the only resort there, Christine.

And remember, these 11 to 16-year-olds have been stuck in the dark cavern for days. They only had water that they collected from the cave wall and no food.

They -- you know, in the video it's extraordinary that's been released of them smiling and sending a message to their parents but in reality, their situation is very dire.

They may have to do that dive. Many of them can't swim. They'll have to put on a full-face mask and be escorted by one, perhaps two, rescue divers through the narrow, dark, zero-visibility passages potentially for hours. It's just hard to comprehend that anyone would have to go through that to be rescued in this day and age.

[05:45:02] But the world is cooperating. I've seen U.S. soldiers here, Australian rescue divers obviously led by the Thai military, and others trying to figure out just how they're going to get them out.

Another option, of course, they're looking on the mountains behind me. You know, this is the main entrance that they've blocked off now to the public and to the press but people are coming in and out through the day. A hundred volunteers just came with their hard hats to go do some manual labor near the cave site.

They're keeping very quiet about what exactly is going on here. But if it starts to rain, and it will start to rain, then the time line might shrink rapidly as they hope that the flooding doesn't come back into the cave and potentially even flood the boys' chamber where they have been relatively safe.

So all those moving parts and hundreds of volunteers and specialists here trying to figure out how to get them out. They say they want to do it 100 percent safe and if the rains come it could get very hairy, indeed -- Christine.

ROMANS: Absolutely. Just the very beginning now of the monsoon season which, I guess, is going to last until October, so just terrifying.

All right, David. Thank you so much for that.

BRIGGS: Yes, that drilling option increasingly difficult because they don't the vertical spot. That could take months to drill down --


BRIGGS: -- and you could collapse the cave.

ROMANS: I think it took two months for the Chilean miners --

BRIGGS: Two months.

ROMANS: In 2010, it took what? Like, two months to do that so all -- a lot of bad choices.

BRIGGS: No good options, indeed.

All right, folks, "NEW DAY" is 14 minutes away. John Berman joining us now.

ROMANS: Hi, John.

BRIGGS: Happy fifth of July, John. You stayed up and watched the fireworks last night, did you?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: If you mean like the bottle rocket and the six-pack of Bud Light from my house, yes, I watched the fireworks.

BRIGGS: It sounds like a party.

BERMAN: That is a party. It's the kind of party I love.

You guys were talking about no good options. I can't imagine being a 10-year-old kid stuck in a cave, having someone arrive -- you think you're going to be rescued and then you find it may take weeks if not months to get out. It's going to take a lot of patience and a lot of fortitude for those children over the next few weeks.

And I'm hoping that sort of -- the outpouring of support we're seeing on the outside of this cave doesn't turn to chaos there and the choices that are made are wise careful choices.

The other major story today, guys, and this is becoming ever more clear by the minute, is what's going on in Britain. This nerve gas agent, Novichok, it doesn't just happen. This isn't just something that appears and sickens people.

This is a military-grade nerve agent manufactured at the end of the Soviet era. It only appears if it is deliberate. Was it left over from the attack on those spies in April? Is it some kind of new attack here?

We're already starting to see a heated back-and-forth between the U.K. and Russia and not for nothing. This is happening during the World Cup. Russia wants to send a message of peace and tranquility all around the world -- at least we thought they did. Now, this is going on.

And with the U.K. -- with England still very much in the World Cup, I think this is going to increase the tensions there at a very dangerous level over the next several days. We're watching that very, very closely -- guys.

BRIGGS: And John, it could be Russia against England in the semifinals if you need more intrigue into a fascinating World Cup. BERMAN: It would take a Putin-level fix, I think, for Russia to keep moving on there but I wouldn't rule it out.

BRIGGS: I wouldn't rule of the fix, yes. I don't think any of us would.

ROMANS: All right, John, thanks.

BRIGGS: John, we'll see you in a bit, thanks.

ROMANS: Thank you.

Let's get a little check on your money this morning.

America's biggest trading partners are objecting to possible U.S. tariffs on cars. The Commerce Department is investigating whether car imports pose a national security threat.

That's the same rationale for those tariffs on foreign metals. Since then, U.S. allies and automakers have criticized any possible auto tariffs.

Car companies say look, it could force them to raise prices. This would be passed on to consumers -- American consumers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns it could start a trade war. Forty countries, from Europe, China, Japan -- they say U.S. auto tariffs would threaten global trade, voicing concern to the World Trade Organization.

President Trump has been critical of the WTO. Remember, he threatened to quote "do something" unless it treats the U.S. properly. Now, Trump denies he's going to pull out of the WTO but the WTO's director general says if the president does, it would have dire consequences.


ROBERTO AZEVEDO, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: I think it would be a blow to the system -- to the motor auto system because the largest economy in the world is outside the system.

But at the same time, it will be a blow to the U.S. as well. Both would leave. In a situation like that, it would have almost the law of the jungle. You know, anybody can do anything.


ROMANS: The law of the jungle in global trade brought to you by the President of the United States.

He added that escalating trade conflicts threaten global growth.

All right, global stocks mixed right now. U.S. futures -- it looks like they might open a little bit higher. You know, Wall Street was closed yesterday for the Fourth of July.

Investors are waiting on the first wave of tariffs from the U.S. and China. That happens at midnight tonight.

The U.S. slapped tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, targeting high-tech industries. China retaliating with tariffs of equal value on cars, crude oil, and cash crops like soybeans.

[05:50:06] All right.

Global employment is on the rise but wages, not so much. Around the world, the labor market is really tight. In developed economies like the U.S., companies struggle to find workers.

A new report finds employment around the world is at the highest level since the financial crisis -- fantastic news -- but wage growth has not caught up. Look at the wage growth, only a little bit above one percent.

This report blames superstar tech companies. The extra money that used to go toward raises now goes to technology and tech companies employ fewer workers on average than traditional companies.

Amazon, the online behemoth, turning to the tools of traditional retailers. Amazon publishing its first holiday toy catalog. An actual, physical catalog. That's according to "Bloomberg."

Amazon is filling the space left behind by Toys R Us which closed its final stores last month.

The catalog will be mailed to millions of households. It will be handed out a Whole Foods, which Amazon owns.

Amazon now one of America's biggest toy sellers, selling $4.5 billion worth of toys in 2017.

BRIGGS: Great idea. Kids love the toy catalogs. Bad news for us.

ROMANS: Yes. With a Sharpie, they circle --


ROMANS: -- everything they want and you and I buy that, right?

BRIGGS: Christmas list -- OK.

Ahead, a cool-down finally on the way but not just yet. The rest of the holiday week forecast, next on EARLY START.


BRIGGS: Congressman Jim Jordan maintains he knew nothing about a team doctor abusing athletes at Ohio State University while he was assistant wrestling coach. The Ohio Republican says he is willing to speak to authorities. He insists he does not have any record of investigators trying to contact him even though they say they have.

[05:55:04] ROMANS: Jordan did receive e-mails over the course of several months from the alleged victim, Michael DiSabato. A source from the congressman's office says he felt like he was being bullied. His office will contact Capitol Hill police over the e-mails.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Mike wrestled for us and was a -- you know, was a friend, but something's changed. It's -- you know, things he's said are just not true.

We knew of no abuse. Never heard of abuse. If we had, we'd have reported it.


BRIGGS: DiSabato denies bullying Congressman Jordan.


MICHAEL DISABATO, FORMER WRESTER, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, ALLEGES ABUSE BY DR. RICHARD STRAUSS: Jim Jordan is a world-caliber athlete who is very aggressive in his -- in his actions on -- I mean, he's a bulldog -- let's be honest. For him to say he was being bullied by Mike DiSabato is somewhat laughable.


BRIGGS: Congressman Jordan did acknowledge the team doctor would sometimes shower with the wrestlers but he claims the showers were open to faculty and staff and not just student athletes.

ROMANS: All right.

The third-largest wildfire in Colorado's history has now grown to over 95,000 acres. A cold front passing through the area on Wednesday slowed down the Spring Creek fire but it's still only five percent contained and more evacuations could be coming.

Moving west, California's County fire has charred nearly 83,000 acres and is only 25 percent contained this morning. Officials warning dry vegetation and gusting winds could fuel the fire's growth.

There are about 70 fires burning across the country right now covering 700,000 acres.

BRIGGS: Rains and lots of it dampening Fourth of July celebrations in Houston. The National Weather Service reporting up to eight inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

Fire crews had to drive through flooded roads to respond to emergency calls. The rising waters stopping a Houston city bus in its tracks. The water coming onto the floor of the bus as you can see there.

Texas is offering assistance to those affected.

ROMANS: All right.

Another day of oppressive heat ahead but then a much-needed cool-off in the Midwest and the Northeast. Here's meteorologist Derek Van Dam.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good Thursday morning, Dave and Christine.

Our big weather stories today continue to be the heat on both of the coasts. The east coast continues to be hot and humid. The west coast starts to see the mercury in the thermometer climb but without the humidity. We'll explain both in just one moment.

But look at this. We have over 80 million Americans under a heat advisory, watch or warning. When you factor in the humidity on the east coast, temperatures will feel in excess of 110 degrees, especially in parts of Arkansas and into western sections of Tennessee.

Now, the southwest, that's a different story. Triple-digit heat expected this weekend but it's without the humidity.

Places like Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Phoenix, this will be a big story for us here. High temps ranging anywhere from 110 degrees upwards.

Here is today's heat index. St. Louis, 104; 89 for New York. D.C. and Charlotte both at 97. You can see a brief cool-down before more warmth starts to settle in for the second half of next week.

The 7-day forecast for New York City calls for comfortable temperatures by Saturday, finally.

Back to you.


BRIGGS: All right. Thanks, Derek.

If you haven't had breakfast, folks, brace yourself.

Joey Chestnut, known as Jaws, devoured a record-breaking 74 hot dogs and the buns in 10 minutes to win the Fourth of July Nathan's hot dog eating contest for the 11th time in 12 years. Right there, more than 22,000 calories. It's just nasty.

In the women's contest, Miki Sudo won her fifth-straight title, downing 37 dogs and buns.

Christine Romans --

ROMANS: Gross.

BRIGGS: -- says she can do a good half-dozen, right?

ROMANS: Well --

BRIGGS: I think I could go seven or eight.

ROMANS: No, no, I could eat four hot dogs in 10 minutes, probably --


ROMANS: -- but I wouldn't feel good about it.

BRIGGS: I think I can do six.

ROMANS: And I wouldn't dip the bun in water. That's disgusting.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. We're back 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. --

ROMANS: Yes, yes.

BRIGGS: -- but "NEW DAY" is first right now. We'll see you then.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two people have been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He couldn't speak to me. He was making funny noises. He was hallucinating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The forensic trail goes back to Moscow. How much more of this stuff is around Britain?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We go into this eyes wide open.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We believe that Chairman Kim Jong Un understands the urgency of completing denuclearization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea never follows through. You must verify before you even trust.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, July fifth, 6:00 here in New York.

John Avlon here as well, hanging on to the Fourth of July --


BERMAN: -- as long as he possibly can.

AVLON: Out of my cold, dead hands.

BERMAN: It's like Ramadan. It's a month --

AVLON: That's right.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Still waving the flag.

BERMAN: -- long here.

CAMEROTA: I really like it.

BERMAN: All right. We do begin with an international mystery surrounded by possible espionage, accusations, and fear. Counterterror investigators say a couple in England has been exposed to the same military-grade nerve agent that was used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter in March.