Return to Transcripts main page


Ex-Navy Diver Dies During Thai Cave Rescue; Mike Pompeo in North Korea for Denuclearization Talks; U.S. Agenda Set for Trump- Russia Summit. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 6, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:16] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The biggest trade war in economic history. China with a stern rebuke and promising to strike back after another round of tariffs imposed by the United States.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The administration facing urgent deadlines to reunite thousands of families split at the border. But still no clarity on how many kids are being held.

BRIGGS: Tragedy in Thailand. A rescuer has died working in the cave where a soccer team and their coach remain trapped. We have a live report from outside that cave in just a few moments.

Good evening, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, July 6th. Jobs report, Dave, by the way. Happy Friday.

BRIGGS: Yes, big day on the economy.

ROMANS: 4:00 a.m. in the East. And let's start there with this trade war between the U.S. and China. It's real and it's here. The U.S. firing the first real shot in trade battle that's been brewing for months. At midnight the U.S. hit China with tariffs on $34 billion in goods. China immediately responded, accusing the U.S. of, quote, "launching the largest trade war in economic history."

China said it is forced to strike back. Beijing did not give details but previously vowed to hit the U.S. with tariffs of equal value. China threatening high value American exports, cars, crude oil, cash crops like soybeans. The farm goods are strategic. They hit states that voted for President Trump. The U.S. tariffs target Xi Jinping's made in China 2025. The high tech industries China vows to dominate. Aerospace, robotics, manufacturing autos.

Now so far the U.S. has avoided slapping tariffs on things most Americans would feel in their wallet, consumer goods, everything from shoes to cell phones but strategically the U.S. has kept many of those things off the list. But the U.S. won't be able to avoid taxing those goods if President Trump follows through on his threat to target another $500 billion in Chinese goods. That's what he told reporters yesterday. It's roughly the total amount of U.S. -- the U.S. imported from China last year.

Wall Street has big concern about a trade war but investors knew this move was coming. Global stocks and U.S. futures barely moved on this news.

BRIGGS: All right. Months of scandals and accusations of misconduct proving too much for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. He resigned Thursday but that may not be the end of his troubles. President Trump announced Pruitt's departure on Twitter, later telling reporters the allegations against his EPA chief did not bother him. But he said Pruitt believed the accusation had become a distraction. However, "The Washington Post" reporting Trump forced Pruitt out without speaking to him, ordering his chief of staff to let Pruitt know it was time to go.

In his resignation letter Pruitt does not directly mention the scandals nor the 14 official investigations into his conduct. Instead he writes, quote, "It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us."

Despite his resignation the House Oversight Committee and the EPA inspector general will continue their investigations of Pruitt. His deputy Andrew Wheeler takes over as acting administrator on Monday. The former coal lobbyist expected to continue deregulation and climate policies critics regard as harmful to the environment.

ROMANS: All right. Today marks the first of several key deadlines the administration faces as it struggles to reunite thousands of families split up at the border. July 6th, the court ordered deadline for officials to put parents in phone contact with their kids. More deadlines for reunification by age bracket loom next week, and then later this month. Officials still will not say exactly how many kids taken from their parents remain in federal custody. That makes it hard to know how many reunifications have actually happened.

BRIGGS: For weeks we've been told about 2,000 children were separated. But on Thursday Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said this.


ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: It is under 3,000. I want to give you an outer bound. Under 3,000, and that is the maximum set. It will not be 3,000. It will not be close to 3,000. It will be under 3,000.


BRIGGS: To be fair under 3,000 represents all separated children in government hands, not just those taken under the new zero tolerance policy. Some came earlier. Some crossed illegally by themselves. President Trump yesterday explicitly evoked a get-off-my-lawn approach, comparing migrants to trespassers and calling current immigration laws, quote, "insane."

ROMANS: CNN on hand exclusively for one moving reunification yesterday. A Guatemalan woman who had not seen her 8-year-old daughter for two months. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forgive me for leaving you all alone. Forgive me, my daughter. Forgive me.


ROMANS: Angelica Gonzalez-Garcia says she and her daughter fled domestic violence and discrimination in Guatemala but were separated by immigration officers in Arizona. Gonzalez-Garcia had to go to Boston with the help of friends to get her daughter back.

BRIGGS: President Trump attacking not one but two ailing Republicans at a rally in Montana last night. Yes, Republicans. He came to Great Falls to back Republican state auditor Matt Rosendale in his race against Senator Jon Tester in November. But the president used the appearance to in part mock Senator John McCain for his thumbs down vote on health care despite calls from several Republicans to stop attacking McCain.

Then Mr. Trump went after former president George H.W. Bush for a campaign slogan he coined 30 years ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, all the rhetoric you see here, the thousand points of light. What the hell was that, by the way? Thousand points of light. What did that mean? Does anyone know? I know one thing. Make America great again we understand. Putting American first we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? And it was put out by a Republican, was it?


BRIGGS: Former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer firing back on Twitter, writing, quote, "This is so uncalled for, going after a 94-year-old former president's promotion of volunteerism. I don't mind POTUS being a fighter. I do mind him being rude."

ROMANS: That's not all. The president also found time to mock an entire movement and the heritage of a sitting Democratic senator in one sweeping sound bite. Listen to him question the political correctness of the Me Too movement while taunting Senator Elizabeth Warren.


TRUMP: Let's say I'm debating Pocahontas, right? I promise you I'll do this. I will take -- you know those little kits they sell on television for $2? Learn your heritage. We will take that little kit and say -- but we have to do it gently because we're in the Me Too generation so we have to be very careful. And we will very gently take that kit and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn't hit her and injure her arm. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: OK, that's not exactly what the Me Too generation is about.

BRIGGS: It's not even close.

ROMANS: But of course --

BRIGGS: It's apples and bananas.

ROMANS: This happened the first day working at the White House for Bill Shine, the former FOX News executive axed over his handling of sexual abuse complaints at the network. Senator Warren firing back on Twitter, "Hey, Donald Trump, while you obsess over my genes, your administration is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you ripped them from their mamas and you're too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you're destroying."

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight a former Thai Navy diver working to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave has died. Officials say he ran out of oxygen attempting to return to a command center inside the cave. This underscores the danger and the huge challenges facing rescuers trying to devise a plan to get the boys and their coach out.

Let's bring CNN's David McKenzie who's live for us in Thailand.

David, given what happened, has the circumstances, has the timeline changed?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, the timeline hasn't necessarily changed but the real realization is just how dangerous it's going to be. When the specialist diver, some 38 years old he had come back from the private sector to dive with his former Thai Navy SEALs, he died, passed out tragically while coming back from delivering oxygen to the boys.

You might hear this ruckus behind me. This is a water pump. Now they've added several overnight, Dave, to try and get the water out as fast as they can from this cave system. They're pouring the water out of this cave system maybe to reduce the levels of water enough so that the boys can maybe wade out or crawl out without having to use sophisticated gear.

But, you know, the death of this former Navy SEAL has really put the mood down for this search now These boys have been under the ground for more than 14 days, according to a doctor who did an assessment. Three of those boys, in fact two of the boys and the coach are in such bad physical shape they're not even going to attempt to bring them out at this stage.

But it's been raining on and off this morning. That really lends to the urgency as they try to bring the water out and somehow get these boys out either through the tunnels, with some kind of scuba gear or pushing out on foot -- Dave. [04:10:12] BRIGGS: Still no great answers for those 12 boys. OK.

David McKenzie live for us in Thailand, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Does North Korea have a plan to denuclearize? The secretary of State touching down in North Korea overnight. He is looking for answers to that and more. We're live in Seoul.


ROMANS: All right, at this hour Secretary of State Mike Pompeo beginning his third visit to North Korea for talks with Kim Jong-un. President Trump is defending his administration's approach to the Kim regime.


TRUMP: Since the rhetoric stopped, you know, we had very tough rhetoric. Would you say that was a little tough, right? So remember, they said he's too tough. He's going to cause a war. It's too tough. Now they say he's too nice, he's too nice. He's too nice.


[04:15:03] ROMANS: Pompeo touched down in Pyongyang overnight. He says he spoke to the president while they were both in the air last night. The secretary of State tweeting, "The president believes that Chairman Kim sees a different, brighter future for the people of North Korea. We both hope that is true."

Let's go live to Seoul and bring in CNN's Andrew Stevens. And Mike Pompeo, the secretary of State, is under immense pressure to bring back evidence, timelines, some sort of progress for the North Koreans and denuclearization.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR: Absolutely, Christine. To bring back something. There's been so few details on what Mike Pompeo wants to achieve or what the concrete steps are going to be. We just can't say at this stage, though he does seem to be back pedaling on a timeline. There will be -- it's expected there'll be talks about the remains of U.S. service men missing in action in the Korean War. There may be some movement on that. But it's difficult to get a clear idea of exactly what the U.S. wants.

But you're right. There is a lot of pressure on Mike Pompeo. Consider this, that June 12th meeting, the summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump really came away with a lot of words and very, very little in the way of action. Kim recommitting, reconfirming his push towards a denuclearization on the Korean peninsula with no time frame, with no concrete steps in place while Donald Trump agreeing with that of course and then saying that the U.S. would pull back the joint military drills.

So the U.S. has given something. At this stage what we know is the North Koreans have not given anything since that summit and they have wound back as Donald Trump has been saying on the missile and nuclear tests. But there's still big, big concrete steps to be taken. Basically Mike Pompeo in the lead up to this said that June 12th meeting, Christine, was to establish what the relationship between these two countries could look like, and it's up to him now to furnish the details.

We know at this stage that he is meeting Kim Jong-un's right hand man, Kim Yong-chol, at the 100 Flowers Garden guest house in Pyongyang. That meeting we understand is under way. It is likely to continue for several hours. And if all goes well he may -- Mike Pompeo may end up meeting Kim Jong-un.

But again, we don't know the timeline of what the meetings are either. So it really is at this stage very difficult to discern other than the fact that yes, Mike Pompeo needs to come home with something.

ROMANS: All right. Andrew Stevens for us in Seoul. Thank you, sir.

BRIGGS: President Trump says he's ready for his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki later this month.


TRUMP: They're going, well, President Trump, be prepared. You know President Putin is KGB and this and that. You know what? Putin's fine, he's fine, we're all fine with people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I've been preparing for this stuff my whole life.


BRIGGS: Sleep well, United States. The U.S. delegation that's heading the July 16th summit is expected to bring up several critical issues including Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

Let's go live to Moscow and bring in CNN's Frederik Pleitgen.

Fred, good morning.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dave, certainly no lack of confidence there on the part of the U.S. president. Also no lack of confidence on Vladimir Putin's part either. The Russians are saying that obviously the Russian president very much prepared for this summit as well.

We have now heard from senior administration officials that indeed the summit will kick off with a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders. Of course, there was some concern about that in the United States. And you're absolutely right, some very important topics set to be addressed on the agenda. One of them is arms control, which is very important to the U.S., then also of course Ukraine, the situation in Syria.

And you're absolutely right, election meddling as well. It's interesting because there are some administration officials who said yes, we have spoken to the Russians about this, but they believe it's just a whole different setting when you have the two leaders of the countries and try and address that there. Of course to the extent President Trump is going to bring that up, that is going to be the big question.

Big question on the Russians' mind is, can all of this still be derailed by that big international incident they have right now with that new poisoning that went on in England. In fact Russian media, state-run media, has been so angry about that, they're even accusing the Brits of bringing that forward to try and derail the better relations between the Trump administration and Russia -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Extraordinary. Fred Pleitgen, live for us in Moscow. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, then this, a Dallas mom saw a man stealing her car with her two kids in the backseat. What she did to stop him will shock you.


[04:24:09] BRIGGS: A Texas woman stops an alleged car thief by shooting him with her kids in the back seat. Police say Michelle Booker went into a Dallas convenience store Wednesday and emerged to find a man driving away with her two toddlers in the back seat of her SUV. That's when police say Booker managed to jump into the car.


MICHELLE BOOKER, MOTHER WHO SHOT ALLEGED CARJACKER: I asked the gentleman to pull over, to stop, you know, get out of the car. He would not get out the car. He turned around and looked at me with his eyes, but I then reached in the middle of the armrest to get to my glove compartment and that's when I fired at him. I'm not a killer or anything like that, but I do believe in, you know defending what's mine.


BRIGGS: The suspect identified as Ricky Wright was shot once in the head and crashed the car into a telephone pole. Wright was taken to a hospital in serious but stable condition. He is facing charges. Police say no charges have been filed against the mom.

[04:25:05] ROMANS: New meaning to the phrase wedding crasher. A couple in Wisconsin barely escapes disaster when a tree branch falls as they record their wedding video.





ROMANS: That's crazy. The quick thinking newlyweds (INAUDIBLE) Lucas (INAUDIBLE), they were not hurt, just a few scrapes. And they kept shooting the video with the downed branch on the picnic table next to them. The bride says the couple's love is forever going to stronger than that tree.


BRIGGS: We shall hope. OK. A giant baby full of hot air wearing nothing but a diaper and a familiar grimace all set to greet President Trump when he arrives in London a week from today. The city's mayor, a noted Trump critic, has given the go ahead for this so-called Trump baby to be flown near the parliament building during the president's visit, The 19-foot high balloon with take flight for two hours next Friday, coinciding with the stop Trump march to be held in central London.

ROMANS: And the hair -- they got the swoop right.

BRIGGS: Hashtag Trump baby.

ROMANS: This is what a trade war looks like. It is here, $34 billion of new tariffs on Chinese products just took effect. Beijing now saying through its customs agency it is going to strike back. It will start collecting duties as well.

BRIGGS: And a rescuer delivering oxygen to boys trapped in a Thai cave has died. His own oxygen tank went empty as he tried to make his way out.