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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 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 6, 2018 - 04:30   ET



[04:31:03] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The biggest trade war in economic history. China with a stern rebuke to the United States and promises of revenge after another round of tariffs imposed by the U.S.

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

ROMANS: And tragedy in Thailand. A rescuer has died working in a cave where a soccer team and their coach remain trapped as time runs out for a rescuer.

BRIGGS: Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. Is the timeline changing there for rescuing those 12 kids? We shall see.

ROMANS: All right. I'm Christine Romans. 31 minutes past the hour. Let's begin with this trade war this morning, David. It's real and it's here.

The U.S. firing the first real shot in trade battle that's been brewing now for months. At midnight, on the stroke of midnight, the U.S. hit China with tariffs on $34 billion in goods. China immediately responded, hitting the U.S. with tariffs of equal value, accusing the U.S. of, quote, "launching the largest trade war in economic history," and China accusing the U.S. of trade bullying.

China is threatening high value American exports as revenge. We're talking 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.

American companies pay those tariffs when they import goods. They can either absorb the cost or pass it along to consumers. And so far the U.S. has avoided slapping tariffs on things most Americans would feel right away in their wallets, consumer goods like shoes and cell phones. But the U.S. won't be able to avoid those goods if President Trump follows through on his threats to target $500 billion in Chinese imports.

That's what he told reporters yesterday. $500 billion roughly the total amount the U.S. imported from China last year. Now Wall Street has been concerned about a trade war but investors knew this move was coming. Global stocks and U.S. futures barely moved on the news.

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

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 children. More deadlines for reunification by age bracket loom next week and later this month. Officials still will not say exactly how many kids were taken from their parents remain in federal custody. That makes it hard to know how many reunifications have actually happened.

ROMANS: 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.

[04:35:05] It will not be 3,000. It will not be close to 3,000. It will be under 3,000.


ROMANS: We're talking about children here, by the way. We're talking about round numbers of children who are separated from their parents. 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.

BRIGGS: CNN on hand exclusively for one moving reunification yesterday. A Guatemalan woman who had not seen her 8-year-old daughter for two months.


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


BRIGGS: 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.

ROMANS: Separated in Arizona and had to go find her in Boston.

President Trump not attacking not one but two ailing Republicans at a rally in Montana last night. 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 mock Senator John McCain for his thumbs down vote on health care last summer despite calls from several Republicans to stop attacking McCain.

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


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, all the rhetoric you see here, a 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?


ROMANS: all right. Former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer firing back on Twitter, writing this, "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."

BRIGGS: The president also found time to mock an entire movement and a heritage of a sitting Democratic senator in one sweeping sound bite. Listen to the president questioning political correcting of the Me Too movement while taunting 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.


BRIGGS: For those wondering the Me Too movement has nothing to do with being gentle. It has to do with sexual harassment. This happened the first day working at the White House for Bill Shine, a former FOX News executive ousted over his handling of sexual abuse complaints at the network. Senator Warren fired 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."

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, a former Thai Navy diver working to rescue those 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. It 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 in CNN's David McKenzie. He's live in Thailand for us. Just a tragedy. What exactly happened here?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, the diver was 38 years old, a former sergeant of the Thai Special Forces Navy Group. He was going in in the late evening trying to deliver oxygen to those boys' chamber because, you know, the oxygen levels are critical levels and they need to top that up. On the way back with the very difficult hours long dive that they're having to do, he seemed to have run out of air himself and passed out.

They have confirmed at 2:00 a.m. this morning in Thailand, it's really put a very serious mood on this continued rescue effort to get these boys out. I spoke to a specialist diver who spent his career going into wrecks. He said he's seen nothing like this kind of operation.


[04:40:07] MCKENZIE: What is the mood like right now, now that we've learned that this one diver has died?

MIKKO PAASI, FINNISH DIVER AND VOLUNTEER: Definitely you can feel it. That it has an effect. But we're moving on. Everybody is a professional, so we're trying to put it away and avoid it from happening again.

MCKENZIE: And everyone is focusing on getting these boys out?

PAASI: Everybody is focusing on getting them out. Keeping them alive or getting them out.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MCKENZIE: Well, that diver said that he has to believe that they're able to get them out, otherwise, well, what are they doing? For why are they putting all this effort? Why are all these specialists from all over the world including American soldiers here working to try and figure out just how to get these 12 boys out and their coach -- Christine.

ROMANS: So, David, quickly, he ran out of air in his tank. What about the air in the cave system? Is there concern that all this activity is drawing down the oxygen?

MCKENZIE: Yes, it is. And that the oxygen in that chamber was down to less than 15 percent, far lower than the air that we breathe. That will lead to serious health effects. So there's a real sense that they need to get oxygen in there and that this window is possibly closing. That as the rains start, and they have this morning, there is a feeling that they have a limited opportunity to get these boys out before those caves get flooded again. So they might have to take that tough decision relatively soon to pull them through those treacherous cabins.

ROMANS: Yes. It's starting to feel like those earlier reports that maybe the boys could sit there for several weeks, months maybe, that might not be possible.

David McKenzie, thank you so much for that from Thailand for us.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, what's the North Korean plan to denuclearize? The secretary of State touching down in North Korea overnight, looking for answers to that and much more. We're live in Seoul with an update.


[04:46:11] BRIGGS: All right 4:46 Eastern Time. At this hour Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is 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.


BRIGGS: Secretary Pompeo says he spoke to the president while they were both in the air last night. The Secretary of State tweeting, the president, quote, "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.

Andrew, what concrete can Secretary Pompeo bring back following this third meeting with Kim Jong-un?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, he seems to have ruled out an actual time line, Dave, of what specific steps North Korea would take and when towards its denuclearization. Remember the June 12th summit was really a statement, which was a commitment, and for North Korea it was reconfirming a commitment to total denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. And that's all it is at the moment.

They've committed there's nothing concrete about how they're going to do it and indeed when they're going to do it. What Mike Pompeo has said is I'm going to North Korea to push the momentum forward, to flesh out that broad commitment with details. What details he wants to bring home, we don't know at this stage. There is an enormous amount of pressure on him to bring home something.

As you say this is his third trip to Pyongyang. In fact, he cracked a little joke when he met Kim Yong-chol, the man who he'll be dealing with on this. He's the right hand man to Kim Jong-un. He said that if I come here one more time I'll probably have to pay taxes in North Korea. That's probably the only moment of levity we're going to see, though, because the American side needs to bring home something.

At least that's what the intelligence services are hoping because we've seen from the intelligence services, from multiple intelligence sources, that North Korea is actually if anything speeding up some aspects of its nuclear and ballistic missile program. There's reports that it's enriching more uranium at its Yongbyon site. That's it's only official site. There are also reports that there now -- it has two more unofficial sites where it's enriching uranium, Dave.

So as far as the spirit of the agreement, it appears at this stage that North Korea is not even honoring that. So what Pompeo can bring home at this stage is very difficult to ascertain.

BRIGGS: Indeed An enormous task ahead. All right, Andrew Stevens live for us in Seoul. Thanks.

ROMANS: President Trump says he is ready for his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki later this month.


TRUMP: Will 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.


ROMANS: The U.S. delegation attending 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 Frederick Pleitgen -- Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Yes, certainly no lack of confidence on the part of the U.S. president, and no lack of confidence on the Russian side either. They have been saying that Vladimir Putin of course is prepared for this meeting. And it's certainly starting or will start exactly the way that both leaders wanted to, with a one-on-one meeting between Vladimir Putin and President Trump.

[04:50:03] There was of course some concern about that on the U.S. side. No concern whatsoever on the Russian, though, and then as you've mentioned there are some very important topics the two men then want to discuss. Arms control, one of the U.S. says it's very heavily on their mind. Then of course you have Syria and Ukraine. And then also election meddling, unclear however how much of that President Trump will actually want to discuss with the Russians.

It was interesting because we posed that question to the Kremlin not so long ago. And they said, look, if President Trump brings it up, we'll tell him exactly the same thing that we've told him before. Russia didn't do it. So unclear how much the president is going to be able to achieve there. The interesting thing that we've heard from the U.S. administration is they say it's important to bring it up at the top levels because it is something that's been talked about in the past, but certainly not in the way that these two men could discuss it when they meet up in Helsinki -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Fred Pleitgen, July 16th is that meeting. It should be fascinating. Thanks, Fred.

BRIGGS: All right. The June jobs report is out today. Unemployment stand at the lowest level in nearly 18 years. How low can it go?

"CNN Money" next.


[04:55:51] BRIGGS: Former MSNBC host Ed Schultz has died. WDNY reports in Fargo where Schultz once worked as sports director reports he died of natural causes at this home in Washington. Schultz rose to national fame as a populist liberal fire brand at MSNBC. He hosted a show there for six years until the network canceled it in 2015. Most recently he anchored a news show on the Moscow funded media outlet RT America. Once a strong critic of Vladimir Putin, Schultz has since dismissed claims Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Ed Schultz was 64 years old.

Finally a break in the heat wave stemming the northeast. Now it's the southwest's turn with 25 million people under excessive heat alert.

Here's meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine. I think I have a weather forecast you're going to enjoy. Much cooler air settling in for the weekend for the big apple all the way up the New England coastline, in fact. This all thanks to a cold front that will trigger up a few showers and rumbles of thunder. In fact, there is the potential for some localized flash flooding as well. That's where we've highlighted in that shading of green stretching from Boston, to New York, Philadelphia and D.C.

This is a line of storms moving through the morning and -- afternoon hours. The evening, however, I think we should start to see a general clearing trend from the west to the east just in time for dinner. And temperatures today 82 degrees, look at this, 79 by Saturday. More of the same for Boston. Temperatures cooling off significantly and you'll feel a drop in the humidity levels.

Unfortunately the same can't be said across the southwest. Record heat setting up across the region. National Weather Service issuing extreme heat warnings for L.A., Las Vegas, and Phoenix. Triple digit heat for this region.

Back to you.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks for that.

Let's get a check on CNN Money this morning. A trade war between the U.S. and China is real and it's here. The stroke of midnight, the U.S. hits China with tariffs on $34 billion in goods. China immediately responded hitting with tariffs of equal value accusing the U.S. of launching the largest trade war in economic history and being a trade bully.

Investors knew this was coming. Global stocks and the U.S. futures barely moved on the news. Wall Street rose yesterday on optimism about another trade battle between the U.S. and the EU. The EU may do away with tariffs on U.S. cars. In return the U.S. will not impose steep new tariffs on European cars. If they can settle that, it would be a good thing in the eyes of the market.

The June jobs report out today, how low can unemployment go. It's currently only 3.8 percent, the lowest since the year 2000. If it dips to 3.7 percent that would be the lowest in nearly 50 years. But economists predict it'll hold steady in June. They also think the U.S. added about 195,000 jobs and wages grew 2.8 percent. That's sluggish for such a tight labor market. The Labor Department says job openings currently outnumber unemployed workers. That's remarkable but wages have not grown above 3 percent since 2009.

Do you have a MoviePass? You may have to spend a little bit more next time you hit the theater. A MoviePass lets customers see a movie a day for 10 bucks a month but just introduced surge pricing for high demand movies. The move is necessary. MoviePass is running out of money, losing $40 million in May alone. That's because of its low subscription price less than some movie tickets. MoviePass has to pay theaters to make up the difference.

I don't have one of these passes. I have three kids and I don't have a chance to go to the movies now.

BRIGGS: Well, I don't either. But it's an extraordinary deal if you can get out to some movies. I mean, 20 bucks I often pay for three movies a day.

ROMANS: Surge pricing. Let us know what you think about surge pricing, everybody.

BRIGGS: Yes. EARLY START continues right now with the latest from that Thailand cave and the 12 soccer players stuck.

ROMANS: The biggest trade war in economic history, China with a stern rebuke and promises to strike back after another round of tariffs imposed by the U.S.

BRIGGS: The administration facing urgent deadlines to reunite thousands families split up at the border, but still no clarity on how many kids are being held.

ROMANS: And tragedy in Thailand. A rescuer has died working in the cave where a soccer team and their coach remain trapped.

BRIGGS: We'll have a live update for you outside that cave in Thailand momentarily.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, July 6th. Happy Friday, everybody.