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Scott Pruitt Resigns; Thai Navy Seal Dies Trying to Rescue Boys. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 6, 2018 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, EARLY START HOST: Rescuer has died working in the cave where a soccer team and their coach remained trapped.

DAVID BRIGGS, EARLY START HOST: 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: I'm Christine Romans. This is Friday, July 6. Happy Friday, everybody, jobs day. It's 5 a.m. in the East. Let's begin, though, with the trade war between the U.S. and China. It's real and it's here. The U.S. firing the first real shot in the trade battle that's been brewing now for months.

At midnight, the U.S. hit China with tariffs on $34 billion in goods. China immediately responded with revenge tariffs of equal value, accusing the U.S. of launching the largest trade war in economic history and being a trade bully.

China threatening high-value American exports - cars, crude oil, cash crops like soy beans. Those farm goods are strategic. They hit states and counties that voted for President Trump. The U.S. tariffs target Xi Jinping's made in China 2025. That's the high-tech industries that China vows to dominate - aerospace, robotics, manufacturing, autos.

American companies will pay those tariffs when they import the goods. They can either absorb the cost or pass it along to consumers. So far, the U.S. has avoided slapping tariffs on things most Americans would feel in their wallets, consumer goods. Think of everything from cell phones to shoes.

But the U.S. will not be able to avoid those goods if the president follows through on his threat to target some $500 billion in Chinese goods. That's what he told reporters yesterday. $500 billion is roughly the total amount the U.S. imported from China last year.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's bring in CNN Politics Senior Writer and Analyst, Harry. And good morning to you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning, Harry.


ROMANS: Nice to see you again. BRIGGS: It's tough to know what to make of the politics of all this because if there's one portion that the president's doing well on, it's the economy, and the people are giving him credit for that. To the same token, who would be hurt by a trade war specifically.

ENTEN: Well, if you look at the numbers, most of the people who would be hurt would be hurt in areas that Donald Trump outperformed Mitt Romney. Think about Iowa. Think about Wisconsin. These are places that Barak Obama won in 2012 and that Donald Trump won in 2016, and these are places that Donald Trump wants the Republican party to hold in the midterm elections. There's are a lot of vulnerable House races, a governor's race in Wisconsin, so a trade war in those states would not be good.

ROMANS: It's fascinating to me because when you look at - Brookings Institution earlier this spring had some analysis of the counties that would be effected by the retaliation from China. 82 percent of those counties were Trump counties. I mean, so you can see the strategy on the Chinese to try to send a message to this president. But how impenetrable are those poll numbers about his handling of the economy. I mean, among Republicans - I mean, he's got a huge favorability. And on the economy, his favorability is so strong.

ENTEN: If this election were solely about the economy in November, then Donald Trump's Republican party would do quite well. His economic numbers are among the best of all of his numbers. And indeed, if you go back over time, his economic numbers are doing better than his overall approval more than pretty much any other president dating back since the early 80s and Jimmy Carter.

So to me, this is where he wants to fight. It's just a matter of whether or not going on a tariff - a trade war is something that's going to bring down those numbers and hurt Republicans...

ROMANS: The American Soy Bean Association says there's some hundred soy bean farmers are going to go to Washington next week, so you could have that, you know 1980s era optic of, you know, the farmers and the tractors in Washington.

ENTEN: Sure.

ROMANS: You know - I mean, maybe that will - would be optic start to change.

BRIGSS: But if you're the president and you can go into a midterm saying unemployment's at a record low, Hispanic unemployment is a record low, black unemployment's a record low, the markets are high. Doesn't that supersede this concept of a trade war for voters?

ENTEN: It definitely could, although I point out in the 1988 presidential election there was a farm crisis in George H.W. Bush, the then Republican candidate, that particularly poorly in the Midwest because a lot of people blamed his predecessor Ronald Reagan for that farm crisis.

ROMANS: That's a good parallel to watch. The other question is if the tariff stuff gets absorbed, right? If it's just $34 billion now and then $16 billion in extra tariffs from the U.S. at the end of the summer and you don't get the whole $500 billion the president is promising, that is survivable from an economic standpoint I think.

BRIGGS: Well, it depends. If you go paying $5,000 more for the price of an American-made car, that could hit them in the wallet. The president also hit up the me too era oddly last night, mischaracterizing it to say the least at a Montana rally. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 gentle." 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: Now, just to clarify, the me too era has nothing to do with being gentle with women. It has to do with sexual harassment, but back to the poll. And the numbers suggest he has - he's on comfortable ground with the economy. What about with gender? What about with women? Is this a space where he could be in trouble if he continues to be that Trump on the same day he hired a new messaging man who was let go from a television network for covering up years long sexual harassment.

ENTEN: So I went back and looked at all the polling and midterm elections since 1958, and it turns out the gender gap that we're seeing in the live interview polling right now is the largest ever. It's the largest ever with women voting for - saying they're going to vote for Democratic candidates by 20 points, men saying they're going to vote for Republican candidates by six points.

Now, we had a very large gender gap in 2016, but that benefited Donald Trump at the end of the day. But if the gender gap is this large and women are voting for Democratic candidates by this wide a margin, then it will, in fact, benefit Democratic candidates in 2018.

ROMANS: Interesting. That chart, really it says something -

ENTEN: It's really something.

ROMANS: - doesn't it? All right, Harry Enten, nice to see you this morning. Thank you so much.

ENTEN: OK, thank you.

ROMANS: Our President Trump also attacking not one, but two ailing Republicans at that rally in Montana last night. The president mocked Senator John McCain for his thumbs down vote on healthcare last summer despite calls from many Republicans that the president should stop attacking McCain. Then the president went after former President George H.W. Bush for his campaign slogan of 30 years ago.


TRUMP: 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. (inaudible) What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? And it was put out by a Republican.


ROMANS: All right, former George W. Bush Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, firing back on Twitter writing, "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: Months of scandals and accusations and misconduct proving too much for EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt. He resigned Thursday, but that may not end his troubles. President Trump announced Pruitt's departure on Twitter, later telling reporters allegations against his EPA Chief did not bother him, but he said Pruitt believe the accusations had become a distraction.

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 sizeable 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 the environment.

ROMANS: All right. Today's marks the first of several key deadlines the administration faces as it struggles to reunite thousands of families split up at the border. July 6, the court order deadline for officials to put parents in phone contact with their children. More deadlines for reunification by aid bracket loom next week and later this month.

Officials still will not say - they will not say exactly how many children taken from their parents remain in federal custody, and 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.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP) 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.

ROMANS: CNN was on hand exclusively for a moving reunification yesterday. A Guatemalan woman who had not seen her eight-year-old daughter for two months.


ANGELICA GONZALEZ-GARCIA (in foreign language): 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 in Guatemala. They were separated by immigration officers in Arizona. Gonzalez-Garcia had to go all the way to Boston with the help of friends to get her daughter back.

BRIGGS: Breaking news 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 oxygen attempting to return to a command center inside the cave. Now, for the first time, rescuers say there is a limited amount of time to get everyone out. Let's bring in CNN's David McKenzie who is live in Thailand. David good morning.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Dave. Yes the real worry now is that this window according to officials is closing. Both from the point of view of the rains that could start very heavily soon that could flood the chamber, really endangering their lives.

And the oxygen levels in that cavern where they're hold up. It's at points below 15 percent the oxygen levels. That could lead to very serious health effects for the young boys and their coach. A Thai diver we spoke to said that that means that they may need to get them out regardless of the risk.

And the risk has been really underlines because of the death of that former Thai Navy Seal. He was taking oxygen in fact to the boys. On his way back ran out of air it seems and passed out. That noise you may here behind me is the compressor filling up air tanks for these divers. That seems in a way that they're preparing for a big push.

We won't know when that happens and if that happens. But it's going to be extremely dangerous and difficult to get these 12 boys and their coach out safely. Dave, Christine.

BRIGGS: David McKenzie live for us in Thailand. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right 11 minutes past the hour. What is the plan? What is North Korea's plan to denuclearize? The Secretary of State touching down in North Korea overnight, looking for answers and he's got to bring some home. We're live in Seoul.



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


MIKE POMPEO, US SECRETARY OF STATE: Since the redirect stopped. You know we had very tough redirect. Would you say that was a little tough right? So remember they said he's too tough. He's going to cause the war. It's too tough. Now they say he's too nice. He's to nice.


ROMANS: Pompeo says he spoke to the president while they both were in the air last night. The Secretary of State tweeting the president quote "believes that Chairman Kim see's a different brighter future for the people of North Korea". We both hope that's true.

Let's go live to Seoul bring in CNN's Andrew Stevens, Andrew.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine Donald Trump also said just a few hours ago that he says that he's feeling good things about Kim and this meeting with Pompeo. But what we can say at this stage is that Mike Pompeo has engaged in the touchdown.

He's met with Kim Yong Chol. In fact we understand he's still meeting with Kim Yong Chol. He's the right hand man to Kim Jong-un. And it's also been suggested, and we don't know because there's no firm timeline on who is meeting who and when.

But some people are saying that if this meeting with Kim Yong Chol goes well Pompeo will then move on to meet with Kim Jong-un himself. Now what we expect from this is still very vague too Christine. There's a lot of pressure on Mike Pompeo to bring something back.

But the only thing Mike Pompeo has said - he said this a few days ago. Is that he's in North Korea really to flush out the details on that commitment that Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump made at their June 12th summit in Singapore towards complete denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.

And we don't even know if the U.S. and North Korea are on the same page when they talk about complete - complete denuclearization. So there's a long way to go with this. But at this stage expectations for a break through, for Mike Pompeo are pretty low.

ROMANS: A lot of pressure here though for him to come home with something. Something that's showing some progress, Andrew Stevens thank you so much.

BRIGGS: Perhaps a full accounting of their nuclear weapons. President Trump says he is ready for his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki later this month.


DONALD TRUMP, US PRESIDENT: 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, we're people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared? I've been preparing for this stuff my whole life.


BRIGGS: 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 Breanna Simmons (ph), Fred Pleitgen. Fred will there be any official record of what Putin and President discuss?

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well there will be some sort of official record but certainly the beginning of that meeting will be exactly Dave, what the Russians wanted, which is a one on one meeting between Presidents Putin and Trump.

Of course that's something that has caused some concern in the U.S. But the Russians say they are absolutely prepared for President Putin, obviously is someone who has gone through negotiations like this many, many times. And feels like he is someone who is very well prepared for it as far as the issues are concerned, absolutely right, some very important issues on the agenda.

You have arms control. And then of course you have Syria and also Ukraine, which are both very important topics to the Russians. And the U.S. delegation say's it wants to talk about election meddling as well. They say it's something that's been talked about between the U.S. and Russia, but certainly not on the kind of level that you'll see at a presidential summit.

How much President Trump is going to bring up is really up in the air. And the Russians say look if the U.S. wants to bring it up they can. But the Russians say their going to say exactly what they've said in the past. Which is simply Russia didn't do it, and that's it. So we'll see what President Trump get's out of that.

But certainly the Russians say they are very, very well prepared And certainly looking forward to this summit, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right Fred Pleitgen live for us in Moscow this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right 19 minutes past the hour. We will be right back.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BRIGGS: The quarter finals of the World Cup started today. All eyes will be on Brazilian star Neymar to see if he can manage to stay on his feet today.

ROMANS: Very funny. Andy Scholes has more on this mornings Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT HOST: Hey. Good morning, guys. You know, Neymar flopping around on the ground. He has really become the joke of this World Cup. According to Bleacher Report, Neymar incredibly has been on the ground for a cumulative 14 minutes in his four (ph) game. Neymar certainly has been fouled during this World Cup, but many think he is greatly exaggerating the extent of how bad it hurts in order to get called and, of course, the Internet has just had a field day creating Neymar memes of him just rolling all over the place.

I want you to check out this swift new soccer team's new Neymar inspired drill.




SCHOLES: That's a creative coaches right (ph) there. Neymar in Brazil, they take on Belgium 2 Eastern today with a spot in the semifinals on the line, France and Ergot get things started at 10 Eastern.

All right, many of the teams in the World Cup have been sending their well wishes to the Thai soccer team trapped in the cave. Japan recording this message for the team once they were eliminated. Now, the boys have been in the cave for nearly two weeks now and have been asking how the World Cup is going because obviously they can't watch the games.

Well yesterday, FIFA invited the team to the World Cup final. FIFA's President writing in a letter, "if as we all hope they are reunited with their families in the coming days and their health allows them to travel, FIFA would be delighted to invite them to attend the 2018 World Cup Final in Moscow as our guests." So we all hope that that happens.

Finally, former Duke Guard Grayson (ph) now a member of the Utah Jazz, but still has a way of antagonizing the opposition. In the summer league game last night in Utah, Allen and Trae Young getting tangled up right there. They had to be separated. Both were given technical fouls. Allen, of course, was reprimanded multiple times in college for tripping players, and guys, it looks like he's still got that attitude as he heads to the NBA.

BRIGGS: He's going to be under a microscope. Anything he does will be replayed on Sports Center all night long.

SCHOLES: Oh, yes.

BRIGGS: But that youth soccer team with that Neymar drill, bravo.

ROMANS: That is the most fun video I have seen in a long time. Love those kids.

BRIGGS: Thank you, Andy. Appreciate it. Have a good weekend.

SCHOLES: Yes. All right, you, too.

ROMANS: This is what a trade war looks like, $34 billion of new tariffs on Chinese products just took effect at the stroke of midnight. Beijing striking back.

BRIGGS: And a rescuer delivering oxygen to boys trapped in that Thai cave has died. Officials say time could be running short to save everyone. A lot of update ahead.