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EARLY START

NATO Leaders Reeling from Trump Attack; Germany Pushes Back at Trump; Trump Meets with Putin Monday; Republicans React to NATO Bluster; Family Members See Rescued Boys. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired July 12, 2018 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:13] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's assault on NATO allies has diplomats scratching their heads. Ahead of today's trip to the U.K., the president called the defense spending to double.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Their texts fuel claims of bias at the FBI. Could Peter Strzok and Lisa Page testify side by side later today?

ROMANS: And Croatia overcomes early trouble to topple England at the World Cup. A final against France now awaits this weekend.

BRIGGS: Oh, man.

ROMANS: Oh, the agony of defeat. I -- you know, the -- oh.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Yes.

I'm Dave Briggs.

The president in London and that city is just heartbroken.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: The whole country's stunned by what happened in the second half.

It's Thursday, July 12. It's 3:00 a.m. in East, 8:00 a.m. in London, 9:00 a.m. in Brussels. We're live around the world in the next half hour.

We start with diplomats dumbfounded by President Trump's barrage of attacks on NATO allies. Right out of the gate, the president accusing Germany of being a, quote, captive of Russia. He called NATO members delinquent on their defense spending, insisting they increase it immediately. The president's tone rattling the alliance.

ROMANS: One senior European diplomat telling CNN, it's like the world has gone crazy. Trump's performance was beyond belief. On policy, the president demanded member countries double their commitment for defense spending.

For the very latest let's turn to senior diplomatic editor Nic Robertson at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, good morning, Christine.

President Trump was suggesting that they should double their defense spending from 2 percent of GDP to 4 percent of GDP. From what I've been talking -- from what I've been hearing from sources who are close to the behind the scenes of those meetings yesterday, this was unexpected. But, you know, it's not gone as badly as people thought this might have gone. They knew President Trump was coming on a mission to get more money. One official saying, look, this really doesn't help very much for the unity of NATO when you have President Trump going so far out on a limb from the rest of the others. He -- this should be a united front to send that message to President Putin in Russia that NATO is together and it is strong.

But there are others I've talked to here, the prime minister of Estonia yesterday who said, look, President Trump is finally doing what other U.S. presidents haven't done, which is actually get NATO to put its hands deep in its pocket, the nations, and come up with more money for defense spending need. So President Trump's pushing needed as well.

So divided opinion, but still concern.

ROMANS: Nic, this morning the president heads to the U.K. for that long awaited visit to America's closest ally. What can we expect?

ROBERTSON: You can expect a huge amount of street protest in London. The fences and barricades have been going up around the premises where President Trump will be spending the night in London. But you can also expect the British government to try to keep the president away from the kind of ruckus reception that if he went out on the streets he would see. There will be -- or is expected to be a large blimp of a baby Trump floating in the air, paid for by enthusiastic anti-Trump supporters in Britain.

But he will be meeting on Friday with the queen, having tea with the queen, having lunch with the British prime minister, but not at Downing Street, at her country retreat outside London to avoid the crowds. But when he gets in tonight, a big, sumptuous, not a state dinner, but it will look and feel like it, at Belenum (ph) Palace. The place where Winston Churchill grew up. A huge country pile (ph). All the pomp and circumstance the president could perhaps hope for.

ROMANS: All right, Nic, thank you so much, in Brussels. I bet you're headed to London later today. Thank you, sir.

BRIGGS: Two countries closely watching the president, Germany and Russia. Europe is getting a vivid idea of what the president meant when he said his meeting with Vladimir Putin could be, quote, easier than talks with America's allies.

For more on the reaction from Germany and Russia, let's bring in CNN's Fred Pleitgen, live from Moscow.

Fred, good morning to you.

The president had some harsh words for Germany, but not necessarily to Germany. He delivered those remarks to NATO officials. And it sounds like it was relatively pleasant, oddly enough, with Germany.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean he essentially said that he believed that Germany was under the thumb of the Russians because of a pipeline that they're building between Russia and Germany. And Angela Merkel then shooting straight back and saying, look, she knows the value of freedom because she actually grew up in communist Germany, which was under the thumb of the USSR and therefore knows the value of having your own independent policy. Obviously taking a swipe back at President Trump, saying, look, you don't meddle into our internal affairs.

I'll tell you one thing, though, Dave, that's really not going down well in Germany at all, is the fact that Angela Merkel is actually seen as a very pro-American chancellor. She is one who rattled European allies together to get them up against Russia as far as the sanctions were concerned with Ukraine policy. She's also someone who worked very closely, of course, with the Obama administration.

[03:05:12] And also one of the things that the Germans aren't taking well at all is that President Trump is attacking Angela Merkel at a time when she's already having trouble internally, politically at home. So he's sort of seen as kicking her while she's not down but she is sort of on the ropes a little bit. So we did hear Angela Merkel seriously fire back at President Trump after that, Dave.

BRIGGS: Fred, all of this coming just days before the president meets with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

PLEITGEN: Yes.

BRIGGS: Any reaction from the Kremlin? And how could all of this effect that summit, that meeting?

PLEITGEN: Well, I think one of the things that the president said before he went on this trip, when he said, look, he thinks that a meeting with Vladimir Putin might be the easiest one of his entire itinerary, I think that's something that the Russians probably are seeing as well. There were TV show that we were seeing yesterday where they were saying, look, we cannot believe what President Trump is saying to NATO allies because the Russians, of course, have been criticizing NATO for a very long time and saying that they believe that NATO is actually an alliance that is against them, that's been infringing on the Russians.

Officially, the Kremlin has been very careful with its statements. Obviously not wanting to derail that Helsinki summit or in any way affect it before it starts. But certainly you can feel that the Russians are not unhappy about some of the things, some of the turmoil that they're seeing there and in Brussels at that NATO summit, Dave. BRIGGS: They may like the turmoil. They probably don't like the comments about the pipeline, which will bring them an awful lot of money from Germany.

Fred Pleitgen live for us this morning in Moscow, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, the president's confrontational comments at NATO provoking a notably mixed reaction among Republicans at home. Many in the GOP cautiously expressing support for the alliance, while trying to avoid publicly shaming the president.

For more on U.S. reaction, let's bring in White House reporter Jeremy Diamond. He is traveling with the president.

Jeremy.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Hey, good morning.

You know, the president has clearly rattled NATO allies here in Brussels. But Washington is trying to send a signal that the president is not speaking for the entire United States when he makes his comments about NATO in the way that he does, the brash manner in which he's kind of gone about that. Both the House and the Senate have passed resolutions expressing support -- strong support for the NATO alliance. The House passed a vote unanimously yesterday expressing support in the wake of some of the president's comments about Germany in particular. That criticism that we heard saying that Germany is captive to Russia.

And Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, a Republican, an oftentimes ally of President Trump, he also sounded off on that, suggesting that the president was trying to tear down NATO.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: The rhetoric to me is -- is just -- it's damaging to us. And damaging to others unnecessarily.

I absolutely agree on the substance, but I think there are ways of communicating with your friends and sometimes it feels like we punch our friend in the nose and hold our hand out to people that are working strongly against us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And the president's allies also appeared a little bit dispirited by some of the president's comments yesterday, particularly during that meeting with the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, when the president was going after Germany. You could see the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly shifting uncomfortably in his seat, looking away as the president made those remarks. The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, was asked about those remarks by "The Washington Post," and she responded a little bit tongue in cheek saying that the chief of staff, quote, was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.

Back to you guys.

ROMANS: That sounds to me like she was trying to --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: She was trying to make a funny there.

All right, thanks so much, Jeremy Diamond. Nice to see you this morning.

BRIGGS: Everyone hates to show up and not have a full breakfast, right?

ROMANS: Where's the bacon?

BRIGGS: All right, FBI Agent Peter Strzok testifies publicly today. And former FBI lawyer Lisa Page could be alongside him. Their texts have fueled Republican claims of an anti-Trump bias at the bureau. Strzok and Page were having an affair during the presidential campaign. Strzok appears before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Page defied a subpoena to appear privately before the committees yesterday.

ROMANS: House Freedom Caucus Leader Mark Meadow said the Judiciary Committee plans to give Page two option, appear for a close door interview later this week or testify alongside Strzok in public today. No confirmation yet whether she plans to take up either offer.

Even the president tweeted about this at 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time, on his way to a NATO meeting. He said rhetorically when Attorney General Jeff Sessions would get involved.

BRIGGS: Breaking news overnight. Thousands of asylum seekers may be turned away at the southern border because of a new Trump administration policy. Border officers who evaluate asylum and refugee applications have new guidance. It orders them to reject claims based on fear of gang and domestic violence. Officers also now allowed to reject asylum claims by immigrants who cross the border illegally, even if they have a legitimate fear of persecution.

[03:10:15] ROMANS: Administration officials say they expect reunification to be finished by early this morning for kids under the age of five separated at the border. Now, that excludes the 27 parents deemed ineligible because of criminal backgrounds or other issues. And a reunion appears imminent for the girl in this audio tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Dad. At least can I go with my aunt? I want her to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Oh. BRIGGS: The recording, a big part of events that forced the president to reverse the border separation policy. Six year-olds Alisyn's (ph) mother, Cindy Madrid (ph), was released from a south Texas detention center last night. She now heads to Arizona where she hopes to see her daughter as early as tomorrow pending DNA results.

ROMANS: All right, it turns out working in the White House comes with more scrutiny than working at Fox News. Wait until you hear what Bill Shine's wife said about women being sexually harassed in the military.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:15:17] ROMANS: Breaking overnight, Stormy Daniels arrested at a strip club in Ohio. Michael Avenatti, the adult film star's attorney, tweeted his client was taken into custody for allowing a customer to touch her while on stage. That appears to be a violation of an obscure Ohio law. Avenatti calls Daniels' arrest politically motivated. CNN has reached out to the Columbus Police Department for additional information.

BRIGGS: Trouble this morning for the brand new White House deputy chief of staff for communication, Bill Shine. CNN's K-File uncovering explosive new audio of his wife, Darla Shine, mocking victims of sexual harassment. She's been under scrutiny lately for reportedly making racially charged remarks and spreading baseless anti- vaccination conspiracy theories on her now deleted Twitter account. Listen to these comments she made on a radio show on 2009 about how women in the military should expect to be sexually harassed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DARLA SHINE, WIFE OF BILL SINE: Why on earth would you fight to go on a submarine ship for months on end. You know, there was just a story with these girls -- these women who are upset that they're sexually harassed in the military. What do you think is going to happen when you go on a submarine for 12 months for 4,000 horny soldiers?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Darla Shine did not respond to multiple requests for comment. When CNN K-File asked the White House whether Bill Shine agrees with his wife's comments, there was no response.

ROMANS: All right, China vows to retaliate against America's new tariffs. It is looking at a number of non-tariff ways to hit back. The Trump administration drew up a new list of tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, slapping 10 percent tariffs on thousands of items. China plans to hit back.

But, you know what, it doesn't buy enough from the U.S. to match tariffs dollar for dollar. Only about -- only bought about $130 billion worth of products from the U.S. last year. So, instead, Beijing will use what it calls qualitative measures. That could be bad news for big U.S. companies. China's a huge market for many of them and retaliation could mean stricter inspections, delaying approval of business deals, hold ups at customs and at ports, customer boycott. The Chinese government could also block expansion plans. For example, both Walmart and General Motors have big plans to grow in China. Tesla just announced it is building a huge factory there.

China could also hit the U.S. government directly by selling U.S. Treasury bonds. China is America's biggest foreign creditor, holding about $1.2 trillion in U.S. debt.

BRIGGS: OK, 3:17 Eastern Time, 9:17 in Brussels. And here you see the president on his way to a meeting with the North Atlantic Counsel, again, part of this NATO summit. He will meet with the leaders of Georgia and Ukraine.

Good morning to the president.

He was up and tweeting about Germany and Peter Strzok and Lisa Page just about an hour ago. Another busy day for the president. If he stops and chats with the media, we will certainly bring you those remarks.

No entourage assembled there, just the president walking solo.

ROMANS: And, you know, he began this meeting, you know, about -- just about 24 hours ago. He had that pre-summit breakfast with the NATO secretary general where he dressed down Germany and had very sharp -- many say undiplomatic words for Germany, saying Germany was a captive to Russia. But we're told that his meetings then later in the day, one on one meetings, were less confrontational.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: He set the tone, the mood early, but it was less confrontational throughout the afternoon.

BRIGGS: Interesting, right? Those remarks really directed at Jens Stoltenberg and not to Angela Merkel. And the pipeline that he's talking about, this Nord Stream 2, certainly problematic, I think, for a lot of people around the world that say he may have a good point. Why filter billions of dollars to Russia and then have us pay all this money to protect you from Russia? We'll see where this goes.

There's now video of George Clooney's crash in Italy showing the moment his scooter hit an oncoming car. That's Clooney. Security footage obtained by an Italian newspaper shows the actor riding a scooter up a road in Sardinia on Tuesday. You can see collides head on with a dark colored car. The impact sent Clooney high into the air then smashing to the ground. The 57 year-old taken to the hospital, later released. He's now recovering at home. It's incredible that he recovered so fast from what looks to be --

ROMANS: Wow! Lucky him.

BRIGGS: A really scary accident.

[03:19:37] ROMANS: All right, waves, smiles and tears from the youth soccer team rescued from a cave in Thailand. Now our first look at the rescue efforts underground. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Tears of joy as family members of the rescued Thai soccer team get to see the boys through protective glass. The boys recovering in a hospital isolation unit after spending 18 days trapped under ground. Some details of their harrowing rescue only now coming to light.

Matt Rivers has the latest from Thailand.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of new video here that we're seeing for the first time coming out in northern Thailand of videos released by the Thai government. Let's start with the rescue attempt. The Thai government releasing clips from the video they shot inside that cave which show just an absolutely treacherous path for rescuers to try and carry these kids out. What you see in that video is rescuers braving very dangerous conditions, carrying boys out on stretchers. At some points they actually have to hoist the stretcher up onto a pulley system because parts of that cave were so steep that rescuers couldn't carry the stretcher safely. So they actually had to hoist the stretchers up to get the boys out.

[03:25:14] You see running water. You see how murky it is. Just an incredibly difficult task for rescuers. You also see them giving initial medical treatment inside that cave. So really good insight that we didn't have before into how difficult this rescue operation turned out to be for the brave volunteers and the Thai military and the international military that came here to get these boys out.

So between video of the rescue attempt and video of the hospital, we are getting more and more insight into this situation overall here in northern Thailand.

Christine. Dave.

ROMANS: All right, Matt Rivers for us, great reporting there.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

All right, Croatia will meet France in Sunday's World Cup final. The first final appearance ever for the Croatians. They defeated England 2-1 in extra time. In yesterday's semifinal in Moscow, Mario Mandzukic scoring the deciding goal in the 109th minute. After the match he called the outcome a miracle. Croatia last reached the semifinals of the World Cup in 1998. France last won the title in '98, excuse me, when they beat Brazil 3-0 in a World Cup they hosted. Should be a terrific final. Everyone expected England to win that match.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: Particularly when it was 1-0. But you've got to give it to this Croatia team. They have been so resilient.

ROMANS: Second smallest country in history to get this far.

BRIGGS: Ever. Yes.

ROMANS: That's amazing.

BRIGGS: Now, Sunday, 11:00 a.m. is the final. Should be a good one.

Ahead, the president heads to the U.K. this morning, wrapping up NATO meetings before he leaves. He set the summit into some turmoil with attacks on our allies.

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