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EARLY START

NATO Leaders Reeling After Trump Attack; Rescued Soccer Team Recovering in Hospital Isolation; Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 12, 2018 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- Russia. He called NATO members delinquent on their defense spending, insisting they increase it immediately. The president's tone rattling the alliance.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: One senior diplomat telling CNN, quote, "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 the defense spending from 2 percent all the way up to 4 percent.

For the latest let's turn to international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson at NATO headquarters.

Nic, certainly no one there was surprised by harsh rhetoric from President Trump. But was it the exact words? What was it that shook leaders there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think it was the sort of nature that he really went after Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and the 4 percent number. I think that did catch people a little bit by surprise. But, you know, he's not failed to surprise or shock them again this morning. But, you know, like yesterday, the bumps yesterday, they knew this was coming. They knew President Trump was coming in, wanting to get the countries here to spend, the allies to spend more money -- more money on their defense budgets toward this 2 percent commitment.

So they knew that was coming. But not the shape it was coming in. And today the reason I say he hasn't sort of failed to surprise, but not surprise them like he did in Quebec on the second morning, he showed up late. Then it was 50 minutes. This morning, he showed up about half an hour late. He's meeting with the Azerbaijani president. He's meeting with the Ukrainian president, the Romanian president, and also the Georgian president this morning. The Ukrainian very likely to tell him to get tough on Putin when he meets Putin in Helsinki on Monday -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. So then the president heads to the UK for this long awaited visit with America's closest ally. Turmoil certainly the theme there for Theresa May and beyond this big Trump baby blimp floating above London. What should we expect there?

ROBERTSON: Some turmoil on the streets. Certainly the area around the residence where President Trump will be staying in London has really been fenced off, barricaded off by police. They're expecting big protests. Those protesters have been saying they're going to come out on the streets and no doubt, today, they're preparing to do just that. That will be their opportunity to be heard by President Trump. Perhaps the only opportunity to be heard by President Trump. He won't

have to drive through them, he won't have to see them. He will land very likely as he does at this location on Marine One landing in the gardens.

What he will do tonight and this will be very much to his taste is what is almost a state dinner. All the pomp and circumstance at Blenheim Palace out in the beautiful English countryside, the country estate, the residential part where Winston Churchill grew up. Tomorrow he gets something else that he's been waiting for and that is tea with the Queen and lunch with the prime minister perhaps not quite to his taste given her political precarious situation right now. He prefers, we're told, and he said, Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary.

Anyway, that's what's in store for him in England. Protests, tea with the Queen, lunch with the prime minister, and then on to Scotland over the weekend to golf at one of his own resorts -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes. Headed for golf in Turnberry over the weekend.

Nic Robertson live for us in Brussels this morning. Thank you, sir.

And that should be interesting to watch. Not just the optics with the Queen, but given all the turmoil for Theresa May, will he reaffirm his support for her to help her survive this or will he not?

ROMANS: I know. It is really fascinating. And also when you look at, you know, some of the controversy from yesterday, you know, the president saying that these nations are delinquent with their -- with their dues as if it's like a membership club.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: You know, nobody is doing --

BRIGGS: It's not a piggy bank. It's not an account.

ROMANS: Right. It's there's no delinquency. It's more like you have a commitment by the year 2024 to have a certain level.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: And they're not quite there yet. But I will say the bully pulpit the president has pushed these countries to say yes.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: We are going to -- we are going to be paying more and we're going to be doing that.

BRIGGS: But that's what's interesting. Why not go there and take a bow and say yes, I have pushed spending by most of the 29 nations. Instead he's confrontational. That's his core.

ROMANS: Let's talk more about this. Joining us now from NATO summit, "Washington Post" Brussels bureau chief, Michael Birnbaum.

Good morning, Michael. Behind closed doors in the one-on-one meetings, is the president as confrontation as he was on Twitter and on TV?

MICHAEL BIRNBAUM, WASHINGTON POST BRUSSELS BUREAU CHIEF: Not at all, Christine. He's really taken a confrontational approach when on camera, when on Twitter. And apparently when he is met in these closed-door meetings, he's been much calmer. Same basic messages that NATO allies need to pay way more for their defense spending. But a much friendlier tone, more polite, more generally accepting of the basic principles of NATO than he is in public.

BRIGGS: "The Wall Street Journal," Michael, is up with an editorial about all this. They say, quote, "Bluntness is underrated as a diplomatic tool and Berlin deserves its Trumpian embarrassment over its pipeline follies. The main regret over his comments is that he undermines their diplomatic impact with his many other less helpful fulminations on European affairs."

[04:05:14] To that pipeline, the Nord Stream 2, that is an inappropriate relationship. Does he have the decent point about the pipeline and all the money going to Russia?

BIRNBAUM: Well, Dave, that is not something that not only the Trump administration has criticized. That's something that the Obama administration was unhappy about, too. So it's something that they've been very worried about, they've been concerned about the German relationship with Russia on these energy deals.

A counterpoint would be, though, that Trump is so unpopular in Germany that basically whatever he says immediately the opposite becomes more popular among the German electorate. And so Merkel has to -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel has to find a way to satisfy both Trump and her voters who want her to stand up to Trump.

ROMANS: There's just so much there. I mean, the president has said that Vladimir Putin is just fine. That he's going to have an easier time with his meetings with Putin than he has with our allies. And then he criticizes Germany for doing business with Russia. You know, he's being harder on Angela Merkel than he is on Vladimir Putin.

BIRNBAUM: That seems to be true so far. We'll see how the meetings with Vladimir Putin go on Monday. But it's absolutely right. He could have come here to NATO and declared victory, said that he had pushed countries to push up their defense spending and really made a lot of progress. He chose instead this more confrontational route. He is not really accepting that countries are moving in his direction. He is pushing them further. And we'll see what kinds of concessions he makes to Putin on Monday.

BRIGGS: Yes, to me, regarding Russia, it's reminiscent of that famous debate moment with Hillary Clinton where he said I'm not the puppet. You're the puppet. Almost like don't look over here, look at this shiny object here. But the president this morning then heads to the UK. Turmoil there for Theresa May. And if confrontation is the theme of this trip, do we expect him to reaffirm his commitment, our partnership with the UK and with Theresa May? Or what's the wild card there?

BIRNBAUM: Well, the wild card is really whether he meets with Boris Johnson. The foreign secretary -- former foreign secretary who resigned earlier this week. Boris Johnson is much more pro-Brexit, hard liner in confrontations with the European Union. That's something that Donald Trump likes. And he said that maybe he would have a meeting with Boris Johnson in England.

This is something he said as he was heading to Europe. Boris Johnson is really one of Theresa May's biggest rivals and so if he actually went through with that meeting, it would be in many ways unprecedented in terms of -- kind of political interference in domestic British politics.

ROMANS: Fascinating. Michael Birnbaum, thank you so much from "Washington Post" there in Brussels.

We'll turn it back here to U.S. right now. FBI agent Peter Strzok testified publicly today and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page could be alongside him. Their texts have fuelled 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. Page defied a subpoena to appear privately before the committees yesterday.

BRIGGS: House Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows said the Judiciary Committee plans to give Page two options, appear for a closed-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 tweeting about this at 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time on his way to a NATO meeting, which he was 30 minutes late for. He asked, rhetorically, "When Attorney General Jeff Sessions would get involved." In the case his favorite wasn't listening, he made sure they were.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking immigration 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 this brand new guidance from the Trump White House. It orders them to reject claims based on a fear of gang and domestic violence.

Officers also now they are allowed to reject asylum claims by immigrants who cross the border illegally, even if they have a legitimate fear of persecution.

BROWN: Administration officials say they expect reunifications to be finished by early this morning for children under 5 separated at the border. 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. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALLISON XIMENA VALENCIA MADRID, CHILD SEPARATED FROM MOTHER: Dad. At least can I go with my aunt? I want her to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:10:12] ROMANS: Crying for her auntie as they take the daddy away. The recording is a big part of events that forced the president to reverse the border separation policy. 6-year-old Allison's mother Cindy Madrid 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.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead on EARLY START. Stormy Daniels in the news again. Arrested overnight. We will tell you why and what her lawyer is saying next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight. Stormy Daniels arrested at a strip club in Ohio. Michael Avenatti, the adult film star's attorney, tweeting 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.

[04:15:04] CNN has reached out to the Columbus Police Department for additional information.

ROMANS: China vows to retaliate against America's new tariffs and looking to the 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 it doesn't buy enough from the U.S. to match tariffs dollar for dollar. Only about $130 billion worth of U.S. goods last year. So Beijing will use what it calls qualitative measures.

That could be bad news for big U.S. companies. China is a huge market for many of them. Retaliation could been stricter inspections, delaying on approval of business deals, hold up at Customs. Consumer boycotts or the Chinese government could block expansion plans. For example both Walmart and General Motors have big plans to grow in China. Tesla just announced it is building a factory there.

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

BRIGGS: The former wrestling coach at Ohio State is coming to the defense of Congressman Jim Jordan. Jordan accused of ignoring sexual abuse allegations against the team doctor when h was an assistant coach at the university. Rex Hellickson, the former head coach, says he finds the whole situation disheartening, adding, quote, "Athletes who I cherished and a coach who I respect to the highest possible level are being torn apart by semantics. Jim Jordan gave his heart and soul to the athletes. This is being driven by hysteria in politics.

ROMANS: House Speaker Paul Ryan now the most high profile Republican to publicly support Jordan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I have always known Jim Jordan to be a man of honesty and a man of integrity. I also want to make sure that Ohio State conducts the review of this doctor and what he did. That's important so that campuses are safe. And I'm glad Jim is supporting that review.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Congressman Jordan denies knowing or being told about the team doctor's abuse while he worked at the school.

BRIGGS: Papa John's founder resigning as chairman of the board using a racial slur. Forbes says John Schnatter used the N word on a call in May. That call designed to stop future PR disasters. He complained that Colonel Sanders used the term without facing backlash. Schnatter apologized saying racism has no place in our society regardless of context.

Schnatter already stepped down as CEO last year after saying Papa John's sales were hurt by how the NFL handled the national anthem protest. Their stock down nearly 5 percent yesterday. A promotion with Major League Baseball has also been suspended as well. And that story continues to trend. Number two on Twitter. So it is not going away.

Ahead, waves, smiles, tears from the youth soccer team. The Wild Boars rescued from the cave in Thailand. Now our first look at the rescue efforts underground.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:22:26] ROMANS: Tears of joy. As family members of those rescued Thai soccer players get to see the boys through the windows at the hospital. The boys recovering there in an 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 for us from Thailand.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of new video here that we're seeing for the first time coming out in northern Thailand, videos released by the Thai government. And let's start with the rescue attempt. The Thai government releasing clips from the video they shot inside that cave, which showed 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.

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.

BRIGGS: It's just so amazing that it all worked out.

ROMANS: I love it. I can't get enough of it. I know.

BRIGGS: Gosh. Matt Rivers, thank you.

Croatia will make its first trip to the World Cup Final. 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 will meet France which last won the World Cup in 1998. So with England out, all focused, can turn their attention to the president's visit and what's going on with Theresa May.

ROMANS: All right. The president heading to the UK this morning, wrapping up those NATO meetings before he leaves. What's next for the allies that Trump criticized sending the summit into turmoil?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:29:13] ROMANS: The president wraps up meetings at the NATO summit today just a day after the president's tirade against allies left diplomats floored.

BRIGGS: Their texts fueled claims of bias at the FBI. Could Peter Strzok and Lisa Page testify side by side later today?

ROMANS: And the founder and face of Papa John's Pizza has resigned. What he said on a company conference call that brought him down.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. 4:30 Eastern Time. 10:30 in Brussels, we're live there straight ahead. All eyes on this NATO summit. That's where we start.

The president back at the NATO summit this morning. First up a meeting focused on Russian aggression. The president arriving to that meeting on Russian aggression 30 minutes late. Diplomats still reeling from President Trump's tirade against NATO allies. The president accusing Germany of being a, quote, "captive of Russia." He called NATO members delinquent on defense spending insisting they increase it immediately. The president's tone leaving diplomats dumbfounded.