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NATO Leaders Reeling After Trump Attack; Germany Pushes Back at Trump's Criticism; Republicans React Cautiously to NATO Bluster; Rescued Soccer Team Recovering in Hospital Isolation. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 12, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: EARLY START continues right now with the latest from the NATO summit.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president wrapping up meetings with the NATO summit today just a day after the president's tirade against allies but diplomats floored.

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

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

BRIGGS: That was bad news for the network FOX who broadcast this because England-France was a dream World Cup Final. This will be intriguing but nowhere near what they had expected.

ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Thursday, July 12th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the East. 10:00 a.m. in London. 11:00 a.m. in Brussels. We are live there straight ahead.

We start with the president back at the NATO summit this morning. First up a meeting focused on Russian aggression. The president arrived 30 minutes late to a meeting focused on Russian aggression. Diplomats still reeling from President Trump's tirade against NATO allies. The president accused 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.

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 latest let's turn to international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson. He is there for us at NATO headquarters in Brussels.


Christine. Look, I mean, President Trump showed up half an hour late. When he did that in Quebec, turning up 15 minutes late for the meetings on the second morning of the event, there were eruptions that follow when he refused to sign the joint communique. It's not clear quite why President Trump was late this morning, but trying to read his mind I mean perhaps the quickest way to do that is to read his Twitter account from this morning.

Still talking about Angela Merkel and Germany. On top of it all, Germany just started paying Russia, the country they want protection from, billions of dollars for their energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russia. Not acceptable. All NATO nations must meet their 2 percent commitment and that must ultimately go to 4 percent.

And that was President Trump this morning after all those meeting yesterday. So he's saying this coming into the meetings today where I think the politicians here and diplomats were expecting to sort of tie up the loose ends from yesterday. There was a joint communique that was pretty much, you know, outlined the T's, crossed the I's, dotted on that. It's a little bit hard to read what's happening behind the closed doors this morning.

But I think that potentially we're not quite out of the woods yet when President Trump shows up half an hour late and he tweets like that again this morning. Remembering that he put all these points on the record yesterday. And he made those punches yesterday. He comes back with this today. You know, we don't quite know what it adds up to at the moment. So I think we're just sort of hanging -- trying to just what's happening behind the closed doors right now.

ROMANS: All right. You know, quoting the president now, next stop will be UK for that long awaited visit to America's closest ally. He will have tea with the Queen. What else can we expect?

ROBERTSON: Hey, you know, he's going to get to have a wonderful almost state banquet dinner. And that should be very much to his taste. The Blenheim Palace, the country estate where Winston Churchill, one of his heroes or at least somebody who he likes, grew up as a child. You know, this isn't a full-blown state visit. So this huge sumptuous feast at Blenheim Palace which is a huge country estate, one of those beautiful and largest in the UK should be a real centerpiece and a great way to begin his trip to the UK.

But on the streets of London we're expecting protests. Though he won't have to drive through those protests, he may be able to hear them from his residence where he stays with the U.S. ambassador in the center of London. And tomorrow, the tea with the Queen as you say, that he is very much looking forward to and a lunch with the prime minister, perhaps not quite to his political taste. And let's see what happens here today. There may be conversations continued over that lunch with the prime minister tomorrow.

ROMANS: Yes, absolutely. All right. Nic Robertson for us in Brussels, thank you. BRIGGS: Two countries closely watching the president, Germany and

Russia. Europe learning what the president meant when he said his meeting with Vladimir Putin could be, quote, "the easiest" thing he faces.

Let's bring in CNN's Fred Pleitgen who's live from Moscow.

Fred, was there any reaction to the president's comments about that pipeline between Germany and Russia?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're certainly -- basically in both countries there were, Dave. The Germans obviously reacting. Angela Merkel coming out not just reacting with the pipeline comments but in general, some of the negative comments that she's been hearing from President Trump, saying look, she grew up in the Soviet Union.

[05:05:05] She knows how bad that was back then and that's why she values the fact that nowadays Germany can have its own independent trade policy. That obviously a direct swipe back at President Trump for his comments saying look, it's Germans who are going to make their economic policies, and not the Americans.

One of the things that's not going down very well at all with the Germans is some of the criticism that Angela Merkel has been receiving because Angela Merkel is actually seen as a very, very pro-American chancellor unlike her predecessor, Gerhard Schroder, who obviously now works for that very pipeline company between Germany and Russia.

Angela Merkel obviously firing back at President Trump and this also comes at a time, obviously, Dave, when Angela Merkel has been in some political turmoil domestically. So certainly you see some very negative reactions coming out of Germany and a lot of interest obviously from Russia as well -- Dave.

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


BRIGGS: Any reaction from the Kremlin? How could all this affect that summit?

PLEITGEN: Yes. You know, I think it could have a big effect on that summit. One of the things that the Russians certainly have been looking toward is the optics of that NATO summit. And so interesting to see state-run TV here in Russia already commenting on the fact that they believe that President Trump seems to be moving the United States away from its traditional key allies and could be moving it closer, say, to the Russian orbit but at least towards better relations with Russia.

And I think it's something that the Kremlin has been playing off as well. They have been very low key the past couple of days saying look, NATO rift had nothing to do with us. However, they also say look, obviously they don't like NATO. They think NATO is a threat to them. They think a stronger NATO would be bad for them. So the Russians watching this very closely and really very much key to them is having good optics at that meeting between Vladimir Putin and President Trump as opposed to what we've seen in the past day and a half there at the NATO summit -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Certainly will be fascinating. Fred Pleitgen, live for us in Moscow this morning, thank you.

ROMANS: President Trump'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 the U.S. reaction, let's bring our White House reporter Jeremy Diamond. He is traveling with the president there in Brussels -- Jeremy.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's right. Well, the president has certainly rattled NATO allies here in Brussels. Particularly with a lot of his comments yesterday. Most notably of those was his comment suggesting that Germany was totally controlled by Russia. A captive by Russia as the president described it. But leaders in Washington, Republicans included, are trying to offer NATO a little bit of reassurance from back home in Washington.

The House and the Senate both passing resolutions expressing support, ongoing and continued support for the NATO alliance. And we also had the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, making some comments expressing support for NATO and also a little bit of concern about how the president has been handling these meetings with U.S. allies. Listen in.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: The rhetoric to me is just 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 friends in the nose and hold our hand out to people that are working strongly against us.


DIAMOND: We haven't yet heard from the president today on these comments but yesterday you saw some of the president's own staff appearing a little bit dispirited by the president's comments about Germany in particular. You saw there White House Chief of Staff John Kelly shifting uncomfortably in his seat, looking away as the president made some of those comments, that the U.S. ambassador to NATO doing a very or having very similar body language there.

The White House press secretary Sarah Sanders addressed Chief of Staff John Kelly's body language in a statement to the "Washington Post" saying that John Kelly was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese. A little bit of a tongue and cheek statement there it appears from the White House press secretary.

Back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Jeremy Diamond.

I don't know, Dave, I think -- thanks so much, Jeremy. I think it's really subjective when you're trying to read people's body language.

BRIGGS: I don't like getting into that --


ROMANS: They've been on an overnight fight. They're sitting there, you know.


ROMANS: The cameras are flashing. I mean, I don't know how much --

BRIGGS: You can read our body language if we were expecting breakfast and get pastries. We'd be angry as well.


BRIGGS: Meanwhile, FBI agent Peter Strzok testifies publicly today and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page could be alongside him. Strzok and Page were having an affair during the presidential campaign. Their texts have fueled Republican claims of an anti-Trump bias at the bureau. 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.

[05:10:02] ROMANS: 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 tweeted about this at 2:00 a.m. Eastern on his way to a NATO meeting, he asked, 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.

ROMANS: Administration officials say they expect reunifications to be finished by early this morning for children under 5 separated at the border. Now that doesn't include the 27 parents deemed ineligible because of criminal backgrounds or other issues. And a reunion appears imminent for the girl in this audio.


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


BRIGGS: The recording, 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.

ROMANS: All right. Stormy Daniels in the headlines this morning after being arrested overnight. We'll tell you why and why her lawyer says this is just a set-up.


[05:15:52] BRIGGS: 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. Daniels is expected to be arraigned tomorrow. CNN has reached out to the Columbus Police Department for additional information.

ROMANS: Yes. He says it was a set-up.

All right. China vows to retaliate against America's new tariffs. And you're 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 it doesn't buy enough from the U.S. to match tariffs dollar for dollar. Only about $130 billion worth last night it brought. So instead Beijing will use what it called qualitative measures. And that could be bad news for big U.S. companies.

China is a huge market for many of them. And retaliation could mean stricter inspections, delaying approval of business deals, hold-ups at customs, consumer boycotts. The Chinese government could also block expansion plans. You know, you've got both Walmart and General Motors with big plans to grow in China. Tesla just announcing he's building a huge factory there. China could also hit the U.S. government directly by selling U.S. treasury bonds. China don't forget is America's biggest foreign creditor. It holds about $1.2 trillion in U.S. debt.

BRIGGS: In Arizona, a huge fire destroys a Safeway supermarket in north Phoenix. Billows of black smoke and flames roughly 30 feet high could be seen shooting from the roof. The three-alarm fire broke out just before 6:00 p.m. Wednesday. Firefighters immediately began clearing the store of customers and employees when the roof collapsed. Fortunately no one was hurt. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, waves, smiles, tears from the youth soccer team rescued from that cave in Thailand. Our first look at the rescue efforts underground ahead on EARLY START.


[05:22:44] ROMANS: Tears of joy as family members of the rescued Thai soccer team get to see the boys through the windows in the hospital there 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 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.

ROMANS: All right, Matt Rivers. Thanks, Matt.

BRIGGS: All right. 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. That was 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday.

Very well, OK, ahead the president heads to the UK this morning, but not before one more round of diplomacy at the NATO summit. And it does not appear to be going so well. We're live in Brussels with the update.



BRIGGS: The president wrapping up meetings at the NATO summit today just a day after the president's tirade against allies left diplomats floored.

ROMANS: Their text messages fuel claims of bias at the FBI. Could Peter Strzok and Lisa Page testify side by side later today?

BRIGGS: And the founder and the face of Papa John's Pizza has resigned. What he said on the company conference call which brought him down. Some stunning racist remarks on a call designed to fix his image.

Welcome back to EARLY START, I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. That's quite a -- quite a development. We'll have that for you in a moment. It's about 30 minutes past the hour. But let's begin in Brussels. The president back at the NATO summit this morning. First up a meeting focused on Russian aggression. The president arrived about 30 minutes late to that meeting about Russia aggression. Diplomats still reeling from President Trump's the tirade against NATO allies. The president, as you know, accused Germany of being a captive of Russia. He called NATO members delinquent on defense spending insisting they increase it immediately.