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Mike Pompeo Grilled on Russia Talks; Explosion Outside U.S. Embassy in China. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 26, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president and E.U. stepping back from the edge of a trade war. Both sides say they will now hold off on new tariffs and try to resolve other issues as they work on a larger deal.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The predicate of your question implied some notion that there was something improper about having a one-on-one meeting. I completely disagree with the premise of your question.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ), RANKING MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I just -- I didn't ask you a predicate, I asked you a simple question.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of State on the defensive. Both parties demanding answers about the president's private meeting with Vladimir Putin.

ROMANS: And a scare at the U.S. embassy in China. An explosion just off the compound. We have a live report just moments away.

BRIGGS: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning.

BRIGGS: Good to see you, my friend.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, July 26th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. So let's begin with this, a trade truce.

The EU and the U.S. easing the threat of a transatlantic full-brown trade war at least for now. Both sides agree to work to eliminate trade barriers. In a press conference with European Commissioner president Jean-Claude Juncker, President Trump called it a big day for free trade.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We agreed today, first of all, to work together towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: OK. It was essentially a deal to make a deal. The two leaders agreed to resolve their biggest issues on trade, the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and the E.U.'s retaliatory tariffs on denim, bourbon, motorcycles. In return, the E.U. promised to buy more U.S. natural gas, and to buy more soybeans. Both sides agreed to hold off on further tariffs during negotiations. And that includes Trump's threat to slap tariffs on imported cars.

The president thinks that barriers on auto imports are uneven. The E.U. charges 10 percent on U.S. cars, which is higher than the 2.5 percent the U.S. slaps on European cars. Now both sides promised overall to reduce trade barriers. The U.S. and the E.U., this is an important relationship. The largest economic relationship in the world. Some $1 trillion in trade.

BRIGGS: But not enough is known yet. This could be a big win for the administration, right?

ROMANS: A lot of questions. A lot of -- at least a stepping back from the brink here. But it is a deal to make a deal.


ROMANS: So the devil is in the details.

BRIGGS: Deescalating a little bit.

Leaders of the far-right House Freedom Caucus introducing a resolution to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Ultraconservative Republicans and President Trump have Rosenstein in their sights for months now, mainly for his role supervising the Mueller investigation and what they call Justice Department stonewalling on congressional subpoenas for thousands of documents.

Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows says the impeachment measure could be brought up for a vote at any moment. It's what's called a privileged motion.


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS: It would require a vote on the House floor within two days. Quite frankly, it's either we hold him in contempt or we get the documents, or we impeach him.


BRIGGS: In reality, impeachment is highly unlikely. Top House leaders don't support it. Rosenstein himself has pushed back forcefully against House Republican critics. In May, he said the Justice Department is not going to be extorted. And of course there's not much time to do anything. The House leaves for a month-long recess after today. ROMANS: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clashing with Democrats and

Republicans at a Senate hearing that turned out to be high on drama, low on substance. Pompeo trying to project toughness on the administration's Russia strategy, insisting the U.S. will not recognize Crimea as part of Russia even though the president himself is unwilling to make that same commitment.

BRIGGS: The secretary of State refusing to provide details about the one-on-one meeting in Helsinki last week between the president and Vladimir Putin. As the White House announces a second summit between Trump and Putin will not take place until next year.

More now from Michelle Kosinski on Capitol Hill.


This was a chance for senators to finally get their questions answered about what exactly was said in this two-hour, closed-door meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, often with a snarky attitude, simply would not answer many of them, saying they were private conversations. I mean, even the simplest question, did Trump tell you what went on in that meeting? This was contentious from the start.


MENENDEZ: Has the president told you what he and President Putin discussed in their two-hour, closed-door meeting in Helsinki?

POMPEO: The presidents have a prerogative to choose who's in meetings or not. I'm confident you've had private one-on-one meetings in your life as well. You've chosen that setting as the most efficient way to --

MENENDEZ: I just asked a simple question. Did you --


POMPEO: Yes, I just -- I'm giving you a simple answer, Senator.

MENENDEZ: You can't eat up my seven minutes, Mr. Secretary. Did you -- did he tell you whether or not -- what happened in those two hours?

[05:05:01] POMPEO: Yes, Senator. The predicate of your questions implied some notion that there was something improper about having a one-on-one meeting. And I completely disagree with the premise of your question.

MENENDEZ: I just -- I didn't ask you a predicate, I asked you a simple question, I hope we're going to get to it. Did he tell you what transpired in the two-hour meeting?

POMPEO: I've had a number of conversations with President Trump about what transpired in the meeting. I was also president when -- present when he and President Putin both gave us a sense of what they discussed in the meeting that followed immediately after.


KOSINSKI: A couple of remarkable moments. The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, had this striking criticism.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: It's the president's actions that create tremendous distrust in our nation, among our allies. It's palpable. From where we sit, it appears that on a ready, fire, aim fashion, the White House is waking up every morning and making it up as they go.


KOSINSKI: Pompeo did state clearly that President Trump does accept the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election, that he has a complete understanding of what happened. But remember, Trump himself would not say anything like that, not even close when he was there side-by-side with Vladimir Putin -- Dave and Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Michelle. Thank you for that.

Michael Cohen's legal problems could get more complicated, now that one of his secret recordings has been leaked. It contains a conversation between Cohen and then candidate Donald Trump. They discussed a proposal to buy the rights to a former Playboy Playmate's story that she had an affair with Trump. Cohen's legal team failed to notify the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan that it was taking this tape to the media. Now that could hurt his ability to get a cooperation deal. A former federal prosecutor from the same office tells CNN they don't like to be part of any media circus.

On Wednesday, the president lashed out at Cohen, tweeting, "What kind of lawyer would tape a client?" The president did not comment on the substance of the tape.

BRIGGS: CNN's effort to get Trump to comment on the Cohen recording led to our reporter being banned from a White House event. Kaitlan Collins was in the Oval Office as the TV pool reporter at a photo-op. You can hear her asked three questions about Michael Cohen.


TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody.



COLLINS: Did Michael Cohen betray you?

TRUMP: Thank you very much. (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody.

COLLINS: Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is going to say to prosecutors?


COLLINS: Are you worried about what is on the other tapes, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep going. Thank you all. Keep going.


BRIGGS: That's business as usual for a photo-op. But the White House took offense. Kaitlan says minutes later communications chief and former FOX News exec Bill Shine disinvited her from an upcoming press availability in the Rose Garden.

ROMANS: She says Shine told her the questions she asked was inappropriate for that venue and they told her she was shouting. As you saw, other reporters were pitching questions as well. CNN did send different reporters to the Rose Garden event. The White House Correspondents Association issued a statement condemning what it calls a misguided and inappropriate decision.

BRIGGS: We should add the president of FOX News Jay Wallace said, "We stand in strong solidarity with CNN."

Remember that soccer ball Vladimir Putin gave to President Trump at their press conference in Helsinki last week? Well, it turns out it did have a transmitter chip. Markings on the Adidas World Cup soccer ball indicate it contained a chip, part of a standard feature with a tiny antenna that transmits to nearby phones. The company says the technology gives users access to information about the product. The Secret Service in a statement says all gifts given to the president are subject to thorough security screening.

Senator Lindsey Graham, for one, had speculated on Twitter that the ball might be bugged. He said he would never allow it in the White House.

ROMANS: All right. Today is the deadline for the government to reunite migrant families separated at the border by the president's zero tolerance policy toward illegal border crossing. It is clear, though, the federal effort will fall short. They will now make this deadline. We know as many as 914 parents will not be reunited with their children for a host of reasons. Either the parents can't be found, some have criminal records, they need further investigation or in some cases these parents were kicked out of the country without their kids.

We spoke with a head of a program trying to help parents removed from the U.S. without their children. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EFREN OLIVARES, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT: They talked to their son a couple of times. But it's also -- those are very hard conversations because the son is crying all the time. They get on the phone, it's like, why did you leave me? Why can't -- how come you won't come and get me? When's he going to understand about zero tolerance policies, right?


BRIGGS: The judge in the case has commended the government for its progress on reunifications but says he finds the effects of the policy deeply troubling.

A "Washington Post" editorial today says, "Hundreds of bureaucrats have spent weeks trying to match separated children with their parents, hamstrung by the absence of data that was either never recorded or inadvertently destroyed.

[05:10:08] "The fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the lieutenants who serve them never anticipated this eventuality speaks to their callousness."

Coming up, the scare at the U.S. embassy in China. An explosion just off the compound. We'll have a live report moments away.


ROMANS: Breaking overnight. The U.S. embassy in Beijing says one person detonated an explosive device outside the embassy compound there. That's where we find CNN's Matt Rivers who's live for us with the details. What do we know, Matt?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christine, a bit of a scare this afternoon here in Beijing. We got word on this because some videos started going around on Chinese social media from right on this corner where I'm standing, where there was a lot of smoke seen in several videos taken from the scene. It looked like an explosion might have occurred.

[05:15:03] It happened right there behind me. This is the southeast corner of the American embassy compound here in Beijing. And so by the time we got over here, we got in touch with the embassy and what they told is that it was one person that detonated some sort of explosive device. It was a little bit later on that Beijing police actually put out a statement. A 26-year-old man, his last name was Jiang, and he exploded what they called a firecracker-like device. But it was obviously big enough to scare a lot of people to create a lot of smoke.

Thankfully no one was injured. Only this person who lit off this device apparently injured his hand. But, you know, this could have been a lot worse. Let me just show you what usually happens here. Down this pathway right here, this is right outside the embassy. There are hundreds of people that are lined up and that were lined up when this happened. They are waiting to get visas to go to the United States for a variety of different reasons. So the fact that he wasn't able to make it that far, didn't injure anyone there, only injured himself, it really could have been a lot worse -- Christine.

ROMANS: OK. Great. Matt Rivers for us in Beijing. Thanks for that, Matt.

BRIGGS: All right. Just days after a mass shooting that left two people dead the Toronto City council votes overwhelmingly to push the Canadian government to ban the sale of handguns in the city. City officials also want the government to consider tougher penalties and more resources to handle firearm trafficking as well as increased mental health screening.

Gun violence is a problem in Toronto. The city has already had more shootings in the first seven months of this year than all of 2017.

Coming up, a week after the emotional speech at the ESPY Awards, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly who's battling cancer gets the best news. Andy Scholes has it for us next in the "Bleacher Report."


[05:21:06] ROMANS: Facebook shares plunging more than 20 percent overnight. That could mean a rough day for stocks. A 20 percent drop is technically known as a crash. And right now Facebook has lost more than $100 billion in market value. Facebook sales were lower than expected last quarter. But it's not -- it's not that, it's the future that really spooked Wall Street. Facebook plans to put privacy first. That means it will spend billions on security and that will mean it will make less money for years to come.

This is a direct result of Facebook's data privacy scandal where it leaked the info of 87 million users. It also plans to combat the spread of fake news or election meddling. Again that will cost money. Investors worry Facebook's problems are not unique and that the entire tech sector could be vulnerable here. All these names fell overnight. Twitter, Amazon, Google, Microsoft,

Apple. Some context here, though. Tech stocks have been on fire this year. The NASDAQ is up 15 percent. Mainly because tech companies have been largely immune to the Trump trade tensions. Other companies, though, aren't so lucky. U.S. automakers say steel and aluminum tariffs are cutting into profits. That's also true for manufacturers like Whirlpool and Harley-Davidson.

BRIGGS: In California, authorities have arrested a man linked to the Cranston Fire which has scorched 4700 acres. At this point there is no containment. At least 500 firefighters are battling the flames. More than 2,000 homes evacuated. Brandon McGlover facing arson charges for allegedly setting this and other fires in Southwest Riverside County. Meantime, the Ferguson Fire has charred more than 41,000 acres. Parts of the Yosemite National Park all closed due to the fire.

ROMANS: Officials reminding everyone to stay out of the water in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. A 41-year-old drowned in dangerous surf conditions. Red flags remain in place along the town's entire 12-mile beach. Emergency crews were dispatched to four water calls -- water rescue calls in less than an hour Wednesday. In the distance there you can see beachgoers forming a chain to pull people out of the rough surf.

BRIGGS: All right. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says his players will stand for the national anthem even though he helped create this whole policy.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, guys. You know, Jerry Jones giving his annual state of the Cowboys address yesterday and of course he was asked plenty about the national anthem controversy. Now Jones is the first owner to come out and say before this season that his players will all stand for the anthem. He also said President Trump's involvement in the controversy is not helping the situation.


JERRY JONES, DALLAS COWBOYS OWNER: His interest in what we are doing is problematic from my chair and I would say in general the owner's chair. Unprecedented if you really think about it. We feel strongly about how we deal with it and we'll do so accordingly. But yes, I'd like -- everybody would like for it to go away. Our policy is that you stand at the anthem, toe on the line.


SCHOLES: The NFL owners have put a national anthem policy in place back in May. But after backlash over how teams are going to discipline players for protesting during the anthem occurred, the NFL and the Players Association announced they were putting the anthem policy on pause while they come up with a solution. The preseason kicks off one week from today.

All right. Awesome news to report this morning. Former Bills great Jim Kelly has beat cancer for a third time. Kelly's wife posting this picture to Instagram saying, "All of his scans on Wednesday came back cancer free." Now back in March, Kelly underwent a 12-hour surgery to remove the cancer and reconstruct his upper jaw. Last week Kelly was presented with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS where he encouraged everyone to make a difference today for someone who's fighting for their tomorrow.

[05:25:04] All right. Finally Vince Carter is hanging in there for one more year. The 41-year-old signing with the Hawks to play in his 21st season in the NBA. Carter the oldest player in the league. And get this, he was drafted three months before Hawks rookie phenom Trae Young was born. So they're going to be playing together, guys. And Vince Carter now one of just three players left that played in the '90s, joining Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.

ROMANS: Come on. SCHOLES: I hang on to these old players, guys, because I -- you know,

there's not many left that are older than me playing professional sports. And I think that's when I'm officially going to feel old.


ROMANS: 40s are the new 30s, man. I mean, get used to it. 40s is the new 30s.

BRIGGS: Just a few months older than myself, too. Thank you, Andy Scholes.


BRIGGS: He can still get it done, too. Vince Carter.


ROMANS: All right. President Trump --

SCHOLES: Have a good day.

ROMANS: You too. President Trump stepping back from the brink of a trade war with Europe. He's agreed to hold off on new car tariffs while he works with the E.U. to resolve other trade disputes.