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EARLY START

Trump, Meeting Was For Clinton Dirt; Iran Sanction Deadline; North Korea Summit Two; 44 People Shot, Five Killed In Chicago Violence; Search Intensifies For Missing Toddler; Maduro Escapes Injury In Drone Attack; Death Toll Climbs To 91 In Indonesia. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 6, 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] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHIL MATTINGLY, EARLY START SHOW GUEST CO-HOST: President Trump admitting that the infamous 2016 Trump tower meeting was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Sources tell CNN he is concerned that his son Don Jr. might be caught up in the Mueller investigation.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: The White House ready to put sanctions back on Iran. That country's leader set to speak out as the deadline approaches.

MATTINGLY: And breaking overnight. A second meeting between North Korea's Kim Jong-un and President Trump could take place sometime later this year. We have reports this morning from Tehran and Hong Kong.

Good morning and welcome to "Early Start." I'm Phil Mattingly in for Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning. It is Monday morning, I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, August 6, it is 4:00 a.m. in the East. Let's begin here with the President.

President Trump admitting during the 2016 Presidential race his son Don Jr. met with a Russian lawyer to quote, get information on an opponent. In a tweet on Sunday, the President called the Trump tower meeting totally legal and done all the time in politics. Adding I did not know about it.

MATTINGLY: Now, if you had been paying attention, you may know that tweet directly contradicting the president's earlier statements. The President himself now acknowledging explicitly for the first time the purpose of the meeting was to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton and not to discuss Russian adoption. As for it being totally legal? The tweet seems to addresses CNN reporting this weekend that the President is now concerned over Don Jr. might have legal exposure in the Robert Mueller Russia probe. That is according to sources close to the White House.

ROMANS: CNN has also previously reported that Michael Cohen is willing to testify. The president himself knew about the meeting ahead of times, despite his denials. Let's get more from CNN's Boris Sanchez this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Christine and Phil, it has been a swift move for this administration from the President suggesting that, to the best of his knowledge no one that he knows has anything to do with Russia to now essentially making the argument that collusion is not illegal. Here is more from Jay Sekulow, one of the president's attorney on a Sunday morning talk shows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says the meeting is totally legal and done all the time in politics, but according to the e-mail that Special Counsel, Robert Mueller has, this was a meeting to get information from the crown prosecutor of Russia on Hillary Clinton's campaign. How is that be legal?

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP' LAWYER: Well, the question is how would it be illegal? I mean, the real question here is would a meeting of that nature constitute a violation -- the meeting itself constitute a violation of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Critics of course, have pounced on this making the argument that the administration and that the President is moving the goal posts. We should point out despite a repeated number of calls from the President and his allies for this investigation to wrap up and in the words of Rudy Giuliani for Robert Mueller to put up or shut up, this investigation is moving forward.

Last week, CNN reported that the Special Counsel is making efforts to interview one key person in that Trump tower meeting, Emin Agalarov. He helped facilitate the Trump tower meeting. Of course he is Russian pop singer whose father has deep ties to Vladimir Putin. He is a Russian oligarch. Whether that meeting takes place or not is unclear, but we do know that Robert Mueller and his team have been working alongside Agalarov's legal team to try to secure an interview now for more than a year. Christine and Phil.

(END VIDEO)

MATTINGLY: Boris had made it clear that the President and his son have twisted themselves into knots trying to explain that infamous Trump tower meeting. Let's take a quick look at the timeline.

July 8, 207, the New York Times first reports on this meeting. Don Jr. response to the statement claiming it was about Russian adoption. Now, one day later, the Times reports, the President's son was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton at that meeting.

ROMANS: Two days after that, Don Jr. releases his email exchange with Music publicist Rob Goldstone. A liaison for -- the father of a Russian pop star former pop star discussing dirt on Clinton. The President denies knowing about the meeting beforehand. July 12th, multiple reports indicate that President Trump was involved

in preparing Don Jr. statement about Russian adoptions. The President's lawyer, Jay Sekulow denies Mr. Trump had any involvement.

MATTINGLY: Fats forward to August 1st, White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders admits the President quote, weighed in on the statement. But Don Jr. tells the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, he doesn't remember how the White House was involved in crafting it. That was clearly not true. In January of this year, the president's lawyers told the Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a letter that Mr. Trump dictated the statement himself. CNN reported on that letter to Mr. Mueller in June.

ROMANS: All right. Fast forward to late last month. CNN reports Michael Cohen is willing to tell the Special Counsel that the President did know about the 2016 Trump tower meeting in advance.

[04:05:03] And that brings us to yesterday's tweet. The president now admitting the meeting was designed to get information on an opponent, and once again claiming he did not know about it.

MATTINGLY: Got it?

ROMANS: Got it.

MATTINGLY: The trial of former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort on bank and tax fraud charges resuming this morning with defense lawyers cross examining a key prosecution witnesses. Accountant Cindy Laporte, testified Friday, her firm falsified a loan amount to help Paul Manafort pay less in taxes.

She also told jurors that in 2016 she sent a fake letter from a shell company to a bank to help Paul Manafort getting multi-million dollar loan. She also implicated long time Manafort Deputy Rick Gates. Saying, she took the actions under his direction. Now, Laporte was given immunity for prosecution in exchange for that testimony. Rick Gates himself is expected to take the stand early this week.

ROMANS: Exactly three months to go before the mid-term elections. And administration officials are trying to convince voters that President Trump doesn't believe Russian election interference is a hoax. A senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway and national security adviser, John Bolton making rounds on the Sunday talk shows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: When he talks about the hoax, he is talking about this fantasy, this unproven fantasy that somehow the campaign that I successfully managed for the successful part for the campaign was in cahoots with the Russians.

AMB. JOHN BOLTON, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think what he is saying by the hoax is the idea that somehow the Russians directed and controlled his administration that there was some conspiracy or some violation of U.S. law of 2016.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Now, Conway and Bolton were responding to the President's remarks at the Thursday's rally in Pennsylvania. And you can go ahead and judge for yourself whether he is talking only about collusion or Russian interference in general.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Helsinki. I had a great meeting with Putin. We discussed everything. I had a great meeting. We got along really well. By the way, that is a good thing. Not a bad thing. That is a really good thing. Now we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax. OK? I'll tell you what, Russia's very unhappy that Trump won. That I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: The President's advisers point to a briefing last week by top national security officials. As proof, Mr. Trump is in fact concerned about Russia's conduct even though he called it a hoax right after that briefing. Mr. Trump has not affirmed publicly that Russia continues to interfere in U.S. elections.

ROMANS: All right. This morning, the Trump administration will explain how it plans to re-impose sanctions on Iran following the U.S. withdrawal in May, from the Iran nuclear deal. Now businesses have until midnight tonight to end their contracts with Iran before some sanctions are reinstated. Affected items expected to include, gold, aluminum, steel, graphite, coal and of course, currency. President Hassan Rouhani will address Iranian lawmakers later today as that deadline approaches.

L.A. Times reporter Ramin Mostaghim, joins us live from Tehran. Good morning what is the sense there?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, CORRESPONDENT, L.A. TIMES: The sense is limbo. I mean, the money exchange markets, free market or black market or whatever you call it, is in limbo. They don't sell. They don't buy. If you insist, they just sell the same prices as yesterday. That means 500 or so less than before. We can say, still everybody is in limbo.

ROMANS: What about on the streets? I know there have been some protests the past few days. What can you tell us about what was happening there in terms of the people there in Iran?

MOSTAGHIM: The people are desperate. Economically and they are nagging all the time. But as far as the protests in the streets is a concerned. It has been harnessed so far and crackdown is successfully done so far until today. So it has not been escalating, but it has been harnessed.

MATTINGLY: Ramin, when you look at the Iranian economy, obviously there is difficulties right now are very apparent to everybody, how connected are those difficulties to the Iranian actions versus the sanctions that are snapping back starting tomorrow morning? MOSTAGHIM: It is mixed feeling. Some people just put all of the

blame on Trump pullout from the nuclear deal. Saying if he did not pull out of the deal, it would be much better than today. But on the other hand, some analysts who believes that good government, lack of good governance and lack of good management is the main concern and main problems. Because this country is not governed properly and economically there are mismanagement and widespread corruption.

[04:10:06] So, the pullout from the nuclear deal has deteriorate and also have been detrimental, because there is no good government already inside the country. So, that is why some people blame President Trump and some people blame the lack of good govern governance. That is why they protest in the street. But as far as people are concern, they are desperate and they call for talks direct with anyone, even devil. They are ready to shake hands with the devil if it is in their favor.

ROMANS: Fortunate to have you in Tehran. L.A. Time reporter, Ramin Mostaghim, thank you so much.

MATTINGLY: And Melania Trump now praising LeBron James for his charity work. That has just comes one day after the President attacked the NBA star in a scathing tweet. The spokeswoman for the first lady says she is supportive of James' work with children. Her statement coming just hours after that tweet by President Trump questioning the former Cleveland Cavaliers, now L.A. Lakers, stars intellect. It appeared to be a response to LeBron's CNN interview where he said he would not sit down across from the President if given a chance. The spokeswoman said Melania Trump would consider visiting the I Promise School, James just open last week in Akron, Ohio.

ROMANS: That was purpose of the interview, by the way the fact he opened the school.

MATTINGLY: It was about the school.

ROMANS: Chinese state media accusing President Trump of trade extortion and blackmail in an unusual personal attack. Chinese state media says the president is the star of his own street fighter-style deceitful drama of extortion and intimidation. But China will not bow to the White House's extreme pressure and blackmail.

On Friday, China vows tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods. Targeting 5,000 products. Many related to agriculture. China plans to impose them of the U.S. follows through with its own tariff worth $200 billion in Chinese goods. Trade tensions between the U.S. and China worry investors, U.S. businesses, worry farmers. President Trump defended tariffs over the weekend tweeting, they are working far better than anyone ever anticipated. By hurting Chinese economy bringing Beijing to the negotiating table. Trump provided no details but he said, we would continue to use tariffs to negotiate fair trade deals with other countries or help them pay us vast sum of money.

Really important to note here and a lot of money folks were discussing this over the weekend. Foreign countries do not pay tariffs. U.S. Companies importing the products do. It is U.S. companies who pay the tariffs. It is not the Chinese government.

MATTINGLY: It is a slight disconnect between how the President presents it and reality. The President's economic advisers have made clear to him repeatedly over the course of his time in office.

ROMANS: He sees trade as a bank account as full or empty. He feels the United States bank account is empty.

MATTINGLY: All right. 11 children rescued from the compound that left law enforcement horrified. Investigators are still searching for a missing toddler who wasn't with them.

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MATTINGLY: A violent weekend in Chicago. Police say 44 people were shot. Five fatally in a span of 14 hours on Sunday. They say some of the victims were targeted in gang-related violence. In one incident shots were fired into a crowded street party. The city has dealt with significant gun violence in recent years. This year though, police say shootings are actually down 30 percent and murders are down 25 percent.

ROMANS: And investigators are ramping up their hunt for a missing 3- year-old boy after making a gruesome discovery in Northern New Mexico. I want to warn you, some of these images are difficult to watch. 11 malnourished children, were rescued from a compound, with no food, no water, no shoes or even clothes to speak of. The five adults with them, two of them armed to the teeth, were arrested on the spot. CNN's Kaylee Hartung has more on the disturbing scene which authorities are likening to a third world country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Phil, so many more questions and answers as we learn more about the story and see these truly shocking photos. One of the men arrested, Zaraj Rohaj, he is the father of the missing 3-year-old. The other, a man by the name of Lucas Morton. These two were heavily armed when arrested by authorities. And when I say armed, we are talking AR-15 rifles.

They had loaded 30 round magazines. Four loaded pistols and lots of ammunition. These two had amassed these arsenal in these makeshift compound of small travel trailer, partially buried underground and covered in plastic. No water, no electricity inside. Those are the conditions of these two men and three women and 11 children. Those two men still in police custody, Rohaj, he is being held without bond, because of the Georgia warrant for the abduction of his 3-year-old son.

The three women were brought in for questioning and they have since been released though it sound like that they answered many question. None of the five adults could gave authorities any information regarding the status of that missing 3-year-old. The children meanwhile, the 11 children, are in the care of child protective services. It is one thing to see these photos. And it is another to hear the firsthand account of the authorities who responded to this scene. The Taos county sheriff saying it was the worst living conditions in poverty he has ever seen. Christine and Phil.

(END VIDEO)

MATTINGLY: That is absolutely horrifying. I cannot fathom that.

Now to some better news, Atlanta police releasing body cam video of an intense fiery rescue. Take a look at these, officers racing against time to save a passenger from a burning car, Sunday morning. The car hit a utility pole. The engine already engulfed in flames when the officers arrived.

ROMANS: This officer grabbing a fire extinguisher, dousing the flames, as well as a second officer pulled the remaining passenger out through the driver's side.

[04:20:02] A total of three people are involve in the crash were taken to the hospital in stable condition. Police say, one of the officer's pants were burned and he suffered minor scrapes and bruises. In a statement, Atlanta P.D. and the department is extremely proud of those responding officers. Remarkable.

Wow. Venezuela alleging its President was targeted by a drone. Six suspects detained and their government is blaming hit men from abroad. And the drone explosion may have been caught on camera.

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ROMANS: Venezuela authorities arresting six people after an apparent assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro.

[04:25:02] The bombing unfolding on live TV Saturday. Look at these pictures, the alleged attackers launching drones carrying explosives, right there as Maduro spoke to his country's national guard at this huge military parade. Video emerging on social media, Sunday, a purporting to show a drone exploding in midair. CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of this footage here. Maduro was quick to blame Columbia's outgoing president in Venezuela. And Venezuelans in United States. He offered no proof. We have more from CNN's Rafael Romo.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Christine and Phil, a top Venezuelan government official said Sunday, those who perpetrated the alleged assassination -- attempt targeting President Nicholas Maduro are terrorists and hit men. Venezuela interior minister, Nestor Reverol also said six suspects have been detained. He also said the government has fully identified all suspects in the alleged attacks inside Venezuela and abroad.

The incident happened on Saturday evening while President Nicholas Maduro was giving a speech on live television during a military ceremony. The whole episode was broadcast live on the Venezuelan government national TV network. The official version is that drones armed with explosives detonated near the President and Maduro himself reappearing on national TV hours later said he was target of assassination attempt. Maduro revisited a conspiracy theory he uses often, blaming on

international right-wing plot for trying to oust him. The President also accused outgoing Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos of being behind the attack. The Colombian foreign ministry called the accusation absurd in a statement and rejected (inaudible). President Maduro also said, we found showing any proof that those responsible for financing the attack are the United States, specifically in Florida, where many Venezuelan immigrants live. There was immediate reaction from U.S. national security adviser, john Bolton, Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMB. JOHN BOLTON, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I can say unequivocally there was no U.S. Government involvement in this at all. If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show potential violation of U.S. Criminal law, we will take a serious look at it. But in the meantime, I think what we really should focus on is the corruption and the oppression of the Maduro regime and Venezuelans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMO: The Venezuelan government has long blame the United States and Columbia for plotting overthrow. Said Maduro describes as far-right elements of (inaudible), Miami for attempting to undercut him. Christine and Phil.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, Rafael. The death toll in Indonesia now rising to 91 following a 6.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the islands of Lombok in neighboring valley early Monday morning. Indonesia's national disaster management agency says at least 209 people are injured. Nearly 200 tourists are being evacuated in three small islands near Lombok and 600 more tourists are waiting to be rescued. At least 3,000 homes have been damaged. Leaving at least 20,000 residents displaced. Officials say, the number of victims is expected to increase.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight. The quote, strong possibility of a second North Korea summit. A source familiar with the Pyongyang position on denuclearization tells CNN, a second meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Trump could take place sometime later this year. Time and place to be determined. Our Will Ripley is live for us in Hong Kong this morning with the latest. Hi, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Hi, Christine, less than two months after we saw President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un meet in Singapore, could we see around two? Where would it be? Could be at New York at the United Nations General Assembly in September. We just don't know. But we do know, according to a source of mine who is familiar with the North Korea side of the denuclearization talks, they say there is a strong possibility that there will be a second meeting between Trump and Kim.

Remember President Trump tweeted last week, see you soon to Chairman Kim, thanking him for the return on the North Korea claims the U.S. service member remains from the Korean War. This source saying that the North Koreans really feel the person they want to negotiate directly with is President Trump. They feel if Kim Jong-un and Trump sit down yet again, perhaps some deal could be hammered out that is more favorable to the North Koreans than the kind of deal that was presented to them by secretary of state, Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang.

That resulted in Pompeo possibly being snubbed by Kim Jong-un who didn't meet with him. Resulted in North Korea calling the United States demands gangster like. And the North Korea's foreign minister over the weekend saying that the U.S. actions since the summit have been alarming. Saying that, it is internal strife, domestic politics that could derail the denuclearization talks. They still have faith they say in President Trump himself, they say he is the one that should be negotiating with North Korea. Source also saying that, North Koreans, they may want to put a little bit of pressure on the Trump administration to get some sort of a positive result ahead of the midterms elections. So they are closely following U.S. politics and hoping they can get something good at it as well. We have to watch closely, Christine.

ROMANS: Indeed. All right, Will in Hong Kong. Thank you, Will.

MATTINGLY: President Trump finally confirming the Trump tower meeting was only about opposition research on Hillary Clinton. Changing his story about that meeting has critics suspicious. All that just ahead.

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