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EARLY START

Steven Segal Appointed as Russia's Special Representative on U.S.-Russian Humanitarian Ties; "Facts of Life" Actress Charlotte Rae Passed Away; Vanilla Almond Breeze Milk Recall; New Tariffs Intensify U.S Trade Tensions with China; 11 Malnourished Children Found in New Mexico Makeshift Compound, a 3-Year Old Child is Still Missing from the Compound; Violent Weekend in Chicago: 44 People Shot; Trump Tower Meeting Update: President Trump Admits Don. Jr. Was Attempting to Obtain Information on Opponent. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 6, 2018 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00]

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Action star Steven Segal, he of classics of the genre like "Marked for Death", "Hard to Kill" and "Under Siege" now responding to his new appointment as Russia's special representative on U.S.-Russian humanitarian ties. Segal tweeting that he is quote deeply humbled and honored and that he takes this honor very seriously. According to a statement by Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the unpaid position will be similar to a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador roll. Seagal is a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and became a Russian citizen in 2016.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Actress Charlotte Rae has died. She is best known for playing wise and loveable Mrs. Garrett first on the TV "Different Strokes" before spinning off that role on another '80s sitcom, the "Facts of Life." -- that made her a star. The cause of her death is not known, but Rae was diagnosed with bone cancer last year. She died in her home in Los Angeles. Charlotte Rae was 92.

At the top of the hour, let's get a check on CNN Money. Trade tensions shaking global stocks. Europe and Asia starting the week mostly lower. On Friday, China vowed tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. Goods. Retaliation if the U.S. follows through of its own tariff threat of $200 billion in Chinese goods. But last week Wall Street brushed off those trade fears, closing higher mainly because of earnings.

It has been a strong second quarter. Corporate profits are up 23.5 percent. That is a second-best quarter since the recession. About four hundred of the S&P 500 companies have reported. Some recognizable brands are on the way. Snap, CVS, (inaudible) Media, Disney, Viacom and 21st Century Fox.

Last week, the big news was Apple became the first U.S. public company to cross $1 trillion in value and the next question now -- who's next? Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft are in a tight race to be the second to hit a trillion. Amazon is the closest currently worth $889 billion. No surprise that they are all tech giants. Tech stocks are the best performing sector this year. That's because tech giants make big profits and have been largely immune to the president's trade threats.

Hundreds of thousands of cartons of almond milk have been recalled because they may contain actual milk. The FDA announced some cartons of Vanilla Almond Breeze may contain cow's milk prompting recalls in 28 states. The cartons have a use by date of September 2. Now the almond milk is safe to drink unless you have a milk allergy, that comes just as the FDA debates if non-dairy products can even be called milk. Right now, it defines milk as only coming from animals. Unless it changes that classification, it could force companies to stop using the word milk in drinks with soy and almonds and coconuts.

MATTINGLY: This is like a legit debate on Capitol Hill and in Washington right.

ROMANS: Is it milk if it's from almond?

MATTINGLY: Yeah. It's fascinating. There's a lot of money involved.

ROMANS: Almond juice? Almond Juice.

MATTLINGLY: All right. EARLY START continues --

ROMANS: Almond Juice.

MATTINGLY: -- almond juice -- right now.

ROMANS: President Trump now admits the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, it was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Sources tell CNN he is concerned that Don Jr. may be caught up in the Mueller investigation.

MATTINGLY: And the White House ready to put sanctions back on Iran. That country's leader is set to speak out as the deadline approaches.

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

ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START I'm Christine Romans. Nice to see you.

MATTINGLY: Thanks for having me. I'm Phil Mattingly.

ROMANS: All week, all week.

MATTINGLY: She is putting up with me all week. Send regrets, regards, breakfast. It is Monday, August 6th, 5a.m in the east. 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 Sunday, the president called the Trump Tower meeting totally legal and done in politics all the time. Adding I did not know about it.

ROMANS: That tweet directly contradicting the 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 as the president tweets -- that tweet doesn't seem to address that (ph). And CNN reporting that the president is now concerned over Don Jr. may have legal exposure in the Robert Mueller probe. That is according to sources close to the White House.

MATTINGLY: As CNN also has previously reported that Michael Cohen is willing to testify that president himself knew about the Trump Tower meeting ahead of time, despite his denials. CNN's Boris Sanchez has more.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Phil, it has been a swift move for this administration from the president suggesting 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 on the Sunday morning talk shows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOLOUS, ABC NEWS HOST: 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 legal?

JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: Well the question is how would it be illegal? The real question is would a meeting of that nature constitute a violation -- the meeting itself constitute a violation of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:05:00]

SANCHEZ: Critics of course have pounced on this making the argument that the administration and 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 that Trump Tower meeting; of course he's a Russian pop singer whose father has deep ties to Vladimir Putin, he's a Russian oligarch. Whether that meeting takes place is unclear. But we do know that Robert Mueller and his team have been working alongside Agalarov's legal team to secure an interview for more than a year. Christine and Phil.

ROMANS: All right Boris in New Jersey for us, thanks Boris.

Now the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on bank and tax fraud charges resumes this morning. Defense lawyers cross examining key prosecuting witnesses. Accountant Cindy Laporta testified Friday. Her firm falsified a loan amount to help Manafort pay in taxes. She also told the jurors that in 2016 she sent a fake letter from a

shell company to a bank to help Paul Manafort get a multimillion dollar loan. She also implicated long-time Manafort deputy Rick Gates saying she took the actions under his direction. Laporta was given immunity from the prosecution for exchange for the testimony. Rick Gates is expected to take the stand early this week.

MATTINGLY: And the Trump administration will explain how it plans to reimpose sanctions on Iran following the U.S. withdraw in May from the Iran nuclear deal. Businesses have until midnight tonight to end contracts with the country, where some sanctions are reinstated. The affected items expected to include things like gold, aluminum, steel, graphite, coal and currency. President Hussan Rouhani will address Iranian lawmakers later today as that deadline approaches. We got "L.A. Times" reporter Ramin Mostaghim joins us live from Tehran and I think that the big question right now Ramin what is the expectation for what the Iranian president is going to say to try to calm what is both a internal and external serious amount of pressure in his country right now?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, REPORTER, "L.A. TIMES": The Iranian president wants to resume hope in the hearts of the people tonight and actually wants to say that this can make a miracle, but it is far from it. And the people in the streets who have lost their purchasing power more than 100 percent in a gallant (ph), not soar, a gallant (ph) inflation and they won't believe him. So he tries his best to give hope and try to portray a very promising future. But no miracle is anticipated, we're looking for work to (ph) by the people who have lost the purchasing power already. More than 100 percent.

MATTINGLY: You talk about obviously the very real internal economic pressures that the country is facing. In terms of the impact of the sanctions and sanctions reimposed in November. How much is that affecting what we are seeing in the economy right now?

(CONNECTION LOST)

MATTINGLY: All right, we may have lost Ramin. Thank you very much from Tehran.

ROMANS: All right. Let's talk about Chinese state media this morning, accusing President Trump of trade extortion and blackmail. In an unusual direct personal attack, Chinese state media says the president is the star of his own Street Fighter-style deceitful drama of extortion and intimidation, but that China will not bow to the White House's extreme pressure and blackmail.

On Friday, China vowed tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, targeting 5,000 products -- many of them related to agriculture. China plans to impose those tariffs if the U.S. follows through with the tariffs threats on $200 billion in Chinese goods. Trade tensions between the U.S. and China worries investors, U.S., farmers. But President Trump defended the tariffs over the weekend.

He says they are working far better than anyone ever anticipated. By hurting the Chinese economy and bringing Beijing to the negotiating table. Trump providing no details on how they are working better, but he says he will continue to negotiate fair trade deals other countries or have them pay us vast sums of money.

Now foreign countries do not pay tariffs. U.S. companies importing the products do. The president also in those series of tweets saying that the national debt which is $21 trillion and counting. He says tariffs would help cut the national debt. You have been a business reporter like I have. Tell me what -- that's just not how it works.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, I'll pass on the explanation there. I'm not sure.

ROMANS: That's not -- in fact his tax cuts and the big, huge spending bill the republicans agreed to, those are actually making the national debt bigger as we speak.

MATTINGLY: There is some type of strategy the president is utilizing right now. There is no wrong in telling the truth about what happens economically. It may work eventually. We just have to wait and see.

ROMANS: Right. Right.

[05:10:00] MATTINGLY: All right -- 11 children rescued from a compound that left law enforcement horrified. Investigators are still searching for a missing toddler who wasn't with them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: 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 fired in a crowded street party. The city has dealt with significant gun violence in recent years. This year though, shootings are down 30 percent and murders are down 25 percent.

MATTINGLY: Investigators are ramping up the hunt for a missing 3- year-old boy after a gruesome discovery in northern New Mexico. Eleven malnourished children were rescued from the compound with no food, water, shoes or even clothes to speak of. Five adults with them, two of them armed to the teeth, were arrested on the spot. CNN's Kelly Hartung has more on the disturbing scene which authorities are likening to a quote third world country.

[05:15:00]

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, Siraj Wahhaj, he's the father of the missing 3-year-old. The other, a man by the name of Lucas Morten. These two were heavily armed when arrested by authorities. And when I say armed, we're talking about AR15 rifles. They had loaded 30 round magazines, 4 loaded pistols and lots of ammunition. These two had amassed the arsenal in the makeshift compound -- a small travel trailer partially buried underground and covered in plastic. No water, no electricity inside. Those the conditions of 2 men and 3 women and 11 children. Those two men, still in police in custody. Wahhaj's 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, they have since been released, though it doesn't sound like they answered many questions.

None of the five adults gave authorities information regarding the status of the missing 3-year-old. The children meanwhile, the 11 children, are in the care of child protective services. It's one thing to see the photos. It is another to hear the firsthand account of authorities who responded to the scene. The Taos County sheriff says it was the worst living conditions and poverty he'd ever seen. Christine, Phil?

ROMANS: All right Kelly, thank you for that. Police in Berkeley, California arrested 20 people, right when protesters and counter- protesters clashed during and after an alt-right rally. Police say most of the arrests were for banned weapons, dozens of which were confiscated; a few scuffles reported, no injuries. Police say quote extremists did smash 21 city vehicles, slash tires and set one city vehicle on fire.

MATTINGLY: And the Yankees snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and get swept away -- yeah, this is me shaking my first for staying up and watching that game last night. Coy Wire has the details in the BLEACHER REPORT next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:21:45]

MATTINGLY: Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer could learn his fate in the next two weeks.

ROMAS: Yeah, Coy Wire has more in this morning's BLEACHER REPORT. Good morning Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Phil. Meyer is on paid leave while the school is investigating the handling of the domestic violence allegation of a former assistant coach back in 2015. The group heading the investigation says it should be completed within 14 days.

Last night, former Ohio House Speaker JoAnne Davidson who was named chairman of the investigation said in part, quote, Ohio state is committed to a thorough and complete investigation. We look forward to sharing the results of the investigation and any action the university may take unquote.

After denying any knowledge of the incident to reporters last month, Urban Meyer released a lengthy statement on Friday saying he did know about it and properly reported the alleged 2015 incident of domestic abuse involving his former assistant coach Zach Smith and Smith's ex- wife Courtney.

All right. Let's go to some baseball. If you went to bed early, you missed the thriller between the Red Sox and Yankees. New York was up by three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning; but with two outs, Boston stages a dramatic comeback.

Jackie Bradley Jr. scoring the tying run on that (inaudible) throw by Yankee third baseman Miguel Andujar. Then a hero would emerge in the extra inning. Andrew Benintendi slapping the game-winning single off of (inaudible) with two outs in the tenth. Breakout the brooms. The Red Sox complete the series sweep of their bitter rivals winning 5-4 at Fenway Park. The team gave Benintendi a Gatorade bath and it gave Boston a commanding 9.5 game division lead over the Yankees, now up 5- straight. But Phil Mattingly and other Yanks fans think that's bad? Times are real harsh for the Meets this season.

They now have the fifth worst record in baseball after losing in the extra inning to the Braves yesterday. Fans though, they now have a place to vent. Listen to this, UMA Health in New York City is offering free confidential therapy sessions for Mets fans. All they have to do is fill out a form explaining their most difficult moment. UMA say it's in effort to bring the attention to the importance of therapy and end the stigma of going to a therapist. Phil, maybe your Yanks can work out a deal as well.

PHIL MATTINGLY: Yeah Coy look, as an Ohio State alum and a die-hard Yankees fan, this was a tough BLEACHER REPORT for me. But I do take solace in the fact that at least I'm not a Mets fan.

WIRE: That's exactly right -- and you have Christine Romans there by your side. It's a good morning.

ROMANS: Aww. Compliments will get you everywhere, Coy Wire. Thank you sir.

WIRE: You're welcome.

ROMANS: Twenty-four minutes past the hour. President Trump finally confirming that the Trump Tower meeting was only about opposition research on Hillary Clinton. The changing story about the meeting has critics suspicious. It's just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:29:10]

MATTINGLY: President Trump now saying that the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer was to get information on Hillary Clinton and denying his concern about Don Jr's involvement in the Russia investigation.

ROMANS: Iran braces for impact, U.S. sanctions said to hit with 24 hours. Iran's president will speak before the deadline.

MATTINGLY: And breaking overnight. President Trump could have a second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un later this year. We have reports from Tehran and Hong Kong. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Phil Mattingly.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this week, all week you get Phil folks.

MATTINGLY: I'm sorry.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. Thirty minutes passed the hour while Dave Briggs takes a much-needed vacation. President Trump admitting that during the 2016 presidential race his son Don Jr. met to quote get information on an opponent. In a tweet Sunday, the president called the Trump Tower meeting totally legal and done in all the time in politics, adding I did not know about it.

MATTINGLY: That tweet contradicting the earlier statements. The president himself now acknowledging explicitly, for the first time --