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Trump Caves, Finally Praises John McCain; Flowers, Messages Left in Tribute of John McCain in Vietnam; North Korean Letter Warns Denuclearization Process May Fall Apart; Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 28, 2018 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:34] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We very much appreciate everything that Senator McCain has done for our country.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: It took two days, a flag flap and a lot of pushing, prodding, President Trump finally offering respect to Senator John McCain.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight. A secret letter from North Korea warns denuclearization talks cannot move forward at this time.

BRIGGS: And the U.S. announces a new trade deal with Mexico. But is it a redo or just a rebranded NAFTA?

JARRETT: And Louis C.K. back on stage for the first time since admitting to years of inappropriate sexual conduct.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning, Laura. Good morning to all of you. 4:31 Eastern Time. We're live in Vietnam and Hong Kong straight ahead.

We start, though, with the latest on John McCain. It took two days and mounting pressure from all sides, but President Trump has finally offered praise to honor the late senator. First, in a written statement saying in part, "Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country." The president later echoed the sentiment at a White House event. It's a move one leading veterans group called symbolic but important.

JARRETT: A source familiar with the internal talk says Mr. Trump was pushed by senior staffers including John Kelly, Bill Shine, and Sarah Sanders to deliver a more robust statement on John McCain. The "New York Times" reports the president even refused earlier requests from Vice President Pence to do so.

BRIGGS: According to the "Wall Street Journal" White House prodded the president for two days to put out a kind word about McCain, but Trump reportedly told advisers he thought the TV coverage of McCain's death was over the top.

More from CNN's Abby Phillip at the White House.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Laura, a day of controversy ended with President Trump making an abrupt about-face, finally issuing a statement addressing John McCain's service to the nation Monday night at an evangelical event here at the White House. Listen.


TRUMP: Also our hearts and prayers are going to the family of Senator John McCain. There will be a lot of activity over the next number of days and we very much appreciate everything that Senator McCain has done for our country.


PHILLIP: President Trump's comments were the first that he made all day on Monday after ignoring questions from reporters on five separate occasions when they asked him to comment on McCain's death.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, any thoughts on John McCain?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have anything to say about John McCain, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe John McCain is a hero, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guys, let's go. Keep moving.

TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Nothing at all about John McCain?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why won't you say something about John McCain?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Press, let's go. Make your way out. Let's go. Press, let's go. We're finished, let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, any comment on John McCain, sir?


PHILLIP: Now the president had faced a lot of pushback from Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, from veterans groups, and according to our sources, even from within the White House. Finally on Monday afternoon, he issued a statement addressing McCain's service to the nation after this weekend only issuing condolences to McCain's family.

That statement also authorized the flags here at the White House to be lowered to half-staff. The White House had initially resisted lowering the flags, which would have been a longstanding tradition that many presidents have followed, lowering the flags until McCain was laid to rest. And now President Trump is saying that's exactly what will happen.

Now we asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders about what caused the change of course here at the White House. She would only say that it was the president's decision to issue a second statement which lowered the flags and addressed McCain's service and that that statement spoke for itself -- Dave and Laura.

JARRETT: Abby, thank you for that report.

Senator McCain had one final message for his fellow Americans in a pointed letter read by his longtime aide Rick Davis. McCain encouraged Americans to unite around ideals that connect them rather than focus on divisions.


RICK DAVIS, FORMER MCCAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: "We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down. When we doubt the power of our ideals rather than trust them to be the great force for change they've always been.

[04:35:05] "Do not despair of our present difficulties. We believe always in the promise and greatness of America. Because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history."


JARRETT: McCain said he lived a rewarding life and would not trade a single day, not even the ones of extraordinary hardship.

BRIGGS: No doubt the hardest of those hardships was the five and a half years he was held captive at the infamous Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam. John McCain's time as prisoner of war shaped the remainder of his life and of course his legacy.

Ivan Watson is actually live from the Hanoi Hilton.

Ivan, good morning.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. That's right. This is the nickname, the Hanoi Hilton. These are the walls here that John McCain --

(MISSING AUDIO) WATSON: -- behind these walls, known in Vietnam as the Hoa Lo prison and it's now a museum that's frequented by many, many tourists.

So the experience, the ordeal that he suffered in here after being shot down on a bombing raid over Hanoi in 1967 was pretty horrific. He described torture, he described long periods of solitary confinement, being forced to sign confessions.

And what's remarkable about his relationship with Vietnam, Dave, is that in the decades after his release he became a prominent voice for peaceful diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.

And so, today, in the aftermath of his passing, people have been laying flowers at the monument by a lake in downtown Hanoi where he splashed down after his plane was shot down by surface-to-air --


BRIGGS: All right. Having some audio issues there with Ivan Watson who is at the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam. We'll check back with him next half hour.

JARRETT: While in the wake of John McCain's passing, Arizona voters go to the polls in primary elections today. Republicans would choose between three candidates, Congresswoman Martha McSally, Kelli Ward and former sheriff Joe Arpaio, all running for the Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake.

On Monday Ward apologized for suggesting an announcement by McCain's family that he was ending his cancer treatment was designed to hurt her campaign.


DR. KELLI WARD (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: I do understand how many could have misconstrued my comments as insensitive, and for this, I apologize. But again the intention of my comments were in no way directed at Senator McCain or his family.


BRIGGS: The frontrunner for the Democratic Senate nomination is current Arizona Congressman Kirsten Sinema.

Florida also has a primary today. The Republican race for governor between Congressman Ron DeSantis and state agricultural commissioner Adam Putnam has been hotly contested. DeSantis asked for President Trump's endorsement and he got it.

Primary day will also cement one of the year's most competitive and expensive Senate races with Governor Rick Scott all but guaranteed to face Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in November.

JARRETT: Breaking news, a secret letter from a top North Korean official apparently is what led the president to cancel Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's latest trip to North Korea. Our colleague Josh Rogin first reported in the "Washington Post" that

Pompeo received the letter from Kim Yong-Chol, a top aide to Kim Jong- un. CNN has confirmed the letter sent to Pompeo warned the denuclearization process was again at stake and may fall apart.

CNN's Will Ripley is live for us in Hong Kong with the latest -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Laura. This is perhaps the most serious challenge to the still fledgling diplomatic relationship between the United States and North Korea since the Singapore summit on June 12th with President Trump and Kim Jong-un because what North Korea is essentially saying here is that if this process does fall apart, if the two sides can't come to some sort of a deal as to what denuclearization is going to look like, well, then North Korea might, as they have stated, resume the nuclear and missile activities that arguably created one of the most tense situations between the U.S. and North Korea in many decades.

I want to read you a portion of what a source told me overnight, basically conveying to me the essence of what this letter to Secretary Pompeo said. It said, quote, "The U.S. is still not ready to meet North Korean expectations in terms of taking a step forward to sign a peace treaty." That is the big sticking point right now. The North Koreans want a peace treaty up front and denuclearization to happen later as part of a step-by-step process that also involved the lifting of sanctions and whatnot.

[04:40:01] But the U.S. believes, at least many in the Trump administration believe, the peace treaty and any economic aid shouldn't come until the very end of the denuclearization process, after Kim Jong-un has agreed to give up a sizeable portion of his nuclear arsenal.

The North Koreans say why would they give up their nukes when they don't have security guarantees. That is the gridlock that we've seen play out now ever since Secretary Pompeo's disappointing trip to Pyongyang in early July, and now we are really -- this letter essentially indicating that if Pompeo had gone back to Pyongyang, as he was scheduled to do this week, the meeting might have actually done more harm than good to this very delicate relationship between the U.S. and North Korea -- Laura.

JARRETT: Delicate indeed. I know you'll be watching this closely for us, Will. Thank you so much.

BRIGGS: Keep your eye on military drills in the region.

A new trade deal between the U.S. and Mexico could mean big changes for the things you buy. What's in it? What's not? What does Canada have to say?


[04:45:08] BRIGGS: U.S. and Mexico striking a deal to rework NAFTA. But President Trump warns he may leave Canada out of the agreement. With the Mexican president on the phone, Trump announced the bilateral deal yesterday.


TRUMP: They used to call it NAFTA. We're going to call it the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement. We'll get rid of the name NAFTA. It has a bad connotation because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA for many years.


BRIGGS: President Trump says NAFTA has cost hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs specifically auto jobs. So this deal sets higher labor standards for autoworkers and requires North American cars include a higher percentage of parts made in the U.S. or Mexico which the U.S. Trade rep says will help both countries.


ROBERT LIGHTHIZER, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: We've created a situation where there's more U.S. jobs, but there also will be more Mexican jobs because we're going to squeeze out people who are not in the region. So it's a big, big win for manufacturing.


BRIGGS: Lighthizer says it's now time for Canada to come to the table. And President Trump gave Ottawa until Friday to agree to the changes of threatened tariffs on Canadian cars. In response, Canada called the progress between Mexico and the U.S. necessary to rejoin talks. Canada's Foreign minister heads to Washington today.

And Wall Street liked news of this deal, hitting record highs. But "USA Today's" editorial board calls the stock rally premature, likening it to President Trump's summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, quote, "Both came amid much fanfare and bluster, and premature declarations of success."

JARRETT: Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman, was reportedly seeking a deal in his upcoming trial. The "Wall Street Journal" reports as jurors in Virginia were deliberating bank and tax fraud charges against him, Manafort's defense team was trying to hammer out an agreement with prosecutors to avoid a second trial in D.C. The paper says talks stalled after Special Counsel Robert Mueller raised issues with the potential deal.

Meantime, the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says they have not heard back from Mueller's office in nearly three weeks. He suggests that Mueller's team could be considering issuing a report without talking to the president at all or issuing a subpoena. Several legal experts however have noted the probe into Russia collusion may pose less of a threat to Trump than the federal investigation in the Southern District of New York.

That's where Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to working with Trump to silence women to sway the election and where two longtime Trump loyalists have reportedly agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. BRIGGS: All right. Folks, you need a caffeine kick? I'm guessing

you do at 4:47 Eastern Time. IBM may soon predict when you need a pick-me-up and deliver you coffee via Coffee Drone. More on CNN Money next.


[04:52:38] BRIGGS: Troubling new study finds air pollution could be more damaging to our health than previously thought. According to a study, the proceedings of National Academy of Sciences breathing polluted air causes a steep reduction in verbal and math test scores. The decline is verbal scores is prevalent among older, less educated men.

The study is a particular concern to developing nations whose smoggy cities could be hampering national economic development. According to the World Health Organization nine out of every 10 people on the planet breath air containing a high level of pollutants with the worst effect in being Africa and Asia.

JARRETT: Scary. Well, we're just 10 weeks out from the critical midterm elections and North Carolina's congressional map may have to be redrawn. A panel of three federal judges ruling Monday districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans. Republicans hold 10 of North Carolina's 13 seats in the House.

BRIGGS: A redrawn map could put more seats in play for Democrats possibly affecting control of the House. The judges acknowledged primary elections have already occurred, but were reluctant to let voting take place again in current congressional districts. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case back in June, but that decision could result in an election year appeal to the high court which currently has just eight justices.

JARRETT: The 24-year-old who police say opened fire at a video game competition in Jacksonville underwent treatment for psychological and emotional issues. CNN has learned David Katz was at one point on an anti-psychotic medicine used to treat schizophrenia. Howard County Police records also show 26 calls from the Katz home between 1993 and 2009. But none indicate any physical altercation or violence.

BRIGGS: Authorities say Katz had two handguns and ammunition on him when 12 people were shot, two fatally, on Sunday. Both guns were purchased legally. Police say Katz did target the gamers in the back of the restaurant. A witness telling CNN he is fairly certain Katz lost a game to --recently to Eli Clayton, one of the two people killed. Officials say they're looking into their relationship.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are prior relationships with -- I don't know specifically about which victims. But this group travels as a circuit. So they are familiar with each other.


[04:55:03] BRIGGS: Authorities say two people remain in the hospital and are said to be improving.

It appears Roseanne Barr's character will be killed off in the upcoming series spin-off "The Conners" that debuts in October. Actor John Goodman all but confirming the rumor in his first public comments since ABC canceled the rebooted "Roseanne" after the star's racist tweets. Goodman telling the UK's "Sunday Times" his character in the spin-off will be, quote, "mopey and sad" because his wife is dead. Goodman said he was brokenhearted by the events that took place after Roseanne's Twitter tirade. He has not been in contact with her since the controversy.

JARRETT: Comedian Louis C.K. making a surprise return to the stage. "The New York Times" reporting he appeared unannounced at the Comedy Cellar in New York Sunday night performing for the first time since he admitted last fall to years of sexual misconduct.

The club owner says he did a 15-minute set of typical Louis C.K. material and got a warm reception from the sold-out crowd. One audience member called the club to object to the surprise set. But other patron responded to an e-mail follow-up to say they were happy they caught the show.

BRIGGS: Nearly 50 million people across the northeast are feeling a major heat wave this week. Let's get to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Laura. Yes, we do have dangerous heat across portions of the northeast. And really want to start off with what's been happening, though, around portions of the Midwest, some dangerous weather to tell you about. Severe storms in line for this afternoon that could impact about 24 million people and when you include the likes of Kansas City, Chicago, Milwaukee, even in and around Detroit and then put that risk for large hail, damaging winds and even a potential for tornadoes, it is certainly it's something worth noting here across this region.

And notice as we go in toward the late morning hours and eventually it's the early afternoon and evening hours, that's when the thunderstorms really begin to flourish across this region. So could certainly see some disruption to the airport but also just dangerous weather all the way around going in toward the afternoon and evening commute across that region.

How about the northeast? Check this out. Temps in New York City up to 94 degrees. Record temps for the day around 100 degrees. Now we get close to them, I don't think we'll set too many records but few certainly possible, but what happens here the next couple of days is a little refreshing. We get a shot of cooler air. That will come in as early as Friday across portions of the northeast. But over the next couple of days, middle 90s in Washington. Same story out of New York City.

Look at what happens in Chicago. Look at what happens in New York. We drop it back down to the 70s going in towards this weekend -- guys.

BRIGGS: All right. Pedram, thanks. Let's get a check of CNN Money this morning. U.S. and Mexico striking

a deal to rework NAFTA sending Wall Street to record highs. Investors have fretted about a trade war for months now so this deal helped the S&P 500 and Nasdaq close at fresh highs with the Nasdaq topping 8,000 for the first time ever.

The deal would rewrite parts of NAFTA with the focus on auto manufacturing including that North American cars contain a higher percentage of parts made in the U.S. or Mexico. That gave U.S. auto stocks a lift. Right now global stocks are mostly higher.

Toyota just placed a big bet on self-driving cars. It's teaming up with Uber investing $500 million to build driverless vehicles. Uber plans to build a fleet of self-driving Toyota Sienna minivans and will begin testing in 2021. The deal will help Toyota and Uber catch up to rivals when it comes to driverless cars. Both companies are widely seen as lagging behind the competition.

Need a caffeine kick? IBM may soon predict when you need a pick-me-up and deliver you coffee via drone. IBM has filed for a patent for a device that can decide when you need caffeine using AI and biometric center to track energy, blood pressure, even pupil size. If you need a boost, the coffee delivery drone will kick into action lowering cups of coffee on an unspooling string. However, IBM may not actually build this device. Tech companies frequently patent products they have no intention to sell in the near future.

I'd be worried about spillage quite frankly.

JARRETT: I don't know.

BRIGGS: On the way to have a hot cup of coffee.

JARRETT: I think we could use that right about now.

BRIGGS: Yes. But no need to track our senses. We are up at 3:00 a.m.

JARRETT: We got to.

BRIGGS: We need coffee. Yes.

JARRETT: EARLY START continues right now.


TRUMP: We very much appreciate everything that Senator McCain has done for our country.


BRIGGS: It took two days, a flag flap and a lot of prodding, but President Trump finally offering respect to the late Senator John McCain.

JARRETT: Breaking overnight. A secret letter from North Korea warns denuclearization talks cannot move forward at this time.

BRIGGS: The U.S. announcing a new trade deal with Mexico. But is it a redo or just a rebranded NAFTA?

JARRETT: And Louis C.K. back on stage for the first time since admitting to years of inappropriate sexual conduct.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

BRIGGS: Good morning, Laura. Good morning to all of you. I'm Dave Briggs. Tuesday, August 28th.