Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Finally Praises Sen. John McCain; Primary Elections In Arizona And Florida Today; North Korea Warns Talks May Fall Apart; U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal Could Be A Relief For Automakers. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 28, 2018 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:45] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We very much appreciate everything that Sen. McCain has done for our country.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: It took two days, a flag flap, and a lot of prodding, but President Trump finally offering respect to Sen. John McCain.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, a secret letter from North Korea warns denuclearization talks cannot move forward at this time.

JARRETT: The U.S. announces a new trade deal with Mexico, but is it a redo or just a rebranded NAFTA?

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

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

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. Thirty-one minutes past the hour.

Well, it took two days and mounting pressure from all sides, but President Trump has finally offered praise to honor John McCain.

First, in a written statement saying, in part, "Despite our differences on policies and politics, I respect Sen. John McCain's service to our country." The president later echoed those sentiments at a White House event.

It's a move one leading veterans group called symbolic but important.

BRIGGS: A source familiar with the internal talks 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. JARRETT: According to "The Wall Street Journal," White House officials prodded the president for two days to put out a kind word about McCain, but Trump reportedly thought the T.V. coverage of McCain's death was over the top.

More now from Abby Phillip at the White House for us.


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 Sen. John McCain. There will be a lot of activity over the next number of days and we very much appreciate everything that Sen. 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.

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

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

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

TRUMP: Thank you.

REPORTER: Nothing at all about John McCain?

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

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

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 Phillip at the White House. Thank you so much.

Well, in the wake of John McCain's passing, Arizona voters go to the polls today. Republicans will 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.

[05:35:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 Sen. McCain or his family.


BRIGGS: The frontrunner for the Democratic Senate nomination is current Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten 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 and received President Trump's endorsement there.

Primary day will also cement one of the year's most competitive and no doubt expensive Senate races with Gov. Rick Scott all but guaranteed to face Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in November.

Let's talk about that primary day with Harry Enten, senior writer and analyst for "CNN POLITICS." We'll also talk about John McCain in a moment.

But let's start with Arizona and Florida. How central are they to the Democrats' hopes to take back the Senate and do they any realistic shot at doing so in your numbers?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST, "CNN POLITICS": I mean, look, they've got to win both of those states if they're going to take back the Senate. Obviously, Arizona would be a pick-up and Florida is a hold.

But if you just run the numbers over and over again, keep in mind that Democrats need to pick up a net gain of two seats. There are only nine opportunities, Arizona being the clearest one of them all.

And in Florida, keep in mind that this is a state that's a swing state. And if you look at the other Democratic incumbents that are running, there are 10 Democratic incumbents running in states that Donald Trump won in 2016. So if they don't win here there's a good shot that they would lose in other states as well.

JARRETT: You know, Harry, obviously, McCain is on the minds of everyone including voters, surely, when they go to the polls today.

But it's interesting. A new CNN poll shows that McCain actually liked more by Democrats than Republicans.

BRIGGS: Twice as much.

JARRETT: I mean, the numbers are sort of staggering.

But I wonder does that say more about McCain or does that say more about the state of the Republican Party right now?

ENTEN: I think it says a lot about both.

And keep in mind that after John McCain voted against the Republican health care bill that's when his numbers among Republicans really went down.

And, of course, Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party right now, right, and when you are antagonistic towards the leader of that party you are going to see your numbers fall on the face and I think that poll reflects that.

BRIGGS: Speaking of being antagonistic towards the president, James Inhofe, a Republican, spoke about this back-and-forth between McCain and Trump and here's his take.


SEN. JIM INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: I think that John McCain is partially to blame for that because he is very outspoken -- that he disagreed with the president in certain areas and wasn't too courteous about it. So there's one thing about John McCain and the president, they both are very strong-willed people.


BRIGGS: That's the man who will take over for John McCain as chairman of Senate Armed Services.

Does that give you an indication of the voices we'll start to hear with the voices like McCain, Flake, Corker out?

ENTEN: I think that's exactly right.

Look, the president is in control of his party and people recognize that when you go against the president and you're a Republican, your numbers are going to drop. So if you want to stick around Washington you better be friendly to the President of the United States if you're a Republican. And I think Jim Inhofe, right there, is a clear indication of that.

BRIGGS: So out are the critics, in are the sycophants. It should be an interesting dynamic.

JARRETT: Absolutely.

And just to pivot while we have you, Harry, what is going in Texas? You look at the numbers, they are neck and neck -- Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz. I mean, it's Texas.

ENTEN: It is Texas and here's the poll right here. This is a Marist poll -- 49-45 Cruz, barely ahead of O'Rourke.

Look, I think that most people who look at those numbers recognize that there hasn't been a Democratic senator elected in Texas since 1988. And, O'Rourke still faces an uphill battle and he really hasn't led in any of the polls.

But the mere fact that this race is close is, I think, an indication of two things. Number one, that Ted Cruz's brand has been hurt in Texas. And number two, perhaps, that Texas is a little bit more purple -- still red, but a little bit more purple than we're used to.

If Democrats can win in Texas, that reopens up the map for them, right? I was talking about Arizona and Florida earlier as must-wins, but if they win in Texas perhaps those two states are a little bit less of a must-win.


BRIGGS: Is that as simple as turnout? Young people turn out, O'Rourke wins. Old people turn out, Cruz wins.

ENTEN: I mean, obviously, I think turnout will help O'Rourke if younger people turn out in higher numbers. But at the end of the day, he still needs to win over some swing voters. Some people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 are going to have to pull the lever for Beto O'Rourke.

JARRETT: Yes. We're going to watch --

BRIGGS: It will be interesting.

JARRETT: -- those down-ballot races for sure.

ENTEN: Oh, yes. In the House, big time.

BRIGGS: All right.

Harry Enten, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

ENTEN: Thank you.

JARRETT: Thanks, Harry. Appreciate it. Well, Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman, was reportedly seeking a deal in his upcoming trial in D.C.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports Manafort's defense team was trying to hammer out an agreement to avoid a second trial as jurors in Virginia were deliberating bank and fraud charges against him. 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 Mueller's team could be considering issuing a report without talking to the president at all or issuing a subpoena.

[05:40:09] BRIGGS: All right.

Coming up, perhaps the biggest warning sign since efforts to talk to North Korea began this year. A letter to Mike Pompeo warns denuclearization talks may fall apart. A live report, next.


BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, a secret letter from a top North Korean official is apparently what led the president to cancel Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's latest trip to North Korea.

Our colleague Josh Rogin first reporting in "The Washington Post" that Pompeo received a letter from a top aide to Kim Jong Un. CNN has confirmed the letter sent to Pompeo warned the denuclearization process could fall apart.

Will Ripley live in Hong Kong with the latest. Will, what do we know?


We know that this could be the biggest threat yet to the very new diplomatic relationship between the United States and North Korea, with the North Koreans essentially saying in this letter that if the U.S. doesn't move on the key sticking point, which is a peace treaty, that this whole process could fall apart, which would mean North Korea potentially going back to what they were doing prior to all of this diplomacy, which is testing missiles and nuclear devices.

[05:45:21] I want to read you a portion of what a source told me overnight saying, 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 key sticking point here according to sources and we've been reporting this for a while now.

The North Koreans want formal assurances -- guarantees that Kim Jong Un will stay in power and they think a peace treaty -- a formal end to the Korean War that's been a technical ceasefire since 1953, is a way to do that. And they want that peace treaty before they give up their nuclear weapons. But the United States feels that the peace treaty is one of the biggest concessions, along with economic incentives, and should happen at the end of the denuclearization process after Kim Jong Un has surrendered a large portion of his nuclear arsenal.

But it's frightening to think Dave that we could be right back to square one and perhaps even worse off than when all this started if these two sides can't work something out.

BRIGGS: What a mess -- all right.

Will Ripley live for us in Hong Kong. Thank you.

JARRETT: Well, "NEW DAY" is about 10 minutes away and the one and only John Berman joins us. John, what do you have going on today?


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I heard "NEW DAY" is 10 minutes away and I'm like oh, man, I better get to work.

BRIGGS: Yes, in 14.

BERMAN: That's coming up fast.

Guys, I'm fascinated by the North Korea story, by the way, which you guys just reported with Will.


BERMAN: We'll have Will on in a little bit -- because what happened between June and now that turned this relationship sour or was it never really a relationship that was going to produce anything to begin with? That's one of the key questions we'll look at this morning.

Plus, we're getting more details about the tick tock -- about how President Trump ultimately relented and ordered the flag at the White House lowered to half-staff to honor John McCain. What went on that it took so long?

"The Wall Street Journal" is reporting this morning that he thought the coverage of McCain's passing was over the top and more befitting a president. Think about that. He thought the coverage of the passing of John McCain was over the top.

Why would he think that and why would he think the senator didn't deserve the honors that he was getting? We will watch that.

I'm talking to Dave Petraeus, by the way --


BERMAN: -- toward the end of the broadcast today. The former director of the CIA, former leader of troops in Iraq had a very close relationship with John McCain. And, Petraeus has been in the news quite a bit himself lately. Of

course, he signed on to that letter among the security chiefs saying that John Brennan, among others, should not lose their security clearances.

So we've got a lot going on this morning.

Very nice to see you. Laura, welcome to New York. Great to have you here. Hope we get to see you up here this week.

JARRETT: Thanks, John.

BRIGGS: All right, J.B. See you in a bit.

Alan Dershowitz also on "NEW DAY."

The 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, and 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 auto workers 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 will also 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: Squeezing out China.

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 or threaten 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.

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

But, "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board says the celebration may be premature, writing, "We're glad to see Mr. Trump step back from the suicide of NAFTA withdrawal, but on the public evidence, so far his new deal is worse."

Right now, global stocks are mostly higher.

Toyota just placed a big bet on self-driving cars, teaming up with Uber investing $500 million to build driverless cars. Uber plans to build a fleet of self-driving Toyota Sienna minivans. It 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.

[05:50:02] Need a caffeine kick? IBM is patenting a device that can predict whenever you need and deliver you coffee via drone. The device uses A.I. and biometric censors to track energy, blood pressure, even pupil size.

If you need a pick me up, the coffee drone kicks 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 of selling.

We don't need to read out biometric data, we need coffee. We're up early.

JARRETT: We are well-caffeinated right now. We'll be right back.


[05:55:04] BRIGGS: Ten weeks to the midterms and North Carolina's congressional map may have to be redrawn. A panel of three federal judges ruled districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans. They hold 10 of North Carolina's 13 seats in the House.

JARRETT: A redrawn map could put more seats in play for Democrats. The judges acknowledge primary elections have already occurred but were reluctant to let voting happen again with the current lines.

But this latest decision could result in an election year appeal to the high court which currently only has eight justices.

BRIGGS: The 24-year-old police say opened fire at a video game competition in Jacksonville underwent treatment for psychological and emotional issues. CNN learning 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 violence.

Authorities say Katz had two handguns and ammunition on him when 12 people were shot; two fatally, Sunday. EA Sports has canceled three remaining qualifier events to review

safety protocols for competitors and spectators.

JARRETT: Police in Olympia, Washington are investigating an attack on a 6-year-old boy who stood up to bullies. Carter English had surgery to repair a laceration over his eye and may need surgery on a broken arm.

He says he was attacked with rocks and sticks and had sawdust rubbed in his eyes, all for standing up for bullies who went after his friend.


CARTER ENGLISH, ATTACKED AFTER STANDING UP TO BULLIES: They were just bullying him and like beating him up. I just told them to stop and then they did it to me.

DANA ENGLISH, MOTHER OF CARTER ENGLISH: It's been hell. I mean, I haven't slept, I haven't ate. I mean, I can't do anything. It's like I can't even leave his side.


JARRETT: Police identified a 5-year-old who they believe started the fight. Because of the age of everyone involved here, there will be no criminal charges.

BRIGGS: Roseanne Barr's character may be killed off in the upcoming series spin-off "THE CONNERS." 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 U.K. "Sunday Times" his character in the spin-off will be quote, "mopey and sad because his wife's dead."

Goodman says he was broken-hearted by the events that took place. He has not, though, been in contact with Roseanne 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 to sexual misconduct last fall.

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

BRIGGS: And that is your top-trending story at this hour.

Earlier in the show, we showed you part of the teleconference press conference between President Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announcing this new Mexico-U.S. trade deal.

We didn't who you the outtakes. It was basically a hot mess.

So, Twitter stepped up and gave it the "CURB YOUR ENTHUSIAM" treatment -- enjoy.


TRUMP: The president is on the phone.


Yes, you can hook him up. You tell me when.

It's a big thing. A lot of people waiting.


BRIGGS: Oh, hashtag #bigthing. It was -- it was not pretty, folks. This is why you don't do a teleconference press conference without at least rehearsing it, Mr. Trump.

JARRETT: Oh, my gosh. Where is Larry David when we need him?

BRIGGS: Right. That is veep (ph) treatment which is pretty good as well. I tweeted that out earlier.

Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

BRIGGS: See you tomorrow.


TRUMP: We very much appreciate everything that Sen. McCain has done.

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: Anybody who tarnishes the reputation of John McCain deserves a whipping.

INHOFE: John McCain was partially to blame. He disagreed with the president in certain areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're never going to have another John McCain, but do I think that his life will inspire other people? We certainly hope so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not despair of our present difficulties. We believe always in the greatness of America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He always belonged to America and now he belongs to the ages.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, August 28th, 6:00 here in New York.

And this morning we have a picture to show you from the White House. The flag there -- you can see it there in the early morning hours.


BERMAN: Barely, but it's there.


BERMAN: It has been lowered back to half-staff in honor of the late Sen. John McCain.