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EARLY START

NYT: White House Searching For Op-Ed Author; Trump's New Syria Strategy; Republicans: Booker Advancing Presidential Bid. Aired at 5- 5:30a ET

Aired September 7, 2018 - 05:00   ET

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


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: -- from an anonymous senior official in "The New York Times." Top members of the administration denying authorship, calling the op-ed amateur, laughable, sophomoric, deceitful.

Several other things, we're told the president was reading the denials closely, having them all immediately printed out and delivered to him. The White House may be closer to figuring out who this author was. The "Times," citing an outside adviser, which says the administration has about a dozen names on the list.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: First lady Melania Trump calling the op-ed author cowardly, claiming he or she is sabotaging the country. But she also cited the importance of a free press.

And Senator Rand Paul offered up this idea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: I think if you have a security clearance in the White House, I think it would be acceptable to use a lie detector test and ask people whether or not they're talking to the media against the policy of the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The president had a lot to say about that "New York Times" and the mysterious op-ed writer at his rally in Billings, Montana rally last night. Our Jim Acosta was there.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump weighed in on that anonymous op-ed in "The New York Times" reportedly from a senior administration official who says that person is part of the resistance in the Trump administration. During the rally in front of thousands of supporters, the president said he didn't know who it was, but reporters at "The New York Times" should investigate who the writer of the op-ed is. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unelected deep state operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself. And I was so heartened when I look. I think it's backfired. Seriously, people that don't exactly dig us and don't exactly like me, they're fighting for us. It's incredible. It's actually a beautiful thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The prospects of impeachment also appeared to be on the president's mind as this president told his rally here in Billings, Montana. If Democrats take control of the Congress, they would probably impeach him come January. Christine and Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you.

Russia threatening the U.S. and also a major shift for the U.S. commitment to Syria. The State Department's new envoy to Syria says troops should remain until there is an enduring defeat of ISIS. That could take a long time even though the president had suggested a more imminent withdrawal.

Let's bring in CNN'S Fred Pleitgen who is live for us in Damascus, Syria this morning.

Fred, good morning.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Dave. Yes, and so much happening in and around the Syrian conflict this morning. On the one hand, that major possible U.S. policy shift with America now saying it could stay in Syria indefinitely after, of course, first saying, President Trump a couple months ago, that he wants the U.S. to be out of Syria by the end of the year. Now, of course, that's something it could lead to confrontations between the U.S. and the Russians and the Syrian government as well.

You know, one of the things that both the Syrians and the Russians know is they felt that the U.S. has been stepping back from Syria and they thought that U.S. might get out. But of course, they also know that the U.S., at any point in time, has the means and the fire power to become the major player in this conflict very, very quickly. At the same time, a huge summit going in Tehran, Iran today.

One of the things that the leaders of Iran, Turkey and the others are trying to do is they're trying to hammer out a way forward to try and see if they can avoid a bloodshed in Idlib province. The last place that's still held by opposition forces.

The Syrian army has been going around that area. It's a massive fire power already in place. The Russians also conducting some air strikes there as well. We're going to wait and see whether or not diplomacy is something that can prevail. But the Syrians and the Russians have been saying is that they believe that this place is what they call a terrorist hotbed that needs to be eliminated.

I just want to give you some news that we've just gotten in a couple of minutes ago as well, Dave. It seems as though there have been air strikes in that place, in Idlib province earlier this morning. Whether or not that might be that offensive already going into gear or prelude is something we're going to keep you updated on throughout the course of the day, Dave. BRIGGS: OK. Fred Pleitgen, great reporting for us in Damascus. Thank you.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight. Defense Secretary James Mattis touching down in Afghanistan. He already meet with Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani. Mattis will also see General Austin Miller, the new commander of Resolute Support, and U.S. forces and he will host a town hall with the troops.

BRIGGS: Chart went up for the Democratic establishment. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware fending off a spirited primary challenge last night from progressive Kerri Evelyn Harris. And it was not close. Carper's decades of experience more of a selling point than a burden with voters there who gave him a 29-point win. Harris, a 38-year-old Air Force veteran and a community organizer, may have been doomed by a cash-strapped campaign.

Barack Obama ready to get back in a game. According to his advisers, Mr. Obama planning a rebuke of President Trump in a speech today at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. We're told the former president will be much more poignant about what's at stake.

Former presidents do generally avoid critiquing their successors. But Mr. Trump has made it his prime objective to undo his predecessor's achievements while also attacking Mr. Obama on a more personal level as well.

[05:05:05] ROMANS: All right. So just how hot is the American jobs market? The government releases its monthly jobs report this morning. Economists expect 187,000 new jobs created in August. The jobless rate expected to stay below 4%.

What we really want to see, folks, is more wage growth. It has been hovering around 2.7% for years. That's not much of a raise for American workers. Historically, when the labor market tightens, wages rise significantly, a lot, as businesses try to attract and keep workers but that has not happened yet in this recovery.

A couple of points here. There are millions of open jobs. Near a record high. Six million or so. You can blame a shortage of skilled workers. And an analyst from Goldman Sachs says concerns over new tariffs announced in recent months may have delayed hiring. August is also typically a sleepy month for job growth. So the Bureau of Labor Statistics may not have been able to fully account for some of these seasonal factors.

BRIGGS: Brett Kavanaugh can exhale after two days of tough questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Supreme Court nominee emerged with not many apparent missteps that could jeopardize his confirmation.

We did learn one thing during his final day of testimony. Cory Booker appears to be running for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CORY BOOKER, (R) NEW JERSEY: Now I appreciate the comments of my colleagues. This about the closest I'll probably ever have in my life to an "I am Spartacus" moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The film from, what, 1960, I think.

BRIGGS: 1960, yes.

ROMANS: All right. The Democratic senator said he was releasing e- mails despite their designation as committee confidential. One problem, the e-mails were no longer confidential. More from CNN's Jessica Schneider on Capitol Hill.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, the big flashpoint of the day was over documents. The drama began to unfold when New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said he was willing to risk expulsion by disclosing confidential e-mails.

Well, Republicans called it all a big show saying that those exact e- mails had already been released at 4:00 in the morning. Five and a half hours before this hearing began. And Republicans further accused Cory Booker of just saying he was disclosing this to advance his possible presidential bid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: I'm going to release the e-mail about racial profiling. And I understand that that -- the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) MAJORITY WHIP: Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate or of confidentiality of the documents that we -- that we are privy to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Now Judge Kavanaugh in the meantime faced hours upon hours of grilling where he once again stressed that he has not had any conversations with anyone at the White House about the special counsel's probe. And Judge Kavanaugh also tried to clarify a 2003 e- mail when he worked for the George W. Bush White House, when he wrote in an e-mail that not all legal scholars believe that Roe v. Wade is binding precedent.

And Judge Kavanaugh worked to clarify those comments, saying that he only wanted to make sure that all legal scholars was a bit too broad and that that comment had nothing to do with his own personal opinions. Christine and Dave.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight. A suspect is in custody following a hostage drama in Washington State, just outside of Tacoma. Police say an armed suspect wearing body armor walked into a business, took one person hostage as part of an attempted armed robbery. The suspect fired multiple rounds as authorities rescued that hostage. The suspect was eventually taken into custody. He was hit once in that vest, but did not suffer serious injury. We're told no officers were hurt.

BRIGGS: Football is back, folks. The Philadelphia Eagles raising their championship banner and winning their season opener 18-12 over the Falcons. Neither team all that impressive. Neither quarterback throwing for a touchdown, that one in complete.

Players from both teams on the field during the national anthem. A few Eagles players including Michael Bennett and Jay Ajayi did sit down toward the end of the anthem. But didn't seem like a big deal there. Everyone seemed to agree on one thing. They were a big fans of this green zone that NBC had last night, created to show viewers how much yardage is needed for a first down panned on social media as well as --

ROMANS: I don't need it.

BRIGGS: -- Christine Romans, you need it. No, I think we're good. I think the yellow line accomplished that.

ROMANS: Yes. All right. Hollywood is mourning the loss of Burt Reynolds. We look back at a career that spent more than half a century.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've got a great profile.

BURT REYNOLDS, ACTOR: Yes, I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:13:05] BRIGGS: Hollywood mourning the loss of a beloved movie icon, actor Burt Reynolds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REYNOLDS: We get connected up with that body and the law. This thing is going to be hanging over us the rest of our lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Reynolds' breakthrough performance in the 1972 film "Deliverance" made him a star. His career spanned more than 50 years. Became Hollywood's biggest box office drama in the late '70s and early '80s when he starred in his most successful film "Smokey and the Bandit" alongside Sally Field.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REYNOLDS: Cowboys love fat calves. Let me tell you.

SALLY FIELD, ACTRESS: They're not fat? REYNOLDS: They're bigger than mine.

FIELD: Do we really want to talk about legs?

REYNOLDS: Well, one of us does.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The '70s and the '80s. Reynolds had a career comeback in the 1990s. His role in the film "Boogie Nights" earned him his only Oscar nomination. Sally Field co-starred in four films of him. They dated her five years or so. She writes this. "There are times in your life that there are so indelible they never fade away. They stay alive even 40 years later. My years with Burt never leave my mind."

The great Burt Reynolds was 82.

BRIGGS: The New York attorney general issuing subpoenas to every Catholic diocese in the state, all eight, as part of an investigation into how they reviewed and possibly covered up allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

[05:15:06] It comes just weeks after a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed decades of abuse by predator priests. The Archdiocese of New York says in a statement church officials are ready and eager to cooperate.

Also on Thursday, New Jersey's attorney general announced a task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by clergy and any attempted cover-ups.

ROMANS: Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Web site Infowars banned by Twitter. The move, one month after several other Silicon Valley sites announced a similar ban. Twitter says it took the action based on tweets and videos that violated the company's abusive behavior policy.

The decision one day after Jones confronted Senator Marco Rubio in a Capitol Hill hallway outside a hearing for tech executives. After the ban was announced, Jones posted a video on his Infowars website claiming this is the deep state striking back and really pressuring these tech firms to censor.

BRIGGS: At least three killed in a shooting in downtown Cincinnati. The suspected gunman died at the scene shot multiple times as officers approach. Cincinnati's mayor saying the incident should frighten us all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JOHN CRANLEY, CINCINNATI: This is not normal. And it shouldn't be viewed as normal. This is abnormal. No other industrialized country has this level of active multiple shootings on a regular basis, almost on a daily basis.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: No immediate word on a motive but the city's police chief says they are looking into mental health issues. Two other victims were injured.

ROMANS: A former USA gymnastics trainer who worked with disgraced Doctor Larry Nassar will be -- arraign today in Houston on child sexual assault charges. Debbie Van Horn was arrested Thursday at the Houston Airport after coming off a flight from China. Van Horn and Nassar were indicted in June on child sexual assault charges stemming from incidents at the ranch in Texas where numerous Olympians have trained for decades. Van Horn's attorney says she will plead not guilty at her arraignment to clear her name and restore her, "impeccable reputation."

All right, 17 minutes past the hour. Important news, if you own a Ford. Two million F-150 pickup trucks recalled. We'll tell you why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:21:45] ROMANS: One person is under arrest for the stabbing of a presidential candidate in Brazil. The attack attack caught on video. We want to warn you this is disturbing to watch. You can see Brazil's frontrunner, far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, attacked as he was carried through a crowd on the shoulders of supporters. He was rushed to a nearby hospital. His son says he could have died if the hospital was further away. Bolsonaro is in stable condition, known as the Brazilian Trump. He is notorious for his racist, sexist and homophobic remarks.

BRIGGS: CBS chief Les Moonves appears on his way out following a report detailing sexual harassment allegations. A friend confirms to CNN Moonves had told some confidants about the departure talks. Moonves may be owed $180 million severance package. But if he's removed for cause, that's not the case.

CNBC reports the CBS board offering a package of roughly $100 million almost entirely of CBS stock. Moonves has acknowledged he may have made some women uncomfortable in the past, but says he never misused his position to hinder anyone's career.

ROMANS: Ford is recalling about two million of its popular F-150 pickup trucks in North America because of a faulty seatbelt mechanism that has caused fires. The company says the seatbelt equipment could ignite causing insulations in carpets inside the truck to catch fire. Nearly two dozen cases in the U.S. and Canada have been reported but no known accidents or injuries.

The Ford F series is the best-selling car in the U.S. Ford says it will make the repairs at no cost to customers.

BRIGGS: Serena Williams back in a familiar place, the U.S. Open Finals. She beat Anastasia Sevastova of Latvia, 6-3, 6-0 to reach her ninth final at Flushing Meadows. Serena won the tournament six times. With one more she'll tie Margaret Court for the most major singles titles in tennis history 24. Serena will face Naomi Osaka of Japan in tomorrow's Open Final. The 20-year-old Osaka the first Japanese woman to reach a grand slam final in a terrific story herself.

ROMANS: All right. The northeast is finally getting a break from some unbearable heat folks in a hurricane churning off the tropics could impact the U.S.

Here's meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

If you like fall, you're going to love this forecast. Big changes expected today across the northeast. Temperatures running about 15 to upwards of 25 degrees cooler than yesterday's high temperatures.

Look at this, yesterday it reached 97 in Boston. Today, only a high of 73. Similar conditions expected for New York and other locations across New England. Daytime highs for Chicago, 71. But compared that to Atlanta, 89. So still hot and sweltering across the southwest.

This is all thanks to a cold front that's draped across the East Coast that's helping cool our temperatures and bring our taste of fall. But follow that a little bit further inland and you can see the precipitation that's associated with the system and a low pressure that continues to churn across the Midwest. In fact we have flood watches in effect from the Ohio valley right to the Mississippi valley. Look out for heavy rainfall continuing through the course of the day today.

We're also watching very active tropical weather across the Atlantic. Of course, we have a few waves moving off the west coast of Africa. But we're also monitoring the progress of Tropical Storm Florence. Back to you.

[05:25:02] ROMANS: All right. Thanks for that.

BRIGGS: All right, coming up, the president going off. Blaming unelected, deep state operatives for this critical op-ed from his own administration. One senator, meanwhile, suggesting lie detector tests to root out the author.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Even liberals that hate me say that's terrible what they did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: President Trump venting after an op-ed paints him as a danger to national security. Written by one of his own advisers. How close is the White House to smoking out the author?

BRIGGS: U.S. troops could be in Syria much longer than expected and Russia warning U.S. troops in Syria, Americans could come under attack. We are live in Damascus ahead.

ROMANS: Twitter says enough is enough for Alex Jones. The conspiracy peddler booted from the social platform.

BRIGGS: And it wasn't pretty, but heck, it was football. The Eagles start their titled defense against the Falcons. Texas --