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South Korea Condemns Nuclear Test; Trump Talks Putin; Clinton Slams Trump; Kerry and Lavrov Meeting in Geneva. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 9, 2016 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:58] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight: North Korea conducting its most powerful nuclear test yet, raising new fears the rogue nation is making dangerous nuclear advances.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Donald Trump standing by his embrace of Russian president Vladimir Putin. He made an appearance overnight on a Russian government funded TV station and interview. Why would he do that? What could that mean for his message?

ROMANS: And Hillary Clinton insisting she will focus more on herself, less on Trump, but still attacking him on the campaign trail. The strong accusations being lobbed across party lines.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. It is 31 minutes past the hour right now.

And we do have breaking news overnight, an apparent nuclear test from North Korea. This seems to be their most powerful test ever. South Korean officials recorded seismic activity with a magnitude of 5.3. Now, the president of South Korea called this latest provocation fanatically reckless.

I want to go live to Seoul and bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks.

Paula, this is the fifth test ever from North Korea. But the fact that it is the most powerful and the timing of it, it has to be of great concern.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John, there was a triumphant announcement, as you can imagine, on North Korean television, saying that they had tested a nuclear warhead and they could mount that on any ballistic missile that they have.

Now, this kind of information, this kind of announcement is impossible for the rest of the world to verify. Officials in Washington and Seoul and Tokyo said it would be dangerous not to take Kim Jong-un at his word. It is important that they do believe this is possibly what has happened.

The magnitude of the explosion is important here, 10 kilotons, according to South Korean officials. Last time back in January for nuclear tests number four, it was 6 to 7 kilotons. Sufficient eight months time, this is more than twice the explosion. Twice the strength and that has many people concerned.

One nuclear expert we spoke to here said it is a successful test for North Korea and it does mean that they are making significant progress in their nuclear program. Now, clearly, there is condemnation coming from the United States, from South Korea, Japan, China, Russia. But at this point, it appears the leader does not care. Sanctions have been passed back in March which were supposed to be groundbreaking and unprecedented. That has not slowed the North Korean leader down.

We can certainly expect to see more sanctions. That's what South Korea is calling for. But at this point, it's difficult to see what will stop him -- John.

BERMAN: The timing of it as President Obama leaves the Asian summit cannot be an accident.

All right. Paula Hancocks for us in South Korea -- thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Donald Trump cozying up to Vladimir Putin again, telling a Russian TV station the meddling in the U.S. election. Trump's comments coming in an interview with Larry King on RT America. That is a Kremlin-backed TV station.

Trump already under fire for his praise of Putin. Now, listen to what he told Russian TV.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (via telephone): I don't know. I have been hearing about it. I've been reading about it. I think it's probably unlikely. I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out. Who knows? But I think it's pretty unlikely. But, you know, who knows? If they are doing something, I hope that somebody's going to find out so they can end it because that would not be appropriate at all.


BERMAN: Now, U.S. investigators believe Russian hackers broke into the DNC database this year. Hillary Clinton accused Vladimir Putin of trying to influence the election. But Trump praised the Russian leader during Wednesday's national security forum.


TRUMP: If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him. I've already said, he is really very much of a leader.

[04:35:02] I mean, you can say, oh, isn't that a terrible thing? The man has very strong control over a country. Now, it's a very different system and I don't happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The Trump camp now claims it had no idea the interview would be played on a Russian television network. They insisted it was conducted in a podcast format as a favor for Larry King. Larry King and Donald Trump had been friends for a long time. I think any media shop knows that Larry King now works for RT, does shows on Russian television, but they say they had no idea.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked about Trump's apparent admiration for the Russian president. This is how he responded.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Vladimir Putin is an aggressor that does not share our interest. Vladimir Putin is violating the sovereignty of neighboring countries. It certainly appears he is conducting in state-sponsored cyber attacks on what appears to be our political system. That is not acting in our interests. And that is an adversarial stance and he is acting like an adversary.


BERMAN: Note, Paul Ryan, the senior elected Republican, says he does think Vladimir Putin is leading cyber attacks on the U.S., on the political process, the DNC. Donald Trump said he did not believe it.

Donald Trump is also continuing the false claim that he opposed the Iraq war from the start. He did not. Let's get more from CNN's Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, Christine and John.

Well, Donald Trump had planned to spend yesterday talking about education policy. But instead, when he arrived at a charter school in Cleveland, Ohio, he could not help but rehashed a number of the national security issues that came up at a forum the night earlier.

He went after Hillary Clinton for her use of a private e-mail server, but he also launched into a lengthy defense of his view of the war in Iraq, once reiterating his claim that he opposed it before it began.

TRUMP: Before the war, much closer to the war, I gave statements that we shouldn't have gone in. And shortly thereafter, immediately thereafter, and honestly, a lot of reporters said, hey, right at the beginning, he made this statement. That statement was a very major story in "Esquire" magazine.

So, I just wanted to set the record straight. There is so much lying going on. And Hillary Clinton lied last night about numerous things, including her e-mail. But she also lied about this.

MURRAY: Now, of course, there is no public proof that Donald Trump opposed the war before it started. And in fact, his public comments leading up to the war actually suggested that he supported the invasion of Iraq, but he is obviously changing his tune now on the campaign trail.

And I will tell you, it was a little bit of an awkward setting to see Donald Trump talking about the threat of ISIS, calling Hillary Clinton essentially a liar for the way she talked about her use of a private e-mail server at a charter school in Cleveland in front of a couple of rows of children.

Now, he is back on the campaign trail today in some very different settings. He'll be delivering a speech in Washington, D.C., and campaigning later today in Florida.

Back to you, guys.


BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much.

Now, with the race for White House tightening, Hillary Clinton is going to alter her focus a little bit. Her campaign says she will start talking more about herself and policies. Overnight, she was at a Baptist convention in Kansas City. She discussed her faith and her humility, conceding, quote, "I made my share of mistakes."

Let's get more now from CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, Hillary Clinton is meeting with a bipartisan group of national security leaders today in New York, trying to keep her argument alive that Donald Trump is simply not fit to be president. She made that case as she traveled from North Carolina to Missouri on Thursday. But she also said something, else, something she rarely talks about, speaking to the audience, she called out Donald Trump for all the questions he's raised about President Obama.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our nation's values are being questioned in this election. We are facing a candidate with a long history of racial discrimination in his business, who traffics in toxic conspiracy theories like the lie that President Obama is not a true American.

If he doesn't even respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?

ZELENY: Of course, one central reason Secretary Clinton is raising that is to fire up African-American voters to not let Trump get a foothold in one of the key coalitions President Obama won in 2008 and 2012. He is still so popular in this community.

But national security is front and center in this debate. It will be going on all day again today. And now, that first debate is some 17 days away -- John and Christine.


[04:40:02] ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks for that.

The blockbuster money story: Wells Fargo is paying a record fine after employees opened fake bank and credit card accounts in customer names to juice their sales numbers. The customers were charged fees on accounts they did not know about. You did not know the account was there and you are dinged in the checking account or credit card to pay for overdrafts.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is imposing a $195 million penalty since CFPB was started back in 2011. Wells Fargo says it has fired 5,300 employees who doing this. Wells Fargo is a huge player. It's the most valuable bank in the U.S., more than $250 billion valuation. JPMorgan, Bank of America are number two and three.

Wells Fargo stock is down slightly in pre-market trading. The stock was having a rough year before the news. The largest shareholders Berkshire Hathaway, he owns $100 million of his stock in his personal account. Vanguard and BlackRock are among the top investors.

Why am I telling you this? There is a good chance it is part of your 401(k). But just looking at that fine, $185 million fine. Three days of profit for Wells Fargo. They can afford it.

But really a breach of trust. The company says when they make a mistake, they acknowledge it and try to fix it.

But the idea of opening up.

BERMAN: Opening fake accounts. It is crazy.

ROMANS: You are dinged by the fees. Fees to use your money. Then to be charged fees to use your own money for an account you did not set up. That's unforgivable.

BERMAN: That thing.

All right. An exclusive one-on-one Republican vice presidential nominee, Governor Mike Pence. His take on Donald Trump's praise of Vladimir Putin, that is next.


[04:46:10] ROMANS: Donald Trump's running mate Mike Pence is defending his boss's controversial comments about Vladimir Putin being a stronger leader than President Barack Obama. He is drawing comparisons between Trump and Ronald Reagan.

CNN putting Pence on the hot seat in that topic and more in an exclusive interview. Here's our political correspondent Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESONDENT: John and Christine, Mike Pence was here at the Ronald Reagan Library to give a speech comparing Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan.

Now, Reagan famously faced down the Soviet Union calling them the evil empire. When it comes to today's Russia and what Donald Trump said about embracing Vladimir Putin in particular, Pence says he's just fine with that.

Donald Trump said that Vladimir Putin has been a leader far more than the president of the United States. Do you share that view?

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, remember, Ronald Reagan spoke boldly on the world stage, even about the Soviet Union --


BASH: I'm talking about Donald Trump. Can you just answer the question about that current --

PENCE: But it was Ronald Reagan also who met with Gorbachev and demonstrated that you can as Teddy Roosevelt said, you can walk softly and carry a big stick. You can speak boldly and plainly, but you can have relationships with people on the world stage.

BASH: Do you personally think that Vladimir Putin is a stronger leader than the current president?

PENCE: I think it is inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country and that's going to change the day that Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America. I mean, look, you've seen instances --

BASH: I don't need to tell you because you were in Congress. He has -- Barack Obama has a true democracy here with the Congress that pushes back with those checks and balances. Vladimir Putin doesn't have that.

PENCE: That's exactly right.

BASH: So, is it hard to say?

PENCE: And Donald Trump said last night he doesn't particularly like the system.

BASH: Pence told me he will release his tax returns by the end of the week. That means today.

He also revealed something that shows another example of how he is quite different from the man at the top of the ticket, Donald Trump. Pence said that he is approaching debate prep in a more traditional way. He has mock debates. He even has somebody who is acting as a stand-in for Tim Kaine, who, of course, he's going to be debating on October 4th. Very different from Donald Trump who is having more discussions with his staff and is not doing those mock debates -- John and Christine.


BERMAN: He claims he is not doing the mock debates.

One of the most stunning campaign moments to date, and it didn't come from either Democratic or Republican nominee, but Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Johnson was asked specifically about the refugee crisis in Aleppo in Syria. Listen to Johnson's response or lack of one, followed by his appearance later in the morning on the view.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?



JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aleppo is in Syria. It's the epicenter of the refugee crisis.

JOHNSON: OK, got it. Got it.

No excuse. I was thinking in terms of acronym, Aleppo.


JOHNSON: That's no excuse whatsoever.

JOY BEHAR, THE VIEW: I think it is a disqualifying statement frankly.

JOHNSON: Yes, fair enough. I will say it is a process and I respect the process. For those that believe this is a disqualifier, so be it.


ROMANS: It didn't seem like Mike Barnicle was giving him a gotcha question. It is what would you about Aleppo. To be fair to him, though, Gary Johnson is not a global interventionist, right? That is part of his allure and brand.

BERMAN: Correct. Yes, it is. But when you are running for president, I think any banner, I think there is a minimum amount of knowledge of world events people assume you will have.

[04:50:02] ROMANS: Of course. BERMAN: You know, I think a lot of people watching that think that did not meet that minimum. He said I made a mistake. You know, if you don't like it, so be it, and I'm going to try to better.

ROMANS: Yes, he did own it. I'm only saying this to core Gary Johnson supporters, you know, maybe it doesn't look as disqualifying to some than others.

BERMAN: What are you going to do about Aleppo, anyway?

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: What it is.

ROMANS: It's a name of a town.

North Korea's claim of a nuclear test hitting stocks in Asia. Will it rattle markets here in the U.S.? We're going to get an early start on your money, next.


BERMAN: Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov are set for two day talks in Geneva.

[04:55:01] Topping the agenda is implementing a cease-fire in Syria so humanitarian aide can reach thousands of suffering civilians. Kerry and Lavrov have tried to stop the fighting before.

Let's get the latest on the talks and also the reaction of Donald Trump's continued praise of Vladimir Putin. I want to bring in Phil Black live from Moscow this morning.

Phil, first the Syria talks.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, you are right. The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and his U.S. counterpart, as you mentioned, John Kerry, they are in Geneva this morning. They are seeing a lot of each other lately as they try to their strike a deal for a cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to be pushed into the areas that move it most, especially the city of Aleppo.

What the want U.S. is for the Syrian airport to be grounded so he can't hit opposition targets or civilians anymore. And what the Russians really want is a new and pretty extraordinary idea. It's a coordinated effort between Russian and U.S. air power, sharing information, targeting movement to hit terrorist organizations on the ground in Syria. The hope is if you get that into place, that could perhaps kick start again a broader peace process that could resolve the entire conflict.

It is ambitious and no means guaranteed. Indeed, I think the U.S. officials have been lowering expectations over the course of the week. One rare moment when the Russian side is more optimistic a deal can be done. Mr. Donald Trump's comments about Vladimir Putin are widely reported here and Mr. Donald Trump is right. Mr. Putin is popular to many people here.

Many people here are very much welcoming the idea that the U.S. presidential candidate should say the Russian leader is stronger than the U.S. president. Says that they have noticed that president Putin is mentioned in the campaign almost every day. They believe that is a sign of the big role president Putin plays in international affairs.

They hope after this race is finished, that from Washington, there will be a shift toward establishing warmer relations with Moscow. It seems they have a good idea which candidate is more likely to happen with.

BERMAN: It seems they have a keen interest in this election to be sure.

Phil Black for us in Moscow, thanks so much, Phil.

ROMANS: All right. Fifty-seven minutes past the hour. Let's get an early start on your money this Friday morning.

South Korea stock markets rattled by the claim of the nuclear test in North Korea, but that has not spread to the rest of the global markets. Dow futures lower. Stocks in Europe are slipping. Shares in Asia finishing lower overnight. Oil prices are down. Crude has mounted a big comeback this week. Up 4 percent yesterday because of hurricane Hermine. That storm stalled production in the gulf which caused stockpiles to drop. Prices climbed on that news.

You shouldn't see too much of a bump in gas prices unless crude continues to rise.

Big recall to tell you about. Ford is recalling 2.3 million vehicles that have faulty door latches. The cost of the recall will hit its profit.

Here are the cars Ford is recalling. The issue can result in the doors flying open or not closing properly. The vehicles include various years of the C-MAX, Escape and Focus plus the Ford Transit Economic. Single model years of the Mustang and Lincoln MKC. There has been one accident and three injuries because of this malfunction.

From doors flying open to your phone catching fire. Do not use your Samsung galaxy 7 on U.S. airplanes.

Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge devices on board aircraft and not stow in any checked baggage. The warning adds to the headache of Samsung as it scrambles to replace millions of Note 7 phones around the world. Reports o the devices catching fire while charging prompted the recall and action from the FAA.

Some international carriers including Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Virgin Australia have already taken steps to stop people from using the devices on their aircraft.

BERMAN: The phone is not supposed to light on fire when you charge it.

ROMANS: Please don't do it on an airplane.

BERMAN: All right. EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: Overnight, North Korea conducting the largest nuclear test yet. Concerns of the rogue nation's nuclear program and questions over the timing of the latest test.

BERMAN: And Donald Trump going on a Russian government sponsored television station to say he does not think Russia is meddling in the U.S. presidential election. This surprising appearance coming days after criticism for his repeated praise of Vladimir Putin.

ROMANS: Hillary Clinton saying she will focus more on herself, less on Trump.