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EARLY START

Funding Deal Done; Trump's Invitation to Filipino Leader Criticized; McMaster: U.S. Will Pay For THAAD; Trump National Security Team Shakeup; U.S. Special Ops Forces On Patrol; Deadly Storms Rip Through Southern States. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 1, 2017 - 04:30   ET

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


[04:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A deal to fund the government is in place, but many of the president's priorities are not included, we'll show you what made the cut in a critical spending bill.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And this -- why did the president invite a foreign leader accused of killing his own people to the White House, the administration pushing back on mounting criticism on that invitation to the Philippines president, we'll explain all that.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is May 1st, if you can believe it...

ROMANS: Wow.

BRIGGS: ...31 minutes past the hour.

And Breaking Overnight, negotiators from both parties reaching a deal on a huge spending bill that, if approved, will fund the government through the end of September. Now, the deal includes several significant wins for Democrats.

It would add billions for the pentagon and border security, but nothing for President Trump's promised border wall along the Mexican border. Democrats rejected border wall spending as premature, since the president has not detailed plans for building the multibillion dollar barrier, which he has vowed Mexico will pay for it at some point.

ROMANS: Also, the bill has no money for a deportation force or federal cuts to sanctuary cities. There is no funding cut for Planned Parenthood either, and there's a $2 billion increase for the national institutes of health. Votes in the house and senate are expected by the end of the week. No response to the agreement yet from the White House, but the deal is the product of steady negotiation, we're told, between the administration and both parties on Capitol Hill, all to avoid a government shutdown.

Now, the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, is accused of major human rights abuses. He once called President Barack Obama a "son of a whore." Now, he's been invited by President Trump to the White House and there is plenty of pushback this morning over President Trump's invitation to the Philippines strongman, a man with a notorious human rights record, he has encouraged the extrajudicial killings of some 7,000 Filipinos suspected of using or dealing drugs -- suspected not convicted before trial, extrajudicial killings.

BRIGGS: He's also moved to realign the Philippines away from the U.S. and toward China saying "America has lost." White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus says human rights do matter, but cooperating with Asian partners to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat takes precedence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: This is a different level of problem that we need cooperation among our partners in Southeast Asia. The issues facing us developing at North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure that we have our ducks in a row. So, there is something that happening in North Korea that we have everyone in line backing up a plan of action that may need to be put together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: CNN's Ivan Watson monitoring the situation for us from Hong Kong. He joins us now live, 4:30 p.m. there. Good to see you, Ivan. This is following with the pattern by the president, but when it comes to Duterte and the Philippines, do they have any influence over North Korea's nuclear program?

IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, they have almost no political-economic leverage whatsoever over North Korea. So, the question is, you know, what was the real point of this conversation? Among the things that the two presidents discussed was this controversial and deadly war on drugs, which has resulted in the deaths in the first 10 months of Duterte's Administration of an estimated 7,000 people with Philippines Police claiming officially to have killed more than 2,500 drug suspects, all they claim in self- defense, but even more controversial is Duterte's inflammatory rhetoric. Here's an excerpt of him claiming responsibility for killing people back when he was the Mayor of Davao City decades ago. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT, PHILIPPINES: I did kill. I was only three months mayor in 1988. At least I kill to protect people. I am not here a dictator killing my political opponents to stay in power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:35:00] WATSON: He's also said he'd be happy to slaughter drug offenders, comparing them to Jews who were murdered during the holocaust. He later had to apologize for that. It's that kind of language that has attracted criticism from human rights groups, and of course, from the Democrats. You've got the Senator, Chris Murphy from Connecticut, tweeting, "We are watching in real-time as the American Human Rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash." That said this could be an effort by the White House to pull Duterte and the Philippines, a long-time U.S. ally, back from the embrace of China, a major rival here in the Asia-Pacific. Dave?

BRIGGS: Duterte even once offered himself as a gift to brides in the Philippines. The optics of this visit, let alone the politics, Ivan are just mind-boggling, thanks so much for the perspective.

ROMANS: All right, President Trump will not rule out military force against North Korea following the latest missile test by Pyongyang. Trump downplaying really Friday's test, even after saying the next nuclear test could result in a U.S. missile -- military strike. And for some reason -- for some reason, Trump continues these words of praise -- expanding on words of praise from North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong-un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. Obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie, but we have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Now, on the subject of who will pay for the deployment of the THAAD Antimissile Defence System in South Korea? The United States will, for now, that's according to National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster. President Trump last week said South Korea should pay for it.

Let's go live to Seoul and bring in CNN's Alexandra Field for the very latest. What's been the reaction there in South Korea to this about- face -- this contradiction?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, there has been so much tension on the peninsula when it comes to the rising North Korean Nuclear and Missile Threat. And then you had this weird tension kind of cropping up between South Korea and the U.S. when U.S. President Donald Trump took everyone here by surprise by saying that South Korea should push the bill for this billion-dollar system.

A little of background for our viewers here, is the fact that the U.S. was strongly pushing for this system. It's their system. They designed it. They are the ones who are operating it. They are the one who are deploying it and they had even said that it was critical to get this thing operational within a matter of days, given the advanced threat from North Korea.

Then President Donald Trump says, "Actually, South Korea should pay the billion-dollar bill. South Korea says, "Wait, not so fast. There was an agreement in place that the U.S. would pay the billion dollars" and that South Korea would provide the land on which the system sits. They're saying that they have held up their end of the deal, providing that land. Over the weekend you did have the national security adviser seemingly smoothing things over publicly on the Sunday shows and also behind the scenes talking to his counterparts' right here in South Korea. They now say that, yes, the U.S. will go ahead and pay the billion dollars for now. South Korean officials are saying it was explained to them that the president's comments were made in the broader context about conversations in the future about how Defense expenses are shared between the U.S. and its allies.

If that sounds familiar to you, it's because that was the rhetoric that we heard so often from Donald Trump when he was candidate Trump, back on the campaign trail. He said the U.S. would have to re-evaluate its Defense spending, but this is a critical time on the peninsula. Tensions are high, so the U.S. is saying they are paying for THAAD and they are trying to send assurances to the allies here that the alliance remains strong and that Defense and security are top priorities. Dave?

BRIGGS: Yes, that certainly fits the U.S. interests to have that missile Defense system. Alex thanks.

Meanwhile, the White House has fingers crossed that Republican Leaders can shepherd a healthcare vote through congress this week. It's still unclear, though, whether compromises or tweaks can be made that will lure the moderates to vote for the latest draft of a bill. Members of the hard right house freedom caucus have signed off on.

President Trump offering comments on "Face the Nation," trying to ease concerns about coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. But perhaps he may have muddied the water even further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Pre-existing conditions are in the bill and I mandate it. I said it has to be. They say we don't cover pre-existing conditions. We cover it beautifully. I'll tell you who doesn't cover pre-existing conditions, ObamaCare. You know why? It's dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In one of the fixes...

TRUMP: It's not going to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In one of the fixes, it was discussed pre-existing was optional for the states.

TRUMP: Sure in one of the fixes, and they're changing it and changing --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so it would be permanent.

TRUMP: Of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:40:00] ROMANS: All right, that claim could undermine the draft bill the White House is currently pushing on Capitol Hill, the deal between Moderate and Conservative Republicans would require insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, but unlike the mandate under ObamaCare, insurers could charge them much higher rates if they let their coverage lapse. The Republican alternative to that is federally subsidized high-risk polls for those patients, but the president, I mean, he seemed to give mixed messages on whether those polls would end up in the final bill.

BRIGGS: It's not exactly clear what he is referring to there.

Meanwhile, another shake-up in President Trump's National Security Team, Sebastian Gorka may be on his way out. Administration officials tell CNN the controversial deputy assistant to the president has been generating too much controversy. He's been linked to Far Right Extremists, is a former national security editor for "Breitbart."

Gorka has been serving on the National Security Council. His expected departure follows the firing of Former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn and the removal of Steve Bannon from the NSCs principals committee, current Deputy National Security Advisor, K.T. McFarland also reportedly leaving for another post.

ROMANS: All right, could the president release his tax returns soon? Speaking on "CBS News Sunday," President Trump said he never told the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, he had no "intention of ever releasing him." That was the big news you will recall last week when the Treasury Secretary, "Nope, there's no plan. He's not going to release them." In fact, when asked about timing, the president said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You first said that you were under oath and was going to wait until that was done, about 14 months ago. That seems like a long time. When do you think this might happen? Are you asking them...

TRUMP: It could happen soon, I don't know. I mean...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's -- give me a sentence there.

TRUMP: I think it's pretty routine, to be honest with you, but then I'll make a decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: It is pretty routine and releasing the president's tax returns are increasingly important. The administration released the first outline of its tax plan last week, and while it lacked a lot of details, experts say a few items could save the president tens of millions of dollars on his own personal taxes.

For example, if the administration repeals the alternative minimum tax, which prevents the wealthiest Americans from paying no taxes, the president would have saved $31 million in 2005. That's according to those leaked tax returns, that was 80% of the taxes he paid that year. Also, the new business tax rate would have saved Trump $27 million in 2005.

So, when the president says it's pretty routine to release them, he's right. He's the first president in 40 years who has decided that he somehow is above the conventional practice of releasing them.

BRIGGS: But he can -- he says his taxes could and -- could go up under his tax reform bill. It's hard to...

ROMANS: How do you know that? How do you know that?

BRIGGS: ...find that. Well, it's hard to figure out a way they could. We're talking about over $300 million of savings based on that one year that we have seen. Time will tell where the story goes.

Highly trained American troops now beginning patrols along Syria's border with Turkey, why now? And what's Turkey's president saying about all this? We are live in the Middle East.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:45:00] BRIGGS: Right now, U.S. Troops are conducting patrols along Syria's Central and North-eastern Border with Turkey and according to U.S. Official, armored vehicles clearly flying American flags are being manned by mostly Special Ops Forces.

Now, they are monitoring potential attacks by Turkish military units against U.S.-backed forces. The pentagon will not say how many American soldiers are involved here. CNNs, Jomana Karadsheh is monitoring the latest developments from us. She joins us live from Amman, Jordan.

Good morning to you. Now, Turkey of course, the key ally in the war on terror, what does this mean for U.S.-Turkey relations?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going to have to wait and see. Of course, tensions, they are rising. They have a lot of concern from Turkey about these patrols. We've heard President Erdogan of Turkey saying that his country is very unhappy seeing U.S. Forces patrolling this border region alongside these Kurdish Forces, saying that he is going to bring this issue up when he meets with President Trump later this month.

What you essentially have here is U.S. Forces creating a buffer zone along this border to try and stop an all-out conflict from breaking out between these two U.S. Allies. You've got the Kurdish YPG Militia on the one hand and you've got Turkey on the other hand, both very important U.S. Allies and tensions spiked between these two last week when we saw Turkey carrying out air strikes targeting the YPG.

That is because Turkey considers this group, this key U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS. It considers it to be a terrorist group because of its links to another Kurdish Group, that separatist group, the PKK, that Turkey has been battling since the 1980s, and both the United States and Turkey consider the PKK to be a terrorist group. They, of course, disagree when it comes to the YPG, so a very tense situation. We're hearing from Turkey saying that they are going to continue targeting the YPG, and as we mentioned, something that will be brought up in that meeting on May 16th between President Trump and President Erdogan, presenting President Trump with a very delicate and very complicated foreign policy issue that he is going to have to tackle.

BRIGGS: Yes, of course.

KARADSHEH: Dave.

BRIGGS: ...President Trump made that controversial congratulatory phone call to Recep Erdogan after that controversial election as well. Jomana, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, new details from the Pentagon on civilian casualties in the fight against ISIS. Officials now say at least 352 civilians have been killed in coalition air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since the start of "operation inherent resolve" nearly three years ago. It is a significant increase from last month's civilian casualty report, listed 229 deaths. More than three dozen other reports of civilian deaths are being reviewed, including several last month in Mosul.

All right, Amazon Founder, Jeff Bezos had a pretty good day on Friday, now closing in on a pretty important title. We're going to tell you exactly what that is on "CNN Money Stream," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:50:00] ROMANS: Breaking Overnight, one person has now died from injuries suffered in a shooting at a San Diego poolside birthday party. Seven others were wounded. Police say the alleged gunman identified as Peter Selis opened fire on people at an apartment complex pool area, appeared to be reloading his weapon when officers fatally shot him. Some of the shooting victims are in critical condition. Investigators are still trying to determine a motive.

BRIGGS: Also breaking, a Detroit Police Officer said to be in very serious condition after he was shot in the head Sunday night. Police say the officer and his partner were responding to a domestic violence call when the suspect opened fire on them. The officers returned fire, killing the suspect. They say it doesn't appear the gunman was involved in the domestic dispute. Police are now searching for the woman who made the original complaint.

People in four southern states battered by a string of deadly storms and now beginning the task of cleaning up, at least 13 people were killed, dozens more injured as storms tore through Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi over the weekend. And check out this church in Emery, Texas, a tornado destroying it, debris scattered everywhere.

[04:55:00] ROMANS: Wow, these storms spawning twisters and floods, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Now that same system is heading north. Meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri is tracking the latest.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine. Yes, this threat right here is far from over across parts of the northeast for this afternoon. The storm system by around through lunchtime will really begin to blossom out across portions of say, Western Pennsylvania, Western New York. As we get in towards the evening hours too, the severe threat at the highest here, about 80 million people in line for severe weather, so we're talking one in every four people in the country when you do the math and look at it that way.

But places such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, around Richmond, Raleigh as well, the severe weather threat there, generally the highest for winds and of course, the storm system has had a history of a lot of wind damage, upwards of 300 severe weather reports, more than 240 of them related to wind damage but the one tornado that we know that was the most significant as far as width -- how about this?

In football fields in width at its widest point, according to the national weather service of course, several fatalities left behind from that system as well, but much cooler air coming in with this. Some wet weather expected across the upper Midwest as well over the next 24 hours, temps in St. Louis only at 53, Washington into the 80s, New York City warm ahead of the storm up to about 75 degrees, guys.

ROMANS: All right, Pedram, thank you so much for that.

After a nearly year-long search, it appears Kelly Ripa has finally found a permanent co-host for her ABC TV Show "Live," the host revealing on twitter Sunday that she will make an announcement during today's show. Ripa has been without a regular co-host since Michael Strahan left last May, a year ago now, wow...

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: ...for "Good Morning America" after four years on "Live" beside her. Since then, she's had a revolving door of celebrity fill- ins, including CNNs, Anderson Cooper.

BRIGGS: Technical difficulties were no match for Canadian Hockey fans. At last night's second round, Stanley Cup Playoff Game in Edmonton between the Oilers and Anaheim Ducks. When Canadian country music star Brett Keisel took the ice to sing the U.S. National Anthem and as the mike cut out, listen to what happened. This is in Canada.

ROMANS: Awesome.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROWD SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: That folks, is the awesome sound of over 18,000 mostly Canadian hockey fans -- Canadian hockey fans joining in and belting out all the lyrics of "The Star-Spangled Banner," another reason playoff hockey rules. That gave me a chill when I watched it last night. (CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: There's a North American Free Trade Agreement token there somewhere.

BRIGGS: Yes, there is. That's absolutely is a...

ROMANS: That's awesome. That's awesome.

BRIGGS: ...lumber joke, but that is really...

ROMANS: Dairy, lumber, OK.

BRIGGS: But that is brilliant.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Now, U.S. Futures and Asian Markets are higher. European markets are closed. Wall Street closed slightly lower Friday after a disappointing report on economic growth. Still, April was a solid month for stocks. All three indices gained about 1%. The Dow had its best weekly gain of the year. Corporate America has been on a roll. Earnings have been very strong this season, the best since 2011. Think of that.

Excitement over tax reform and possible deregulation has kept the so called Trump Bump going strong through the president's first 100 days. Make no mistake, Wall Street thinks President Trump is good for corporate America, good for profits. This week, more big tech names like Apple Report and the April jobs report is released on Friday.

A major strike on the horizon today, 21,000 AT&T wireless workers could walk off the job as early as this morning. Since February, the communication workers of America Union have been negotiating their contract. The union is looking to stop AT&T from sending jobs overseas, among other demands. The company said in a statement it remains confident a deal will be reached. AT&T has agreed to purchase Time Warner, which owns CNN.

Move over, Bill Gates, you might lose the title of world's wealthiest person. The net worth of Amazon Founder, Jeff Bezos has rose nearly $2 billion on Friday. The company reported strong earnings that sent the stock skyrocketing. He's now worth about $80 billion, just behind Spanish retail magnet Amancio Ortega and just above Warren Buffett and way above Dave Briggs and Christine Romans.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Way, way, way up.

BRIGGS: I got to play golf Friday that's why I thought it was a good win.

ROMANS: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIGGS: Wow $2 billion.

All right, folks EARLY START continue right now.

[05:00:00] BRIGGS: Breaking Overnight, negotiators reach a deal to keep the government funded through September, anyway. The deal features some big wins for Democrats and funding for the president's border wall is out.

ROMANS: Did they have the job by the way to keep the bills...

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: ...pay the bill...

BRIGGS: Good job, gentlemen.