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EARLY START

Trump Heads To Israel; Saudis and UAE Pledge $100M To Ivanka Trump Fund; Billy Bush Speaks Out; Comey To Testify To Senate Intel Committee; SNL Wraps Season With More Trump Jabs; Another North Korea Missile Test. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 22, 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] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump shifting focus to peace in the Middle East. He is set to arrive soon in Israel. We're live in Jerusalem with how Trump will be received following a series of controversies ahead of this visit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president begins his trip with a call to Muslim nations to share the burden in the war on terror. We're live in Saudi Arabia with more of what the president told Arab leaders in a major shift in tone from his campaign rhetoric.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

We're very fortunate. We have reporters live in Tokyo, in Jerusalem, in Riyadh this is not your typical morning on "Early Start," but right now President Trump on his way to Israel after beginning his first foreign trip in office in Saudi Arabia. That stop dominated by a speech that broke sharply with his past rhetoric on Islam indeed. The president called for cooperation from Muslim nations, asking them to drive out terrorists and share the burden in the fight against terror, more on his speech in a moment.

ROMANS: Today, the president shifts focus to another key mission on this week-long trip, making progress on Israeli/Palestinian issues. He said -- he has said he wants to make what he calls the ultimate deal for peace. He'll be meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and he'll make a historic stop at the Western Wall.

Our coverage of the president's trip begins with CNN's Sara Murray. She is live for us in Jerusalem. Sara, we've just received word that Israel's security cabinet has approved a series of economic and civil measures to help ease conditions in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank. That's being done after a request by President Trump. No doubt, he hopes this trend can keep up.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely. I mean, he's made it clear he wants to get the ultimate deal when it comes to Mideast peace, and I think what you're seeing are sort of some initial steps by some of the leaders to say, OK, we're willing to at least come to the table on this.

Now, the president, once he lands here, will have a pretty jam-packed day. He will have a welcome arrival ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport. He'll be meeting with Israeli President, Rivlin, all of that before he visits two of the holiest sites for two different faiths. He'll be visiting the Church Of The Holy Sepulcher, which is one of the holiest sites in Christianity.

And as you mentioned that this historic stop, this afternoon, at the Western Wall, this is the holiest site for those of the Jewish faith to pray, no sitting American president has ever visited it before, so President Trump would be the first.

Now, after that, he'll be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and he as well as the first lady are expected to dine this evening with the prime minister as well as the prime minister's wife. But as you pointed out, his goal in all of this, of course, is to try to get to a Mideast peace agreement.

To that end, tomorrow, he'll be meeting with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, and it's worth noting that when you talk to experts and you talk to analysts about this, they're not expecting any kind of major breakthrough in terms of getting to a peace agreement from this short trip, but it will be very interesting to see what the president does have to say about this publicly in his various stops over the next few days. Back to you guys.

ROMANS: Sara, so much made about how the president on this week-long trip as he is dealing with these headaches, a number of headaches here at home, is this trip so far serving as a break from that or does that remain a focus there?

MURRAY: Well, I mean, I certainly think the Saudi Arabia portion went pretty smoothly, and I think his advisers want this to be a reset, a way for him to appear presidential, to say, look, I can still get some victories on the chart for the United States, but the problems at home don't go away.

There are still a lot of focus on the Russia Investigation at home, and to that end, the President's Chief Of Staff, Reince Priebus, as well as one of his Senior Adviser, Steve Bannon, both headed back to the United States after the Saudi Arabia stop. They're not staying with him for the rest of the foreign trip because they want to do a little bit of strategic planning for the president when he returns.

We know there are a number of big issues looming over him like choosing a new FBI director, but also whether or not he's going to hire outside legal counsel to represent him in this Russia investigation.

ROMANS: All right, Sara Murray for us in Jerusalem, busy day ahead for you. Thank you, Sara.

[04:35:00] BRIGGS: Meanwhile, the president's visit to Israel follows a mostly successful stopover in Saudi Arabia, where he delivered a highly anticipated speech to Muslim nations, calling on them to aggressively combat terrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion. Every country in the region has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: All right, let's go live to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where we find CNN International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson. Nic, good morning to you, what was your biggest takeaway from the speech yesterday?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, this was a message designed for this specific audience and this specific region. There was no kind of hint to the anti-Muslim rhetoric that we heard on the campaign trail, obviously one might say, but what he was trying to do here -- what the president was trying to was reassure people in this region we've got your backs, is what he told them was, give them some aspirational ideas.

This is about your children, your future, cajole them along, telling them that I'm not here to tell you what to do, but we can get joint security if we work together. And there was a sort of the demanding part as well, where he said we can't do it, you have to do it. You have to chase these terrorists out of your lands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this Earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: So, that was all about security, but the other part of his trip here was all about business, $350 billion worth of business deals signed oil, gas, power plant equipment, but the biggest single item, if you will, defense, $109 billion of defense armaments agreed with the Saudis signed off on.

Melania Trump playing a role here, the first lady. Newspapers here commented positively about what she was wearing. She visited a girls' school promoting women's rights, equality here. Also, she visited a business here in the city.

But for both of them, it wasn't all just about work. There was some relaxation Saudi Style, a traditional sword dance when they went to an evening gathering with the king, very traditional here. And you know, for President Trump and his White House officials traveling with him, it did seem to be a genuine moment of relaxation and enjoyment.

We're told that the president arrived here somewhat tired, and according to White House officials, he was a little tired by the time he was leaving. Dave?

BRIGGS: Nic, ahead of this trip, a lot of questions on how the Trump policy in the region would differ, would break from that, the Obama Administration. How does this positioning towards Iran appear to have an opening towards breaking from what Obama tried there?

ROBERTSON: Yes, of course, he was a president who was heavily critical of Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. The Saudis were critical of it as well. The Saudis felt that the Obama Administration had kind of taken their eye off of the Arabs in the Middle East, off the Saudis in the Gulf States in particular.

They're very worried about the increasing influence of Iran. They see them creating terrorism south of their border, creating terrorism north of their border, and certainly, the president responded likewise in his speech saying that, you know, Iran is a big contributor to terrorism in the region.

That's significantly different from President Obama. But the other big thing there that's different is that in this region they felt that President Obama abandoned them and President Trump is very, very clear, our friends don't need to worry, we will support them. That was a very, very powerful message which really does show that turn, particularly in this region that resonates, Dave.

BRIGGS: And after the speech, Iran's Foreign Minister blasted Trump, of course, on twitter. Nic Robertson thanks very much.

ROMANS: All right, questions this morning about a new potential conflict of interest for the Trump Administration -- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledging $100 million to the Women's Entrepreneur Fund. It's a concept proposed by Ivanka Trump. The program is supposed to support women in the Middle East with capital and access to networking and financial markets.

As you know, Ivanka Trump has been a champion. It's her issue, really, women's entrepreneurship. But countries like Saudi Arabia imposed severe restrictions on women and their ability to even participate in society. And even though the fund would be run by the World Bank, critics are already drawing comparisons to the Clinton Foundation, which drew fire from Candidate Trump for accepting money from the very same -- very same sources.

[04:40:00] BRIGGS: Imagine that, hypocritical statements from the way Trump Campaign...

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: ...to the way he is governed as president. When have we said that?

Coming up, did the president discuss firing the FBI director with the Russians? The president's top adviser is not exactly throwing cold water on that report.

ROMANS: And Billy Bush is finally speaking out, though. What does he say about that "Infamous Access Hollywood" tape with Donald Trump that got him fired before the election?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back, 44 minutes past the hour. Top administration officials are not denying that President Trump discussed his motivation for firing FBI Director, James Comey with Russian officials. "The New York Times" has reported that the president told the Russian Ambassador and the Russian foreign minister that Comey was "crazy," a "real nutjob," and that his firing ended "great pressure" on the president.

BRIGGS: On Sunday, both Secretary Of State, Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster seemed to concede that president had discussed the Comey firing with Russian officials. Here's McMaster on ABC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't remember exactly what the president said, and the notes that they apparently have I do not think a direct transcript. But the gist of the conversation was that the president feels as if he is hamstrung in his ability to work with Russia to find areas of cooperation because this has been obviously so much in the news, and that was the intention of that portion of the conversation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:45:00] BRIGGS: All this comes after we learn that Director Comey will testify publicly to the senate intelligence committee sometime after Memorial Day, although the date has not yet been set.

ROMANS: All right, despite promises on the campaign trail, the president's budget will cut $800 billion for Medicaid. The White House is expected to unveil that budget Tuesday, but senior administration officials confirm to CNN it will downsize the federal program. The budget also reportedly slashes funding for food stamps and the EPA.

The Medicaid cut assumes the current GOP healthcare bill becomes law. It was passed by the House earlier this month. The bill reduces Medicaid funding in two ways, it stops the planned expansion of the program by the year 2020 and it shifts the financial burden from the federal government to the states. Federal support will drop 25 percent over the next nine years.

Medicaid covers 70 million low-income adults, children and disabled Americans. According to a CBO score of the earlier version of the bill, 14 million fewer people will be covered, CBO releasing an updated number on Wednesday.

BRIGGS: OK, Billy Bush breaking his silence about the "Access Hollywood" tape that cost him his job with "Today Show. Bush admitting to the Hollywood reporter it was his own failing that triggered his downfall. He says "looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. Trump liked TV and competition, I could have said, can you believe the ratings on whatever? I didn't have the strength of character to do it?" Bush says when the tape first hit the airwaves, he thought he could survive the scandal, but it didn't take long for him to figure out that was not the case.

ROMANS: He says, "I put together an apology right away. I told people that I was ashamed and embarrassed, and I was. So, in the beginning, I thought, OK, we'll go and we'll go own up to this moment. Then I got home and I started to become a parent that I would not be returning to "Today." It hurt a lot and I fell apart."

Bush knew for 11 years the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape existed, but he didn't think it would ever go public. He says the irony is glaring that he was fired over the tape while the Trump -- while Trump went on to become president. As for his career, Bush says, he is planning a TV comeback but wouldn't elaborate.

BRIGGS: Hugely talented guy. He'll be back -- he'll be back at some point.

A terrifying moment caught on tape as a sea lion grabs a little girl from behind and pulls her underwater. This is stunning. A tourist family visiting a fisherman's dock in British Columbia this weekend look at how violent that is. Again, feeding the apparently docile creature when it popped its head out of the water, the little girl turned her back to the sea lion and suddenly lunged and yanked her underwater.

A man who appears to be a relative jumped in, as you can see after her and a bystander pulled them to safety. The Good news neither were injured, but look, you just think these are little, cute, soft, fuzzy animals.

ROMANS: They're not.

BRIGGS: You remember, they're not.

ROMANS: They're not.

BRIGGS: They're wild animals and incredibly strong wild animals.

ROMANS: You know, and the harbormaster there and everywhere where these sea lions on the west coast populate along, you know, these marinas and harbors, they say stay away from them, you know? Stay away from them. Don't feed them. Stay away from them. In San Francisco, they have this go to huge lengths to keep people away from them. Everyone wants to watch. Everyone wants to see, but you just can't get too close.

BRIGGS: Well, thankfully, it's an incident where no one was hurt. The people can learn from as opposed to the Disney incident we saw just a few years back.

ROMANS: That guy, I don't know if he was a relative or a bystander, whatever, I'm not sure, but boy...

BRIGGS: He's a hero.

ROMANS: ...He jumped in quickly, he goes in there fast.

BRIGGS: He didn't hesitate, any second.

ROMANS: All right, "Saturday Night Live" wrapping up a big buzz- worthy season with a twist on a show opened from last November.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHORUS: ...so I tried to touch, I told the truth but I didn't come to fool ya...

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Team Trump's rendition of "Hallelujah," the same song Kate McKinnon sung at Hillary Clinton's after her election loss.

BRIGGS: Then, there was weekend update taking a final jab at the president and his problems.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the White House reeling from allegations of obstructing justice, President-For-Now Trump, said point blank...

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...that he never told FBI Director, James Comey to end the Russian investigation. So, this sets up a real dilemma. Who are you going to believe, the head of the FBI or the guy who's definitely lying?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A friend of Comey's also revealed that Comey was so uncomfortable around Trump that he tried to blend in with the curtains at the back of the room so Trump wouldn't see him.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if he really wanted to avoid interacting with Trump, he should have just married him.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump also said in a speech that no politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly than him. Honey, it's because you're not a real politician. You're a politician like Jab Rule as a festival organizer.

(LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:50:00] BRIGGS: Wow. All right, host Dwayne Johnson...

ROMANS: And then this.

BRIGGS: ...had a bit of fun with the monologue, tweaking the recent bug suggesting he and Tom Hanks will run for president and vice- president in 2020. Johnson said, it was a joke, although he did roll out what sounded like a slogan more poise, less noise. He had some jabs at the president.

ROMANS: His...

BRIGGS: Indeed, he said in this day in age, he might be overqualified for president. Clearly not true, but you do wonder, they sounded like someone who would actually consider it, do they not?

ROMANS: I think they don't...

BRIGGS: I don't think Hanks would, but...

ROMANS: Well, Tom Hanks had some funny lines, too. We'll probably pull some of those later.

BRIGGS: That was my favorite part of "SNL".

ROMANS: All right, 51 minutes past the hour.

BRIGGS: All right, China urging all parties to show restraint after North Korea launches another ballistic missile test. We're live in Tokyo with why Kim Jong-un says it's time to grow the program.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:55:00] BRIGGS: South Korea and Japan slamming yet another medium- range ballistic missile test by North Korea, Pyongyang's second missile test in a week. North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-un supervised the launch. Kim announced afterward the test shows the missile is ready for deployment and mass production.

CNN's, Will Ripley monitoring developments from Tokyo, he joins us live this morning. Good to see you, Will. This is the second under South Korea's new president. How does this one differ from those we've seen in the past?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's the 10th launch attempt during the Trump Administration, Dave, so the pace that we're seeing under the new U.S. President just as much as we saw with the real pickup from North Korea last year, their leader, Kim Jong-un, is really pushing forward with this nuclear program.

This missile that was tested is a midrange missile according to the United States. It was first tested back in February. The North Korean Leader saying that it can be mass produced very quickly in North Korean state owned factories by state-owned workers who will work as many hours as they are ordered to do by their leader.

So, don't underestimate North Korea's ability to produce this kind of missile very quickly. It could put it within striking range of 52,000 U.S. troops here in Japan along with millions of people, 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea along with many others there, millions more, and the missile that they tested last week, a new kind of ballistic missile, analysts believe could have the capability to reach U.S. military assets in Guam.

That missile in particular was especially troubling because it allowed for a controlled re-entry back into the lower Earth's atmosphere. That is a crucial step for an ICBM, the kind of missile that North Korea wants to produce that could eventually hit the mainland United States.

And even though there have been international sanctions, strong condemnation coming in yet again from Japan, from South Korea, from the United States, it is not deterring this country from continuing to develop these weapons.

Timing also very interesting, this launch happening just hours before President Trump's major foreign policy speech in Saudi Arabia, the launch last week right before a major economic forum in Beijing.

North Korea pushing itself into the center of the global conversation, telling the world that they're going to continue to build these weapons, despite what the rest of the world says, and they want a seat at the table if the international community's willing to speak with them about it, Dave.

BRIGGS: No signs of slowing, in fact, speeding up there. Will Ripley, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, 57 minutes past the hour this Monday morning.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream." Futures and Global Markets are higher. Wall Street finished up Friday, concerns the easing about the future of the president's economic agenda after a midweek freak- out. The Dow closed about 140 points higher. This week investors get more information about that agenda.

The administration's budget comes out Tuesday, as does an updated CBO score on the healthcare bill's cost. The president may be moving on from Saudi Arabia, but he does it with a briefcase full of deals, billions of dollars of deals between the United States and Saudi Firms.

The companies include general electric, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, some of these, of course, years in the making. One newer arrangement, the Saudi is pledging $20 billion to finance American infrastructure. It's part of a $100 billion fund run by private investment firm, Blackstone.

The White House has promised $1 trillion for infrastructure paid through a mix of private and public funding. The problem, those partnerships don't always succeed in rural areas. They have less chance of being profitable there, so we'll watch to see how they work that out.

All right, with flagging sales and a falling share price, Ford CEO, Mark Fields looks like he's on his way out. That is according to published reports overnight by both "The New York Times" and "Associated Press." As the U.S. Auto industry faces new pressure, the board was reportedly unhappy with Fields' performance.

Ford sales are down 25 percent this year. The stock has fallen nearly 40 percent since he took over in July 2014. As for comment, Ford told CNN it doesn't speculate to comment on speculation or rumors, interesting enough there, so a lot of reporting about this from "New York Times" and "AP", but no official confirmation yet from Ford.

BRIGGS: Big economic story in the country because President Trump continues to talk about the exciting things Ford and GM are doing, all the while they're cutting jobs.

ROMANS: And, you know, the investments they're making, the changes that are happening in the auto industry right now, Mary Barra from GM has said that it's -- it's, you know, they -- she's never seen this kind of rapid change. You're talking about driver autonomous cars, you're talking about driverless cars, you're talking about technology, so really interesting stuff there.

BRIGGS: Sales...

ROMANS: ...are they're making the right investments?

BRIGGS: Sales continuing to slump.

[05:00:00] BRIGGS: And EARLY START continues right now.

President Trump on his way to Israel with a focus on peace in the Middle East, we're live in Jerusalem with how Trump will be received following a series of controversies ahead of the visit.