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EARLY START

Trump's Toughest Language Yet on North Korea; North Korea Threatens U.S. Territory; Korea Tension Unsettles Global Markets; Remembering Glen Campbell. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 9, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:00:09] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that's perhaps one of the most stunning public threats to an American adversary in decades. What's President Trump's next move after North Korea defied him with another threat to the U.S.?

We have full coverage this morning from Washington, Guam, and Seoul.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Miguel Marquez, in for Dave Briggs.

Good morning to you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Nice to see you. A busy day this morning.

I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, August 9th. It is 4:00 a.m. exactly on the East Coast.

This morning, the U.S. and North Korea facing off in a high stakes game here of nuclear confrontation, with President Trump adopting a tone never before used by an American commander-in-chief. Pyongyang with a major escalation, warning it calls a preemptive retaliatory operation of justice.

MARQUEZ: In a statement, the North Korean military threatens to strike the U.S. territory of Guam, and it specifically mentions Anderson Air Force Base on Guam, which is home to two American bombers that flew over the Korean Peninsula this week, prompting the latest North Korean rhetoric.

ROMANS: Now, these North Korean threats came just hours after we learned U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded Pyongyang has produced a militarized nuclear warhead. This is a key development, a key development in its nuclear ambitions. One official notes the nuclear warhead capability is not the consensus of the entire intel community. "The Washington Post", which was the first report its details, says the Defense Intelligence Agency reached that conclusion, the DIA.

MARQUEZ: That is one of 16 different intelligence communities.

ROMANS: That's right.

MARQUEZ: Now, President Trump responding to these reports with harsh rhetoric, only intensifying concerns about what happens next.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Miguel, with a threat of North Korea's nuclear program looming even larger at the White House, President Trump on that working vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey, making the toughest language yet toward the North Korean regime.

On Tuesday, during another briefing on the opioid crisis here in America, he was asked about North Korea. His language was not something we've not heard from an American president.

TRUMP: North Korea best not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before.

ZELENY: Now, fire and fury certainly not the words of diplomacy. President Trump essentially drawing his own red line toward North Korea.

The president's words seemingly off the cuff coming in response to a question certainly would seem to escalate this more than deescalate it.

Christine and Miguel, it certainly heightens what is the biggest crisis facing now this administration.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thank you so much.

This is hardly the first time North Korea has made harsh threats against the U.S. Some of them sounding just as deadly and dangerous. So, why is this time being taken more seriously?

CNN's Alexandra Field joins us live this morning from Seoul in South Korea, with some perspective on that.

Good morning.

Clearly, you know, this one intelligence agency's determination that they have developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead, that make this a little more dangerous. Why are -- why are we -- why are we so concerned at this point?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. Look, as you point out here, Christine, North Korea typically makes belligerent and bellicose pronouncements. These widespread threats that are meant to inspire fear around the world and right here in South Korea. A lot of times, there's very limited, very minimal reaction because they are so used to hearing those constant threats being repeated from the North.

What does make this different? Well, you've got to look at the context of what we've been observing here on the peninsula just in recent days and weeks. North Korea has clearly shown that they have made significant strides when it comes to their nuclear ambitions, not just that miniaturized nuclear weapon that some intelligence analysts believe could be fitted to an ICBM, but also the fact that they were able to reliably test two different ICBMs last month.

So, it isn't all there yet. Not all the pieces have lined up, but they have shown that they can test these ICBMs. It is believed now that they may have this miniaturized warhead. There's still the marrying together of these two parts and there's still the question of whether or not they could reliably deliver this.

But nobody wants to see this ratcheting up when it comes to the war of words. Officials in the region have been weighing in, but they have been condemning Pyongyang for their part with these latest threats, including a threat for an attack on the military installations in Guam, where there are thousands of U.S. service men and women.

[04:05:07] They want Pyongyang to cut that out and they are pointing the finger at North Korea for raising the threat level in the region with their nuclear ambitions. What's very interesting, though, is that you have not had any official responses that we have seen about President Trump's comments. And his words are certainly much more reflective of what you would typically see coming from North Korea, not from the United States.

So, a lot of people are left to wonder how a U.S. president plans to make good on the kinds of threats he issues. What would come of the ultimatum issued by a U.S. president?

For now, look, this is very much just a war of words. But the people who live right here in South Korea, the 20 million people who live in this greater metropolitan area know all too well that somebody misspeaking or somebody misstepping puts them squarely in the line of fire. There's a conventional range of weapons just about 35 miles north of this city, right along that DMZ. That's the reality here, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, no margin for error here. That's why every word is being parsed so carefully.

Thank you so much for that, Alexandra Field. We'll be back to you in a few minutes.

MARQUEZ: Now, Democrats and Republicans are slamming President Trump for escalating the crisis with North Korea. Many lawmakers raising concerns, but the president drawing a line in the sand and not being able to back it up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I take exception to the president's comments because you got to be sure that you can do what you say you're going to do. And I think that the rotund ruler in Pyongyang is not crazy, but he certainly is ready to go to the brink. The great leaders that I have seen, they don't threaten unless they are ready to act. And I'm not sure that President Trump is ready to act.

SEN. AL FRANKLIN (D), MINNESOTA: This is so irresponsibly. I can't -- I can't even believe that he did this. And I don't know -- I would call on the new chief of staff, who I think is aware of the consequences of -- the potential consequences of something like this. I would call on him to tell the president not to do that kind of thing again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calls President Trump's comments reckless.

ROMANS: Let's bring in CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton, via Skype from San Antonio.

Nice to see you bright and early this morning on what is -- you know, a very interesting and alarming development, I would say, in the North Korea crisis.

We have seen -- we've seen Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pursuing what's been called by State Department watchers, you know, peaceful pressure on North Korea to ratchet back the situation. And then the president comes out and talks about fire and fury unlike the world has ever seen. Has the president of the United States, has he set a red line here for North Korea?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good morning, Christine.

I think he really has. I don't think he intended to do that, but by using the words that he did, fire and fury and power, those are the kinds of words that, you know, denote some degree of violence. They denote basically, you know, potentially even a nuclear response to this issue.

And the problem that you got here is the North Koreans did not do anything. What was basically happening was that there was a revelation of an intelligence assessment of Korean capabilities, North Korean capabilities. That's very different from something that it is a provocative act that North Korea is, of course, famous for. But the other part of it is it's an intelligence assessment that the president should have been aware of before making these comments.

MARQUEZ: Colonel, the one thing that struck me about this statement and I don't know that the U.S. has ever taken this position, particularly where the nuclear weapons are concerned, is that the president said if they continue to threaten the U.S. with act, that's a very different recipe for the U.S. acting with regard to North Korea's nuclear arsenal.

LEIGHTON: That's true, Miguel. And one of the big things that you have here is the United States has had a de facto, not an actual, but a de facto no first use policy when it comes to nuclear weapons. And because of that, you are running the risk now of potentially putting us into a situation where we are practically required to use nuclear weapons before anything has happened from the North. And that is something that is completely antithetical to U.S. policy, not only in the present day, but U.S. policy that goes back generations back to the early start of the Cold War.

ROMANS: You know, what about the possibility of more threats? If there are more threats from here and the president has promised fire and fury, is the president's messaging putting the United States in a tough spot, if you get more bellicose language from the North Koreans?

[04:10:05] Can the U.S. back away from such strong language?

LEIGHTON: Not without appearing to be very weak in response to the North Koreans. And that's a huge issue because what you're dealing with here is a very prickly, to put it nicely, state, a country that is offended very easily, whose leadership is offended very easily. And this basically flies into the efforts that Secretary of State Tillerson has been trying to or at least appears to have been trying to make of getting the North Koreans to the negotiating table. It's really far more important at this juncture to be able to talk to them. The kind of rhetoric that the president used would be very applicable if the North Koreans had done something or if they were threatening to do something that was far more overt than even the things we have seen so far.

They have been threatening to do things, that is absolutely true, but what they haven't done is actually fired a missile in anger at some specific target that would have been of military significance.

MARQUEZ: And to be very clear, there's a lot of stuff in what the "Washington Post" reported yesterday about -- and then CNN was able to match as well, that they have developed this miniaturized nuclear weapon that they then could put on a missile essentially. That comes from one of 16 different intelligence agencies.

Walk us through what would have to happen on an official level to bring that to a more heightened level where the president then could go to the country and say, this is our best assessment of all intelligence agencies and this is why I have to do what we have to do.

LEIGHTON: Well, what normally happens, Miguel, is the intelligence agencies conduct their individual assessments and what they have is a consensus view that is then achieved when multiple agencies, the 16 agencies plus the Office of the Director of National Intelligence put together and that assessment then is what can then be used to drive national policy or military response.

Now, one quick thing is that the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, is actually an all source intelligence agency. So, they take inputs from the National Security Agency or the NGA, which is the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and other like it that are designed to provide single or tech -- one avenue of technical intelligence collection. As the technical intelligence collection plus human intelligence that provides that complete picture.

Once you get the complete picture, that is then what is used to drive not only intelligence assessments, but also public policy.

ROMANS: I keep hearing about the options on the table in terms of North Korea, but the big question for me is at what point, under what circumstances are U.S. lives going to be put on the line to punish or to respond to North Korea, and I just don't know what is that threshold.

MARQUEZ: The discussion of Guam is a political thing on the North Koreans' part as well, which is a very interesting location for Kim Jong-un and the North Koreans to select.

ROMANS: Colonel Cedric Leighton is going to come back in a few minutes. We're going to talk more about the North Korea threat and the possible options here for the United States and change of language from this president. Thank you so much, Colonel.

All right. The Dow snapping a nine-day winning streak after tensions with North Korea escalated. Finally, something that knocks the Dow off of its streak of records. An early look at how it's affecting Wall Street this morning, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:17:38] ROMANS: President Trump's fiery warning to North Korea is unsettling global markets. Asian stocks and U.S. futures fell overnight as tensions rise between the U.S. and North Korea. Markets in South Korea and Japan sank more than 1 percent. The U.S. dollar losing almost all of its earlier gains, it's now down 8 percent this year, near a 15-month low.

Meanwhile, investors are piling into the safe havens like gold and bonds. Not unusual when you see unease in the international stage.

President Trump's promise of fire and fury to North Korea also triggered a sell off on Wall Street, snapping the Dow's winning streak after nine straight days of records. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also closing lower.

You know, stocks have largely ignored geopolitical tensions hitting new highs off big corporate profits. All three major U.S. indexes are up double digit percentages this year, but millions of Americans haven't felt the roaring stock market rally. Stock records, of course, are a measure of companies well being, not necessarily workers. Only about 54 percent of the country is invested in the stock market.

MARQUEZ: And still no explanation from the White House after President Trump retweeted a FOX News story citing anonymous sources claiming the U.S. had detected North Korea moving an anti-ship cruise missiles to a patrol boat. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley indicating the information in the report was classified and leaked.

ROMANS: She described such leaks as incredibly dangerous, but that didn't stop the president from retweeting it just a few hours earlier.

A defense official familiar with the latest U.S. intelligence did later corroborate that report, telling CNN that North Koreans have loaded two anti-ship cruise missile canisters on to a guided missile patrol craft.

MARQUEZ: President Trump is calling for beefed up law enforcement response to combat the nation's opioid crisis. But Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price says the White House has no plans to declare a public health emergency, something the president's bipartisan opioid commission strongly recommends.

ROMANS: Secretary Price says the president plans to treat the opioid epidemic as an emergency, but won't declare an emergency. The president raising eyebrows by suggesting the best way to avoid opioid addiction is to never start in the first place, despite the fact that studies have found many people get hooked on opioids after their doctor prescribes them painkillers.

[04:20:05] MARQUEZ: Now, Mitch McConnell getting a little prickly with the president. The Senate majority leader leveling his toughest criticism yet during a speech to a Rotary group in Kentucky.

Listen to McConnell take a shot at the president when asked about Congress's inability to get things done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The president and others have set these early timelines about things need to be done by a certain point. Now, our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before. And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: McConnell went on to say the lines of communication between the executive and legislative branches remain strong, but he wishes the president would tweet less and stay on message more.

ROMANS: I have never heard that. No one has said the president should tweet less and stay on message more.

MARQUEZ: Yes. Well, they want more of it absolutely.

ROMANS: All right. The country music voice of a generation has died. We remember the life and legacy of Glen Campbell, next. And the latest on the threats and growing tension between the U.S. and North Korea.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:25:10] MARQUEZ: The suspect accused of fatally shooting a Clinton, Missouri, police officer during a traffic stop is behind bars this morning. Authorities say the 39-year-old Ian McCarthy was captured without incident Tuesday night after a driver spotted him walking on a highway about 12 miles from where the shooting took place. McCarthy is being treated for a bullet wound suffered in the shootout. He's facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of Officer Gary Michael.

ROMANS: Alarming new statistics on colon cancer. An American Cancer Society study shows colon and rectal cancer death rates are steadily rising for Americans under 50. Perhaps more alarming, doctors don't know why. Since colonoscopy screening is not typically recommended for adults under 50, researchers the cancer found in younger Americans are often in advanced stages and more deadly. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the U.S. and second leading cause in men.

MARQUEZ: It says under 50.

ROMANS: Under 50.

MARQUEZ: Legendary singer/songwriter Glen Campbell has died. And after a brave and public battle with Alzheimer's disease.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

MARQUEZ: "Gentle On My Mind" was just one of a string of hits Glen Campbell had in the 1960s and 1970s, including "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights", among many others. "Wichita Lineman" is my favorite.

ROMANS: That's your favorite.

After his Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2011, Campbell played a two-year farewell tour which was chronicled in the 2014 documentary "I'll Be Me."

Among those paying tribute, country legend Dolly Parton who says Campbell had one of the greatest voices ever.

Glen Campbell was 81.

MARQUEZ: American original.

ROMANS: Yes.

MARQUEZ: Love it.

Now, flooding concerns this morning in the south from Texas all the way to the Carolinas. We want to get the latest from meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Christine and Miguel, flooding is still going to be a huge concern across portions of the Southeast. We still have five states that have some type of flood watch or flood warning in effect for the day today, including the city of Houston, which over the last 48 hours has picked up anywhere from four to as high as eight inches of rain in some spots. The problem with that is we expect even more rain today on top of what they have already had.

And Houston is not the only city, really much of the Southeast, we're talking Nashville, Montgomery, Atlanta, even Savannah locking at some showers and even some thunderstorms, which could produce some pretty torrential downpours. One perk of the rain is it's actually helping to keep temperatures below average, including Atlanta with a high today, which actually give up 10 degrees below that normal.

But cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C., St. Louis and New York, your temperatures that will be below normal will have to hold off until the end of the week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

EARLY START continues right now.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A stunning public threat to an American adversary. What is President Trump's next move after North Korea defied him with another threat to the U.S.?

We have full coverage this morning from Washington, Guam, and Seoul.

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

MARQUEZ: And I'm Miguel Marquez. I'm for Dave Briggs this week. It is 28 minutes past the hour.

This morning, high stakes saber-rattling as North Korean threatens an attack on a U.S. territory and President Trump warning of fire and fury. Pyongyang with a major escalation warning of a preemptive retaliatory operation of justice.

ROMANS: In a statement, the North Korean military threatens to strike the U.S. island of Guam and it specifically mentions Anderson Air Force Base on Guam. That's home to two American bombers that flew over the Korean peninsula this week, prompting, those flyovers, prompting the latest North Korean rhetoric.

MARQUEZ: Now, the North Korean threats came hours after we also learned U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded Pyongyang has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead. One official notes the nuclear warhead capability is not, not the consensus of the entire U.S. intelligence community. "The Washington Post," which first published details, says the Defense Intelligence Agency reached this conclusion.

ROMANS: President Trump responding to these reports with very sharp rhetoric, intensifying concerns about what happens next.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Christine and Miguel, with a threat of North Korea's nuclear program looming even larger at the White House, President Trump on that working vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey, making the toughest language yet toward the North Korean regime.

On Tuesday, during another briefing on the opioid crisis here in America, he was asked about North Korea. His language was not something we've not heard from an American president.