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EARLY START

North Korea Developing Plan to Attack Guam, Mocks Trump; U.S. Embassy in Cuba Targeted?; Tension with North Korea Breaks Market Calm. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 10, 2017 - 04:30   ET

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


[04:30:03] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea says President Trump is bereft of reason and letting out a load of nonsense. So, what will the president do now that Pyongyang has leveled another threat at a U.S. territory?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And were employees at the U.S. embassy in Cuba targeted with a covert device? Hearing loss for some in Havana raising questions this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Miguel Marquez, in for Dave Briggs this week.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

MARQUEZ: Great to be here.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. Thirty minutes past the hour this morning.

Just a day after the president promised fire and fury if North Korea made another threat against the U.S., Pyongyang does just that, leveling a very fierce, a very specific threat to attack a U.S. territory, taking personal shots at President Trump in the process. Now, the world waits to see what if anything the commander-in-chief does in response.

MARQUEZ: North Korea says it is, quote, seriously examining a plan to launch a missile strike, targeting the sea 20 miles off the coast of Guam, where the U.S. has two military bases. State-run media says the launch of four ballistic missiles would signal a crucial warning to the U.S. Pyongyang says its plan to launch the missiles will be in place within days.

ROMANS: The statement also mocks President Trump for speaking from a golf range, it says, where it says, he let out a load of nonsense about fire and fury, failing to grasp the ongoing, grave situation.

The North Korean statement says sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason. And only absolute force can work on him.

Joining us now with the latest, CNN's Anna Coren live in Seoul, South Korea.

And bellicose, belligerent language is not necessarily new from the North Koreans. But certainly with the temperature running so hot right now, it is a concern.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Christine. And I think it was very surprising. People here in South Korea were shocked to learn what Donald Trump had said about Kim Jong- un and North Korea. Certainly, we haven't had any official word about Trump's fire and fury statement, but as far as the people that we've spoken to here in Seoul, they are quite confused as to why he would do that, why he would up the ante in a situation which is already just so tense.

But as you say, North Korea announced this morning that its plans that it is seriously considering -- seriously examining a strike directed at Guam which as we know is a U.S. sovereign territory. It is home to strategic U.S. naval and air force base. They laid out the specifics which was interesting.

In a statement from state media, saying there would be four Hwasung 12 rockets. There would be intermediate range missiles with nuclear warheads, that they would be ready to go within days, that would fly over Japan, airborne for approximately 17 minutes. They would land 30 to 40 kilometers off the coast of Guam outside the territorial waters, but inside the economic zone. Obviously, the plan would be to send a very strong message of North Korea's capability in threatening the U.S. mainland and U.S. territory.

But obviously South Korea today responded to the plans to attack Guam as being absurd, saying that any provocation will be met with response. President Moon Jae-in, he has been obviously very open to dialogue with North Korea ever since he came into office. The last couple of days, Christine, we've been hearing much stronger language from him in wanting to beef up South Korea's defenses.

ROMANS: All right. Anna Coren for us, with our report from Seoul -- thank you, Anna.

MARQUEZ: Now with President Trump and Kim Jong-un trading insults and threats, reaction among Asian nations has been mixed. The governor of Guam stressing the importance of remaining calm despite being targeted by the North Korean regime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. EDDIE BAZA GALVO (R), GUAM: This is not a time to panic. These are -- many statements being made out there by a bellicose leader. But, at this point, there's been no change in the security situation here in Guam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: We want to bring in CNN's Sherisse Pham. She is live for us in Tokyo.

The president's words very, very harsh. We are accustomed to hearing harsh words coming from North Korea. The president's words must have come as a bit of a shock all around. SHERISSE PHAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Miguel.

People in Japan completely accustomed to decades of bellicose language coming from North Korea. A little bit startled by the language coming out of the United States right now. And now, there's a little bit of a mixed reaction across the region. You see the governor of Guam there saying no reason to panic, and they are not changing the threat level in Guam.

But here in Japan this week, an annual paper from the defense ministry saying, we are upping the threat level because the threat level from North Korea has entered, quote, a new stage.

[04:35:10] And, of course, South Korea there saying, look, North Korea, if you launch any sort of attack, you will be met with a military reaction. And Japan's defense minister today also saying, if a missile passes over our territory and poses an imminent threat to our country, we reserve the right to intercept it or take it down.

But in the meantime, people here across the region, in Japan, in China, in South Korea, they are living their lives because -- especially in Japan, this is a country that has maintained a passive posture for decades. This week marks the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a very strong reminder that Japan is the only country to have suffered under an atomic attack. And so, people are continuing to live their lives and continuing to call for peace and resolution and a calming down of this rhetoric.

And, of course, over in Guam, which is just a four-hour plane ride from Tokyo, people are continuing to have vacation. The island stuffed with about 10,000 visitors who visit that island every year and it is the height of the vacation season in Guam. So, with the governor saying no reason to have any concern, people are taking it to heart and are just sunning themselves on the beaches -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: All right. Well, the world watches closely. Sherisse Pham for us in Tokyo, thank you.

ROMANS: So far, no official reaction from the White House to North Korea's latest threat. We have learned President Trump's fire and fury warning to North Korea was improvised. Sources tell CNN it was not part of a scripted statement. The White House says chief of staff John Kelly and members of the president's national security team were well aware of the tone the president intended to use, though the words were his own.

A State Department spokeswoman says everyone in the administration sees things the same way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: The United States is on the same page. Whether it's the White House, the State Department, the Department of Defense, we are speaking with one voice.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MARQUEZ: That seems highly debatable. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis struck notably different tones in statements. Mattis focused on U.S. military capabilities and the risks North Korea would be taking if it attacked.

ROMANS: Yes, he said: North Korea must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

Very sharply worded statement.

Meantime, the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stressed diplomacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime that the U.S., you know, unquestionable ability to defend itself will defend itself and its allies. I think it was important that he deliver that message to avoid any miscalculation on their part. The United States has the capability to fully defend itself from any attack and defend our allies. And we will do so. So the American people should sleep well at night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: But those reassurances clashed with the president's fire and fury message and his earlier tweets yesterday.

My first order as president was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now stronger than ever before. Worth noting, the president has made nuclear spending a budget priority, but nothing has actually changed yet.

ROMANS: He also tweeted: Hopefully, we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world.

Today, President Trump meets the vice president for lunch at President Trump's New Jersey golf club.

MARQUEZ: Now, the State Department believes several of its employees at the U.S. embassy in Havana were targeted last fall by a covert sonic device that caused hearing loss. Two staffers experienced such serious health problems they had to return to the U.S. for treatment. According to a State Department official, the workers were not in the same place at the same time, but also reported a variety of concussion-like symptoms.

ROMANS: The FBI is now looking into the case. The Trump administration responding to the incident by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington in May. Cuban officials call the reaction an overreaction. But the Cuban foreign ministry says it is taking the matter with great seriousness. MARQUEZ: Now, the first lawsuit has been filed against President

Trump's ban on transgender members of the military. Five unidentified active duty transgender service members are seeking to block the measure, claiming it is unconstitutional. They say the president's three-tweet directive has resulted in immediate concrete injury by threatening their reasonable expectation of continued service.

The ban has not been formally implemented. The Pentagon refusing to comment on the lawsuit.

ROMANS: So far, the Pentagon has been asking the administration, right, for guidance on how are we going to implement this rule.

(CROSSTALK)

MARQUEZ: How do you go back and put something back in the box once it's been done and you have lots of transgender service members already serving.

[04:40:07] Feuding is starting to spill into public between the president and the Senate majority leader who has to see his agenda through. What's next in that fight?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: All right. A big win for workers' rights. Oregon is the first state to require employers make schedules a week in advance. The new law targets on-call scheduling. That's when employees are asked to work on short notice.

It's really common in industries like fast food and retail and makes things like childcare and transportation difficult for employees. Oregon is forcing the largest employers to give workers advanced schedules or more pay unless they get a ten-hour break between shifts.

From a victory for low-wage workers to a defeat here, Kansas City overwhelmingly voted for a make hike.

[04:45:02] But a Missouri state law will block it. The city measure immediately raises the wage from $7.70 to 10 bucks an hour. That's what the city does, ultimately reaching 15 bucks by 2022.

However, a state law will override the change, bringing the minimum wage in Kansas City back down to $7.70 on August 28th. This state law pits voters in blue cities against Missouri's red state legislature. For example, St. Louis voters raised the minimum wage to $10 in 2015. That higher minimum will also be rolled back later this month.

MARQUEZ: The fight over wages. That will only continue.

ROMANS: Yes.

MARQUEZ: Now, Republican lawmakers' failure to repeal and replace Obamacare appears to be driving a wedge between President Trump and the Senate majority leader. The president is pushing back on a critique from Mitch McConnell who said this week the president had excessive expectations in pushing his agenda, pointing to artificial deadlines set by the Trump White House.

ROMANS: The president firing back on Twitter, of course, saying: Senator Mitch McConnell said I have excessive expectations, but I don't think so. After seven years of hearing repeal and replace, why not done?

MARQUEZ: That followed tweets from the president's social media director who said, more excuses. The Senate majority leader must have needed another four years in addition to the seven to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Tension between the White House and Congress has escalated since the effort to -- by Senate Republicans to pass health care legislation crashed and burned.

ROMANS: All right. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson now expressing regret for his comments about fellow Republican John McCain. Johnson told a Chicago radio show that McCain's brain cancer may have played a role in his dramatic and decisive vote that derail the Senate bill to repeal Obamacare.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I'm not going to speak for John McCain -- you know, he has -- he has a brain tumor now. That vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning. Some of that might have factored in.

AMY JACOBSON, RADIO HOST: You really think that played a factor in his judgment call?

JOHNSON: Again, I don't know exactly what -- we thought -- again, I don't want to speak for any senator. I really thought John was going to vote yes at 10:30 at night. By about 1:00, 1:30, he voted no. So, I -- you have to talk to John in terms of what was on his mind.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Now, McCain's spokesperson telling CNN that Johnson's comments were, quote, bizarre and deeply unfortunate. Johnson later back walked his remarks, saying the vote came at the end of a very long day for everyone. And he should have more eloquently expressed his sympathy for what Senator McCain is going through.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-seven minutes past the hour.

As Google deals with a P.R. over that memo criticizing diversity, it faces sexism charges from the U.S. government. Uh-oh. That's on CNN "Money Stream", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:52:18] ROMANS: All right. The Mooch is going toe to toe with Stephen Colbert. Short tenured White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is set to appear Monday on the "Late Show", where he's been a frequent butt of Colbert's jokes.

Meantime, Colbert and his late night competition finding comedy in the North Korean standoff for so much needed late-night laughs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Tensions are building between President Trump and North Korean president and disappointed volleyball Kim Jong- un.

Leave Guam out of this. They're a U.S. territory. That means they don't participate in the elections, OK? They didn't vote for Trump -- just like most of Americans.

TILLERSON: I think Americans should sleep well at night.

COLBERT: Why? What's happening during the day? What aren't you telling us?

But, OK, OK. Grandpa wants us to sleep well at night, which is why he's come out with a new book, "Rex Tillerson's sleepy time tales."

One day, the badger got into a fight with a pudgy wolf who was somehow even crazier, and both had nuclear weapons and distant, unpleaseable fathers. And -- uh. Yikes.

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: The problem with North Korea and the nukes is not AN easy one to fix. So far, Trump's strategy of playing multiple rounds of golf and watching "Fox and Friends" is not working either. But the bottom line is we cannot afford to have an unstable, unpredictable, egomaniac dictator in charge of an arsenal of nuclear weapons -- and Kim Jong-un has to be stopped, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: You can see that one coming.

MARQUEZ: I saw this coming from a mile.

Now, a dramatic rescue by the Coast Guard plucking a Navy pilot from the water off of Florida Keys. After his jet fighter crashed into the ocean, officials say the pilot ejected about 20 miles from the Key West naval air station. A Coast Guard helicopter crew observed an emergency smoke signal and responded quickly to the scene. The incident is under investigation. The pilot, who has not been identified, suffered no serious injuries. He was conducting training operations when the plane went down.

ROMANS: All right. More rain today in the South, and new risk of flooding.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins us with the forecast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Miguel and Christine, we not only have the threat for severe weather across portions of the Central Plains, but we're still looking at that flood threat across the region of the Southeast. Many of these states have been dealing with days of rain. And that pattern is going to continue.

Now, we are expecting some showers into the morning hours. But by the afternoon, thanks to the heating of the day, that will help to fuel thunderstorms. The problem is those are areas that you can get heavy downpours that could potentially drop as much as two to four inches of rain.

[04:55:03] The perk is that it's dropping temperatures actually below normal. Take a look at Atlanta, seven degrees below average. But that's pretty much across the board in a lot of regions even if they aren't seeing rain.

Minneapolis, eight degrees above average. Five degrees in Little Rock. And we are at least about a degree or so below average in both New York and D.C. The thing is, the seven-day forecast keeps us either at or below average in New York for the next seven days, despite only actually having a couple of days of rain mixed in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Thank you for that.

MARQUEZ: Thanks for that.

Well, anyone with dreams of living like Donald Trump and 725 bucks can make those dreams come true. The president's childhood home is now available on Airbnb. No, this is not a joke. The president lived in a Tudor-style home until age 4. It was built by his father, Fred Trump, and is located in the wealthy Jamaica Estates area of Queens, in New York.

ROMANS: Lovely pink bathroom.

MARQUEZ: Lovely, you know, nothing has been changed.

It's listed as spacious enough for 20. But that could be a problem. A local law dictates no more than three unrelated people can stay in a rental house. Really? Wow.

ROMANS: All right. Let's check CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Rising tension with North Korea finally breaking Wall Street's calm. Global stocks are down after U.S. stocks closed lower, a response to the president's fiery warning to North Korea and its threat to Guam.

After months of stocks coasting to records, investors are showing signs of caution this morning. For example, gold, a typical safe haven, rising more than 1 percent to a two-month high. Meanwhile, Wall Street's fear gauge is up 21 percent this week. The VIX index has previously been trading at historically low levels. The U.S. dollar, once a safe bet in the global economy, is down 8 percent this year.

Remember this incident where United Airlines forcibly dragged a passenger off a flight? The fallout is causing changes industry-wide. Passengers being bumped from flights hit a record low last quarter. The nation's 12 largest airlines say they only bumped 44 out of every million passengers.

That's the lowest rate in 23 years of data. Airlines typically oversell seats to make up for passengers who don't show up for flights. However, since the United Airlines debacle, most airlines have updated their policies to ensure more people give up their seats voluntarily.

All right. As Google's dealing with a PR crisis over a memo suggesting women are not biologically fit for tech roles, it faces sexism charges lodged by the U.S. government. The Department of Labor is investigating Google for the systemic problem of underpaying women. It's currently suing Google for access to pay data for its employees.

Google denies this allegation. But this government lawsuit, combined with the backlash against the memo highlights the intense scrutiny Google is under regarding diversity.

Walmart apologizing for marketing an unusual back to school time, guns. The retailer condemning this display inside one of its stores that popped on Twitter, a sign that says, own the school year like a hero. It's directly above a case filled with guns, apparently marketing firearms for the new school year.

Photos spread like wildfire on social media. The company says it's working to figure out which store put up the exhibit and to make sure the sign will be removed.

MARQUEZ: Guns, Walmart. Heroes?

EARLY START continues now.

(MUSIC)

ROMANS: Bereft of reason and letting out a load of nonsense. That's North Korea's take on President Trump as Pyongyang levels a new specific threat at a U.S. territory. What will President Trump do now?

MARQUEZ: And were employees at the U.S. embassy in Cuba targeted with a covert device? Hearing loss for some in Havana raising many questions this morning.

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

ROMANS: Nice to have you on board this week.

MARQUEZ: Good to be here.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday. It is August 10th, 5:00 a.m. in the Eastern United States, 6:00 p.m. in Seoul, South Korea.

Just a day after the president promised fire and fury if North Korea made another threat against the U.S., Pyongyang does just that -- leveling a very fierce, very specific threat to attack a U.S. territory and taking some personal shots at the president in the process. Now, the world waits to see what if anything the commander in chief decides to do in response.

MARQUEZ: North Korea says it is, quote, seriously examining a plan to launch a missile strike targeting the sea about 20 miles off the coast of Guam, where the U.S. has two military bases. State-run media says the launch of four ballistic missiles would signal a crucial warning to the U.S. Pyongyang says its plan to launch the missiles will be in place within days.

ROMANS: The statement also mocked President Trump for speaking from a, quote, golf range, where it says he let out a load of nonsense about fire and fury, failing to grasp the ongoing grave situation. The North Korean statement says sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason.