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Pyongyang Threatens Missile Attack on Guam; U.S. Embassy in Cuba Targeted?; FBI Raided Manafort's Home; Deshaun Watson Impresses for Texans. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 10, 2017 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: 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?

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 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.

[05:00:00] 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. Good morning, Anna.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, interesting how Kim Jong-un and North Korea are taking the upper hand here following those comments made by Donald Trump a few days ago. But as you say, they did come out in state media this morning saying they are seriously examining a strike directed at Guam which as we know is a U.S. sovereign territory, home to a strategic U.S. naval and air force base, as well as a population of some 160,000 people.

This strike involving four intermediate-range missiles with nuclear warheads would be ready within days. They would fly over Japan. They would be airborne for approximately 17 minutes according to North Korean state media. And they would land some 30 to 40 kilometers off the coast of Guam. Outside the territorial waters but inside the U.S. economic zone, which as Miguel mentioned in the intro would send a very strong message to the U.S. indeed.

Now, here in South Korea, the National Security Council with the President Moon Jae-in has just wrapped up. And they issued a statement a short time ago saying that North Korea must stop escalating tension and stressing that war will not benefit any side. And they say the threat to Guam was absurd.

But we need to remember that here in South Korea, that there are at least 1,000 artillery pieces placed along the border from North Korea directed to the city of some 10 million people. So, whilst President Moon in the past has extended this willingness to engage in dialogue with North Korea, in the past couple of days, he said that any provocation will be met with response. And he's certainly looking to beef up defenses here, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Anna Coren for us in Seoul, where it is 6:00 in the evening. Thank you for that.

MARQUEZ: All right. We want to bring in our CNN politics reporter Tal Kopan in Washington to help understand all this.

ROMANS: Hi, Tal.

MARQUEZ: Good morning there, Tal.


MARQUEZ: So, the messaging out of this White House, whether we're talking North Korea, health care, whatever we're talking about, that seems to be one of the biggest problems that they still can't get right. I want to play sound and chat with you of both the president and his secretary of state yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think Americans should sleep

well at night. I have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.


ROMANS: Point, counterpoint.

MARQUEZ: Is the White House staff, the cabinet, are they getting better at -- at managing the president's sort of off-the-cuff, one-off remarks on things like North Korea?

KOPAN: It's hard to say whether they're getting better. This White House has shown that off the cuff is something they prefer. You know, certainly it is unusual to say the least to see a U.S. president ad- libbing when it comes to North Korea and international diplomacy. That's not the way it's traditionally done.

You know, typically, the White House would workshop and discuss with diplomats. They would typically have more people in the State Department who work on the issue, confirmed by the Senate. They would go to those people and figure out exactly what the specific words they want to say are, because, of course, internationally, these things are parsed so carefully.

And so, yes, it is absolutely unusual that you have the president of the United States sort of off the cuff making remarks on North Korea. And certainly remarks like the ones we just heard. Again, the White House has sort of signaled that this is by design. This is the way they want to do things. So, I don't know that there is a better for them. This is their messaging strategy.

ROMANS: You know, the "Wall Street Journal", in an op-ed, sort of defending this stance from the president and the sharp language from the president saying this, while the president's words were unusually colorful, the communist-style language may have been part of the message. Kim Jong-un isn't the only one what can raise the geopolitical temperature.

So, there was criticism all day yesterday. The president did not sound like a skilled diplomat. The president caught other diplomats off-guard. But the general with a different take on that, Tal.

KOPAN: Yes, certainly. You know, there's this sort of Nixon and China theory floating around, as well, this idea that being unpredictable and being bellicose keeps other countries on their toes.

[05:05:04] You know, certainly the president has said time and time again that he doesn't want to telegraph the U.S. actions before they happen. He doesn't want to take things off the table. He wants to come across as strong.

You know, he sees himself as a master negotiator. And he is going to follow his gut in that regard when it comes to international diplomacy. But you're right, certainly even if the strategy was this type of rhetoric, it is concerning diplomats around the world that they're not being given a clear strategy and it that's still sort of being conducted on the fly.

That's probably their concern for the most part. Then you can quibble about what the actual words should be.

MARQUEZ: Well, it also has implications for domestic policy, as well. You have the fight now between the president and Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader. He needs, Mitch McConnell, to get any sort of policy through the Congress. He needs his guiding hand essentially.

Health care went down -- I can't even keep track of how many times it went down in flames. It seems that the messaging issue and White House that's able to focus on the policy is becoming a much bigger problem.

KOPAN: Well, yes. The fight between Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell is just remarkable, because remind yourself, these two men are supposed to be from the same party. This kind of sniping back and forth is something you expect to see from a president and Senate majority leader that are from different parties. And yet, you know, these men who are supposed to be on the same page are taking swipes at each other in public.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the swipes and listen to one in particular. Mitch McConnell on the president's expectations. This was Monday. Let's listen to this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Our new president had, of course, has not been in this line of work before and I think had excessive expectation about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.


ROMANS: So, then, yesterday, the president of the United States swiping back, Senator Mitch McConnell said, I had excessive expectations, but I don't think so. After seven years of hearing repeal and replace, why not done?

It's just remarkable to see that kind of dispute in public.

KOPAN: Yes, absolutely. To air out that kind of intraparty dirt laundry in public and take pot shots at each other, here's what it signals. It signals, as we've seen in the polls, the president does not have high approval ratings. And what that is going to do is give Republicans cover to diverge from him.

And we've seen it with health care. They do not feel that they have to tow the party line. They do not feel that the president is leading the party in a particular direction. You've seen it with North Korea, as well, to tie it back to the previous conversation. John McCain came out with a strongly worded statement criticizing the way the president approached the issue. And this is someone in Congress who's considered a hawk for sure, who

is not afraid of some strong military rhetoric. So, what you see is not only it's frustration bubbling to the surface, but it's also a symptom of the fact that the president does not have the kind of political capital you would typically expect for a first-term president this early into the administration with the same party controlling both houses of Congress. It's truly remarkable.

MARQUEZ: Amazing. Tal Kopan, thank you very much.

ROMANS: Thanks, Tal. Come back in a few minutes. Thank you.

KOPAN: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. 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 North Korea's threat to Guam.

For months, stocks have coasted to record highs. Now, investors are showing signs of caution. We could see that in gold, for example, a typical safe haven. More than 1 percent to a two-month high.

And Wall Street's fear gauge up, too, up 21 percent this week. The VIX index had previously been trading at historically low levels. The dollars, once a safe bet in the global economy, down 8 percent this year. Of course, North Korea isn't the only catalyst for caution here. Companies released disappointing earnings reports this week.

Overall, though, corporate profits are strong this year. The year, 2017, on track for the strongest growth in six years. And all three major stock market averages have had a fantastic run this year. They're up by double digits.

Defense stocks yesterday had a great day. They profited as the broader market fell. Shares of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon among others, hit record highs. Something that's not unusual when you have international tension.

MARQUEZ: And my fear index is only up 2 percent.

ROMANS: Yes, your fear index at historically low levels.

MARQUEZ: Yes, yes, I'm pretty good.

The State Department believes employees at the embassy in Havana last year were targeted by a sonic device that caused them to suffer 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, and also reported a variety of concussion-like symptoms.

[05:10:05] ROMANS: The FBI now looking into this case. The Trump administration responding to the incident by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington in may. Cuban officials call the expulsion an overreaction, but the Cuban foreign ministry says it is taking the matter with great seriousness.

MARQUEZ: As they should, a Republican senator's theory of why John McCain voted against the Senate health care plan left even a radio host stunned.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: He has a brain tumor right now. That vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning. Some of that might have factored in.



MARQUEZ: More of Ron Johnson's comments and what he's saying now.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Fifteen minutes past the hour.

A surprising new development in the Russia investigation. We have now learned FBI agents raided the home of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. That raid last month, confiscating materials for special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

[05:15:02] They used a so-called no-knock warrant to enter Manafort's Virginia home. It's an unusual tactic in a case already under investigation for months.

MARQUEZ: Now, sources tell CNN the raid took Trump's team by surprise and rattled cages in the president's inner circle.

So, why did feds take action?

CNN's Jessica Schneider has more.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Miguel, it was a surprise raid where the aim was to secure material that Paul Manafort presumably hadn't already turned over to the feds. FBI agents descended on his Alexandria, Virginia, apartment predawn, according to "The Washington Post", and seized financial records, tax records, and some documents that Manafort had actually already turned over to Senate investigators.

But the fact that this raid happened as a surprise and in the darkness of those early morning hours on July 26th, it signifies that the special counsel may be sending a message and getting serious when it comes to Paul Manafort and this Russia investigation.

Paul Manafort's spokesman confirmed the raid but then reiterated that Manafort has, quote, consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion, as well. Now, the raid did come one day after Paul Manafort talked behind

closed doors with Senate Intelligence Committee staff. But CNN has learned that federal investigators have become suspicious of Manafort after they turned up intercepted communications from suspected Russian operatives discussing Russian efforts to work with Manafort to gather information that could hurt Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House.

Federal investigators are also looking into his lobby work for a pro- Russia political party in Ukraine -- Christine and Miguel.


ROMANS: All right. Jessica Schneider, thank you for that.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson 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 derailed the Senate bill to repeal Obamacare.


JOHNSON: 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.


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

Now, dramatic rescue by the coast guard, plucking a Navy pilot off -- from the water off the Florida Keys after his jet fighter crashed into the ocean. Officials say the pilot ejected from the aircraft 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 under investigation.

The pilot who's not been identified suffered no serious injuries. He was conducting training operations when the plane went down. Lucky, lucky guy.

ROMANS: All right. A feisty feline may have given the St. Louis Cardinals a new rallying cry for their playoff hopes. Andy Scholes with the "Bleacher Report", next.


[05:22:55] MARQUEZ: Well, fresh off of winning the national championship at Clemson, quarterback Deshaun Watson making his NFL debut last night.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.


You know, the last time we saw Watson, he was throwing a game-winning touchdown for Clemson against Alabama in the title game. Texas fans excited about his future after picking him in the first round of the NFL draft. Clemson two hours from Charlotte, and tons of Clemson fans filling the stands to see Watson's NFL debut against the Panthers.

And Watson did not disappoint, running for a 15-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He looked good in this game. Panthers, though, would go on to win 27-17.

Now, an even better story than Watson's debut for the Texans was the return of David Quessenberry. The 26-year-old offensive lineman was playing in his first game since being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma three years ago. Quessenberry finished his last chemotherapy treatment in early April, ringing the bell at Indiana's hospital in Houston.

He got emotional returning to the field last night.


DAVID QUESSENBERRY, TEXANS LINEMAN/CANCER SURVIVOR: Before the game, I was thinking back, thinking back on how long it's been and -- and tonight was perfect.

J.J. WATT, HOUSTON TEXANS: I think that's hands down such a cool story. The guy's a warrior, a fighter. He's an inspiration to all of us. I think D.Q. deserves every bit of headline and every bit of praise and everybody gives him because he's a hell of a player, hell of a guy. And we couldn't be more prouder to have him on our team.


SCHOLES: All right. Cardinals and Royals last night. St. Louis had the bases loaded, down 5-4 in the sixth inning when a cat ran out on to the field.

And you have to check this out. The poor groundskeeper had to run out and get him. The cat was just scratching him, biting him when he was running off with him. The game would resume. Very next pitch, Molina hits a grand slam. That cat being called a hero and will forever be known in St. Louis as the rally cat. The Cardinals win the game 8-5.

All right. Finally, Minnesota Gophers' head coach, P.J. Fleck, brought in a fan named Kyle who's currently a patient at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital to speak with the team.

[05:25:06] And Kyle had a big surprise for one of the Gophers. He was going to be on scholarship.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each day, just you wake up and it's a new day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come over here. Come over here. Come over here. Come over here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Point it at them -- get it up there.



SCHOLES: So, that's backup kicker Justin Juenemann had no idea what was coming, what was on the t-shirt. Kyle said Justin made a big impact on him because of how much time he spent visiting him in the hospital.

Guys, it's such an awesome story because there aren't many backup kickers in college football that are on scholarship. But Coach Fleck said he made such a big impact on Kyle. He visited him at the hospital when he had no need to do that. And so, he deserved the scholarship he was getting.

MARQUEZ: And, Andy, just for the record, I was once a backup singer in a band called Rally Cat.

ROMANS: You were not.

SCHOLES: No, you weren't.

MARQUEZ: I was not actually. Rally cat's a good name for a band.

SCHOLES: I wish you were, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Rally cat. We are rally cat.

ROMANS: Could be like a stock market trade.

All right. Thank you.

North Korea defying President Trump. Another direct threat to Guam by Pyongyang. What will the president do after promising fire and fury if North Korea kept up its threats?