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EARLY START

Trump: North Korea Is A Worldwide Threat; Air Force Did Not Report Conviction Of Texas Gunman. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 7, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And, the Air Force acknowledges it did not relay a court-martial conviction of the Texas church gunman. Now, the Pentagon is investigating the failure which allowed the gunman to buy his weapons.

Thanks for getting an early start with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour this morning.

And just a short while ago, President Trump holding a news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Mr. Trump saying, quote, "It is time to act with urgency and great determination against the North Korean nuclear threat."

BRIGGS: The president calling Pyongyang a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action.

Ahead of all this, just hours ago, North Korea (sic) welcomed President Trump's arrival in Seoul with a fresh nuclear provocation promising to bolster their nuclear-treasured sword of justice.

Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is in Seoul with the president. Good morning to you, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave.

President Trump, when he was at that joint news conference with South Korean President Moon, struck a different tone than we've become accustomed to him talking about North Korea. Now, he defended his harsh rhetoric and he -- you know, his words were every bit as strong, but they were certainly more measured.

He, indeed, called on a worldwide response to confront this rising nuclear threat, to confront this regime. He said that they cannot allow North Korea to destroy all we've built, steeping it also in history going all the way back to the Korean War.

This is what he said a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea's sixth test of a nuclear device and its missile launches are a threat not only to the people of South Korea but to the people all across our globe.

We will, together, confront North Korea's actions and prevent the North Korean dictator from threatening millions of innocent lives. He is, indeed, threatening millions and millions of lives so needlessly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: You can almost hear the difference in his tone -- in the tone of his voice, of course, and some of that may be proximity. He is, of course, visiting the Korean Peninsula for the first time, standing some -- about 35 miles or so from the North Korean border there. So we will see if his tone changes, perhaps, when he leaves Asia.

But it is clear that he is calling on a worldwide response. Of course, the United Nations has been involved but he would like to see more involvement in terms of sanctions from China, in particular, and Russia.

Well, of course, he's heading to Beijing after his stop here in South Korea. He'll be heading there tomorrow. So that is a key question.

Also, later this week, he'll be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of an economic forum in Vietnam and North Korea will be front and center in those conversations as well -- Dave and Christine.

ROMANS: It sure will. All right, Jeff Zeleny. Thank you so much for that.

Let's bring back our CNN political analyst Josh Rogin. He's a columnist for "The Washington Post." And also, we've got Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst, and historian and professor at Princeton University.

Julian, first to you. I guess I want both of your reactions to how the president's doing on this trip.

What is he accomplishing, Julian? Is he -- what's he going to bring home? What's your -- what's your assessment?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, we don't know at this point. All we have are the promises that progress has been made on North Korea.

We have the visuals of the negotiation, but given the problems of creditability that we have in terms of the information coming from the White House, we don't know if there's a there there. We don't know is there evidence that he is making progress either through discussions with other leaders in the region to put pressure on North Korea --

ROMANS: Sure.

ZELENY: -- or developing some kind of plan to deal with the nuclear threat.

I think it's -- I don't know, at this point, is the only honest answer.

ROMANS: Josh?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I think in terms of the issues there's no progress, but in terms of the trip I'd be willing to say so far, so good. Other than that, you know, mini fake controversy over dumping the koi food into the pond, there really hasn't been any --

ROMANS: That was editing.

ZELIZER: A low bar.

ROMANS: That was editing it.

ROGIN: Right. So other than that, and that wasn't even really a thing, there haven't really been any gaffes. And for President Trump, that's like three days in a row.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROGIN: Hey, that's unprecedented.

BRIGGS: In a region known for discipline, he's showing discipline.

ROGIN: Exactly. He's standing by our allies, he's saying the right things. He's not threatening -- he didn't threaten nuclear war today. He very easily could have.

You know, again, that's sort of the soft bigotry of low expectations, but I'll take it. Now, all that being said, this is the easy part, OK?

Then we have China as a degree of difficulty, all of its own. And then we get to the Southeast Asian countries and that's 10 different counties, 10 different leaders, 10 different priorities, 10 different agendas.

Then he's got the meeting with the Filipino President Duterte. That's a minefield.

BRIGGS: That's is a big minefield.

ROGIN: And you had -- you had his -- Duterte's spokesman speaking on CNN International today claiming that President Trump supports their drug war, which is causing the death of tens of thousands of innocent people. It's atrocious.

All right. Then you've got another conference called APEC, and another one called the East Asia Summit. That's where it gets really tricky.

[05:35:01] Plus, as we know, President Trump doesn't like to be on the road that long, OK? Day one, day two, day three, that's OK. When we get to day nine, day 10, day 11, we might see a different President Trump with a little less patience. BRIGGS: But thus far --

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- staying on message and, Julian, talking about some progress he's seen given the North Korean nuclear threat. Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think we're making a lot of progress. I think we're showing great strength. I think they understand we have unparalleled strength. There has never been strength like it.

You know we sent three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world and they're, right now, positioned. We have a nuclear submarine also positioned.

We have many things happening that we hope -- we hope -- in fact, I'll go a step further -- we hope to God we never have to use.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: A different language, indeed, that we hope we never have to use it. But to the notion of progress of success, have you seen that. If so, where?

ZELIZER: No, look, it's deteriorated. I think we have not seen signs of progress at this point. It's gotten more heated, the nuclear program has continued, and there is no game plan in terms of how to deal with it.

We have contained this threat now for many decades. There have been diplomatic efforts to continue with containment, which has been our strategy since the Cold War, and this has been a ramping up of tension and a kind of falling apart of a plan.

And we've also lost the economic tool that President Obama put into place.

ROMANS: Talk a little about TPP.

ZELIZER: TPP wasn't simply an economic plan, it was a -- it was a strategy. The whole point was to --increase our leverage in that area and to have something to give -- to have something to sway China and other countries to participate in issues like North Korea.

President Trump blew that apart so we don't have that now.

ROMANS: So he gave away his leverage. He gave away his leverage.

ZELIZER: I think that's a fair argument and I think that's part of what we are actually dealing with, beyond the tweet provocations.

ROGIN: I think I agree with everything said. I would just add one thing. The Trump administration never really had an Asia vision. They never really had an Asia strategy. They knew that they didn't like Obama's pivot to Asia. They saw that as a failure.

What they're unveiling on this trip, although it's getting buried, is what they call their Indo-Pacific strategic framework, OK? That's their idea. You saw that in their speech in Japan but you're really going to see it in Vietnam.

And this is meant to chart America's vision for resetting the chess board in Asia and defining our interests there from India all the way to Japan.

Now, you've got to put a lot of meat on those bones and we don't have a lot of the details. But just that much to declare that America -- that the Trump administration has a strategy for Asia, this is what it is. It's meant to include India, it's meant to challenge China.

Yes, it's not what we would have thought. It's not what Hillary Clinton would have said if she were elected president, but we are where we are.

The Trump administration is coming around to this policy. And what this policy means is an alliance of like-minded countries to confront what they see as China's rise. Will it work? Only time will tell.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, what China wants is to show that they are a co- superpower with the United States and they want to make that clear in the days ahead.

ROGIN: That's right.

BRIGGS: But let's switch pace a little bit, Julian, and talk about some of the polling that came out yesterday, CNN in particular, showing the approval at 36 percent for this president, a post-war low.

Look inside the numbers. He's seeing some slippage with Independents and, in particular, probably frightening for this White House, whites without a college education.

Also, some polling from "The Wall Street Journal" and "NBC NEWS" shows Trump counties -- his disapproval now up to 50 percent or 48 percent approval of him. Those are in Trump counties from the election. Why?

ZELIZER: Well, the base is obviously looking to see that he will deliver on some of the promises of the campaign and that poll shows that many don't feel the country is better off a year after his election so that matters. He has not delivered on policies yet, but actually improved their life?

BRIGGS: But the economy's killing it. Why --

ROMANS: Yes, and he -- and he -- and he brags about it.

ZELIZER: When the economy does better it doesn't necessarily benefit all parts of the country equally. ROMANS: Right.

ZELIZER: This has been the problem from the start. So many of these counties don't care if the stock market is booming. This doesn't actually change their family circumstances.

There's one other poll that came out the other day that the margin of Americans who prefer Democratic candidates to Republican candidates for the midterm is larger than I think in a decade if turnout is good.

ROMANS: Right.

ZELIZER: So that's another number combined with the one you're talking about that's going to scare Republicans.

ROMANS: The president likes to take credit for the job market, for the stock market, for the economy growing three percent. But the risk of that, aside from a turnaround, is -- the risk of that is that he's saying that to people who aren't feeling it yet and they feel like he's disconnected. The very thing --

[05:40:07] ZELIZER: And that was his campaign argument.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly, exactly.

ZELIZER: That's was the point of the campaign.

BRIGGS: But in turnout we'll see a lot in Virginia today. Which direction is that headed?

Josh Rogin, Julian Zelizer, thank you, both.

ROMANS: Thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

Speaking of the markets, another record day for Wall Street. The Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P 500, record highs all around. The Dow alone is up 20 percent this year.

But half of Americans own stocks either directly or through mutual funds. The big question now is has the market become too hot?

I recently asked famed activist investor Bill Ackman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL ACKMAN, ACTIVIST INVESTOR: I think there are certainly specific pockets where valuations are perhaps very high. I think the biggest risks in the markets are politics.

ROMANS: If they don't do a tax cut?

ACKMAN: Well, I think corporate tax reform will be a driver for the economy, and I think also for the stock market. If that fails, that will be a negative. I think there's a growing belief that that's going to happen, although I would say it's not particularly reflected in market prices yet. I think the bigger risks are kind of geopolitical. North Korea is kind of an obvious one.

You know, the markets ignored any terrorist act and I think it's generally been right to. But, you know, God forbid there's some kind of nuclear incident. I think that's going to cause people to really reassess risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Ackman's latest battle is the human resources firm ADP. He says the company has become complacent. He is seeking three seats on its board. That shareholder vote is today.

BRIGGS: All right. Some interesting news for you.

The president tweeting while on his trip. He's been relatively quiet on the social media platform thus far, but back on Twitter as we speak. We'll have the latest for you later on in the program.

But first, the Air Force failed to relay critical information about the Texas gunman. That information could have prevented him from legally buying the guns used in the attack. More from Sutherland Springs, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:04] ROMANS: Welcome back.

Investigators say they've recovered more than 15 empty magazines with 30-round capacities from the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed Sunday, half of them children.

That's just some of the evidence painting an angry and violent picture of the gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley.

BRIGGS: Retired Air Force chief prosecutor Don Christensen telling CNN Kelley fractured his stepson's skull in an incident that led to his bad conduct discharge.

And now, the Air Force acknowledges it failed to properly relay Kelley's court-martial conviction to civilian law enforcement, a move that could have prevented him from buying weapons.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has more from Sutherland Springs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

Well, we are learning a lot more from the authorities about the attack and we are learning a lot more about his dark and angry past, specifically a chapter that might explain how he was able to accumulate such a formidable arsenal in which he was able to carry out this horrific attack. It happened in 2012 when the attacker was in the Air Force and he was convicted on two counts of domestic assault against his then-ex-wife and stepson. But it appears that the Air Force never communicated that information to the civilian authorities.

He was never entered into what is known as the National Criminal Information Database. And so when he went to buy weapons he wouldn't have popped up in the regular FBI background checks as someone with that kind of criminal record would have.

The Air Force is now saying that they are going to carry out an investigation into what went wrong, along with the Pentagon -- Christine, Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Alex, thanks.

We're now hearing from the church neighbor who shot, then chased after the Texas gunman. Stephen Willeford says he heard shooting at the church, grabbed his rifle, and exchanged gunfire, hitting the shooter twice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN WILLEFORD, SHOT AND CHASED TEXAS GUNMAN: I'm no hero, I am not. I think my God, my Lord, protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done.

And I just wish I could have gotten there faster, but I didn't know. I didn't know what was happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: After the gunman jumped in his SUV and sped away, Willeford flagged down the driver of a nearby pick-up, Johnnie Langendorff. The 10-minute high-speed chase ended when the shooter turned the gun on himself.

BRIGGS: Sixteen of the 26 victims of the Texas church massacre have now been identified. They range in age from 17 months to 77 years old.

The Holcombe family left devastated. Substitute pastor Bryan Holcombe, his wife Karla, their son Danny, and Danny's 17-month-old daughter Noah all killed. Also among the dead, Brian and Karla's daughter-in-law Crystal, who was two months pregnant, along with three of her five children, Emily Hill, Megan Hill, and Evelin Hill.

ROMANS: Robert and Shani Corrigan of Harrison, Michigan also lost their lives on Sunday. He was a retired Air Force. He and his wife leave behind two sons, both on active military duty.

BRIGGS: Fourteen shooting victims remain hospitalized.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen will visit Sutherland Springs tomorrow.

ROMANS: Just awful.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: Forty-nine minutes past the hour.

Uber is still recovering from its sexual harassment scandal. Now it's pledging money to help prevent harassment. Details on "CNN Money Stream," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:54:00] BRIGGS: All right. Let's talk some sports.

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, no stranger to talking politics, says gun control should be thought of as a public health issue, not a political one.

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

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.

You know, Steve Kerr lost his father to gun violence more than 30 years ago so this subject definitely hits home for him. And Kerr says, you know, it's time for politicians to put the politics of gun control aside and think about public safety.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE KERR, COACH, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: And our government has to lead the way and they can't just cave in to the NRA just because the NRA wants to make money. They have to put people's safety and health over the interests of the gun lobbying -- the gun industry.

For whatever reason, we're paralyzed and we are unable to do anything to protect our citizens, and it's disgusting and it's a shame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Now, Kerr went on to reference a "New York Times" article that compared gun control to automobile safety, referencing how over time stricter laws have made driving cars much safer.

[05:55:00] All right. Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Brown (sic) opening up -- Josh Gordon, that is, opening up about his substance abuse in a recent interview with "GQ" magazine.

Gordon says he drank or used drugs before every game he played in his professional and college career. Gordon said he would also continue to party right after the games.

Now, after going to rehab, Gordon was reinstated last week after being suspended for nearly three years for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He is expected to rejoin the Browns later today. All right. For the first time since 1986, a quarterback not named Rodgers or Favre starting for the Packers on "MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL."

The Packers continue to struggle with Aaron Rodgers. Matthew Stafford hooking up with Marvin Jones, Jr. for two scores. And after the first one -- check it out. The Lions with the rock 'em sock 'em robots touchdown celebration. That's pretty cool.

The Lions win in Lambeau for just the second time in 25 years. Thirty to 17 was your final there, guys.

I'll tell you what. One of the best decisions the NFL has made over the last year was bringing back the group touchdown celebrations because we've seen some pretty awesome ones so far this year.

BRIGGS: Did you see the potato sack touchdown dance from Kelce and the Chiefs? That was pretty good.

SCHOLES: That was pretty good, as well.

BRIGGS: Pretty good. All right, thank you, Andy. Appreciate it, buddy.

ROMANS: Thanks, Andy.

All right. The man charged with assaulting Sen. Rand Paul, his neighbor, was not motivated by politics. That's according to his attorney. He calls the incident a regrettable dispute between two neighbors over something most people would consider quote "trivial."

According to another neighbor, Sen. Paul and Rene Boucher had a long- running dispute over grass clippings and leaves blowing onto each other's lawns. Now, it's not clear whether that's what led to the attack, although he was mowing his lawn --

BRIGGS: That's correct.

ROMANS: -- at the time of the attack.

He sustained five rib fractures. The senator received five rib fractures and bruised lungs.

BRIGGS: Juli Briskman out of a job for flipping the bird at President Trump. Briskman was riding her bike last month in Sterling, Virginia when the president's motorcade passed by. She says her middle finger said what she was feeling, anger and frustration.

The photo went viral. Briskman used the picture on her Facebook and Twitter pages.

But, Julie's company, Akema LLC, saw it and she was fired for violating the firm's social media policy. That will get you every time.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning. Global stock markets mostly higher after another record day on Wall Street. The Dow, the Nasdaq, and the S&P 500 all hit highs.

President Trump, this morning, is taking credit for these records, tweeting just moments ago from South Korea that this is due to confidence in his administration.

The jump is probably due to movements on Trump's tax plan, no question, as well as some big corporate deals.

Shipmaker Broadcom offered $103 billion to buy rival Qualcomm. That would be the biggest tech sector deal ever.

Meanwhile, Disney recently tried to buy a large chunk of 21st Century Fox. Those talks first reported by CNBC, they're no longer active.

But, Fox had planned to sell its entire entertainment business to Disney, including its movie studio, television production unit, and entertainment networks. That would help Disney's struggling T.V. business, leaving Fox to focus on news and sports.

Neither Disney nor 21st Century Fox commented. But Fox shares, whoa. They jumped 10 percent on the news on the market yesterday.

Reports of sexual harassment are hitting Hollywood, they're hitting media, tech companies. Now, Uber is pledging millions of dollars to help prevent harassment. It's donating $5 million to combat sexual assault and domestic violence.

Uber, of course, is still reeling from its own sexual harassment scandal earlier this year and a brogrammer culture they say was just rife with sexism. The investigation resulted in the firing of 20 employees.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" starts right now. Alisyn Camerota in Washington D.C., Chris Cuomo in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

We'll see you tomorrow.