Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Trump: Author Of New York Times Op-Ed Is "Gutless"; Kim Jong Un Renews Commitment To Denuclearization; Kavanaugh: "No One Is Above The Law"; Kaepernick Nike Ad To Debut During NFL Opener. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 6, 2018 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:30:53] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An anonymous editorial -- can you believe it -- anonymous, meaning gutless. A gutless editorial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Unprecedented and anonymous. Who is the senior administration official who claims there's an effort to thwart the president's impulses?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT KAVANAUGH, NOMINEE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: That's a hypothetical question. I'm not going to answer hypothetical questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's Supreme Court nominee doesn't have a lot to say about legal issues that could impact the commander in chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN KAEPERNICK, FOOTBALL QUARTERBACK, FREE AGENT: Even if it means sacrificing everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: And the NFL season kicking off tonight buy you won't see Colin Kaepernick. But his presence will be felt.

Good morning and welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik sitting in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning, Alison. Good morning, all of you. I'm Dave Briggs.

A top-trending topic on Twitter this morning, loadstar. Merriam Webster defines it as one that serves as an inspiration, model or guide. Some say it's a clue as to who wrote this "New York Times" op- ed. Who is the senior administration official? That's the question this morning on the minds of everyone in this country and in the nation's capital.

This op-ed in the "Times" -- the one that calls out the president for his amorality and reckless decision-making. The author writing he or she is part of a resistance inside the administration working to neutralize the president's worst impulses. Even claiming there were early whispers about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office with aides ultimately deciding not to risk a constitutional crisis.

KOSIK: OK, here's more from whoever penned the op-ed writing some of this.

"To be clear, ours is not the popular resistance of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous. But we believe our first duty is to this country and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic."

That claim has the president and his inner circle pushing back hard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And it's not clear to us anyway that it's somebody in the White House. And they're saying senior administration official. That could many people. There are, I think, thousands of political appointees -- hundreds of folks who would qualify under that title alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: And this from the president who asks "Treason? The Times must, for national security national security purposes, turn him or her over to government at once."

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump waking up to another bombshell, this time in "The New York Times" with a Trump senior administration official really giving a blistering assessment of his administration and frankly, of his capacity for office.

This is one of the passages this official writes about anonymously, saying this.

"It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening and we are trying to do what's right even when Donald Trump won't."

Now, this is really just a -- the most blistering assessment we have seen of this presidency. But the president, of course, pushing back when he was speaking with sheriffs at the White House on Wednesday evening. He took on "The New York Times" and said this.

TRUMP: When you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration, probably who is failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons -- if the failing "New York Times" has an anonymous editorial -- can you believe it -- anonymous. We need gutless, a gutless editorial. We're doing a great job.

ZELENY: He'll be traveling later today to Montana for a campaign rally tonight in Billings, Montana, then staying on the road unusually, going to North and South Dakota for campaign-type events as well. But we do know all of this will follow him.

And clearly, the White House pushing back on this. Press Sec. Sarah Sanders said the person is a coward and should resign -- Dave and Alison.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Jeff Zeleny on another stunning day in the nation's capital.

Let's go there and bring in CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin. And, "Washington Examiner" commentary writer Phil Wegmann.

[05:35:05] Good morning to both of you --

KOSIK: Good morning.

BRIGGS: -- on an extraordinary day in this country.

So I want to get both your reactions. We want to figure out who this could be. Exactly what a senior administration official is.

But just first, both of your reaction as to what is new here and what this means. Josh, we'll start with you.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I don't there's a lot new here in this op-ed, actually. It's like the Woodward book confirms, what a lot of us have been reporting and knowing and hearing from lots of people inside the administration for almost two years, right.

I mean, this administration -- senior administration officials leak all day, every day. This administration leaks like the Iraqi navy, OK. And if you put like 30 of those leaks together that's this op-ed.

Now, that 25th Amendment thing, I want to know more about that. That's a real thing, OK.

Other than --

BRIGGS: But inside the cabinet.

KOSIK: Right. BRIGGS: Yes.

ROGIN: Right, but this is not what a senior administration official means. It means anything, OK.

It could be a career person, it could be a political person. It could be in the Intelligence Community, it could be in the State Department. It doesn't really give us any information.

And that loadstar thing is a red herring too because that's cribbed from Henry Kissinger's speech at John McCain's funeral where he said John McCain -- honor was his loadstar. So that narrows the field down to the millions of people who watched John McCain's funeral, right.

So --

BRIGGS: Well, real quickly on that, social media sleuths were at it all night and they found out that Mike Pence has used that word repeatedly, but all of our reporting suggests that it is not Pence.

Some people think it could be his chief of staff. And again --

ROGIN: It doesn't make any sense.

BRIGGS: -- our reporting saying it is not him, either. But, proceed.

ROGIN: Yes, it doesn't make any sense that it's Mike Pence. It has to be someone who is like lower down --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROGIN: -- right -- probably not in the White House. Someone with a lot of access and not a lot of authority.

And again, I speak to these people all day, every day. They say these things all day, every day.

The fact that it's in "The New York Times" and in a full essay -- yes, it's significant. It's an epic troll of the president and it seems to be working.

But like I said before, it's surprising. It's not shocking. And this just confirms a lot of what a lot of people in this administration think, which is that the administration is doing some good things but the president doesn't know what he's doing.

KOSIK: OK, Phil, I want to bring you in here to this discussion because I want to talk more about "The New York Times" editorial decision to go with this op-ed anonymous.

Your thoughts on that because what this is essentially doing is turning into a real whodunnit, isn't it?

PHILIP WEGMANN, COMMENTARY WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Exactly and I would echo a lot of what Josh just said a moment ago because maybe I'm out of line here but I think that I'm starting to doubt the editorial judgment of "The New York Times" when they decided to publish this op-ed anonymously.

I mean, look, there is not a lot of new information in this essay. I mean, Lindsey Graham was telling us way back in 2016 that President Trump was unfit for office.

You know, even Sen. Ted Cruz was saying that Trump was a moron and would turn his back on every single decision -- or every single promise that he made.

So what we have in this op-ed is we don't know who the author is. Instead, what is happening as a result is because this could be anyone it ignites this sort of bonfire of paranoia and it creates an environment in the White House where I do think that there are staffers who are trying to curb the more extreme impulses of the president. And it makes their job that much more difficult.

BRIGGS: Yes. Some feel this is journalistic malpractice, some think it's corrupt, some think it's courageous, some think it's cowardly. Opinions range all over the place.

But to your point Josh, Bob Corker, Republican senator, said "This is what all of us have understood to be the situation from day one."

But what's the impact of this piece then, other than an angry president and a very fiery rally tonight in Billings, Montana?

ROGIN: Right. To me, as a journalist, I find it much more shocking and newsworthy that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee --

BRIGGS: Right.

ROGIN: -- saying these things about the president on the record in public all the time --

BRIGGS: Me, too.

ROGIN: -- rather than some senior administration official --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROGIN: -- in "The New York Times." They're both important.

But again, this is like building on a body of evidence that is pretty well understood, OK, than -- also, this whole idea that people around the president try to contain the president, very well reported by the reporters at "The New York Times," "The Washington Post."

You know, Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, you name it. This is what everyone's doing.

That's just indisputable how the fact that this senior administration official has decided to take this risk and put it in such stark terms, I think that's a huge decision for that individual and I think that individual is basically torn up inside about their role inside the Trump administration. But again, that's not unique. There's literally hundreds of people in that exact same situation. And it sort of gets to this --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROGIN: -- question of OK, well what should these people do? Should they quit or should they stay and try to steer the mob towards less -- you know, good out -- less bad outcomes?

[05:40:01] And I think the consensus and what you say with Bob Corker is that these people should stay assuming that they stomach it or that they're not working against their own ideals or morals or beliefs because we need a government with a lot of professionals, even if those professionals don't agree with the president all the time.

KOSIK: Philip, if you were a fly on the wall inside the White House, what's it like there this morning?

WEGMANN: I think the problem here is that you now realize that there could be thousands of senior administrative officials, if "The New York Times" is being straightforward with who that person's title actually is. I think that there's been like 1,200 individuals who have to be Senate-approved as far as senior administrative officials go.

The problem here is that we don't necessarily know who this person could be. I really doubt that it is someone in the cabinet and so this has sort of started this irresponsible parlor game where you have people guessing.

You know, politicos and journalists such as ourselves guessing who could this be? Who is the sort of person who wanted to write an op-ed instead of just leaking to reporters, which is something that's been happening since day one of this administration?

So I think that what this does is it makes life much more difficult for any staffer in the White House who is trying to do their job, and we know that there are many of them. So it's going to be another incredibly interesting and chaotic day over at the White House.

BRIGGS: Yes. The one thing we do know it is not treason as the president tweeted yesterday.

Josh, this comes on the heels of the Bob Woodward book which is explosive enough to give the news cycle oxygen for the next month. The book comes out on Tuesday.

Your reporting is that there have been discussions about who will replace Mattis as secretary of Defense, but that started before the Bob Woodward book.

What's the latest on this?

ROGIN: Well, that's right. I mean, for weeks now there have been lots of discussions inside the White House about who might replace Jim Mattis if and when Jim Mattis leaves. And now that the Woodward book has come out and describes all of these crazy interactions between Trump and Mattis -- that Mattis and Trump have denied, by the way.

But anyway, now the speculation inside the White House is ramped off. In other words, they've dusted off the list and said OK, we'd better get this ready because who knows what's going to happen next.

And at the top of that list is retired Army Gen. Jack Keane. He was vice chief of staff for the Army. He was actually offered the job of Defense secretary in 2016 but had to turn it down for some personal family reasons. But now he's back in the mix.

And the Mattis -- people close to Mattis tell me -- hey listen, the guy's been there for two years. It would make sense although no final decisions have been made.

If over the next couple of months he looks for his way out -- and what all these top Trump officials deal with is like OK, can I have an honorable exit? Could I leave with dignity?

You know, Rex Tillerson got fired on the toilet. H.R. McMaster had an exit plan until Trump decided to throw that in the trash.

So, Jim Mattis, who has a very good reputation and has been a general for all this time, he wants to leave on his own terms. And over at the White House they're coming up some plans that might make that a little bit more complicated.

KOSIK: All right, Phil and Josh. We're going to bring you back in a little bit to talk more. Thanks so much.

ROGIN: Thank you.

WEGMANN: Thanks.

BRIGGS: Good stuff, guys. Thank you.

All right, some breaking news overnight.

Kim Jong Un recommitting to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and this time he puts a timetable on it. We are live in Seoul with the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:47:29] BRIGGS: Breaking news overnight.

North Korea's state news agency reporting Kim Jong Un is renewing his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This time, putting a time line on it.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul with the latest. Paula, good morning.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Dave.

Well, that time line, according to the South Korean delegation that went to see Kim Jong Un, is within President Trump's first term. We have heard from Kim Jong Un through the South Koreans also that he has an unwavering trust of President Trump despite the fact that there have been recent difficulties.

He is pointing to concessions that he believes he has made and he is saying that he would like matching measures from the United States and then he will take more active steps towards denuclearization.

Now, that is that exact opposite of what Washington is looking for. They're looking for denuclearization and then they will give concessions and potentially life sanctions.

Now, we also heard from the phone call that President Moon, the South Korean president, and Trump had on Tuesday, that Mr. Trump gave Mr. Moon a message for Kim Jong Un. That message was delivered on Wednesday and apparently, there is a message coming back from Kim Jong Un to Mr. Trump that will be given over the phone from national security advisers. It will be given to John Bolton in just an hour or so -- 7:00 a.m. eastern is when they will be having that phone call.

So certainly, a lot of developments. There is the fact that the U.S. and North Korea are talking to each other but at this point, it's through South Korea -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul, tonight there. Thank you.

KOSIK: On Capitol Hill, no shortage of fireworks but there was a shortage of concrete answers from the president's Supreme Court nominee. Brett Kavanaugh declaring no one is above the law during a 12-hour session before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But he did not want to answer any potentially explosive questions from Democrats about the man who nominated him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), MEMBER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Can a sitting president be required to respond to a subpoena?

KAVANAUGH: So that's a hypothetical question.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), MEMBER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: President Trump claims he has an absolute right to pardon himself. Does he?

KAVANAUGH: Well, that's a hypothetical question that I can't begin to answer --

LEAHY: What about --

KAVANAUGH: -- in this context as a sitting judge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: It is common practice for judicial nominees to say they cannot answer questions about cases that may come before them, going back to Ginsburg. But this is becoming a critical issue considering the ongoing Mueller investigation.

KOSIK: OK, let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning.

[05:50:00] U.S. stock futures have turned slightly higher as the rocky start to September continues. The major averages closed mixed on Wednesday as trade fears and a big drop in tech -- all of that weighing on stocks. Markets in Europe and Asia, at the moment, are mixed.

Tech stocks are taking a beating following hearings on Capitol Hill. Facebook shed more than two percent and Twitter tumbled six percent after Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey faced lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Investors are concerned that the government may slap regulations on the social networks and that recent problems with disinformation could dent the bottom line of both companies. That weighed on the broader tech sector.

I want you to look at the FAANG stocks. Those are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. All of them posting losses. Those stocks are set to open mixed this morning.

The NFL season starts tonight and it's also the kick-off for a busy season of legal sports betting in a handful of states. New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, and West Virginia recently legalized sports gambling after the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban in May.

Other states could follow before the season ends and many more in the next couple of years. That will spark a $2.3 billion increase in revenue for the NFL. That's according to a Nielsen study which was commissioned and paid for by the American Gaming Association.

Now, the money will come from higher fees, for broadcast rights, as well as ticket sales, advertising, sponsorships, and other deals.

BRIGGS: So pump the brakes on all the reporting of the NFL --

KOSIK: Right, the NFL is not dead.

BRIGGS: -- is dead -- yes. Some massive growth potential there.

Coming up, speaking of the NFL, Colin Kaepernick's presence will loom large as the season gets underway tonight. Andy Scholes in Philadelphia with the "Bleacher Report," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:56:09] OK, it's here. The NFL season kicks off tonight and Colin Kaepernick revealing his first ad for Nike.

KOSIK: Andy Scholes is in Philadelphia for tonight's season opener. Good morning.

BRIGGS: Hey, man.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. You know, the Philadelphia Eagles are going to unveil their first-ever Super Bowl championship banner tonight. All the fans here in Philly are certainly pumped for that.

But as another NFL season gets ready to kick off, a guy who is not even in the league continues to grab the headlines. Colin Kaepernick still without an NFL team but you will see him tonight if you watch the game.

Nike says Kaepernick's new ad will air at some point during the broadcast. Kaepernick narrates the more than 2-minute-long ad which celebrates the 30th anniversary of Nike's "Just Do It" campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAEPERNICK: And if you are a girl from Compton, don't just become a tennis player. Become the greatest athlete ever. Yeah, that's more like it.

So don't ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they're crazy enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: The Players Coalition, meanwhile, which is a group of NFL players focused on bringing awareness to systemic issues in America, releasing a new op-ed and promo video yesterday in an attempt to bring the attention back to why it is they are protesting and what they are doing behind the scenes.

Now in the piece, they explain they are fighting on behalf of those who have no voice and it does not mean they are disrespecting anybody.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still believe the dream is worth fighting for and that fight requires everyone to stand up and call out injustice in our communities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It requires us to work with community-minded officers and within our criminal justice system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can build a safer future with a system that's accountable and fair for everyone but we must do it together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: As for the big game here in Philly, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is going to get to start as Carson Wentz continues to recover from a season-ending injury last year. Now, which Nick Foles is going to show up? He's been fire and ice his entire career.

But whichever one does show up, the "Bleacher Report's" Chris Simms tells me that the Eagles making the right call going with Foles early in the season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS SIMMS, NFL HOST, "BLEACHER REPORT": If I'm the Philadelphia Eagles, I'm not going to mortgage the whole future on what's going on with Foles.

ADAM LEFKOE, NFL HOST, "BLEACHER REPORT": What's going on with Foles.

SIMMS: Right. We got to get him out there on week one and see if he can go. And no, Nick Foles played well at the end of the season last year -- a Super Bowl MVP.

LEFKOE: Yes. Let's wait until Carson Wentz is totally ready, 100 percent. The question --

SIMMS: And I think they're primed for an upset on their unveiling of their Eagles banner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right. We'll have to wait and see if that upset happens.

Simms and Adam Lefkoe have a new show this year, which you can check out on the "Bleacher Report" app and the YouTube channel. They're going to dive deep into the culture of the NFL and make week-by-week --

BRIGGS: Yes.

SCHOLES: -- guys.

And you know what? We always do this the first Thursday of the season -- our Super Bowl prediction. What you do got for me, Dave?

BRIGGS: I've just got -- I haven't given any thought so I'll go with my default pick -- the Patriots. Have I --

KOSIK: I'm with him. I'm with him.

BRIGGS: But we lost Scholes. That was by design.

All right, that was a good report from him. Someone didn't want his prediction to get on the air.

KOSIK: I guess not. All right, thanks --

BRIGGS: That'll do it.

KOSIK: -- for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

This is a genuine constitutional crisis.

TRUMP: The failing "New York Times" has an anonymous editorial. Can you believe it -- anonymous?

There were whispers among cabinet officials about invoking the 25th Amendment.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is not a treasonous act but disloyal and cowardly act against the president.

This is a cry for help to Republican on the Hill to stand up to this president.

Democracy is fragile and if the president challenges it we've got to challenge him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, September sixth, 6:00 here in New York.

You have never seen anything like this before. I have never seen anything like --