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EARLY START

The President Versus the Media; California Wildfire Death Toll Rises; Clinton "Shocked" by Weinstein Allegations. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 12, 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)

[04:00:13] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's frankly disgusting the way the press was able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: People should look into it.

President Trump taking aim at the media as new reporting reveals major turmoil inside his White House.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Devastating fires continue to ravage northern California. The death toll is rising. Hundreds are still missing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was -- I was just sick. I was shocked. I was appalled.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Hillary Clinton speaking out publicly for the very first time about Harvey Weinstein as more accusers come forward.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Brigg. Good morning. It's Thursday, October 12, 4:00 a.m. in the East. It is 1:00 a.m. in California, where entire neighborhoods are now in ashes. We will get to that in a just a moment.

We'll start, though, with President Trump escalating his threats against the media, suggesting news organizations whose reporting he doesn't like should possibly be shut down. The president tweeting: Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake. Its licenses must be challenged and if appropriate revoked. Not fair to public.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska punching back at the president with a tweet of his own. Quote, Mr. President, are you recanting the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect and defend the First Amendment? BRIGGS: The president specifically lashing out at NBC News over its

report he wants a ten-fold increase in the nation's nuclear arsenal, a report Secretary of Defense James Mattis called absolutely false. Last night, the president went even further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The media is bad. They are really dishonest people. These are very, very dishonest people, in many cases. In many cases.

But when you're the one being written about, you know whether it's good or bad, and it's always they try to make it negative. So, the media has turned I call it fake media. It's media. It's so much fake news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: President Trump's latest feud with the media comes amid reports of turmoil behind the scenes at the White House in a new "Vanity Fair" story. Sources say the president is unstable and unraveling. Two sources telling "Vanity Fair" the president vented to his long-time security chief Keith Schiller: I hate everyone in the White House. There are a few exceptions, but I hate them.

A White House official denies the president said this.

BRIGGS: Meantime, two senior Republicans tell "Vanity Fair" the Chief of Staff John Kelly is, quote, miserable in his job and remains at the White House out of a sense of duty.

"Vanity Fair" also reporting former chief strategist Steve Bannon told President Trump months ago that the threat is not as real problem. The real threat to his presidency, Bannon reportedly said, is the 25th Amendment. That's a provision that allows a majority of the cabinet to remove him from office.

Here's "Vanity Fair". Quote, when Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, what's that? According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it the full term.

ROMANS: CNN has learned more about what prompted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's moron comment. Multiple, multiple senior U.S. officials tell us the comment followed a difficult, intense Pentagon security briefing for the president. One official say, participants were ashen at the president's direct questioning of military commanders leadership and his lack of a nuanced world view. That's when Tillerson in a private conversation called had his boss a moron.

BRIGGS: All right. Now to California, the death toll there and the devastating wildfires rising overnight is now 23, 285 people remain missing in Sonoma County alone. Statewide, firefighters are battling 22 blazes. Wednesday, they had to cope with shifting winds blowing up to 40 miles per hour in some places.

ROMANS: More than 20,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes including the city of Calistoga. Residents in the city of Napa have been told to prepare for possible evacuation. A total of 115 flights cancelled at San Francisco International Airport yesterday due in part to reduce visibility from those wildfires.

For more, CNN's Dan Simon filed this for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, this fire is still going. You can see the smoke behind me. This is one small section of this massive wildfire and the concern is that as the winds pick up, that you can see more devastation.

I was in a Black Hawk helicopter Wednesday afternoon and what we saw was breathtaking. Only with that bird's eye perspective can you get a full appreciation of what things look like. And we saw home after home, street after street, that had been decimated.

[04:05:04] The other thing that stuck out is just how much active flame there still is. And that's why authorities are still going door to door, trying to evacuate people, making sure people flee the danger.

This fire is now the most destructive fire, wildfire in California history. You would have to go back to 1991. Then, you had 2,900 buildings that were destroyed. This time, 3,500 buildings destroyed and, unfortunately, this fire has the potential to become the deadliest as well -- Christine and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Our thoughts and prayers with everyone out there. Thank you, Dan.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton speaking out about disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Clinton pledged to donate the money Weinstein contributed to her past political campaigns. She calls the sexual assault allegations against Weinstein stunning.

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HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was -- I was just sick. I was shocked. I was appalled. It was something that was just intolerable in every way.

And, you know, like so many people who have come forward and spoken out, this was a different side of a person who I and many others had known in the past.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Would you have called him a friend?

CLINTON: Yes, I probably would have, and so with so many others. You know, people in Democratic politics for a couple of decades appreciated his help and support. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The Weinstein Company board may have known about confidential settlements paid to several female accusers back in 2015. One board member says he even pushed for a new code of conduct at the company. This board member telling "The New York Times", I don't know what else I could have done.

Meanwhile, the accusation against Weinstein are widening. Twenty- five-year-old Cara Delevingne detailing an alleged incident while meeting with Weinstein about the film "Tulip Fever" in 2014.

BRIGGS: Here's what she says, quote: As soon as we were alone, he began to brag about all the actresses he had slept with and how he had made their careers and spoke about other inappropriate things of a sexual nature. He then invited me to his room. I quickly declined and asked his assistant if my car was outside. She said it wasn't and wouldn't be for a bit. And I should go to his room.

When I arrived, I was relieved to find another woman in his room and thought immediately I was safe. He asked us to kiss and she began some sort of advances upon his direction. I swiftly got up and asked him if he knew that I could sing and I began to sing. I was so nervous.

After singing, I said again that I had to leave. He walked me to the door, stood in front of it and tried to kiss me on the lips. I stopped him and managed to get out of the room.

ROMANS: Wow.

All right. Eight minutes past the hour.

President Trump expected to sign an executive order on health care today. The exact details not known, but the president said he would act on his own to make it easier for small businesses to join together to buy health insurance. Here's what he told FOX News last night.

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TRUMP: We're going to have great health care across state lines. People can buy it. It will cost the government nothing. They will go out. Private insurers are going to give you incredible health care. And I'll tell you what, this will take -- and I can sign it myself. I don't need anybody. I would have done it earlier except I was hoping that they were going to put this through and I'll have it in the bill.

But we're signing tomorrow a health care package that will cover, I don't know, people say 30 percent, people say 25 percent, and some people say could be 50 percent. It's going to cover a large percentage of the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Still, Democrats and some state health regulators claim that relaxing standards for so-called association health plans would likely lead to skimpier coverage since they would not have to adhere to all of Obamacare's protections.

All right. President Trump making a false claim about the national debt.

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TRUMP: The country, we took it over, it owed $20 trillion. As you know, the last eight years, they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our company. So, they borrowed more than $10 trillion, yet? And yet we picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market, possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months, in terms of value.

So, you can say in one sense, we are really increasing values and maybe in a sense, we're reducing debt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: In no sense does a stock market rally wipe out the national debt. In zero sense does the stock market rally which enriches corporation and investors and shareholders translate into American taxpayers and the national debt, which is $20 trillion. The White House would not or did not respond immediately when asked to explain the president's false comment.

Trump says a roaring stock market helps the national debt, which isn't true. And the two have no obvious connection. The stock market measures the wealth of companies and their investors.

[04:10:02] The national debt is money owed by the government, money already spent that Congress has spent. Government spending increases debt. The debt is lowered by spending less or raising taxes. That's the connection, Mr. President.

Meanwhile, the president is promoting a tax plan that could add trillions to the deficit and the debt. Also, it's true that the national debt increased under President Obama, so did the stock market by the way, from 2009 through 2017. The S&P 500 rose 235 percent.

So if President Trump is doling out credit for a stock market rally undoing the national debt, then he should be giving a high five to President Obama as well. While stocks are up since the election, you can see, I'm going to show the Trump bump here, it's the very end of a very long bull market.

My head exploded.

BRIGGS: Look, I haven't slept a lot. So, I'm trying --

ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE) in me is having heart palpitations.

BRIGGS: Our challenge for you, the viewer this morning, let us know @earlystart in what sense does that make sense? Because again, we haven't slept a lot. Maybe some of you have.

ROMANS: I would say, to be charitable, you would say the president is comparing apples and oranges. The president is comparing apples and asteroid. There's just --

BRIGGS: That is a doozy, my friends.

All right. Ahead, North Korea warning that the U.S. has, quote, lit the wick of war and President Trump not backing down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: What was the calm before the storm?

TRUMP: We can't let this to go on. We just can't. Now, you can say what you want. This should have been handled 25 years ago. It should have been handled 20 years ago, and 10 years ago and five years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[04:15:41] ROMANS: All right. Tension building this morning between the U.S. and North Korea. The president is dialing up the rhetoric after weeks of publicly undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for his diplomatic approach to North Korea. The president admits he sees the crisis through a different lens than most.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think I have a different attitude on North Korea than other people might have. And I listen to everybody. But ultimately, my attitude is the one that matters, isn't it? That's the way it works. That's the way the system is.

But I think I might have a somewhat different attitude and a different way than other people. I think perhaps I feel stronger and tougher on that subject than other people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Let's go live to Seoul, South Korea, and bring in CNN's Alexandra Field.

Alexandra, North Korea's foreign minister is firing back at President Trump. What's the latest?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you heard President Trump saying he has a different attitude than some. Well, you're also hearing the foreign minister from North Korea speaking to Russian state media, also undercutting the idea of a diplomatic solution to the ever growing crisis here on the peninsula, saying that dialogue is now possible, reiterating the point that you consistently hear from the regime of the nuclear and missile program is not on the negotiation table.

In fact, he went as far as to say that the U.S. president had lit the wick of war during his speech to the United Nations last month when he touted the United States' ability to, quote/unquote, destroy North Korea if necessary, and taunted the regime's leader, Kim Jong-un, calling him rocket man. For weeks now, you've heard the U.S. president sending cryptic messages about what the course forward would be dealing when it comes to dealing with North Korea and certainly publicly undercutting his secretary of state's efforts to create a diplomatic solution to establish these lines of dialogue to North Korea.

What you have seen from the United States in recent weeks has been the same posture they have been maintaining for months now, really maintaining military readiness, flying those B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula and preparing for another round of naval drills with the South Korean military later this month, moves that are always seen by Pyongyang as further provocation -- Christine.

ROMANS: And Pyongyang ready to destroy America and let blood runs through the streets if necessary. The rhetoric certainly, certainly high.

Thank you so much for that, Alexandra Steele, in Seoul, for us.

BRIGGS: All right. Investigators in Las Vegas is still struggling to find some motive for the massacres. Newly released audio reveals the terrifying first moments of the shooting and raises even more questions about this time line.

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[04:22:46] BRIGGS: Investigators still searching for a motive this morning of the Las Vegas mass shooting, as questions emerged about the shifting police timeline for the carnage. Sheriff Joe Lombardo says they may never know what drove the gunman, but they won't stop digging.

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SHERIFF JOE LOMBARDO, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: The net is getting smaller on a day by day basis. And what I mean by that, we've had over 1,000 leads come in, and we're running those down to the ground. And our picture of Mr. Paddock or the suspect is getting a little bit brighter. I think we'll have a pretty good assessment of the reasons why, but it's going to take time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Meantime, authorities released new dispatch audio from inside the Mandalay Bay Resort when shots rang out.

We get more from CNN's Kyung Lah in Las Vegas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, we know that the shooting inside the Mandalay Bay took place six minutes before the gunman turned his attention on to the crowd. Well, now, for the very first time, we're hearing hotel radio traffic. The hotel engineer radioing, saying that there is gunfire on the 32nd floor. If you listen very carefully, you can hear the sound of gunfire. (GUNFIRE)

HOTEL ENGINEER: Call the police, someone is firing a gun up here. Someone is firing a rifle on the 32nd floor down the hallway.

It's at the end of the hallway. I can't, I can't tell you what room. He looked like he fired down the hallway when I got closer to the door.

LAH: Minutes later, the gunman would then begin shooting into the crowd from that 32nd floor hotel suite.

Now, we're also learning that the very first civil lawsuit is being filed against MGM Resort and the Mandalay Bay. It's being filed by the family of 21-year-old Paige Gasper.

She is in college. She is on the dean's list. She was there just trying to enjoy a concert. The bullet went through her torso. She has extensive injuries and a long road ahead.

Her mother says part of the reason they are filing this lawsuit is they want to know the time line. What happened in that six minutes when the hotel security guard was shot, that he radioed the front desk, was 911 called right away? She says these are you are urgent questions that the family wants to know and that the public should know -- Dave, Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[04:25:04] ROMANS: The timeline, the motive still searching for answers there in Las Vegas.

The New York Yankees moving on to American League championship series with a 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians last night. Didi Gregorius providing all the runs the Yankees needed with a pair of home runs.

The Baby Bombers overcoming an 0-2 deficit in a monumental game (INAUDIBLE) by their manager to eliminate the Indians in five games. They will meet the Houston Astros in game one of the ALCS Friday for the right to advance to the World Series.

BRIGGS: Hard luck Indians. That city, they deserve a winner, but New York ahead of the curve.

ROMANS: Right. President Trump lashing out at the press, even threatening to ban major news organizations.

BRIGGS: That's right. We're also following the dangerous and deadly fires in Northern California, where authorities continue to battle the catastrophic inferno.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's frankly disgusting the way the press was able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)