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EARLY START

New Ties Between Trump Campaign & WikiLeaks; Trump in His Own Words; Officials: Military Still Working to Arm Drones; Astros Even World Series With Epic Game 2 Win. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 26, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: We're seeing Amazon kind of pushing for that world domination.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Amazonification. It's happening.

KOSIK: Yes.

BRIGGS: More than the financial crisis. That is a staggering number.

KOSIK: Yes.

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

KOSIK: A Trump campaign contractor reach the out to WikiLeaks during the election. Now, the campaign is distancing itself despite paying the firm millions of dollars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a disgrace. I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. I'm a very negligent person. No hesitation. One of the great memories of all time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: And it was quite the spur of the moment news conference at the White House. What President Trump said about his intelligence, his relationships on the Hill and more?

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

I went to a state school. Average student. Solid.

KOSIK: And I'm Alison Kosik. It's Thursday, October 26th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the east, 10:00 a.m. in Niger, 5:30 p.m. in North Korea.

And the closest connection yet between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks prompting many new questions this morning. "The Daily Beast" first to report that the head of a data analytics company that worked for the Trump campaign emailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

BRIGGS: Four sources telling CNN Cambridge Analytica CEO was seeking the tens of thousand of e-mails that Hillary Clinton deleted from her private server while she was the secretary of state.

For more, let's turn to CNN's Pamela Brown in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE & SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison and Dave.

Sources tell CNN, the head of Cambridge Analytica, a data firm working for the Trump campaign reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the campaign, asking about Hillary Clinton's missing e-mails. Julian Assange acknowledged on Twitter that did happen and says he rejected the request. The head of that firm, Alexander Nix, sent an e-mail to several people, including top Republican donor Rebecca Mercer, relaying that he had e-mailed Assange, but sources say no one from the actual Trump campaign was on that email chain.

But for context here, WikiLeaks was responsible for releasing hacked emails from the DNC, and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's e- mails last year. Not Hillary Clinton's e-mails -- we don't even know if a third party ever obtained them. But WikiLeaks was directly connected to Russia by the intelligence community. So, this new revelation, I should say, established the closest known link between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. We should note, "The Daily Beast" is first to report the email outreach -- Alison and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSIK: OK, Pamela. Thanks very much.

And after "The Daily Beast" published its story, the Trump campaign responded in a statement downplaying the role of Cambridge Analytica without denying the company's outreach to WikiLeaks.

Here's what it says in part: After President Trump locked up the nomination, one of the most important decisions we made was to partner with the Republican National Committee on data analytics. We were proud to have worked with the RNC and its data experts and relied on them as our main source for data analytics. Any claims that voter data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false.

All right. But I've got a fact check for you here. According to the Trump campaign's own FEC filings, it paid Cambridge Analytica almost $6 million between the Republican Convention in July and mid-December of last year.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's see if CNN politics reporter Tal Kopan can make sense of any of this this morning. She's live in Washington.

And, Tal next week will dress up on Halloween as a bill inspired by a kid on Capitol Hill.

KOSIK: Nice.

BRIGGS: Tal, will you dress up as a DACA bill?

(LAUGHTER)

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I'm not going to spoil that for you.

BRIGGS: OK, we'll see the photo when you're on next week.

KOSIK: That's better than Mike (INAUDIBLE)

BRIGGS: I'd like to talk about that but unfortunately we're talking data analytics, Cambridge Analytica.

Hillary Clinton, the DNC funding research that led to this dossier of unconfirmed allegation between Trump and Russia. Do voters care about any of this?

KOPAN: That's probably the biggest question, Dave, for many of the politicians that are dealing with this. We know voters care about things that hit home for them, and things that we call it kitchen table conversation. And that's issues like the economy, national security. Some in h the Democratic Party who expressed concern that focusing too much on the Russian investigation could jeopardize their appeal to voters. They think issues like repealing Obamacare, tax cuts, could be much more winning pocketbook type issues when it comes to voting.

But at the same time, these are incredibly important issues to sort out. If a foreign power meddled in our election, actively, that is something that absolutely our government should get to the bottom of.

[05:05:00] So, these questions aren't going away, and I do think voters are at least paying attention to the result of these investigations.

BRIGGS: Fair point.

KOSIK: OK, Tal, let's go and open up the can of worms. That impromptu news conference President Trump gave as Marine One was waiting for him. He talked about everything under the sun, what, he talked about his intelligence, his relationships on the Hill.

BRIGGS: Unity in the GOP.

KOSIK: Unity in the GOP.

Let's roll a couple sound bytes. Let's start with the one about his intelligence. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don't understand. I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I'm a very intelligent person. You know, the fact is, I think -- I really believe -- I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person.

Crooked Hillary Clinton, Little Marco, Lying Ted Cruz, Lying Ted. I don't know what I said. I don't remember. I love the old days.

You know what they used to do with guys like that in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks. I like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you.

Rosie O'Donnell's disgusting, I mean, both inside and out. You'd take a lot at here. She's a slob.

Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag to say, get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: OK, Tal, let me get this straight. Is the press making him seem uncivil? We're just rolling the tape, right?

KOPAN: Look, I don't know if they've seen a president in his own words quite as much as Donald Trump. Certainly he speaks off-the-cuff quite a bit. And in fact he's holding these impromptu press conferences quite a bit more than he did in the early days of his administration. So, the American public certainly has had plenty of opportunities to hear Donald Trump on Donald Trump.

You know, I don't think that the old professorial complaints about some politicians we've had in the past that they're too professor- like, I don't think that's one made against this president. But also, at the same time, the American people clearly respond to the way he uses language, make America great again, the slogan he throws out there, they're quit catchy, they take over the way the American public speaks, and that's something when you're talking about politicians and campaigning.

So, you know, we hear Donald Trump explain himself, and the American public gets to make their own conclusions on that.

BRIGGS: But you make a great point, his lack of civility is actually something the voters -- or at least his supporters, that 38 percent, seem to like about him.

Let's talk about how he characterized this fracture in the Republican Party in the wake of Jeff Flake, and the wake of Bob Corker, they're stunning comments earlier this week. Here's the president said about the state of the party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Actually, great unity in the Republican Party. Yesterday, I was -- that's OK. Look, you know, they have to do their thing. I think I'm probably helped greatly in Arizona by what happened with Senator Flake. I don't know Flake very well, but I know Bob Corker. I think they really would do it. I think they feel they have to do it for the country. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: So, all right, the unity in the party with the context of the front page. "Washington Post" talks about a Republican's targeting Steve Bannon. That's a Super PAC linked to Mitch McConnell who will personally target him and going to war with establishment Republicans. Is there a unity in this party and does the president need to pick a side in this Steve Bannon versus the establishment?

KOPAN: Picking a side and Steve Bannon versus establishment would be perilous territory I think for the president at this point. But we'll see if he weighs into it.

In this case, you sort of have to separate the campaigning and politicking aspect of things versus the policymaking, because Donald Trump is right that Republicans will still probably vote for his agenda and for the Republican agenda in unison. The vast majority of the time because the truth is even if they disagree with the substance of Donald Trump and his style, they all want the same thing. It's certainly weakens the White House's hand in shaping those deals, but the senators aren't going to vote against something that they actually want to pass.

However, in the campaigning and politicking aspects, this is absolutely a fissure in the party. And Steve Bannon and Mitch McConnell have gotten quite personal with each other. Candidates are actively campaigning against Mitch McConnell in Republican primary, which is a remarkable thing. And that can have long-term damaging effects on the party and their ability to hold together and enact a concerted agenda as more and more of those fissures start to rupture.

KOSIK: Great analysis, Tal Kopan. Thanks so much for getting up early for us. We're going to break you back again to talk more.

[05:10:00] KOPAN: Thanks, guys.

KOSIK: All right. The Trump administration plans to release classified documents about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The release happening today, and that includes files from the FBI and the CIA. But it's not clear whether the president will allow a full release of documents or block certain files from going public as requested by some elements of the intelligence community.

The president teasing the event on Wednesday, tweeting this: the long anticipated release of the JFK files will take place tomorrow. So interesting.

BRIGGS: He did it upon touching down in Dallas, Texas, interestingly enough.

All right. Ahead, the U.S. military had been looking to arm drones in Niger before the deadly assault on American soldiers. That and new details about what America troops were doing before the attack. CNN live in Niger, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[05:15:01] TRUMP: It's dangerous business I have to say. It's a dangerous business. So what? No, I didn't. Not specifically.

But I have generals that are great generals. These are great fighters. These are warriors. And I gave them authority to do what's right so that we win. That's the authority they have. I want to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: OK. So the president saying he didn't specifically green light the mission in Niger that left four American soldiers dead in an ambush. President Trump has already empowered U.S. military leaders to train and assist partner governments in the fight against terror groups.

CNN's David McKenzie is live for us in Niger.

David, you know, many Americans have a lot of questions. They're still asking why U.S. soldiers are there, why are they in Niger and the surrounding region? Are there any answers coming out?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Alison.

You know, there are some 800 American troops here in Niger. Now, that sounds like a lot. Even some lawmakers in Congress questioned whether they knew about it. Frankly, coming into this country, you can see how vast and undergoverned these areas are. And 800 is really assisting a government and region that is dealing with a threat that is surrounding areas of -- the continental United States. It is a big theater and it is an important mission.

U.S. officials saying that the key here is that they're trying to stamp out the terror threat from particularly the neighboring countries to Niger, bleeding over the border and they're trying to do it before it gets too severe that it could threaten American interests and in fact the homeland. Now, the ambush that happened happened just a few hours from where I'm standing now.

One key detail coming out is that U.S. officials say that the military here has been asking for the drones that they have in Niger to be armed for some time. Now, that doesn't mean necessarily that that could have made a difference in the ambush, because you remember those French jets that were scrambled to assist weren't able to engage with the enemy because of the close quarters in that fierce fire fight.

So it might not have made a difference but it is a factor here, trying to ramp up the response to the terror threat from neighboring countries in particular to try and isolate those high level targets that might be threatening American or other assets in the region of allies -- Alison.

KOSIK: All right. CNN's David McKenzie, reporting live from Niger. Thanks very much. BRIGGS: Great to have David there, some strong context.

KOSIK: Absolutely.

BRIGGS: All right. #Houstonstrong. The Astros refusing to quit, rally for a thrilling extra inning victory in game 2 of the World Series. Houston native Andy Scholes, sleep deprived but thrilled nonetheless, has the details in "The Bleacher Report", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:22:28] BRIGGS: Folks a Hollywood sign is an eight mile drive from Dodgers Stadium, in game 2 of the World Series played like a dramatic Hollywood script. Houston evens the series as it heads to Houston.

KOSIK: Andy Scholes who is a Houston native, he's going to be right there. He has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys.

You know, last night's game, one of the best World Series games of all time, and I'm not just saying that as an Astros fan. The drama from the ninth inning on just incredible.

The Astros tying the game in the ninth inning with a solo home run by Marwin Gonzalez. Then in the tenth, took the lead with back-to-back home runs by Altuve and Correa. But Dodgers not done. They tied the game on a single.

But in the 11th, George Springer, the hero for the Stros hitting a two-run home run. The Astros just a big win, 7-6, to even the series at a game apiece.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE SPRINGER, ASTROS OUTFIELDER: That's an emotional high to emotional low, to high, to low, to high again. It's -- but that's why we play the game. And, you know, that's the craziest game I can say I played in and it's only game two.

JUSTIN VERLANDER, ASTROS PITCHER: I mean, the rollercoaster emotion, no. I mean, this is an instant classic. And to be able to be part of it is pretty special.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: There were eight home runs in game 2 which was a World Series record. Also, this is the first time 5 home runs were hit in extra innings. Fall Classic going to move to Minute Maid Park for game three.

All right. Great moment beforehand last night's game when legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vince Scully took the field. The 89-year-old was scheduled to toss out the ceremonial first pitch and then this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIN SCULLY, LEGENDARY DODGERS BROADCASTER: Wait a minute. Oh, my gosh. I think I hurt my rotator cuff. I'm going to have to go to the bullpen.

Is there a left-hander down here? Oh, my gosh. Fernando Valenzuela.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Good thing the left hander was warned. The last time Fernando was on the mound in a World Series, 36 years ago when the Dodgers beat the Yankees in 1981. He was 20 years old back then.

[05:25:01] But, guys, I'll say it's one of the greatest World Series games I ever watch. Start from that Vince Scully moment to the very end of the game. I think I slept for two hours but I like to say I'm running on Astros adrenaline right now, post-season run.

BRIGGS: You know, Scully there, you close your eyes and you just listen to that voice, if only he could do a game in this series. We look forward to following your tweets @AndyScholesCNN to see how excited you are in Houston. George Springer on that "Sports Illustrated" that stays on your desk from 2014. So, what a great series.

SCHOLES: Destiny.

BRIGGS: Thanks, buddy.

KOSIK: All right. Analytics firm contracted by the Trump campaign tried to get its hands on Hillary Clinton's private e-mails, and the firm used WikiLeaks to try to get the job done. We're going to tell you what the campaign is saying now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Trump campaign contractor reached out to WikiLeaks during the election, trying to secure Hillary Clinton's private emails. Now, the campaign is distancing itself.