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EARLY START

Republicans Try to Make Sense of Election; Trump: China Can Solve North Korea. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 9, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:13] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Republicans looking to reset after Democratic wins on election day. But will GOP lawmakers stand by at an unpopular president?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China can fix this problem easily and quickly. And I am calling on China and your great president to hopefully work on it very hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And President Trump with a face-to-face appeal, asking the Chinese president for help with North Korea. Plus, why did President Trump compliment China for taking advantage of the U.S. on trade?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: Yes, big reversal from his campaign rhetoric. Good morning, everybody.

KOSIK: And they get from there to there.

BRIGGS: It's a long way.

I'm Dave Briggs. Thursday, November 9th, 4:00 in the East. It is 5:00 p.m. in Beijing. We'll get there shortly.

We start, though, with Republicans trying to regain their footing after some big election losses Tuesday night. Now, it remains to be seen if the party can get anything done legislatively and if the GOP can avoid a disaster in the 2018 midterms. Exit poles show anger at the president. Energized Democrats, they voted in bigger numbers than in the recent past, especially in the suburbs where the most competitive house seats are located.

KOSIK: Republicans appear divided about what drove their defeat. Frequent Trump critic John McCain scolded his fellow Republicans saying: I predicted this, OK? And unless we get our act together, we're going to lose heavily.

BRIGGS: The conservative editorial board of "The Wall Street Journal" adding its voice to the chorus of warnings. Quote: The anti-Trump wave. They wrote: Democrats came out in droves to send a message of opposition to Donald Trump, and GOP candidates were swamped in the undertow. While the cliche is not to reach too much into an off-year election, this defeat was broad and deep enough to signal that Republicans will struggle to hold Congress next year.

KOSIK: Other Republicans pinning the problem less on Trump and more on frustration by the party's base over unmet campaign promises.

Congressman Mark Meadows, chair of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, saying this: We need to start making our legislation match our campaign rhetoric and today we have not done that.

BRIGGS: Now, Republicans are scrambling to confront a big question posed by their losses. Can Trump's message work when the messenger himself is Mr. Trump? Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon back Republican Ed Gillespie who lost the Virginia governor's race.

Now, Bannon retreating from his claims that Trump's ideas could win even without Trump to sell them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We lost by five points. You know, I'm a Virginian, and I never had a lot of confidence. It was never in our battle plan that we're going to win Virginia. I thought, even with Donald Trump at the head of the ticket, we would by one or two points. We lost it by five points. I mean, Virginia, because of northern Virginia, is really not a purple state anymore. It's a blue state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Well, we have new evidence this morning that the struggles faced by Republican candidates are in fact linked to an eroding view of the president's performance. New CNN polling one year after the election reveals real concerns with President Trump even among his core constituents. Sixty-four percent of Americans say they have less confidence in him now than when he took office. Only 30 percent they are more confident.

BRIGGS: White non-college educated voters, the heart of the president's base, also losing faith, 52 percent say they're confidence in Mr. Trump has declined.

So, how is the president faring on keeping his campaign promises? Only 40 percent say he's doing it, down from 48 percent in April.

KOSIK: Asked if the president has respect of other countries, 68 percent say no, just 24 say yes. When it comes to the president's handling of the nation's health care policy, 59 percent disapprove, with just 33 percent saying he's doing a good job.

BRIGGS: According to exit polling, health care was a top issue for voters in Virginia where Democrats rule the day. That comes as no surprise to Democratic Senator Patty Murray.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: If Republican leaders haven't gotten the message, voters made can clear last night that they reject the deeply partisanship we have seen on health care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: All right. Meantime, Vice President Joe Biden tearing into President Trump after Tuesday's vote. At an event in Philadelphia, Biden was asked for his blunt take, and he slammed the president's response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the summer. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Did any one of you ever think that you would see in one of the historic cities in America folks coming out from under rocks and out of the fields with torches, carrying swastikas, literally reciting the same, the same exact anti-Semitic bile that you heard in the '30's.

[04:05:10] This is eating at the fabric of this country. It is wrong. And I think what happened last night, all across the country, including with Republicans, is tired of this. It's undermining the social fabric of the nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Now, Biden was also asked if he would have defeated Trump in 2016 election had he run. He was saved by the bell as his wife Jill jumped in saying, we've got to go, while the crowd laughed and applauded.

KOSIK: Indeed.

All right. President Trump in China making a direct appeal to President Xi Jinping to help solve the North Korean nuclear crisis. The president lashing out at Pyongyang during a meeting with China these business leaders and again while delivering a joint statement with the Chinese leader at his side.

BRIGGS: Mr. Trump calling on all responsible nations to start arming and working with what he calls a murderous regime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The entire civilized world must unite to confront the North Korean menace. And the entire world is watching us right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The president's remarks coming after the North Koreans accused him of warmongering, referring to his threat as filthy rhetoric spewing out of his snout like garbage that reeks of gun powder to ignite war. So, there's that.

Let's go live to Beijing and bring in CNN's Jeff Zeleny who uses far more measured words when talking about this situation.

Good evening, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening from here. And good morning to you, Dave.

All that is coming out of a long meeting that President Trump had today with President Xi Jinping. They met for more than two hours really in a series of conversations and meeting that have stretched throughout the day and to dinners and other things.

And we're told by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who briefed us a short time ago that the two leaders had a frank discussion and a serious discussion and dialogue about this. Now, of course, there's not exact agreement between the two sides what China should do on this. But in that meeting earlier today, this is what President Trump said they reached agreement on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We agreed not to replicate failed approaches of the past, and there were many. Together, we have in our power to finally liberate this region and the world from this very serious nuclear menace. But it will require collective action, collective strength and collective devotion to winning the peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So, security there obviously a key topic on the Korean peninsula. But trade also front and center in all the conversations between the leaders. Very heard a very different tone today here in Beijing from President Trump, softening his tone against China.

You remember from the campaign when he was running for president, he aggressively attacked China for stealing U.S. jobs, hurting the economy. He took a different tone today. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So far different than anything that he campaigned on in his talk about up until this point. But it is part of this growing relationship between these two leaders here.

Now, the president is set to have another state dinner this evening with President Xi and then he's moving on to Vietnam, to a summit and we are learning still that there could be that meeting with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. But Secretary Tillerson said that it's still not scheduled. They're skill working out some details on both sides in terms of matters of substance to talk about. One area of interest is Russian meddling, still something the

president wants to talk about? Secretary Tillerson said, yes, that's still on the list -- Dave and Alison.

BRIGGS: All right. Very intriguing.

Jeff Zeleny live for us in Beijing -- thank you, sir.

KOSIK: The Senate is expected to unveil its tax bill today, following the markup of the House version. But the current bill, it appears to break two of the GOP's main promises, tax cuts for the entire middle class and no more than $1.5 trillion added to the deficit.

First on tax cuts for all middle class households, a congressional study finds that's simply not the case. In fact, 11 percent of households would pay more by 2019 and almost one in five, by 2027.

Now, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney disputes that math but promises this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: If our numbers here at the White House actually show the same thing, if they show that taxes are going up on the middle class, on the House plan, on the Senate plan, on some combination of the two, we won't sign it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:10:07] KOSIK: As for the deficit, changes to the bill bring the total addition up to $1.7 trillion. That's with a T, and that's above Congress's target of $1.5 trillion. So, what's happening here is the GOP needs revenue and that's one reason they're still considering axing Obamacare's individual mandate, the tax penalty you pay if you don't have coverage. Repealing it could raise $338 billion over 10 years. And you see this back and go forth. Keep into mind, though, the House and the Senate still would have to reconcile their bills. So, what we're talking about now may not be what could hit the president.

BRIGGS: Can't imagine it is, given what Mick Mulvaney said there.

KOSIK: Yes.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, former top officials say they're concerned the CIA chief met with the noted conspiracy theorist at the urging of the president. More next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:15:02] KOSIK: CNN has learned former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is worried his son could face potential legal exposure in the special counsel's Russia investigation. Sources tell CNN Flynn's concern could be a factor in how cooperative he is with the probe. Witnesses say investigators are asking about the business dealings of Flynn and his son Michael Flynn, Jr. BRIGGS: The special counsel wants to know about the Flynn's reporting

of income from their work overseas, as required of agents representing foreign entities. Flynn Jr. served as his father's chief of staff and top aide and was actively involved in his father's consulting and lobbying work a their firm. At this point, it's not clear Flynn or his son will face charges once the investigation is wrapped up. Their attorneys had no comment.

KOSIK: Two former top intelligence officials expressing surprise and dismay that President Trump asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with a conspiracy theorist who appears on Russian TV. That conspiracy theorist, former National Security Agency employee, William Binney, denies Russia meddled in the 2016 election. He claims the theft of DNC e-mails was an inside job.

BRIGGS: Now, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, and former director of National Intelligence James Clapper questioning the president's motives for setting up that meeting. In an interview with Hayden asked, quote, why did the president turn to the CIA director rather than the DNI? Structurally, this should have been a DNI question since the Binney article challenged an overall community assessment.

KOSIK: And Clapper said this: This episode I think adds to the image perhaps unjustifiably that Pompeo is a political activist, as a go-to guy for Trump. Not a good place for a director of the CIA to be. Clapper and Hayden both suggest Pompeo took the meeting with Binney reluctantly. Clapper says he is heartened that Pompeo later affirmed the intelligence community's finding that Russia did interfere with the election.

BRIGGS: FEMA will begin transporting 3,000 Puerto Rican hurricane survivors to the U.S. mainland at the request of the island's governor. The agency telling CNN it is working to set up agreements with both Florida and New York to take in survivors currently residing in shelters. Those two states selected by Puerto Rico's governor. The U.S. territory is still suffering major problems after Hurricane Maria hit in September. Power is still out across much of the island.

KOSIK: Just amazing. Power is still out across much of the island.

BRIGGS: Yes, it's a long go there, sadly.

KOSIK: Yes, remember, it's part of the U.S.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

KOSIK: All right, a big about face for Notre Dame. The Catholic school will be providing birth control after saying it would stop. We're going to tell you why the school changed course.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know the cherished names of the fallen will live on forever in the hearts of those who knew them. And let me assure you, their names will also be enshrined in the hearts of every American forever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Vice President Mike Pence trying to console the grieving Sutherland Springs, Texas, community at a vigil honoring the 25 people and an unborn who were killed in Sunday's church shooting.

The vice president saying evil descended on the small town. He also held a meeting with the victims' families, sharing hugs and listening to their stories.

KOSIK: In remarks to the media, Pence says bureaucratic failures are partly to blame for the gunman getting a weapon and he promised to find out why information from his violent past was not reported properly. This Sunday, the service is scheduled for the remaining First Baptist Church members, and will be held at the Sutherland Springs community center. It's roughly 50 feet from the church itself.

BRIGGS: Local pastors organizing the service.

So, First Baptist church pastor, Frank Pomeroy who lost his 14-year- old daughter Annabelle on the attack and preach without worrying about planning the details.

KOSIK: A manhunt in Tennessee for three inmates still on the loose after breaking out of the jail Wednesday morning. Authorities say one of the escapees, 20-year-old Dylan Ferguson is charged with criminal homicide and should be considered armed and dangerous. Earlier reports that he had been captured, well, those turned out to be false and officials say Ferguson has been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's 10 most wanted list and reward of up to $2,500 is being offered for information leading to his arrest.

BRIGGS: The University of Notre Dame reversing an earlier decision now says students and employees will continue to have access to birth control free of charge. The Catholic university was one of the first major employers to take advantage of the Trump's administration's weakening of Obamacare's contraceptive mandate, allowing it to opt out of providing such coverage. Students and staff protested the decision. Now, Notre Dame's president says the university has decided to keep the coverage in place. The decision affects students, faculty and staff.

KOSIK: Embattled actor Kevin Spacey is being cut out of Ridley Scott's finished film "All the Money in the World". Sources say Christopher Plummer will replace Spacey and begin reshooting all of his scenes with the film now set for release late next month.

BRIGGS: The film originally set to premier at the American Film Institute Festival in Los Angeles next week was pulled. And that the sexual harassment reports involving Spacey. Meantime, a former Boston TV news anchor alleges Spacey sexually assaulted her 18-year-old son at a restaurant in Nantucket last year. Heather Unruh says the assault happened after Spacey got her son drunk.

[04:25:01] KOSIK: She says her son filed a police report this week after gaining courage from other victims who have come forward in high profile sex abuse cases. CNN has reached out to Spacey's attorneys for comment but has yet to hear back.

BRIGGS: It was just an ordinary day in Chicago's jury pool.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Thanks, everybody for serving on the jury, or at least being willing to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Ordinary until citizen Barack Obama reported for jury duty in his home town of Chicago. The former president greeted his fellow prospective jurors Wednesday, joining them in watching the 20-minute video on a jury's role and responsibilities. But in the end, Mr. Obama was dismissed from the pool. He was assigned to a panel that was not called.

Have you every done jury duty?

KOSIK: I have. But President was not yet, oh, not served well. I mean, I did my duty. I showed up. But there was no President Obama there, that's for sure.

BRIGGS: No, nothing exciting.

KOSIK: All right. President Trump says China is taking advantage of the U.S., but don't blame them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: That, plus Republicans back home trying to recover after a bruising election night. Will lawmakers stand with the president on key issues?

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