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EARLY START

North Korea's Longest Launch Yet; Senate GOP Advances Tax Plan; Giants Bench QB Eli Manning; FCC Chair: Tech Companies Threaten an Open Internet. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 29, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If we have to go to war to stop this, we will. And if there's a war with North Korea, because North Korea brought it on itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:00:04] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea claims its latest missile could reach the entire U.S. mainland. The defense secretary sounding the alarm and word another nuclear test could be next. We're live in Seoul.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Think of sitting there with a Rubik's cube and trying to get to 50.

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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the Republicans clear a big hurdle with their corporate tax plan, but leadership still needs to satisfy lawmakers' varying demands. Today, the president hits the road to sell this overhaul.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's a Rubik's cube, but instead of solving it, sometimes you can take the stickers off and move them around, right? You don't have to necessarily solve it. That might be what we're seeing right now.

Wednesday, November 29th, it's 5:00 a.m. in the East. This morning, no matter where you are in the United States, it appears you might be in range of the latest missile tested by North Korea.

The Kim Jong-un regime claims the intercontinental ballistic missile tested yesterday as a new type topped with what it called a super large heavy warhead capable of striking the U.S. mainland. That threat reinforced by Defense Secretary James Mattis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It went higher frankly than any previous shot they've taken. It's the research and development effort on their part continues building ballistic missiles that could threaten everywhere in the world basically.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The launch was North Korea's first since September. It came despite repeated warnings from president after threatening fire and fury in August, the president with a more measured tone yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will only tell you that we will take care of it. We have General Mattis in the room with us and we've had a long discussion on it. It is a situation that we will handle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Not every reaction was quite that tempered. One key senator saying the U.S. will go to war if it has to.

International correspondent Paula Newton following all the latest from us. She joins us live from Seoul, 7:00 p.m. there.

Paul, good evening to you. What do we know about this latest launch?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we know is as you said it can hit anywhere in the U.S. mainland. I mean, think about that that. We were talking about Guam and Hawaii.

Now, the entire U.S. mainland is in the crosshairs, 2,800 miles this thing went into the air. It is an ICBM and key here, what Korea is trying to do is making sure that they can make it nuclear tipped. They have a way to go until that happened but South Korean officials saying -- telling me just yesterday that they thought that, look, before they were looking at two or three years out. Now this could happen by 2018 and you've got to think that that puts this front and center if it wasn't already for the Trump administration.

Very interesting reporting here from our own Will Ripley who has been there several times. A North Korean official telling him that it is very likely that they will have another nuclear test. Again, very highly significant.

You know what? It probably isn't even a technical capability at this point, Dave. It has to do more with political considerations and where they can get the most leverage out of that kind of a test. Everyone on guard for that. Most of all, South Korea here.

They -- as this -- think about it, this missile launch was in the air immediately. South Korea was in action and what they did was they held this precision missile strike. It's a simulation. They hit three missiles, same target every time. The message loud and clear to North Korea, look, we can retaliate if

we can, if we so choose to do so. Having said that, everyone saying there is no military option that looks very good right now and many people looking to President Trump and saying he says he will handle it. What does that mean?

I can also tell you that South Korean officials want north Korea somehow back at the table to get the dialogue going and we are told that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been tasked to try and make that happen.

BRIGGS: Particularly frightening for the 10 million there in Seoul where you are.

Paula Newton live for us, thanks.

ROMANS: So, here's that sobering warning from Senator Lindsey Graham in the wake of this latest North Korea provocation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: The president is not going to allow North Korea to have a nuclear weapon in their hands that can hit America with an ICBM, that can make it to United States. And if we have to go to war to stop this, we will. And if there's a war with North Korea, it will be because North Korea brought it on itself and we're headed toward a war if things don't change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: President Trump also tweeting last night, tying the North Korea nuclear threat to the possibility of a government shutdown over a funding bill fight in Congress. He writes this: After North Korea missile launch, it's more important than ever to fund our government and military. Dems shouldn't hold troop funding hostage for amnesty and illegal immigration.

BRIGGS: Plans for meeting on government funding between the president and leaders of both parties took an interesting turn yesterday. Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi decided to back out as the president made sure you saw. Thanks to this quickly arranged photo op with empty chairs and name placards for Chuck and Nancy.

[05:05:06] Yes, why did they skip the meeting? Well, this tweet from the president hours earlier blasting both while concluding: I don't see a deal. The federal government is set to shut down on December 8th unless Congress can pass a spending bill.

ROMANS: Republicans are making progress in one very significant area, the corporate tax bill. The measure of passing a key vote on a straight party line vote. Many Capitol Hill Republicans heaping praise on the president for his efforts, even some of who are critical of him like one GOP aide who tells us at CNN this: Give credit where it's due. He was coherent, he knew the issues, and more than anything else he helped us. Credit where it's due.

BRIGGS: I much appreciate when Christine Romans describes my communication as coherent. In case you're wondering.

The tax bill still has a long way to go. Congressional staffers were working overtime last night trying to put the promises and commitments their bosses made into legislative language and real action. More than a few Republicans still have concerns even if they're speaking more optimistically than before.

Today, President Trump will head to Missouri to tout this tax bill.

ROMANS: All right. Joining us this morning, CNN politics digital director, Zach Wolf, live from Washington.

Good morning. You know, and I would have thought from a press conference where he was talking about the success of the tax bill, he would have had Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan sitting next to him. Instead these two empty placards.

It was a kind of branding moment I think more than anything else, but let's talk about the tax bill. I've been calling it corporate tax relief because that is predominantly what it is. They need a win on this. Wall Street expects and hopes for tax relief. How -- how likely is it that they're going to pass this thing?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Well, I mean, sort of heading into yesterday, there had been this narrative that they were going to have trouble getting out of the Senate Budget Committee. So the big step forward, what we're talking about is a committee vote where Republicans control the committee. And now, they will hope to tweak this bill.

We heard Mitch McConnell call it, you know, a Rubik's cube, trying to move the squares around to try and get them all the same color. They're just trying to, you know, fuss with this thing basically just to make it work in the senate.

Now, once they do that, civics 101, they have to make it work with the House bill which is totally different. And has a different number of, you know, of tax brackets, et cetera. So they basically have to go back to square one.

So, we're still a long way in this tax reform marathon. It's going to go quickly over the next couple of weeks, but there's a lot of ins and outs left on this thing.

BRIGGS: Sure. How much president -- how much credit does the president deserve in coming in and pushing this across the finish line?

And do you expect him ultimately just to dare congressional Republicans to say, this is it, this is your chance to survive, either vote for this thing or you're probably done as a party, probably done as a congressman?

WOLF: I think he deserves a lot of credit for coming up to Capitol Hill, essentially hat in hand and doing the wheeling and dealing with senators, with Susan Collins, with Ron Johnson, kind of putting that presidential mike to bear. That clearly worked because things were looking bad in the morning and looking better after he left Capitol Hill.

So, you know, I do think he deserves some credit there. But you know, as far as what happens next, I -- I think momentum is a good thing if you're a Republican right now.

ROMANS: Can we talk a little bit about -- there really is big important stuff happening here. The tax bill, the nuclear threat from North Korea, and we're hearing more how the president is still mired in conspiracy theories on a couple of things. The birther thing coming back, you know, the president -- "The New York Times" writing the story basically that the president has still been telling people privately that he still has doubts about the birth certificate. This is what "The Times" writes.

One senator who listened to the president revived his doubt about Mr. Obama's birth certificate chuckled on Tuesday, as he recalled the conversation. The president he says has a hard time of letting go of his claim that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States. You know, he is handling all these really serious fact based issues, yet he still keeps showing that conspiracy theory streak.

WOLF: This "New York Times" story is incredible that he doesn't believe -- truly does not believe that the "Access Hollywood" tape was him, even though it's clear that it's his -- his voice on this tape, that you know, all of these other things, the size of the inauguration crowd, the idea that he lost the popular vote. He can't, you know, kind of let that sink in, I guess.

But I think the bottom line and what's really kind of frightening is that he has this alternative reality according to the story. He's living in a totally different world of facts in which things that are bad for him simply don't exist, which is one thing I guess if you're talking about inauguration crowd sizes.

[05:10:01] But earlier in the program you were talking about North Korea and that's where you want somebody very much mired in a fact based world to be making those decisions I think.

BRIGGS: I want to ask you, Zach, quickly about John Conyers, the long-time Democratic congressman. The CBC now, Congressional Black Caucus, calling for him or starting to get the workings going for him to step down. Nancy Pelosi not there yet.

Can he possibly survive this with yet another accuser coming out yesterday confirming to CNN?

WOLF: You know, it's getting harder to see how he can survive, I think, as more accusers or as we learn of more accusations. I think that gets more difficult in this climate, but you know, stranger things have happened in Congress. It seems like Democrats more than Republicans here really want to, you know, to turn this, and move forward.

ROMANS: In this climate, where an accused child molester could become a senator, it's remarkable.

BRIGGS: Yes. Well, that maybe part of it, right? They need to have the moral high ground here.

ROMANS: Right, right. All right. Zach, nice to talk to you. Come back in a few minutes.

WOLF: Sounds good.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, police have the man they say terrorized that Tampa community for weeks killing four people randomly. How they tracked him down, next.

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[05:15:29] BRIGGS: Breaking news, the search for suspected serial killer in the suburbs of Tampa coming to an end. Police arresting 24- year-old Howell Donaldson III in connection with four fatal shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood since early October. The suspect facing four counts of first degree murder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN DUGAN, TAMPA POLICE CHIEF: The real goal is to let the people of Seminole Heights be able to get a good night's sleep. It's been 51 days that they've been terrorized in their neighborhood and it is about letting these families know that we're going to bring this person to justice and letting this neighborhood get some rest and hopefully try and put their lives back together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Tampa police captured Donaldson acting on a tip about a man with a gun at a local McDonald's. They are still trying to figure out his connection to the Seminole Heights neighborhood. Police say the four seemingly unconnected victims were all killed but not robbed while walking alone at night within a half mile area.

BRIGGS: A Libyan man cleared of murder but found guilty of playing a role in the Benghazi attacks. A U.S. jury convicted Ahmed Abu Khatallah of conspiracy and other charges for helping the plan and carry out an attack on the U.S. compound. Four Americans were killed in the attack, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

It is the first conviction to stem from the attack. Khatallah faces up to 60 years in prison. The CIA director says the verdict brings a small measure of justice.

ROMANS: Flying drones now pose a greater risk to aircraft than bird strikes. According to researchers working with the FAA, passenger planes are designed to stop a bird from puncturing the aluminum skin of the aircraft. But testing and computer modeling show a drone could penetrate it. The most vulnerable areas to drones, windshield and the horizontal and vertical stabilizers that keep the plane flying straight and level. The FAA says the latest data will help to develop strategies and rules from preventing collisions. BRIGGS: A New York football Giants marking the end of an era and it

was not pretty. The team announcing quarterback Eli Manning is being benched in favor of Geno Smith who was already booed out of New York as the Jets quarterback. Manning has started 210 consecutive games dating back to 2004, the second longest streak in NFL history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELI MANNING, GIANTS QUARTERBACK: It's hard -- hard day to handle this, but you know, hang in there and figure it out.

REPORTER: One of the hardest days you'd say?

MANNING: It's up there. Yes, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Very emotional Eli.

The move being roundly criticized around the league, a number of Eli's former teammates expressing outrage over the way this was handled.

(INAUDIBLE) tweeted, Eli deserves much better than that. Much better. Class person, class player, that's absurd.

Eli Manning, it is hard to see an incredible Giants career appearing to come to an end this way is one of the classiest and best quarterbacks you've ever seen in this league. Tough.

ROMANS: All right. Eighteen minutes past the hour. The FCC chair has harsh words for Silicon Valley. He calls his objections to roll back net neutrality disingenuous. We'll tell you why, next.

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[05:2307] ROMANS: All right. The latest over the fight over net neutrality. The FCC chair blasting both celebrities and Silicon Valley for opposing his repeal of net neutrality, arguing that it won't spell the end of an open Internet.

Ajit Pai recently unveiled plans to roll back the Obama era rule. It requires broadband providers to treat all Web traffic equality.

Many criticized his proposed repeal, including the tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook. They say the current rule protects you, customers from higher costs. But Pai calls Silicon Valley's objections disingenuous.

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AJIT PAI, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: These companies want to place much tougher regulations on broadband providers than they're willing to have placed upon themselves. So, let's be clear: they might put their advocacy in the public interest, but the real interest of these internet giants is in using the regulatory process to cement their dominance in the Internet economy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: In fact, Pai says tech companies pose the greatest threat to a free Internet. Why? Because they block content they don't like.

He used Twitter as an example, arguing the company has what he calls a double standard when it comes to suspending conservative accounts versus liberal ones. Pai, a Republican appointed by President Trump, says net neutrality stifles investment. The FCC will vote on a plan in December.

BRIGGS: After days shut down by volcanic ash, the main airport on the island of Bali has just reopened in the last few hours. Tens of thousands of people have been stranded on the Indonesian resort island since the eruption of Mount Agung. Officials on Bali last night downgraded the aviation warning from red to orange.

ROMANS: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will tie the knot next May at Windsor Castle. The royal bride to be intends to become a U.K. citizen, a process that's expected to take several years. According to a statement by Kensington Palace, we're hearing she wants to retain her American citizenship as well. The couple will hold their first official engagement since their big announcement in the city of Nottingham on Friday.

BRIGGS: One of my favorite things is her TV fiance, Patrick J. Adams, tweeted, I thought she was going out for milk. He really had fun with the engagement.

All right. Ahead, North Korea says its latest missile could reach the entire U.S. mainland. The launch heightening concerns in Washington and around the world. We're live in Seoul.

And President Trump heads to Missouri to sell his tax plan today. It cleared a huge hurdle in the Senate. The challenges remain to see it all the way through.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: If we have to go to war to stop this, we will. And if there's a war with North Korea, because North Korea brought it on itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)