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EARLY START

President Back in Washington, With Full Agenda. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 2, 2018 - 05:00   ET

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


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ACHOR: The White House with foreign focus as 2018 begins expanding into (ph) protest and drawn a potential twist. Talks next week between North and South Korea. And the Olympics.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President ready to tackle an ambitious agenda as 2018 dawns no shortage of domestic issues with another showdown looming over government funding.

BRIGGS: And one thing has the bipartisan agreement, it is cold. Frigid outside, going to stay that way at least through the weekend. More of Early Start world wide coverage in just now. It is frigid. We're live around the globe though as we heat up news wise.

ROMANS: (ph) back to work.

BRIGGS: Yes it is. Back to work and we don't mean golfing.

ROMANS: That's right. I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour. President Trump is back in Washington this morning facing a full and challenging agenda. In January alone, what to do about Dreamers, infrastructure, entitlements, and keeping the government funded (ph) top the agenda. Four weeks from today, just four short weeks from today the President gives his first official State of the Union address.

BRIGGS: 44 weeks from today, the midterm elections, that will hang over many, if not all. The political decisions still (ph) this year. At him annual New Years Eve bash in Mar-a-lago, the President made this prediction for the year ahead.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're going to have a great 2018. It's going to be something very very special. It's all (ph) everybody's going to love is what's happening with our country because we're taking this big beautiful ship and we're slowly turning into (ph) in to a (ph).

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ROMANS: Slowly turning it around. Before he can get to work on a host of domestic issues, President Trump is facing some international crisis. The anti American protest in Iran which has been going on for nearly a week now, the biggest protest in almost a decade. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urging national unity but rebuffing President Trump saying, an American President who one called Iranians terrorist has no right to sympathize with them now.

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BRIGGS: Rouhani's statement a reaction to President Trump Tweeting quote the great Iranian people have been repressed for many years adding time for a change. The White House approach being closely watched when protestor (ph) in Iran in 2009, President Obama responded cautiously to say the least. He was concerned about blow back to aggressive intervention by the US which Iran calls the great statement.

ROMANS: At the time the Obama approach was seen as foreign policy realism but today even some Obama era national security officials believe President Trump is striking the right tone.

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PRESIDENT TRUMP: In retrospect I think we made a mistake. I think that we should have - we should have made it clear that in fact the world was watching.

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ROMANS: Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh monitoring the protest this morning and Nick, State TV reports, nine more killed overnight bringing the death toll now to 21. We know that hundreds have been detained. Any sign of this cooling off?

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NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No and we already observed a key moment here where the death toll appears to be rising, almost doubling. You said simply, overnight all though much bad related to one instant it seems on a police station. The winder blaze in an area called (ph), but at the same time too, the possibility that we may see a tougher reaction from Iran security forces.

So far, competitively had been quite measured certainly if you compare their actions to 2009. The post electoral protest then, the question really being will this continue to grow in scope and size? There are suggestions perhaps it's (ph) but the violence is certainly continuing. And the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani, very keen to give a message that says, look we understand protesters the economical political basis of some of your grievances certainly the economic ones but at the same time too, just in the last hour or so the spokes man for President Rouhani saying that there is a difference between protest and riots.

We're also hearing from the ministry of intelligence of Iran suggestion that there will be resolute and targeted operations very soon against those who certainly running and behind the protest here. That was a warning issued last night the facts that you may perhaps read into that, the death tolls rising over night. Hard to read into this, exactly where it goes next, they say a crucial period. This wasn't really expected at all, frankly, and this kind of scale it caught many off guard. The question now really is can they comment without violence on the streets expanding and growing. Back to you.

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ROMANS: And clearly a lot of young people very disappointed in economic prospects and that seems to be driving it. In an almost a leaderless kind of movement on the streets. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

BRIGGS: All right, another crucial issue globally, confronting President Trump of course the nuclear threat from North Korea. Even as he threatened the U.S. again, Kim Jong Un extended an olive branch to South Korea and it appears Seoul is ready to talk with Pyongyang. Let's go live to Seoul and bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks.

Paula, good morning to you, we are now just over a month away from the Olympics. How does that loom over everything in the region at this point?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, I think what South Korea's hoping at this point is that can be the catalyst for actually getting back to some kind of talks with North Korea. You heard Kim Jong Un in his New Years day speech saying that he would be willing to send a delegation to the Pyongyang winter Olympics which starts just next month.

And South Korea has now suggested a date to start high level talks. January 9th, they're suggesting which is next Tuesday to have high level talks with the North Korea delegation at the DMZ at Panmunjom, this boarded village half in North Korea half in South Korea.

Now, we haven't had a response form the North Koreans at this sight, but certainly South Korea is bending over backwards saying if they can't to that date, then South Korea could do another date. The President here is welcoming the fact that they might ant to be part of the Olympics saying they could also talk about their nuclear issues as they go hand in hand when you talk with the North Koreans.

China is welcoming this a swell saying this afternoon from the foreign ministry, it is a good thing that the North are going to talk but of course it's a very different method that North Korea is giving to the United States saying that they are able to hit all mainland United States cities with a nuclear weapon saying that they wont do that because unless there is aggression against them. But two very different messages here, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, so much to talk about with our next guest. Thanks so much from live report.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joining us this morning, yes, welcome to the New Year, Philip Wegmann, he is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner. So let's stay on the international challenges here for this president as he comes back from Mar-a-Lago. There's a statement from Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that really struck us.

On Sunday, he was speaking with ABC News and he really was very stark in his warning about where we are with North Korea.

MICHAEL MULLEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We're actually closer, in view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we've ever been and I just don't see how - I don't see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point.

FEMALE: And then there's this, there's Senator Lindsey Graham on CVS talking about the challenges here that great us in 2018 with Iran and with North Korea and just how - just what a tinder box this is, listen.

LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATOR: The Iranians are watching us in North Korea. North Korea is watching us in Iran. Now, the Iranians are watching the way he engages with North Korea and vice versa, so we've got a chance here to deliver some fatal blows to really bad actors in 2018. but if we blink, god help us all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he in that statement is the President. The president comes back, we've seen him tweeting about North Korea was being traded by Iran but in terms of foreign policy, his strategy here, what do we know? What challenges confront him?

PHILIP WEGMANN, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, immediately what we're seeing specifically on Iran is that President Trump has really - while he's - his foreign policy is still merging in comparison to President Obama's realism in the region. For instance, where Obama was mostly silent during the Korea revolution in 2009, President Trump has been very vocal.

Where Obama was slow to condemn human rights and President Trump has been very aggressive. And where President Obama tried to deescalate the situation by removing the United States from the equation, President Trump has inserted us into that conflict ongoing.

So, I would expect going forward, President Trump to do with the exact inverse of everything Obama did in 2009.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Lindsey Graham added though, you can't just tweet here, you have to lay out a plan and that will be interesting in the days ahead, if the president can form a wide ranging foreign policy on the region. But let's turn back to domestic issues because the President gets back to D.C. and there are a boatload of issues facing this president.

January 19th, they've got to fund the government, they've got DOCA, they've got children's healthcare, they've got the boarder wall, everything is facing congress right now. Can this president - I don't want to say pivot or triangulate but can he legislate in a bipartisan manor to get agreements on some of these hot button issues.

WEGMANN: Well that's certainly one of the hopes of the administration. I think that specifically on DOCA, that's going to be one of the most important issues as congress tries to continue to fund the government. We only have three weeks until government funding expires.

President Trump, he's demanding funding for his wall and also some reforms to immigration policy as it is, democrats clearly want a permanent fix and this is so important because this is the issue that brought republican base voters out to the polls. And while, yes, they were able to get tax reform to the finish line, they don't want to do anything to diminish those achievements because they don't want to give that base voter any reason not to show up to the polls in November. So, I think these fights are definitely going to flavor the coming mid-terms.

ROMANS: I think that the -- it's got to be -- the immigration is going to be the biggest food fight here near term, don't you think?

BRIGGS: ...over everything.

ROMANS: I mean, I mean because the President wants funding to build a wall, he wants a physical wall funding. Democrats want the DACA, I mean will Democrats really agree to something like that, Phil?