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EARLY START

Merkel: Europe Can't Completely Rely On U.S.; Kushner Facing Increased Scrutiny; Trump Huddles With Senior Advisers; North Korean Missile Test; New Arrest In Manchester Terror Attack; British Security To Investigate Itself. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 29, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


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[05:00:49]

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A major shift on the world stage fresh off meetings with President Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggesting Europe can't trust the United States the way it used to.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: And the White House taking new steps to try to minimize the fallout over Russia after reports the president's son-in-law tried to set up a back channel to speak with the kremlin.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Memorial Day, Monday, May 29th, remembering all those troops who made the ultimate sacrifice on this day. It's 5 a.m. in the east.

This morning on the heels of his overseas trip, President Trump gets an implied no confidence vote from one of Europe's top leaders, one our biggest allies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

She says right now Europe can't completely depend on the United States and other longtime allies. Merkel did not mention President Trump by name, but it was clear who she was thinking of when she mentioned recent international summits she attended with the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The times when we could completely count on others, they are over to a certain extent. I've experienced this in the last few days and that is why I can only say that we Europeans must take our fate into our own hands.

Of course, in friendship with the United States of America and friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia. But we have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans. And that's what I want to do together with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KOSIK: On his trip, President Trump labeled Germany very bad on trade and slammed NATO allies for spending too little on their own defense. NATO leaders weren't happy that the president failed to acknowledge their recent increases in military spending.

BRIGGS: At the G7 Summit, world leaders including Merkel were unable to convince President Trump to stay in the Paris climate accord. The president says a final decision is coming this week.

KOSIK: OK, so distractions for the president they don't stop there. The White House also facing growing fallout over word that Jared Kushner attempted to setup a back channel to communicate with the kremlin during the transition undetected. A source with knowledge of the matter confirming to CNN a report that first appeared in the "Washington Post."

BRIGGS: President Trump now preparing to fight back. Sources tell CNN he is considering a shakeup in the White House Communications Office as the west wing sets up a new war room to push back on all Russia stories with help from the RNC. We get more now from CNN's Ryan Nobles.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Dave, good morning from the White House. This is the start of a busy week for the president as he returns from his long trip overseas. And we'll have to see if the White House provides anymore clarity about this latest controversy involving the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the reports that he attempted to set up a back channel of communication between the Trump transition and the kremlin.

The White House has not confirmed or denied this report, but they did find an unlikely ally this weekend in South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham who said that he's not sure he buys this report. Listen to what he had to say on "STATE OF THE UNION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't know who leaked this supposed conversation, but just think about it this way, you have the ambassador to Russia reporting back to Moscow on an open channel. Hey, Jared Kushner's going to move into the embassy. I don't trust this story as far as I can throw it.

I think it makes no sense that the Russian ambassador would report back to Moscow on a channel that he most likely knows we're monitoring. The whole story line is suspicious. I've never been more concerned and suspicious about all things Russia than I am right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Now Graham's defense of the White House is more than we've seen from the White House itself. As we've said, they've not confirmed or denied the report, instead administration officials have answered questions about this topic by speaking about it more conceptionally and broadly, saying that if it were true, it really wouldn't be that big of a deal. Among them, H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, and John Kelly, the homeland security secretary. Meanwhile the president had a busy Sunday meeting with advisers about the path going forward not just on Russia, but on his domestic agenda as well.

And we spotted Marc Kasowitzs, the attorney that the president has retained to represent him as an individual, not necessarily as the president.

[05:05:04]Kasowitz seen leaving the White House with Ivanka Trump, the wife of Jared Kushner, who is of course at the center of all of this controversy -- Alison and Dave.

KOSIK: OK, Ryan Nobles, thanks for that.

How President Trump plans to defend himself on the growing Russia question, that remains unclear. He tweeted nothing controversial during his trip overseas, and didn't hold a single news conference.

But he did somehow found his way back on to Twitter on Sunday, among the tweets, mostly targeting the media. Here's one, "It's my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #fakenewsmedia."

BRIGGS: So now we know how it will play. Joining us here this morning in New York, CNN politics reporter, Eugene Scott. Good to see you.

So front page of every paper, wary of Trump Merkel doubts U.S. is a solid ally. These comments from Merkel, who is careful with words is very thoughtful. She knew what she was going at here. Is she saying they are alone militarily, economically and, environmentally or is it all the above? How significant is what Angela Merkel said yesterday?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I do think it's significant. I also think, though, that it's a continuation of what we've seen between her and her relationship with President Donald Trump. We know that she was very close to Barack Obama. They were friends in terms of where leadership appeared.

But when we look back at her first meeting with Donald Trump, if you remember, they didn't even shake hands. There has been some concern about whether or not she can have with this administration what she had in the past. That's to be determined, but I think it's important to say that she said completely.

BRIGGS: What does it say about our standing on the world stage?

SCOTT: Well, I think the message that President Donald Trump campaigned on, America first, is a message that we're seeing people internationally finally get, receive and making the decisions that suggest, hey, we have to plan differently. We cannot expect America to be what it perhaps was to us -- that it was in the past.

KOSIK: OK, so Trump obviously by taking this stance sort of anti- Europe or anti-Germany at this point, it is appealing to his base, but you look at what Angela Merkel is doing, she's facing an election in September. Donald Trump is not popular in Germany, so she's going to show that she can stand up to somebody like Donald Trump.

But at the same time, what she is saying can really have ever lasting effects beyond whether or not President Trump stays in office after, you know, four years talking about Dave's point that this could really alter the U.S. stance on the global stage, not just talking about economically, not just talking about climate change or defense. We're talking politically as well.

SCOTT: Absolutely. I mean, the reality is decisions that are made right now aren't going to be immediate in terms -- or temporary should I say in their impact. These are long term plans in terms of trade and national security, other issues that we involved in with Germany. And I think we're seeing Merkel say that we have to be perhaps Germany first in terms of how we look at our policy moving forward.

BRIGGS: The economic trade comments were of particular note. We won't to get too deep into them, but the President Trump might not have been informed that BMW is our biggest exporter of cars. But we'll move on to Jared Kushner and the son-in-law of the president, one of his chief advisers.

Reports that he set up a back channel or wanted to set up a back channel during the transition with the Russians. Two different sides to this story. Let's play them both for you. The positive and the negative about these reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Whatever the communication is comes back in to the government and shared across the government, so it's not a bad thing to have multiple communication lines to any government. I would just say that any line of communication to a country particularly a country like Russia is a good thing.

MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This is off the map, Michael, I know no other experience like this in our history, certainly within my life experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: All right. It really depends on how you interpret that back channel because Adam Schiff said they should review Jared Kushner's security clearance, Ted Lu suggested perhaps prosecution. How major is this and is it wrong, is it a good thing that he would want a back channel with Russia?

SCOTT: Well, to your point, it does depend on who you are talking to. We will find out soon what happened with that back channel and what was discussed. I think what's very interesting is the number of people defending him --

BRIGGS: We will never find out what was discussed. That's the point of a back channel. SCOTT: Well, I think the reality is that there are people who want to know what was discussed and that is part of the entire investigation that we are seeing looking into what Jared's role was and determining between the Trump campaign and Russia. I think what is very interesting is the number of people calling him naive and saying that he did not know what was happening.

[05:10:03]I think that is one of the main criticisms some people have of Jared Kushner even being in the position as a whole saying that someone involved in this type of action should not be in that role, period, not having a lot of experience in how these things operate.

KOSIK: Yes, but you have three top law enforcement officials, Brennan, Comey, James Clapper all saying the same thing that the contact that Jared Kushner has had with these Russian dignitaries is concerning, where there is smoke, there is fire. I mean, not just talking about Kislyak, but also a meeting with a top banker as well who is kind of Putin's right hand man.

SCOTT: Well, it will be interesting to see what happens out of the alleged war room that's being formed in the White House in terms of how to respond to these things. As Trump sees it's a strip comes to an end so much has happened over the past week or more while he was gone that requires him to have some type of response to all of these controversies. It will be interesting to see what they are able to put together.

KOSIK: So much to talk about.

BRIGGS: Is there some shake up in the White House staff? Is there a battle brewing between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. A lot of things to pay attention to now that that foreign trip is over.

KOSIK: So many questions, so few answers.

All right. The White House might expand a ban on laptops and e- readers to all international flights. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly telling Fox News that there are currently numerous threats against aviation with terrorists obsessed by the idea of knocking down an American plane.

Kelly is also considering a ban on large electronics on flights departing the U.S. Right now devices bigger than a cellphone are only banned on some U.S.-bound flights originating from ten cities and eight countries including Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

BRIGGS: Two big international stories this morning, North Korea escalating its missile test firing another that lands not far from the coast of Japan.

KOSIK: And another arrest in the Manchester attack as officials say some of the bomber's network could still be at large. Live reports on both of these developing stories next.

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BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, the latest provocation from North Korea, Pyongyang firing off its third ballistic missile test in as many weeks. A short range missile has fell into the waters between North Korea and Japan just 200 miles from the Japanese coastline. The test drawing strong and immediate condemnation from Japan and South Korea.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul with the latest. Good morning to you, Paula. Each time we've seen some sort of differentiation from the previous missile launch. Is there anything that makes this one unique in and of itself?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, what we know at this point from the Joint Chiefs of Staff here is they believe it was a scud missile, some type of scud missile, which of course is a shorts range missile. They are trying to pinpoint exactly what the special factor about this particular one was modified, whether it is an extended range, which we have seen before.

Giving some kind of indication as to why North Korea decided to fire this missile now. As you say, the third in three weeks that we have seen from North Korea and condemnation coming from both South Korea and Japan.

Japan saying they believed it landed in the exclusive economic zone, the waters off the coast of Japan. We also heard from the chief secretary in Japan saying that it is extremely problematic the fact that there are many aircraft and ships in that area and obviously North Korea does not give any kind of warning when it does these missile launches.

So they say that they are very concerned by that. And now we know there was a National Security Council meeting here. President Moon Jae-in, the new liberal president presiding over that. And we also know that since he took power in South Korea just three weeks ago, there has been a missile launch by North Korea every single week.

The man who took power in South Korea saying he wants engagement, he wants dialogue with North Korea, obviously finding it very difficult to do that when there are these continual tests -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul, thank you.

KOSIK: All right, a new arrest in connection with the Manchester terror attack, the 23-year-old Sussex man taken into custody just hours ago. Fourteen people remain in custody and police now are trying to determine if the bomber had a terror network behind him and if members of that network could still be at large.

Let's go live to Manchester and bring in CNN's Phil Black. So Phil, we are seeing how investigators are honing in on this terror network. What progress are they making and what work is left to be done?

PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A bit of internal work, too. The British government has confirmed, Alison, that MI-5, Britain's security and intelligence service will conduct an internal review to determine why the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, was not identified as a threat sooner.

British media reporting that the authorities had been warned about Abedi at least three times prior to the attack. The police investigation as you say, it is still ongoing, leading police to raid properties and make arrests. That continued overnight.

And so now 14 men are being held in custody in connection with this. The authorities say they are talking about making significant progress in getting to the bottom of the network responsible working out who did this and how, but they are not saying that they have everybody just yet.

There was an encouraging development over the weekend when the national terror threat level was lowered from its highest point which is critical, it means that British intelligence no longer believes the same group could be capable of striking again imminently.

Meanwhile here in Manchester, there has been a great deal of emotion still on display almost a week since the attack, we've seen a lot of that focused here on the memorial site behind me. It is the focus of the community's grief.

This is where large numbers of people have been gathering over the weekend, lining up for long periods of time, waiting for their chance to leave flowers and tributes, to stand here and reflect.

[05:20:03]And lots of other people have been going out of their way to prove that this attack will not change the community or the way people live here. That was the message from tens of thousands of people who took part in the Great Manchester run.

It was an extraordinary sight, so many people running through the streets of the city just days after the attack in what they knew was a powerful message to those who carried out the attack, but also to the rest of the world as well -- Alison.

KOSIK: People certainly trying to get on with their lives. Positive, yes, that the threat level has been lowered, but so many people still on edge. CNN's Phil Black, thanks so much.

BRIGGS: Let's talk sports ahead. A thrilling finish to the 101st Indy 500 and a surprise winners drinking milk in victory lane. Coy Wire live in Indy with this morning's "Bleacher Report" next.

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[05:25:18]

BRIGGS: All right, time for some sports. After eight tries, Japan's Takuma Sato wins his first Indy 500 in thrilling fashion.

KOSIK: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report" from Indianapolis. Some great pictures coming out of there, Coy. COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Alisyn. Good morning, Dave. Making history in front of 300,000 people here at the iconic Brick Yard, the largest single day sporting event in the world. Takuma Sato is the first Japanese driver to ever win the Indy 500.

This race was action packed. A record 15 different leaders. Takuma Sato is 40 years old and seven times victory alluded him here at the Indy 500, but he captured greatness on his eighth attempt. I asked the champ about his mindset.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAKUMA SATO, INDY 500 WINNER: No attack, no chance is my motto. Age is something, but I think you just believe it and never give up. I think then the dreams come true.

WIRE: Describe how that milk tasted in victory lane.

SATO: I love the milk, but it was just awesome feeling and the taste fantastic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Scott Dixon walked away as Indy 500 champion in 2008 and this race fortunate to walk away at all. A heart-stopping moment, his car went soaring through the air after contact with another driver, crashing into the barrier wall, bursting into flames and pieces. The safety cell in his vehicle likely saving his life. Miraculously he would walked away.

After Dixon was released from the hospital, he seemed unbelievably calm and one of his crew members said racecar drivers aren't built like the rest of us.

Another big story line here, two-time Formula One world champion, Spanish racing legend, Fernando Alonzo making his Indy 500 debut. Either leading or with the front of pack the entire race, but heartbreak sets in when his engine fails with just 21 laps to go.

The crowd here embraced Fernando, standing ovation when he got out of his car and walked off the track. He gave respect to this place, the Indy 500 and the people here gave him respect for that.

BRIGGS: That's good stuff, but that Scott Dixon video, man, is just remarkable that he was able to walk away. Says a lot about the safety of that cockpit there now in.

KOSIK: It's truly amazing.

WIRE: It was dead silence when people were watching this replay, the silence broken only by gasps. A miracle that he was able to walk away from this relatively unharmed, guys.

BRIGGS: This guy that was robbed in a Taco Bell drive-thru earlier in the week. He has had a rough, rough week, but a great guy. Coy Wire, thanks, buddy. KOSIK: Can the U.S. be trusted by allies in Europe? The German chancellor has doubts after meeting with President Trump.

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