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EARLY START

Trump's Afghanistan Strategy; Paul Ryan: Trump 'Messed Up' Charlottesville Response; Judge Shot Outside Ohio Courthouse Returns Fire; Pictures of the Eclipse. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 22, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I've heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, surprising remarks there.

President Trump revising the American strategy in Afghanistan. He says there will be more troops, no deadlines.

How does all this change what happens on the ground in Afghanistan? So what's new, what's old? We'll ask Colonel Cedric Leighton.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour this Tuesday morning. Nice to see you all.

After months of planning, President Trump has unveiled to the nation his new vision for the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The president breaking from his campaign rhetoric when, of course, he promised to pull out of Afghanistan, but keeping with his 'America First' theme, saying the days of nation-building are over.

The strategy light on specifics. The president reaffirmed he does not want the enemy to know his plans and a hasty withdrawal like the one in Iraq is not an option.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks. We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The president signaled the U.S. would increase troop levels in Afghanistan but offered no numbers. By design, Mr. Trump also put no end date on America's longest war.

ROMANS: Let's bring in retired Air Force Col. Cedric Leighton, CNN military analyst and a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

So nice to see you here, Colonel.

What's new, what's old in this Afghanistan strategy?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, U.S. AIR FORCE COLONEL (RET.), FORMER MEMBER, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF (via Skype): Well, a lot of things Christine are, frankly, old in this strategy and it's really a continuation in many respects of what the Obama administration had put out there.

The idea of not building -- rebuilding the nation, not -- no nation- building, that is precisely what President Obama said when he gave his first speech about Afghanistan back in 2009, so these are -- some of the tenets are part of really a continuation of policy.

What is new is, perhaps, tone and emphasis. Both administrations -- both the Obama and Trump administrations want a more regional approach.

The question, I think, becomes one of enforcement.

Are you going to actually get Pakistan, Afghanistan's main neighbor, to comply with many of the efforts that we have in place to prevent their intelligence service from financing the Haqqani network, which is a major terrorist organization that is, quite frankly, wreaking havoc in large parts of Afghanistan? Is the intelligence service in Pakistan also supporting elements of the Taliban and potentially even ISIS?

So those are the kinds of things that I think President Trump wants to go after and the words are certainly good. The question then becomes, you know, how much can you enforce this and how different is it actually going to be on the ground for everyone who's fighting this war.

BRIGGS: Yes, a very capable military staff but still a lot of questions.

"What is exactly the Trump doctrine?" that you see here on the "New York Post" and what is victory for the United States in Afghanistan?

Here's what the president said about just that last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: From now on, victory will have a clear definition. Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Colonel, we once had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan not long ago and that did not spell victory. Is there any clear definition now -- ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- of what that will be, and are we closer to it?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think, Dave, what you're seeing is a moving scale of what victory actually means. So, you know, when we had those 100,000-plus troops in Afghanistan victory seemed to mean that we would have a stable government in Kabul. That we would have the kinds of things that would bring about not necessarily a Switzerland-like Afghanistan, but at least a place that wasn't a springboard for a terrorist group like al Qaeda or ISIS.

The definition now seems to be a continuation of the status quo, which means that the government in Kabul can hang on but -- and that it is, perhaps, a bit more secure, but it is not the creation of some kind of peaceful Afghanistan. That, I think, is something that everybody recognizes is almost impossible given current conditions.

[05:35:07] ROMANS: Well, you know, we just showed a list of sort of the basics of the president's strategy and one of them is reduce Taliban influence. The Taliban had more territory today than they did before the U.S. invasion.

The president talks about obliterating ISIS but reducing Taliban influence. The Taliban, you know -- for much of the previous administration, the Taliban are anathema there. Their entire -- I don't know -- I mean, they are against American values completely.

Would the president -- does our strategy mean we have to tolerate -- the United States has to tolerate the Taliban?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think it might mean that because there was a key line in the president's speech last night where he opened the door to speaking with the Taliban at some point in the future. Not now, not under current conditions, but basically he wants to set the table so that the Taliban feel forced to come to that negotiating table and talk to the government in Kabul and to the United States.

I thought that was a very interesting part but it may be reflective of a degree of realism that we haven't seen in some past American --

ROMANS: Right.

LEIGHTON: -- policies vis-a-vis Afghanistan.

But what it really means is that we're opening the door to them but they're going to have to behave in a certain way, at least that's the desire right now. Of course, controlling that behavior --

ROMANS: Right.

LEIGHTON: -- that's a whole 'nother matter.

ROMANS: Well, for years now it's been nation-building and nation- building and you could not do a Taliban, you know. And now, if we're not nation-building -- if the United States is not nation-building, what is the next step?

BRIGGS: We are killing terrorists. That's what the president says is new.

Does he have to reveal the amount of troops headed to Afghanistan, though?

LEIGHTON: You know, we have a real difficult problem with that, Dave.

One of the problems is that we -- as an open society and as part of our democratic process, we want to know things like, you know, how much money are we spending on stuff, how many troops are being sent. And we tend to measure, both in the press and in the military frankly, the number of troops that are out there because that allows us to do accounting.

The fact of the matter is, though, it is wise to not telegraph the exact number of troops because if you don't telegraph it you can bury the number of troops. You can say we can move certain pieces in --

ROMANS: Right.

LEIGHTON: -- on a temporary basis for certain specific missions.

So that gives the administration a great deal more flexibility than it would potentially otherwise have. And that flexibility could, in fact, mean that they could use the element of surprise in certain instances and that's, I think, what President Trump was driving at last night.

BRIGGS: OK, fair point.

ROMANS: All right.

Colonel Cedric Leighton, so nice to see you this morning. Thank you so much.

BRIGGS: Thank you, sir.

LEIGHTON: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. It's 37 minutes past the hour.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said this about President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least, moral ambiguity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The speaker shares his thoughts about the president's response to Charlottesville. More from a CNN town hall, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:42:37] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: He made comments that were much more morally ambiguous, much more confusing. And I do think he could have done better. I think he needed to do better.

So I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least, moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: House Speaker Paul Ryan says the president messed up in his response to Charlottesville, just one headline from the CNN town hall last night.

Let's bring back Greg Valliere, political economist and chief strategist at Horizon Investments.

I mean, you know, at first he said it was moral ambiguity and the Jake Tapper had to kind of push him into saying no, no, it wasn't -- it was morally wrong --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- so he did have harsh words -- a little nudging from Jake Tapper.

What do you make of his relationship between these two men? They will have to work together on a lot of important things in the coming days as the president -- if the president's agenda is going to be enacted.

GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST & CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: Well, I'm told that both he and Mitch McConnell are not held in real high regard at the White House because they can't count votes.

I mean, that was the problem with the health care bill. They couldn't get the vote count right. So at the very basic, if you're House Speaker or Senate Majority Leader you've got to get that right.

So there is, beyond that, some bad blood over the tweets that Trump keeps sending.

BRIGGS: And as to the notion that Trump, as you see on the bottom of our screen, messed up on Charlottesville, he opened his Afghanistan comments by saying, in part, "We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other."

The president will not apologize for his statements on Charlottesville. We have not seen him apologize on anything. He would like to turn the page from that, though.

VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: Has he?

VALLIERE: We'll see. We talked earlier this morning about the fact that he spoke a little bit more gently on the Boston protests. That he spoke last night at the beginning of his speech about being, you know, conciliatory.

So maybe there's a change because, my gosh, all the criticism from his own family, from Republicans and Democrats on the Hill, from American business leaders, from the military, I think this criticism has had an impact.

BRIGGS: But with all this, we should say, with the caveat, that teleprompter Trump should be mister irrelevant.

VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: We have to wait until the man that is off script, ad-libbing --

VALLIERE: That's right.

BRIGGS: -- speaking from his heart.

ROMANS: And that comes tonight and you'll see Trump in his --

BRIGGS: It might or he might stick to that prompter. We're not sure.

[05:45:00] ROMANS: Well, maybe. When he's in that room with all those people --

BRIGGS: Yes, right.

ROMANS: -- as we've seen it time and again --

BRIGGS: That's his oxygen.

ROMANS: -- it is his oxygen.

You know, we also learned last night in this Afghanistan speech that the president can change his mind. Listen to what he said about what it's like to be in the Oval Office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: My original instinct was to pull out and historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I've heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So is that a new weapon for the president to be able to change --

VALLIERE: Right.

ROMANS: -- his mind on things or does that alienate his base? VALLIERE: I thought that was an extraordinary line in the speech, Christine because you have to ask the question can we now extrapolate that onto other issues. The answer is maybe.

Maybe he realizes, as he said earlier this year, who knew it would be this tough. Now he does know how tough it's going to be and maybe he does alienate a few people in his base but with 80 percent of Republicans still supporting him, he's got some wiggle room.

BRIGGS: You mention that base and, in particular, Steve Bannon.

VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: He's gone from the administration.

VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: He's not gone from the conversation.

ROMANS: No.

BRIGGS: And you look at the headlines on "Breitbart" where he has returned and did so immediately. They're not -- certainly not supportive of the president's turn. You can see some of the headlines here -- "Not happy with this Afghanistan strategy."

VALLIERE: Right.

BRIGGS: Steve Bannon, clearly, wanted out of Afghanistan.

How will that play a part in pushing the president toward certain policies as we move forward?

VALLIERE: Well, obviously, Bannon's got a lot of enemies -- McMaster, Matt Drudge. He's got a long list of people that he's going to go after.

But I think for the president, the key issue here is where they had economic policy with maybe Gary Cohn and you'd have Mnuchin as well in a more moderate stance. I think the departure of Bannon means that an agenda for Mnuchin and Cohn could be a very positive one for Wall Street.

BRIGGS: That's is intriguing. We shall see.

Greg Valliere from Horizon Investments --

VALLIERE: All right.

BRIGGS: -- thank you, sir.

ROMANS: Thanks, Greg.

BRIGGS: We appreciate the insight.

ROMANS: All right. Time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joins us this morning. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": That was an interesting conversation, especially the take that you guys have with Greg on what it means that the president gave that sound last night about --

BRIGGS: Right.

CUOMO: -- sitting in the chair. You know, look --

BRIGGS: Surprising.

CUOMO: -- the fundamental problem is he doesn't want to say he was wrong --

ROMANS: Right.

CUOMO: -- about what he was saying before. And it's not unusual for people to criticize things they don't understand.

We're going to go through, on the show, a pattern of that with our president where what he used to say no longer holds.

And remember, in that speech last night he did the thing that he always said was the worst part of the Afghanistan situation, which is its unending nature, its being indefinite. And last night he tried to make that into a virtue.

So we'll talk about the five main points of the plan last night and whether or not they get at the heart of the problem in Afghanistan. Anybody who has been there or anybody who has studied it will tell you the fundamental problem is not the Taliban, it's the instability of the Afghan government.

How do you deal with corruption? How do you deal with their ability to deliver the necessary services to people that take away the need --

BRIGGS: Yes.

CUOMO: -- for the Taliban? So we'll take you through that.

And also, what's the big elephant in the room? He started off that speech last night talking about healing and unity, trying to mop up what happened in Charlottesville.

Did he do enough? Does he have that momentum to become a moral leader for this country? We'll take it all on.

BRIGGS: And does he stick to the script tonight in Arizona.

CUOMO: Very different.

BRIGGS: That should be intriguing.

CUOMO: Very different.

BRIGGS: Chris Cuomo, thank you, sir. We'll see you in a bit. CUOMO: All right.

ROMANS: All right. A dozen Cleveland Browns players taking a knee during the National Anthem before their preseason game against the New York Giants.

BRIGGS: Yes, what a moment. Coy Wire joins us with this morning's "Bleacher Report." Interesting moment there, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. Good morning to you, Dave and Christine.

This comes just a week after Browns' head coach Hue Jackson said regarding Anthem protests quote, "I would hope that we don't have those issues," unquote.

He had 12 players kneeling, including the first white player to take a knee. Second-year player out of Princeton Seth Duvall -- DeValve, rather -- and the players called it a prayer circle. And they wanted to pray for those affected by racial injustice.

DeValve said that the tragic event in Charlottesville was a big part of his decision to do it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH DEVALVE, CLEVELAND BROWNS: I, myself, will be raising children that don't look like me and I want to do my part, as well, to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: All right, on to the game.

Trending number on bleacherreport.com, the Giants Odell Beckham, Jr. on the receiving end of that scary hit there in the second quarter of their preseason game with the Browns. Briean Boddy-Calhoun took his legs out and that's a legal hit, but one that could have been a lot worse for Beckham. He suffered a sprained ankle.

[05:50:04] And this type of hit has been a concern of the players ever since the rule change that's taken away hits to the head. Defenders go low more often, putting receivers at risk for potentially devastating knee injuries.

The Giants start their regular season in Dallas in 19 days.

Love this story. Venezuela celebrated a game-winning hit in the final inning of the Little League World Series action last night in Williamsport. They're playing Dominican Republic.

And on the other side of victory though is defeat and nobody took it harder than pitcher Edward Uceta. He gave up that hit but look what happened. From the mouths of babes one may say when a child says something that may come as a surprise because it seems so wise. Well, it was the actions last night of these 11 to 13-year-old kids from Venezuela who gave us all a lesson about sportsmanship. Look at that. Consoling young Edward. That, guys, is what it's all about.

BRIGGS: It is, Coy, and it's the best thing about the Little League World Series. You'll see a kid hit a homerun and get knuckles from the other team --

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- as he goes around the bases. It's a model for everyone to watch. I love it.

ROMANS: Those kids put their heart into it.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: And oh, we just --

BRIGGS: Weepy.

ROMANS: I know.

BRIGGS: Thank you, Coy.

ROMANS: Thanks, Coy.

WIRE: You're welcome.

ROMANS: All right. Baby Boomers retiring at a rapid pace and that might actually be hurting your paycheck. We'll tell you why on "CNN Money Stream," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: A stunning twist in the shooting of a judge outside a courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio.

Judge Joseph Bruzzese is recovering this morning after authorities say he was shot by Nate Richmond. He is the father of one of two players convicted in a 2013 rape case involving the Steubenville High School football team that drew national headlines.

[05:55:10] Richmond was also a plaintiff in a wrongful death case overseen by the judge.

BRIGGS: The local sheriff calls the attack cold-blooded attempted murder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED ABDALLA, SHERIFF, JEFFERSON COUNTY, OHIO: I urged him years ago to carry a gun. If you sitting on a bench you have to carry a gun because there's so many nut cases out there that want retaliation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: The judge and a probation officer returned fire, killing the suspect.

Officials are drawing no official connection, though, between the Steubenville rape case and this shooting. But Richmond's son, Ma'Lik, was told just a few weeks ago he could not play college football this season after his status as a walk-on generated outrage at Youngstown State University.

ROMANS: All right, 55 minutes past the hour.

We got a look at some really stunning images from Monday's total solar eclipse. Check out this awesome, awesome pic from NASA. This was the scene in Madras, Oregon.

How about being in the sky? Alaska Airlines tweeting out this image of the eclipse.

BRIGGS: Crowds gathered across the country as daytime turned to darkness quickly. These pictures from Salem, Oregon, what a great sight there in Oregon. We didn't get to see how dark it was here, out East.

We hope you followed experts' advice and did not stare straight at the eclipse like the President of the United States did. Unlike Attorney General Sessions and daughter Ivanka and others, the president took a peek at the eclipse without the protective eyewear, but not for long. He eventually threw on the glasses because he had to read that prompter last night.

ROMANS: Good news. You won't have to wait an entire century for the next eclipse, just seven years. Another solar eclipse will be visible in a diagonal path from Texas to Maine on April 8th, 2024.

And yesterday American came together.

BRIGGS: They did and they cheered for the same moment.

I played golf. I'm going to do that again in 2024. That's a good moment. You just walk across the course with your glasses on.

ROMANS: Distracted by science.

BRIGGS: That's right.

ROMANS: I love it.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets are higher after Wall Street stocks rose. Tech and financials fell. They have been two of the best-performing sectors this year.

Earnings season is winding down and the president's economic agenda appears stalled, hence the market is showing its first signs of caution. I'm watching one important measure called the Dow Transports -- the

Dow Transport Average. It's down about seven percent since July. This tracks the largest shipping companies. It's a traditional precursor to a broader market decline.

But hey, it is too soon to call the end of the bull market. All three major indices are still up about eight percent so far this year.

Foxconn's plan for a Wisconsin plant is moving right along. Approval for the $3 billion in incentives heads to the State Senate today. It passed the Assembly last week.

That money was used to secure a $10 billion investment from Foxconn. It plans to build a new LCD plant in House Speaker Paul Ryan's district by the year 2020.

Now, that $3 billion price tag for taxpayers is causing a little bit of controversy. Foxconn says it will create up to 13,000 jobs -- 13,000 new jobs. That means Wisconsin will pay about $19,000 per job, per year, six times the typical cost per job for a public incentive package.

All right. Baby boomers are retiring at a rapid pace and that could be hurting wage growth. The labor market is tight. Unemployment is at a 16-year low.

There are a record number of job openings. That should mean there is big wage growth, right, to attract those workers, but it doesn't. A new study finds the wage growth is not rising because departing older workers are being replaced by younger, cheaper ones -- people who were sidelined during the recession. That keeps a lid on wages.

Right now, about 44 million Americans are retired -- 44 million. That's up 36 percent from the year 2000.

BRIGGS: Glass half full, glass half empty. There are more jobs. That's a good thing.

ROMANS: There are. You don't want to blame a whole generation.

BRIGGS: No.

ROMANS: I know. Sorry, mom and dad.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

President Trump with a new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan but is it actually new? "NEW DAY" -- that is new -- they'll discuss just that, next. We'll see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our troops will fight to win. Conditions on the ground will guide our strategy. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I am very pleased with this plan and I am very proud of my president.

TRUMP: Victory will have a clear definition. Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda.

JOHN KIRBY, REAR ADMIRAL, U.S. NAVY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: This is Obama strategy 2.0, just some nibbling around the edges.

TRUMP: There is no room for bigotry and no tolerance for hate.

RYAN: I do believe that he messed up on Tuesday.

BRIGGS: President Trump saying he's hoping he won't veer off message in a campaign rally in Arizona tonight.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: If you're going to go to Phoenix and make a speech, fine. Say something that's going to bring people together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY.