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EARLY START

Brett Kavanaugh and Sexual Assault Accuser Expected to Testify; Expect to Pay More For Tech Rroducts?; SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Announcing The Company's First Space Tourist. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 18, 2018 - 04:30   ET

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


[04:30:00]

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: He said, she said, in front of a national audience. Brett Kavanaugh and his accusers both expected for a riveting day of testimony next week.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, expect to pay more for tech products. The president's latest tariffs on China mean now half of Chinese imports face taxes. China is expected to retaliate.

BRIGGS: The death toll and rivers both on the rise in the Carolinas. The dire situation expected to get even worse.

ROMANS: And a mix of new stars and old favorites take the honors, the top honors at the 70th Emmy Awards and "Game of Thrones" broke up the streaming party, as we've been saying because boy, the streaming services really had a great night.

BRIGGS: Yes, they sure did.

ROMANS: Welcome back to Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. We'll also have a proposal for the ages in that Emmy night, but we start with the Supreme Court latest. It promises to be one of the most dramatic days in memory on Capitol Hill.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his accuser Christine Blasey- Ford, both set to testify Monday about decades old allegations of sexual assault that have thrown Kavanaugh's nomination into a tailspin.

The stakes for the White House and lawmakers, enormous ahead of the midterm elections, with female voters in particularly galvanized by this Me Too movement.

ROMANS: At the eye of the political storm, President Trump showing noticeable restraint. Instead of going on the attack. The president says he's open to a delay to get Kavanaugh confirmed the right way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd like to see a complete process. I'd like everybody to be very happy. Most importantly, I want the American people to be happy. Because they're getting somebody that is great. I want him to go in at the absolute highest level and I think to do that you have to go through this. If it takes a little delay, it'll take a little delay. It shouldn't, certainly, be very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Two key Senate Republicans now say Monday's hearing will be crucial determining how they vote on Kavanaugh's nomination. Congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, has the latest for us from Capitol Hill.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Christine and Dave. There will be a public hearing. There will not be a committee vote to approve Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination this week. There will be a public hearing next week.

Brett Kavanaugh is expected to testify. His accuser is also expected to testify. Really the allegations that have riled, both publically and privately, the U.S. Senate, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, for the better part of the last couple of days coming to a head with a recognition and a private meeting between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, that moving forward without airing out the allegations publically simply wasn't an option.

Why was it not an option? Well, take a look at some of the Republican Senators who have very real questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: There are an awful lot of questions, inconsistencies, gaps. And that's why to be fair to both we need to know what happened. If Judge Kavanaugh has lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: We'll have to see as it unfolds. But all I can say is this was -- these are serious allegations and as soon as she came forward, she deserved to be heard. So that's what we're doing as a committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: So guys, obviously the big question now is, what happens at this public hearing and then at the wake of this public hearing, if Brett Kavanaugh, who at one point was pretty much on the glide path to confirmation, can he still get the requisite number of votes. Everything will mostly hinge on who believes who at this public hearing.

Obviously there are a lot of days before then and we've seen a lot happen over the course of the last 72 to 90 or so hours, but those are big questions going forward. I will tell you this, there's one thing to keep a close eye on, the

split between committee Republicans and committee Democrats, not just over the nomination but these allegations has become stark. It has become a very deep divide to where both sides are barely even talking to each other.

How that will matter when this actual public hearing comes to be, how there hearing is actually held, the dynamics of that hearing as it happens, well it will certainly be one to watch and as I noted, one with enormous stakes. Dave and Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Phil, busy day for you. Now that Monday hearing is on the calendar but there are signs Democrats want to delay it. Senate Judiciary Ranking Member, Diane Feinstein, says that Republicans are rushing is process. She is one of several Democrats asking for the FBI to investigate the assault claims first.

BRIGGS: Judge Kavanaugh spent nine hours at the White House Monday huddling with his confirmation team. One official describes him as, quote, shaken, but focused. The Administration is determined to defend Kavanugh's integrity and bolster his public image ahead of Monday's hearing.

White House officials are now contacting many of the 65 women who signed the letter of support for Kavanaugh to see if they're willing to publicly back the judge next week.

ROMANS: All right, President Trump ordering the declassification of materials related to the Russia investigation. That includes selected sections of the application for surveillance on former Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page.

The president's top allies claim, without proof, that the FBI wrongfully obtained its warrant for Page and is hiding information that could discredit the Mueller probe.

President also ordered the Justice Department to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation from four former top FBI officials and one current Justice official, all of them are regular Twitter targets of this president.

BRIGGS: Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee warns the release of these materials could compromise sources and methods used by law enforcement.

But the top Republican on the Committee, Devin Nunes, not buying it.

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REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I don't know how many times they're going to run that play call, but it's laughable that they're saying this is going to somehow endanger national security. This is really full transparency for the American people.

This will be all the information, really, that is -- that I think the American people will need to see because for two years we've been force feeding this Russia Kool-Aid to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Not clear when these materials will be made public.

ROMANS: Florence has finally made its exit from the Carolinas, but the death toll and the flood waters keep rising. The former hurricane is being blamed for 32 deaths. Virginia reporting its first storm related fatality after a tornado from the storm's outer bands collapsed a building near Richmond.

Yesterday a train derailed in Lilesville where the storm washed train tracks away. A dam burst in the same area -- that was last night -- forcing more evacuations.

BRIGGS: With more rain coming, officials are bracing for catastrophic and historic river flooding across the Carolinas. Take a look at Interstate 40 in Pender County. Water as far as the eye can see, overflowing from the Cape Fear River. That river will start rising again today, so conditions there could get even worse.

ROMANS: James Ammons just moved to Wilmington a few weeks ago. He lost his car in the storm when he tried to help a girl who needed food. He's been in and out of three shelters now but keeping it all in perspective.

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JAMES AMMONS, HURRICANE FLORENCE EVACUEE: We've got people in here who've have lost houses, people who've lost relatives, people, you know -- and it's hard to see that and -- but at the same time, you've just got be grateful for what you have right now because I think to a certain extent, I feel that's what's happening to a lot of people is that we haven't been so grateful for what we have, so it's being taken from us.

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ROMANS: Well, later this morning residents at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, where Florence made landfall. They will be allowed to return home. About 350,000 customers in North and South Carolina are still without power. You've got at least 26,000 people who have been rescued from these flood waters. And again, the waters are rising.

A new date has been set for an emergency test message from President Trump. The test is part of FEMA's system for warning the public in case of a national emergency. Most cell phone users will receive the test alert on Wednesday, October 3. It was originally scheduled for this Thursday, but FEMA says it decided to postpone.

More than 100 carriers, including the largest, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, they will all participate in the test.

BRIGGS: All right, if you were sleeping -- you probably were -- indeed, a new darling of comedy cleans up at the 70th Emmy Awards.

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WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: Outstanding comedy series goes to, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The Amazon series, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" was the biggest winner, taking home five Emmy's, including best comedy series. The show's star, Rachel Brosnahan, won for lead actress.

ROMANS: On the drama side, HBO's "Game of Thrones" was once again king, disrupting the streaming party, winning best drama series for a third time. This show was hosted by SNL Weekend Update duo, Collin Jost and Michael Che. The pair addressed Hollywood in a Me Too movement in their monologue.

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MICHAEL CHE, SNL ACTOR: I'm Michael Che. It is an honor to be here sharing this night with the many, many talented and creative people in Hollywood who haven't been caught yet.

COLIN JOST, SNL ACTOR: This year -- this year the audience is allowed drink in their seats.

(CHEERING)

JOST: Hope you're excited about that. Yes, because the one thing Hollywood needs right now is people loosing their inhibitions at a work function. Netflix, of course, has the most nominations tonight.

(CHEERING)

JOST: That's right. That's right. And if you're a network executive that's the scariest thing you can possibly hear. Except maybe, sir, Ronan Farrow is on line one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Well played. It was also a big night for veteran actor Henry Winkler, who got a standing ovation after winning his first ever Emmy, for his supporting role in the HBO series, "Barry."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY WINKLER, ACTOR: I only have 37 seconds, I wrote this 43 years ago.

(LAUGHTER)

WINKLER: OK. Can I just say Skip Brittenham said to me a long time ago, if you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you. And tonight, I got to clear the table.

[04:40:00]

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BRIGGS: Happy days for Henry. One of the night's most memorable moments, a surprise marriage proposal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLEN WEISS, PRODUCER: This ring that my mom wore on your finger, in front of all these people and in front of my mom and your parents watching from above, will you marry me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Yes. After winning an Emmy for directing the Oscars, Glen Weiss proposed to his girlfriend on the Emmy stage. You can see she said yes. The night was really fast-moving. That was the one moment it slowed down. Good for both of them; congrats.

ROMANS: All right, Republicans got tax cuts for 2018. Will 2019 be the year of entitlement cuts? Listen to Larry Kudlow, the president's top economic advisor said Monday in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: As far as the larger entitlements, I think everybody is going to look at that probably next year. We have to be tougher on spending. People are quick to blame deficits on tax cuts. Well I don't buy that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The comment came as part of the larger discussion of the budget deficit which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts will surpass $1 trillion in the year 2020. A trillion dollars. Kudlow did not specify which specific entitlement programs would face cuts, although he blamed previous administrations for expanding eligibility for welfare programs like food stamps. Kudlow predicted budget deficits of four or five percent of GDP in the coming years, that's too high, but claimed entitlement reform and tax cuts would eventually reduce the figure.

BRIGGS: Entitlement reform. I haven't heard much about that in recent years.

ROMANS: Yes, and that is a real problem for Democrats and progressives who see so much of this as just a way to, you know, cut taxes for corporations and then cut benefits for people.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, North Korea says quote, gangster logic, by the United States is slowing denuclearization talks. The third summit of the year happening right now between North and South Korea. Will it ease concerns? We are live in Seoul.

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ROMANS: The Trump Administration announcing a new round of tariffs on China, this time on $200 billion of goods. These new tariffs go into effect later this month. They start at 10 percent and jump to 25 percent at the end of this year. Combined with the tariffs enacted earlier this year, about $50 billion worth, roughly half of all products China sells to the United States will now be subjected to American taxes. That means you, the consumer, will likely pay a little bit more for a number of things. New items include a wide range of tech products like routers, circuit boards, and other I.T. equipment. And it's bad news for companies like Facebook and Google, which rely on Chinese electronics for their cloud computing and their data centers.

Now Apple did get a slight break here. The Apple watch and other Bluetooth devices are exempt for now. Yesterday President Trump threatened additional tariffs and called on China's leaders to take swift action to end their country's unfair trade practices. That did not go over well. Overnight China announced it will be forced to take counter measures but has not announced specific numbers yet. Markets in Shanghai up about two percent overnight.

BRIGGS: This morning a third summit under way between South and North Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in landing overnight in Pyongyang, greeted by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The three day meeting comes as tensions rise between the U.S. and North Korea with frustration growing over the denuclearization process. Joining us live from Seoul is Paula Hancocks with the latest. Paula, good morning.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Dave. Well certainly it was a very warm welcome from the South Korean president being greeted at the airport by Kim Jong-un. They also had a motorcade going through the streets of Pyongyang. Both leaders standing out of the sunroof and waving to we're told was 100,000 residents on the street, all chanting, "unification," clearly something they had been told to chant.

But amongst the warm reaction we are seeing here, we did hear some of the comments between the two leaders, the South Korean President Moon Jae-in saying he felt quite emotional when he saw what a warm welcome he was given. We heard from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un saying his people want a fast result, as they saw earlier this year.

But at the same time, as all this was happening, there was an article at the front page of the state-run newspaper saying that the U.S. is totally to blame for what has happened with this deadlock between Washington and Pyongyang, calling it gangster-like, something they've said before when it comes to the U.S., saying the conservative politicians in the U.S. are insisting there's complete denuclearization before there's any discussion about anything else. Very careful, though, not to mention the U.S. president, Donald Trump himself. We heard through a South Korean envoy that Kim Jong-un does say he has unwavering faith in Mr. Trump. Dave.

BRIGGS: The normalization of Kim Jong-un continues. Paula, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, fewer refugees will be allowed in the U.S. next year than any other time since the resettlement program started nearly 40 years ago. Only 30,000 people will be allowed in in 2019, a third fewer than last year's low of 45,000. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims the drastically reduced number should not be the sole barometer of the administration's commitment to humanitarian efforts. Refugee resettlement agencies and immigrant rights groups, they want more people allowed into the country, citing the rising number of refugees who need help.

BRIGGS: The State Department says it recently detected a breach of its unclassified e-mail system. The spokesman says the apparent hack affected less than one percent of employee inboxes but did result in some employees personal information being exposed.

[04:50:00]

Not clear when the breach occurred or how long the system was vulnerable, but there was no detection of any activity in the department's classified system. In 2015, CNN reported Russian hackers broke into the State Department e-mail system in the worst ever cyber attack against a federal agency.

ROMANS: A Russian military plane inadvertently shot down by Syria. It happened Monday over the Mediterranean as the Syrians were trying to stop a barrage of inbound Israeli missiles with anti-aircraft artillery. Russia's news agency reports that there were 14 military personnel on board the plane. The anti-aircraft system used by the Syrians in the shoot down was sold to them by the Russians. Moscow backs the Assad regime as he wages war against rebel groups.

All right, SpaceX has its first lunar tourist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YASAKU MAEZAWA, JAPANESE BILLIONAIRE MOON TRAVELER: I choose to go to the moon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A Japanese billionaire will take a trip around the moon. CNN Money next.

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[04:55:00]

BRIGGS: Key historical figures like Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller may disappear from social studies courses in the state of Texas. The State Board of Education looking to narrow the curriculum so teachers can dive deeper into other topics. The Board of Education says it realizes people will disagree on what should remain but the state requires too much material to jam into one year. Officials say teachers can still discuss the excised figures, but it just won't be mandatory. Decisions on who to remove are based on recommendations from volunteer work groups. Final vote is set for November.

ROMANS: A suspect has been charged with arson in connection with a huge fire at a New York City parking garage. Police say 23-year-old Devon Stevens was seen in the area where the fire broke out in Brooklyn. Twenty-one people suffered injuries, thankfully none of them life threatening. The seven alarm blaze damaged or destroyed about 120 cars. Between 250 and 300 firefighters worked for hours to put out this inferno.

BRIGGS: Julie Chen is stepping down as co-host of the CBS daytime series, "The Talk." It comes a week after her husband, former CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves, was forced out under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations. Chen is expected to address her decision in a taped message on today's episode. A source telling CNN she's decided to focus - her focus needs to be on clearing her husband's name and tending to her son. Chen will continue to host the CBS reality show, "Big Brother." It seemed unlikely she would return to "The Talk" given the obvious tension that might exist every time the Me Too Movement is discussed.

"Saturday Night Live" revealing it's first and host and musical guest for the upcoming season, actor Adam Driver, you may know as Kylo Ren. He's been tapped to headline the Season 44 premier on September 29. For Driver, it will be his second time hosting SNL. He will be joined by six-time musical guest Kanye West. "Saturday Night Live" opens the season already on a roll, winning best variety sketch series at last night's Emmy Awards.

ROMANS: All right, let's go check on CNN Money. This Tuesday morning, the Dow, the NASDAQ and S&P all closed lower as the Trump Administration escalates the trade war with China. Among the losers, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google, all of which rely on Chinese electronics that are about to get more expensive. The U.S. futures right now up a little bit. Asian stocks rebounded overnight, closing up in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Japan.

For the first time in more than a decade, companies are spending more money on stock buybacks than on job-creating investments. During the first half of 2018, S&P 500 companies gave shareholders $384 billion worth of stock buybacks. That's up 48 percent from last year. Investors can thank the strong economy and Trump's tax cuts. That doesn't mean business are not investing. Actually business spending is also up, up to a lesser degree, 19 percent. But buybacks are growing much faster. In fact, Goldman Sachs predicts 2018 will be the first year in which shareholders receive over $1 trillion in buybacks.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announcing the company's first space tourist. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will take flight aboard the company's big Falcon rocket as soon as 2023.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAEZAWA: Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon. Telling stories of the moon filled my imagination. It's always there and has continued to inspire humanity. That is why I could not pass up this opportunity to see the moon up close. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SpaceX says the lunar getaway will last four or five days. Although Maezawa won't land on the moon, he's planning to take six to eight artists with him on the mission free of charge. The price tag? Musk won't say, but described the amount as non trivial.

BRIGGS: I would guess eight figures.

ROMANS: Non trivial. Non trivial. I don't know. That's a lot. I mean --

BRIGGS: If you were offered a seat for free, would you go?

ROMANS: No.

BRIGGS: No. I agree with you there. "Early Start" continues right now with the latest on the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said/she said in front of a national audience. A dramatic hearing regarding the future of Brett Kavanaugh on the United States Supreme Court.

ROMANS: Expect to pay more for tech products. The president's latest tariffs on China mean half of Chinese imports face an extra cost. China is expected to retaliate.

BRIGGS: Water overtaking this highway for miles as water levels and the death toll continue to rise in the Carolinas.