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President Trump Says China Called to Make a Deal on Trade; G7 Nations Pressure Brazil on Amazon Fires; Israel Acknowledges Airstrikes Near Damascus. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 26, 2019 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] JESSICA DEAN, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Our international viewers for joining us, have a great rest of your day, and for our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China called last night, our top trade people, and said, let's get back to the table.


DAVE BRIGGS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: President Trump early this morning talking about positive signals coming from China on trade.

DEAN: President Trump also this morning denies he was blindsided by the Iranian Foreign Minister's surprise appearance at the G7.

BRIGGS: Brazil's government under pressure to deal with the wildfires in the Amazon Rainforest that CNN's capture -- cameras captured the disturbing view from above.

DEAN: Plus, NFL star Andrew Luck's stunning decision to walk away from the game and millions of dollars. Good morning, welcome to EARLY START, I'm Jessica Dean in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning to you --

DEAN: Hi --

BRIGGS: Good morning, everyone, I'm Dave Briggs, Monday, August 26th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the East. We begin with breaking news this morning a short time ago. President Trump telling reporters that China has told the administration it wants to return to trade negotiations with markets slumping worldwide and confusion over a trade war with China.

The president told reporters that an impromptu news conference at the G7 that, quote, "China called, wanting to make a deal."


TRUMP: China called last night on our top trade people and said, let's get back to the table. So, we'll be getting back to the table, and I think they want to do something. They've been hurt very badly, but they understand this is the right thing to do.

And I have great respect for them. I have great respect for -- this is a very positive development for the world.


BRIGGS: The president also addressing a trade deal with China and a surprise appearance of Iran's Foreign Minister at the G7. For the latest, let's bring in senior diplomatic editor Nic Robertson at the G7 in southern France. Nic, it is whiplash, minute-by-minute, no idea what to expect. Good morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Good morning, Dave. It has been and it remains so, and who knows what else can come up later today. Hence, perhaps that President Trump remembering that he threatened on his way here to slap tariffs on French wine imports to the United States in respect of France putting a digital tax on some major U.S. digital companies.

Possibly, a deal in the works there as well. Touting as well, as you said, a trade deal with Japan. But it is China this morning that has everyone talking, of course, except the Chinese. We haven't heard from them. President Trump said he took several calls overnight, indicating that President Xi does want to make a deal.

And this vindicates President Trump's position here at the G7. He's been telling leaders that you may have to go through some economic pain to get to the better side of it. He has indicated that his approach is the right approach to be tough with China. And indeed over the weekend when on Sunday when he was asked, have you had second thoughts about increasing those tariffs on China, asked twice that question by reporters, he said, yes, he was having second thoughts.

Advisors, however, came out afterwards and said the president was having second thoughts because he was thinking of increasing those tariffs. So, the president this morning indicating that his position has been validated, but we have yet to hear that from the Chinese. And on Iran, President Trump also having a sort of contradictory message between Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday, saying that he hadn't backed French President Emmanuel Macron to invite the Javad Zarif; the Iranian Foreign Minister to Biarritz to continue talks with French diplomats, and I have to say, German and English diplomats as well. That he had not joined in signing a letter from all G7 leaders, enabling Macron to sort of work for the G7.

Today, however, he said that he had approved Macron's decision to bring Zarif here. This is how he framed it.


TRUMP: On the Macron, no, he spoke to me, he asked me, I said, if you want to do that, that's OK. I don't consider that disrespectful at all, especially when he asked me for approval.


ROBERTSON: So, whiplash, heads spinning, we're not done yet. Six hours from now, President Trump and President Macron have a joint press conference, who knows what we'll hear. The president from indications this morning in a mood to talk about all his achievements.

BRIGGS: We shall expect the unexpected, Nic, thank you. Let's check on business now. U.S. markets are looking to recover this morning. Futures are slightly higher after President Trump pivoted again on China, saying that China wants to get back to trade talks. Asian markets fell amid confusing signals about the U.S.-China trade war.

London's market is closed for a bank holiday today. Trump's comments come after China unveiled a new round of retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of U.S. goods on Friday.

[05:05:00] President Trump tweeted that he, quote, "hereby ordered U.S. companies that do business in China to, quote, "immediately start looking for an alternative." Beijing already has tariffs on about $110 billion worth of U.S. exports, which includes things like almonds, toys and machinery.

And new tariffs will target over 5,000 products, including soybeans, coffee, whiskey, sea food and crude oil. Some of the new Chinese tariffs expected to go into effect on September 1st. The rest will be effective December 15th, mirroring Trump's latest tariff threat.

DEAN: The G7 nations putting pressure on Brazil to deal with the huge number of fires blazing in the Amazon Rainforest. The Summit host, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeting "our house is burning, literally. The Amazon Rainforest, the lungs which produces 20 percent of our planet's oxygen are on fire. It is an international crisis."

Brazil's own space agency says there are 85 percent more fires burning in the country this year than last, and that more than half of those are in the Amazon. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro is pushing back, calling Macron's comments sensationalist. But with some G7 countries threatening trade sanctions, Bolsonaro has ordered troops into the Amazon and authorized hundreds of temporary firefighters.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more now from Brazil.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Jessica, extraordinary scenes we saw in three hours above the Amazon Forest. Really, at times, unable to get low enough towards the forest canopy because of the sheer amount of smoke, making it very hard for our pilots to fly.

Even at times, turning off the air vents inside the aircraft for our own safety. But when we did see the fires, it's extraordinary, exactly how much of the forest they have devastated, and how they rage uncontrolled. Often moving in a line simply across the Savannah. During our three-hour flight, we did not see one instance of the Brazilian army.

The president here saying 43,000 of them have been deployed to fight the fires, and we occasionally see them in the skies over the city at Porto Alegre flying in cargo planes to draw up water. We saw none on the ground though. Little signs of human life at all, frankly, only one bird making it around that I saw in the smoke over that forest.

A lot of cattle. sometimes they're the reason why the forest is cleared for agricultural lands, so they can grow soy to feed the cattle or the cattle can graze and then be made for beef for our diets. This is really many say why the Amazon is being -- of such an extraordinary rate of one and a half football fields per minute -- three were elapsed during the time in which I'm talking here.

The destruction though was quite startling. It's moving at a remarkable rate. The fires we saw were new, mostly today, and they do appear, some of them, according to how clean the lines of the burn are, to perhaps are being started deliberately. That's what we're hearing from many police and also activists here as well.

But the scale of a challenge is utterly enormous. Simply what we saw would be difficult for one army to put out in one day. And Brazil has accepted the help of Israel, that's been offered, but will it accept the help of the G7 nations that say this is an urgent concern?

That have been very critical of Brazil's attitude towards the environment and the Amazon, but could potentially offer help. That's up to President Jair Bolsonaro, whether he takes it or not, it would depend on how this crisis grows in the days ahead. Dave, Jessica.

DEAN: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you. Israel claiming responsibility for air strikes near Damascus, saying those strikes foiled an imminent, large-scale attack by Iranian forces and Shiite militia in northern Israel. Iran denying any of the targets were hit. CNN's Sam Kiley is live in Jerusalem with the latest. Sam, what are you learning this morning?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jessica, those -- the acknowledgment of Israel's attacks against those targets, allegedly Iranian targets inside Syria was very unusual because normally, the Israelis like to be ambiguous about these things, and they have remained ambiguous about allegations of subsequent attacks or drone operations, firstly, in Beirut, then blamed for three air strikes on a Palestinian group inside Lebanese territory.

And then another air strike or drone attack against a Shiite group backed by Iran inside Iraqi territory, which is very problematic indeed for the United States. There have been broad hints from Benjamin Netanyahu who is in the middle of an election campaign, of course, though, Israel had been behind air strikes in the past in Iraq.

But of course, that does make things difficult for the United States, who are allies of the Iraqi government and violations of its air space have angered the Iraqis very much. But at the moment, clearly, there has been a significant escalation in the at least proxy conflicts between Iran and Israel. Now, they seem to be coming closer to outright conflict, Jessica?

[05:10:00] DEAN: All right, Sam Kiley in Jerusalem this morning, thanks so much.

BRIGGS: Conservative radio host Joe Walsh announcing he's running against President Trump for the Republican nomination. The former Illinois Congressman telling "ABC News" he is running because Mr. Trump is, quote, "unfit for office."


REP. JOE WALSH (R-IL): The country is sick of this guy's tantrum. He's a child. Again, the litany, he lies every time he opens his mouth. Look at what's happened this week, he is the president of the United States is tweeting us into a recession.


BRIGGS: Walsh says his former colleagues on Capitol Hill all think the president will lose in 2020, and they want him to lose. But he adds, they're too afraid to say so. Walsh was elected to the house in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and has a long history of controversy himself.

He once said Obama was elected only because he was a, quote, "black man who was articulate", and pushed the false conspiracy theory that Obama was a Muslim who hated Israel. And he added the beauty of what President Trump has done, he's made me reflect on some of the things I've said in the past.

Walsh said he, in part, created Donald Trump. It'll be an interesting --

DEAN: Yes, that's right --

BRIGGS: Test though to get on the ballot anywhere.

DEAN: That's a tough --

BRIGGS: Right --

DEAN: Yes --

BRIGGS: Yes --

DEAN: Tough hurdle. From California to Hawaii on a paddle board. That paddle board, one man's remarkable triumph of endurance, that's next.


BRIGGS: Law enforcement in Los Angeles County lighting up social media to express extreme disappointment that a rookie sheriff's deputy fabricated a story about a sniper shooting in Lancaster, California. The shots-fired call triggered a huge response and SWAT team investigation. But after four days of investigating, the sheriff's department found Deputy Angel Reinosa's claims did not hold up. That led to a rare, late-night news conference on Saturday.


KENT WEGENER, CAPTAIN, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S HOMICIDE BUREAU: There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injuries sustained to his shoulder. Completely fabricated.


BRIGGS: Reinosa admitted to cutting holes in his uniform with a knife to back up his false claims about the sniper. He faces potential criminal charges, including filing a false report. Investigators say they still don't have a motive. The L.A. sheriff, among others, making it clear the actions of one person do not define the rest of his deputies at the Lancaster station.

DEAN: Comedian Dave Chappelle hosting a benefit concert in Dayton, Ohio, to honor victims of the mass shooting in his hometown and to support their families and survivors.


DEAN: Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Chance The Rapper, and Teyana Taylor along with fellow comedian Jon Stewart joining Chappelle for that event. The block party and benefit concert called Gem City Shine, a nod to Dayton's nickname, was announced on Facebook. But the lineup was kept a surprise. Chappelle who grew up and still lives about 20 miles outside of Dayton explained why he was compelled to act.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: I think the best way to honor the people that were slain, and even injured in this, is to pick yourself up and to pick your city up, and be better than you were before. You know, otherwise, you don't want anyone to die in vain or suffer in vain. There are a lot of people suffering, I got to say,

It really affected the community a lot. But the way we're coming out of it, I think is what makes us such a great place to live.


DEAN: Gem City Shine was organized to unite the community and make recovering more bearable in the wake of the mass shooting that killed nine people earlier this month.

BRIGGS: An incredible feat of endurance. Antonio De La Rosa making a trip from San Francisco to Honolulu with nothing with his 24-foot stand-up paddle board. The 42-year-old ultra endurance athlete from Spain becoming the first-ever to cross the Pacific as a stand-up paddle border.


ANTONIO DE LA ROSA, ENDURANCE ATHLETE: It's a record for me and for everybody. No, no motto, no, only -- the motto is -- this is a motto.


BRIGGS: The biceps are the motor there. He made the record-crossing in 76 days. GoPro cameras captured the moment, there was no escort vessel, so he was all alone out there. De La Rosa says the voyage of just over 2,900 miles was designed to raise awareness about protecting the ocean from man-made pollution. Well done, sir.

DEAN: Yes, it's impressive.

BRIGGS: The motor.

DEAN: Yes, the motor is there. The boys from Louisiana, world champs, capturing their first Little League World Series title. Coy wire has the details in the "BLEACHER REPORT", that's next.


BRIGGS: Rory McIlroy cashing the largest check in golf history, joining Tiger Woods as the only players to win the FedEx Cup twice. Coy Wire has that story in the "BLEACHER REPORT", good morning my friend.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Good morning, Dave, $15 million on the line at the Tour Championship. Last year, the final round, Rory was nearly invisible, hordes of spectators rushing past him to get a glimpse of Tiger. Yesterday, it was all Rory.


WIRE: Rory started the day one shot behind world number one Brooks Koepka, but fired off a 66 in the final round to win it all. The cup, the money, the largest cash payout the sport has ever seen. CNN's Patrick Snell went one-on-one with the champ.


RORY MCILROY, GOLFER: Any time you can do something and Tiger is the only other guy to do it, you know you're doing something well. So, it's pretty cool to see my name on that trophy twice, and to see his. I need to text him and say the race is on to see who can get to three.


WIRE: A shocking retirement in the NFL this weekend. From last year's come-back player of the year, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, he planned to make the announcement yesterday, but a reporter broke the news, unbeknownst to Luck during the Colts' pre-season game Saturday. This is what he heard.


WIRE: Fans booing him, but others supporting him, like teammate T.Y. Hilton tweeting, "every time I think about it, tears start to flow. No one understands you like I do. Our bond is one of a kind. I've decided to dedicate my season to my best friend. I love you, 12." Luck says the mental and physical torment became just too much.

[05:25:00] Finally, a young baseball team from River Ridge making history, becoming the first team from Louisiana to win the Little League World Series. They dominate Curacao, 8-0.

They had to claw their way back into this tournament, they lost their first game to Hawaii, they're the first team in 18 years to win it all after losing their first game. That makes back-to-back wins now, Dave, for the U.S. at the Little League World Series. Kids, they're on a roll.

BRIGGS: And a shout-out to Reese Russell who had 17 hits in the Little League World Series. That's a record, he hits 739, he was just incredible. Huge fan of the Little League World Series.


Congrats to them, all right, Coy Wire, thank you, my friend. We're going to get to the G7 now in France where President Trump is addressing the cameras ahead of a bilat with Angela Merkel. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you and Mrs. Merkel agree on the step forward for Iran?

TRUMP: We haven't discussed Iran too much, but I think we agree that Iran shouldn't be nuclear -- it's a very important thing. In fact, I think we'll be coming out with a statement to that effect from the G7. Everybody agrees that we cannot let Iran become a nuclear -- have nuclear weapons.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said multiple times that the EU --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I can only repeat that we're together, that all of the G7 members have said that we want to defend any kind of nuclear weapons for Iran. It is something that we want to achieve that through negotiations.

We had very productive talks on this issue as well. But it is, obviously, still moving as an issue, and it is slowly moving forward, but there is still a long way to go yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what are your thoughts on the wait on session on climate?

TRUMP: I do think that we really made some big progress with respect to Iran in terms of unity of the G7. And there has been great unity, really at this. It's been flawless in that sense. And you know, we had a lot of fake news where they're saying, oh, there's no unity, there's no unity.

It's like -- oh, there's unity. We've had a really -- I'm thinking about all of the seven countries, and it's been really good. It's not quite over yet, we have a meeting or two left, right? But I will tell you, we've had great unity, even with Iran, and a lot of progress made on Iran and we've come to a conclusion, more or less.

But the biggest part of the conclusion, they can't have nuclear weapons. So, we have had a very successful G7, very friendly, very friendly, very opposite of what you've reported. I mean, you had a report where I was in the plane, I hadn't even landed yet, and you said I was in a dispute, and I said, that's tough.

I haven't landed yet, so, it was, you know -- that was your predisposition. The other thing is the country is doing very -- the United States, as you know is doing very well. Talks are going on with China at a very high level. As you know -- Steve, you might just want to mention what was said, but it was just reported in "Bloomberg" and others that, market-watch, that China just put out a statement, what would you say?

STEVE MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF TREASURY, UNITED STATES: Oh, we appreciate the Vice Premier and his comments that he just came out with, and we look forward to continuing our discussions with Ambassador Lighthizer and I, we'll expect to continue very shortly.


TRUMP: Say again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still believe that the EU treats the U.S. worse than China on trade after your discussions?

TRUMP: No, I think the European Union -- and I've said this openly. I said with respect, I think they're as tough as China. I will -- I think they're very tough. The United States has been not treated particularly well over the years, and I'm not saying that as -- should have been the other way around. But it wasn't, I congratulate you.

But the European Union, they're tough, they're very tough. They're very tough traders. And the United States has lost tremendous amounts of money over the many years with the European Union. And I don't hold that against the European Union, I hold it against our presidents and administrations that did not a good job.

I respect the European Union, I respect China for being able to do what they've done to the United States over the years. And you look at a guy like sleepy Joe Biden. the fact that he would allow them for eight years with Obama to do what they did to us.

This should have happened -- what I'm doing with China should have happened 25 years ago. Not just President Obama, I mean, many presidents. You go back with Bush and Clinton, and there are many presidents should have done something about this.