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U.S. Warship Collides with Merchant Ship Near Japan; Russia Investigation; London Fire; Trump Unveils New Restrictions on Cuba; Russia Investigation; Baseball Shooter Had List Including Republicans; Amazon Moves into Conventional Retail with Whole Foods. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired June 17, 2017 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): An American destroyer and cargo ship collide off the coast of Japan. The search underway for seven missing U.S. crew members.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Angry Friday morning tweets show a frustrated President Trump as the investigation into Russia's meddling into the U.S. election intensifies. We'll have reports from Washington and Moscow this hour.

HOWELL (voice-over): And in London, grief turns to anger, people there demanding answers and justice after the building fire that killed dozens of people.

ALLEN (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. We're live in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: And thank you for joining us. We begin this hour with the developing news out of Japan. The U.S. says seven sailors are missing after a U.S. warship collided with a larger merchant vessel. It happened near Yokosuka early Saturday morning.

HOWELL: The warship is the U.S.S. Fitzgerald, seen here in this video. At least three sailors were medically evacuated but we're told they're all in stable condition at this point. They include the destroyer's commanding officer.

The Philippine merchant vessel that's seen here has been identified as the ACX Crystal. For more on this story, let's bring in journalist Kaori Enjoji, with us live in Tokyo.

It's great to have you with us this hour. Let's, first of all, talk more about this operation. It continues hour by hour.

Now what is the latest you're hearing from officials? KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, it's been 14 hours, George, since this collision took place off the coast of Japan. And the seven missing crew members, the search is still underway by both the U.S. side and also the Japan Coast Guard, who has been involved in this rescue operation from the beginning.

We haven't had any updates since this afternoon regarding the whereabouts or the conditions of the seven missing people. We know, as you reported, that three people were medically evacuated from the ship, the U.S.S. Fitzgerald, and are in stable condition, including the commander of that ship.

We know that the U.S.S. Fitzgerald had a major collision on the right side of the ship. We confirmed that with video footage.

But the U.S. Navy is saying that the biggest damage is invisible to us from here. It's occurring underneath the water's surface. And that apparently has triggered the flooding within the vessel.

But that situation, they now say, has been stabilized and the ship itself is being towed back toward its original base, which is the base of Yokosuka, the home of the 7th Fleet here in this region.

As I say, it's been over 14 hours since this incident occurred at 2:30 am local. We don't have a whole lot of detail of what's going on in terms of the rescue operation. But we know vessels from the U.S. Coast Guard, helicopters have also been involved in this rescue operation.

HOWELL: So, first of all, talk to us about the fact that, again, you say 14 hours on at this point. The situation stabilized on the ship at this point.

But do we know anything more about why this happened, how it could have happened, in a very busy waterway?

ENJOJI: That's right. I think the fact that it is a very busy waterway is raising questions already about the reason as to why this incident occurred in the first place, although it was 2:30 am local time, so in the middle of the night.

U.S. Coast Guard have said -- excuse me, Japanese Coast Guard have said that this area around the tip of the Izu Peninsula is persistently busy, even at that time of the hour, because a lot of commercial ships heading toward the port of Tokyo or Yokohama, which are two of the busiest ports in Japan, are always crisscrossing that area.

And, in a way, it has been sort of a notorious area for ships to navigate. The Japanese Coast Guard told us that there have been a number of incidents in the past. The latest, that it had some fatalities, happened four years ago when six people from a Japanese commercial ship collided with another vessel and passed away.

So this is a notoriously busy area that we're talking about in terms of where the collision actually occurred. HOWELL: Journalist Kaori Enjoji, live for us, following the story in Tokyo, thank you for the reporting.

Joining us to talk more about this is Lieutenant General Rick Francona, CNN military analyst.

It's great to have you with us this hour.

First of all, just how could this have happened?

How could a container ship collide with this U.S. destroyer, very sophisticated piece of military equipment.

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: That's the big question everybody is asking right now. This is a United States Navy combat --


FRANCONA: -- ship of the line, traveling through international waters. Of course it's going to have all of its electronics on. It's going to have deck watches. Even though it was the middle of the night, this is a combat ship ready for action at any time.

To be approached by a ship of this size, it's really puzzling to everyone. It has two surface search radars, state-of-the-art equipment.

So how could this have possibly happened and to cause that much damage?

It's just boggling right now. And everybody is asking these same questions. We'll know more. I happened to look on the automated ship tracking and it was following the route of this container ship and it was on an erratic path.

But the U.S.S. Fitzgerald should have seen that and been on guard.

HOWELL: You spoke about the timing. Again, this happened right around 2:30 in the morning, local time there.

What would the staffing have been like?

What would the situation have been like on that U.S. destroyer at the time this happened?

FRANCONA: Well, as I said, this is a U.S. Navy warship. They might have been scaled back a little bit but they still would have a full complement on board. The combat information center would be manned. All the weapons systems would be manned.

It might be down to minimum manning but there would still be an officer of the deck, everybody on the bridge, watching what's going on. It's the officer of the deck's job to know what's going on in the area. So for a container ship to be able to approach a U.S. Navy destroyer is very, very puzzling. HOWELL: Rick, so let's just take a look at the ship itself just to get a sense of the damage to understand what happened here. And you see they took quite a rescue operation, you know, to get the members off that ship. Talk to us about that, how that all came together.

FRANCONA: Well, if you look at those pictures, it's very telling. You see the damage above the water line. But what's more important and what's more damaging is the impact under the water line.

These container ships, most of them -- and this one does, I checked -- have what's called a bulbous bow. It's under the waterline. It's a huge projection in front of the ship.

So when the vessel struck the destroyer, it didn't just hit above. It put a huge hole under the water line. And that's why you have those three flooded compartments. That was the initial problem. They had to seal off those three compartments because it took on water. It was listing.

I understand now they're trying to pump that water out of there. But this is a very, very big operation. At the same time, they have got to address the crew and the rescue.

So there are other Navy ships en route. There are Navy aircraft in the air and the Japanese Coast Guard is helping as well. Big, big rescue operation underway. We've got to resolve what happened to these seven crew.

HOWELL: All right. And you touched on this, obviously. There's a hole in the ship. The ship lost propulsion and they're doing their best to pump water out of the ship.

But how does an operation like that continue on for the next several hours?

FRANCONA: That's the problem. They have so many things they have to deal with. And, of course, the captain of the ship has been evacuated off the ship. Now you have the executive officer in charge. He has to make sure they're handling all the safety things on the ship.

He has to conduct the rescue operations. He has to attend to medical care for the injured crew and he has to figure out what's going on. You know, a very stressful time out there.

They're fighting to keep this ship from suffering any more damage. It looks like they've stabilized the ship. But to move a ship with that much water it's taken on is going to be very difficult. I suspect they're going to have to tow it in.

We've got a lot of problems ahead for this ship, but as I keep coming back to, we've got to find what happened to these seven sailors.

HOWELL: That's certainly the pressing issue at this point and just the bigger question beyond that is just how did it happen?

Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, thank you so much for your expertise and insight. We'll stay in touch with you.

U.S. President Donald Trump now confirms he is under investigation in connection with the federal probe over Russia. In making that disclosure, he also added high-powered Washington attorney John Dowd to his legal defense team.

ALLEN: Now there's speculation the Russia investigation could eventually force the number two man at the Justice Department to recuse himself. CNN's Jessica Schneider explains.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new questions as to whether deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein will recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel's Russia probe, which he launched by hiring Robert Mueller.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Director Mueller is going to have the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Mueller and his growing team of prosecutors are planning to interview top intelligence officials in the clearest indication yet that the probe could expand to include obstruction of justice in the firing of FBI James Comey in which Rosenstein played a role.

But Justice Department spokesman tells CNN, as the deputy attorney general has said numerous times, if there comes a point where he needs to recuse, he will.

However, nothing has changed.

Thursday night, Rosenstein issued a peculiar statement, saying Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you under investigation by the FBI?

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Trump took aim at Rosenstein --


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): -- today, tweeting, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt."

If Rosenstein does, in fact, recuse himself or is fired outright by President Trump, then associate attorney general Rachel Brand would then oversee the Russia investigation.

RACHEL BRAND, ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: If confirmed, I will strive to undertake my role with integrity.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Senate confirmed Brand, a civil litigator by training, to be the Justice Department's third ranking official in May, her second stint with the DOJ, having previously served under the Bush administration.

All this as members of President Trump's transition team have been directed to preserve all records pertinent to the Russia investigation, including any relevant foreign travel.

A memo obtained by CNN asked transition officials to also retain records related to former Trump campaign associates, specifically former national security adviser, Michael Flynn; former foreign policy adviser, Carter Page; former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates; and long-time Trump associate, Roger Stone.

Meanwhile, Mueller's team is examining the president's son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner's, Russia-related meetings, including whether he was acting as a member of the Trump campaign in transition or as a real estate businessman.

Kushner met with the head of Russian bank VEB in December and the bank said it was to discuss business. But the White House has said the meeting was part of Kushner's foreign policy responsibilities.

Vice President Mike Pence, who led the transition team, is now lawyering up but told reporters today to not read too much into it.



ALLEN: Jessica Schneider reporting there.

CNN contributor Jill Dougherty now joins us live from Moscow.

We just heard Vice President Pence reiterate, "Just routine, just routine," but it really is anything but with this investigation ongoing. All the while, Russia has been tired of this, of course, you've reported. But it just keeps evolving, it seems.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does. And, you know, the Russian media are covering this. So they are, to a certain extent. The words that you're hearing most often, I would say, would be "witch hunt" and "hysteria," hysteria, they would say, by the mainstream media in the United States.

And the witch hunt, which is the phrase we just had on the screen from President Trump and others in his administration, is basically the idea that the Russians are saying there are enemies of the president who want to destroy him, end his presidency and so they are drumming all of this up.

They also, President Putin was almost laughing about parts of it, just a couple of days ago. He joked that if Comey, the former head of the FBI, needed any help, that Russia was willing to give him political asylum. So it's a combination of dismissing, laughing and then saying it's a big plot.

But, Natalie, I would say that the Russian media -- and, by that, I mean primarily TV -- they're not going into a lot of the nitty-gritty details of how Americans democracy functions, all sorts of things that in the United States we're following, because it could cut in a way that might not be useful for the Kremlin because their message really is that American democracy is dysfunctional, that what you're seeing on Capitol Hill and all these hearings is essentially American chaotic democracy.

That is a message they want to get across. It's a message also for their own people which is, don't watch, don't emulate American democracy. Stick with here, in Russia, Mr. Putin, where everything is organized and predictable and we don't need any chaos.

ALLEN: All right. Yes, it's easy to cast it off as hysteria or whatever without explaining to the viewers perhaps there why they think that. But we get it. Jill Dougherty for us, thank you, Jill.


HOWELL: Still ahead here --

ALLEN: We should say the mainstream media is the media, right?

HOWELL: It is the media, it's the media. That's what it is.


HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, we take you to London. People there angry. There is a great deal of pain as people demand answers after the deadly tower fire that took place there.

ALLEN: And one man recounts the final moments of his brother's life inside that building.





HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

In the U.S. state of Minnesota, hundreds of people took to the streets of St. Paul, protesting the Philando Castile verdict. You see the streets here, filled with many people there.

The demonstrators followed a jury's decision to acquit officer Jeronimo Yanez of second degree manslaughter in the 2016 shooting death of Castile.

ALLEN: Yanez said he fired because he said Castile reached for his gun, despite being warned not to. Castile's girlfriend said he was just reaching for his identification. Shortly after the verdict was announced, Castile's mother called the verdict incomprehensible.


VALERIE CASTILE, PHILANDO CASTILE'S MOTHER: My son loved this city and this city killed my son and the murderer gets away.

Are you kidding me right now?

We're not evolving as a civilization. We're devolving. We have taken steps forward. People have died for us to have these rights. And now we're devolving. We're going back down to 1969.

Damn! What is it going to take?



ALLEN: So anger there in the United States and anger growing in the wake of London's deadly tower fire on the streets there of London. Protesters filled the streets across the city Friday, calling for justice for victims. Police confirmed at least 30 people died in Wednesday's fire. A criminal investigation is underway.

The CEO of the company managing Grenfell Tower talked with my colleague, Richard Quest, and denies --


ALLEN: -- any wrongdoing.


ROBERT BLACK, CEO, KCTMO: We do not accept that we're being -- that we've ignored or not addressed things. People have different views about certain things. But that doesn't mean we've ignored them. And I believe when we go through this process, we will show that we have addressed all of the issues you have raised there. But I find it's quite difficult to get into the detail with it.

RICHARD QUEST, CNNMONEY EDITOR AT LARGE: And the idea of not installing a sprinkler system -- I understand it's pretty difficult in a 1970s building, if not impossible to suddenly put a second staircase in.

But not installing a sprinkler system, which experts say would have doused the fire?


BLACK: And that's first of all, why I said is this is part of the thing that's come out is a bigger picture.

There is --

QUEST: But did you consider a sprinkler system?

(CROSSTALK) BLACK: The vast majority of the buildings in London high-rise do not have sprinkler systems. And that is because a number of reasons. And in terms of did we look at the beginning, I can't remember because it started in -- I think 2013-2014.

So one of the things as we go through these investigations and questions, we'll be able to say, did we look. But the reality is actually that the mass majority of the local authority's housing station (ph) don't have sprinkler systems.


HOWELL: And British lawmaker David Lammy is among those expressing outrage over the high-rise fire. The Labour Party MP says the fire highlights how differently poor people are treated in the United Kingdom, compared to wealthy citizens. He is demanding change.


DAVID LAMMY, BRITISH LABOUR MP: You can't contract out everything to the private sector. The private sector can do some wonderful things but they have for-profit motives. They cut corners.

If you haven't got the offices to check on the enforcement of buildings, don't expect it to be done.

You know, are there fire extinguishers?

I knock on doors all the time, all MPs did. We have all been up to those tower blocks. They exist right across the country.

Where are the fire extinguishers on every corridor?

Where -- you know, where are the hoses?

Are the fire doors really working?

Where are the sprinklers?

If you want to build these buildings, let them at least be as good as the luxury penthouse buildings that are also being built. But these buildings aren't is the question. So you either demolish them and house people in a different way or you absolutely refurbish them to the best of quality that we can do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think this says anything about the value that is placed on the lives of people who cannot afford to buy their own property, to live in some of the nicer bits of Britain?

LAMMY: This is a tale of two cities. This is what Dickens was writing about in the century before the last. And it's still here in 2017.

It's the face of the poorest and the most vulnerable. My friend, who lost her life, was a talented artist but she was a young black woman, making her way in this country and she absolutely had no power or locus or agency.

She had not yet achieved that in her life. She had done amazing things, gone to university, the best in her life but she's died with her mother on the 22nd floor of a building. And it breaks my heart that that is happening in Britain in 2017. Breaks my heart.


HOWELL: David Lammy there.

These officials, they're offering answers but the question is, are those answers leading to solutions?

And are they acceptable to the outrage that's being felt on the street?

Because many people died in this. We're beginning to learn the names of some of the people who died in this fire. One of them, 23-year-old Mohammed Alhajali.

ALLEN: He escaped the war in Syria to start a new life in London. His brother, Hashem, spoke with CNN's Fred Pleitgen about his last tragic phone call with Mohammed.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mohammed Alhajali came here to Britain as a refugee from Syria. He ended up living right here in Grenfell Tower, which is, of course, the building that caught fire in the night from Sunday into Monday.

Now Mohammed lived on the 14th floor and while the building was on fire, he managed to call his brother, Hashem, who was standing on the outside. And he told him on the phone the ordeal and how he was struggling to stay alive.

I managed to speak to Hashem Alhajali and he told me about what he witnessed.

HASHEM ALHAJALI, MOHAMMED'S BROTHER: I said, Mohammed, leave everyone. You make it out yourself. And then he said I can't, Hashem. He was speaking slowly and slowly. Then he was shouting from the window, he shouted, water, water, from the window here, help, help, he was shouting from the window.

And he felt, he felt the water. He said -- because I told him if I ever get -- they would let me through, they didn't at the beginning. I told them, I'm speaking to my brother. He's stuck in the building. They wouldn't let me in.

And when they let me in, I told him where he is. He told me I'm in flat 113, floor 14.


ALHAJALI: They went to 112 but he was shifted to 113. And then he said I can feel the water coming on our flat. I said, just tell them to splash some more water, please, on the same place. He was saying, please, Hashem, tell them I can feel it.

And then he couldn't. He couldn't breathe. He said, Hashem -- he was speaking like this, Hashem, I can't do anything. I can't. I can't. I said, come down. He said no, Hashem, I can't.

And then he was crying. He cried. He cried a lot. He said, Hashem, please, put me through to my mom. I want to speak to my. My mom is in Syria. He wanted to speak to her but he couldn't. I didn't -- I didn't -- I didn't do it because I wanted to save him.

I said he can come out say that. And then he would speak to my mom as much as he would.

We had big hopes, you know. We thought we will finish our studies; hopefully, Syria becomes peaceful, we can go back and do lots of things in Syria. We can help a lot, because currently you can't do anything. It just -- war came on everybody.

Yes, and everything collapsed. Everything stopped. Starting again, and I don't think we can start and do everything again from the beginning.

My mother is so devastated. She's crying every time. She doesn't know what to do. She wants to see Mohammed. She says, I want to see Mohammed before the burial.

I can't continue. I can't continue without my family now. I'm lost. I can't do anything now. I came here to flee Syria. That's the reason.

But why did I come to the U.K.?

Because I wanted to be with my brothers. That's why I came to the U.K., because I wanted to stay with them and then one of them gets killed or dies in a building, in a flat. All of my dreams and hopes have collapsed. Everything has (INAUDIBLE).

PLEITGEN: From this vantage point, you can see just how badly the tower was damaged in the fire.

While on the bottom floors, we see some of that cladding that many believe may have been responsible for accelerating the fire, is actually still pretty much intact.

But the further you go to the top, the more destruction and the worst burns you see there. Now Hashem Alhajali says that with his brother having died in that fire, his entire world essentially collapsed and the last thing he now wants is for his mother, who lives in Damascus, to be able to come here and see her son for the very last time and bury him here in Britain -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.


ALLEN: And we'll continue to follow that investigation, of course. What in the world started that?

Coming up, he's supposed to take a break from the White House. But the U.S. president slamming a so-called witch hunt instead.

HOWELL: And the man who opened fire at a congressional baseball practice was found with a list of names. We'll have more as NEWSROOM continues.




HOWELL (voice-over): A warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN. Great to have you with us. I'm George Howell.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our headlines this hour.




PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before an audience of anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Miami's Little Havana, Donald Trump didn't hold back.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now that I am your president, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Undoing Barack Obama's Cuba policy that opened the Communist-run island to more U.S. visitors and investment was a Trump campaign promise. Soon most Americans won't be able to book their own trip to Cuba but will have to join a guided tour to make sure their dollars don't go to the Cuban military, which controls large parts of the economy, including hotels.

Increased restrictions that worry Americans already visiting Cuba.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming to Cuba is not only wonderful for Americans to find out the other side but it's a very interesting place with wonderful people. And I just think that it's a horrible idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love it here. The people are amazing. The culture is rich. Every day has been a beautiful experience and I think something like that would dampen our relationship.

OPPMANN (voice-over): U.S.-Cuban relations will likely be hurt but it won't be a full rollback. The American flag will continue to fly over the newly opened U.S. embassy in Havana. U.S. cruise ships and airlines will continue to service the island that restarted in 2016. But in an exclusive interview with CNN, Cuban officials that coordinate anti-drug smuggling efforts with the U.S. are afraid the increased cooperation will suffer under President Trump.

"The biggest impact will be felt in the U.S., he says, because Cuba is not a country that the drugs are coming to. Fundamentally, the drugs go north. If there's a step backward in the cooperation, the impact will be felt in the U.S."

The Trump policy is designed to target the Cuban government for human rights abuses, not the Cuban people. But they could be caught in the crossfire.

The Trump administration says that too much of the money generated by the Cuba opening has gone directly to the pockets of the Cuban government. But a lot of that money has also to the Cuban people.

Airbnb says, in the last two years, it has sent over $40 million to Cubans who rent out their homes, money that is helping to fix up scenic streets like this one in Old Havana.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Private entrepreneurs --


OPPMANN (voice-over): -- like this company that rents classic cars to tourists were banking on more Americans coming to the island.

"Already in this garage, we have 14 employees," she says. "Before, we rented all out of my house. So we have grown a lot and it's all been thanks to the increasing tourism."

Much of the emerging private sector in Cuba is banking on the hope for better relations with her neighbor, the United States, a future that is increasingly in doubt -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


ALLEN: President Trump this weekend is taking a break from Washington to visit Camp David for the first time since joining the White House. But before that trip, Mr. Trump seemed to be going after deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

On Friday, he tweeted, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt."

Joining us now is Michael Genovese. He's a political analyst and president of Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.

Thank you so much for joining us. We want to talk first of all about the developments with President Trump and what he tweeted, as he sees it. Let's take a look at that now.

He says, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt." Is this a witch hunt?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well, the tweet was a bit cryptic but, no, there's ample evidence, even though we're at the very early stages, just knowing the tip of the iceberg, to suggest that members of the administration may have been involved with the Russians in ways that are unsavory.

And so we have a House committee, we have a Senate committee, we have a special prosecutor, so we need not rush to judgment. We will know a lot more in the coming months.

And so in a preliminary way, yes, the president is in trouble. If you see the drip, drip, drip, going on day after day, a story about this. He will lose control of the agenda to this story. And so it will damage his ability to govern but it is certainly not a witch hunt at this point.

ALLEN: And these continuing tweets from the president, will that damage his situation legally?

Could it?

GENOVESE: Well, his tweets are frequent and incendiary. In some ways, he is providing the special prosecutor and investigators with new evidence every day.

And how many people have said we need to make the president stop tweeting?

But he's not going to. That's who he is. That's kind of his personality. And so you can't ask a leopard to change his skin. You have to remember that that's Donald Trump. What got him elected was being an outsider, being different, being someone who wasn't wedded to the beltway problems.

So what worked for him as a campaigner isn't working for him as president. He needs to make that transition.

The problem for Trump I think that is he jumped into the deep end of the pool without learning to swim. He doesn't know how to govern. He's not been able to work well with Congress. He has not been able to work with the intelligence agencies.

And so the president's tweets interfere with his ability to lead.

ALLEN: Let's look at where this investigation could be going. The president says he's being investigated vis-a-vis the Comey firing.

Where does that put the deputy attorney general, Rosenstein?

Trump says it was Rosenstein who told him to fire Comey and then Trump gave an interview that said, no, it was my decision.

Should Rosenstein recuse himself at this point? GENOVESE: Well, you get to the point where everyone's recusing themselves. The president can't recuse himself from being president. But one of the things I think you need to remember, relating for example to Watergate, was that that was a make-or-break situation for so many people.

And those men and women who behaved honorably, who did the right thing, who didn't cave into political pressure, those were the heroes.

And so people like the assistant attorney general, the special prosecutor, they all have the eye of history on them. And they know that.

And after what happened with Watergate, we know some lessons. We know what to look for, that the chief lesson being the crime isn't the problem, it's the cover-up that's the problem. So to the extent that the president tries to interfere or obstruct the investigation, it can only haunt him.

ALLEN: Other members of the Trump administration are hiring lawyers, including Vice President Pence.

What does that tell you?

GENOVESE: When the president's lawyer hires a lawyer, which I heard on the news today it happened, it's actually wise to do that. This is a very serious investigation. There are serious allegations. There may be criminal prosecutions. Who knows.

So it is wise to protect yourself. Washington, D.C., can be a vicious place and you need to take care of your interests.

ALLEN: Michael Genovese, we thank you for joining us.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

ALLEN: Well, officials are learning more about the man who opened fire at the congressional baseball --


ALLEN: -- practice Wednesday near Washington.

HOWELL: James Hodgkinson not only posted anti-Republican messages on social media, there's new evidence about his apparent interest in Republican members of Congress, as Ryan Nobles reports for us.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've learned a chilling new development about the shooter, James Hodgkinson, who opened fire on a baseball field where members of Congress were practicing for this year's congressional baseball game.

Hodgkinson was found with a list of names on him at the time of the shooting. On that list were names of members of Congress, including members that were at that baseball field at the time, including Alabama congressman Mo Brooks. Brooks confirming that to CNN along with a law enforcement source.

Now this law enforcement source is stopping short of calling this list an assassination list but, still, it is a very important part of their investigation. At this point, law enforcement sources say there were no victims whose names were on that list.

Meanwhile, the congressman, Steve Scalise, who was among those injured, continues to improve but an update given on Friday tells us that the congressman was in very dire shape when he arrived here to this hospital, the doctor describing it as being imminently in danger of death.

That being said, he's gone through a number of surgeries. And even though there is a chance that his progress could be slowed down, they do expect him to make a full and complete recovery -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Ryan Nobles, thank you.

The e-commerce giant Amazon makes another big acquisition and this one could be the start of a major change in the way you get your food.




ALLEN: A few major shake-ups from the world of business Friday. E- commerce giant Amazon bought the organic grocery chain, Whole Foods, for a whooping $13.7 billion. It is the company's biggest venture yet into conventional --


ALLEN: -- stores after a series of smaller experiments.

HOWELL: Not to be outdone, though. One of Amazon's biggest brick- and-mortar competitors, supermarket chain Walmart, expanded its Web presence. They picked up Bonobos, an online men's apparel company.

ALLEN: Also, a giant of the dotcom book if officially gone. Yahoo! is no more after Verizon closed a deal for the company's core business a few days ago. What's left is now a holding company called Altaba -- whatever a holding company does.

HOWELL: All right, then, a lot to talk about here. So let's bring in Michael Koziol. He's the head of international growth and development at the digital agency Huge.

It's good to have you with us, Michael.

MICHAEL KOZIOL, HUGE: It's good to be here.

HOWELL: So let's talk first of all about that banner behind you, Whole Foods and Amazon, I remember from Austin, I remember when Whole Foods was just this little store in a strip mall in Austin. It's grown into this big megachain but it's struggled with stock price and it's struggled to shed that high-priced image.

So how will this help?

What's the plus and minus?

KOZIOL: I think it's a big deal. This is a bold move for Amazon but it's also a very important deal for Whole Foods. There's obviously been a war going on in all markets around the United States between grocery stores. And they've been focused on competing with one another.

You see Kroger competing with Whole Foods, competing with Publix, competing with Wegman's and others, really trying to own the share of the grocery bag or the grocery basket.

And this move by Amazon is symbolic but it's also reflective of how important fresh produce and grocery sales are to their business. If they are really to grow, if they are to really achieve the ambition that they have to compete with Walmart and to take that -- this important part of our experiences, obviously our food, we have to have it, they need to make a play that puts them closer to the street level.

So this is a big move. It's bold for Amazon, it's important for Whole Foods but, more importantly, this is a major important wake-up call for all retailers and anybody that operates as business as usual in the brick-and-mortar retail business --


ALLEN: -- because, you know, we thought, you know, we're all just going to the grocery store and buying our groceries. And until I read this story, I didn't realize what a machine it had become as far as who gets that market.

Jeff Bezos, it seems nothing will stop him from getting ahead, maybe toppling Walmart, as you say, in this area.

KOZIOL: Well, they have ambition to be dominant or be leaders in every market. But when you have a market like the U.S. grocery market, that does more than $600 billion in annual retail sales, this is a must-win battle.

And it's critical for everybody in that space to make sure they either protect what they have or for newer entrants like Amazon to take the share so that they can grow their business.

It also represents a more frequent type of purchase than people often make with Amazon. HOWELL: All right, and so we have about 30 seconds left here. But look, so you see Whole Foods investing more in the customer experience. They've even introduced restaurants in some of their stores, one here in Atlanta.

With this new merger, how significantly does that change?

KOZIOL: I don't think that it can change. And I think that this is where there's a lot of drama that's going on with the reporting of this. But it's really important when you think about Whole Foods. Whole Foods is not just a retailer. Whole Foods is an experience and a brand.

You talked about being in Austin and seeing it. It has got a cult- like following. If Amazon goes in and rushes and tries to change everything too much, they'll face a revolt by these loyal customers who, they don't just shop there. They like the experience.

They go there. It's been part of their life. So it can't just be changed to an automated e-commerce experience. It needs to really stay a -- play the cultural role that it plays in our lives.

ALLEN: All right. And don't send robots around it. We love our Whole Foods people. (INAUDIBLE) they're so friendly.

All right, fascinating. Fascinating.

HOWELL: Michael Koziol, thank you so much for your time.

KOZIOL: Thank you very much.

ALLEN: Thank you.

HOWELL: NEWSROOM right back after the break.





HOWELL: The former U.S. baseball star, Dennis Rodman, is in China now, following his five-day trip to North Korea. He arrived in Beijing's airport just a short time ago. He was surrounded by reporters, you see. He is not disclosing details of what he did while in Pyongyang but told CNN that he will offer more information next week.

ALLEN: It's Rodman's fifth trip to North Korea. He's told CNN he wants to bring sports to that country and open the door.

HOWELL: Time to talk now about extreme heat.

(WEATHER REPORT) [04:55:00]

ALLEN: That's our first hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues right after this.