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Trump Willing to Listen to Foreigners for Information on Political Rivals; Trump Jr. Says Nothing Changed in His Testimony; Amanda Knox Returns to Italy for the First Time Since Acquittal. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 13, 2019 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:11] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says if Russia or China offered damaging information about a political rival, he would listen.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Police say the shooting of David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic was a paid hit job.

BRIGGS: Breaking news. A tanker fire in the Middle East. Oil prices spiking right now on reports that it was an attack.

ROMANS: And they're singing "Gloria" in St. Louis after the Blues stunned Boston to capture their first Stanley Cup.

Congratulations, St. Louis.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. We couldn't have paid tribute to the Blues better if we had intended to, which we did not. 4:30 Eastern Time on a Thursday.

We start with another stunning sound bite from the president. President Trump says he would not necessarily report it to the FBI if a foreign government like Russia approached his campaign again with damaging information about an opponent.

In an interview with ABC News the president disputed the idea that such an offer amounted to election interference. He said there would not be, quote, "anything wrong with listening." The president was asked whether Donald Trump, Jr. should have gone to the FBI when he got an e-mail offering dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians.

Now we'll play the entire answer from the president so there's no question whether he was taken out of context.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK, let's put yourself in a position, you're a congressman. Somebody comes up and says, hey, I have information on your opponent. Do you call the FBI?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: I think if it's coming from Russia you do.

TRUMP: I'll tell you what. I've seen a lot of things over in my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI -- in my whole life. I don't -- you don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Al Gore got a stolen briefing book. He called the FBI.

TRUMP: Well, that's different. A stolen briefing book. This is -- this is somebody that said we have information on your opponent. Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn't work that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI director says that's what should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't -- there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent, well, I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go, maybe, to the FBI.


ROMANS: One important note here. It is a crime for a campaign to knowingly solicit or accept anything of value from foreign nationals. That and the danger of election interference were a recurring themes in the furious reaction to President Trump's comments. Many of his Democratic opponents tweeted their outrage or were asked about it by reporters.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's the commander in chief and has a duty and a responsibility to the American people to be a defender, if not the greatest defender, of our democracy. And -- but, to quite the contrary, what we hear tonight is that he is, yet again, open to the idea of working with foreign governments to undermine the integrity of our election system. It's outrageous and it tells me the guy just -- doesn't understand the job and can't do it very well.


ROMANS: House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler who is leading multiple investigations into Mr. Trump tweeted, "It is shocking to hear the president say outright that he is willing to put himself in debt to a foreign power."

One other person who said foreign dirt should be reported to the FBI, well, Attorney General William Barr last month at a Senate judiciary hearing with a distinction. Listen.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Going forward, what if a foreign adversary, let's now say North Korea, offers a presidential candidate dirt on a competitor in 2020, do you agree with me the campaign should immediately contact the FBI? If a foreign intelligence service --

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: A foreign government? A foreign intelligence service?

COONS: A representative of a foreign government --

BARR: Yes.

COONS: -- says we have dirt on your opponent.

BARR: Yes.

COONS: Should they say, "I love it, let's meet," or should they contact the FBI?

BARR: If a foreign intelligence -- if a foreign intelligence service does, yes.


BRIGGS: Donald Trump, Jr. back in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee appearing Wednesday behind closed doors under subpoena. The source close to the president's eldest son says he stuck to his earlier testimony from 2017. Afterwards Trump junior told reporters he was not at all worried about perjury charges.


DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT'S SON: I don't think I changed anything of what I said because there was nothing to change. I'm glad that this is finally over.


BRIGGS: Our source says Trump junior told senators Wednesday he did not talk to his father about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians. He also said he did not pay close attention to the Trump Tower Moscow project because it was one of many potential deals.

[04:35:06] Since the release of the Mueller report there have been questions about discrepancies between Trump, Jr.'s testimony and what other witnesses told Congress and Mueller's team. Republicans One of the president's longest serving and closest aides

set to testify next week on Capitol Hill. Hope Hicks, former White House communications director and longtime campaign aide, will appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

Our Sunlen Serfaty has more from Washington.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave and Christine. This will be such a huge moment up here on Capitol Hill. Hope Hicks has been such a key member of President Trump's inner circle for so long. One of his longest serving and closest aides, most recently as a White House communications director.

The House Judiciary Committee announcing that she has agreed to testify next Wednesday up here on Capitol Hill. It will be a closed- door testimony, but they intend to release a transcript afterwards, and of course she'll be facing questions about her time in the Trump campaign, the transition and during her time in the White House.

Now significant thing to watch is that the White House last week, they told Hicks not to provide any documents to the committee related to her time at the White House. So the thing to watch here will be whether they assert executive privilege to prevent her from talking to the committee about her time at the White House. But of course the campaign time will be fair game -- Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: Sunlen, thanks.

Some breaking news, oil prices spiking right now after a fire on a tanker ship in the Gulf of Oman. This follows media reports that two oil tankers have been attacked. The companies that managed the tankers, the Front Altair and the Kokura Courageous, were evacuated with one minor injury. The manager of the Courageous said it's in no danger of sinking and its cargo of methanol is intact.

CNN has been unable to confirm whether there was an actual attack. This morning's incident follows an attack on four oil tankers in the United Arab Emirates last month suspected to be carried out by Iran.

ROMANS: All right. The China trade war is affecting more than just exports. Figures from the Commerce Department show tourism from China in sharp decline. There were 6 percent fewer visitors in 2018 and the year before. In the first few months of this year show that trend continuing. Concerning for businesses because Chinese tourists are some of the biggest spenders among foreign visitors, and the problem may get worse after the Chinese government issued an advisory about travel to the U.S. last week.

The Chinese government warning its citizens against alleged harassment by U.S. law enforcement. Plus a slowing Chinese economy and a stronger dollar has made travel to the U.S. more expensive. A trade deal might help, but President Trump said yesterday he's in no rush.


TRUMP: No, I have no deadline. My deadline is what's up here. We'll figure out the deadline.


TRUMP: Nobody can quite figure it out.


ROMANS: Trump said he hopes to meet Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit later this month.

BRIGGS: For the first time in their 52-year history the St. Louis Blues are drinking from Lord Stanley's Cup. The Blues beat the Bruins 4-1 in Boston in the winner-take-all game seven in the Stanley Cup Final series. In one of the great sports traditions the Stanley Cup champion Blues led by their team captain carried the cup around the rink passing it from player to player. The Blues' Ryan O'Reilly was named Conn Smythe Trophy winner, the most valuable player in the NHL playoffs.

Back in St. Louis Blues fans celebrated the team's hockey milestone the only way they know how with the stirring rendition of "Gloria." The team and its fans adopted the 1982 Laura Branigan hit song during that historic run for the Stanley Cup. Probably still partying this morning.

ROMANS: I bet they are.

BRIGGS: In St. Louis. Congrats to all.

ROMANS: I bet they are.

All right. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders defending Democratic socialism. You'll hear from him and some of his 2020 opponents next.


[04:43:17] BRIGGS: Authorities in the Dominican Republic say the shooting of Red Sox legend David Ortiz was a hit job. Police say the alleged gunman, 25-year-old Rolfi Ferreira Cruz, has confessed to shooting Ortiz at a nightclub last weekend in Santo Domingo. They say Cruz and six other men were involved in that shooting. One is still at large. Authorities are not commenting on a possible motive, but they say the suspects were offered the equivalent of about $7800 to carry out the hit on Ortiz.

ROMANS: The House Oversight Committee voting to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress. The committee is investigating who ordered a citizenship question to be added to the 2020 Census. Was it a routine decision by the Commerce Department or a political decision by the White House? Critics say a citizenship question will depress the Census response rate among immigrants which would end up hurting Democratic districts. The contempt vote came hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege holding back documents related to the question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): For months the Trump administration has claimed that the decision to add the citizenship question was made at a department level rather than at the White House. But now the president is asserting executive privilege over all of these documents. This begs the question, what is being hidden?


ROMANS: The Commerce secretary called the move an empty stunt and the Justice Department accused the committee of playing political games. The panel's top Republican said it was really about influencing a Supreme Court ruling on the issue.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Democrats said the Supreme Court will rule by the end of this month on this citizenship question.

[04:45:04] But they hope to use this committee's oversight power to create a controversy around this issue to try to impact the court's decision.


ROMANS: The committee's resolution includes citations for both civil and criminal contempt.

BRIGGS: Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders defending his long time affiliation with democratic socialism. In a speech Wednesday Sanders argued his political philosophy is the path to beating President Trump. He says he realizes he's going to face attacks from people who use the word socialism as a slur. And he's not the only one. He invoked the names of progressive heroes from the past like President Franklin Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As one of the great leaders in American history Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, I quote, "Call it democracy or call it Democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God's children.


BRIGGS: No other presidential candidates have embraced a socialist platform. Senator Michael Bennett reacted to Sanders' speech last night on "CUOMO PRIMETIME" this way.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Martin Luther King said it in the quote that Bernie just read. You can call it democracy or you can call it socialism. Let's call it democracy, American democracy. FDR never called himself a socialist. Bernie Sanders will never call himself a Democrat. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, former vice president Joe Biden calling for adjusting American capitalism. On Wednesday he said, quote, "Things have changed in a way that needs to be turned around, and it doesn't require socialism and it doesn't require some fundamental shift. It requires sort of reordering capitalism to make capitalism work and save it."

We are now just two weeks out from the first Democratic debate. You can bet that will be an issue.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. You know, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says he's going to pay another voter $1,000 a month for a year. He's spending $12,000 of his own money to show the benefits of his proposed freedom dividends, universal basic income plan. The recipient is a 41-year-old from Iowa who says he'll use the money for his sick mother's medical bills. Yang is now shelling out the cash to two families, one in Iowa and one in New Hampshire.

And this story is either guaranteed basic income or universal basic income. It's something that, you know, you hear people debate and talk about where you -- it would be the government in fact giving a certain amount of money to everyone and then get rid of social programs and social safety net.


ROMANS: Give everybody a lit bit of money and see what happens in the economy. Not a lot of data to show what would happen.

BRIGGS: Not a lot of chance of that happening here in the United States anytime soon.

ROMANS: All right. 47 minutes past the hour. A tearful, personal revelation from a Hollywood star.


MIRA SORVINO, ACTRESS AND TIME'S UP ADVOCATE: I have never said that last part ever in public because it is impossible sometimes to share these sort of things.


ROMANS: More from Oscar winner Mira Sorvino next.


[04:52:24] ROMANS: Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino revealed Wednesday that she is a survivor of rape. Sorvino has been one of the most vocal voices of the Me Too Movement. She was speaking at a press conference trying to encourage New York lawmakers to eliminate that state's statute of limitations on rape in the second and third degrees and pass additional sexual harassment protections. She grew emotional while telling her story. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SORVINO: I'm also a sexual assault victim and I'm also a survivor of date rape. So -- but I've never said that in public and I do not want to go into detail, but I have never said that last part ever in public because it is impossible sometimes to share these sort of things. And I'm doing it here to try and help.


ROMANS: Sorvino says she is speaking out because she knows there are other survivors who need time to sort through the trauma and shame of what they've been through. She did not give details about who assaulted her or when it happened.

BRIGGS: For the first time in eight years Amanda Knox is returning to Italy today. Knox was released from an Italian prison in 2011 and later acquitted in 2015 of the murder of her roommate. In an Instagram post Knox admitted to being nervous about the trip. She's expected to speak in a conference organized by the Italy Innocence Project this week.

CNN's Melissa Bell live in Milan with the latest. Melissa, good morning.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. Now it is on Saturday that she will be speaking specifically on the question of trial by media. Since one of the things that she believes is that she was unfairly treated by the media. Remember the media frenzy that surrounded her all those years ago, and she's coming here to speak about what impacts that can have on the fairness of a trial.

But of course as you'd expect she will be doing it once again within the media spotlight. In fact, the Italian press is out here waiting for her to arrive. We believe that she will be arriving shortly here in Milan to speak about that and to head to that event where she's expected this evening.

So once again, huge media interest. And bear in mind that this is the context of a case that remains in many way unsolved, Dave. Because although she and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, were acquitted of their involvement in the murder, bear in mind that the man who is currently serving 16 years in prison for the murder of Meredith Kercher was said in his verdict that it was clear that he had not acted alone.

And so you can understand the reaction of Meredith Kercher's family. Their lawyer has spoken out about Amanda Knox's return to Italy today, saying that it was both inappropriate and uncalled for.

[04:55:01] So it is in that context of open wounds, unanswered questions about precisely what happened that night in Perugia in 2007 in that house, precisely what happened to Meredith Kercher, that Amanda Knox prepares once again to set foot on Italian soil very much in the glare of the media spotlight -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Oh, you bet. Should be an interesting day there.

Melissa Bell, live for us, thanks so much.

The first sentence has been handed down in the sweeping college admissions scandal. Former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer will serve no prison time. He was sentenced to two years supervised release and must pay a $10,000 fine. He had pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges for arranging bribes to Stanford's sailing program and falsely designating two student applicants as sailing recruits. Vandemoer was remorseful after learning his fate.


JOHN VANDEMOER. FORMER STANFORD UNIVERSITY SAILING COACH: Mistakes are never felt by just yourself. This mistake impacted the people I love and admire the most. Stanford is a place that I love. I have brought a cloud over Stanford and for that I am deeply, deeply ashamed.


BRIGGS: Now the remaining 49 people charged in the admissions scandal include actress Felicity Huffman who has pleaded guilty, actress Lori Loughlin and her husband are fighting the charges.

ROMANS: All right. Frightening moments for visitors to Chicago's Willis Tower SkyDeck. A ledge on the tower's popular sky deck 103- story above the city streets. Cracked under their feet of visitors. The protective layer covering the glass splintered into pieces. Now official tell CNN affiliate WBBM no one was in danger, the protective coating did what it was exactly what it was supposed to do, but I'm still afraid. The glass sightseeing box 1300 feet up on what once called the Sears Tower. It attracts about 1.5 million visitors each year. The protective layer cracked once before back in 2014 creating a similar panic among visitors.

BRIGGS: Yikes.

Some thieves tried to steal from the wrong Atlanta woman last night. Take a look at this incredible surveillance video of a woman jumping through her own car window to stop a thief. While the woman was pumping some gas, and that vehicle pulled up next to her, that's when the passenger jumps out and tried to get into her car. But the victim was just too quick for the criminals. She jumped in and the thieves drove off. She did scrape her face slightly but said she never second guessed what to do.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As soon as I see his door crack I was already jumping in my car. Nobody wants anything taken from them, no matter if you have insurance or not. That's just a big inconvenience.


BRIGGS: These acts have a name. They're called slider crimes where criminals target people at the pump. The lesson, lock your doors while pumping gas.

ROMANS: Slider crimes. Look at her slide right through that window. Wow, she's fast.

BRIGGS: Awesome.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Taking a look at global markets right now. Asian markets closed mixed there amid violent clashes in Hong Kong between protesters and police over this controversial extradition bill. Taking a look at U.S. futures, they're up just a little bit here. You know, yesterday they closed slightly longer as trade fears were on the minds of investors. The Dow closed down 43 points. Next week investors will turn their attention to the Fed board meeting.

You know, markets have been driven up on hopes that the Fed could cut rates. But now experts are saying, you know, there's a chance Jerome Powell will disappoint. The U.S. economy, (INAUDIBLE) U.S. economy is still pretty strong.

All right. States are joining the fight against big tech. At least a dozen states are preparing investigations into the tech industry. At a conference yesterday three state attorneys general said fines are not enough to rein in companies like Google and Facebook. Nebraska attorney general Doug Peterson referenced Facebook's motto, its motto is move fast and break things. He said they have to be fast and thoughtful, and once we gather the information we have to consider whether or not to break things. A day earlier the House Judiciary Committee started its own investigation into the tech industry.

Hit Netflix series "Stranger Things" will soon have a new video game. "Stranger things 3," the game, will be free to play and will be released in 2020 on IOS and Android platforms. The game will be in the style of a 1980s Saturday morning cartoon and will integrate Google maps so fans can play during their daily lives. There's also another "Stranger Things" video game in the works. That game will debut on January -- July 4th, rather, the same day season three debuts on Netflix.

Do you watch "Stranger Things"?

BRIGGS: I don't. But it's all about original contents for them.


BRIGGS: With everyone pulling content from Netflix.

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START continues right now with breaking news.

Breaking news overnight, two dozen police officers hurt in Memphis during clashes with protesters after a deadly police shooting.

ROMANS: Also breaking right now, a tanker fire in the Middle East. Oil prices spike about 3 percent on reports this was an attack.

BRIGGS: President Trump says if Russia or China offered damaging information about a political rival, he would listen.

ROMANS: And they're singing "Gloria" in St. Louis after the Blues stunned Boston.