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2020 Presidential Campaign Kickoff; Murder For Hire Plot On David Ortiz; Historic Protest In Hong Kong; U.S./Iran Conflict; India Increases Tariffs On U.S. Good; U.S. Open At Pebble Beach; Pete Buttigieg Rushes Home; Biden Joining Democrats Rivals. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2019 - 04:00   ET




MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Our states is -- considering a full range of options.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Military action on the table amid U.S. tensions with Iran over attacks on oil tankers.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN HOST: President Trump firing some of his pollsters, right before his re-election campaign officially kicks off tomorrow.

ROMANS: Police in the Dominican Republic rather say they're closing in on the master mind of the ambush shooting of David Ortiz.

BRIGGS: Hundreds of thousands take to the streets of Hong Kong as protesters there refuse to back down. Good morning, everyone. And welcome to "Early Start." I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Good morning. Happy Father's Day.

BRIGGS: Thank you. You can't complain. Got the U.S. Open and a Bloody Mary. What else does a man ask for?

ROMANS: And three cute kids. I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, June 17, it's 4:00 in the East, it is 12:30 p.m. in Tehran.

Let's begin, there are tensions rapidly escalating between Iran and the U.S. this morning following attacks last week on two tanker ships in the Gulf of Oman. In the next few days the president's national security team expected to discuss whether to send additional U.S. forces to the Middle East. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said the president has said clearly, he doesn't want to go to war. He says the discussions will focus on deterring and defending against Iranian aggression.


POMPEO: The last 40 days we've seen a number of activities, not just these past two, but four other commercial ships which challenge the international norms of freedom of navigation. The United States is considering a full range of options. We've briefed the president a couple of times. We'll continue to keep him updated. We are confident that we can take a set of actions that can restore deterrence which is our mission set.


ROMANS: Over the weekend, Pompeo, the British and the Saudis all blamed the attacks on Iran. Tehran denies it and suggests the U.S. may have sabotaged the tankers itself to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. But in the next few hours, Iran is expected to scale back its commitment to the nuclear deal. We are joined now by CNN Frederick Pleitgen, he is live in Tehran with the latest. Hi, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Yes, pretty significantly scale back its commitments to the nuclear agreement. The Iranians have already announced some of the things that they are going to make official list a little later on. They say, that they are now going to stockpile an unlimited amount of low enriched uranium.

You recall that, a couple weeks back there, they already scaled back a little bit and upped that border a little bit. But now they say they are going to stockpile an unlimited amount of low enriched uranium. Also, they are going to announced this at the heavy water reactor in Arak (ph), and they say that from now on they are also going to produce more heavy water, which is a big thing for the fishing process in creating nuclear energy in Arak as well.

Now the Iranians has said, they could ratchet this up even more. However they also say, they are doing this while still staying inside the nuclear agreement. They say this is a message to America -- against America's sanctions, but also to the Europeans to try and get more business with Iran. Going with the Iranians, of course, very disappointed that they're not reaping the benefits of the nuclear agreement. And you are absolutely right, last night the Iranians squarely blaming the U.S. for those tanker attacks, not providing any evidence, but as you said saying they believe that the Americans did this, because the sanctions against them aren't working.

So, the Iranians essentially saying that in the Persian Gulf area they are not going to be the ones backing down. And we just heard there from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the Trump administration wants to solve all of this in a diplomatic way. While the Iranians last night said that they believe that the campaign of maximum pressure by the Trump administration is not diplomacy, but essentially economic warfare. Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Fred Pleitgen for us this morning in Tehran. Thank you, Fred.

BRIGGS: OK. The Trump campaign has fired several of its pollsters as it prepares to officially kick off the president's 2020 re-election bid tomorrow in Orlando. Their latest numbers show the president trailing Joe Biden in 11 key states. When those results were leaked to the public the pollsters lost their jobs. The president confronted with facts and figures explaining them away with a very familiar refrain.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't believe those polls. There's no way he beats me in Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But even your own polls show you're behind right now, don't they?

TRUMP: No, my polls show I'm winning everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've all seen these reports, 15 out of 17 states. You spent 2 million on a poll and you're behind.

TRUMP: "Good morning America" they had the phony polling information. I explained to you last night that it was phony, but you didn't do anything about it. You should have, but it was late in the evening and perhaps you didn't get a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why does it bother you so much?

TRUMP: Because it's untrue. I like the truth. You know, I'm actually a very honest guy.


[04:05:00] BRIGGS: That is not a deep fake, by the way. The president is also promising to produce a new Republican health care plan, but there's one giant caveat. He says to actually pass a health care bill Republicans first have to take back the house.


TRUMP: We are going to produce phenomenal health care and we already have the concept of the plan and it will be much --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) tell you what the plan is?

TRUMP: We'll be announcing that in about two months.


BRIGGS: "The New York Times" said the president is willing to gamble that putting out a plan to be debated on the campaign trail will offset some of the advantage Democrats have on the issue, but Republicans worry that putting out a concrete health care proposal with no chance of passage would only give the Democrats a target to attack over this next year.

ROMANS: Did they have the House, Republican have the House?

BRIGGS: They did have the House and the Senate. That is right. Good reminder. ROMANS: OK. And now we know straight from the president's mouth, why

after all of the back and forth, he didn't fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Here's what he told ABC News.


TRUMP: I wasn't going to fire, you know why? Because I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody and that didn't work out too well.


ROMANS: The president appear to be referring to the Saturday night massacre. That is when Richard Nixon ordered the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, leading to a series of resignation at the top of the Justice Department. Impeachment hearings followed and ended by the way, in Nixon's resignation. Important fact check, the Mueller report describes how the president did try to fire the special counsel despite saying in the ABC interview that he wasn't going to fire Mueller.

BRIGGS: New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez responding after President Trump quoted her to defend himself against impeachment. The president seizing on this moment during Ocasio- Cortez's appearance on ABC.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Well, I think that we have a very real risk of losing the presidency to Donald Trump if we do not have a presidential candidate that is fighting for true transformational change in the lives of the working people in the United States.


BRIGGS: Now, Trump tweeting that the impeach card cannot be legally used, which is not true. Ocasio-Cortez pushing back, quote, Mr. President, you're from Queens. You may fool the rest of the country, but I'll call your bluff any day of the week. Opening an impeachment inquiry is exactly what we must do when the president obstructs justice. Advises witnesses to ignore legal subpoenas and more. She adds, the bye with a hand wave emoji. Friendly.

ROMANS: All right. There's a new front in the global trade war. India increased tariffs up to 70 percent on American goods this weekend. The products targeted include apples, almonds, and several chemical products, estimated to be worth around $241 million. This is more bad news for businesses which has found themselves caught in the middle here.

New Balance, for example, makes 4 million pairs of shoes every year in the U.S. It has domestic production. Due to that domestic production, it fought against the trans-pacific partnership. The company needs to import parts from China that are no longer made in the U.S. and it's warning President Trump about further tariffs on China. In a letter to the U.S. trade representative, New Balance wrote that further tariffs will risk our company's overall financial health and that it will limit their ability to reinvest here in American factories. The U.S. trade representative's office will kick off seven days of hearings today where businesses will be able to testify about the president's plan for further tariffs on China.

BRIGGS: Investigators from the Dominican Republic say they are close to arresting the suspect who ordered the shooting of David Ortiz. Police are calling the assassination attempt a complex plot involving at least a dozen suspects. The Red Sox legend is recovering this morning in a Boston hospital. Patrick Oppmann has more on the investigation from Santo Domingo.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, Dominican officials said they could announce as early as this week the arrest of the mastermind behind the shooting of MLB great David Ortiz. Currently Dominican police have 10 suspects in custody. They are looking for several more fugitives, but they admit they do not have the person yet behind bars who ordered the shooting of Ortiz and they have not been able to say what the motive was. But they say they are close. That they are working on it.

Many of the Dominicans we have talked to are skeptical. They say, there are so many crimes that take place here that go unpunished. It's always the small people, the foot soldiers to go to jail, not the kingpins, not the master minds. This time will be different though, Dominican officials tells that this is the highest priority investigation and that whoever was behind this no matter how high up they go, no matter the connections they have, they will pay for this crime which has embarrassed this baseball crazy -- baseball mad nation.

The 10th suspect is expected to be in court later on Monday. Police say, hey will ask for preventative prison that that person will go to jail for a year while awaiting trial. They have already achieved that with the nine other suspects.

[04:10:06] But at least two of these suspects were already in prison for homicide and that the police say plotted the shooting of David Ortiz from behind bars. Further proof that even if people go to jail here, it doesn't necessarily stop them from committing crimes. Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: Patrick Oppmann there in the Dominican, thanks.

Gary Woodland is Golf's U.S. Open champion.



(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: And that was your exclamation. The first major title for the

35-year-old Kansas native. Woodland delivering clutch shots throughout the final round and topping it off with that 30 foot birdie putt on 18 for a three-stroke victory. He posted the lowest winning score ever in six U.S. Opens at pebble. Brooks Koepka, the runner-up was trying to match a 114 year old record by winning his third straight U.S. Open title. Both players under 70 in all four rounds. That is only happened five times in the history in U.S. Open.

ROMANS: There's some good golf.


ROMANS: All right. Peter Buttigieg leaving the campaign trail to rush home to South Bend. Why Mayor Pete canceled two critical appearances in New York City, that's next.


BRIGGS: Four Fifteen Eastern Time. And police in Philadelphia searching for the gunman who opened fire at a graduation party last night killing one adult, wounding four teens and three other adults. Police say the youths were age 15 to 17 and the adults were believed to be in their 20s. About 60 people were at the party when the attack happened. Officials say it is unclear how many shooters there were or what might have been the motive. An investigation is underway.

ROMANS: Pete Buttigieg canceling his campaign events in New York City today. Instead he is home in South Bend Indiana to personally deal with an officer-involved shooting that left a suspect dead. Mayor Pete says, he went home because of lessons learned from past shootings involving his city's police officers. He points out the case is still being investigated, so he can't say much.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-SOUTH BEND-IN) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've had prior cases of use of force incidents and officer-involved shootings where I hesitated, frankly, to get in front of cameras, because we didn't know very much and it was out of our hands, but what I learned, what I was told by people in the community is that it is important to open channels of communication, to try to be clear on where the city is, even if we don't find ourselves in the position to be able to say or do much right away.


ROMANS: Buttigieg was scheduled to be in New York later today to appear at an LGBTQ event, hosted by the Democratic National Committee. His husband will speak at the event instead.

BRIGGS: Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong demonstrating against a controversial extradition bill for a second consecutive Sunday. They came out despite the fact that Hong Kong's leader apologized and said she was suspending the bill for now. The measure would allow extraditions to mainland China which protestors say threatens their very political freedom. They want it shelved for good. For the latest, let's bring in CNN's Anna Coren, live in Hong Kong. Good morning to you, they also, I believe want that chief executive to step down, correct?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Dave, and that is what these people have gathered here today for. They are calling on the City's chief executive, Carrie Lam, to step down. They want her to resign as well as withdraw her very controversial extradition bill which would allow the extradition of criminal suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China.

That people here don't believe --it's just criminals. They think that they would target political dissident, anyone who speaks out against Beijing. That is why you saw the hundreds of thousands if not almost 2 million people. I mean, that is what organizers are saying turned out yesterday for yesterday's demonstration.

Almost 2 million people. It was like a sea of people dressed in black walking through the streets of Hong Kong protesting against this extradition bill. But you know what, David, it is about so much more than this controversial bill. It is about the freedoms that people here in Hong Kong currently enjoy and have enjoyed the last 22 years since the handover in 1997.

They feel that Beijing is eroding Hong Kong's freedoms, their civil liberties and they want that to stop. Well, a short time ago one of the leaders of the democracy movement here, one of the faces certainly the occupy movement in 2014, Joshua Wong, he was released from jail. And when he met with protesters, Dave, he was met with this rapturous applause. People were absolutely ecstatic to see him. He has been in jail for the last months for his involvement in the protests back in 2014.

But as you said, there are so many other people who have been arrested over the past week. We saw this violent clashes with police. Thankfully yesterday's protests was extremely peaceful. But these protesters are feeling emboldened, Dave. They are feeling they have momentum on their side and will continue their fight.

BRIGGS: Yes. The so-called umbrella movement not stopping any time soon. Anna Coren live for us this morning in Hong Kong. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. He has been criticized for skipping big events attended by his Democratic rivals, but later today, Joe Biden will be one of attend Democratic speaker sharing the very same stage. The story next.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Good morning. Turning now to the 2020 race. For the first time Joe Biden set to appear with many of his challengers. He is among 10 candidates who will speak at an event in Washington, D.C., focusing on poverty and systemic racism. Meantime, both Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke unveiling policy proposals at the BET, Black Economic Forum, the event took place Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina. Warren vowed to set aside $7 billion for black minority own businesses.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), 2020 U.S. DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: And I really want to underscore, this is different from the other plans that are out there. Most of the others are about lending and I'm all for getting access to loan money. You bet, that is great, but small businesses when they're getting started, they need that equity capital, the kind that lets you ride out the tough times. They don't need something that is creating a big debt burden.


[04:25:05] ROMANS: O'Rourke proposing his own multi-billion dollar plan to invest in small businesses. Much of that cash would be targeted at owners who are women or minorities.


REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Through segregation and Jim Crow and red lining and voter suppression that is alive and well today in 2019 and it is not just expressed in the criminal justice system, it is in education, it is in health care where African-American women are three times as likely to die from the consequences of maternal mortality as white women. It is in our environment where communities of color are on the front lines of pollution and climate change. In other words, it is systematic and foundational and to some who say that we only need to reform, you cannot reform a system that was fundamentally designed for the outcomes that we're seeing today.


ROMANS: Also this morning, a new Fox poll shows President Trump trailing Democrats and hypothetical match-ups. That one with the biggest event over Trump is Joe Biden, who is ahead by 10 points. Coming in second, Bernie Sanders with a nine point advantage.

BRIGGS: Two in a row for the U.S. Women's soccer team at the World Cup.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Davidson with another corner. Driven across. Goal, U.S.!


BRIGGS: Carli Lloyd scoring two goals in a dominating three no win. The victory advancing team USA to the knockout stage. They will play Sweden Thursday to determine the winner of group F. The U.S. women have made it to semi-final round in each of the previous three World Cups. They have not allowed a goal in international play since early March in a match against (Inaudible) to score six consecutive matches, tying a record. ROMANS: Wow. All right. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran rise

this morning after attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The Trump administration talking about sending additional U.S. forces to the Middle East. New details on that ahead.