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U.S. National Security Team Considering Sending More Force to the Middle East as Tensions Escalate Between the U.S. and Iran; Trump Campaign Fires at Pollsters; India Increases Tariffs on U.S. Goods. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2019 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-HOST, EARLY START: Kicks off tomorrow.

DAVE BRIGGS, CO-HOST, EARLY START: Police in the Dominican say they're closing in on the mastermind of the ambush shooting of the Red Sox legend David Ortiz.

ROMANS: Hundreds of thousands take to the streets of Hong Kong. Protesters there refuse to back down, sending a real message, I think --

BRIGGS: Yes --

ROMANS: To Beijing. Good morning everyone, welcome to EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans --

BRIGGS: Yes, some say it's me, it's 2 million there --

ROMANS: Yes --

BRIGGS: Good morning everyone, I'm Dave Briggs, Monday, June 17, it is 5:00 a.m. in the East, 1:30 p.m. in Tehran, and that's where we begin this morning with tensions rapidly escalating between Iran and the United States 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 says the president has said clearly he doesn't want to go to war. Pompeo says the discussions will focus on deterring and defending against Iranian aggression.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The last 40 days, we've seen a number of activities, not just these past two before other commercial ships which challenged the international norms of freedom of navigation. The United States is considering four-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.


BRIGGS: Now, over the weekend, Pompeo, the British and the Saudis all blame 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 right now, Iran announcing that it is, again, scaling back its commitments to the nuclear deal. Fred Pleitgen joining us live from Tehran with the very latest. Hi there, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dave, yes, pretty big and pretty significant announcements coming from the Iranians today announcing that they're going to scale back their commitments and announcing that they have actually already ramped up their production of low enriched uranium.

Now, this is the kind of uranium that makes electricity, not the kind that would be able to make bombs, but the Iranians are saying at the current pace that they're producing right now, they say they've already quadrupled their production of low enriched uranium, they will reach the ceiling limit that they themselves set right now in about ten days.

And the Iranians say they reserve the right to get rid of that ceiling altogether and produce an unlimited amount of low enriched uranium. But that's a decision that they say they are still going to make in the future. The other thing that they've also announced is that they are going to ramp up their production of heavy water which is a different way of making nuclear energy.

They say that this heavy water is going to be used inside Iran, they don't want to try and export that. What the Iranians say that they are trying to do, on the one hand, of course, they're very angry about those U.S. sanctions, but they also say that this is a message to European countries because the Iranians want to be able to do trade with those European countries, and they say at this point in time, that is not the case.

Important to point out, the Iranians are saying, they are doing all this while staying inside the nuclear agreement. They say so far, they have not gone out of the nuclear agreement. Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, Fred Pleitgen live for us, 1:32 p.m. there in Tehran, thanks, Fred.

ROMANS: All right, 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. Now, the 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 familiar refrain.


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

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, TELEVISION JOURNALIST: But even your own polls show you're behind right now, don't they?

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

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know, we've all seen these reports that 15 out of 17 states you spent 2 million on a poll and you're behind.

TRUMP: Saying "Good Morning America" today, they had that 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.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But 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.


ROMANS: The television producer, by the way, talking about how he would have programmed GMA differently. The president is also promising to produce a new Republican healthcare plan, but there's one caveat. He says to actually pass a healthcare bill, Republicans first, have to take back the house.


TRUMP: We're going to produce phenomenal healthcare and we already have the concept of the plan, and it will be much better --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Much better -- tell us what the plan is?

TRUMP: Yes, we'll be announcing that in about two months, maybe less.


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

BRIGGS: All right, now, we know straight from the president's mouth why after all the back and forth, he did not fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Here's what he told "ABC News".

[05:05:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Now, the president appeared to be referring to the Saturday

night massacre. That's when Richard Nixon ordered the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox leading to a series of resignations at the top of the Justice Department.

Impeachment hearings followed ending in Nixon's resignation. Important fact-check, the Mueller report describes exactly how the president did try to fire the special counsel despite his insistence in the "ABC" interview that he quote, "wasn't going to fire Mueller."

ROMANS: And 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, several chemical products expected to be worth around $241 million. You know, this is bad news, more bad news for businesses which have found themselves caught in the middle.

New Balance for example makes 4 million pairs of shoes a year in the U.S., it has domestic production, because of its domestic production, it fought against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So, in line with the president on that, but the company needs to import parts from China that are no longer made in the U.S., and it is warning President Trump about further tariffs on China.

In a letter to the U.S. Trade Representatives, it wrote, "the further tariffs will risk our company's overall financial health and that it will limit their ability to re-invest in American factories. The U.S. Trade Representatives' 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 in 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 recovering this morning in a Boston hospital. Patrick Oppmann with more on the investigation from Santo Domingo.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL 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 ten 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've 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're so many crimes that take place here go unpunished.

It is always the small people, the foot soldiers, that go to jail, not the kingpins, not the masterminds. This time, it will be different though, Dominican officials tell us, 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 the baseball crazy, baseball mad nation. The tenth suspect is expected to be in court later on Monday. Police

say they will ask for preventative prison, that person will go to jail for a year while awaiting trial. They have already achieved that with the nine other suspects. But at least, two of these suspects were already in prison for homicide, and that they -- 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: No, Patrick Oppmann there in the Dominican. Thanks. Gary Woodland is golf's U.S. Open champ.


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 topped it off with that 30 foot birdie putt on 18 for a three stroke win. He posted the lowest winning score ever in six U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach and Brooks Koepka; the runner-up trying to match a 114-year-old record by winning his third straight U.S. Open title. He was fantastic again, but came up too short.

By the way, Woodland gets a presidential tweet from Mr. Trump, will be more in Gary's future ahead.

ROMANS: All right, Pete 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.


ROMANS: Police in Philadelphia are 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 youth were ages 15 to 17, the adults believed to be in their 20s, about 60 people were at that party when the attack happened.

Officials say it's clear how many shooters there were or what the motive might have been. An investigation is underway.

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


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: 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.


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

[05:15:00] ROMANS: Turning now to the 2020 race, for the first time, Joe Biden is set to appear with many of his challengers. He's among ten 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, that event took place Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina. Warren vowed to set aside $7 billion for black-minority owned businesses.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): 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's 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's creating a big debt burden.


ROMANS: O'Rourke proposing his own multi-million dollar plan to invest in small businesses, much of the cash will be targeted at owners who are women or minorities.


BETO O'ROURKE, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: 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 healthcare 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 in hypothetical match-ups are the ones with the biggest advantage over Trump is Joe Biden who is ahead by 10 points, coming in second, Bernie Sanders with a nine-point advantage. BRIGGS: Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of

Hong Kong demonstrating against this 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 and they want that chief executive to resign.

ROMANS: All right, the U.S. women's soccer team dominating in World Cup play. Can they stay undefeated after advancing to the knock-out stage? Coy Wire has this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT", that's next.


BRIGGS: Team USA punching their ticket to the World Cup round of 16 with another convincing win. Coy Wire has that story in the "BLEACHER REPORT". Good morning, Coy. Carli Lloyd continues to tear it up over there.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Yes, no doubt about it. Captain, record breaker, we'll get to her in a second. Now, this match, Dave, wasn't a 13 to zip blowout like their first game against Thailand, but the U.S. women's soccer team still dominating as they take on Chile. Talk about a one-sided affair, the U.S. took 26 shots on goal, Chile just one.

The Americans were so dominant. Chile's goalkeeper was named player of the match for only allowing three goals. The 3-0 win is sure is, the U.S. team has a slot in the knock-out phase, Carli Lloyd, the 36- year-old, a one woman wrecking crew for team USA scoring two goals, becoming the first player ever to score in six straight World Cup matches.


CARLI LLOYD, AMERICAN SOCCER PLAYER: You know, records are records. You know, just another honor to be on the pitch and representing my country. You know, overall, the goal is to win a World Cup, so you know, I'm not really focused on the records, and just want to help my team in any way possible.


WIRE: Next up for the U.S., Sweden on Thursday afternoon determining the winner of group F. Golfer Gary Woodland makes history winning the U.S. Open. His 13 under par is the lowest-winning score ever in six U.S. Open at famed Pebble Beach.

Woodland holding off a charge from Brooks Koepka; the number one player in the world to win his first-ever major championship. The 35- year-old does it on his biggest stage. Father's Day that he'll never forget. Two years ago, Woodland and his wife were expecting twins, but lost one of the babies during pregnancy. Their son Jackson was just 3 pounds when he was born prematurely. But he is healthy will celebrate his second birthday one week from today.


GARY WOODLAND, U.S. OPEN CHAMPION, 2019: There's a lot more to life than winning golf tournaments. And I know I have a miracle at home. I know, even if I would have shot 80 today and lost this tournament by 10 shots, I'm still going to go home to a miracle child who I have the responsibility of making sure that he has a great life. And that's what I'm excited about.


WIRE: Dave, Gary and his wife, Gabby, are expecting twin girls in August. All right, let's go to baseball. What has to be one of the wildest series in history comes to an end. The Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres combining for 92 runs over their four-game series at Coors Field, breaking the MLB record for scoring set back in 1929.

There were floods, dejection, miraculous comebacks and a whole lot of Rockies. Charlie Blackman in this one, he's now the first player with 15 hits over a four-game series including that home run last night. Cover your ears, Dave. Your Rockies blow another ninth-inning lead as the Padres rally for four runs to win this one, 14-13.

[05:25:00] Finally, there are dads and sons having a catch on Father's Day, and then there's this. The Baltimore Orioles inviting Marine veteran Steven Bostwick to throw out the first pitch yesterday. But what he didn't know was that the catcher would be his son.

Army specialist Addam Bostwick had been deployed in Afghanistan for four months -- I can hear you, Christine over there, break out your tissues, what a great moment for this father and son. That's what it's all about, Dave --

BRIGGS: Oh, man --

WIRE: If I could, I would reach through the screen and give you my handkerchief here because I know it's getting a little misty over there for you, brother.

BRIGGS: Well, how about that family, you know, I mean, the Marine and the army veteran, I mean, this is -- this family is what U.S. service is all about. Happy Father's Day to Steven and thanks for their service to both of them --

ROMANS: That --

BRIGGS: Coy, thank you my friend for that great story --

WIRE: You're welcome --

BRIGGS: Romans, he got you.

ROMANS: He got me --

BRIGGS: Coy got you again -- ROMANS: That is awesome, thanks, Coy. All right, 25 minutes past the

hour, tensions between the U.S. and Iran rising 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 ahead.