Return to Transcripts main page


Warning from Iran; Trump's Campaign Kickoff; Search for a Motive; Stewart Strikes Back; Hong Kong Chief Exec Speaks in Face of Protests. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 18, 2019 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:28] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The Pentagon orders troops to the Middle East as Iran warns underestimate us and you'll be sorry.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump kicking off his re- election campaign today and tweeting about deporting millions of undocumented migrants starting next week.

BRIGGS: FBI agents want to know why would an army veteran open fire on a federal building in downtown Dallas.


JON STEWART, FORMER HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": No, Mitch McConnell, I'm not bent out of shape.


ROMANS: Jon Stewart slams the Senate majority leader in a surprise late night cameo.

Good morning, and welcome, everyone, to early start. I'm Christine Romans. Good morning.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Good morning.

They want to fund that 9/11 first responder's fund.

It's Tuesday, June 18th, 4:00 a.m. in the East. It is 12:30 p.m. in Tehran.

That's where we begin this morning. Amid escalating tension with Iran, the pentagon announcing the U.S. will send 1,000 more troops to the Middle East along with military resources. Just before the announcement by Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the Defense Department released 11 new high resolution photos taken after the attack on two tanker ships in the Gulf of Oman.

Among these images, these show what the Pentagon says is a small Iranian revolutionary guard crew that removed an unexploded mine from the hull of one tanker. Iran strongly denies any involvement in the attacks.

Let's bring in senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen live from Tehran with the latest -- Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dave. Yes, certainly still a very volatile situation down there in the Persian Gulf, but of course in general here in this region, you're absolutely right. The Iranians continue to adamantly deny that they were behind those tanker attacks.

But at the same time, they're also regarding the increased U.S. military presence in this region are putting out some pretty tough talk of their own. A top Iranian general saying yesterday that the Iranians are very much monitoring what they call their enemy forces which is, of course, the U.S. forces in this region and also saying that they would deliver a crushing and decisive blow in response to any sort of military and they're saying it would happen in a very broad region.

Of course, guys, the Iranians have been saying if it does come to a shooting between Iran and the United States that they would respond with their military but also with proxy forces that they have in the region.

Meanwhile, our own Christiane Amanpour talking yesterday to Iran's ambassador in the U.K. who warned that Iran and the United States are heading directly from a confrontation. Here's what he said.


HAMID BAENDIENJAD, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.K.: We are heading towards a confrontation which is very serious for everybody in the region. I hope the people in Washington will be very careful not to under estimate the Iranian determination, that if they would be wrongly turning into a conflict, they will be very sorry about that.


PLEITGEN: And, guys, it is the assessment of the Iranians, they believe that President Trump himself does not want a military confrontation with the Iranians. They, however, believe there might be other folks in the administration like, for instance, national security adviser John Bolton who are more so inclined. But one of the things this envoy said, the Middle East is a region of unintended consequences which means, obviously, things are very dangerous.

However, in a more positive note, Iran's president came out today and said that Iran will not go into a war with any nation, does not want a conflict with any nation. He believes that Iran at this point in time is simply dealing with inexperienced politicians in Washington, D.C., Dave.

BRIGGS: Fred Pleitgen live as tensions continue to escalate there. Thank you, Fred.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump claims ICE agents are about to begin removing millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Last night, the president tweeted next week, ICE will begin the process of removing millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in.

Mexico using their strong immigration laws is doing a very good job of stopping the people long before they get to our southern border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a safe third agreement.

That's apparently a reference to a requirement that migrants crossing into Guatemala would have to claim asylum there, not anywhere else.

Now, the president in the White House offering no specific details about this planned immigrant roundup.

BRIGG: Today, President Trump makes it official, he is running for a second term in 2020.

[04:05:03] The big announcement comes tonight at a rally in Orlando, Florida. Some of the president's supporters are already camping out at the Amway Center to get a prime spot in line.

Abby Phillip with more from the White House.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, today will be a big day for President Trump as he officially relaunches his re-election campaign at a rally in Orlando, Florida. Now, this rally is expected to be massive.

And the campaign is treating it like a concert with food and music outside of the concert venue as hundreds and thousands wait to get into this arena to see President Trump. But over the last several days, there's been quite a bit of drama as President Trump has lashed out at reports about some internal polls that were reported on several weeks ago showing him trailing Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, in some cases by double digits in these key swing states.

Now, President Trump insisted that these polls are fake, insisted that they do not reflect the reality on the ground. He said he's doing as well as he ever has in the campaign right at this very moment. But at the same time he has forced a personal in his campaign. Three of the pollsters that were responsible for this 17-state survey were fired over the weekend as the president has grown furious over the reports that he might be struggling more than he would like to in this campaign.

As for what we'll see from President Trump in Orlando tonight, I think you can expect president Trump to really hammer home this idea that the Democratic Party is being over run by radicals. But will he attack Joe Biden by name? This is something that campaign officials had hoped he would do a lot less of, but President Trump seems not to be able to help himself in that regard -- Christine and Dave.


BRIGGS: OK, Abby Phillip at the White House. Thanks.

2020 front-runner Joe Biden making the bold prediction he expects to beat President Trump in red states.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I plan on campaigning the South. I plan on winning Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, believe it or not, and I believe we can win Texas and Florida if you look at the polling data now.


BRIGGS: While speaking at a forum on systemic racism and poverty, Biden also pushed back against critics who say he's naive to think Democrats can work with Republicans in Congress after Trump leaves office.


BIDEN: So, folks, look, if you start off with the notion there's nothing you can't do, why don't you go home, man. Or let's start a real physical revolution if you're talking about it because we have to be able to change what we're doing within our system.


ROMANS: The Biden camp right now may be most concerned about Elizabeth Warren's rise in the polls.

The Massachusetts senator also addressing the Poor People's Campaign Forum on Monday took aim at Biden and other 2020 rivals for catering to wealthy Democratic donors.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've been to a lot of places around this country. I've taken more than 2,000 unfiltered questions from folks. Shoot, I'm over 30,000 selfies now. So I'm in this, but here's the deal, ask yourself why I've got the time to do that and most other candidates don't. And the reason is because I'm not spending my time behind closed doors with a bunch of millionaires.


ROMANS: Warren announced back in February that she would have no fundraisers, dinners, receptions or phone calls with big money donors.

BRIGGS: The FBI digging into military and social media background of a 22-year-old man who they say tried to shoot up a federal building in Dallas on Monday.

Brian Isaak Clyde was shot and killed by federal officers before he got inside the federal court house. No one else was injured. The neighbor who recorded this incident from the eighth floor apartment window says the suspect looked ready for battle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIM BROWN, WITNESS: I don't know, you know, what he was thinking but he definitely had this planned out. He had a vest on. It looked like camo pants on. He had boots on and he had his face covered up, too.


BRIGGS: Clyde was discharged from the Army in 2017. He served as an infantryman from August 2015 to February 2017.

ROMANS: All right. Today begins the event that markets have been waiting for. A two-day Fed meeting, and investors will be looking for any clues to when the Fed might lower interest rates. Wall Street does not expect the Fed chair Jerome Powell to cut rates this week, but it is confident rates will be lower by the end of the year.

Despite the trade war, the U.S. economy has remained strong. The S&P 500 is only about 2 percent from record highs. So, any rate cut would be an insurance move against a slowing economy. Goldman Sachs wrote in a note to clients that insurance cuts might not be appropriate and that the hurdle for such cuts might be higher than widely believed.

Investors apparently optimistic about a potential trade deal as well. President Trump is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of the month to talk trade. Hundreds of companies and trade groups, hundreds of them, are warning the president in these hearings this week that more tariffs on China will hurt American workers and will hurt the U.S. economy. The question is whether their lobbying changes anything. So far, it has not.

BRIGGS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responding to Jon Stewart's outburst over the 9/V1 Victim's Compensation Fund. In case you missed it, here's what the comedian said on Capitol Hill last week.


STEWART: They did their jobs. Eighteen years later, do yours!


BRIGGS: McConnell seeming to brush off Stewart's comments on a new interview on Fox News.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, many things in Congress happen at the last minute. We have never failed to address this issue and we will address it again. I don't know why he's all bent out of shape, but we will take care of the 9/11 victim's compensation fund.


BRIGGS: Stewart immediately fired back at the Republican leader during an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: No, Mitch McConnell, I'm not bent out of shape. I'm in fine shape. Well, I am out of shape, I am out of shape.

I am bent out of shape for them. These are the first heroes, and veterans, victims of the great trillions of dollars war on terror and they're currently still suffering and dying and in terrible need. You know, you would think that would be enough to get Congress's attention, but apparently it's not.

We've spent a year compiling bipartisan co-sponsors and advocates for this bill, all in the hopes that when it finally gets to the great Mitch McConnell's desk, you won't jack us around like you have in the past. So, if you want to know why the 9/11 community is bent out of shape over these past, let's call it 18 years, meet with them tomorrow, as soon as possible and don't make them beg for it.

You could pass this thing as a stand alone bill tomorrow. Meet with them. I'm begging you.


BRIGGS: So far no response from McConnell.

There are hard things to get through Congress. This is not one of them. This is easy. Get it done.

ROMANS: All right. Twelve minutes past the hour.

Hong Kong's chief executive speaking now to the protesters that demand she steps down. We're going to go to Hong Kong next.


[04:16:53] ROMANS: All right. Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam speaking right now. She's addressing those huge protests last week, forcing her to suspend debate on a controversial extradition bill. Protesters have demanded that she'd resign.

Live for us in Hong Kong this morning, CNN's Ivan Watson.

Ivan, there's so much going on here. Watching carefully Beijing's response, I mean, they need to trend very carefully here because you have some 2 million people who don't want more power from Beijing over their daily lives.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and who are very angry at the leaders of this city for the violent scenes that we saw earlier this week. Well, Carrie Lam, this handpicked leader of Hong Kong chosen by the central government in China, has now gone out on camera in front of journalists and expressed her sincere apology to every person here in Hong Kong saying she needs to do more to listen to people, that she's sad that journalists and young people were injured in violent clashes with riot police that took place where I'm standing beneath the Hong Kong parliament on Wednesday, but also pointing out that she expects to finish the rest of her five-year term to work for three more years in office. Now, there's a scattering of activists here, probably less than 100

people, who are all listening to this press conference live, may be able to hear that sound in the background. Every once in a while they kind of boo and hiss at the statements she's making. The demonstrators have been demanding her resignation, for the police to be accountable for what they alleged is police brutality and for this controversial extradition law to be scrapped completely, not temporarily paused.

We are hearing an expression of humility and apology, but I don't think we're quite hearing those demands met -- Christine.

ROMANS: Thanks so much for that, Ivan Watson. Nice to see you this morning in Hong Kong.

BRIGGS: Uphill battle to say the least there. She is not elected by the people of Hong Kong but appointed by the people of Beijing who have control over the situation.

Ahead, Mayor Pete Buttigieg canceling several appearances to deal with the deadly police shooting in South Bend.


CHASTEN BUTTIGIEG, MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG'S HUSBAND: It is an honor to be here on behalf of the man I love.


BRIGGS: So how did his husband do in his place? That's next.


[04:24:24] ROMANS: Mayor Pete Buttigieg canceling big money fundraisers in California so he can remain in South Bend, Indiana, to deal with a deadly officer-involved shooting.

Last night in New York, Mayor Pete's husband, Chasten Buttigieg, filled in for him at the DNC's 20th annual LGBT gala. He told the audience, it has been both an honor and a burden to be part of this presidential campaign.


BUTTIGIEG: I wish I could tell you that every voicemail, email, social media message and texts I receive isn't hateful, bigoted or homophobic. I wish I could tell you that the world has unequivocally accepted Peter and I and our marriage, but I can't.


[04:25:04] ROMANS: Pete Buttigieg sent a video message apologizing for his absence. He told the audience they got a better hearing from his husband instead. BRIGGS: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson taking home the Icon Generation Award for 2019 MTV Movie and TV Awards. He gave an inspiring speech to his fans leaving them with some advice he received long ago.


DWAYNE "THE ROCK" JOHNSON, ACTOR: When I was 15 years old, I heard a quote and I will never forget it and I bring it with me everywhere I go and it's engrained in my DNA. The quote is this: it's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice.


BRIGGS: Touche.

Other winners of note, Sandra Bullock for most frightened performance in "Bird Box". Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga wining best musical moment for "Shallow" from "A Star is Born" and Ruth Bader Ginsburg named Best Real Life Hero for the documentary "RBG".


BRIGGS: Bravo to the strong Supreme Court justice.

ROMANS: All right. Twenty-six minutes past the hour.

An additional 1,000 troops heading to the Middle East. Is a military conflict inevitable and what is the Trump administration's end game? We're going to go live to Tehran, next.