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U.S. Troops to Middle East; Trump Set to Formally Kickoff Re- Election Bid; Search for a Motive; Stewart Strikes Back; Shooting Mars Raptors' Victory Celebration. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 18, 2019 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:08] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Facebook is starting a new cryptocurrency. "The Wall Street Journal" reports Facebook is working with more than a dozen other companies to back a digital coin called Libra. The currency would be pegged to a basket of government-issued currencies to avoid large swings and value, and the coin could be used to make purchases on Facebook and across the Internet. The project has been in the works for just over a year.

Sprint and T-Mobile will soon be one step closer to the proposed $26 billion merger. The Department of Justice is set to approve the deal within days. Approval will require concessions but it's still expected to create the second largest career in the United States.

It's not finalized though. It still needs approval from the FCC and a group of state attorneys general. Getting states to bless the deal might be tougher. Last year, several states sued to block the merger saying it would lead to less competition.

And New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos. In a Sunday show, she said the company pays its workers, quote, starvation wages and that low wages contributes to Bezos' status as the world's richest person. Amazon fought back saying she's wrong. The company noted in a tweet, it pays a $15 minimum wage plus full benefits on the first day people start working there. It also said it has lobbied to raise the federal minimum wage.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: The Pentagon orders troops to the Middle East as Iran warns, underestimate us and you'll be sorry.

BRIGGS: President Trump kicking off his re-election campaign today and tweeting about deporting millions of undocumented immigrants starting next week.

ROMANS: 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.


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

Speaking of late night, the president tweeting at 1:10 a.m. this morning, not too worried about his campaign kickoff.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, June 18. It is 5:00 a.m. exactly, 5:02 in the East, 1:32 p.m. in Tehran.

Let's begin there.

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.

Now, among the 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 these attacks.

For the latest, let's bring in senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen. He is live for us in Tehran.

And I think that the fact that the White House declassified or the Pentagon declassified these pictures trying to show what kind of evidence they say they have to in some cases skeptical European allies.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think you're absolutely right, Christine. I think especially skeptical European allies, skeptical for instance also, the Japanese as well. Keep in mind, the tanker that was hit, one of them was a Japanese tanker.

There have been European allies saying they want additional evidence and additional information. Whether or not this is going to do it for them, we'll have to wait and see. But you're absolutely, the Iranians saying they were not behind these tanker attacks and the beefed up American military presence here in the gulf region.

The Iranians with some pretty bellicose rhetoric of their own. A top Iranian general coming out and saying that the Iranians are monitoring what they call enemy forces, obviously referring to U.S. forces in the region, and that any move by those forces would be met with what they call a crushing response, and they say, Christine, in a very wide region.

Now, keep in mind, the Iranians have been telling me, have been telling us for quite a while that if it ever does come, God for bid, to a shooting war between themselves and the United States, that they would use their military forces, but would use the proxy forces they have in this region as well.

Meanwhile, the Iranian ambassador telling our own Christiane Amanpour that he fears Iran and the U.S. are heading towards a confrontation. Here's what he had to say.


HAMID BAEIDINEJAD, 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.


[05:05:01] PLEITGEN: So you have some pretty strong words there from the Iranian ambassador.

Meanwhile, Iran's president earlier today sounding a more caution note. He's saying Iran does not want a confrontation with any nation in the world. He says Iran's biggest problem right now is that Iranians are dealing with inexperienced politicians in Washington, D.C. -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Fred Pleitgen for us in Tehran -- thank you so much, Fred.

BRIGGS: President Trump claims ICE agents are about to begin removing millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally. Last night, the president tweeted: Next week, ICE will begin the process of removing millions of illegal aliens who illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they came in.

Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people long before they get to our southern border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a safe third agreement. Now, that's apparently a reference to a requirement that migrants crossing into Guatemala will have to claim asylum there, not anywhere else.

The president and the White House are offering no specific details about this planned immigrant roundup.

ROMANS: Today, President Trump makes it official. He is running for a second term in 2020. The big announcement comes tonight at a rally in Orlando. Some of the president's supporters, look at this, already camping out at the Amway Center to get a prime spot in line, like rock star status--

BRIGGS: Forty-two hours ahead of time.

ROMANS: That's right.

Abby Phillip has more from the White House. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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: That should be interesting. Out in Orlando, Abby, thanks.

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


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I plan on campaigning in the South. I plan, if I'm your nominee, winning Georgia, North Carolina, and 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 might be most concerned about Elizabeth Warren's rise in the polls. The Massachusetts senators 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 her campaign would have no fundraisers, dinners, receptions or phone calls with those big money donors.

BRIGGS: The FBI digging into the background of a 22-year-old man they say who 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. Thankfully, no one else was injured.

The neighbor who recorded this incident from his eighth floor apartment window said the suspect looked ready for battle.


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. He had -- it looked like camo pants on. And he had boots on and he had his face covered up, too.


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

ROMANS: All right. Today is the event the markets have been waiting for. The two-day Fed meeting begins. Investors looking for any clues as to when the Fed might lower interest rates.

Now, Wall Street doesn't expect the Fed and Chair Jerome Powell to cut rates this week but it's confident the rates will be lowered by the end of the year. Despite the trade war, the U.S. economy has remained strong. The S&P 500 is only 2 percent from record highs.

So, why did you need to cut rates? You cut rates when the economy is failing. It looks like any rate cut would be an insurance move against a slowing economy in the future. Goldman Sachs wrote a note to clients that insurance cuts might not be appropriate and the hurdle, you know, to justify such cuts might be higher than widely believed.

Investors apparently optimistic also about a potential trade deal. You know, President Trump is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20, at the end of the month to talk trade. Hundreds of companies have warned the president that more tariffs on China will hurt American workers and the economy. The question is whether their lobbying changes anything. So far, it hasn't.

BRIGGS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responding to Jon Stewart's outburst to lawmakers over the 9/11 Victim Compensation. Now, in case you missed, 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 in a new interview with 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".


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. The trouble is the optics when he was there on Capitol Hill with those victims, half of Congress was a no show.

ROMANS: Well, you know, that's process. They're watching on their -- on some other device. When you have people who literally are dying from helping this country.

BRIGGS: Seems easy.

ROMANS: Maybe you could be in the room.

All right. Coming up, we remember fashion icon and American socialite Gloria Vanderbilt.


[05:18:18] BRIGGS: Fashion designer, artist, socialite Gloria Vanderbilt has died. Her son, CNN's Anderson Cooper, said she died in her Manhattan home of stomach cancer.

Gloria Vanderbilt was born on a spotlight, heiress to a spectacular railroad fortune. Her father died when she was a baby and she became the subject of an intense custody battle dubbed the trial of the century. She became a model in her teens, acted, painted, wrote poetry and novels and became a designer whose jeans were omnipresent on TV in the 1980s.

The final words, of course, belong to our colleague Anderson Cooper.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": The last few weeks, every time I kissed her goodbye, I'd say, I love you, mom. She would look at me and say, I love you, too. You know that.

And she was right. I did know that. I knew it from the moment I was born and I'll know it for the rest of my life. And in the end, what greater gift can a mother give to her son?


BRIGGS: Gloria Vanderbilt was 95 years old.


[20:24:22] BRIGGS: A rally celebrating the NBA champion Toronto Raptors turned into chaos when gunshots rang out on the streets of downtown Toronto.

Coy Wire has that story in the "Bleacher Report".

Good morning, my friend.


A reported 1.5 million fans gathering to celebrate Toronto's first ever NBA title, then gunshots, then this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm getting information that we're dealing with a situation that's not far from here. This is serious and I wouldn't be here interrupting this without saying this. So if everybody will please stay calm. We're going to provide an update and I apologize.

[05:25:00] We're going to provide an update in two minutes.


WIRE: The Raptors TV announcer telling the crowd about the shooting that happened less than a block from where the players and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood on stage. Police say four people suffering nonlife threatening injuries. Three people arrested in two separate incidents connected to the shooting.

Trudeau tweeting: We won't let this act of violence take away from the spirit of today's parade.

The rally was halted for about three minutes, then the celebration could continue. This is what it looks like when it's not just a city celebrating a title but an entire nation. Toronto's last celebration like there which was back in 1993 when the Blue Jays won the series.

Let's go on to World Cup soccer because host nation France advances to the knockout stages after a controversial penalty. The referee reminding Nigeria's goalie not to move early as we've seen with every penalty kick during this tournament.

France's Wendie Renard misses wide left but she would get a second chance. Video replay spotting that the goalie moved early. On the rekick, Renard goes right and right into the back of the net.

Le Bleus wins one-zip, finishing with three wins in group A. A Heartbreaking loss for Nigeria.

From World Cup to world pup. Defending MLS champs, Atlanta United, transforming their training ground into a pitch for puppies. What a better way to get the ball rolling and covering it with peanut butter.

All the puppies, Dave, are from Atlanta humane society. They gave it their all. There were no referee calls. The prize is much bigger than a trophy. All of them were adopted following the game.

BRIGGS: We needed some Coy Wire sideline reporting with some hard- hitting stories for the pups.

WIRE: Yes, and make sure you don't wear your good shoes, right?

BRIGGS: Coy Wire, good stuff. Thank you, my friend.

ROMANS: You just want those little pups on the loop for me all day. Just a Tuesday loop of those pups, and Coy Wire.

BRIGGS: You're welcome.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks.

Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.

An additional 1,000 troops heading to the Middle East. Is a military conflict with Iran inevitable and what is the Trump administration's end game. We are live in Tehran, next.