Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Trump Officially Kicks Off 2020 Campaign; Acting Defense Sec. Patrick Shanahan Stepping Down; President Donald Trump Downplays Any Military Action Against Iran. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 19, 2019 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hawkins says running has helped keep her mind and body sharp.


JULIA "HURRICANE" HAWKINS, 103-YEAR-OLD GOLD MEDAL SPRINTER, NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES: I hope I'm inspiring them to be healthy and to realize you can still be doing it at this kind of an age.


SCHOLES: Now, Hurricane Hawkins started running competitively just two years ago. She holds the record for fastest 100-meter by a woman over 100 years old.

And, Dave, she practices running around her garden in Louisiana -- 103.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Running around her garden, and she'd probably beat me in a race, Andy Scholes. Good for the Hurricane. Great story, Andy. Thank you, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

BRIGGS: Michelle, what's going on?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN ANCHOR: I suddenly feel a lot younger.

BRIGGS: Do you?

KOSINSKI: And her skin is amazing, too. I can't help but notice.

BRIGGS: Ready to run around the studio a little bit?

SCHOLES: I adlibbed a little bit.

KOSINSKI: President Trump launching his reelection campaign with an airing of grievances. We'll have more on the road to 2020 ahead.


[05:35:05] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We went through the greatest witch hunt in political history. The only collusion was committed by the Democrats.


KOSINSKI: President Trump launching his reelection campaign with all the familiar targets.

BRIGGS: Acting Defense Sec. Patrick Shanahan pulling out of his confirmation. It follows reporting about his troubled family life.

KOSINSKI: Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks testifying on the Hill in a couple of hours. The White House saying she can't speak about her time in the administration.

BRIGGS: While President Trump warning Iran if they try to get nuclear weapons they'll get war from the United States.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody, on a hump day. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSINSKI: I'm Michelle Kosinski. It's 35 minutes past the hour.

The president starting his first full day in official reelection mode. His new 2020 campaign launched at an evening rally in Florida that was vintage Trump. An airing of old grievances against the Mueller report, Democrats, immigrants, Dave Briggs -- even his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: We went through the greatest witch hunt in political history. The only collusion was committed by the Democrats.

On no issue are Democrats more extreme and more depraved than when it comes to border security.

Remember the insurance policy just in case Hillary Clinton lost -- remember the insurance policy.

RALLYGOERS (Chanting): Lock her up!


BRIGGS: Lock her up.

Sources tell CNN the president has been complaining to aides that cable networks have largely stopped airing his rallies live, as they did in 2016. A campaign source telling CNN officials hoped the rally would satisfy his thirst for the spotlight and reset the campaign. Instead, we heard the same familiar refrains.

CNN's Kaitlin Collins was in Orlando and she brings us more.


KAITLIN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Michelle, the president's campaign leading up to this has branded this rally as this blockbuster launch of the president's reelection campaign where he's going to swoop in and steal the limelight back from Democrats.

They had new signs here. They had a live band outside as supporters waited to get in. And they even brought out the first family on stage beforehand.

But when President Trump got on stage and he looked away from those teleprompters that were on both sides of him, you heard the president essentially make the same argument to his supporters that he made back during the 2016 campaign.

He talked about the news, he criticized Democrats, he went after Hillary Clinton and her e-mails. And it was really, essentially, an airing of his grievances that we've heard for the last four years, ever since the president came down that escalator in Trump Tower and declared against all odds that he was running for president.

Now, there was one point in the evening where the president did get to the news of the party and announcing he is officially running for president again in 2020.

TRUMP: I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as President of the United States.

COLLINS: So what you saw from the president in Orlando was more of a settling of scores than setting an agenda for what he is going to do if he does get four more years in office. And the president said if he doesn't, he painted this pretty dark picture, at times apocalyptic, and said, quote, "The Democrats want to destroy you and they want to destroy your country as we know it."

Dave and Michelle.


BRIGGS: All right, Kaitlin. Thank you.

Acting Defense Sec. Patrick Shanahan withdrawing from consideration for the permanent job. His decision comes after new reporting from "The Washington Post" about a violent family incident in 2011 when Shanahan's son attacked his own mother with a baseball bat.

Shanahan strongly defended his then-17-year-old son, arguing in a memo two weeks later that the teen was defending himself. Shanahan told the "Post" he later regretted the memo and that self-defense claim was false.

KOSINSKI: An administration official tells CNN Shanahan was fully vetted and the White House was generally aware of the domestic abuse claims. But sources tell us even though Shanahan, himself, was never arrested, there was growing concern that his ex-wife would publicly accuse him of domestic abuse.

Shanahan's withdrawal raises key questions about Pentagon leadership now, coming just as tensions are escalating with Iran. We'll have more on that in a moment. Also, Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez seems to be comparing the Trump administration to the Nazis over its policy of detaining migrants at the southern border. Listen to what the New York City Democrat told her followers on Instagram Live.

[05:40:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps.

I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not -- that 'never again' means something.


BRIGGS: AOC's critics are slamming her for using the term "concentration camps" which is commonly associated with Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.

Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney tweeting, "Please, AOC, do us all a favor and spend a few minutes learning some actual history. Six million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this."

KOSINSKI: Ocasio-Cortez firing back. "Hey, Rep. Cheney, since you're so eager to 'educate me,' I'm curious -- what do YOU call building mass camps of people being detained without a trial?"

Ocasio-Cortez went on to tell CNN she's not comparing the situation at the border to death camps, but more to internment camps like the ones that held Japanese-Americans during World War II.

BRIGGS: Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks heads to Capitol Hill in just a matter of hours. The president's former communications director will face questions from the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors. But the administration is asserting immunity for Hicks, insisting she cannot testify about her time in the White House.

Democrats plan to press Hicks on events that occurred before the president took office that would -- her knowledge of hush money payments to cover up Mr. Trump's alleged extramarital affairs in the run-up to 2016.

All right. We're joined this morning by "CNN POLITICS" digital director Zach Wolf, live in Washington. Zach, good to see you, sir.


KOSINSKI: Hey, Zach.

BRIGGS: Let's start with this rally in Florida, and it was "Free Bird," man -- play the hits.

WOLF: Yes. BRIGGS: That's what you've got to do for the crowd. And it was kind of a rock concert, right? A packed crowd, a tailgate outside, people camping out for 30-plus hours.

KOSINSKI: A band called "The Guzzlers."

BRIGGS: A band called "The Guzzlers." But was there any material from the rock star, Zach?

WOLF: Yes -- let's get the band back together, essentially, is what this felt like.

But you didn't see any new policy provisions coming out. You didn't see a new argument from this president for people to vote for him.

It was really him going after the base of supporters that brought him into the White House. It wasn't him sort of extending to find new support or anything of that nature. It was certainly a return to what we saw in 2016.

KOSINSKI: Yes. So we heard the old words witch hunt, collusion, et cetera, et cetera, but we also heard him going after Democrats by calling them depraved. Telling the crowd and, essentially, the world that they're out to destroy the people and destroy the country as we know it.

Is there any sense that saying things like that is losing some of its luster, if not among his core base, but the people that voted for him in 2016 that were on the fence, Zach?

WOLF: Well, I mean, we've all seen those polls that show -- in key battleground states like Florida, for instance -- that he trails, at least hypothetically, some of the Democrats he could face, like Joe Biden, the front-runner.

I think that there is certainly some amount of Trump fatigue but he's not reaching out to people who are on the fence. That's not his campaign strategy. He's not trying to get Independents to vote.

He's trying to get everybody who likes him -- he's trying to get every single one of those people out to the polls and apparently, every single one of them out to a rally, too. If you saw the number of people there it was pretty remarkable.

So, I'm not sure -- given his strategy, I don't think that stoking those fires is really going to hurt him with the people that he thinks can get there and get him back in office.

BRIGGS: It will be interesting to see if Democrats can match that type of energy, that type of turnout as we get closer to the election.

But, the president faces a lot of foreign policy changes, most notably in Iran where we are sending 1,000 new troops to the region. And yet, the president surprised a lot of people with this statement about the Middle East last night.


TRUMP: We're charting a path to civility and peace in the Middle East because great nations do not want to fight endless wars. They've been going on forever. We're starting to remove a lot of troops.


BRIGGS: Tepid applause there but "starting to remove a lot of troops" -- is that in direct contrast with reality, Zach?

WOLF: Yes. It sounds like if the U.S. is deploying troops to Iran, it's hard -- it's hard to say you're removing a lot of troops. You know, they are -- Trump has said that they will remove troops from other parts of the Middle East -- you know, from Afghanistan -- so he is correct on that.

But it is a supremely awkward thing to say you're removing troops on the same day you're sending troops and drumming up tension with Iran at the exact same time.

[05:45:06] KOSINSKI: And we were talking earlier about the polls. Let's take a look at some of these numbers among Democrats in key states.

In Florida, for example, Joe Biden polling now. A Quinnipiac poll shows 50 percent; Donald Trump, 41. We have six Democrats, at least, with numbers higher than his.

Even yesterday, we heard Joe Biden say well, it's early. It is very early.

BRIGGS: Three of those are well within the margin of error.

KOSINSKI: For sure, for sure.

So, is there any indication that Trump is upset by these numbers -- worried about these numbers at this point, Zach?

WOLF: Well, I think the clearinghouse he did with his pollsters earlier in the last week or so is evidence that he's frustrated with the numbers to the extent that he even hears them.

We -- you know, it's not clear to me, at least, what his staffers are telling him. We know he watches a lot of T.V. so, presumably, he sees all of these. But does he have this sort of secret set of numbers that they're giving him to make him feel better about himself? That's distinctly possible, I think.

BRIGGS: Well, if the president is worried, you wouldn't know it from Brad Parscale, who is running the 2020 campaign.

He said, "I think we win an electoral landslide as of today. More electoral points than he did last time." So they must have some internal numbers that no one else in the country has seen.

KOSINSKI: Right. BRIGGS: Zach Wolf, good to see you, sir. Thank you.

KOSINSKI: Thanks, Zach.

WOLF: Thanks.

KOSINSKI: President Trump trying to downplay the possibility of a military confrontation with Iran but warning it is not totally off the table. We'll be live in Tehran, next.


[05:50:47] KOSINSKI: President Trump now downplaying the threat of a military confrontation with Iran. He tells "Time Magazine" in an interview he wouldn't say he's considering that. But the president says he would consider using military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Meantime, Iran is responding on multiple fronts.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us live from Tehran now with breaking developments. But, Fred, you have the president --


KOSINSKI: -- not only downplaying the attacks, calling them minor, this week -- but now, downplaying the possibility of any military confrontation. So, Iran seems to be taking him up on that.

PLEITGEN: Yes, they certainly are.

I think one of the things that the Iranians believe, Michelle, is that President Trump really doesn't want any sort of escalation in the Middle East. But at the same time, they do believe that there might be others in the administration who are more so inclined. And certainly, the Iranians are saying they would be ready for something like that.

At the same time, the Iranians, as you mentioned, for the first time, commenting on the evidence put forward by the U.S. that Iran was allegedly behind those attacks on the tankers, especially that video that was put out by the Defense Department.

Iran's defense minister, himself, now coming out and saying that this was a cowardly accusation. He says that when Iranian patrol boats go out to rescue a vessel or to help in an instance like the one that we saw there, that they conduct several checks and go around the vessel.

And he says that this could all be videotape but none of it can be seen as a document and none of it proves anything. So that's the first time that we've heard the Iranians comment on that.

At the same time, the Iranians are defending themselves, ramping up parts of their nuclear -- their civilian nuclear program again.

The country's president, Hassan Rouhani, coming out a little earlier today and saying that this was the minimum that they could do because they feel that they are abiding by the nuclear agreement but they're not getting any of the benefits that were promised to them -- like, for instance, sanctions relief. And he says that the U.S. sanctions against Iran are what he calls humanitarian warfare -- guys.

KOSINSKI: Thanks so much, Fred.

BRIGGS: All right, let's get a check on "CNN Business" at 5:52 Eastern time.

Take a look at global markets. Stocks in Asia jumped after Trump's tweet about meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on trade. That fueled investor optimism about a potential trade deal.

On Wall Street, stocks were up around one percent. Futures are mostly flat ahead of today's announcement from the Fed. Chairman Powell is expected to give hints as to possible future rate cuts.

So, who is the best CEO in America? Well, according to Glassdoor's annual rankings released today, Pat Gelsinger, from software company VMware, came in first with a 99 percent approval rating.

Others, though, did not fare so well. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg fell 39 spots, more than ever before, after he faced multiple data and privacy scandals.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also fell from last year. He was number 49 in 2018. This year, he didn't make the top 100.

Soon, pizza delivery may come without the driver. Domino's announced this week it is partnering with autonomous car company Nuro to deliver pizza. The two companies will try out the service in Houston starting this fall and they hope it will allow customers and store owners more options during busy hours.

Customers are able to opt-in to use the autonomous service. They then use a pin code to unlock a compartment to get their pizza.

Nuro has already been operating in Houston since March. Sounds delicious.

KOSINSKI: Yes. I think when you want pizza you don't care who --


[05:58:47] KOSINSKI: Thanks for joining us on EARLY START. I'm Michelle Kosinski.

BRIGGS: Good to see you, my friend. I'm Dave Briggs. Here's "NEW DAY."


TRUMP: Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred. They want to destroy our country as we know it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can't keep himself from talking about his grievances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In his campaign, he was a disruptive force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has worked well for him. I don't think he's going to change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shanahan now one of multiple individuals withdrawing from consideration for a post.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I feel there was a deliberate concealment here. There ought to be an investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A man had a family issue. Let's check on it before we go attack him.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, June 19th. It is 6:00 here in New York.

And this morning, the fallout from what was supposed to be the president's 2020 campaign kick-off. There was the suggestion there might be some new themes and new ideas for the reelection campaign. Instead, the headline was written by Pete Townsend in 1971 -- "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

The president hit very much the same themes and same grievances that got him elected in 2016. The question this morning, will playing strictly to his base be enough to win a second term?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good reference. I like it.

BERMAN: You like it?

CAMEROTA: I like it a lot.