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EARLY START

No Apology from Biden Over Segregationist Comment; Hope Hicks Testifies Before House Judiciary; Iran Shoots U.S. Drone; Little League Basebrawl. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 20, 2019 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, an Iranian missile shoots down a U.S. drone in international airspace.

[05:00:02] We go live to Tehran.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A fight breaks out between parents at a Little League Baseball game in Colorado. What set them off? This game, by the way, between 7-year-olds.

ROMANS: Really, come on. It's just ridiculous.

BRIGGS: I think it's rather indicative of the entire country. Certainly our political environment.

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

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, June 28th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin with politics.

No apology from Joe Biden. The presidential candidate under fire for invoking the name of the late Sen. James Eastland, a Southern segregationist and staunch critic of the civil rights movement.

Biden saying during a Tuesday fundraiser, quote: He never called me "boy", he always called me son. At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree much on anything. We got things done.

2020 Democrats quickly seizing on the former vice president's comments, some calling on him to apologize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think to be singing the praises of people who were vicious segregationists is not something that anybody should be doing.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not here to criticize other Democrats but it's never OK to celebrate segregationists. Never.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To coddle the reputations of segregationists -- of people who, if they had their way, I would literally not be standing here as a member of the United States Senate, is, I think -- it's just -- it's misinformed and it's wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Biden pushing back, saying he was not praising Eastland.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I could not have disagreed with Jim Eastland more and he was a segregationist. I ran for the United States Senate because I disagreed with the views of the segregationists.

The point I'm making is you don't have to agree. You don't have to like the people in terms of their views, but you just simply make the case and you beat them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Biden later lamenting the harsh start to the 2020 race, saying at a fund-raiser late last night: It's going to be pretty ugly but here's the deal: I'm not going to participate.

CNN's Arlette Saenz has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Christine and Dave, despite facing criticism from some of his 2020 Democratic rivals, Joe Biden is defending his recent comments about working with segregationists in an era that he says held more civility than current times, telling reporters last night that there is not a racist bone in his body.

One of the 2020 rivals that has really gone after Biden on this and asked for an apology is Cory Booker. And take a listen to what Joe Biden had to tell reporters outside of a fundraiser last night.

REPORTER: Are you going to apologize for the way --

BIDEN: Apologize for what?

REPORTER: Cory Booker has called for it.

BIDEN: Cory should apologize. He knows better.

There's not a racist bone in my body. I've been involved in civil rights my whole career, period, period, period.

SAENZ: Now, this marks a departure for Joe Biden, who has really refrained from engaging directly with his Democratic opponents in this 2020 race.

And last night, Cory Booker also weighed in, saying that he's not backing down, that he is not going to apologize. Take a listen to that.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Somebody running to be the leader of our party should know that using the word "boy" in the way he did can cause hurt and pain, and we need a presidential nominee and the leader of our party to be sensitive to that.

I know that I was raised to speak truth to power and that I will never apologize for doing that. And, Vice President Biden shouldn't need this lesson.

SAENZ: And you've heard from other 2020 Democrats also criticizing Joe Biden, like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.

We'll see going forward whether the former vice president decides to change course or potentially, address this further -- Christine and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Arlette, thank you so much for that.

Meantime, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is on the rise in the crowded Democratic field. A Monmouth University poll shows Warren with a five-point bump in the last month, putting her even with Bernie Sanders.

Her progressive message may be more appealing to centrist Democrats than Sanders. The co-founder of the centrist think tank Third Way telling CNN, Warren's proposals are, quote: within the lines of Democratic policies. They're not democratic socialist policies. They're within the lines of a candidate who says she's a capitalist.

BRIGGS: Bernie Sanders looking to capitalize on that, tweeting: The cat is out of the bag. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party is publicly "anybody but Bernie".

Despite her recent success, Elizabeth Warren's campaign plays down the polls, telling CNN: We don't pay much attention to the polls. They will go up and down throughout the race and focusing on the daily headline, tweet or cable news chatter is not a recipe for long-term success.

[05:05:00] ROMANS: All right. Former White House communications director Hope Hicks spending some seven hours in closed door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, but not answering any questions about her time in the West Wing.

White House lawyers claiming, quote, absolute immunity for Hope Hicks, which has House Democrats fighting mad.

We get more on her testimony and what she didn't say from CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

Now, Hope Hicks came before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions as part of the committee's investigation into potential obstruction of justice. But, Democrats came away not satisfied because the White House counsels who were in the room made very clear that she would not be answering any questions about her time in the White House.

What they cited was absolute immunity, saying that she is not -- as a former White House official -- high-level White House official, she is not obligated to provide these kind of answers to the committee. Democrats now are threatening to take her to court.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): She answered some of our questions. We learned considerable information. And the White House pleaded a non- existent absolute immunity, and that will not stand.

RAJU: Now, she did answer questions about her time during the campaign season, including questions about what she knew about those hush money payments that came from -- that the president was involved with that came from Michael Cohen, his former fixer who is now in jail. And when she was asked about her knowledge of that, she denied knowing about the hush money scheme to silence those extramarital affairs.

Nevertheless, this fight not over yet. Democrats not satisfied, warning that this could very well go to court in the coming days.

And, Jerry Nadler says he will, quote, destroy the White House's case in court. Expect that litigation to happen sometime soon -- Christine and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Manu Raju, hank you for that.

An emotional debate on Capitol Hill over reparations for slavery. Hundreds of people jamming the hallways and filling three overflow rooms. It's the first time Congress is considering the bill to create a commission on addressing the lingering effects of slavery including possible reparations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes reparations for slavery. He argues, quote: None of us currently living are responsible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We've, you know, tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We've elected an African-American president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates strongly rebuking McConnell during that hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TA-NEHISI COATES, WRITER: For century after the civil war, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell. He was alive for the red lining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners, of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I'm sure they'd love a word with the majority leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says he expects Democrats will schedule a vote on the bill but did not name a date.

BRIGGS: The Trump administration unwinding regulations to address climate change. The EPA rolling back the Obama era clean power plan, allowing states to set their own carbon emission standard for coal- fired power plants. The move fulfills part of President Trump's promise to boost the struggling coal industry but it already faces court challenges.

The attorneys generals of New York and Connecticut both plan to sue to block the change. The president has picked to serve as the next ambassador to the U.N., breaking with the White House on climate change during her Senate confirmation hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY CRAFT, U.N. NOMINEE: Climate change needs to be addressed as it poses real risk to our planet. Human behavior has contributed to the changing climate, let there be no doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The EPA's own analysis says which said it could result in 1,400 premature deaths by the year 2030 than the Obama plan it's replaced.

ROMANS: All right. No move. The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady. But there was news. The Fed dropped the word "patient" from its statement and said uncertainty about the economy has increased, opening up the door for future rate hikes.

Stocks rose on the news. President Trump has been critical of the Fed as you know, and its chair, Jerome Powell, after several rate increases last year. Trump even thought about having Powell demoted. But Powell said yesterday he is undeterred from the president's insults.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: I think the law is clear that I have a four-year term and I fully intend to serve it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: The Fed statements that the labor market is still strong, the Fed officially expects continued economic expansion but noted the president's trade war is taking a toll.

[05:10:01] Look at the jobs market here. Look at this average monthly jobs added. You can see jobs this year, the slowest now in about 10 years. And other recent data has shown that manufacturing is slowing.

More economic news is coming. The Fed said it will be watching a wide range of information when making decisions. Markets expect a rate cut this year. The Fed funds futures market is predicting 100 percent chance of a rate cut at the Fed's next meeting in July.

You know, the president has called, Dave, the Fed chief loco.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: He said the Fed doesn't -- doesn't have the feel for the stock markets the way the president does and has said that they don't have clue. But the Fed chair -- apparently moving forward.

BRIGGS: Cannot legally fire a Fed chair, correct?

ROMANS: No. I think there's -- no.

BRIGGS: Yes, but they did not deny that the president has thought about demoting him. They did not deny that there were once that effort.

All right. Tensions rise between the U.S. and Iranian as Iranian shots down a U.S. drone in international air space overnight. We'll go live to Tehran, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:15:39] ROMANS: U.S. officials tell CNN an Iranian missile shot down a U.S. drone over international air space. It comes as President Trump downplays escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington in an interview on Fox News late last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But don't worry about a thing. Everything is under control. Don't worry about a thing.

They've got problems. But we'll see what happens.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST, "HANNITY": Will you say that they'd never get nukes, they'd never get nuclear weapons?

TRUMP: I would say, if I were you, don't worry about a thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. There it is. Don't worry about it.

For the latest, let's turn to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen live in Tehran.

You know, Fred, temperature has been rising here for several weeks now.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes. It certainly has, Christine. I think a lot of people are worrying about the situation now and are increasingly worrying about it, considering that this is the first time in a very long time that the Iranians have directly hit a U.S. asset here in this area.

Really, right now, the details are still somewhat in dispute between the U.S. and the Iranians. The U.S. obviously says that this drone was shot down over international air space in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Iranians have somewhat of a different account. But it's quite important, they have a different one. They say that this happened in the early morning hours of today and that this drone was shot down over Iranian air space and they say that it was somewhat south of the Strait of Hormuz. They have also offered a map.

But, of course, it's impossible for us to independently verify the exact space, or the exact area of where this drone was shot down, of course, where it landed as well. What we do know that it seems to be a derivative of the RQ4 Global Hawk, which is a high altitude surveillance drone that the U.S. uses really all around the world. And the Iranians have already come out with an extremely vicious statement after this took place.

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps which is the unit that apparently shot this drone down, he came out and he said that this was a clear message to the United States not to violate Iranian air space. He said that anyone that wants to invade or violate Iranian air space or its territory will not come back. The Iranian general also saying that Iran -- reiterating that Iran does not want war but is prepared to go to war -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Frederik Pleitgen for us in Tehran -- thanks, Fred.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's talk a little sports ahead. Zion Williamson era is set to begin tonight at the NBA draft. Andy Scholes has that story in the "Bleacher Report", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:23:01] ROMANS: Just ridiculous. This brawl breaking out during a Little League game in Colorado. The adults upset by an umpire's call stormed the field and began punching each other while the 7-year-old players watched.

Police cited several people for disorderly conduct. That umpire, in case you're wondering, is 13 years old.

Dave?

BRIGGS: The story generally starts with a Florida man. I'm surprised that it's my home state, but indicative of our country as a whole right now.

Let's talk about the NBA draft, though. It's tonight. Duke's Zion Williamson headlining one of the most anticipated drafts in years.

Andy Scholes here with that story in the "Bleacher Report".

A huge night in the Big Easy, my friend.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is, Dave. For the Pelicans, one of the biggest nights in their history between Zion and New Orleans have two of the first four picks. And Knicks having their highest picks since taking Patrick Ewing.

You know, tonight's draft should be plenty of fun for NBA fans. And no questions, the Pelicans going to be taking Zion number one tonight. He's 6'7", 285 pounds. That's bigger than J.J. Watt.

And Zion, he can jump out of the gym. He's the most behind prospect since LeBron James. Check out the amount of media that was surrounding him yesterday.

Now, Zion still just 18 years old. He credits his mom and stepfather for helping him realize his dream of playing in the NBA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZION WILLIAMSON, EXPECTED TO BE NO.1 PICK: You know, when people said that I couldn't -- hey, I shouldn't be playing basketball, they looked at me and always told me that I could do it. And ultimately, they said I've got to believe in myself. So, I think without like telling me to believe in myself and pushing me to be better every day, I would not be in the situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right. Top three picks of this draft are expected to be stars. And Zion, Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett, they're expected to go one, two, three.

[05:25:01] Then things are going to get a little interesting at pick number four. Draft starts tonight at 7:00 Eastern.

All right. Team USA will be back on the pitch this afternoon taking on Sweden. They have already advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament. A win or a tie today and they will win their group.

The team has revenge on their mind in this game. They got knocked out by Sweden at the Olympics in Rio. Kickoff for this one set for 3:00 Eastern this afternoon.

All right. Back in February, Canadian goalie Carey Price shared a special moment with super fan Anderson Whitehead. Anderson's mom died of cancer earlier this year, but before she died, she promised Anderson she'd do what she could so she could meet Price, his favorite player. That dream came true after her death. Last night during the NHL award

show, that one, that feel good moment of the year, while accepting the award, Anderson, got another surprise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAREY PRICE, NHL PLAYER: Everything's OK, all right? Everything's OK. Everything' great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Yes, pretty awesome.

Anderson getting a standing ovation from the crowd. Price came and surprised him once again. Tell you what, Dave, pretty cool the connection that those two have formed after Anderson's mom passed away.

I'm sure you know this, another moment Anderson will never forget.

BRIGGS: I've been covering the league for many years. This is not the exception. This is more the rule. Hockey players rule.

Thank you, Andy Scholes.

SCHOLES: They care about their fans, that's for sure.

BRIGGS: Yes, they do, very much. Thank you.

Romans, what's coming up?

ROMANS: The kind of sports stories I love when it really matters.

All right. The gloves are off. 2020 Democrats slamming Joe Biden for promoting his ability to work with segregations. How the former vice president is defending himself.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END