Return to Transcripts main page


No Apology From Joe Biden Over Segregationist Comment; Iran Shoots Down U.S. Drone; China's President Xi Meets With Kim Jong Un In North Korea. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 20, 2019 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know Joe Biden. He is better than this.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Cory should apologize. There's not a racist bone in my body.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Biden backlash. The former vice president defending his work with segregationist senators.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hope Hicks gives the silent treatment. The questions she refused to answer before a House committee.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, an Iranian missile shoots down a U.S. drone in international airspace. We'll go live to Tehran.


Clip from "Avengers: End Game": Whatever it takes.


ROMANS: Whatever it takes. "Avengers: Endgame" shattered box office records but they have their sights set on one more.

BRIGGS: It will do whatever it takes to get one more record.

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. I'll see it again. Five thirty-one Eastern time.

We start in the political arena. No apology from Joe Biden. The presidential candidate and Democratic front-runner 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 on much of anything. We got things done."

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


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), 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.


ROMANS: Biden pushing back, saying he was praising Eastland.


BIDEN: 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.


ROMANS: Biden later lamenting the harsh start to the 2020 race, saying at a fundraiser late last night saying, "It's going to be pretty ugly. But here's the deal. I'm not going to participate."

CNN's Arlette Saenz has more.


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.

BOOKER: 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.

[05:35:07] 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.


BRIGGS: OK, Arlette. Thank you.

Meantime, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is on the rise in this crowded Democratic field. A Monmouth poll shows Warren with a 5-point bump in the last month, putting her even with Bernie Sanders.

You can see Kamala Harris down a bit and 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."

ROMANS: 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."

BRIGGS: Former White House communications director Hope Hicks spending 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 absolute immunity for Hope Hicks, which has House Democrats fighting mad.

We get more now from CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.



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.


BRIGGS: OK, Manu Raju. Thank you.

Let's talk about this with "Washington Post" White House correspondent Toluse Olorunnipa. Good to see you, sir. ROMANS: Hi, Toluse.


BRIGGS: A lot of punches have been thrown by Democrats at the Trump administration over the actions in the Mueller report, but none have landed because of this just stonewalling across the board.

The Democrats' inability to tell the story of the Mueller report -- will anything overcome that, short of Bob Mueller actually testifying publicly before Congress?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, Dave. This is about a T.V. spectacle that the Democrats need to be able to put on to put the Mueller report, which is this 400-plus-page document that is hard to read for a lot of people who don't have the time to delve into it -- the Democrats need to put it on television.

There are a lot of damning -- a lot of damning information in the Mueller report and people who have the ability to talk about what they told Bob Mueller, including Hope Hicks, including the White House counsel, Don McGahn, have been blocked from testifying.

And the Democrats have not been able to put this into a television free-for-all where they can make the case to the American people that the president was engaged in obstruction of justice and lying to the American people. All of the things that we saw in the Mueller report we're not seeing on T.V. --


OLORUNNIPA: -- we're not seeing in these hearings, in part because of this White House position that they're blocking everything.

And so far, Democrats are sort of having to slow-walk things by going to the courts, which can be a long and drawn out process.

And they haven't been able to take the Mueller report, which is almost two months old at this point, and turn it into a television spectacle that people can digest it by watching on T.V. and hearing directly from the people who were involved or who watched the president do things that were untoward.

ROMANS: Right, to hear -- to hear it, to see it, to understand it, really, and make it kind of real and concrete.


ROMANS: Let's talk about the 2020 field and Joe Biden, the leader of that Democratic field. His vast experience being sort of used -- well, clumsily, he's using his own experience against --

BRIGGS: To say the least, yes.

[05:40:00] ROMANS: -- himself, making it seem like he's a little bit out of touch. His remarks about a southern segregationist and being able to work -- to work with him.

This is what James Clyburn, the House majority whip, said. He said, "I worked with Strom Thurmond all my life. You don't have to agree with people to work with them." So, sort of, coming to the -- to the rescue of Joe Biden.

And here's what Lindsey Graham, who is on the other side of the aisle -- here's what he said.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If that becomes the norm that we can't work with somebody because of whatever position they take we don't like, then it's over.

Joe Biden did nothing wrong by working with a duly-elected senator from a state from a past that we now try to move on from.


ROMANS: Does this ding him permanently -- Sen. Biden, as being out of touch, do you think or does he move on from here?

OLORUNNIPA: Well, it's a long race and there's going to be a lot of these sort of missteps.

It's clear that Joe Biden, in his long history is sort of having trouble finding a place in the modern Democratic Party, especially with the progressive wing of the party being ascended, he's said a number of different things over the past few weeks that have put him out of step with the progressive wing of the party.

And this statement is one that you've seen a large number of other Democrats willing to sort of take the gloves off and criticize Joe Biden pretty clearly by saying these comments were out of step --

ROMANS: Right.

OLORUNNIPA: -- they're tone-deaf.

And we've seen Joe Biden in the past double down on some of his previous comments. It will be very interesting to see if he tries to clarify what he says or if he doubles down, as he did yesterday --

ROMANS: Right.

OLORUNNIPA: -- by going after Sen. Booker.


OLORUNNIPA: But this is sort of an unforced error by Joe Biden, someone who has a long track record and who is going to have to defend his long history in the Senate.

BRIGGS: Right.

OLORUNNIPA: At the same time, he's going to have to be able to show that he can compete in the modern Democratic Party.

BRIGGS: Well, he'll get a chance to explain himself this weekend. Clyburn hosts this fish fry in South Carolina where Biden and most of the 2020 field will attend. Expect that to be an issue.

Speaking of that 2020 field, an interesting poll out from Monmouth. Again, Joe Biden continues to lead this field and by a considerable margin.

But the difference here in this one is the rise of Elizabeth Warren, ahead of Bernie Sanders, though still, you can see very, very close -- her rise. Who is it at the expense of? Is she taking away from Bernie Sanders or is it more Kamala Harris, and how do you account for it?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, it does appear she is taking some of the fire from Bernie Sanders. She's also taking a little bit from Pete Buttigieg with college-educated voters.

She's been able to put out a number of plans and I think that's given her the attention that she's needed to rise in the polls. And it appears that she's going to continue doing that because it's worked for her so far.

BRIGGS: Very focused on policy. She has been from the outstart.

Toluse, thank you, sir.

ROMANS: She has a plan for that. She's got a plan for that --

OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.

BRIGGS: She does, indeed.

ROMANS: -- in her stump speech.

All right, Toluse, nice to see you.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, tensions rising between the U.S. and Iran. An Iranian missile shoots down a U.S. drone in international airspace overnight. We'll go live to Tehran, next.


[05:47:14] ROMANS: U.S. officials tell CNN an Iranian missile shot down a U.S. drone over international airspace. It comes as President Trump downplays escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington in an interview on Fox News late last night.


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, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW": 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.


ROMANS: All right. For the latest, let's turn to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, live in Tehran -- Fred.


The big dispute in all of this is not whether or not a drone was shot down. Both sides are acknowledging that it was an Iranian surface-to- air missile that in the early-morning hours of today shot down a drone that seems to be a derivative of the RQ-4 Global Hawk. That's a high- altitude surveillance drone.

But, the U.S. then saying that this drone was shot down in international airspace somewhere around the Strait of Hormuz. Now, the Iranians have a different take on things. They say that the drone had violated Iranian airspace and was then shot down somewhere south of the Strait of Hormuz. So you can see both sides with very different takes.

The Iranians, however, they're coming out with a pretty angry statement after the incident took place. The drone was shot down by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps and the head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps came out and said unequivocally that the shooting down of the drone is a clear message to the United States that the Iranians will not violate its airspace -- or their airspace getting violated by anyone. They say that their airspace is, quote, "a red line."

Now, of course, all of this comes as tensions between the Iranians and the U.S. are continuing to simmer after that tanker incident that took place last week with the Iranian -- with the U.S. blaming Iran for that incident. The Iranians say unequivocally it wasn't them.

But right now, the Iranians continuing to say, like the U.S. is saying, they don't want this to escalate any further. They don't want this to turn into some shooting war. But the head of the Revolutionary Guard also said today that if it does come to that, the Iranians are prepared for war, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Fred Pleitgen for us in Tehran this morning. Thanks, Fred.

BRIGGS: Authorities in the Dominican Republic say the recent shooting of Red Sox legend David Ortiz was a case of mistaken identity. The prosecutor says Sixto Fernandez, a friend of Ortiz, who was seated at his table and wearing similar clothes that night, was actually the intended target.

The suspected gunman was only sent a photo of Fernandez by the man officials calls the mastermind of the plot. They say he's a cousin of Fernandez who was looking to settle a score from 2011. Ortiz is recovering in a Boston hospital. His condition was upgraded to good on Tuesday.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on "CNN Business" this Thursday morning.

Taking a look at markets around the world, you can see optimism here. Rising hopes for a trade deal drove stocks higher in Asia. Mainland Chinese shares up more than two percent.

[05:50:06] On Wall Street, gains as well. It looks like you're going to have a strong start to the morning after stocks were higher yesterday on that Fed announcement. Futures up right now.

Also, there's a new deal today. Messaging company Slack gets ready for its direct listing. Slack is the first company to go public without the normal initial public offering since Spotify.

But a lot of optimism about both trade and the fact that people think that there's a Fed rate cut coming.

YouTube is considering changes to the way it handles children's content. Those changes include preventing videos from automatically playing after the previous video ends and even moving children's videos to a separate app called YouTube Kids.

The company, which is owned by Google, is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly violating children's privacy. "The Wall Street Journal" reported the possible changes are motivated, in part, by that government investigation.

"Avengers: Endgame" coming out in theaters again in an attempt to get more people to buy more tickets. The movie is being rereleased, featuring a new deleted scene.

The movie is already in second place, all-time, in terms of domestic ticket sales and has earned more than $2.7 billion at the global box office. But that leaves it just $44 million shy of a record behind another Disney-owned film, "Avatar."

Only five movies have ever hit $2 billion in global sales and in case you're wondering, Disney owns four of them.

We'll be right back.


[05:55:50] BRIGGS: China's President Xi Jinping holding talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the North Korean capital this morning. It's the first trip by a Chinese president to North Korea in more than a decade and it comes as both leaders are locked in stalled disputes with the United States.

Paula Hancocks is live for us in Seoul. Paula, could this meeting be intended to help each other gain leverage with President Trump? PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, this meeting has been a long time in the making. It really does feel overdue to many people. It was 15 months ago that Kim Jong Un first went to China and said to Xi Jinping, please come to Pyongyang. And he said yes at that point.

So certainly, the timing is interesting -- the fact that he has left it until a week before he goes to the G20 in Japan and is expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Now, China has been at pains to say that the trade dispute with the U.S. is very different to the North Korea issue and they are dealing with them as separate issues.

But clearly, it's not going to harm Xi Jinping to be seen in Pyongyang right now just a week before meeting Trump, showing that he is pivotal to the North Korean issue. That he is critical to some kind of resolution on the peninsula.

And then, from Kim Jong Un's point of view, he's clearly in stalled discussions at this point on denuclearization with the U.S. It doesn't harm him to show that he has a very powerful friend in Xi Jinping.

Now we know that there will be plenty of pomp and ceremony when it comes to this meeting. We understand from Chinese media they have already met as well and spoken to each other.

There was a very dramatic welcome at the airport -- about 10,000 people, according to "People's Daily," a newspaper saying there was a 21-gun salute, there was a military band, there's flags and flowers.

And then, the two leaders got in an open-top car and drove through the streets of Pyongyang. The streets, we understand, according to Chinese media, thronged with tens of thousands more of Pyongyang residents chanting and cheering the two leaders.

So we are looking forward to seeing those pictures, Dave.

BRIGGS: We sure are. Paula Hancocks, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Miracle on the Hudson pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger also raising concerns about Boeing 737 MAX planes. During testimony about the back-to-back MAX crashes that killed 346 people, he said he had problems in a simulator recreation of the doomed flights.


CHESLEY "SULLY" SULLENBERGER, RETIRED PILOT: I am one of a relatively small group of people who have experienced such a crisis and lived to share what we learned about it. Even knowing what was going to happen, I could how crews could have run out of time before they could have solved the problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Sullenberger said pilots need physical, firsthand experience to be prepared for emergencies and iPad training is not even close to enough.

Sullenberger landed a U.S. Airways flight, remember, on the Hudson River in 2009, saving the lives of all 155 people on board.

BRIGGS: Well, when it comes to Little League baseball and youth sports in general, parents and coaches can do the darndest things.


Parents and coaches in a brawl.


BRIGGS: 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 looked on. Police cited several people for disorderly conduct.

That umpire -- yes, as you can see at the bottom of your screen, was 13.

ROMANS: That is just -- Dave, defend your state.

BRIGGS: I cannot do it.

Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, June 20th, 6:00 here in New York.

And we begin with breaking news. An American drone has been shot out of the sky by Iran and it comes with a dire warning from one Iranian military official who said, quote, "This is the way the Iranian nation deals with its enemies."

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, we're working to get a response from the White House. This incident comes just hours after President Trump actually downplayed the threat from Iran. But what will the president say now?

This is all developing as we speak. CNN has reporters on the ground inside Iran.

So let's go right to Frederik Pleitgen live in Tehran. And, Fred, the Iranians are calling.