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EARLY START

Special Counsel Agrees to Testify Publicly July 17; Photo of Drowned Father & Daughter Underscores Border Crisis; First Democratic Debate Tonight; U.S. and North Korea Plotting Third Summit; Apple Buys Self-Driving Startup Drive.ai. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 26, 2019 - 04:30   ET

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


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[04:31:51] ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL: There's been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report.

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: We will find out. Robert Mueller will testify publicly next month. All it took was two subpoenas from House Democrats.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Heartbreaking and gut wrenching, this image a powerful symbol of the border crisis. The House overnight passing a bill including new standards to care for children at the border.

BRIGGS: And it's finally here. The first 2020 Democratic debate is tonight. Will the candidates go after each other or the president?

ROMANS: And breaking moments ago, secret talks between the U.S. and North Korea for a third summit just months after talks collapsed in Hanoi.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning. Good morning to all of you.

That's right. That's the real breaking news. The beard is gone.

But we do have a hot to get to, 4:32 a.m. Eastern Time.

And we start with the major news rocking the nation's capital. Robert Mueller agreeing to testify in open session on July 17th after House Democrats issued a subpoena for his appearance. It's something Mueller was clearly reluctant to do.

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MUELLER: Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public.

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ROMANS: Mueller will testify in back to back hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. Members of both parties giving a clear preview of what's in store.

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REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): It's important that he answer a lot of specific questions. I think one of the questions that isn't specifically in the report would be you wrote a letter, Mr. Mueller, to the special -- to the attorney general saying that he had misrepresented the report. How so?

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I've been a critic of how the Mueller team was assembled. I think it's ludicrous that you had people who are involved in defending the Clinton Foundation engaged in this investigation.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): There's no limitation on confining his testimony to the four corners of the report. That may be his desire, but Congress has questions that go beyond the report.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): Bob Mueller better be prepared because I can tell you, he will be cross-examined for the first time and the American people will start to see the flaws in his report.

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ROMANS: President Trump weighing in with a short but familiar two- word tweet: Presidential harassment.

BRIGGS: After days of reports of inhumane for conditions for kids being held at our southern border, this image is the most vivid and most disturbing yet. A devastating reminder of the dangers many face when they try to cross to the United States. An image of an El Salvadoran father and his daughter laying face down in the water on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande. Oscar Alberto Martinez and his two-year-old daughter Valeria drown Sunday.

The photograph was taken by a journalist Julia Le Duc who lives in Mexico.

The young girl tucked inside her father's shirt.

[04:35:00] Their bodies coming to rest near a river bank alongside discarded beer cans and an empty soda bottle.

According to the photographer, the father and daughter had successfully crossed the river when the father started to go back for his wife, Tanya. When Valeria she saw her father swimming away, she jumped in after him. Tanya witnessed the entire episode and the family waited in a migrant camp for two months in triple digit heat for an appointment to receive political asylum. ROMANS; With that awful reality as a backdrop, the House last night

passed a $4.5 billion emergency border aid bill despite a White House veto threat. It contains provisions for the treatment of migrant children in U.S. custody after a last-minute push from the progressive wing.

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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's not an immigration bill. It's an appropriations bill to meet the needs of our children. So it can remove the needs that they have, but also the shame they don't have diapers and toothbrushes and the care.

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ROMANS: Four Democrats voted against the bill. Three Republicans crossed party lines and voted for it including Will Hurd, whose districts is on the border. It wasn't just the crisis looming over the vote. Also the president's threat to begin mass deportations of undocumented immigrant families starting in 11 days.

The Senate has bipartisan bill to allocate $4.5 billion for the border crisis, but there are significant differences between the House bill and it's frankly unclear if a deal can even be reached.

BRIGGS: Yes, unlikely.

A blackout on press access being implemented at government detention centers where children are being warehoused, that means Americans are largely being kept in the dark about the conditions inside those facilities, though the reports are grim. No toothbrushes, soiled clothing, and now some of the children are already back.

Nick Valencia with more from El Paso.

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NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, Customs and Border Protection says the decision to transfer 100-child migrants to this Clint border patrol station was made because there was no longer concerns of overcrowding. There are worries, though, especially from the legal independent monitors who went into the facility that the churn will only go back to conditions that they describe as unconscionable.

It was shortly after the "Associated Press" and CNN reported about the conditions inside the Clint border patrol station that roughly 250 children were transferred out of this facility and into HHS care. CBP says that freed up some room to bring back about 100 child migrants.

Some of them, they were originally here and removed. It goes without saying that what goes on inside is nothing short of heartbreaking. Children who are sleeping on the ground without mattresses, children who are effectively left to fend for themselves. In one case, according to a legal monitor, a child, a teenager hadn't showered in three weeks. Now one thing is clear, is that CBP is aggressively pushing back

against these allegations, saying not only have they reported them to the inspector general, but some of the reports we're hearing, specifically about a lack of soap and access to water say have continuously been made available to the child migrants. There's a lot of politics being played on both sides while the fate of hundreds of thousands of children hangs in the balance -- Dave, Christine.

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ROMANS: All right. Thanks for that, Nick.

Breaking news: the U.S. and North Korea holding secret talks to arrange a third summit between president Trump and Kim Jong-un, that according to South Korea.

I want to bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks to get the latest on this.

What do we know, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, this is all coming from the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, who had a written interview with a number of news agencies. And what he said is there's been behind the scenes talks between the U.S. and North Korea trying to set is up a third summit. Now, he also said that they are doing this off the backdrop of a mutual understanding following the second summit, the Hanoi summit.

So, really trying to put a positive spin on that because that is a summit that ended without agreement. He also pointed out he believes the nuclear facility could be shut down by North Korea and that potentially could lead to sanctions being lifted. Although that is effectively what North Korea offered at Hanoi and Washington, and Trump wanted more than that. They wanted some of the undisclosed sites to be included as well.

Now, this comes at an interesting time. We are days away from Mr. Trump coming to the region. And we're also hearing some pretty fiery language once again from North Korea through its state-run media, KCNA. We're hearing a reading today, an article from the foreign ministry slamming some of Trump's advisers following some of the reports showing North Korea is among one of the worst human rights violators in the world, still calling them full of hostility and vicious slander.

So, if there are behind the scene talks as President Moon says that there are at this point, it's interesting to see the vicious articles and that strong rhetoric coming from North Korea at the same time -- Christine.

[04:40:01] ROMANS: All right, Paula. Thank you so much for that.

BRIGGS: 2020 debate season is officially here. The first Democratic debate happens tonight in Miami. Expect the border to be a key topic as politicians react to the haunting image of the drown father and daughter at the border. Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke tweeting Trump is responsible for

these deaths.

The hours before the debate, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren will visit a holding facility in Homestead, Florida, where children are being held. Both will try to stand out as 10 candidates square off in a crowded field of 24 hopefuls.

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BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's going to be tough, right? We've got 60 seconds to respond to some of the biggest questions on the minds of the American people right now. If I can reflect back what I have learned, what I have heard by listening to people across the country, I'm going to feel very good about this debate.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Preparing for the debate is trying to learn to speak in 60 seconds or less, which for me is sometimes a real challenge.

This is just a chance to be able to talk to people all across this country, about how this government works better and better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top.

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BRIGGS: And for Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, tonight is a critical chance to shine a light on their underachieving campaigns.

Also on stage tonight, Jay Inslee, Julian Castro, Tim Ryan, John Delaney, Bill de Blasio and Tulsi Gabbard, all hoping for that breakthrough.

ROMANS: Two Republican senators want to explore the rape allegation against President Trump leveled by author E. Jean Carroll.

Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa who revealed earlier this year that she is a rape survivor wants Carroll and the president questioned. She says: Obviously, there has to be some additional information. They need to interview her, and they need to visit with him.

And Mitt Romney of Utah adds, I hope that it is fully evaluated, the president said it didn't happen and I certainly hope that's the case. The vast majority of Senate Republicans sidestepped questions about the allegation or defended the president. Mr. Trump denies the accusation arguing, she's not my type.

BRIGGS: President Trump's protocol chief has been suspended indefinitely. Sean Lawler ordered to leave his office pending an investigation into his conduct. Bloomberg was first to report this development.

Accusations against Lawler include intimidating staff and carrying a whip in his office. The suspension comes just ahead of the G-20 Summit where the chief of protocol plays a major role. CNN has reached out to Lawler for a comment but has not received a response.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump has called this perhaps the best economy in history. He tout it is whenever he can, even here at solemn Medal of Honor ceremony.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The economy is stronger now and we're doing better economically than ever before. We're setting records and looking forward for something that's really good.

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ROMANS: But the president is also presiding over another record, an explosion of debt. The nation's federal debt is now projected to balloon to unprecedented levels over the next 30 years if policymakers fail to change laws, potentially pushing the country into the risk of a fiscal crisis.

The federal debt is currently 78 percent of the economy of GDP. By the year 2049, it's expected to rise to a shocking 144 percent, the most in history. The government spends more than it takes in. Deficits climbed after massive spending bills, and the same year signed a tax law that brings in less tax revenue. Congressional Budget Office officials warn policymakers the debt pose significant risks to the American economy.

BRIGGS: One might hope that would be a topic in these debates the next two nights.

Ahead, accusations of mental disabilities, threats of obliteration. That's what high level diplomacy looks like between the U.S. and Iran. What's next between the two adversaries? We're live in Tehran, next.

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[04:48:22] ROMANS: Any prospect for lowering tensions between the U.S. and Iran is narrowing. President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani trading insults and threats. Rouhani claims the White House is suffering from mental disability. The president warning any attack on anything American will result in overwhelming force and obliteration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Do you have an exit strategy for Iran if war does break out?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're not going to need an exit strategy. I don't need exit strategies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Chuckles in the room there.

Let's go live to Tehran where Fred Pleitgen is monitoring the latest developments -- Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine.

Yes, that standoff between the U.S. and Iran certainly continuing. The Iranians now are upping the ante. They just came out a couple of minutes ago and said that their deadline for their caps on low enriched uranium ends tomorrow and that they are then going to massively increase their production of low enriched uranium. They say that they can wrap up their production within two or three days and be doing that a lot faster than in the past.

Meanwhile, the Iranians also answering President Trump's threat to obliterate parts of Iran if there's a standoff between Iran and the United States. A senior Iranian lawmaker coming out and saying that no one is going to dare to violate Iran's air space after they have seen what Iran's surface-to-air missiles can do. An Iranian general also coming out and praising their advances in surface-to-air missile technology saying they believe they could keep the U.S. at bay with all this coming as President Trump and President Rouhani were trading those barbs over the last 24 hours -- Christine.

[04:50:00] ROMANS: Yes, remarkable to hear two heads of state with such language.

All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much, Fred.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, Apple getting into the self-driving game. CNN Business has the details on its newest purchase, next.

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ROMANS: Salt Lake City police releasing the last known images of a missing University of Utah student in a desperate bid to find her. Mackenzie Lueck was last seen at the Salt Lake airport on June17th. Police say she got into a lift to Hatch Park in the northern part of the city, and she met someone in a car.

[04:55:02] Police can't confirm the identity of the person she met, but her friends are concerned and not giving up hope.

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JULIANA CAULEY, MACKENZIE LUECK'S FRIEND: I text her and call her still. I check her location to see if it will pop up magically. We don't care about the past. We don't care what she's gotten into or what has happened. We just want her home.

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ROMANS: Salt Lake City police are urging anyone with information about Lueck's whereabouts to call their tip line at 801-799-4420.

BRIGGS: The FBI wants to known if you recognize the voice of a man connected with the possible kidnapping 45 years ago. Margaret Ellen Fox from southern New Jersey disappeared in 1974. She was just 14 years old and on what her way she believed was a babysitting job. Authorities reviewed phone calls coming into her home after she went missing. In an audio clip from 1974, a man told Margaret's parents he had their daughter.

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CALLER: $10,000 might be a lot of bread, but your daughter's life is the buttered topping.

MARGARET'S MOTHER: Who is this?

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BRIGGS: The FBI has released images of what Margaret might look like now and announced a $25,000 reward.

ROMANS: A prominent American doctor gunned down with his tour guide in Belize. Gary Swank was on vacation there with his family and went on a fishing boat with a local guide named Mario Graniel. Police say the gunmen were targeting Graniel who had a disagreement with a local gangster. Graniel had earlier reported shots fired in his home on Friday, but he never made a formal complaint.

Dr. Swank was a well-respected cardiologist from Virginia. Police say he was a tragic victim of circumstance.

BRIGGS: The federal government is cracking down on illegal robocalls that involve 100 cases brought by the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and local authorities in 15 states. The companies and individuals being targeted placed over 1 billion unwanted calls for financial schemes and other services.

Authorities say Derek Jason Bartoli, a Florida man, developed, sold and used software that allows millions of calls to be placed in quick succession. He was allegedly responsible for 57 million calls to U.S. phone numbers over just six months in 2017.

The popular sitcom "The Office" is the latest victim of the streaming wars.

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BRIGGS: Michael and company are staying alive. They are just leaving Netflix beginning in 2021. Then it will be available on NBC's own streaming platform. The network has secured exclusive domestic rights for all nine seasons of the series.

"The Office" premiered in 2005 in NBC. It was streamed for some 52 billion minutes on Netflix in 2018 alone. In April, it was viewed twice as much as the next on demand program. Many of those minutes from my children.

ROMANS: Wow, you know, you're going to see a lot of this. You're going to see the streaming wars heat up and see some franchises moving back to where they started so everyone can have their own piece of it.

BRIGGS: They all got for Netflix that original content.

ROMANS: Yes, absolutely.

All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

First, a look at markets around the world. You can see a mixed performance in Asia. Hong Kong with a slight rebound there. European markets are also opening mix, I would call that almost directionless folks. Those are barely moving at all.

On Wall Street, futures right now again up just slightly. Stocks ended lower Tuesday after the Fed Chief Jerome Powell pointed to economic uncertainties like trade and stressed the Central Bank's independence in the middle of a Twitter feud with the president. The Dow closed 179 points lower. The S&P 500 ended the day down 1 percent. Nasdaq closed 1.5 percent lower.

It was the worst one-day percentage drop for the Dow and S&P since May 31st. The Nasdaq reported its worst drop since June 3rd.

Apple is getting into the self-driving game with its purchase of the startup Drive.ai. Drive.ai had been running a small fleet of test shuttles in Texas. "Axios" reports the deal comes after Drive.ai was in talks with multiple buyers. The purchase price not disclose, but startup was valued at $200 million. Apple has also hired dozens of Drive.ai engineers.

All right. Chipotle has a new incentive in the fight for talent in this job's market. An extra month's worth of pay. It's part of a new bonus program for hourly employees. The stores have to meet sales and cash flow goals.

But if all that is met, Chipotle will pay employees a bonus each quarter equal to a week pay. It's a new perk to its rewards program which has free food, tuition reimbursement and medical insurance.

BRIGGS: I'm sure there was financial news in there, I just see food. And think about food.

ROMANS: It's a fight for talent. You know, the CEO of Shake Shack said they were looking at four-day workweeks to make it easier for employees because you want to retain the best talent.

BRIGGS: You've seen my thought bubble. It says burrito.

ROMANS: Burrito.

BRIGGS: EARLY START continues right now.

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