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EARLY START

Protests Rage In Puerto Rico; President Trump Escalates Attacks On Ilhan Omar And "The Squad"; Ebola Outbreak In Congo Declared Global Health Emergency. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 05:30   ET

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


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[05:30:45] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA TRUMP RALLYGOERS: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR: "Send her back" -- an ugly plan to get reelected on full display in North Carolina.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Tear gas and violence as protests rage in Puerto Rico demanding the governor's resignation.

DEAN: Dangerous heat all across the country. Some places will feel like 115 degrees.

BRIGGS: And case dismissed against actor-winner -- Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey who had been accused of groping. Spacey pleading the Fifth.

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

DEAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm Jessica Dean in for Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Protests raging through the night in Puerto Rico as demonstrators call for the immediate resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello following a series of scandals there. Demonstrators overturning barricades as police fired tear gas into the crowd.

Some of Puerto Rico's biggest stars, including Ricky Martin, rallied the crowds for a fifth day in a row.

And their anger reaching all the way here to New York where "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda told the people of Puerto Rico, "We're here to have their back."

CNN's Leyla Santiago is in San Juan with the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jessica, Dave, I have seen anger, I have seen frustration, I have seen tension here. We actually made our way to the barricade in front of the governor's mansion, La Fortaleza, where we saw a standoff between protesters that were clearly very angry, and police that are blocking the governor's mansion.

Now, for his part, the governor of Puerto Rico says he will not step down.

But I want to tell you, as I've spoken to protesters who have had a week of FBI making arrests and corruption scandals involving former administration officials of leaked chats that have multiple insults for many people here on this island, I want you to hear what else people told me as to why exactly they are marching on these streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about the dignity of our country, you know -- of Puerto Rico. This is about we being tired of the same stuff happening over and over again -- the corruption of this government -- of other governments that have passed through this country, you know.

So it's about the indignation of our country, you know. The indignation -- the -- finally, this country getting on its foot, you know, and standing up against the strong man.

SANTIAGO: Many people we've talked to say they see themselves in these chats reflected in the insults, and they say enough -- they want change. They want to rid the island of corruption.

And they worry that what could come of this is vulnerability among those who are already vulnerable. That possibly, aid will not come to the island for those who are still rebuilding after Hurricane Maria.

The governor, for his part, says he will not step down -- Jessica, Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Leyla Santiago, thank you.

To politics now. Racial tropes now a concrete theme in President Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.

Trump intensified his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen at a fiery campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina. Trump painting the so-called "Squad" as the face of the Democratic Party. Even just the mention of their names inflamed this crowd.

Just to gauge the response here, your top Merriam-Webster searches last night -- racism, socialism, fascism, concentration camp, xenophobia, and bigot.

White House correspondent Kaitlin Collins starts our coverage in Greenville.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KAITLIN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jessica and Dave, a new chant was started at the president's rally in Greenville, North Carolina, and it's certainly one that is going to be in the headlines for the next several days.

The president had just taken the stage and within minutes, he was in the middle of lashing out at those four Democratic congresswomen that the president has been in an all-out brawl with ever since he first tweeted at them on Sunday.

[05:35:00] He started with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She was one of those four who was actually not born in the United States but instead, was born in Somalia and later came to the United States as a child refugee before becoming a U.S. citizen.

And as the president was lashing out, criticizing her, the crowd in the arena started to chant --

GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA TRUMP RALLYGOERS: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!

COLLINS: Now, it was not a chant that the president, himself, started but he did pause in the middle of his scripted remarks to let the momentum in the arena here build before then moving on to go after the other three congresswomen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Representative Rashida Tlaib.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: She was describing the President of the United States and the presidency with the big fat vicious -- the way she said it -- vicious "F" word. That's not somebody that loves our country.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: She's conducted outrageous attacks against men and women of law enforcement. But, Cortez -- somebody said that's not her name, it's -- they said that's not her name, sir. I said, no, no -- I don't have time go with three different names. We'll call her Cortez.

COLLINS: Now, White House officials have been teasing all day that the president's rally was going to be one of the most fiery he's had to date. And the president was reading from a teleprompter as he was making those remarks about those freshmen Democratic women of color.

Now, we're told that even though some of the president's allies saw it as a mistake when he tweeted on Sunday, telling them to go back to the places they came from even though three of them are from the United States, that now you're seeing the president turn that stumble into what his advisers now see as something that can help launch some political momentum for the president and potentially be a strategy in the 2020 election -- certainly, something that the president leaned into during that rally in North Carolina -- Jessica and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN: Kaitlin Collins, thanks so much.

Two members of the Democratic squad are responding after the president's renewed attacks.

Ilhan Omar tweeting, "I am where I belong at the people's house and you're just gonna have to deal!"

And this from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "We have the power to triumph over hatred, division, and bigotry, but decency cannot be taken for granted."

And joining us live this morning, "Daily Beast" Washington bureau chief Jackie Kucinich. She's a CNN political analyst. Good morning, Jackie. Thanks for getting up with us.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

DEAN: So we just heard the president last night doubling down, tripling down on these racist comments and the crowd chanting "Send her back!"

We know that the Republican leadership in the House and Senate is standing by the president. We know that back in January, the RNC had this unprecedented step of merging its operations with his reelection campaign.

Is this now the Republican Party's strategy moving forward into 2020, and are other Republicans going to have to take up this kind of language?

KUCINICH: I mean, look at how Republicans were trying to defend the president's comments this week. If they weren't ducking and hiding, they were trying to point it back to politics -- to the rhetoric of socialism -- that sort of thing that -- instead of what the president said that was more racially charged.

That said -- I mean, the president never thought this was a mistake. This is how he thinks.

He thinks this is good politics for him -- this us against them fueling the -- fueling these tensions. You saw it in the rally last night. This is all about 2020 and making sure that his people get out there.

Now, the open question is will this appeal to Independents -- people who decided to vote for Trump against Hillary Clinton last time? That remains to be seen because we saw a lot of those voters turn against the Republican Party in 2018. And this strategy -- it's not clear how this strategy will work for them. BRIGGS: Yes. I mean, if you are a vulnerable Republican you have to hate what happened last night. They will be ducking into elevators all day long today, without a doubt.

And, Lindsey Graham --

KUCINICH: Right.

BRIGGS: -- the one-time critic of the president turned staunch supporter -- here, this gives you a really good example of who hard it's going to be to defend this line of attack.

Watch this back-and-and forth with Lindsey Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Do I think the president's a racist? No, that's just the way he is -- more narcissism than anything else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: So, Lindsey Graham came --

KUCINICH: Oh, that's OK.

BRIGGS: He's defending the president, saying he's not racist, he's just a narcissist.

By the way, for those of you that don't know, the Mayo Clinic defends that as a disorder -- inflated sense of their own importance, deep need for excessive attention, troubled relationships, a lack of empathy for others.

What is that in terms of a line of defense and how does that play out?

[05:40:00] KUCINICH: I mean, the fact that he says he's not a racist, he's a narcissist -- that is a -- that -- I mean, that's one way to do it, I guess.

But, you know, you mentioned that these Republicans from areas that are more evenly divided -- we've already seen them vote against the president -- four of them to be exact -- with the House Democrats when it came to condemning the president's remarks as racist. Folks from Pennsylvania, Michigan -- Will Hurd in Texas, who is from a border district. You've already -- you're already seeing that division within the Republican Party.

And, Lindsey Graham -- I mean, he is someone who wants to get reelected in South Carolina so he's not going to go against the president. But some of these Republicans are really trying to walk that fine line.

BRIGGS: He's not racist, he's just a narcissist. That makes one hell of a bumper sticker.

KUCINICH: Everything's fine, Dave. BRIGGS: Yes.

KUCINICH: Everything's fine.

BRIGGS: All good.

DEAN: Jackie, on the Democratic 2020 front we've got the draw tonight at 8:00 p.m. here on CNN to find out who will be on what stage with whom July 30th and 31st here on CNN.

Any thoughts on who you'd like to see with each other on the stage -- maybe who your dream scenario might be?

KUCINICH: I mean, I could sooner pick my favorite star in the sky. But I do think that -- I do think, you know, a Biden-Warren matchup would very interesting considering their history and some of the things she's said about him in the past --

DEAN: Yes.

KUCINICH: -- dealing with his closeness with credit card companies as a senator from Delaware.

I think Bernie and Elizabeth Warren --

DEAN: Yes.

KUCINICH: -- could be really interesting. Is there going to be a Sen. Harris and Vice President Biden rematch?

And, you know, the open question is who is going to be the breakout star --

BRIGGS: Yes.

KUCINICH: -- of this particular debate? It obviously was Sen. Harris -- this last one. Is there anyone else that's going to be able to really, you know, break out of the pack because there is that top, middle, and lower tier that we're going to see?

It does seem like it's going to be more evenly divided given how the panels are going to be picked. But it's, for sure, going to be exciting no matter what.

BRIGGS: Yes. Biden or Warren versus -- when the health care issue plays out, that's what's most important.

KUCINICH: Right, especially.

BRIGGS: But let's talk about, quickly, this impeachment vote that happened yesterday.

KUCINICH: Right.

BRIGGS: Ninety-five Democrats voting for impeachment -- at least to move forward with that of the president. How divisive will this issue be? How distracting will it be for the

fractured Democratic Party?

KUCINICH: Well, I think it's particularly interesting going into next week when you have Robert Mueller's testimony in front of those House panels because that, I think, was -- some of the Democrats that have been pushing for impeachment have been waiting for.

But, yesterday's vote -- even some of the Democrats that really think that that's the direction that they should go in, there was some hesitance because they don't want to be seen as just throwing this out there. They want to make -- many of them want to make a more deliberate case.

That said, no one's changed Nancy Pelosi's mind and that's who matters in all of this.

DEAN: Yes. All right, Jackie Kucinich, thanks so much. Great to see you.

KUCINICH: Thanks, guys. Have a good day.

BRIGGS: All right, let's turn to the weather now and this oppressive heat blanketing the country. More than 130 million people under some sort of heat advisory today, so please check on the elderly and disabled friends and neighbors you can.

Let's get now to our meteorologist Ivan Cabrera in Atlanta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning.

The peak of the heat wave is not going to even happen until Saturday here, so the heat index will continue. The air temperature will continue above 90 for many of us but it will feel like about 105 to 115, and that's a result of the heat index when you factor in the humidity here.

We're talking most of our major cities here. I mean, over 85 percent of the U.S. population included here as far as how many of us today are going to be above 90.

But again, that's just the air temperature. When you factor in the humidity this is what it's going to feel like -- 107 in D.C., 107 in Chicago. Feeling close to 100 in New York.

And this will continue day-after-day through the upcoming weekend. In fact, we don't get relief here until a front comes in, and that won't happen until early next week. Look at the drop-off there.

Sunday will be our last day and then we'll begin to see temperatures cooling off by the early part of next week -- guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN: Ivan, thank you.

A criminal sexual assault charge against actor Kevin Spacey has been dropped one week after the alleged victim in that cases pleaded the Fifth at a pretrial hearing. The Oscar winner was accused of groping an 18-year-old at a bar in Nantucket.

Prosecutors say they dropped that case due to the, quote, "unavailability of the complaining witness." Their case effectively crumbled when texts sent by the accuser during the alleged assault went missing and the phone vanished altogether.

No immediate comment from Spacey. He also faces allegations of sexual misconduct in Los Angeles and Britain that go back years.

BRIGGS: All right, coming up right here, Sen. Rand Paul voted for the president's massive tax cut driving up the deficit, but health care for 9/11 first responders -- well, here now, the purse strings are tightened.

[05:45:01] We'll hear what Jon Stewart has to say, ahead.

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DEAN: A global health emergency -- the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is of international concern according to the World Health Organization.

We bring in CNN's David McKenzie live in Johannesburg, South Africa with more. Why worldwide concern at this point? Tell us more.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jessica, many people I've been speaking to have said they've called for this global health emergency for months now because they believe that this Ebola outbreak, which hasn't gotten the attention that previous outbreaks have gotten, is very serious. It's spreading and they're just not able to isolate those cases enough to stop this health emergency.

[05:50:00] Now, the WHO saying that this requires an international effort from all actors, including the U.S., to bring in funding, experts and others.

But I have to say, we were recently in that hot zone. Because it's an area very high in security it's very difficult to stamp it out. A hot zone in a war zone and that means that they need all the help they can get from international actors.

The National Security Council of the White House hasn't allowed U.S. experts to be in those zones for a prolonged time.

Now, this designation means that countries are compelled to help. And surrounding countries -- border regions -- need to step up their surveillance of possible cases. But, the WHO says the worst thing that could happen is to isolate that entire region. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Now is the time for the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, not to impose punitive and counterproductive restrictions that will only serve to isolate them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: Well, this outbreak has lasted almost a year. The next few weeks and months will be critical to see if they can stamp it out -- Jessica.

DEAN: All right. Thanks so much, David McKenzie.

BRIGGS: OK, a check on "CNN Business" this morning at 5:51 Eastern time and a look at markets around the world.

Asian and European markets lower.

And on Wall Street, futures are pointing to a low open. Stocks finished lower for the second day in a row as trade war concerns creeped back to the surface.

The Dow slipped 116 points Wednesday. The S&P 500 suffering its worst 1-day percentage drop in more than three weeks. The Nasdaq finished lower as well.

Now, investors weighing the resurfaced trade worries against expectations of a Federal Reserve cut in two weeks.

We'll be right back.

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[05:56:15] DEAN: Funding for sick 9/11 first responders delayed again, this time by Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

The senator arguing against a long-term funding bill without offsetting the cost. The measure he's blocking would keep the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund solvent through 2090. Paul says he wants to have a debate about it.

It should be noted the Kentucky senator voted for President Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut, which is driving up the deficit.

BRIGGS: It was Jon Stewart's emotional testimony that brought attention to this issue a few weeks ago. Here's the comedian and activist responding to Sen. Paul's position.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN, ACTIVIST: Absolutely outrageous. And you'll pardon me if I'm not impressed in any way by Rand Paul's fiscal responsibility virtue signaling.

There's some things that they have no trouble putting on the credit card but somehow, when it comes to the 9/11 first responder community -- the cops, the firefighters, the construction workers, the volunteers, the survivors -- all of the sudden -- man, we've got to go through this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The 9/11 funding bill passed the House last week by an overwhelmingly bipartisan 402 to 12 vote.

DEAN: Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is now sitting in a Colorado supermax prison cell. The Mexican drug lord was sentenced in New York to life plus 30 years on drug trafficking and other charges.

El Chapo was moved under tight security to the nation's most secure supermax. El Chapo has broken out of prison before in Mexico, which is one reason he was tried here in the U.S.

The Bureau of Prisons rejecting defense attorneys' request for a 60- day delay in the transfer so they could work on his appeal, claiming jury misconduct.

A deceased Vietnam veteran with no family receiving an incredible send-off. Wayne Wilson's friends put a call out for people to attend his funeral in Michigan. They said they expected an extra 10 to 15 people to show up.

Instead, you see the crowd there. About 3,000 people turned up. Some had driven from Tennessee, Iowa, Florida, and Indiana to pay their respects.

Full military honors were performed for Wilson, who died in May at the age of 67.

BRIGGS: Well, everyone loves a refreshing drink on a hot summer day, but an 11-year-old boy in Utah came up with an ingenious new twist. His sign advertising "Ice Cold Beer".

That got the attention of neighbors who then alerted police. But when the police arrived, they saw the boy selling ice cold root beer. He had just wrote the word "root" on his sign really, really small. The cops were so impressed, though, they even bought a couple of beers from the young boy.

Business is booming. The root beer stand will stay open until the school year begins.

Cheers to you, young Seth. Hope business is good today.

DEAN: Really, really small.

Well, thanks for joining us so much. Have a great morning. I'm Jessica Dean.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Here's "NEW DAY".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANTIAGO: A stand-off between protesters and police blocking the governor's mansion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be out here holding signs (ph).

TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.

GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA TRUMP RALLYGOERS: Send her back! Send her back!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It sent shivers down my spine. It's such ugliness.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST, "THE AXE FILES": A lot of what he does is intuitive. He thinks this will work for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, July 18th, 6:00 here in New York.

And we do begin with two important breaking stories.

Overnight, there was a single moment where it became crystal clear that the president's racist tweets about four Democratic members of Congress -- they were no accident but they're a feature, not a bug of his 2020 reelection strategy.

It happened at a rally in North Carolina. His most.

END