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Puerto Rican Governor Won't Resign, But Won't Run Again; New Audio Of Iran Seizing U.K. Oil Tanker; Democrats Pinning Hopes On Mueller Testimony. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 22, 2019 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:41] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The biggest protests yet expected today. The governor of Puerto Rico will not seek another term, but many are demanding he leave sooner.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The report presents very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats raising the stakes ahead of Robert Mueller's testimony this week. Will the testimony help or hurt the push for impeachment?


IRANIAN NAVAL OFFICER: If you obey, you will be safe. If you obey, you will be safe. Alter your course.


BRIGGS: A British vessel seized after being warned by Iran to change course. The U.K. vowing a robust response.

ROMANS: And power is still out for thousands in New York and Detroit. No air conditioning as one of the hottest, most unbearable weekends in memory comes to a close.

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

BRIGGS: Welcome back from a --

ROMANS: Thank you.

BRIGGS: -- your vacation.

ROMANS: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Good to have you back. I'm Dave Briggs, 5:31 Eastern time.

We begin in Puerto Rico with a major change coming there, but not just yet. In response to a week of huge protests, embattled Gov. Ricardo Rossello announcing he will not run for reelection next year.


GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO (through translator): I've listened to every Puerto Rican and I listen to you today. I've made mistakes and I have apologized. I admit that apologizing is not enough. Only my work will help restore the confidence of these sectors and lead to a true reconciliation.


BRIGGS: Another big protest set for today, the biggest of these six days. Rossello resigning as president of the New Progressive Party, but protesters are not in a mood to wait.

ROMANS: Many Puerto Ricans have been calling for him to step down entirely after the leak of sexist and homophobic private chat messages that he shared with his inner circle. Protesters also say government corruption is undermining efforts to deal with high poverty rates, crushing debt, and the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in San Juan and he's got the latest for us.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Christine, a bizarre statement, really, from Gov. Rossello -- unthought-of of, really, that he would step forward on Facebook at 5:45 the day before a massive protest against him on Monday where organizers hope they'll get a million people out on the streets and say he is not resigning.

Now, there was a minor concession in this Facebook broadcast in which he said he was not going to be contesting elections next year, while in all honesty, he was very unlikely to win those in the first place.

So, essentially, many are reading this behind me as the governor digging in his heels. They want him gone immediately. The reaction from people behind me was to say listen, this man's got to get out.

They think this will boost numbers on the streets on Monday. One of their key goals is lock down a major expressway into San Juan. Las Americas -- the malls around that are closed. Federal government offices are closed. The Justice Department is telling local employees still to come into work.

But I think there's a real sense now the governor also is blind to call some Democratic candidates he should leave. Even the message possibly a plea from his press secretary. She stepped down, not wanting to be associated with the corruption allegations against him in front of her son, she said in a lengthy letter. But it hasn't changed his mind. Will the protests on Monday do so? We'll have to see -- Dave, Christine.


BRIGGS: All right, a critical day there.

Dramatic new audio capturing communications between Iranian and British ships in the Persian Gulf moments before the Iranians seized a British tanker.


IRANIAN NAVAL OFFICER: If you obey, you will be safe. If you obey, you will be safe. Alter your course.


BRIGGS: The Royal Navy warship in the region to protect British vessels, telling the crew aboard the Stena Impero that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard crew had no business telling them what to do.


IRANIAN NAVAL OFFICER: I reiterate that as you are conducting transit passage in a recognized international strait, under international law, your passage must not be impaired.


BRIGGS: Iran says it detained the British tanker for unspecified violations of maritime law. The crew of 23 still being held in just the latest escalation in the Strait of Hormuz, critical for trade, oil, and gas.

[05:35:03] Senior international correspondent Matthew Chance in the United Arab Emirates along the Strait, and has some breaking news for us this morning. Matthew, good morning.


So many issues ratcheting up tensions in this Persian Gulf region, and the latest one breaking overnight with the announcement by the Iranian authorities that they have arrested 17 people in their country they accuse of spying for the CIA. Now, they haven't given many details about it but they're saying these people recruited on the promise of getting jobs, of getting health care, of getting immigration to the U.S.

They say some of them who show remorse will be treated leniently. Others that don't will be executed and subjected to the Iranian judiciary. So that is also ratcheting up tensions here in the Persian Gulf region against the backdrop of the other things that are taking place. You mentioned that standoff with Britain over the seizure on Friday of a U.S. -- sorry, of a British-flagged oil tanker just a few miles from where I'm speaking to you right now over there in the Gulf of Oman -- that very busy shipping route of the Strait of Hormuz.

Dramatic video of Iranian Special Forces from the Revolutionary Guard coming down ropes from a helicopter hovering above the deck of the oil tanker as fast patrol boats circle it. And that dramatic capture, as I say, broadcast on Iranian television.

Then there were the intercepted radio broadcasts as well between the British and the Iranian Navy. The British Navy couldn't get there in time, but it did issue a sort of verbal confrontation to the Iranian Navy. But it wasn't able to stop the tanker being seized.

The British are absolutely furious. They say there are going to be robust measures put in place in response to this. What exactly they are we don't know yet.

British officials are meeting right now to discuss what ways they can take forward. There's a possibility of more sanctions, a possibility of some kind of international convoy to protect shipping in that important gateway and oil transit route in the Persian Gulf region.

But the British do say they want this to be a diplomatic solution at this point, not a military one -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Iran wants sanctions relief. They may have welcomed more sanctions.

Matthew Chance live for us along the Strait. Thank you.

ROMANS: OK, so back here, for Democrats who want to launch impeachment proceedings against the president, this could be a make or break week as special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before Congress on Wednesday. And, Democrats have struggled to effectively use his report to make their case.

Mueller made it clear in May that charging President Trump -- charging the president was never an option he could consider, but he refused to exonerate him.


ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.


BRIGGS: Mueller will appear before the House Intel and Judiciary Committees. Here is what the two chairmen are hoping to achieve.


NADLER: The report presents very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and we have to present -- or let Mueller present those facts to the American people and then see where we go from there.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Since most Americans, in their busy lives, haven't had the opportunity to read that report -- and it's a pretty dry prosecutorial work product -- we want Bob Mueller to bring it to life. Who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation, himself? We want the people to hear it directly from him, not filtered through Bill Barr, who had his own misleading characterization of it.


BRIGGS: More than 80 House Democrats have called for an impeachment inquiry into the president.

The American people not yet have the stomach for it. According to an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, half of registered voters say forget the hearings and let the president finish his work.

ROMANS: All right. Joining us this morning, Princeton University historian and professor Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst. Nice to see you this morning --


BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: -- this Monday morning.

Congressman Schiff there saying that they want Bob Mueller to bring this dry report to life. You know, in a country where it feels like more people -- instead of reading the book, you watch the movie.

Is Bob Mueller going to give them a movie that is going to reanimate this subject, you think, for voters?

ZELIZER: No, he won't. It will obviously help to hear him reiterate what he's already said but he's not going to go much beyond the report. These are very short hearings where there will be a little back and forth, so I suspect it's not going to bring it life in the end of July for a lot of Americans who aren't even paying attention.

BRIGGS: Well, they'd still need more than 100 additional votes just to get it through the House. An impeachment would never get through the Senate.

So what is this about? Is it about the election, for Democrats?

ZELIZER: Yes. If this was a few months ago I would say it is about impeachment and trying to build support. But the leadership doesn't support impeachment, so it's not going to happen.

So I think this is about building a case against the president, really creating a record about what he's done, so that's what voters have when they go into the ballot box --

[05:40:01] BRIGGS: Yes.

ZELIZER: -- in November 2020.

ROMANS: Meantime, the president has elevated four progressive Democrats as his foil -- you know, almost making them --

BRIGGS: The face of the party.

ROMANS: -- the face of the party.

And he seems to have really doubled down on this this weekend, tweeting first thing yesterday morning. Tweeting again, keeping this alive about these four congressmen (sic).

"I don't believe the four congresswomen are capable of loving our country. They should apologize to America (and Israel)" et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. You know, "They are destroying the Democratic Party, but are weak and insecure people who never forgive (sic) -- who will never destroy our great nation!"

Is this going to work for the president?

ZELIZER: Well, the strategy is to make the Democrats look extreme and then to stir up white nationalism through presidential tweets and speeches.

It could help in a lot of Electoral College areas where his support remains strong. The question is does it isolate a lot of other people --


ZELIZER: -- who can't vote for that, even if they would vote for someone with a strong economy with low unemployment. We don't know. But clearly, there is an appetite for some of this, which is unsettling for a lot who are watching.

BRIGGS: The face of a lot of the policies and rhetoric is Stephen Miller and he was on Fox News yesterday. And although Chris Wallace played him a long montage of the president, then a candidate, knocking this country and all of its policies and trash-talking this country, if you will, they still came back with this message.

Here's Stephen Miller.


STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: There's a gigantic, enormous distinction between Donald Trump saying I'm going to get on the world stage and put America first at every single thing we do versus a view that says America should never come first and American citizens should never come first, which is their view. And that's what we're going to take to the ballot box.


BRIGGS: How do Democrats combat that message, and are they doing it successfully?

ZELIZER: Well, they have to respond and they have to be forceful that that's not true. The criticism is legitimate. The criticism and protest is an essential part of what American --

ROMANS: It's what the country is.

ZELIZER: -- political history is about. And they have to argue they're not against American citizens, they're actually trying to defend American citizens.

These are members of Congress who have devoted their life now to serving the country. So, Democrats have to be forceful because if not, these arguments kind of creep out there --


ZELIZER: -- and they become part of the public discord (ph).

ROMANS: Go ahead, Dave.

BRIGGS: But don't they also have to show who the party is led by if, in fact, it's not these four women?

ZELIZER: Well, they --

BRIGGS: They're not doing that.

ZELIZER: They could either do that or they could make an argument we are a coalition. They could stand by --

ROMANS: Right.

ZELIZER: -- by everyone in the coalition --


ZELIZER: -- and they could try to rebut this argument rather than distancing themselves from the four, which I think actually sometimes plays into what the president wants to say.

ROMANS: Yes. I mean, let's be clear. Stephen Miller saying that these women say America should never come first, they've never said that.


ROMANS: They've never said that. They have said that the kinds of ideals that draw someone to this country to seek -- to seek asylum or as a refugee are the very ideals that are American --

ZELIZER: And this is an old argument that's been made against liberals, often from Republicans. ROMANS: Yes.

ZELIZER: You can go back to the Cold War. It's always they don't support America first, they don't support the country. But really, it's a way to dismiss the protests that they're trying to achieve.

ROMANS: Julian Zelizer, so nice to see you this Monday morning. Thank you, sir.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. A deal on the budget and debt ceiling appears to be taking shape but it still needs President Trump's approval. "The Washington Post" reports the pending deal would extend the debt ceiling and set new spending levels for two years.

The White House has demanded $150 billion in spending cuts but this agreement does not go that far. We still don't know exactly how much would be cut.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin spoke several times over the weekend as this recess looms. The August recess is just around the corner.

Here's what Sen. Chuck Schumer said about the negotiations.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We're willing to go a good ways, but the bottom line is the administration has to compromise as well. It seems when Mr. Mulvaney gets involved, they ask for things that are outlandish. He was one of five congressmen who wanted to shut down the budget -- the government a few years ago.

I'm hopeful that saner heads can prevail and we can come together. We are making progress but we're not there yet.


ROMANS: Every day, there is less time and getting a deal locked in becomes more essential. The U.S. government could default on its debt in early September if the debt ceiling isn't raised.

All right, 45 minutes past the hour. Did you see this? These dads and their sons --


ROMANS: -- out fishing?

So, they got a bite and they weren't the only ones in hot pursuit.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got that on video! I got that on video!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get it?




[05:48:45] BRIGGS: A brutal heat wave straining power grids over the weekend. Overnight, up to 53,000 customers in New York City were without lights or air conditioning at one point. That number now cut by about half. Con Ed said it took about 33,000 in Brooklyn off the grid deliberately to protect vital equipment.

In Detroit, severe storms left damage and 290,000 customers without power.

For a look at the week ahead, let's welcome in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.



Finally getting a break in that forecast over the next couple of days after the upper 90s and low 100s across the Northeast -- LaGuardia, Atlantic City -- even across places such as Bridgeport, Connecticut. Temps climbing up to either 99 or 100 degrees across portions of town. All of these either setting or tying records.

And, climatologically speaking, it is that latter portion of July into early August where we see the hottest temperatures of the year. In fact, first time ever, we've seen Boston have two days that failed to see temps dip below 80 degrees into the overnight hours. That was Saturday and Sunday morning. Low on Sunday morning in Boston, an incredible 83-degree afternoon.

What if I tell you we don't make it there by this afternoon? Highs only expected to be 81. Upper 90s what we saw yesterday. And, of course, you factor in the humidity yesterday, it felt well warmer than that as well.

[05:50:03] New York City's 100 gives way to 84 today, but notice we do have a few active areas of thunderstorms forecast to move in later on this afternoon and this evening. So that will help keep your temperatures at bay.

And throughout the next couple of days we will see a gradual warming trend. But really, the highest we get, about 87 degrees by late week -- guys.


ROMANS: All right, thanks so much for that.

Let's get a check on "CNN Business" this Monday morning.

First, a look at markets around the world. Asian markets closed down slightly, but European markets have opened tilting higher here.

On Wall Street, looking at futures, they are up just a little bit. Look, stocks have been resilient this month. The Dow is up almost two percent. The S&P and the Nasdaq are both up also for the month.

You know, for the year, it's impressive. The Dow is up 16 percent. The S&P 500, 20 percent almost. And the Nasdaq -- really tech stocks have been leading the way here.

The question is how long can this last? There are a number of factors here that could derail stocks' momentum. You've got the U.S. debt ceiling back in focus as lawmakers rush to make a deal there.

On the Fed front, investors are starting to worry about the pace of rate cuts this year. I mean, they are banking on rate cuts and they're now starting to worry a little about whether they're really going to bring the desired boost in economic growth.

There's also concern the economy is becoming less resilient to that trade war with China.

All right, take a guess at the number one movie over the weekend.


Clip from Disney's "The Lion King."


ROMANS: That's right. "The Lion King" roared into the top spot, making an estimated $531 million worldwide -- some of that out of Dave Brigg's pocket --

BRIGGS: You got it.

ROMANS: -- in the first 10 days of release. The film is the ninth- highest-grossing opening ever -- the biggest opening for the month of July and the biggest opening for a PG-rated film.

"The Lion King" was also the second-highest grossing opening of the year behind these guys.


Clip from Marvel Studio's "Avengers: End Game."


ROMANS: That's right, "Avengers: End Game" now the highest-grossing film in history, passing "Avatar." It's made more than $2.7 billion worldwide.

Disney, in case you were wondering, now owns five of the top 10 highest-grossing films of the year.

We'll be right back.


[05:56:38] BRIGGS: All right, you've got to see it. That's wasn't clear about the music. A group of fathers and sons out on a weekend fishing trip -- they got a much bigger bite than they anticipated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep on reeling, Brody (ph). It's a good one. Oh, no!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got that on video.


BRIGGS: That was a great white shark leaping out of the water next to the boat, stealing a fish right off one boy's line. There it is again.

Great white sharks actually make their home in Cape Cod Bay there. This summer, though, the number of them -- their proximity to people has confounded researchers and beachgoers -- wow.

ROMANS: That is something. That is really something.

All right, a Texas police officer responded to a noise complaint and steered things in the right direction.




ROMANS: Yes, the officer ended up riding a mechanical bull at a woman's 22nd birthday party. Officer Besser, of the Kilgore Police Department, did ask partygoers to turn down the music before showing off his skills. Besser stayed on for about 30 seconds -- impressive. Cheers and high-fives all around.

BRIGGS: A mechanical bull is a loaded gun. Don't try that at home, kids.

Enter Sandman. Mariano Rivera leads baseball's Hall of Fame class of 2019. It also includes Harold Baines, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Lee Smith. The legendary Yankee closer joked about always having to be the one that finishes.


MARIANO RIVERA, 2019 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE: First of all, I don't understand why I always have to be the last.


RIVERA: I keep saying that for the last 20 years, but I guess being the last one was special.


BRIGGS: The sixth member of the class of 2019, the late pitching great Roy Halliday, who died in a plane crash in 2017. His wife, Brandy, there, gave an emotional speech.


BRANDY HALLADAY, WIDOW OF ROY HALLADAY: Roy would want everyone to know that people are not perfect. We are all imperfect and flawed in one way or another. We all struggle, but with hard work, humility, and dedication, imperfect people can still have perfect moments.

He was a great coach, a nervous husband and father, only because he so desperately wanted to be as great and successful at home as he was in baseball.


BRIGGS: Roy was a great man. Threw a perfect game in 2010. A great job by Brandy.

His son, though, drafted recently by the Toronto Blue Jays --


BRIGGS: -- so he'll carry on a legacy.

ROMANS: I thought that speech was really well done. It's been hard.

All right, 59 minutes past the hour. That's it for us this Monday morning. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawmakers are intensely preparing for the most anticipated hearing in decades.

NADLER: When people hear what was in the Mueller report, we'll be in a position to begin holding the president accountable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a lot of questions about how Robert Mueller's team was assembled.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These women have said horrible things about our country.

BOOKER: This is a guy who is worse than a racist. He's actually using racial language for political gain.

MILLER: The term "racist" has become a label that is too often deployed by the left Democrats in this country to try to silence and punish people they disagree with.


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