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GOP Under Pressure to Act on Gun Violence; Mississippi Latinos Hit Hard by Huge ICE Raid; Democratic Hopefuls Head to Iowa; Pro- democracy Demonstrators Hold Protests in Hong Kong. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 9, 2019 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:18] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Pressure mounts on Republicans to do something about gun violence after two mass shootings.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: A man with a rifle wearing body armor causes a scare at a Walmart in Missouri.

BRIGGS: Some live pictures right now as protesters swarm Hong Kong's airport for a demonstration that could last for days.

KOSIK: Twenty-one of the Democrats running for president head to Iowa with the first 2020 caucuses now less than six months away.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik and I'm sitting in for Christine Romans. Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good to see you, Alison. I'm Dave Briggs. Friday, August 9th, 4:00 a.m. here in New York. 3:00 a.m. in Des Moines. 4:00 p.m. in Hong Kong, I should mention. 10:00 p.m. in Maui where I'm just returning from so bear with me here this morning.

KOSIK: Welcome back from vacation.

BRIGGS: Thank you. We start in the nation's capital, though.

Republicans in Washington searching for a path forward to address gun violence. On one side they face pressure to take action in the wake of mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso. On the other side, there is strong opposition from the National Rifle Association. President Trump at the moment seems inclined to act.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks, and I think we can bring up background checks like we've never had before.


BRIGGS: But a source tells CNN NRA president Wayne LaPierre has spoken with the president multiple times over the last two days. The source says LaPierre made clear he thinks Trump's red state supporters oppose stricter background checks. In the past Trump has said he was open to expanding background checks only to back down under pressure.

KOSIK: Meantime, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says gun violence legislation will be, quote, "front and center" when the Senate returns from summer recess but he told a Kentucky radio show he will not call senators back early to deal with gun safety as Democrats are demanding.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): If we did that, we'd just have people scoring points and nothing would happen. There has to be a bipartisan discussion here of what we can agree on. If we do it prematurely, it will just be another frustrating experience for all of us and for the public.


KOSIK: The top Democrat in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, each spoke to the president on Thursday. They urged the president to push for a Senate vote on a universal background check bill which has already passed by the House.

BRIGGS: President Trump proving once again that size matters to him indeed. During his visit to an El Paso hospital Wednesday, the president praised the medical staff for their response to the massacre then quickly pivoted to a familiar refrain that was caught on a cell phone camera.


TRUMP: Three months ago we made a speech and we had a -- what was the name of the arena? That place was --


TRUMP: That was packed, right? That was some crowd.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for all that you do.

TRUMP: And we had twice the number outside. And then you have this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot. They said his crowd was wonderful. I just left, we made a speech here about three months ago. And we sold it out four times. So I have a good feeling, you know that, right?


BRIGGS: White House officials say they blocked reporters and cameras from entering the hospital out of respect for patient privacy. According to a source, the president later lashed out at them for keeping the media out complaining he wasn't getting enough credit for his visit.

KOSIK: Allen, Texas, police now confirming a CNN report that the mother of suspected El Paso gunman Patrick Crusius called them weeks before the massacre. According to authorities, she was concerned about her son owning an AK-style weapon. But based on what she told them no action could be taken.


SGT. JON FELTY, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, ALLEN POLICE DEPARTMENT: The information that the caller relayed did not warrant any additional enforcement activity because there was never a mention made of concern for anybody other than that of her son and the call taker, the public safety officer, did on two occasions inquire, is this person suicidal or have they made threats towards any other persons? And to each the -- it was indicated that they had not.


KOSIK: Allen, Texas, police say it is not unusual to receive firearm inquiries from parents about children who are 21.

[04:05:03] BRIGGS: An armed man in his 20s arrested for causing a panic at a Walmart in Missouri. Police responded to an active shooter call Thursday afternoon at a Walmart in Springfield. There were no shots fired and no one was injured but investigators say the suspect was heavily armed and wearing body armor and military fatigues as he recorded himself walking through the store.


LT. MIKE LUCAS, MISSOURI POLICE DEPARTMENT: His intent was not to cause peace or comfort to anybody that was in the business here. In fact, he's lucky he's alive still to be honest.


BRIGGS: The suspect was detained by an armed off-duty fireman until officers arrived and took him into custody. Police are still trying to determine the motive.

KOSIK: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke crossing the border from Texas into Mexico to personally deliver his condolences to the family of one El Paso shooting victim. O'Rourke attended the funeral in Juarez on Thursday. In all, eight Mexican nationals were killed in the mass shooting.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only way to truly demonstrate how closely knit these communities are is for me to walk over and be with those who have suffered and to give my condolences to the people of Juarez in the city of Juarez. So this feels like the right thing to do and it feels very much like what we've always done in this binational community so grateful that I get the chance to do that.


KOSIK: O'Rourke also met with local and state officials in Juarez to reinforce the shared strength of their community.

BRIGGS: ICE officials overseeing the raids that swept up nearly 700 undocumented immigrants in Mississippi say 300 of them have been since released. They say many of the detainees were let go because they had children at home who needed their care.

Children were left sobbing outside the fences of food processing plants across the state wondering when or if they would see their mom or dad again. CNN spoke to several of those kids yesterday after their parents returned.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't have their parents at all. They're upset. They're scared. And they're like little kids. They're like in elementary. Like I'm in high school, maybe I can understand a little bit more. But like elementary kids, they're like, they don't anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said to mama, take care of the kids because the immigration has now captured me. I started praying to God to let them go. I hope you come back. And that God protects you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She didn't do nothing wrong. She isn't a criminal. Hispanic people, they don't come here to hurt or injure anybody. They come here to make a better future for their kids.


BRIGGS: Nick Valencia in Mississippi with more on the impact of the raids on the Mississippi communities.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, what's happening in this community is what happens to a lot of these communities that are hit with these types of raids. They turn into ghost towns. Those that weren't (INAUDIBLE) the raids are afraid to go outside. Children are afraid to go to school. In fact locals tell me on a typical weekday you would hear the sound of children running around. You would hear music coming from the porch. That's not what you hear right now. Even some locals telling me going so far as to say that they're considering moving out of town because of what happened here on Wednesday.

We're standing in front of one of those plants that was raided. According to ICE an estimated 680 undocumented immigrants were detained as a result of those raids. An estimated half of those have been released. And we've been working on trying to verify exactly how many of them were parents. Locals tell me that an estimated half of those detained are parents. We asked ICE about that. They said they couldn't verify that number but did say that any of those that said that they were the sole guardian of children were released and in the case where two parents were detained, one parent would be released while another would be held still in custody.

Many people are questioning the timing of these raids. An ICE official responded to CNN saying that these raids have been in the works for months. But to many locals here, there is no coincidence. They've been fearing this type of raids, this type of action for months. President Trump has talked about it for a while now and these fears that undocumented immigrants have had in this country. Those fears became a reality here on Wednesday just on the outskirts of Jackson, Mississippi -- Dave, Alison.

KOSIK: All right, Nick Valencia. Thanks so much.

New this morning, President Trump announcing his pick for acting director of National Intelligence. Last night he named the current director of the National Counterterrorism Center Joseph Maguire to fill Dan Coats' shoes when Coats steps down on August 15th.

Normally the job would have gone to Coat's second in command, 30-year intel veteran, Sue Gordon, but Gordon abruptly handed in her resignation yesterday with a terse note reading this, "Mr. President, I offer this letter as an act of respect and patriotism. Not preference. You should love your team. God speed, Sue."

[04:10:01] Two sources tell CNN Gordon was not viewed in the White House as the type of political loyalist Trump wanted in the job.

BRIGGS: All right. To 2020 now, just about every Democrat running for president will visit Iowa over the next couple of days. Pressing the flesh at the Iowa State Fair is certainly not a requirement but skipping the hallowed fairgrounds and a chance to stay on the top of the soapbox is, well, like eating corn on the cobb without butter and salt. Unthinkable.

More now from CNN's Alette Saenz in Iowa

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Dave and Alison, the Iowa State Fair is a rite of passage for presidential hopefuls. And on the first day of the fair, former Vice President Joe Biden and Montana Governor Steve bullock made their pitch to Iowans, shaking hands and giving speeches at the soapbox.

Take a listen to what they had to say.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are so many opportunities we have to change things in this country.

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can win this by as long as we're not chasing every one of Trump's tweets.


SAENZ: Now Joe Biden was also asked if President Trump is a white supremacist, a label that's been given to the president by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Here's what Biden had to say.


BIDEN: I believe everything the president says and has done encourages white supremacists, and I'm not sure there's much of a distinction. As a matter of fact, it may even be worse. If you notice, the one time he used the word white supremacy, he was -- it was not -- he talked about sleepy. He was awful sleepy in the way in which he talked about it.


SAENZ: Biden's appearance at the State Fair comes as a new poll shows that Biden is still leading in the state with 28 percent support among likely Democratic caucus-goers, followed by Elizabeth Warren at 19 percent whose poll numbers have been rising.

Now while Biden has the spotlight at the fair on the first day, his competition is close behind him. Between now and Sunday, 18 other Democratic candidates will hit the fair grounds to talk to voters and maybe even samples and fried food -- Dave and Alison.

KOSIK: All right, Alette, thanks very much.

American tech companies may have to keep waiting to sell to a Chinese tech firm again. The White House will reportedly wait on granting Huawei licenses as the trade war ramps back up. This comes after China halted the purchase of American agricultural products and fears of a possible currency war between the two countries. It's also another blow to tech companies who will be hurt by the new tariffs on Chinese goods announced by President Trump last week. Those tariffs would affect a wide range of consumer products including iPhones and TVs.

The telecom giant has become a bargaining chip in the U.S.-China trade war. Back in May the Trump administration put Huawei on its entity list restricting U.S. companies from selling to it without a license. Then in June Trump said he would ease restrictions on Huawei by granting licenses to American firms to resume sales of products that don't pose a national security risk. But it was not clear which products that includes.

Two weeks ago he met with the heads of seven U.S. suppliers to Huawei including Qualcomm, Google and Intel. The Department of Commerce said it could not confirm the licensing news and declined to comment.

BRIGGS: All right. Take a look now at Hong Kong's airport right now. More on the growing crowd of protesters next.

KOSIK: Amazing pictures there.

And an entire airport comes to a halt to honor a Vietnam War pilot's remains.


[04:17:56] KOSIK: A new wave of protest is underway in Hong Kong. This time pro-democracy demonstrators are targeting the airport hoping to win over international support from passengers arriving in the city. This as the U.S. issues a travel warning due to Hong Kong's ongoing and sometimes violent protests. CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is there with the


So from your vantage point, can you tell me how many demonstrators are there and what seems to be the tone? And also, have they entered the actual terminal yet?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we are in the Hong Kong International Airport arrivals terminal, and there are thousands and thousands of people here. They are not impeding the actual operations of the airport, but certainly in terms of numbers, it's quite impressive. They are also handing out, Alison, these pamphlets, "Dear Travelers." They are apologizing for the inconvenience, but also trying to explain the reasons for these demonstrations.

This is now the 10th consecutive week. It is now exactly two months that these protests have been taking place. Now on Monday there was a general strike in Hong Kong, where this airport, the eighth busiest in the world, did -- was really impacted. More than 2,000 ground staff didn't show up for work. More than 100 outgoing and incoming flights were canceled. But operations at the airport appear to be normal.

Now just to give you -- I'll step out of the way just to give you an idea of how many people are here, and there are more people behind us and beyond the view of the camera as well. So this is a massive turnout but this is really just the beginning of these protests for this weekend. We understand from protest organizers that there will be protests tomorrow.

[04:20:02] Three scheduled so far but only one of them has received permission from the police as well as two on Sunday. So as one Hong Kong resident was telling me before I came to the airport, it's going to be a hot weekend in the city -- Alison.

KOSIK: Yes. Certainly a different tone than when they took over the legislative building. They are more peaceful there. Do you know how long they're going to be staying there in the terminal?

WEDEMAN: They will be staying, they've said, throughout the weekend. There may be only a token presence during the night, but this is going to go on through the end of Sunday, so these protesters -- as I said, this is two months today that these protests have been going on. Ten consecutive weeks. But what we've seen in the last 10 days is the protests, if anything, are gaining more steam -- Alison.

KOSIK: All right, Ben Wedeman. Thanks so much. Obviously, demonstrators trying to get in front of an international audience here. Thanks very much.

BRIGGS: A fallen Vietnam fighter pilot is finally home, and the son who waved good-bye to him for the last time 52 years ago, had the honor of bringing him back. Air Force Colonel Roy Knight's jet was shot down over northern Laos in 1967. He was declared dead four months later. His body was never found. Knight's son, Bryan, a Southwest Airlines pilot, was just 5 years old when he last saw his father at Dallas Love Field Airport. Fast forward to June when he got a phone call that changed his life.


BRYAN KNIGHT, SON OF VIETNAM WAR HERO: They had been searching in my dad's crash site area and they said, we did find human remains. You can't imagine what an honor that is for a son to be able to do that for his father.


BRIGGS: Wow. Bryan Knight personally flew his dad's remains back to Dallas Love Field on Thursday for a hero's welcome that included a water cannon salute and full military honors. The entire airport came to a halt during the ceremony. Colonel Knight will be buried on Saturday in Weatherford, Texas.

A nice story.

KOSIK: If you build it, they will come. More on the Major League matchup set for an Iowa cornfield, next.



[04:27:11] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you build it, we will come.


BRIGGS: This must be heaven because Major League Baseball has just announced the Yankees and White Sox will play an official game next season on the "Field of Dreams" in Iowa. The same field that came to life in a cornfield on the silver screen in 1989. An 8,000-seat temporary stadium will be built at the Dyersville farm site in time for the August 13th, 2020 event. A pathway through a cornfield will take fans into the ballpark for the first MLB game ever played in Iowa. Cannot wait.

KOSIK: Through a cornfield they're going to walk?

BRIGGS: Outstanding.

KOSIK: That sounds cool.

BRIGGS: What a moment that will be for baseball.

KOSIK: Yes. All right. President Trump with an opportunity to take the lead, so will he do something, anything about gun violence? The latest next.