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GOP Finding a Way Ahead on Gun Violence; Democratic 2020 Candidates Descend on Iowa for State Fair; New Protests in Hong Kong's International Airport Greet Travelers. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 9, 2019 - 04:30   ET


[04:32:12] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Pressure mounts on Republicans to do something about gun violence after two mass shootings.

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

KOSIK: And you're looking at live pictures right now as protesters swarm Hong Kong's airport for a demonstration that could last for days.

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

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs. Happy Friday.

KOSIK: Good morning, and happy Friday to you. Good morning, I'm Alison Kosik. It is half past the hour here in New York.

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. And on the other side, there is strong opposition from the National Rifle Association. President Trump at the moment seems inclined toward action.


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.


KOSIK: 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 expanded background checks only to back down under pressure.

BRIGGS: 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.


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

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


TRUMP: I was here three months ago, we made a speech and we had a --

[04:35:02] 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. Thank you.

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?


KOSIK: 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.

BRIGGS: 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 the authorities, she was concerned about her son owning an AK-style weapon. But based on what she told them no action could be taken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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.


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

KOSIK: 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.


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

BRIGGS: 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 attending 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.


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

KOSIK: Just about every Democrat running for president in 2020 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 pontificate from a soap box is like eating corn on the cobb without butter and salt. Something Dave would never do.

BRIGGS: Never.

KOSIK: We get more now from CNN's Arlette Saenz.

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.

[04:40:05] KOSIK: OK, Arlette, thanks very much.

American tech companies may have to keep waiting to sell to Huawei again. The White House will reportedly hold off on granting licenses to the Chinese telecom giant 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.

Huawei has become a bargaining chip in the U.S.-China trade war. You look at what happened 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 by granting licenses to American firms to resume sales of products that don't pose a national security risk. But it wasn't clear which products that included.

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

BRIGGS: No signs of slowing, that trade war.


BRIGGS: All right. Take a look now at Hong Kong's airport. Live pictures more on the growing crowd of protesters and their mission, next.

KOSIK: Amazing picture there and an amazing picture here. An entire airport comes to a halt to honor a Vietnam War pilot's remains.


[04:45:49] BRIGGS: A new wave of protests is underway in Hong Kong as we speak. 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.

Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman there with the latest.

Ben, good morning to you. This look, for the time being, peaceful on all sides.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a very peaceful but very noisy protest here at the arrivals side of Hong Kong International Airport. The eighth busiest in the world. Now right now people have stood up since I last spoke with you, guys. They stood up because a flight attendant coming into the arrival hall held up a sign in support of the protests so people got very excited about that.

And I just wanted to show you something else they are handing out. This is a fake boarding pass. "Flight HK 809 from Hong Kong to Freedom," and it says here in Cantonese that the gate to freedom will be closed when you give up. So it's a very imaginative, very energetic protest. It's not like what happened here on Monday when there was a general strike. More than 2,000 ground staff did not come to work. 100 incoming and 100 outcoming flights were canceled, but the operations of the airport today are disrupted.

They're just providing newly arrived visitors with a slightly different feel of Hong Kong. But they're also handing out pamphlets to arriving travelers in Japanese, in Korean, in English and other languages, apologizing for the disturbance but explaining why they are doing this.

Now, Dave, we are now in the 10th week of these mass protests. This is exactly two months that these protests began back on the 9th of June. We are expecting more protests over the weekend. And what we've seen certainly since last weekend is that if anything the energy of the protesters is not flagging -- Dave.

BRIGGS: No, indeed it is not. No police response yet. Ben Wedeman will continue to watch that situation for us. Thank you, sir.

KOSIK: The sex abuse case against actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. will go forward. A New York judge rejecting a motion to dismiss the case. Gooding is charged with forcible touching, a misdemeanor and third- degree sex abuse. The charges relate to an alleged groping incident in a New York City bar back in June that was captured on the bar's surveillance camera. Gooding has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer says in a statement he's confident the actor will be totally exonerated. The judge set a trial date of September 3rd.

BRIGGS: For the second time in as many days, President Trump has floated the possibility of commuting Rod Blagojevich's sentence. The former Illinois governor is halfway through a 14-year sentence on federal corruption charges. Last night Trump tweeted, "Many people have asked that I study the possibility of commuting his sentence and that it was a very severe one."

CNN has learned that in fact the White House has been working for months on possible clemency for Blagojevich. On Wednesday Trump told reporters he's thinking about commutation. Quote, "very strongly." He says, quote, "I think it's enough, seven years." Last year Illinois Republican leaders urged Trump not to pardon Blago calling the idea, quote, "stupid."

KOSIK: 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. And 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.


[04:50:06] 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KOSIK: 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.

That is an amazing picture right there.

BRIGGS: Great for Bryan and that whole family.

OK, ahead here, the meat may be fake but the money this company makes is real. CNN Business has the details next.


[04:55:17] BRIGGS: The FDA cracking down on illegally marketed tobacco products. The agency has sent warning letters to four companies concerning dozens of e-liquid and hookah products that lacked proper authorization and cannot be legally sold in the U.S. The companies were given 15 days to correct the violations or face further government action. The warnings come as the FDA faces greater scrutiny over its response to the epidemic of youth vaping in the United States.

KOSIK: Airlines can no longer ban specific breeds of service or emotional support dogs on flights. The Transportation Department ruling appears to nullify a recently announced Delta Airlines policy barring pit bull type dogs. Airlines will still be allowed to make case-by-case judgments to determine whether any service or support animal is safe to travel.

BRIGGS: In Iowa it seems everyone is getting in on the 2020 election spirit. That includes the Chicago Cubs Minor League baseball team in Des Moines. The Iowa Cubs will take on a new name, the Iowa Caucuses, for one game only on August 30th. The team's media director says it's meant to celebrate Iowa's special early voter status. The players will wear a signature uniform for the game with red, white, and blue caps featuring caucus-themed mascot. Got to get me that hat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you build it, we will come.


KOSIK: Life imitating art? Hmm. Thirty 30 after they built, they will come. The Yankees and the 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 just 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. And Dave will be there.

BRIGGS: I hope so. And a big splash for a good cause in Chicago. Those are rubber ducts.

More than 63,000 of them being dumped into the Chicago River on Thursday in the city's annual Ducky Derby fundraiser. The event benefits Illinois' Special Olympics. Spectators can adopt the duck for five bucks then watch the iconic bath toys race down the river. The top finishers win prizes for their owners. This year that included a 2019 Chevy Equinox, the $2500 cash, and an all-inclusive vacation.

KOSIK: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. First, let's take a look at markets around the world. Asian markets sagged as renewed trade fears sent tech stocks plunging. European markets have opened slightly lower. The negativity spilling into Wall Street futures. We are seeing that stocks finished higher on Thursday.

The Dow closed 375 points higher. The S&P 500 finished up just below 2 percent. The Nasdaq closed 2 percent higher.

Uber burned through a staggering amount of money in the second quarter. The ride share company said it lost $5.2 billion, its biggest quarterly loss ever. The loss was fueled mostly by a $3.9 billion expense related to going public in May. Even without those charges, though, it still lost about $1.3 billion during the quarter. Roughly 50 percent spike for last year. Now ever since going public Uber has struggled to win over investors. They're concerned about its history of bleeding money and its recent slowing growth in the face of stiff competition from Lyft and services abroad.

You can't escape the impossible burger craze. The food service company Sodexo announcing Thursday the plant-based substitute will make its way to 1500 colleges, corporate cafeterias and hospitals in two weeks. The news coming the same day Burger King began selling its "Impossible Whopper" nationwide.

And the fake meat movement is making some real money here. Retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11 percent in the past year. Barclays predicts the alternative meat sector could reach about $140 billion over the next decade. That's about 10 percent of the global meat industry.


KOSIK: That's amazing.

BRIGGS: Incredible. '

KOSIK: What's --

BRIGGS: Have you tried it, though?

KOSIK: I love it.


KOSIK: It smells like a real burger. It even has that kind of bloody stuff coming from the --


BRIGGS: Yes -- no. Yes.

KOSIK: But it makes it -- the experience real. It tastes good.

BRIGGS: I'm hungry. I'm in.

All right. Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a wonderful weekend. For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.

KOSIK: Pressure mounts on Republicans to do something about gun violence after two mass shootings.

BRIGGS: A man with a rifle wearing body armor --