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GOP Looking for a Way Ahead on Gun Violence; Walmart Scare; Protesters Swarm Airport; Eyes on Iowa; Kenny Stills Under Fire For Calling Out Dolphins Owner. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 9, 2019 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:01] 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 in Hong Kong as protesters swarm Hong Kong's airport for a demonstration that could last for days.

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

Good morning, everyone. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. I'm sitting in for Christine Romans.

It's Friday, August 9th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And Republicans in Washington are searching for a path, a path forward to address gun violence. On one side, they face pressure to take action in the wake of the 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 Democrats 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 bill already passed by the House.

KOSIK: President Trump proving once again that size matters a lot to him. 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: We were here three months ago, we made a speech and we had a state -- what was the name of the arena?


TRUMP: That place was (INAUDIBLE), right? That was some crowd. We had twice the number outside and then you had 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 three months ago and we could have sold it out four times. 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 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 P.D.: 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's 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.


LIEUTENANT MIKE LUCAS, MISSOURI POLICE DEPARTMENT: His intent was not to cause peace or comfort to anybody who was in the business here.

[05:05:02] In fact, he's lucky he's alive still, to be honest.


KOSIK: The suspect was detained by 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 Ciudad 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 a 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.

We get more 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. 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.

STEVE BULLOCK (D), 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 caucusgoers, 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: 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 also deals 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 bargain 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. But 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 was not clear which products that included. Two weeks ago, he met with heads of seven U.S. suppliers of Huawei that included Qualcomm, Google and Intel.

The Department of Commerce would not confirm the news and declined to comment.

BRIGGS: All right. Speaking of China, take a look at Hong Kong's airport right now. More on the growing crowd of protesters there, next.

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


[05:14:01] BRIGGS: A new wave of protests 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 traveling warning due to Hong Kong's ongoing and sometimes violent protest.

CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman there with the latest.

Ben, good morning. It looks thus far peaceful, though, this time around.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's completely peaceful. There are literally thousands of people here, but they are not impeding the operations of the airport. What they're doing is greeting arrivals and handing out various pamphlets.

The latest one I picked up asks, is Hong Kong safe for travelers? Then it goes on to explain that there have been no incidents between protesters and tourists, which is correct. There have been none. But it does warn people that if they're in an area where demonstrations are taking place, as soon as the police show up, they should probably leave because of the probability that tear gas will be used.

[05:15:10] But as I said, this demonstration completely peaceful. There are no problems. No friction between the police in the airport and the demonstrators, most of whom are quite young.

I'll just step out of the way so you can get a better look, but there are older people as well. There are people that have brought their children here as well. So, this is clearly an attempt to make a -- put a message across but not in any way to interfere with the operations of the airport.

Of course, on Monday, there was a general strike here in Hong Kong where at the airport more than 2,000 ground staff did not show up to work, 100 departing and arriving flights were canceled. But, as I said, this particular incident, this particular protest completely peaceful. Not interfering with anything here in the airport.

But we are expecting other protests to take part in the city tonight, Saturday, and Sunday, as well keeping in mind, Dave, that this is the tenth consecutive week of mass protests. It is exactly two months today that these protests have been going on and I have to say it's obvious that protesters are not running out of steam -- Dave.

BRIGGS: They are certainly not and no police response there yet. Ben Wedeman will stay on that for us from Hong Kong. Thanks.

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 forcibly touching misdemeanor, and a third degree sex abuse. The charges relate to an alleged groping incident in New York City back in June 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.

KOSIK: A fallen Vietnam fighter pilot is finally home, and the son who waived 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 five 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.


KOSIK: Brian 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 Saturday in Weatherford, Texas.

BRIGGS: Nice moment for the Knight family.

OK. Ahead, they built it, now they are finally coming. Major League Baseball headed to Iowa's famous Field of Dreams. Andy Scholes with more in the "Bleacher Report", next.


[05:23:22] BRIGGS: Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills telling CNN he has received multiple death threats in the past 24 hours for his comments on team owner Stephen Ross.

Andy Scholes has that story in the "Bleacher Report".

Good morning, my friend.


Kenny stills one of the first players to join Colin Kaepernick in his protest of social injustice during the national anthem. Stills kneeling during the anthem once again last night. And this comes a day after Stills criticized his owner for what he says is playing both sides.

Stephen Ross, the owner of the Dolphins, has a foundation called Rise whose mission is to fight for equality and against racism. Well, Ross is also hosting a fund-raiser for President Trump at his home in the Hamptons. And Stills tweeting that you can't have a nonprofit with this mission statement, and then open your doors to Trump.

After last night's game, Stills explained to CNN's Coy Wire why he felt the need to call his owner.


KENNY STILLS, DOPHINS WIDE RECIEVER: I just was baffled more than anything because you look at the work that he's done through Rise and then you look at the work that the man that he's, you know, hosting a fund-raiser for has done and it just -- it didn't align. It didn't make sense.

We've got to lead by examples, right? So, I can't dream or think of someone else or call someone else out if I'm not going to do it. You know, if it comes with a little bit of kickback, that's OK.


SCHOLES: All right. NFL preseason is all about young guys trying to realize their dreams of making an NFL roster. And there is no better story than the Brown's Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi. With all the money he had, Sheehy-Guiseppi went to Miami to try to get an NFL tryout.

[05:25:02] The problem was he wasn't invited, so he convinced the people in charge he knew Brown's VP of player personnel, Alonzo Highsmith. He didn't. But he still got to try out, run a sub 4:40, got invited for an official tryout with the Browns. He had little money so he slept outside and in a 24-hour fitness place before finally getting an invite to training camp.

Well, last night, his first NFL action. Sheehy-Guiseppi returning punts for the Browns, and look at this, Sheehy-Guiseppi taking this punt 86 yards to the house.

The Browns bench just erupts. All the players know his story. They rush the field. Make a huge dog pile on him.

You couldn't write a better script. Here's hoping Sheehy-Guiseppi makes the team.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, is this heaven?



SCHOLES: Major league baseball with an amazing announcement, the Yankees and White Sox going to play in August at the field where Field of Dreams was shot. They're going to build an 8,000-seat stadium in those cornfields there in Dyersville, Iowa.

And I guess, Dave, you know, the saying, if you build it, he will come. The he is Aaron Judge.

BRIGGS: Yes. Who doesn't want to see him as Terence Mann said, it will be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. Great movie, looking for that game.

Andy Scholes, good stuff. Thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

BRIGGS: Alison, what's coming up?

KOSIK: OK, Dave, thanks.

President Trump with an opportunity to take the lead, but will he do something, anything about gun violence? The latest is next.