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EARLY START

White House To Ease Economic Concerns; Mass Shooting Plot Thwarted; Afghan Peace Talks; Freking Cool; President Trump Confirms In Buying Greenland; PA Plant Workers Would've Lost Pay If They Missed Trump Speech; Big Cost For No-Deal Brexit; Leaked Memo Warns Of No- Deal Brexit Chaos; Coast-Guard Searching For Two Firefighters; Sister of NYPD Cop Who Killed Himself Says, Department Gave Guns Back. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't see a recession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I sure don't see a recession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Federal Reserve, to do what it needs to do, which is begin lowering interest rates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president and his aides try to ease concerns about the economy, but does the sunny outlook sync with reality.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Three planned mass shootings thwarted by police, one of them plotted by an admitted white supremacist.

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TRUMP: We're there for one reason. We don't want that to be a laboratory, OK? It can't be a laboratory for terror.

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BRIGGS: New urgency for a peace deal in Afghanistan after a terror attack kills dozens at a wedding in Kabul.

KOSIK: And who says girls can't play ball. The 19th girl to play in the Little League World Series? The results speak for themselves. Good morning, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is Early Start, I'm Alison Kosik. I'm sitting in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning, a lot of proud people in Minnesota with that young lady. I'm Dave Briggs. It's Monday, August 19th, 4 a.m. in New York, 10 a.m. in London. We'll go live there shortly. But we start right here with the U.S. economy. The White House playing down with a risk of a recession after a wild week on Wall Street.

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TRUMP: I don't think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they're loaded up with money.

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BRIGGS: Two of President Trump's top economic advisors brushed off fears of a brewing global recession instead boasting about the economy under Trump.

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LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: Well, I'll tell you what, I sure don't see a recession. Consumers are working at higher wages. They are spending at a rapid pace. They're actually saving also while they're spending. That is an ideal situation. Let's not be afraid of optimism.

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BRIGGS: Trade Director Peter Navarro maintained that a recession could be staved off with a move from the Federal Reserve.

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PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING TARIFFS: All that needs to happen here, Martha, is for the Federal Reserve to do what it needs to do, which is begin lowering interest rates.

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BRIGGS: The White House has pushed to calm recession fears came days after the bond market flashed a warning that has an eerily accurate track record for predicting recessions. The yield curve since Trump took office, the stock market has reached record highs, and unemployment has stayed at historic lows. But a number of factors could set off the downturn including the trade war with China. A weakening global economy. The shrinking effects of the 2017 tax cuts or the risk of deflation.

KOSIK: With the massacres in El Paso and Dayton still fresh in mind, three more mass shootings were foiled by police. Three men in three different states, Ohio, Florida, and Connecticut arrested after they expressed interest in shooting or threatened to carry them out. In all three cases authorities were alerted by members of the public. The latest coming in Ohio. A self-described white nationalist is accused of threatening to shoot up a Jewish community center in Youngstown, Ohio. James Reardon attended a 2017 unite the right rally in Charlottesville and made his views known in a national geographic documentary.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want a homeland for white people and I think every race should have a homeland for their own race.

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KOSIK: Police were tipped off by an Instagram video posted on Reardon's account. It showed him firing shots, screams and sirens can be heard in the background. We get more now from CNN's Polo Sandoval.

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POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave and Alison, in light of the most recent mass shootings, these latest arrests are certainly disturbing. The first one in Ohio where police have named James Reardon as their suspect. Police saying that he made an Instagram post to the video which shows the man shooting a rifle. One of the things that really caught the attention of the new Middletown police in Ohio, said that the Jewish community center of center of Youngstown was tagged in the caption, now the cation also implies that the gunman in the video would be the shooter behind a potential attack on the center.

Now Reardon has been charged with telecommunications harassment. Police serving a search warrant at his mother's house, they recovered rifles, ammunitions, a gas mask, a bayonet. Investigators now looking to determine whether or not those were actually purchase legally. The FBI has actually interviewed Reardon, but at this point they have not pressed any federal charges.

Now look at this body camera video from Florida that is showing the arrest of a 25-year-old believed to have fled to commit a mass shooting. Tristan Wix, Daytona Beach was detained by police. He is suspected of sending text messages threatening to open fire on large crowds.

[04:05:03] One of those text messages reading, I'd want to break a world record for longest confirm kill ever. Well, the Volusia County sheriff office telling CNN, that it was actually the suspect's own ex- girlfriend initially alerted authorities.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The girlfriend is the real hero here. She went to a local municipality, showed the text messages. And actually four minutes that municipalities got involved. He is the profile of a shooter. He is 24 years old. He lost his job, he lost his girlfriend. He is depressed.

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SANDOVAL: Now more note on this case, Wix has told detectives that he does not actually own any firearms, however, he was fascinated with mass shootings according to investigators.

And then finally let me take you to Connecticut where another man was arrested there on Thursday who also showed interest in carrying out a mass shooting. Police saying 22-year-old Brandon Wagschal (ph) was arrested on weapons charges in Norwalk Connecticut. Police saying that they received a tip that he was buying rifle parts online and looking to assemble his own weapon. Police also had discovered that he had recently posted some messages on Facebook where he said that he wanted to carry out a mass shooting. We should mention, Dave and Alison that he remains behind bars at this hour.

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BRIGGS: OK, Polo, thanks. President Trump appearing to back away from the push for more gun background checks after saying last week he was open to the idea. Speaking to reporters Sunday the president emphasized on the need to focus on what he says is a, quote, very big mental health problem.

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TRUMP: Congress is going to be reporting back to me with ideas and they'll come in from Democrats and Republicans and I'll look at it very strongly, but just remember, we already have a lot of background checks, OK? These are people that have to be in institutions for help. I'm not talking about as a form of a prison, I'm saying for help. And I think it's something we have to really look at. The whole concept of mental institutions.

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BRIGGS: The president adding that he is very concerned about the second amendment. In the past he has backed off background checks under pressure from the NRA. Meantime, a new poll shows broad support for tighter gun laws with 89 percent in favor of expanding background checks, 76 percent supporting red flag laws aim to preventing gun violence, 75 percent in favor of voluntary gun buy backs and 62 percent want to ban this sale of assault weapons.

KOSIK: Show up or pay a price. Thousands of Union workers at the Pennsylvania Shell petrochemical plants where President Trump spoke last week were told if they didn't attend the event, they either had to use paid time off or receive no pay for the day. The company memo was first reported by the Pittsburgh "Post-Gazette" which says workers were also told that anything viewed as resistance to the president was prohibited. The Trump speech was an official White House event and not sponsored by the reelection campaign. Still the president told the crowd if union leaders didn't support him they should vote them out.

BRIGGS: With talks about a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan intensifying, President Trump says the country cannot be a, quote, laboratory for terror. The Taliban peace plan is expected to formalize a significant withdrawal of U.S forces from Afghanistan from about 15,000 troops.

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TRUMP: We've really got it down to probably 13,000 people and we'll be bringing it down a little bit more. And then we'll decide whether or not we'll be staying longer or not. I'm not trusting anybody. Look, I'm not trusting anybody. It's a horrible situation that is going on in Afghanistan. It has been for many years.

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BRIGGS: The president's remarks coming after a suicide bomb attack at a wedding in Kabul this weekend, 63 people were killed, nearly 200 others injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has the latest for us live in London this morning. Good morning, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Dave, I mean, you know, Afghanistan were really aspiring out of control, that particular blast at a wedding hall in Kabul targeting a particular minority that ISIS are particularly vicious towards. Imagine this somebody walks into the crowd, prime to blow themselves up at the busiest possible part of the wedding. It seems the bomb was in fact kills 63 dead, over a hundred as you saw there injured, startling the brutality here.

Kabul is used frankly to almost daily explosions but very rarely do we see something of this scale of bloodshed. Frankly shocked many people inside the capital which is I say, often experience a sudden security lockdowns. The violence is ticking up at the moment because of these peace deals, all sides trying to make their presence on the battlefield felt. Now the curiosity here, curiosity, the horror-full fine bit here is the peace talks don't involve ISIS. They're not at the table.

[04:10:03] And in fact, as we saw in the aftermath of this blast, many sides are now saying actually we need to unite to defeat ISIS, that ISIS is the greatest scourge. Essentially trying to whitewash away many of the problems of doing a deal with the Taliban along Afghan insurgency by suggesting the greater threat is ISIS. The brutality of the weekend emphasizing that point.

Donald Trump, you saw there, well, I have to say his messaging on this at times confusing. He first came out saying he was going to win this war pretty much at all cost. Now he is keen it seems on a peace deal. The numbers he talked about there, what he said over the weekend, they were down to 13,000 troops. We thought there were 14,000, he let slip in an interview with Fox recently that maybe they were down to 8 or 9,000 already. That could have been a concession to the Taliban.

The Taliban want one thing from these talks, America to stop fighting it and to say it's going to remove its troops. Afghan officials are frankly we get the impression pretty worried at the idea of the Americans agreeing a cease-fire with the Taliban, but not asking the Taliban to stop fighting the Afghan government on the ground at the same time.

The big question here, is it essentially an accommodation with the Taliban and they become part of an interim government or get their leaders on the hand of power somehow. What does that mean for the rights of those people who work for the Afghan government and the U.S. during that time there and for women as well? A Seminole moment here, too. He doesn't want Donald Trump to turn Afghanistan into a laboratory of terror. Many are wondering well, giving it back to the Taliban, you have Al Qaeda heavily in their ranks. When that possibly is going to lead us back to where we were in 2000 again.

BRIGGS: Yes, and Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican reiterated that, saying we cannot leave on a certain date because that would allow Al Qaeda and ISIS to regenerate, calling that a disaster. Nick Paton Walsh, live for us in London. Thank you, sir.

KOSIK: Rising food costs. Delays for medicine. Interrupted fuel supply just some of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. According to a leaked memo. We are live in London.

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KOSIK: A leaked British government memo suggests serious chaos in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The worst case scenario outlined in the sun times as the clock ticks down to deadline day, October 31st. CNN's Hadas Gold is live for us in London with more. So we are less than three months away from the U.K. leaving the E.U. What else does this memo say is possible?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Alison, this government memo called operation yellow hammer is laying out what would be essentially the likely scenario of a no-deal Brexit, that is, the U.K. leaving the E.U. without any sort of deal in place. Now, a lot of these warnings we've heard of before, but what's unique about this moment is the first time the government itself is laying out what they think could happen. This would be long lines at any ports of entries with trucks. That could mean fresh food becoming more scarce, more expensive. It's taking longer for medicines, immunizations to come. Passengers being delayed. Fuel becoming less available in a (inaudible), northern island and the Republic of island, selling the Good Friday agreement tries to prevent.

Now the Sunday Times has said this document was compiled this month and is the most likely scenario. But the government, their secretary in charge of Brexit no-deal claiming, claimed that there has been a lot of progress in the last three weeks and he said that this was a worst case scenario document. But the problem here is that it would be one thing if the government said OK, a no-deal is happening and people could prepare.

But right now, we still don't know whether there will be a deal or whether there won't be a deal and that means that a lot of companies here in the U.K. and the European Union are unprepared for the no deal scenario. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is supposed to go to Berlin in Paris where he is apparently going to try to convince these leaders to get on his side, to somehow change the deal. But so far, there is no indication that the E.U. is going to back away from the withdrawal agreement they agreed to with Boris Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May.

KOSIK: Yes, and it's certainly is concerning especially since British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he's ready to leave the E.U. with or without a deal. We will see what happens this week with those meetings. CNN's Hadas Gold, thanks so much.

BRIGGS: President Trump confirming he did ask aides to explore the possibility of buying Greenland saying that essentially it's a large real estate deal. The autonomous Danish territory is rich in natural resources and the U.S. already operates a full air force base in northern Greenland as it tries to counter any moves by Russia and China in the arctic.

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TRUMP: Well, the concept came up and I said certainly I'd be -- strategically it's interesting and we'd be interested, but we'll talk to them a little bit. It's not number one on the burner, I can tell you that.

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BRIGGS: Mr. Trump is set to travel to Denmark next month, but Danish officials say Greenland is not for sale and shot down the idea as quote, absurd. The U.S. has unsuccessfully angled to buy the territory in the past under President Truman in 1946, and further back in 1867.

KOSIK: The ninth New York City police officer to die by suicide this year had his guns taken away twice, but he managed to get them back.

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BRIGGS: 4:23 Eastern Time and the search for two firefighters missing in the Atlantic Ocean entering its fourth day. Brian McClooney and Justin Walker set sail on a fishing trip Friday and there hasn't been a word from them since. Coast guard is using boats and planes in the search. Civilians with boats are helping as well. So far they've covered about 20,000 square miles of ocean from Florida up to South Carolina. Fellow firefighters have also been helping in the search.

KOSIK: A New York City police officer who died by suicide last week had his weapons taken away twice only to have them returned. Officer Robert Escheverra, a 25-year veteran of the force is the ninth member of the department to kill himself this year. His sister, Eileen, says she warned the department her brother was a danger to himself and others twice over the past seven years. Most recently in June she told the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau her brother was suicidal. She says her email led to a psychiatric evaluation where her brother's guns were confiscated, but they were returned soon after. The NYPD tells CNN the department is investigating.

BRIGGS: New video shows two Good Samaritans rescuing a wheelchair bound woman after she rolled off a cruise ship dock. Deejay Kashif Hamilton (ph) says he was playing music on a pier at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Island when he heard a loud scream. He says he then saw people running, including his friend Randolph Donovan who jumped in and got the woman out of her sinking chair.

[04:25:15] Then Hamilton jumped in and started kicking furiously to help them all above water. Onlookers also helped to get everyone back up to safety. No word on how the young woman ended up in the water.

KOSIK: And it's amazing. Nearly four tons of marijuana found inside a shipment of jalapenos from Mexico to the U.S. The discovery was made when a truck driver was flagged for a secondary inspection at a border crossing in California last week. Border patrol agents used a canine unit to examine the cargo and discovered 314 large wrapped packages of marijuana. Officials say the seized drugs are worth $2.3 million. It follows a seizure of more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana in a shipment of plastic auto parts just days earlier at the same cargo facility.

BRIGGS: Remember the name Maddy Freking of Minnesota. She is getting it done. Yesterday, she became just the sixth girl to pitch at the Little League World Series. The first in five years. She got her team out of a tough spot here. Bases loaded, one out. She catches a batter, looking and grabs field grounder, throws the runner out at the plate to end the inning. Her Midwest team also did lose that game though, 11-nothing to the southeast team from Virginia. She also starts for that team at second base. Good for her.

KOSIK: You go, girl.

BRIGGS: Love the Little League World Series. One of the great sporting events in this country all year.

KOSIK: All right. No signs of trouble in the economy if you believe the White House, but signs on Wall Street and Main Street are at odds with the story from the administration. Very different.

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