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White House To Ease Economic Concerns; Mass Shooting Plot Thwarted; Afghan Peace Talks; Freking Cool; America's Choice 2020; Protest Reignites in Hong Kong; President Trump Confirms In Buying Greenland; Tesla Plans To Rent Solar Panels. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 04:30   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aren't hurting anybody in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're not hurting anybody here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're hurting China.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: A sunny economic outlook from the White House despite evidence of trouble on Wall Street and in the heartland.

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


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


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

BRIGGS: And who says girls can't play ball? The 19th girl to play in the Little League World Series. The results speak for themselves, the first girl pitching at the little league world since Mo'ne Davis. Welcome back everyone to Early Start. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning, I'm Alison Kosik, I'm sitting in for Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour here in New York.

And the trade war with China, it's dragging on rattling the markets and rattling businesses, but the White House trade advisor insisting tariffs aren't hurting anyone in the U.S., they're hurting China. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING TARIFFS: That dog won't hunt. Let's do some math here, right? You put 10 percent tariffs on 200 billion --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying that their research is wrong?

NAVARRO: Hang on. Just do some math with me. $200 billion we put on a 10 percent tariff and China devalues their currency by 12 percent. OK? Our consumers bearing anything on that? No. We have seen absolutely no evidence in the price data.


KOSIK: Last week the White House announced its delaying new tariffs on popular consumer goods until mid-December. President Trump said the move was to make sure shoppers didn't feel the effects during holiday shopping. Peter Navarro rejected that suggestion saying the delay was a goodwill gesture toward China as trade talks continue. American farmers are also feeling the effects of the trade war. Navarro defended the president's commitment to farmers saying the money from tariffs is going to farmers, but some farmers don't see it that way.


GARY WERTISH, PRESIDENT, MINNESOTA FARM BUREAU: I go into the bank and I tell the farmer I earn a lender that I can't make my payment, because we lost the market. The banker is not going to tell me you don't have to make your payment because you're a patriot.

CINDY VANDERPRO, FARMER: I sometimes stay up at night worrying about what the future does hold. You know, what do you tell your children that want a farm?


KOSIK: The president remained optimistic touting the economy while once again falsely claiming China is paying the tariffs, adding, great future for the USA.

BRIGGS: With the massacres in El Paso and Dayton still fresh on the mind, three more mass shootings were foiled by police. Three men in different states, Ohio, Florida, and Connecticut, arrested after they expressed interest in shootings 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 accused of threatening to shoot up a Jewish community center in Youngstown, Ohio. James Reardon (ph) attended a 2017 unite the right rally in Charlottesville and made his views known in a national geographic documentary.


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


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


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.

[04:35:09] 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. One of those text messages reading, I'd want to break a world record for longest confirm kill ever. The Volusia County sheriff office telling CNN, that it was actually the suspect's own ex- girlfriend initially alerted authorities.


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.


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.


KOSIK: Meantime, 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 a need to focus on what he says is a very big mental health problem.


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.


KOSIK: The president adding that he is very concerned about the second amendment. In the past he's backed off background checks under pressure from the NRA. Meantime, a new poll shows broad support for tighter gun laws including expanding background checks, red flag laws to prevent gun violence, voluntary gun buy backs and an assault weapons ban.

BRIGGS: Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney will host a fund-raiser for the RNC and the Trump re-election campaign. White House advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are expected to attend as special guests.

Administration officials are prohibited from campaigning in their official capacities. The fundraiser part of the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's big donor fundraising push. President Trump has frequently targeted Dick Cheney's former boss, George W. Bush for the war in Iraq, a decision that was pushed by Cheney.

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


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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KOSIK: The president's remarks coming after a suicide bomb attack at

a wedding in Kabul this weekend, 63 people were killed, almost 200 others injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has the latest for us on this. He is live for us in London.

You know, the timing of the withdrawal or the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan coming under question because of the timing of this especially after such a horrific event happened. But also because, it's only been a few weeks since President Trump's own nominee for the Joint Chief of Staff told the Senate Arms Services Committee that withdrawing American troops too soon would be a strategic mistake.


[04:40:00] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a lot of things going on here. First of all, let's not loss the sight of that fact that there are now either in morgues or in Afghan hospitals over 200 people from this ISIS blast at a wedding hall. A man walking in to the male sides, this wedding is segregated of an enormous party and blowing hi himself up in the crowded -- most crowded place he could possibly find causing 63 deaths.

Now the fact that we can talk about in almost in the passing sub clause in a sentence, tells you how bad it go in Afghanistan. These blasts sometimes daily. There in fact more explosions that happened in the east of the country just this morning. So, it is a staggering death toll that continues to mount and in fact escalate as this peace talks go on. Because all sides are trying to show their muscle, frankly, at the negotiating table on the battlefield.

So, the question is, what comes of this peace deal? Well, Donald Trump has in the past suggested in fact in an interview with Fox News that may be even troops down now to about 8 or 9,000 he said in an interview, none of all the people know that. Yesterday he said there are 13,000. It is unclear what levels they may sustain in any future deal with the Taliban, but that deal is edging towards the 99 percent done we are told by sources close to it.

And the big problem with it is it's between the Americans and the Taliban. The Afghan government, a north part of that original agreement. And the Taliban are very keen, we understand for the cease fire with the Americans to be just between them and not between the Taliban and the Afghan army that the Americans help, complicated but essentially against potentially the Taliban a big battlefield advantage because the Americans are no longer in play there.

When does this deal come through? We simply don't know. And the back drop is what kind of laboratory for terror as Donald Trump said could be left in its wake. Important things to remember here, ISIS are behind that wedding blast. They're getting more presence in the east of the country, because of the country's chaos, frankly.

And the Taliban fighting them, so some of the people will try to sell the peace to the Taliban came out in the hours after the wedding hall blast and said we need to unite against ISIS. They are the big threat, but that forgets the key reason why the U.S. went in to Afghanistan in the first place, which was to fight Al Qaeda.

AL Qaeda, a couple of years ago put arm themselves into the ranks of the Taliban. And that still seems to be the case now. So a big dynamic really for the United States. Do you continue to fight this war, continue to have peace talks, continue to see the blood shed mount or do you potentially strike a deal and then run the risk of the Taliban allowing to happen what happened in 2000 and 2001 with Bin Laden.

KOSIK: A big dilemma, indeed. Very complicated situation, obviously. Nick Paton Walsh. Thanks so much.

BRIGGS: No easy answers there.

Ahead, they braved the rain and threats from the Chinese government. Is there measurable progress for the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong? CNN is live there next.


KOSIK: Welcome back. President Trump confirming he asked aides to explore the possibility of buying Greenland saying that, quote, essentially it's a large real estate deal. The autonomous Danish territory is rich in natural resources, and the U.S. already operates an airbase there in northern Greenland as it tries to counter any moves by Russia and China in the arctic.


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.


KOSIK: 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 absurd. The U.S. has unsuccessfully angled to buy the territory in the past under President Truman in 1946, and further back in 1867.

BRIGGS: A California man said he was mistaken for a suspected child predator and violently beaten, 34-year-old Kevin Martin says, he's at bar in California when a visibly intoxicated man asked him to speak outside, Martin says another man who followed took out a phone and showed him a police sketch. He recognized it was a suspect from a May incident in which police say a man with thick glasses, long hair and a moustache made sexual comments to an 11-year-old girl. Martin is a meteorologist with more than 70,000 followers. He says they warned him when the sketch was released that it looked exactly like him so he called police who confirmed he is not the suspect.

KOSIK: DNA may finally bring closure to a rape case that was cold for 36 years. A Florida woman woke up to a stranger sexually assaulting her in Coral Springs in 1983. DNA was collected at the scene, but technology available at the time could not identify a suspect. The case went cold until the victim reached out to police in March after seeing stories of DNA being used to solve cases. In June using updated technology police linked the DNA sample to convicted criminal Timothy Norris. He is serving a sentence in West Virginia for armed bank robbery. He is now been charged with sexual battery with a weapon and is awaiting extradition to Florida.

BRIGGS: Solar panels are expensive, so what if you could rent them instead? Tesla hopes that is an option. CNN Business next.

KOSIK: I like that option. I would go for that option.


BRIGGS: Hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors return to the streets of Hong Kong Sunday. Just look at that crowd. A massive show of solidarity for a movement that appeared on the verge of losing popular support after 11 weeks. Demonstrators defied torrential rain, a police ban and menacing threats from the Chinese government. CNN's Ben Wedeman live for us in Hong Kong with the latest. Ben, good morning, where are we headed?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, certainly what we saw yesterday was a massive show of support for this protest movement. According to the organizers, 1.7 million people participated in the rally and the march that followed. That is essentially one in every four Hong Kong residents participating in this protest. Now also significant, no tear gas was fired and we just heard from a police press conference that a no arrests were made as well.

So certainly this is a sign that despite the chaos at the airport last Monday and Tuesday which saw that airport shut down, despite some of the excesses by the protesters at the airport, they still command a large amount of respect from a significant portion of the population here, that this protest movement that started with the extraditions bill to China, but has sort of broadened to a more general demand for Democratic reforms in Hong Kong is not losing any steam.

[04:55:30] Now the question is, is the Hong Kong government going to respond? We know the Hong Kong government essentially to a certain extent takes orders from Beijing and Beijing at this point, as we saw in those videos that they put out over the weekend with riot police, with a clear message to Hong Kong that if things get out of control, China will intervene, but nonetheless, it appears that this protest movement is not losing steam. Dave?

BRIGGS: No signs of stopping, indeed. Ben Wedeman live for us in Hong Kong. Just about 5 p.m. Thank you.

KOSIK: Say it ain't so. Workers in the U.S. left a record 768 million vacation days on the table last year. The wasted to PTL equates to billions of dollars in lost benefits. That is according to a study by the U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics and a marketing group called Ipsos. 55 percent of workers said they failed to use all of their vacation days. Researchers found one of the main reasons, the number of earned days off is increasing faster than workers are using them.

BRIGGS: Remember the name Maddy Freking of Minnesota. Yesterday she became just the sixth girl to pitch at the Little League World Series and the first in five years. She got her team out of a tough spot here, bases loaded one out, catches the batter looking, and grabs a grounder, throws gets the runner out at the plate though her Midwest team lost 11-0 to the Southeast team from Virginia

KOSIK: OK. Let's get a check on CNN's Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world. Agents stocks starting the week on a high note there. European markets, they opened with some green arrows. Last week those stocks gave investors whiplash. Despite Friday's gain, the DOW fell 1.5 percent for week, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ also ended the week lower. All three of the major averages have fallen for the past three weeks. We'll keep an eye on what happens this week.

Tesla is trying to boost its solar panel business by letting customers rent the panels instead of buying them. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announcing the plan on Sunday. The company bought residential solar installer Solar City in 2016, but installations have plunged in recent quarters. Tesla will allow residents of six states to rent solar powered systems beginning at $50 a month. Musk said, customers can cancel anything, but there is a fee to remove panels and restore the roof to its previous condition.

A surprising victory at the weekend box office. "Good boys" still the number one spot, oh my god, they are up $21 million, it's opening weekend. The movie produced by Seth Rogen is the first time that an "R" rated comedy came in at number one since The Boss in 2016. It's also the biggest opening for an original comedy this year. I think Hollywood has been experiencing a comedy drought. The fact that this one is doing so well and it's a bunch of 12-year-old foul mouth kids can make you laugh, they're happy about it.

BRIGGS: I'm in. Good movie. All right thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers, "Early Start" continues right now.


TRUMP: 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 the interest rates.


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

KOSIK: Three planned mass shootings thwarted by police. One of them plotted by an admitted white supremacist.


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.


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

KOSIK: And for the first time in five years some girl power at the Little League World Series. Good morning and welcome to "Early Start." I'm Alison Kosik, I'm sitting in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: The summer of Romans continues. I'm Dave Briggs. Monday, August 19, 5 a.m. in the East. We start with these nation's economy. The White House playing down the risk of a recession after a wild week on Wall Street.


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.


BRIGGS: Two of President Trump's.