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EARLY START

White House Downplays Risk of Recession; Mass Shooting Threats Thwarted in Ohio, Florida and Connecticut; Suicide Bomb at Kabul Wedding Kills 63. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Two of President Trump's top economic advisors brushed off fears of a brewing global recession, instead boasting about the economy under Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: 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's an ideal situation. Let's not be afraid of optimism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER NAVARRO, TRADE DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE: The Federal Reserve going to the holidays will be lowering rates significantly. What that will do is it will help our investment directly, it will help our exports indirectly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Just a reminder, the Fed is independent. The White House has pushed to calm recession fears came days after the bond market flashed a warning that has an early accurate trade record for predicting recessions. Since Trump took office, the stock market has reached record highs, unemployment has stayed at historic lows.

But a number of factors could set off a down-turn including the trade war with China, weakening global economy, the shrinking effect of the 2017 tax cuts or the risk of deflation. ALISON KOSIK, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: After the massacres in El Paso

and Dayton, three more mass shootings were foiled by police. Three men in three 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 is accused of threatening to shoot up a Jewish community center in Youngstown, Ohio. James Reardon attended the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and made his views known in a "National Geographic" documentary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES REARDON, THREATENED TO SHOOT-UP A JEWISH COMMUNITY: I want a homeland for white people, and I think every race should have a homeland for their own race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Police were tipped off by an Instagram video posted on Reardon's account. It shows him firing shots, screams and sirens can be heard in the background. We get 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 of a video which shows a man shooting a rifle. And one of the things that really caught the attention of the New Middletown police in Ohio is that the Jewish community center of Youngstown was tagged in the caption, now, the caption 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 harassments, police serving a search warrant at his mother's house, they recovered rifles, ammunition and gas mask, a bayonet. Investigators now looking to determine whether not those were actually purchased 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's showing the arrest of a 25-year-old believed to have threatened to commit a mass shooting. Tristan Wix of Daytona Beach was detained by police, he's 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 confirmed kill ever." Well, the Volusia County sheriff's office telling CNN that it was actually the suspect's own ex-girlfriend that initially alerted authorities.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MICHAEL CHITWOOD, SHERIFF, VOLUSIA COUNTY: The girlfriend is the real hero here. She went to a local municipality, showed the text messages and actually four municipalities got involved. He is the profile of a shooter. He's 24 years old, he lost his job, he lost his girlfriend, he is depressed.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: Now, one 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 Wagshol was arrested on weapons charges in Norwalk, Connecticut. Police saying that they received a tip that he was buying rifle parts online, and then looking to assemble his own weapon. Police had also 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.

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

[05:05:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The president adding that he's 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 including expanding background checks, red flag laws to prevent gun violence, voluntary gun buy-backs and an assault weapons ban.

KOSIK: Show up or pay a price. Thousands of union workers at the Pennsylvania shell petrochemical plant 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 anything viewed as resistance to the president was prohibited. The Trump speech was an official White House event and not endorsed by the re-election 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". A Taliban peace plan is expected to formalize a significant withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan from about 15,000 troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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's going on in Afghanistan, it has been for many years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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. Nick Paton Walsh has the latest live for us in London. Nick, some uncomfortable alliances and no easy answers.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, look, this is a riddle really frankly, which for 18 years has proven impossible for the United States to solve. The big problem is when you see scenes of violence like this which you know, let's not talk about the strategic picture without sort of skipping over 63 deaths.

I mean, that is a startling number, frankly, and over a hundred in hospital dealing with horrific injuries. But Kurds of it seems Pakistani-based ISIS suicide bomber walking into a wedding hall, the male section, they're partitioned in Afghanistan and choosing the most crowded place he could to blow himself up.

And it seems the wedding band was killed outright, startling that kind of devastation, and particularly minority that ISIS hates, Shia were being targeted there. But it really brings into mind exactly how regular the sort of devastation is. We see suicide blasts two, three times a week in Kabul.

Forget about devastation happening elsewhere nationwide in Afghanistan. Some say that's the reason why there's an urgency the Americans feel to get a piece over the Taliban. Simply, this kind of violence is unsustainable. And in fact, it's increasing because all sides and militarily trying to show their muscle as these negotiations continue.

ISIS aren't part of those talks. And the troubling thing after this wedding blast is many involved in the peace deal said, well, you know what? We all have to work together to defeat ISIS. That sounds good as a slogan, but it doesn't involve the Americans working closely with the Taliban, and the Taliban within their ranks have quite a lot of al Qaeda.

And though with the people America first went into Afghanistan to defeat. So, what happened in the days ahead? Well, we've heard Donald Trump talk about how troop levels are down to about 13,000. He let slip in a "Fox News" recently that it may be down to 8,000 or 9,000 already. So, it's unclear what number they think they want to keep there, what number currently is there.

The question is what kind of deal did the Americans make with the Taliban? And there's an enormous problem with this peace deal many Afghans feel because it's between the Americans and the Taliban, but not with the Afghan government who is part of that deal for now. Those talks is supposed to continue later.

So, many are concerned that if there's a cease-fire between the Americans and the Taliban, well, that essentially leaves Taliban free to go after the Afghan government, they -- so -- victory or likely hate. It's an incredibly complex deal, there is no real solution, Americans can't stay there forever. Trump has said he will certainly win this war.

But in the next weeks or so, we're going to work out exactly what kind of compromise White House thinks it can make with the Taliban and what that means for the many Afghans who endure this kind of awful savage brutality on a weekly if not sometimes daily basis.

[05:10:00] BRIGGS: And impossible to solve riddle, Nick Paton Walsh live for us this morning 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, at least, according to a leaked memo. We are live in London, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: Welcome back. A leaked British government memo suggests serious chaos in the event of a no deal Brexit. The worst case scenario outlined in the "Sunday Times" as the clock ticks down to deadline day, October 31st. CNN's Hadas Gold is live for us in London with the latest on this.

So, we are what? Three -- less than 3 months to go before the U.K. leaves the EU with or without an agreement in place. What is this memo saying?

HADAS GOLD, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: So, Alison, this memo was known as Operation Yellow Hammer and it pretty much lays out what the government thinks could happen in a no deal scenario. That is the U.K. leaving the European Union without any sort of deal. So, it will put them on World Trade Organization.

[05:15:00] It's one of the minimum possible basic centers. Now, this is important because although we've seen warnings of what could happen before, this is the first time we've seen what the government itself actually thinks could happen. This would be a lot of long lines at ports of entry for trucks coming in. They have to now go through customs checks if they're on a World Trade Organization basis.

That could mean fresh foods being in a shortage, prices going up, medicines having a hard time to make -- also think about passengers coming in at airports and train stations. They're going to have longer lines as well, fuel could also become less available, and there could be the introduction of a hard border between Northern Ireland which is part of the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland which will stay part of the EU.

That's very important for the politics and the tensions there. Now, the "Sunday Times" said that this document was put together just this month. But the government is saying that it's old. And Michael Gove; he is the secretary in charge of no deal preparations, said that a lot has happened in the past three weeks.

So, he's pretty much saying, this is only a three-week old document, they're saying that they are way more prepared and that this document was a worst-deal scenario. Now, this week is an important week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to Berlin in Paris where he'll be speaking with leaders there, sensibly to try to convince them that the EU should change the version of the deal to get at something that the U.K. would agree to, so that there wouldn't be a no deal scenario. But no matter what, Boris Johnson pretty much predicated his entire prime ministerial career on the fact that the U.K. will leave the EU on October 31st deal or no deal. Alison?

KOSIK: We will see if he works something out this week. Thanks so much, CNN's Hadas Gold.

BRIGGS: A search for two firefighters missing in the Atlantic Ocean entering its fourth day. Brian McCluney and Justin Walker set sail on a fishing trip, Friday, and there hasn't been word from them since. The coast guards using boats and planes in the search, civilian with boats are helping as well.

So far they've covered about 20,000 square miles of ocean from Florida up to South Carolina. However, 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 Echeverria; a 25-year veteran of the force, is the ninth member of the department to kill himself this year.

His sister Eileen said 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 e-mail 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: A 22-month-old girl died after being found unresponsive in a van outside a commuter rail station in Lindenwold, New Jersey. Police are investigating the toddler's death, but say no charges have been filed. Heatstroke kills 38 children on average each year according to the National Safety Council, 2018 was the deadliest year for child vehicular heatstroke. In two decades, a total of 52 children died last year after being left in cars. KOSIK: The El Paso man who lost his wife in the Wal-Mart mass

shooting that invited the entire city to her funeral may have been the victim of car thieves. A TV station in El Paso is reporting that Antonio Basco's SUV was stolen and wrecked on Saturday, the day after his wife's funeral. A tow company recognized Basco's name and towed the SUV back to Basco's home for free.

Basco stood in front of his wife's casket for two hours Friday, hugging strangers. Hundreds showed up for the service after Basco invited the public.

BRIGGS: Boy, has he been through it? We need a GoFundMe for this man. Good to see those hugs. Ahead, an amazing milestone for Mets rookie Pete Alonso. Andy Scholes has the slugger news ahead in the "BLEACHER REPORT".

[05:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: For the third straight year, Major Leaguers taking over Williamsport, Pennsylvania, putting on a show for the little leaguers. Andy Scholes has that story in the BLEACHER REPORT. One of the great moments in sports all year, buddy, good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Yes, it certainly is, good morning to you. You know, it's nearly every little leaguer's dream to make it to the majors, and for one night, you know, all of the participants at the Little League World Series getting to see those big leaguers up close. The Cubs and Pirates moving now their series to Williamsport.

Cubs' first baseman Anthony Rizzo, well, he was taking part in all of the fun, as you can see, he was doing some sledding before the game. Then Rizzo showing the little guys how it's done, he had a huge blast in the fifth inning. Now, the ball went off the scoreboard back on to the field so he ended up getting that ball back.

He signed it and he told his teammate Yu Darvish, well, wanted to give it to the shortstop from Japan because he thought he was going to be a really good player. Yu helped him translate and make it happen. A fun night for all, Cubs ended up winning that game 7-1.

Now, earlier in the day, Maddy Freking becoming the first girl to play in the Little League World Series since Mo'ne Davis back 2014. Freking entered in the second inning, got a batter looking right there, she's just the sixth girl to pitch at Williamsport. Twelve- year-old also making a great play to end the inning.

Virginia would end up winning this game 11-0 ending Freking and Minnesota's run at the Little League World Series. All right, New York Mets Peter Alonso slugging his way into the record books. Alonso crushing his 40th home run of the season, setting a record for a National League rookie.

[05:25:00] Alonso said afterwards, this season has been a dream come true so far, and the Mets certainly are rolling. They won 11-5 over the Royals, they're currently two games out of that last Wildcard spot in the NL. All right, another day, another turn in the Antonio Brown helmet saga.

Brown has once again left the Raiders because he's not being allowed by the NFL to use yet another old helmet. A Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock says he's pretty much had enough of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE MAYOCK, GENERAL MANAGER, RAIDERS: Here's the bottom line. He's upset about the helmet issue, we have supported that, we appreciate that, OK, but we've -- at this point, we've pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So, from our perspective, it's time for him to be all in or all out, OK?

So, we're hoping he's back soon. We've got 89 guys busting their tails. We are really excited about where this franchise is going and we hope AB is going to be a big part of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Yes, and it's important news for Raiders fans, it's important news for everyone playing fantasy football because a lot of people doing drafts this week.

BRIGGS: Yes --

SCHOLES: What's going on with Antonio Brown, when is he going to play? Certainly, a big topic.

BRIGGS: Thirty million guaranteed reasons he ought to show up, but we shall see hard knocks tomorrow night on "HBO", we'll wait for signs if there be. Thank you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right --

BRIGGS: Alison, what's coming up?

KOSIK: OK, Dave, 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 we're hearing from the administration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END