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EARLY START

Mass Shooting Threats Thwarted in Ohio, Florida, and Connecticut; Suicide Bomb At Kabul Wedding Kills 63; Hong Kong Protests Viewed As Test Of Movement's Durability. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 05:30   ET

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


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[05:30:45] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "THE LEAD" AND "STATE OF THE UNION": If the tariffs aren't hurting anybody in the United States --

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: They're not hurting anybody here, OK?

TAPPER: Then why did --

NAVARRO: They're hurting China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: It's 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.

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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.

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

BRIGGS: And for the first time in five years, some girl power at the Little League World Series.

Welcome back to EARLY START on a Monday. 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. And the trade war with China is dragging on, rattling markets and businesses. But, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro insists tariffs aren't hurting anyone in the U.S.; they're hurting China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAVARRO: That dog won't hunt. Let's do some math, right? You put on 200 -- 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion dollars.

TAPPER: Are you saying that their research is wrong?

NAVARRO: Hang on, hang on -- just do some math with me. Two hundred billion dollars we put on the 10 percent tariff and China devalues their currency by 12 percent --

TAPPER: Yes.

NAVARRO: -- OK? Are consumers bearing anything on that? No. We have seen absolutely no evidence in the price data.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: "No evidence," he says -- hmm.

Navarro said the president has the back of those farmers but some of them don't see it that way.

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Last week, the White House announced it's 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.

Navarro rejected that suggestion, saying the delay was a goodwill gesture towards China as trade talks continue.

The president remains optimistic, touting the economy while, once again, falsely claiming that China is paying the tariffs.

TEXT (TRUMP TWITTER): Our economy is the best in the world, by far. Lowest unemployment ever within almost all categories. Poised for big growth after trade deals are completed.

Import prices down, China eating Tariffs. Helping targeted farmers from big tariff money coming in. Great future for USA!

BRIGGS: Following the massacres in El Paso and Dayton, three more mass shootings have been 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 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 on a National Geographic documentary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES REARDON, WHITE SUPREMACIST: I want a homeland for white people and I think every race should have a homeland for their own race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Police were tipped off by an Instagram video on Reardon's account.

More now from CNN's Polo Sandoval.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave and Alison, in light of the most recent mass shootings, these latest arrests are certainly disturbing.

The first one on Ohio where police have named James Reardon as their suspect. Police saying that he made an Instagram post and a video which shows a man shooting a rifle.

Now, 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, that 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 harassment.

Police serving a search warrant at his mother's house. They recovered rifles, ammunition, a gas mask, a bayonet. Investigators now looking to determine whether or not those were actually purchased legally.

The FBI has actually interviewed Reardon but at this point, they have not pressed any federal charges.

And look at the 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.

[05:35:00] 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.

SHERIFF MICHAEL CHITWOOD, VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA: The girlfriend is a real hero here. She went to the local municipality and shared 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's depressed.

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 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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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 the need to focus on what he says is a 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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KOSIK: The president adding that he's 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 buybacks, and an assault weapons ban.

BRIGGS: Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney, will host a fundraiser today for the RNC and the Trump reelection campaign. White House advisers 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 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, of course, was pushed by Cheney.

KOSIK: With talks about a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan intensifying, President Trump says the country cannot be, quote, "a laboratory for terror."

A Taliban peace plan is expected to formalize a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops 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 and it has been for many years.

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KOSIK: The president's remarks coming after a suicide bomb attack at a wedding in Kabul this weekend where 63 people were killed. Almost 200 others were injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has the latest for us. He's live for us in London.

You know, we all know that the U.S. has had a presence in Afghanistan for 18 years. A drawdown, withdrawal -- the timing of that, though, now really coming into question, isn't it?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, when are we going to hear the bare-bones of what this peace deal seems to be? Ninety-nine percent complete, we're hearing from sources close to it. But the backdrop to these negotiations, which we understand are continuing right now, are essentially increases in funds.

And while the ISIS militants behind this devastating attack in the wedding hall are not part of the peace deal, they're still trying to make their presence felt in the country. Everybody, frankly, is trying to show their military muscle.

This particular blast -- it's important to pause to talk about the five dozen-plus lives that were lost in this. A Pakistani suicide bomber walking straight into the heart of the male section of a wedding -- they're separated in Afghanistan -- and blowing himself up. Over 100 people still in the hospital.

You know, Afghans are used to hearing a blast and used to seeing daily casualty toll nationwide. It's startling every day how many lives are lost in that country in this ongoing, increasing, spiraling war. But really, moments like this -- a particular minority targeted by ISIS -- so devastating in the sheer want and desire it seems to have to take as many lives as possible.

[05:40:10] How do we stop this bloodshed?

Well, many came out after the wedding hall blast and said this is a real reason why we need to unite against ISIS -- why we need a deal between the Americans and the Taliban so they can focus on this more extreme type of Islamist fundamentalists.

But there are many also who argue -- listen, the Taliban, for a number of years now, have sort of melded al Qaeda into their midst. Remember al Qaeda, the reason America went into Afghanistan in the first place? So why should Washington make a deal with the people that went in, essentially, to try and combat?

We don't know what this deal is going to look like. We have some troubling suggestions that potentially, it's simply between the Americans and the Taliban -- a ceasefire only between them, leaving the Afghan government to talk afterwards with Taliban and possibly face them alone on the battlefield.

Donald Trump clearly has it in his mind now -- a couple of tweets about it over the last 72 hours or so.

He said they're going down to 13,000. Well, in a Fox News interview recently, he suggested they were already down to 8,000 or 9,000. It's unclear what the enduring presence will be like -- what they'll agree with the Taliban they're allowed to do.

But this is a seminal moment for America's longest war. The violence has never been so bad. Things like what happened at the weekend and the wedding are troublingly similar. And it's really a case of what America leaves behind as to whether or not it has to eventually go back to try and clean up the mess that it left behind.

Back to you.

KOSIK: And that is a key question.

Nick Paton Walsh, thanks very much.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, they braved torrential rain and threats from the Chinese government, but is there measurable progress for pro- democracy protesters in Hong Kong? CNN live there, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:45:55] BRIGGS: Five forty-five Eastern time and 5:45 p.m. in Hong Kong and that's where hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters returned to the streets Sunday. Just look at these images -- a massive show of solidarity for a movement that appeared close to losing support after 11 weeks. Demonstrators defied torrential rain and menacing threats from the Chinese government.

President Trump, meanwhile, says China needs to avoid a hostile intervention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It does put pressure on the trade deal. If they do something negative, it puts pressure. And I think it would be much harder for me to sign a deal if he did something violent in Hong Kong.

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BRIGGS: OK, Ben Wedeman live in Hong Kong with more. Ben, good morning.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Dave.

Well, what we saw yesterday was a massive show of support for the protest movement that's been going on for more than two months in Hong Kong. According to the organizers of yesterday's march and protest, it was 1.7 million people on the streets. That's basically 25 percent of the population participating.

What was significant was there was no violence. Not a single tear gas round was fired. There was not a single arrest. The police saying that if there's no violence from the police, they will use no force.

And it certainly does open up the possibility that the government, having seen that the streets can protest calmly and peacefully, that they might be able to respond in-kind to the demands of the protesters.

But at the end of the day, Dave, all of that depends on the willingness of Beijing to listen to the people of Hong Kong, and that's not at all clear.

What is clear, as President Trump said, if there is a Chinese military intervention in Hong Kong, that could spell trouble not only for any possible trade deal between the United States and China but for China's position worldwide. But at this point, after this peaceful weekend of protests, it does not appear that that eventuality is about to happen -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, adding to the course, says, "This is a defining moment in Trump's presidency regarding China."

Ben Wedeman live for us in Hong Kong. Thank you. KOSIK: OK, let's get a check on "CNN Business" this morning and let's take a look at markets around the world. Seeing a lot of green arrows there. Asian stocks beginning the week on a high note. European markets have opened higher as well.

On Wall Street, checking out futures there it looks like we see a positive open before the bell. But last week, stocks gave us whiplash.

Despite Friday's gain, the Dow fell 1.5 percent for the week. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also ended the week lower. All three of the major averages have fallen for three straight weeks.

Tesla is trying to boost its solar panel business by letting customers rent the panels instead of buying them. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the new plan Sunday.

The company bought residential solar installer, SolarCity, in 2016 but installations have plunged in recent quarters. So, Tesla will now allow residents of six states to rent solar power systems beginning at $50.00 a month.

Musk said customers can still cancel anytime if they do that, but there is a fee to remove the panels and restore the roof to its previous condition.

A surprising victory at the weekend box office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCENE FROM "GOOD BOYS".

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KOSIK: "Good Boys" stealing the number one spot with the debut of $21 million to its opening weekend. The movie about a group of foul- mouthed, 12-year-olds marks the first time an R-rated comedy has come in at number one since 2016. It's also the biggest opening for an original comedy this year.

[05:50:00] The film industry has been in kind of a comedy drought, failing to bring in big bucks over the summer, but this comedy may be it.

We'll be right back.

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KOSIK: Severe weather hitting the Midwest and East Coast.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, storms were so powerful they brought down trees on homes. And look at this -- lightning, by the narrowest margin, missing a man in South Carolina -- amazing.

Damaging wind and heavy rain affected millions.

Let's get to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Good morning.

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PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alison and Dave, good morning, guys. Yes, it was a wild day of severe weather in the past 24 hours.

[05:55:00] In fact, look at this. Over 200 severe weather reports that we had across the country and just about every single one of them related to severe wind; a few of them, large hail. One report of a tornado across portions of the state of Illinois and that is about it.

But, of course, with powerful winds generally over 55 miles per hour, a lot of damage into places across the Gulf Coast and also the Northeast as well.

And a lot of active weather still in place. We'll expect a few showers and scattered storms across portions of the Ohio Valley. That line of thunderstorms eventually arrives into the areas around the major metro cities of the Northeast, but really not much juice left with it as we go in towards Monday and Tuesday.

But notice generally the same areas for Monday, Tuesday, through Wednesday that are going to be impacted, whether it back around the Plains or the Midwest or into parts of the Northeast. So, the risk from marginal to slight, at best, the next couple of days.

And the trend looks as such. Big-time heat still in place across areas of Texas and Oklahoma -- into the triple digits there. While around the Northeast into Washington, highs into the upper 90s. And, New York City about 88 degrees for an afternoon high -- guys.

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BRIGGS: Pedram, thanks.

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 but technology, at the time, could not identify a suspect. The case went cold until the victim reached out to police in March after seeing 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 and has now been charged with sexual battery, awaiting extradition to Florida.

KOSIK: New video shows two Good Samaritans rescuing a wheelchair- bound woman after she rolled off a cruise ship dock.

Deejay Kashief Hamilton says he was playing music on a pier at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands when he heard a loud scream. He says he saw people running, including his friend, Randolph Donovan, who jumped in and got the woman out of her sinking chair. Then, Hamilton jumped in and started kicking furiously to keep them all above water.

Onlookers helped get everyone back up to safety -- amazing.

BRIGGS: Nearly four tons of marijuana found inside a shipment of jalapenos from Mexico to the U.S. This discovery was made when a truck driver was flagged for a secondary inspection at a border crossing in California last week. Border patrol agents discovered 314 large wrapped packages of marijuana worth $2.3 million.

A day earlier, more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana was seized from a shipment of plastic auto parts at that same facility.

KOSIK: Workers in the U.S. left a record 768 million vacation days on the table last year. The wasted PTO equates to billions in lost benefits. That's according to a study by the U.S. Travel Association and two partners.

Fifty-five percent of workers said they failed to use all of their vacation days. One of the main reasons, the number of earned days off is increasing faster than workers are using them.

BRIGGS: Christine Romans uses all those vacation days.

KOSIK: So do I.

BRIGGS: Legendary sportscaster Jack Whitaker has died.

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JACK WHITAKER, HALL OF FAME BROADCASTER: You and I are the beneficiaries of it. I think we're going to see one whale of a ballgame.

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BRIGGS: In a career that spanned four decades, Whitaker covered everything, including the first Super Bowl and Secretariat's Triple Crown victory race.

He was, perhaps, best-known though for his memorial sports essays. In 2012, he was honored with the Emmy for Sports Lifetime Achievement and inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Whitaker was also a decorated World War II veteran. He was 95.

Minnesota's Maddy Freking -- remember that name. She became the 19th girl to play in the Little League World Series over the weekend and just the sixth to pitch.

She got her team out of tough spot here, striking out a batter, then with the bases loaded, throwing the runner out at the plate.

Bad news, though. Her Minnesota team lost 11-nothing to Virginia. They're back at it tonight against Louisiana.

KOSIK: I won't forget her name. I won't forget her. BRIGGS: She is outstanding. Great pitching.

KOSIK: OK, thanks for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Here's "NEW DAY".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't see a recession. We're doing tremendously well.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This trade war is not working. It's hammering the hell out of farmers across this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our economy is soaring. It's the best it's ever been.

TRUMP: People don't realize we have very strong background checks right now.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got things the vast majority of Americans support that still haven't gotten done.

BRIGGS: Three potential mass shootings foiled by police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're finding the community online. The FBI is nervous about this threat.

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ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to you -- to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, August 19th. It's 6:00 here in New York.

And I was looking at your new tat.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I felt that it was fitting for you and I. I got an anchor. I was at the beach this weekend.

BERMAN: Yes.

END