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Trump Tells NRA Universal Background Checks "Off The Table"; Trump Postpones Planned Trip to Denmark; Locking Up Families; Carli Lloyd Drills Impressive 55-Yard Field Goal. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 21, 2019 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:01] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: 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.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have very, very strong background checks right now.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Efforts to curb gun violence in America stalling once again. What the president told the chief of the NRA.

BRIGGS: Is this diplomacy? The president is canceling a trip to Denmark after they announced Greenland is not for sale.

KOSIK: And yet another move by the White House aimed at migrants. How entire families are now being targeted.

Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik, in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning, good morning to all of you, I'm Dave Briggs. Wednesday, August 21st. It is 5:00 a.m. here in the East.

It's been less than three weeks since two mass shootings that killed 31 people. Already, it seems momentum for meaningful changes to gun laws is fading. A source confirms President Trump told NRA chief Wayne LaPierre that universal background checks are, quote, off the table. The source says there is more emphasis on passing red flag laws, allowing people to ask a daughter intervene if -- a court to intervene if they see warning signs.

A senior official tried to downplay the president's comments to LaPierre saying he was only talking about universal checks. But, yesterday, the president himself downplayed any hopes of changes to background checks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We have very, very strong background checks right now, but we have sort of missing areas and areas that don't complete the whole circle, and we're looking at different things. And I have to tell you that it is a mental problem. And I've said it a hundred times, it's not the gun that pulls the trigger, it's the person that pulls the trigger.


KOSIK: Well, that doesn't jibe with what he said just after the El Paso and Dayton shootings.


TRUMP: Well, I'm looking to do background checks. I think background checks are important.

I think we can do meaningful -- very meaningful background checks. I want to see it happen.


KOSIK: President Trump's change of tone not sitting well with the 2020 Democrats or Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia who spoke with the president about the issue.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I said, Mr. President, you can blast with a keg of dynamite your base -- they're not leaving. So, they didn't leave you on bump stocks. They're not going to leave you on common- sense background checks.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Even this president says he's going to do something about background checks. And then word comes out today that he has consulted with his masters at the NRA and they've told him sorry, you can't do that. It raises the very simple question -- who's in charge?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need not to let this be a time of impotent empathy where we don't feel enough pain for our brothers and sisters across this country that are suffering from the ravages of violence. But we all begin to demand it, Republican and Democrat.


KOSIK: One Republican operative close to the White House says the issue is likely to reemerge when Congress returns from recess in September, noting that some GOP lawmakers in swing districts are hearing from voters who want action on guns.

BRIGGS: Law enforcement cracking down on threats since the El Paso and Dayton shootings. At least 25 arrests across the country in connection with alleged mass shooting threats. Two of the latest, a 15-year-old Florida high school student arrested for threatening a school shooting during a video game chat.


SHERIFF'S OFFICIAL: I, Dalton Barnhart, vow to bring my father's M-15 to school and kill seven people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's just a little kid playing a video game. What's so bad?

SHERIFF'S OFFICIAL: And all these kids keep getting arrested and that's why the FBI and the local enforcement are spending so much time --

SHERIFF'S OFFICIAL: Do you have any weapons?

SHERIFF'S OFFICIAL: -- because how do we know he's not going to be hitting Parkland?


BRIGGS: The Volusia County sheriff's department received a tip from the FBI. Confronted by police, the teen insisted it was a joke.

KOSIK: And in Tennessee, a truck driver was arrested for threatening a mass shooting at a church. When a friend asked Thomas Matthew McVicker why, police say McVicker told him they put spiritual snakes and spiders in my bed at night.

Another friend says he has mental health issues.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mental health is something that you, you know, it doesn't discriminate and is, you know, amongst all. It doesn't matter how rich or how poor you are. So, I mean, they need something -- he wouldn't do that.


KOSIK: McVickers' mother says her son is being treated for schizophrenia.

BRIGGS: Quite a diplomatic about-face by President Trump. Less than two weeks before his planned to Denmark, the president has now postponed his visit after the Danish foreign minister refused to discuss the sale of Greenland, calling his interests, quote, absurd. The leaders of both Greenland and Denmark met yesterday before the Trump announcement.


[05:05:05] KIM KIELSEN, PREMIER OF GREENLAND (through translator): Greenland is not for sale in any way. I'm not saying it as a joke. Greenland is not for sale.

METTE FREDERIKSEN, PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK (through translator): Of course, Greenland is not for sale. I totally agree with Kim Kielsen. And by the way, Greenland does not belong to Denmark, so it's not a case for us.


BRIGGS: CNN's Fred Pleitgen just back from an assignment in Greenland joining us live in Moscow.

Fred, good morning to you.

Now, the president said Greenland was not a priority. So what's going on here?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, that's what he said beforehand. That's certainly on the face of it, didn't seem to be also the reason for his visit to Denmark. In fact, he and the first lady actually had an invitation from the queen of Denmark to go there on that visit. Denmark obviously a staunch ally and always has been of the United States.

I can tell you, I've been covering European politics for a long time. The Danes have always been very close to America. So certainly something where the royal family of Denmark actually already said this was a complete surprise. Their spokesman says it's not something they've ever witnessed before.

And just now, Dave, I'm getting reactions from various Danish politicians that have come in to us. Some of it calling it unfathomable, another saying we are busy with other things here, why not cancel the visit altogether, and one Danish politician saying is Alaska maybe for sale. Certainly, you can see angry reactions coming from the Danes.

President Trump being tough there on one of America's staunchest allies, not so much, however, on one of America's adversaries. President Trump coming out yesterday and saying he believes that Russia should come back into the G7 which, of course, was the G8 before Russia got kicked out. He said that right before the G7 summit that's coming up in France.

Apparently had a phone call with Emmanuel Macron, president of France, where the two leaders discussed this. The interesting thing about this, Dave, is that once again President Trump is trying to pin all this on the Obama administration like he did when he left the nuclear agreement with Iran and also, of course, the Paris climate accords saying he believed that President Obama back then pushed Vladimir Putin for Russia to be expelled from the G7 because he was outsmarted by Putin when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Here's what President Trump had to say.


TRUMP: Putin outsmarted him. President Obama thought it wasn't a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out. But I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in. If somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably.


PLEITGEN: All this comes only a few days before the G7 summit in Biarritz, in France. And again, the two leaders, President Trump and Emmanuel Macron, having that phone call together and saying that president Trump would be the one who would broach that topic with the other members of the G7, Dave.

BRIGGS: OK. Fred Pleitgen live for us in Moscow, thank you.

KOSIK: The president trying to have it both ways on the economy.


TRUMP: We're looking at various tax reductions, but I'm looking at that all the time, anyway -- tax reductions. That's one of the reasons we're in such a strong economic position.


KOSIK: Touting a strong economy, but still a need for another tax cut. President Trump and his officials are sending completely contradictory messages.



SANDRA SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR, "AMERICA'S NEWSROOM": Is a payroll tax cut being considered?

GIDLEY: It's not being considered at this time.

TRUMP: Payroll tax is something that we think about and a lot of people would like to see that. I've been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time.


KOSIK: OK. So, the U.S. economy and job market strong in part to Trump's 2017 tax cuts. That's been largely driven by consumer demand. However, that demand is being threatened by a global slowdown.

So the question is, would a payroll tax cut even help the economy?

According to Moody's Analytics chief economist, each $1 that you cut in payroll taxes would increase GDP by 80 cents. You look back in 2011, the payroll tax cut added a notable half a percentage point to GDP.

But would it be worth ballooning the deficit? Several economists say no. In 2011 and 2012, the economy was

struggling to emerge from the Great Recession. You look at the economy now, unemployment is at historic lows, and wages are rising. So, analysts argue that a payroll tax cut would actually be a waste of ammunition in the event of a future downturn because it would leave the Fed with fewer tools to actually handle a recession.

KOSIK: Yet another move by the White House targeting immigrants at the southern border. The Trump administration will try to keep families locked up longer. That move would replace the so-called Flores Settlement which limits the detention of kids to 20 days. An administration official says families are exploiting that limit knowing they'll be released quickly if they come with kids.

Under a new rule, families will be held at family centers run by ICE throughout the parents' immigration proceedings. The change is expected to be met with legal challenges.

[05:10:01] KOSIK: President Trump tapping into some of the very same anti-Semitic tropes he's railed on Democrats for in the past. He was lashing out at Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, questioning her sincerity as she teared up talking about her decision to not travel to Israel to see her elderly grandmother in the West Bank.

Then he said this --


TRUMP: Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they're defending these two people over the state of Israel?

And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat -- I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or a great disloyalty.


KOSIK: The dual loyalty claim echoing historic anti-Semitic tropes. Democrats pounced.


REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): It's outrageous, it's offensive, and it's dangerous. It creates an environment that puts Jews at risk. The president should know that.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): I think that's a profoundly anti-Semitic statement by the president. It's disgusting and it ought to be condemned by Republicans as well as Democrats.



And I have no concerns about voting Democratic.


BRIGGS: The head of the Anti-Defamation League saying, quote, it's long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football.

And the Jewish Democratic Council adding: This is yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism. This is about Jews being loyal to him, then Trump needs a reality check, end quote.

Jewish voters went Democrat by about a 3-1 margin in the midterms and in the 2016 presidential election. An you can't help but think, not only is this divisive, but politically just devastating potentially for him. Turning the attention away from where he wants it on Omar to him.

KOSIK: Right.

BRIGGS: But we shall see. Yet another day in Trump universe.

A Texas school forced one student to color part of his head with a sharpie. We'll tell you why, next.


[05:17:01] KOSIK: Parents of a Texas middle schooler say school officials used a sharpie to color in their son's haircut which the staffer said violated the school dress code. Dante Trice and Angela Washington have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Texas school district. The suit says back in April, their 13-year-old son got a fade haircut with a design line.

The next day, he was allegedly given two options by school officials, use a black permanent marker to cover his scalp, or get in-school suspension. Not wanting to affect his track team eligibility, he chose the sharpie option. The suit claims they laughed as they colored in his scalp which the parents say took many days of scrubbing to come off.

KOSIK: A Detroit family is mourning the loss of their 9-year-old daughter who was mauled to death by dogs. Police say Emma Hernandez was attacked by three pit bulls while riding her bicycle on Monday. It's not clear what set the dogs off, but witnesses tried to save Hernandez, and someone actually shot one of the dogs. The girl's aunt says her father recently confronted the dogs' owner.


CLAUDIA STAPLETON, VICTIM'S AUNT: I had actually had an argument with them that they needed to be properly fenced. They couldn't just be roaming out. And he just didn't do anything.


KOSIK: No word yet if the dog owner will face charges. Animal care and control says the dogs will likely be euthanized. BRIGGS: Walmart is taking Tesla to court, claiming solar panels

installed by the electric carmaker caught fire. Walmart accuses Tesla of breach of contract, claiming it lost hundreds of millions of dollars. They're seeking to recover the costs related to the fires at seven stores and have Tesla remove the panels.

No comment yet from Tesla, though just days ago Tesla tried to spark interest in its solar panel business with the plan to let consumers rent rooftop systems rather than buy them.

Ahead, she is a diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan and a world champion soccer star. That's Carli Lloyd showing off her leg at Eagles camp. Andy Scholes has that story in the "Bleacher Report."


[05:24:06] BRIGGS: In an interview with "Paper" magazine, Colin Kaepernick revealing what made him start the protests of social injustice.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, my friend.


You know, Colin Kaepernick, he started his protest of social injustice during the national anthem back in 2016. And he tells paper magazine that it was the shooting death of Mario Woods in 2015 that was a catalyst to him becoming an activist. Woods, a stabbing suspect, was shot 21 times by five police officers. Kaepernick says that incident left him with feelings of loss, pain, and anger.

And Kaepernick told the magazine, quote: This movement needs all types of people from athletes to healers to poets and artists, to scholars and lawyers, we need everyone to contribute to the struggle. The struggle is affecting all of us, period.

All right. To baseball, Dodgers and Blue Jays last night.

[05:25:02] New Lakers star Anthony Davis on hand to throw out the first pitch. Hey, ticked in, pretty easy to throw a strike. He got it right in there.

Now, in a funny moment in this one, Cody Ballenger slides head first into third base, and his pants come down. He was out. Had a nice laugh afterwards.

So that was funny. His belt didn't even break. They just fell down. Fun night for the Dodgers. They won big in that one, 16-3.

The Twins rally squirrel back at it again last night in Minnesota. Check him out. Bottom of the fifth, goes right through Max Kepler's legs. It finds its way into the white sox' dugout. A night earlier he was raining through the Twins' dugout.

Tell you what, he's got the right idea. If I was a squirrel I would live at a major league ballpark.

All right. Happy 100th birthday to Sister Jean. The team chaplain and super fan for Chicago Loyola basketball team became an international sensation two years ago during March Madness. Lego presenting Sister Jean with her very own Lego version of herself. She loved it.

Sister Jean says the secret to longevity is eat well, sleep well, pray well, and, well, have some good genes. Again, happy 100th birthday to Sister Jean.

Finally, two-time world cup champion Carli Lloyd. She was at Eagles practice yesterday boom something field goals. Check it out, even lining up from 55 yards out and nails it.

You know what, Dave? The Bears certainly need a kicker.

BRIGGS: Yes. I was thinking that, as well. We all remember Cody Parkey not so long ago. There were a couple of teams that could use a kicker. And she's got a solid leg. Why not?

SCHOLES: Yes. And Hall of Fame scout Gil Brandt, he says he believes one day, a female is going to break through and end up kicking in the NFL.

BRIGGS: I would love to see it.

SCHOLES: Carli Lloyd, she could do it.

BRIGGS: Sell a couple of million jerseys instantly.

Andy, good stuff. Thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

BRIGGS: Alison, what's coming up?

KOSIK: OK, Dave. You know, we've seen this movie before. Mass shootings followed by demands for action. And the president said he'd act. But what he told the head of the NRA puts that in doubt.