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Trump Calls Himself the Chosen One, Among Other Eyebrow-Raising Claims; Russia Applauds Trump's G-7 Support; Trump Defends Cancelling Denmark Trip. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 22, 2019 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:18] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: At one time, this would have been outrageous. The almighty president retweets conspiracies, repeats anti-Semitic claims, and that's just the beginning.


CHIEF ROBERT LUNA, LONG BEACH POLICE: Suspect Montoya had clear plans, intent and the means.


JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: More mass shooting, plots foiled, in the wake of El Paso and Dayton. One of them, a hotel employee with an arsenal at hand.

BRIGGS: The Democratic field is down to 22. We'll tell you the latest candidate to drop out.

CHATTERLEY: And 10 lucky people to be alive. They walked away from a fiery plane crash in California.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, this is EARLY START. I'm Julia Chatterley in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning. Good to have you here.

CHATTERLEY: Great to be here.

BRIGGS: Good morning, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs. Thursday, August 22nd, 4:00 a.m. right here in New York, 10:00 a.m. in Denmark. Live there ahead.

But we start with a wild Wednesday at the White House. Even by Trump standards, Wednesday produced a plethora of claims, suggestions and conspiracies that should stop you in your tracks. Mr. Trump demonstrated his opinion of himself with this remark about the trade war he started with China. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Somebody said, it's Trump's trade war. This isn't my trade war. This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago by a lot of other presidents. Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.


BRIGGS: "The chosen one." For the record, his chosen approach to trade conflict comes at a cost to American consumers and farmers, not to China as he claims. Trump also doubled down on the anti-Semitic trope he used Tuesday when asked about his claim that Jews who support Democrats are, quote, "disloyal."


TRUMP: In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you are being very disloyal to Jewish people and you are being very disloyal to Israel, and only weak people would say anything other than that.


CHATTERLEY: So he made those remarks after retweeting declarations he's, quote, "king of Israel" and the "Second Coming of God," quoting a conspiracy theorist, by the way. On the issue of guns, the president seems unable to make up his mind. Another twist yesterday as he denied telling the NRA that universal background checks are off the table but he also claimed current background checks are mostly sufficient. The system screens for some but not all indicators of past violence and mental health problems.


TRUMP: We have a lot of -- we have a lot of background checks right now. Gun owners can tell you that. Others can tell you that, but there are certain weaknesses. We want to fix the weaknesses. And I think that will happen. Let's see what happens. I'm concerned that no matter what we agree to, when we get there, I'm concerned the Democrats will say, oh, well, we now want this and we want -- and you know, it's a slippery slope.


BRIGGS: Stronger background checks have brought bipartisan support. A refusal by Senate Republicans to take action could some feel endanger GOP control of the Senate.

CHATTERLEY: President Trump's obsession with Barack Obama not letting up either. 20 times in fact in 30 minutes with reporters yesterday Trump tried to blame his predecessor for his troubles. Here's just a small sample on Russia and border separations.


TRUMP: They were taken out because Putin outsmarted on Crimea, on the red line, on other things. Totally outsmarted Obama. It was President Obama that built those cages so President Obama had separation. I'm the one that brought them together.


CHATTERLEY: For the record, all nations in the G-20 agreed that Russia had to be suspended because of its takeover of Crimea and family separations during the Obama White House era were rare and circumstantial. It was not a blanket policy.

BRIGGS: At least one country is pleased that President Trump says Russia should rejoin the G-7.


TRUMP: It's not the way a room should work.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).


BRIGGS: Russian-controlled media is celebrating after President Trump said he wants to see Russia rejoin the group of the strongest industrial nations. A translated version of Trump's remarks along with graphics of a G-8 logo with Russia's flag getting massive applause on state TV. But other members of the alliance not on board yet.


[04:05:01] ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: As the situation is today, I would say there is not yet sufficient progress for saying the reasons we had in 2014 are obsolete.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Given Russia's provocations, not just in Ukraine but in many other places, I must say, I am very much with Chancellor Merkel in thinking that the case has yet to be made out.


BRIGGS: A senior Trump administration official says French President Manuel Macron also believes Russia should be invited to next year's G- 7 conference. But a French government official said Russia's readmission would depend on the situation in Ukraine. The G-7 is set for this weekend in France. Next year's meeting will be hosted by the United States.

CHATTERLEY: President Trump defending his decision to cancel his trip to Denmark, pinning blame on the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen after she called the idea of the U.S. purchasing Greenland absurd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I thought that the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea, it was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say, no, we wouldn't be interested.


CHATTERLEY: The president also took shots at Denmark's commitment to NATO despite its decades of strong support the U.S.-led military missions.

CNN's Anna Stewart is live this morning in Copenhagen with the latest on the reaction there.

To be fair to president -- to Trump, Anna, they don't pay their agreed upon share here to NATO but it feels like the (INAUDIBLE) wedge. How are they reacting over in Copenhagen?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you have to see this in the context of everything that's happened over the last few days. The insults to the Danish in terms of the fact the U.S. thought it was for sale, the fact that he's canceled the state visit having been invited by the queen, the fact that he called comments made by the prime minister nasty. And we expected the NATO contributions, and Donald Trump thinks that they should pay a much higher contribution from 1.35 percent closer to 2 percent, he thinks they should pay more -- that was always going to be on the agenda had he come to Denmark for the state visit.

But now he hasn't and given this context, I think there was a feeling that it will raise eyebrows because Denmark does contribute a lot in terms of the military. It has fought alongside the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the war against ISIS. And that has cost Denmark dearly. They have such a small military, just 17,000 personnel. And for instance, the Afghan war was actually the deadliest to Denmark in their modern history.

Now, meanwhile, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to the Danish foreign minister last night trying to smooth things over. And I have to say it has gone down well because the Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod has tweeted to say that he appreciated the frank, friendly, constructive talk with Pompeo affirming the strong U.S.-Danish bond. He said that the U.S. and Denmark are close friends and allies with a long history of active engagement across the globe, and he has agreed to stay in touch on a full range of issue of mutual interest.

And Julie, what's so interesting about this is analysts today are actually saying that this flurry of diplomacy in the last 24 hours tried to smooth over this spat, may actually end up strengthening the bond between Denmark and the United States.

CHATTERLEY: We shall see. Anna Stewart, thank you so much for that.

BRIGGS: New arrests on both coasts. Suspects accused of plotting mass shootings in the wake of El Paso and Dayton. In Long Beach, California, police say 37-year-old Rodolfo Montoya was planning to shoot employees and guests at the Marriott Hotel where he was a cook. A co-worker tipped authorities to his plan. Officers seized multiple high-powered weapons, tactical gear and high capacity magazines from Montoya's home.


LUNA: Suspect Montoya had clear plans, intent and the means to carry out an act of violence that may have resulted in a mass casualty incident.


BRIGGS: Police say Montoya does not appear to have a criminal history that would have barred him from owning the weapons. He will appear in court as early as today.

CHATTERLEY: In Central Florida, police arrested a 16-year-old female high school student over threats they say she texted to students at a nearby Catholic school. Police say the teen used the phone belonging to her sister who goes to the Catholic School to threaten a school shooting.


OFC. MICHELLE SOSA, ALTAMONTE SPRINGS POLICE: The reason why they do this, we don't know, but there is no tolerance for threats like these. We want to encourage parents to educate their children and let them know that this is not a game. It is not a joke.


CHATTERLEY: Over in Texas, Walmart just announced it plans to reopen its El Paso store where 22 people were killed this month in the next three to four months.

BRIGGS: Washington State Governor Jay Inslee bowing out of the 2020 campaign last night in an interview on MSNBC.


GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): It's become clear that I'm not going to be carrying the ball. I'm not going to be the president so I'm withdrawing tonight from the race.


BRIGGS: Inslee made addressing the climate crisis the core issue of his campaign but failed to gain much traction.

[04:10:05] Inslee has yet to reach the polling threshold for the third Democratic debate. So, he was unlikely to qualify. A source tells CNN, Inslee plans to seek a third term as Washington governor.

Twenty-two candidates still remained in the Democratic field. Inslee for his part says, quote, "Every single one of them is 100 percent better than President Trump." CHATTERLEY: The Federal Reserve is looking for some flexibility with

conflicting economic signals. Minutes of the Fed's July meeting reinforced Fed chair Jay Powell's message to investors the July rate cut was a, quote, "mid-cycle adjustment," and not the start of a more aggressive cycle. A lot of mixed indicators right now, low unemployment and reasonably strong domestic growth, but also slowing global growth and, of course, persistent trade uncertainty. Now, before the minutes were released, President Trump kept up demands for another rate cut.


TRUMP: I don't demand it, but if he used his head, he would lower them. The Federal Reserve has let us down. They missed the call. They raised them too fast. They raised it too high.


CHATTERLEY: Despite the president's repeated attacks, Powell and Fed officials have maintained the central bank's independence. Fed officials did not suggest there were signs of a recession while debating a rate cut, but they did say economic growth would slow this year due to soft business investment and less government spending. The Fed typically does a series of cuts only when the economy is in a severe downturn or recession and the U.S. isn't in one right now.

BRIGGS: Somebody ought to explain that to the president. That's why we cut rates. The president seems to think that the Fed should juice the economy.

CHATTERLEY: Right. Rate cuts, tax cuts potentially, too, although they've reversed a decision now on that, too.

BRIGGS: That was whiplash.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. That was whiplash.

BRIGGS: Tuesday to Wednesday a wild one.

Twelve tons of garbage recently removed around Mt. Everest. Now officials are cutting down on what climbers can bring along.


[04:16:38] CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to EARLY START. Some scary moments but a happy ending for 10 people aboard a small jet attempting to take off in northern California Wednesday. The pilot aborted takeoff causing the Cessna Citation to crash, and leaving a trail of thick black smoke over the town of Oroville. It's not yet known why the pilot aborted takeoff but everyone aboard the plane walked away without injury. The smoke forced the closure of Highway 162 but the road has since reopened.

BRIGGS: Fires are raging at a record rate in the Amazon rainforest and darkening the skies over Brazil. Scientists warn the fires could strike a devastating blow to the fight against the climate crisis. There have been close to 73,000 fires in Brazil this year, nearly double last year's number, more than half of them in the Amazon region. The Amazon is often referred to as the planet's lungs, producing some 20 percent of the oxygen in the earth's atmosphere.

CHATTERLEY: Small, single-use plastics will be banned from Mt. Everest and surrounding peaks starting in 2020. This applies to plastics 30 microns wide about a third of a millimeter. That includes plastic bags, straws, some water bottles, and most food packaging. The use of all plastic water bottles has not been banned. Those talks are ongoing. Earlier this year, volunteers were said to have collected 12 tons of garbage in just a few weeks.

BRIGGS: Now what they really need to do is start reducing the permits there and reducing the overcrowding and those long lines trying to ascend the peak.

CHATTERLEY: That contributed, yes, to it.

Turns out that pollution can be deadly even when it meets air quality guidelines. Important new research after this.


[04:23:14] BRIGGS: Air pollution can be deadly, even when it meets air quality guidelines. A broad study of more than 650 cities in 24 countries over 30 years was just published in the "New England Journal of Medicine." Researchers found increased exposure to air pollutants was linked to more deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Particle pollution comes from coal and natural gas-fired plants, cars, agriculture, unpaved roads, and construction sites. The Trump administration has loosened pollution guidelines that would allow a state to emit 43 percent more pollution across state lines.

CHATTERLEY: Yale University failed to stop a professor accused of sexually assaulting at least five students over decades. An independent report says the university first investigated Eugene Redmond's behavior way back in 1994. The alleged assaults took place at a research facility in the Caribbean. The report says Redmond denied the allegations and refused to take part in the investigation. Yale says it will now change how it tracks professors' disciplinary records and conduct more scrutiny of internships and overnight programs. Redmond retired in 2018. He's been banned from campus.

BRIGGS: A powerful storm in South Carolina injures two people when a violent gust of wind sends an event tent airborne. The strong gust lifted the tent into the air along with two Clemson restaurant workers who were trying to secure it. One man was lifted into the air above the roof and hit the gutter on his way down. He suffered cuts and bruises and had to get stitches above his left eye. One woman was pulled several feet into the air before being hit by a flying table. Local media say both workers were able to walk away and will be OK.

[04:25:03] CHATTERLEY: Very lucky.

New images of the Titanic reveal its shocking decay. The first man- dive to the storied wreck in nearly 15 years found the ship being devoured by metal-eating bacteria and battered by corrosion and deep- sea currents. A deep-ocean exploration team made five dives to the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic this month to capture footage and computer imagery to assess the ship's condition and its future. They also filmed and studied the remains for an upcoming "National Geographic" documentary.

BRIGGS: Instagram says you shouldn't worry. It will not use your photos against you in court. The chief of the social media giant responding to a meme that went viral, claiming Instagram is planning to roll out new changes to its privacy policy. The purported changes involved allowing old messages and private photos to be used in court cases against users. Instagram's chief says it's a hoax.

A similar hoax has long made the rounds on Facebook. If you were fooled, don't feel too bad. You were not alone. Dozens of celebrities and politicians were, too. That includes Julia Roberts, Usher, Judd Apatow, Rob Lowe, even Energy Secretary Rick Perry who oversees the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

So, the reminder, just do your homework before reposting someone with this message.

CHATTERLEY: I was about to say -- it was a hoax.

BRIGGS: Check it out.

CHATTERLEY: Wow. All right. If someone told you the president called himself the chosen one, retweeted conspiracies and stood by anti-Semitic claims, you might say that's crazy. Well, right now it's a reality. The details after this.