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Trump Claims of Being the "Chosen One"; Trump's Obsession with Obama; Trump Blames Danish PM for Cancelled Trip. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 22, 2019 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:55] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.


JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Now at one time this would have been pretty outrageous, the president retweets conspiracies, anti-Semitic claims and that's just the beginning.


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


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

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

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

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs on a Thursday.

CHATTERLEY: I'm Julia Chatterley, 30 minutes past the hour here in New York.

Now even by Trump's standards, Wednesday produced a plethora of claims, suggestions and conspiracies that should stop you in your tracks. Trump demonstrated his apparent opinion of himself with this remark about his trade war with China.


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.


CHATTERLEY: Chosen by himself. For the record, his chosen approach to trade conflict comes at a cost to American consumers and to farmers and not just to China as he's claimed. Trump also doubled down on the anti-Semitic trope he used Tuesday when asked about his claim that Jews who support Democrats are 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.


BRIGGS: He made those remarks after retweeting declarations he's, quote, "The 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. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.


CHATTERLEY: Stronger background checks have broad bipartisan support. A refusal by Republicans to take action could come at a cost in 2020.

BRIGGS: 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. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.


BRIGGS: For the record, all nations in the G-7 agreed Russia had to leave because of its takeover of Crimea, and family separations during the Obama White House were rare and circumstantial. It was not a blanket policy until the Trump administration.

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


TRUMP: We should work.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).


CHATTERLEY: Russian controlled media is celebrating after Trump said he wanted to see Russia rejoin the group of the strongest industrial nations.

[04:35:03] 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 are not on board yet.


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.


CHATTERLEY: A senior Trump administration official says French President Emmanuel 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. BRIGGS: 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.


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.


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

CNN's Anna Stewart is live this morning in Copenhagen with the latest on the reaction there. Anna, good morning. What are you hearing?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, of course President Trump was always going to bring this up had he come to Denmark for the official state visit. He focuses a lot on the numbers. Denmark contributes 1.35 percent of GDP to NATO, he wants that up to 2 percent. Here in Denmark, the focus really is on how much they have contributed in terms of military support, particularly to the United States. They have fought alongside troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the war against ISIS. And it has cost Denmark very, very dearly.

They have a very small military, just 17,000 personnel. And actually huge lives lost in some of those conflicts. Afghanistan was the deadliest war for Denmark in modern history. Also tweeting about it now, having canceled the trip, having invited by the queen, having called the Danish prime minister's comments nasty, having insulted many people in Denmark by wanting to buy Greenland which is not for sale and is a semiautonomous Danish territory, it hasn't gone down well.

However, the Secretary of State in the U.S., Mike Pompeo, has called the Danish foreign minister trying to smooth all this over last night and it might have actually helped because the Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod has tweeted to say that he appreciated the frank, friendly and constructive talks he had with Pompeo, that it affirmed the strong U.S.-Danish bonds. U.S. and Denmark are close friends and allies with a long history of engagement across the globe, and they are going to continue to work on issues of mutual interests, trying very hard to smooth this over. Some analysts say that perhaps all this flurried diplomacy could actually end up strengthening relationships between Denmark and the United States -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Wow. An extraordinary development there.

Anna Stewart live for us. Thank you.

CHATTERLEY: All right. Let's move on. 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.


CHATTERLEY: 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. BRIGGS: 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.


BRIGGS: 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.

CHATTERLEY: Washington state governor Jay Inslee bowing out of the 2020 campaign. Inslee made addressing the climate crisis the core issue of his campaign. But he failed to gain traction.

[04:40:01] Inslee has yet to reach the polling threshold for the third Democratic debate so he's unlikely to qualify. A source tells CNN Inslee plans to seek a third term as Washington governor.

Twenty-two candidates now remain in the Democratic field. Right now, 10 have qualified for the next debate. Businessman Thomas Steyer just one poll away.

BRIGGS: President Trump says he is making cancellation of student loan debt for disabled veterans automatic. Until now disabled vets had to submit an application, but a letter signed by most state attorneys general called that system, quote, "inadequate." A letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said just 9,000 out of 42,000 eligible veterans had applied. Three quarters of those who had not were in default on their loans.

CHATTERLEY: Remember when candidate Trump promised to eliminate the federal debt back in 2016? Eye-popping numbers show the U.S. deficit is skyrocketing at an alarming rate. The Congressional Budget Office is now predicting the deficit will reach $960 billion for the 2019 fiscal year and reach $1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year. A number of factors are driving the increase including President Trump's trillion-dollar tax cuts in 2017 and of course a huge spending package, too. Adding to the heat is a two-year budget deal recently signed by the president. That deal set to raise government spending by hundreds of billions of dollars.

The dismal forecast also comes as the president said his administration is weighing several tax cut proposals to help keep the economy moving. Economists believe doing so would only further reduce the government's revenue and add to the deficit.

BRIGGS: A deficit he was promising to eliminate before coming into the office. And, you know, it's just interesting. Can this party -- the Republican Party ever return to deficit concerns as was their platform for decades?

CHATTERLEY: You have to wonder whether he looked at this number and this trillion-dollar sum in 2020 and said, I mean, this is perhaps why we can't cut taxes at this stage despite the fact that the economy is relatively healthy. We don't need tax cuts right now.

BRIGGS: I think it was more an admission that, OK, the economy is not so hot because there has never been one concern about the debt or the deficit by this president.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. That's certainly not a Republican issue anymore. It could be record breaking, though. Four years of increased deficits. If we see that based on these predictions it will be a record for the lengthiest amount of time of increasing deficits.

BRIGGS: Terrifying for the next generation.

Ahead, a record number of fires raging in the Amazon could hurt efforts to combat the climate crisis.


[04:46:50] CHATTERLEY: Two American service members were killed in Afghanistan Wednesday. Details of the incident are scarce and the names are being withheld while their families are notified. The Trump administration still in talks about a possible U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after almost 20 years of war. Taliban attacks have not slowed even as the U.S. continues negotiating with the group.

BRIGGS: 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 known why the pilot aborted takeoff. Everyone aboard the plane walked away without injury. The smoke forced the closure of Highway 162 but the road has since reopened.

CHATTERLEY: 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 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 20 percent of the oxygen in the earth's atmosphere.

BRIGGS: 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.

Still, though, the overcrowding problem might be the biggest issue there.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. I was about to say perhaps --

BRIGGS: And so many permits handed down.

CHATTERLEY: Tackling the wrong issue or less pressing issue.

BRIGGS: Yes. Perhaps.

CHATTERLEY: All right. Do you love Target?

BRIGGS: I do, indeed. Love Target as we call it.

CHATTERLEY: Well, you have something in common with other Americans because we love Target. Not such great news for everyone else, though. CNN Business has more after this.


[04:53:25] 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 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 former doctor at an Arkansas veterans' hospital is charged

with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of three patients. Robert Morris Levy allegedly falsified records to conceal his misdiagnosis. In one case a patient died of prostate cancer after Levy concluded that a biopsy showed he didn't have cancer. Prosecutors say on two other occasions he falsified entries to indicate that another pathologist had agreed with his diagnosis. An attorney for Levy says they are reviewing the indictment and that Levy maintains his innocence.

CHATTERLEY: Lord forgive them as they know not what they are doing. Those, the last words of a Texas death row inmate, Larry Swearingen, who maintained his innocence right up until he was executed last night. Swearingen was sentenced to death for the murder of 19-year- old Melissa Trotter in 1998. His lawyers argued for nearly two decades that scientific evidence exonerated him.

[04:55:04] But prosecutors said circumstantial evidence such as his actions with Trotter before her death and his lies to police pointed to his guilt. The Supreme Court turned down his final appeal last night.

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 says both workers were able to walk away and will be OK.

CHATTERLEY: The chair umpire who clashed with Serena Williams during last year's U.S. Open will not work any matches involving Serena or her sister Venus Williams at this year's tournament. The confrontation came during the 2018 Women's Singles Final between Serena and Naomi Osaka. Umpire Carlos Ramos first gave Williams a warning for getting a coaching signal from the stands. He then gave her a point penalty for breaking her racket and a game penalty for verbal abuse when she called him a, quote, "thief."

Osaka won the match but her first major victory was over shadowed by the controversy. Boos rang out in Arthur Ashe Stadium as she accepted her trophy. The draw for this year's U.S. Open will be announced today and play is set to begin on Monday.

BRIGGS: NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. plans to be back in the driver's seat next week despite having just survived a fiery plane crash. The 44-year-old tweeted that his lower back is bruised up real bad -- I know how that feels, Dale Jr. -- from the last crash, but plans to be behind the wheel in the Xfinity Series August 31st. Dale Jr., his wife and their daughter escaped serious injury after their small plane ran off the runway and caught fire following a hard landing in Tennessee. Earnhardt retired from full-time racing in 2017.

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. Instagram's chief says it's a hoax. A similar hoax has long made the rounds on Facebook.

If you were fooled, you are not alone. Dozens of celebrities and politicians were, too. That includes Julia Roberts, Usher, Judd Apatow, Rob Lowe, and even Energy Secretary Rick Perry who by the way oversees the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. Easy mistake to make.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning and a look at the price. Actually you can see we're tilted a little to the downside here for U.S. market futures. We did, though, see a comeback state Wednesday even as bond markets flashed the recession warning sign yet again. The Dow finished some 240 points higher as you can see, just shy of 1 percent. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closing up in the session as well.

Now some surprising numbers from the Labor Department. Turns out job growth in 2018 wasn't quite as robust as it may have appeared. Preliminary revisions show employers added a half million fewer jobs in 2018 and early 2019 than previously reported. According to JPMorgan Chase the change means job growth averaged 170,000 jobs a month during the 12-month period, down from the 2,000 and 10,000 initially estimated. The revisions don't change the overall picture of a healthy jobs market but they do mean that last year's jobs growth was weaker than previously estimated. Americans love Target. That's bad news for traditional department

stores. Sales at Target increased 3.4 percent during the summer quarter. The results come on the heels of Target's best year in more than a decade. Meanwhile, Macy's and JCPenney are still struggling. Macy's profit fell 48 percent during its most recent quarter. JCPenney, which is trading below $1 a share, reported last week its sales dropped 9 percent during its most recent quarter.

Retail bankruptcies such as Sears and Toys "R" Us and a strong consumer economy have also benefitted the big box chains.

BRIGGS: Little known fact. You have never been to Target?

CHATTERLEY: No, I haven't. We've been talking about a road trip.

BRIGGS: Field trip. It's glorious.


BRIGGS: We could spend hours.

CHATTERLEY: Pizza Hut. Starbucks.

BRIGGS: Just galivanting about.

CHATTERLEY: He's been selling it to me.

BRIGGS: We're doing this.

CHATTERLEY: He said three hours you could spend there. Really? Really, three hours?

BRIGGS: This is going to be a hoot. You and I.

CHATTERLEY: I think you're blushing.

BRIGGS: 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 am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.


BRIGGS: At one time this would have been outrageous.