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Trump's Plethora of Eyebrow-Raising Claims; More Shootings Averted; Another Democrat Drops Out; Mets Win With Help from Indians' Mental Lapse. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 22, 2019 - 05:00   ET



[05:00:02] 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 president of the United States retweeting conspiracies, repeating 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 averted in the wake of El Paso and Dayton. One of them, a hotel employee with an arsenal at hand.

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

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

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

BRIGGS: Good to see you here. I'm Dave Briggs. Thursday, August 22nd.

Look at the cover of the "New York Daily News." The last whopper, the last supper. Interesting take on it.

It was a wild, wild Wednesday at the White House, even by Trump's standards. Wednesday produced a plethora of claims, suggestion, even conspiracies that should stop you in your tracks.

Mr. Trump demonstrated his 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.


BRIGGS: Not sure where he was looking at there, but for the record, his chosen approach at trade conflict comes at a cost to American farmers and workers, 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're being disloyal to Jewish people and you're being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that.


CHATTERLEY: Now, he made those remarks after retweeting declarations he's, quote, king of Israel, and, quote, the second coming of god, quoting conspiracy theorist by the way.

On the issue of guns, the president seems unable to make up his mind. Another twist yesterday as he denies 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 agreed to, when we get there, I'm concerned the Democrats will say, oh, well we now want this and we want -- you know, it's a slippery slope.


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

CHATTERLEY: President Trump's obsession with Barack Obama not letting up either. Twenty times in 30 minutes we reported yesterday. Trump tried to blame his predecessor for his troubles. Here's just a small sample on Russia and on 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: Just for the record, all nations in the G-7 agreed Russia had to be suspended because of its takeover of Crimea. Family separations during the Obama White House 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 G7.


TRUMP: That's not the way it should work.



BRIGGS: It sure was an evil laugh there.

Russian-controlled media celebrating after Mr. 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 G8 logo with Russia's flag getting big 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, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Given Russia's provocations, not just in Ukraine but many other places, I must say I am very much with Chancellor Merkel in thinking that the case has yet to be made out.


[05:05:08] BRIGGS: 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 re-admission would depend on the situation in Ukraine. G7 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, pitting 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 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 reaction there.

Anna, what are people making of it? A number of Danes I've spoken to, pretty bewildered by the situation. How are things now?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think yesterday there was a lot of shock and a fair feeling of insult, not just to deal with the whole issue of Greenland, the fact that it's not for sale but the president canceling a visit, having been invited by her majesty, the queen. Now tweeting about the NATO contributions that Denmark made not being enough, focusing so much on those percentage points as per usual.

I think it will raise a lot of eyebrows, not least as you said, you know, Denmark does contribute a lot in terms of the military. They are one of the staunchest allies of the United States and Europe. They have fought side by side in Iraq, Afghanistan, in the war against ISIS. It as cost Denmark very, very dearly.

They have a small military. They are a minnow in comparison to the United States. The Afghan war, for example, was the deadliest in Denmark's modern history. So, it really has cost them very much.

It will be raising eyebrows today. Overnight, of course, there was lots of diplomatic activity. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a phone call with Denmark's foreign minister, Jeppe Kofod, who has tweeted that they appreciated the phone call, that they will discuss areas of mutual interest going forward.

And bizarrely, some analysts suggesting that the latest flurry of diplomatic activities may end up actually strengthening the ties between the two countries -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. Anna Stewart in Copenhagen, thank you for that.

BRIGGS: New arrests on both coasts. A suspect suspected accused of plotting mass shootings in the wake of El Paso and Dayton. That makes almost 30 in the last few weeks.

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. Officers seized multiple high-powered weapons, tactical gear and high capacity magazines from Montoya's home.


CHIEF ROBERT LUNA, LONG BEACH POLICE: 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 his 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 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.


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. 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.

Still, 22 candidates remained in the Democratic field. Right now, 10 of them have qualified for the next debate. Businessman Tom Steyer is one poll away.

CHATTERLEY: The Federal Reserve looking for some flexibility faced with conflicting economic signals. Minutes of the Fed's July meeting reinforced Fed Chief Jay Powell's message to investors the July rate cut was a mid-cycle adjustment, quote, not the start of a more aggressive cycle.

[05:10:09] A lot of mixed indicators right now. We've got 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 them too high.


CHATTERLEY: Now, 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 business investment and less government spending.

The Fed typically does a series of cuts only when the economy is in a severe downturn or near recession, and the U.S. isn't in one now.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, one of the president's core promises, bring back the steel industry. Has he followed through?

CNN in Michigan with folks concerns about what comes next.


[05:15:52] CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to EARLY START.

President Trump promised to revive the U.S. steel industry, but success has been spotty at best. Now, one of the struggling steel producers, U.S. steel, says it's temporarily laying off around 200 workers at a plant in Michigan. The Trump administration rolled out a 25 percent tariff on steel imports that helped lift prices in 2018 but slowed down the auto, energy and construction sectors, along with increased production led to over supply and a sharp drop in prices this year. That has workers worried for their futures.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more from Michigan.



Well, members of this community confused and shocked after U.S. Steel announced it was temporarily laying off about 200 workers at the factory behind me. The company says that these layoffs are because of ongoing challenging market conditions.

Now, this is very much in contrast to what we heard from the president in the last week. He often credits himself to bringing back the steel industry, but we spoke to one city official here who says he finds no evidence of that and he and another community leader are concerned these temporary layoffs will become permanent.

RICHARD MARSH, CITY ADMINISTRATOR, ECORSE, MICHIGAN: We assume that we'd have more production. In fact, we thought there would be a reverse effect. We thought there would be more hiring taking place here locally.

JAMES PERRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DOWNRIVER COMMUNITY CONFERENCE: It's a recession when your neighbor is laid off. It's a depression when you get laid off. It hasn't change in the past 38 or 39 years and, you know, there's all kind of emotion that is go through.

YURKEVICH: And there could be good reason for that concern. If you look at U.S. Steel stock prices, this time last year the stock was trading at about $30 a share, today, it's a $12 a share. That's a 60 percent drop. And as for these temporary layoffs, U.S. Steel saying they don't know exactly when these jobs will be back -- Julia and Dave.


BRIGGS: Vanessa, thank you.

Some scary moments, but a lucky ending for ten people aboard a small jet in northern California. The pilot aborted takeoff causing the Cessna Citation to crash, leaving a trail of thick black smoke over the town of Oroville. It's not yet known why the pilot aborted. Everyone walked away without injury. The smoke caused closure for Highway 162 but the road has since reopened.

CHATTERLEY: President Trump says he's 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, 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.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, another big win for the New York Mets. They got a helping hand from the Cleveland Indians closer. Andy Scholes with a heck of a story from Mets country next.


[05:23:51] BRIGGS: Major League Baseball has reportedly warned its players that over-the-counter sex supplements could contain banned ingredients that would result in failed performance enhanced drug tests.

Andy Scholes has that story in the "Bleacher Report".

Boy, is it a colorful one? Good morning, my friend.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Dave. You know, according to ESPN, two players who are facing suspension

claim they failed their test because the banned substances they took came from over-the-counter sex supplements. Now, ESPN's Jeff Passan broke the news on Wednesday, referring to an internal memo sent to clubs and obtained by ESPN.

Passan reports that the memo states in part that these products are often contaminated with prohibited and unsafe ingredients. CNN asked Major League Baseball and the player association for a copy of this memo but the MLB telling CNN it doesn't make their memos to clubs public.

According to Passan, quoting from unnamed sources, the use of over- the-counter pills commonly found at convenience stores that advertise improved sexual performance, that's prevalent among baseball players.

All right. The amazing Mets continuing to find ways to win last night.

[05:25:02] They were trailing the Indians 3-2 in the 10th inning. Michael Conforto hits into what looks like a game-ending double play, but Cleveland closer Brad Hand didn't cover first base, so the tying run comes in to score and two batters later, J.D. Davis hits that one to left. It drops in.

Mets once again a big win, 4-3. They're currently a game and a half out of that last wild card spot in the National League.

All right. Finally, Little League World Series down to six teams. New Jersey eliminated by Louisiana 4-1 last night.

After their game, coach Jairo Labrador gathered his team to congratulate them on an incredible run.


JAIRO LABRADOR, ELIZABETH, N.J. MANAGER: I want to thank you guys, man. I'm serious. Hey, we're here with you because of you guys and your work.

Hey, happy graduation day, boys. Happy graduation to my 12-year-olds, OK? Happy graduation. You guys are going on and being super stars on the big field. All right? It was an honor.


SCHOLES: Yes, you got to love those moments from the Little League World Series, Dave.

BRIGGS: Awesome.

SCHOLES: And you've got Louisiana and Virginia tonight. Winner of that plays Hawaii on Saturday's championship.

BRIGGS: I've got to tell you, Andy Scholes, the international games have been intriguing. I don't know what they're feeding the teams from South Korea and Japan, but they're some man-size 12-year-olds.

SCHOLES: Those kids from Japan always are so big.

BRIGGS: Holy cow, those kids could hit out of Citi Field.


BRIGGS: Andy, thank you, friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

BRIGGS: Julia, what's coming up?

SCHOLES: Wow. Who is the chosen one? That's the question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are the chosen one. You will find the child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eddie Murphy is the chosen one.


CHATTERLEY: That's from "The Golden Child" in 1986, but the U.S. president may beg to differ. That's not all he said. More after this.