Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Rep. Scalise in Critical Condition After Gun Attack; Special Counsel Investigating Trump for Possible Obstruction of Justice; Cosby Trial Jury Deliberations. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 15, 2017 - 04:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GUNFIRE)

[04:30:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we know where he's at? Do we know where he's at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's behind home plate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you call 911?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assume people have been calling 911 already.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A top Republican in critical condition after a politically motivated shooting. Will the incident reduce the divisive rhetoric in Washington and how it is affecting security for lawmakers?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And President Trump this morning facing new trouble in the Russia probe. Reports this morning say the special counsel is investigating the president for possible obstruction of justice. We'll break down those reports for you and that source in particular.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

Members of Congress will take the field tonight as planned for the annual congressional baseball game, just one day after the Republican team was a target of a shooting rampage. Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana remains in critical condition this morning. Doctors say a single rifle shot tore across Scalise's hip and pelvis. They say Scalise suffered injury to his internal organs and will require additional surgery.

ROMANS: President Trump visited the hospital last night, accompanied on the surprise visit by First Lady Melania Trump. The White House says the president sat at Scalise's bedside, spoke with his family.

Hours earlier, the president faced the first major test of his ability to reassure a shaken public, striking a unifying tone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capitol is here because, above all, they love our country. We are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: There had been talk of the president attending tonight's game. He did want to but learned late in the day that won't happen. The White House cited security concerns.

Representative Scalise is an avid baseball fan. He has played on the congressional ball team since coming to the Hill in 2008.

ROMANS: He was not the only person injured in the shooting attack. Lobbyist Matt Mika is in critical condition. He is expected to be hospitalized for at least several days. Zach Barth, a staffer for Texas Congressman Roger Williams, he's expected to make a full recovery. Two Capitol Police Officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey, they are being treated at a hospital for nonlife-threatening injuries. And police say a second unnamed congressman suffered minor injuries.

BRIGGS: We have new information this morning about the gunman, James Hodgkinson, who died in the shoot-out with police. We're learning that he was a fervent supporter of Bernie Sanders, volunteering for Sanders' presidential campaign, though he had no formal role. Sanders condemning the attack from the Senate floor, said he was, quote, sickened by the shooter's despicable act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The gunman also proclaimed his politics on social media in several anti-Republican Facebook groups. He called President Trump a traitor and he called Republicans the Taliban of the USA.

For more, we turn to senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt, reporting from Alexandria, Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. The authorities have officially named the attacker. He is James

Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old from Belleville, Illinois. Around 7:00 in the Wednesday morning, he opened fire on that ball field full of members of Congress. The first call to the Alexandria police came at 7:09, and just three minutes later, local police officers responded to what the local police chief later called a combat situation.

FBI special agent Tim Slater saying that Hodgkinson had been living here in Alexandria in his van since March. He also called on members of the public -- in fact, they published a flyer asking anyone to come forward with any sort of information specifically on possible motives, on possible acquaintances and previous whereabouts.

Now, this could have been far worse, had those capitol police officers not been there. The only reason there were three police officers on the scene was because of Representative Scalise. He is part of the GOP leadership, and only the leadership has personal security. None of the other 21 members on that field had any sort of protection, meaning that it could have resulted in what many people are calling a potential massacre -- Christine, Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Alex, thank you.

A lot of raw, unfiltered emotion on Capitol Hill in the hours following the shooting rampage.

[04:35:03] Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle visibly shaken. Listen to this impassioned plea from Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis, still bloodied after helping victims at the scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R), ILLINOIS: There's such a hatefulness in what we see in American politics and policy discussions right now. This has got to stop. We can disagree on how to govern. That's what makes our country great, but I'm here because we're all Americans.

And I think Republicans and Democrats need to use this day today to stand together and say, stop, let's work together, let's get things done. We can have our differences, but let's not let it lead to such hate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: All right. So with more reaction from Capitol Hill, we turn now to CNN's Phil Mattingly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, stunned is really probably the only way you could describe lawmakers throughout the course of the day in the wake of this shooting. Numb, some of them would also say. They were so shocked, so taken aback by what had actually occurred, what had happened to one of their colleagues. One of the interesting elements, though, is watching the parties

actually come together in the wake of this. The speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, and the minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, both taking to the floor as all of their colleagues sat around, even on a day when the House wasn't voting at all, to makes remarks and to call for unity.

Take a listen to what Speaker Ryan had to say.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There is one image in particular that this House should keep, and that is a photo I saw this morning of our Democratic colleagues gathered in prayer this morning after hearing the news. At times, our emotions can clearly get the best of us.

We're all imperfect, but we do not shed our humanity when we enter this chamber. For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

(APPLAUSE)

MATTINGLY: Now, guys, there's no question, there's an increased security posture on Capitol Hill. A lot of lawmakers concerned, particularly as they look forward towards recesses, when there are town halls, trying to figure out exactly what they need to be doing.

I'm told behind closed doors at a briefing, that was one of the primary issues, how to keep an eye on everything that's around you, your surroundings, make sure you are cognizant of anything that could be happening. But the reality is, they're lawmakers. They deal with these issues every single day. One of the biggest takeaways at this point, particularly leading up to the congressional baseball tonight, they want to try and unify, do something to get past what has been such visceral rhetoric over the course of the last months, perhaps years. We'll see if they can actually get there -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Phil Mattingly, thank you.

Let's break it down with CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano. He's a retired FBI supervisory special agent.

Good morning.

And you've been on duty actually, you know, protecting people and being in these sort of details where you protect folks. There were two capitol police officers here because Steve Scalise is in the line of succession and is the third highest ranking Republican. Tell us a little bit about how difficult it is to protect all of these people in the House and the Senate.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Very, very difficult. And again, if we want to turn the United States into a police state or establish martial law, we can keep everybody safe, but that's not going to happen here.

For the dignitary protection details, the VIP folks, and overseas, the folks who do that are the diplomatic security service. Secret Service, obviously, handles it here. What's difficult for them is the expenditure of resources, because for every trip that you have a dignitary go on, you have to send an advanced team to where you're going.

ROMANS: Right.

GAGLIANO: Then you have to have the folks that are protecting the detailee, and then you have to have folks launching on to do the advance of the next spot. So, it is a very resource-consuming exercise. Necessary? Absolutely. But we have 535 members of Congress. We just don't have the resources.

ROMANS: And by definition, they're always, you know, with the public. I mean, they're public figures.

BRIGGS: Right. I mean, this is what they're supposed to be doing, being available. Their schedules are made public. Let's get to the notion of town halls. When they go home and there are hundreds, sometimes even thousands of constituents there without much security. How do you protect these congressmen?

GAGLIANO: Dave, you and I spoke this morning earlier about, you know, congressmen and senators having their schedules made public. They have to do that because they have to draw crowds. And obviously, when you're a politician, you want to be able to shake hands and kiss babies. That requires being in close proximity with your constituents.

If we want to turn this into a TSA exercise, if we want to make it like the airport where to go to see your congressman or congresswomen you stand in line for four hours and get your bags checked and take your shoes off, I think we'll diminish the whole town hall concept and the closeness people want to have with their politician.

ROMANS: What do we make of the shooter here? He was spending some weeks living out of his van in the Alexandria area. He was going every day to this YMCA, but not really using the gym, just sitting there with his laptop open all day long.

People who saw him there said that he was odd, that he was gruff, but that he was clean, but there was just something off about him.

[04:40:05] GAGLIANO: Christine, I don't have any firsthand information on the investigation, but I can tell you from experience and intuition, it looks like the classic case of somebody that had premeditation. So, he clearly was stalking or putting together a plan in place to figure out where the best opportunity was.

He wasn't good at it. I mean, for you to have to ask after eight months of being in the area and folks seeing you and seeing you in the vicinity of that field, to ask that morning, are these Republicans or Democrats, doesn't look like he was very good at his job. And I think we're very, very blessed and lucky that up to this point, there have not been any confirmed deaths as a result of his actions.

BRIGGS: He asked that question of Representative Jeff Duncan.

As difficult as it is to protect congressmen, is it an impossible task to police social media, given even the resources of the FBI, the Secret Service and the capitol police? Getting the rhetoric out there on social media, is that an impossible thing to contain and to police?

GAGLIANO: In a free society, Dave, the simple answer is yes, because we want a robust discussion and argument. We want people to be committed to whatever their political end of the continuum is. I think what we as Americans really have to be conscious of, and it happens on both sides of the aisle -- we tend to isolate the few to smear the whole.

This was an unhinged, mentally imbalanced man who took it to another level, but we can't associate everyone that had his political ideology as a murder, just like we can't do it on the other side. We've got to be very careful about that.

ROMANS: Fascinating.

All right. Thanks for being here with us, walking us through the investigation.

BRIGGS: Check in with you next hour.

All right. New reporting this morning on the Russia investigation. CNN has learned special counsel Robert Mueller plans to meet with the Trump administration's top intelligence officials. Meantime, "The Washington Post" reports Mueller is expanding his probe to include possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.

Mueller's investigators have already asked for information from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. Now, Mueller plans to meet face-to-face with both men.

ROMANS: CNN has been told by law enforcement sources only that Mueller is considering whether there is evidence to launch a full- scale investigation of the president for obstruction. If Mueller does so, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would have to recuse himself, since he could be a witness, given his role in the firing of James Comey. At a hearing last week, DNI Coats and Admiral Rogers denied they felt pressure by the president to impede the FBI's Russia probe.

BRIGGS: Mueller's investigators are also seeking information from recently retired NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett. According to sources, Ledgett wrote a memo documenting a conversation in which the president urged Admiral Rogers to help lift the cloud created by the FBI's investigation. Mueller met yesterday with leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr and Mark Warner. The two sides have been discussing how the Senate investigation and the federal probe will share information and avoid interfering with one another.

The jury has questions. Still no verdict, though, in the Bill Cosby trial. What jurors have asked the judge to have read back, next on EARLY START?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:47:34] ROMANS: All right. Important for anybody with student loans, student debt, college loans, the Department of Education is freezing two Obama-era rules that protect student borrowers. One holds for-profit colleges accountable. They have to prove their education leads to gainful employment. If not, they lose funding. The other fast-tracks loan forgiveness for student borrowers who have been defrauded.

Both were set for July 1st. Instead, the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants to take a step back. She will create committees to review these rules.

At the same time, the Trump administration is promoting an alternative to four-year colleges, apprenticeships. The goal is to bridge the skills gap. First daughter Ivanka Trump met yesterday with more than a dozen executives to discuss apprenticeship programs.

And the "Wall Street Journal" reports the president may issue an executive order today expanding funding. It is unclear exactly how his budget will pay for it. It sets aside $90 million for apprenticeship but slashes $1 billion from job training and retraining programs. That $90 million for apprenticeship exactly the same as the Obama administration.

BRIGGS: OK. Well, developing this morning, we now know the name of the gunman who shot and killed three people at a UPS facility in San Francisco, then killed himself. Sources identify him as Jimmy Lam. A local station reported police raided his home, leaving with multiple bags of evidence, including a desktop computer. Two others who were shot survived.

Police have not released the victims' names. No official motive yet, but a union rep for the UPS workers say the gunman had recently filed an excessive overtime grievance.

Twenty-eight hours over three days, still no verdict from the jury in Bill Cosby's trial on aggravated indecent assault charges. Jurors returned for a fourth day of deliberations. In just a few hours, they've asked the judge six questions. So far, their deliberations including a request to rehear Cosby's statements to authorities and Andrea Constand's testimony about the alleged assault.

The 79-year-old comedian accused of drugging and molesting Constand at his home in 2004. The defense says the encounter was consensual. If convicted on all counts, Cosby faces up to 30 years in prison.

ROMANS: All right. The hot weather sticking around in the central part of the country. Let's bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

Enjoy the relatively cool weather in New York City today and tomorrow. You can see temperatures warm up from here.

[04:50:02] On Saturday and Sunday, we're going to easily top the 80- degree mark, but that's nothing compared to what they're experiencing across the nation's midsection. They're nearly 10 to 15 degrees above where they should be this time of year. And anyone who comes from this area knows that you need to factor in the humidity levels to actually know how hot it will feel as you step outside.

We've got a classic summer sizzler from Oklahoma City into St. Louis and Chicago. You can see the relatively cooler weather expected for the Big Apple. Atlanta hot and humid for you as well.

With this humid air mass in place, it doesn't take much to fire off a few thunderstorms, and that's exactly what we're expecting across the nation's midsection, stretching towards the Southeast, and a few thunderstorms, perhaps, across the New England coastline as we head into Friday.

But the Storm Prediction Center has identified this area across the plains, specifically into Kansas, large hail, damaging winds, and the possibility of tornadoes.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, thank you for that.

Can anything stop Tesla? The stock is up. Dave, it's up 75 percent this year.

BRIGGS: Man.

ROMANS: You heard me right. We're going to tell you why on "CNN Money Stream", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:55:18] ROMANS: Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning. Global markets, U.S. futures lower after the Fed raised interest rates. Wall Street's reaction basically mixed. The Dow hit a record high for the second day. The NASDAQ and the S&P closed lower.

Energy stocks led the drop, falling about 2 percent. That's because oil prices tanked nearly 4 percent. Oil prices at their lowest level in seven months. Investors worried about the global oil glut.

OPEC is trying to curb supply, but production in the U.S. is still increasing, and gas demand is unexpectedly low. It usually spikes during the summer driving season, but reduced demand is keeping gas prices at historic lows. This is the lowest summer gas prices on average since 2005.

Tesla's stock is on fire, up 75 percent this year -- 75 percent! That's an all-time high for Tesla shares. The company now worth $62 billion. That is more than GM, Ford, Honda, or BMW.

Tesla has had a good year. Sales are growing rapidly. There are high hopes for the upcoming affordable Model 3. But skeptics, and there are many, they worry Tesla will fail to live up to expectations. Either way, the surge has made founder Elon Musk one of the world's richest. He's now worth $17 billion, with a B.

BRIGGS: Have heard rave reviews about these cars. You can summon them with your clicker.

ROMANS: Can you?

BRIGGS: Yes. I'll never know. That's out of my league, but quite a creation.

All right. EARLY START continues right now.

ROMANS: Summon them with my clicker.

BRIGGS: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GUNFIRE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we know where he's at? Do we know where he's at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's behind home plate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you call 911?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assume people have been calling 911 already.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: A politically motivated shooting leaves a top Republican in critical condition. Members of Congress are striking a unified tone. Will the incident cool the heated political rhetoric?

ROMANS: And President Trump facing a widening probe in the Russia investigation. Reports this morning say the special counsel is looking into whether obstruction of justice was committed.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Thursday, June 15th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East, and members of Congress will take the field tonight, as planned, for the annual congressional baseball game, just a day after the Republican team was the target of a shooting rampage.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana remains in critical condition this morning. Doctors say a single rifle shot tore across Scalise's hip and pelvis. They say Scalise suffered internal injuries to his organs and will require more surgery. ROMANS: President Trump visited the hospital last night, accompanied

on the surprise visit by the first lady, Melania Trump. The White House says the president sat at Scalise's bedside, spoke with his family. Hours earlier, the president faced the first major test of his ability to reassure a shaken public, striking a unifying tone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capitol is here because, above all, they love our country. We are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Now, there had been talk of the president attending tonight's game, he did want to, but we learned late in the day that won't happen. The White House cited security concerns.

Representative Scalise is an avid baseball fan. He has played on the congressional team since coming to the Hill in 2008.

ROMANS: He was not the only person injured in the shooting attack. Lobbyist Matt Mika is in critical condition and expected to be hospitalized for at least several days. Zach Barth, a staffer for Texas Congressman Roger Williams is expected to make a full recovery.

Two Capitol Police Officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey are being treated at a hospital for nonlife-threatening injuries. Special agent Griner was shot in the ankle, we're told. And police say a second unnamed congressman suffered minor injuries.

BRIGGS: A lot of raw, unfiltered emotion on Capitol Hill, as you might expect, in the hours following the shooting rampage. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle visibly shaken.

Impassioned plea from Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis, still bloodied, helping victims at the scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R), ILLINOIS: There's such a hatefulness in what we see in American politics and policy discussions right now. This has got to stop. We can disagree on how to govern. That's what makes our country great, but I'm here because we're all Americans.