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South Carolina Elementary School Shooting; Russia Ready to Resume Syria Talks?; More U.S. Troops Headed to Iraq to Fight ISIS. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 29, 2016 - 04:30   ET



[04:34:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Despite the mayor's call for peace and patience, protests escalating again overnight in El Cajon, California, in the wake of the police shooting of the unarmed black man this week. Protesters marched in the streets, holding signs, chanting, blocking traffic, jumping on the bus at one point. Some were said to be throwing water bottles at officers.

Police now say the object 38-year-old Alfred Olango drew from his pocket and pointed at officers when they shot him was a vape smoking device.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities in South Carolina are searching for answers after a 14-year-old allegedly opened fire outside an elementary school wounding a teacher and two students. The suspect is now in custody. Police say the school shooting came shortly after the teen's father was found dead in his home.

Let's get more now from CNN's Victor Blackwell.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, still so many questions this morning in this small upstate South Carolina community of Townville after police say a teenager drove to Townville Elementary and shot a teacher and two young boys. The teacher shot in the shoulder, one boy in the leg, another boy with more severe injuries.

[04:35:06] He was flown to a trauma center about 40 miles away in Greenville. And investigators say this happened so quickly, that there was a call that came in before 2:00 on Wednesday. A teacher says that there was a person on campus with a gun. It turned out to be a teenager described as white male with a handgun.

Now, investigators say they have been told he is 14 years old. It was a volunteer firefighter who took him down. That boy is now in custody.

Minutes after the shooting, investigators say a call came in three miles down the road saying a man had been found shot to death. That man 47-year-old Jeffery Osborne. It turns out, he is the shooter's father.

Now, the connection to the shooting three and a half miles away, but still no connection to the shooter and teacher, or the shooter and those young boys. Investigators still working to try to get those answers.

We know, though, that the teacher was shot in the shoulder and the boy was shot in the leg, they have been released from the hospital. That happened late yesterday. Unfortunately, that young boy who suffered more serious injuries, he is still recovering. He went through emergency surgery.

We know that Governor Nikki Haley was in this community speaking with the families of those shooting victims. We still don't have an answer to why this happened, but investigators say there is no clear connection to terror and they don't think this is racially motivated. You remember the last time we were here covering a shooting, it was in Charleston in June of 2015 after Mother Emanuel, after Dylann Roof walked into that church and killed nine people.

Still, again, so many questions as one boy is still in the hospital fighting for his life -- John, Christine.


BERMAN: The statute of limitations on rape is no more in California is no more. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill repealing the law that bars prosecution if an alleged sexual assault happened more than 10 years earlier. Calls for the change grew after dozens of women came forward with accusations against Bill Cosby. Many of them were decades old, unable to be prosecuted.

ROMANS: Law enforcement officials have identified two men walking off with a duffel bag suspected to be dropped by Ahmad Rahami in New York City. Police say the bag contained a bomb that failed to detonate. Unlike that went off blocks away, injuring dozens of people.

The men are said to work for Egyptian Airlines. They were visiting New York. The FBI is trying to reach them back home. There is no evidence they were involved in the bombing plot. They are, though, considered witnesses. They want to talk to them about what they saw and I'm sure they would like to see the bag.

BERMAN: Final farewell to Florida Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. A public memorial procession Wednesday traveled from Marlins Park through the streets of Miami to the church where the funeral mass will be held later today. Thousands of fans came out to pay respects. The entire Marlins team was also on hand. The 24-year-old and two friends were killed last weekend in a boating accident.

ROMANS: Donald Trump is not the only one saying America's central bank is supporting Hillary Clinton. We're going to show you how Fed Chief Janet Yellen pushes back against the latest accusations of political play on the Fed. Early start on your money is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:42:11] ROMANS: Janet Yellen facing tough questions about the Federal Reserves political motives. A Republican Congress member questioned her yesterday for what he described as a conflict of interest with one Fed governor.

The governor is a woman named Lael Brainard. She is a voting member of the Fed, a former under secretary of the Treasury Department and economic adviser to President Bill Clinton. Before that, she worked at a consulting company McKinsey & Company.

But Brainard donated to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and there is speculation she is seeking a top position in Hillary Clinton's administration if she is elected. And that got Congressman Scott Garrett's attention.


REP. SCOTT GARRETT (R), NEW JERSEY: You learned that she has had communications with Clinton as far as trying to get a job. Would that change your opinion as to whether she should be asked to recuse herself?

JANET YELLEN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: I don't think that there is conflict of interest.


ROMANS: It is legal for Fed governors to donate to campaigns, but Garrett argues she should not allow to if the Fed is truly free of influence.

You know, Donald Trump is saying it is political, political and political. And then here's sort of rising star at the Fed who turns out she donated to Hillary Clinton's campaign. You know, there are some people on the Fed who are registered Republicans, some are registered Democrats, but that really got some attention yesterday.

BERMAN: It has been a target for a long time, Ron Paul, Rand Paul and others.

All right. A Tim Tebow sighting. The former Heisman Trophy Winner and briefly NFL quarterback belted a home run in the first pitch he faces first professional baseball game in the Florida Instructional League. Teammates mobbed Tebow. They're moving him? Yes, that's almost a mob.

ROMANS: That's his first at bat?

BERMAN: A first at bat. So, the first time he's played baseball since junior year in high school.

Look at that. Congratulations, Tim Tebow. Minor league star.

ROMANS: I know. Is he like selling some of those jerseys too? I mean --

BERMAN: The Mets are selling those jerseys.


All right. Forty-four minutes past the hour.

"Saturday Night Live" is set to launch its 42nd season this weekend with a new Donald Trump? Who is it? It is actor Alec Baldwin. He will play the Trump role this season, calling toe to toe with Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton. Baldwin, of course, is no stranger to "SNL". He's hosted a record 16 times. He's made numerous cameos. Actress Margot Robbie hosts this season premiere on Saturday.

BERMAN: All right. Heavy rain, even flooding possible for parts of the east coast, including Washington. Let's get to meteorologist Derek Van Dam.


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

Classic autumn-like weather taking place across the Mid-Atlantic States today. Copious amounts of precipitation anticipated. With the heavy rainfall comes the chance of flooding as well.

We'll talk about how much rain we should expect, but first let's identify from the National Weather Service where we have our current watches and warnings.

[04:45:06] Southern Pennsylvania, parts of Maryland into Virginia and Delaware. You can see the flash flood watches across this area, that dark shading of red indicating flash flood warnings in place.

We could easily experience over the next 48 hours up to six to eight inches locally, even higher amounts possible. So, we're going to monitor this region very closely from the nation's capital, through Baltimore and Philadelphia even into Roanoke and into Richmond. Now, associated with this amount of rainfall is a large dip in the jet stream, and that is driving in cooler and much drier air.

Look at these temperatures. Very comfortable from Atlanta all the way up the New England coastline.

Back to you.


BERMAN: Extreme comfort.

All right. Russia now says it is ready to resume peace talks over Syria, but at least one top U.S. official does not believe it. We'll have that story, plus an early start on your money, next.


[04:50:10] BERMAN: Russia now says it wants to resume talks with the U.S. to achieve some kind of a peace deal in Syria. But a senior U.S. official says Russia ceasefire talk is not serious. This comes after Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian counterpart that the U.S. was preparing to suspend talks with Russia unless it stops helping the Syrian regime's aerial assault in Aleppo.

CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen just out of Syria, joins us now from Beirut, with the latest.

Good morning, Fred.


Yes, I think all this really shows how fed up Washington is with the way the Russians have been conducting, a lot of these peace negotiations and then the results that they have seen on the battle field. And we have to keep in mind that only about a week ago, there was a cease-fire that was supposed to be in place in all of Syria, especially in and around the Aleppo area and also the humanitarian aid was to get in there as well.

In the end, the cease-fire collapsed and right after the ceasefire collapse was when the Russians and Syrian government, but especially the Russians stepped up the bombing campaign there on eastern Aleppo, on those rebel-held districts. Also, there's not even talk anymore of any humanitarian aid getting in those areas, and, of course, many, many civilians have also died.

So, it really seems as though, right now, Secretary of State Kerry but also the White House fed up. They don't have very much faith left in the way the Russians are conducting these negotiations. It's interesting that the Russians are saying that they are willing to participate in these peace talks, they're also blaming Washington for their part. They said that the U.S. has not done enough to identify moderate rebel groups on the group, and to differentiate those from terrorist organizations operating there as well.

So, really, right now, what seems as though very little chance for diplomacy and even less chance for any sort of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia fighting organizations like ISIS in Syria -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Frederik Pleitgen for us in Beirut this morning -- thanks so much, Fred. And great work inside Syria as well.

ROMANS: All right. At least 500 additional U.S. troops could be headed to Iraq in the coming days. It's all part of a deal brokered by President Obama and Iraq's prime minister in the fight against ISIS. Officials hoping the U.S. help will be enough to drive ISIS fighters out of the key city of Mosul.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr with the very latest.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, as expected, President Obama has approved sending additional 615 U.S. troops mainly to northern Iraq to help the Iraqi forces there get ready for the fight to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and its main claim to having a caliphate, a so-called caliphate, in Iraq.

The U.S. troops are going to be helping on a range of topics. They will work as military advisors to the Iraqis as well. Being out in the field with them, but not at the frontlines. The fight for Mosul may go on for some time. So, the U.S. assistance with being in the field and with air support, with intelligence really is considered vital.

If the Iraqis along with help from Kurdish forces can get Mosul back and push ISIS out once and for all, that will be a military victory against ISIS. But nobody is betting at this point that it will be the end of the so-called Islamic State -- John, Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Barbara Starr -- thank you, Barbara.

New this morning, the FBI revealing more attempted elections cyber attacks. Two law enforcement officials think Russia is behind the hacking attempts on voter registration sites. This is more than in a dozen states. Hackers are looking for weaknesses that will let them enter election computer systems. FBI Director James Comey making it clear, no information was changed, no voting systems were at risk.

BERMAN: Voters in New Hampshire are free to snap a selfie with the ballot this November and share it on social media. A federal appeals court said on Wednesday that -- they said a law passed in New Hampshire in 2014 was unconstitutional, the so-called selfie ban. State lawmakers argue that pictures of ballots could be used to help in buying votes. But the court dismissed that notion, citing a lack of evidence.

To recap in something I just mangled right there. New Hampshire had a law to ban selfies in the ballot. But now, a court says, no, it's OK. So, in New Hampshire, in the Granite State, you can live, free, or die and snap a selfie in a ballot booth.

ROMANS: It is so modern to have a selfie in the ballot booth, you know?

BERMAN: I know. I feel freer right now, just knowing that I can get a selfie in the ballot booth.

ROMANS: Let's get an early start on your money this morning. Dow futures pushing higher after nice gains yesterday. Much of the optimism coming from a deal to freeze oil production by the world's largest producers. Oil prices jumped on that news. They're down slightly this morning.

[04:55:02] Stock markets in Europe are rising. Shares in Asia rallying overnight.

More trouble for Samsung. Not phones catching on fire, but washing machines exploding. I'm sorry, I don't mean to laugh, but, you know, your consumer products are not supposed to burn. U.S. regulators are warning owners that certain top loading Samsung washing machines have safety issues following reports some have exploded. Consumer Product Safety Commission said machines made between March of 2011 and April of 2016, that's five years, could have this defect. It did not specify a model.

The commission suggests people use the delicate cycle to wash bedding and bulky items. That may lower the risk of injury or property damage. The agency said it is working with Samsung on a fix for the issue.

ROMANS: OK. Child care costs have been a big topic on the campaign trail. A new report shows just how expensive child care is becoming. The average cost of full-time day care for kids up to the age of 4, $9,589 a year. That's according to think tank New America. That tops the average cost of in-state college tuition.

That's right. Day care for your kid costs more than a year of college. Look at the median household income of about $56,516. You're going to shell out 17 percent of your pay for the care of just one child. Hillary Clinton wants to cap child care costs at 10 percent of income. Donald Trump is proposing a child care tax deduction.

BERMAN: Can we put that chart back up there of the date? Want everyone to have ingestion before breakfast.

I'm just thinking, like, it turns out kids are expensive. Is that the message you're getting in?

ROMANS: They are. They are very expensive. And this is why people argue for --

BERMAN: For life of monogamy? For joining the convent? What are you saying? This is why people argue for what?

ROMANS: You are saying that that chart is birth control? Is that what you're saying?

BERMAN: Yes, right there.

ROMANS: All right. But they are lovely. Little call centers, they're so nice. And they will take care of you when you are old.

BERMAN: That's -- all right. Well, maybe yours. I'm not so sure about my boys.

EARLY START continues right now.


BERMAN: Donald Trump says he did great. He is thrilled with his performance in the first debate, despite the polls that say otherwise. And he wants anyone who works for him or supports him to stop saying he didn't win.

ROMANS: President Obama blasting Congress suggesting an override of his veto had nothing to do with 9/11 survivors and everything to do with politics.

BERMAN: And protests escalating overnight in California over a deadly police shooting. This as police reveal what they say was in the man's hands as he was gunned down.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, September 29th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

This morning, Trump says he won the first debate no matter what anyone else is saying, or the polls for that matter. In fact, in a conference call, campaign officials suggested Trump is angry that some aides are publicly admitting that he struggled in the first debate and they are pushing him to change tactics.

And at a rally last night, Trump even raised a new conspiracy theory that the Internet is rigged against him.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The new post debate poll that just came out. The Google poll has us leading Hillary Clinton by two points nationwide. And that's despite the fact that Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton. How about that? How about that?


ROMANS: So this Google-gate, suggestion that Google was filtering information about the Hillary Clinton campaign, this is something CNN and other news outlets have investigated and looked into. It is not true.

BERMAN: Not true.

All right. Donald Trump is also not backing down on his criticism of one-time Miss Universe Alicia Machado. Overnight, Trump told FOX News that he saved Machado from being fired by pageant officials after she gained weight and in return as he put it, I got nothing.


TRUMP: This is a person, Bill, that was the first one under my ownership. She did not do well. She had a lot of difficulties. You know, they wanted to fire her. The company itself wanted to fire her. I saved her job. I bet, if you put up all the time I spoke to her, it's probably less than five minutes.


BERMAN: Five minutes seems like a low estimate given videos of Donald Trump talking about her workout regimen as he was trying to get her to lose weight.

Overnight, we also got our first look at talking points the campaign is using to defend Trump in the Machado controversy. These talking points focused almost exclusively on Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs, saying that Hillary Clinton bullied her husband's accusers, asking why Monica Lewinsky has not spoken up during the campaign.

We had a Trump supporter yesterday on TV speak that very sentence, which I could get a sense they are reading these talking points, Trump people going on TV. Talking points also argue that Hillary Clinton's claim she is some kind of a feminist champion, again, these are talking point, they say that claim is a joke.

ROMANS: All right. Today, Hillary Clinton heads to Iowa the same day early voting kicks off in that state. No coincidence. As of today, 11 states are already voting. But Iowa is the first to offer in- person polling stations.