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Ossoff Falls Short of Outright Win in Georgia; U.S. Show of Force... That Wasn't; Patriots to Visit the White House Today. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 19, 2017 - 05:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: He acknowledged there was some public speculation that he may lose his job but says he has spoken with United Continental's board of directors and received its backing. I have to say, I am shocked that no one was fired.

[05:00:01] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The security guards were the ones -- that was a company policy, no one United employee was at fault there other than a general policy.

EARLY START continues right now.


BRIGGS: Breaking this morning: no decisive winner in Georgia's highly-anticipated special election. Why are all sides claiming victory? And what is the White House saying?

Good morning and thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Wednesday, April 19th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And breaking overnight from Georgia's sixth congressional district, the only thing settled there this morning is that nothing is settled just yet. A special election to fill a seat held for decades by Republicans now headed to a June 20th runoff between 30-year-old Democratic first timer John Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

BRIGGS: His House seat has been reliably Republican since the Carter administration. It's been held over the years by Newt Gingrich and Tom Price whose departure to become health and human services secretary set off this special election. So, now, in a race viewed as a bellwether for how energized Democrats are in Trump country, their standard bearer is already declaring last night's win a victory for the ages.

More now from CNN's Manu Raju at Ossoff's headquarters in Atlanta.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Good morning, Alison and Dave. Now, Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate here in the sixth district

of Georgia, falling short of the 50 plus 1 percent that he needed to win this seat outright. Meaning that there's going to be now a runoff in two months against the Republican candidate Karen Handel, former Georgia secretary of state, is going to try to consolidate support in this conservative district.

Now, this district has not gone to a Democratic candidate since, for actually the last 37 years. So, the fact that Mr. Ossoff came close gave Democrats some reason to cheer last night even though he fell short.

This is what he said when he addressed supporters.

JON OSSOFF (D), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We have defied the odds. We have shattered expectations. We will be ready to fight on and win in June if it is necessary. And there is no amount of dark money, super PAC, negative advertising that can overcome real grassroots energy like this.

RAJU: Now, the question for Ossoff is whether or not he can actually galvanize enough support on the left to get 51 percent and beat Handel. She's going to be able to get support from a lot of those supporters who backed her, the Republican opponents, and also the question, though, the impact that Donald Trump will have as they try to woo swing voters, people who may be disaffected by his presidency -- guys.


KOSIK: OK, Manu Raju, thanks very much.

And for his part, President Trump sees the Georgia result as a victory for the GOP and he's even taking credit for it. Look at this. This is one of his midnight tweets, saying, "Despite major outside money, fake media support and 11 Republican candidates, big R win with runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help."

John Ossoff did raise $8.3 million for his campaign, much of it from out of state donors. But President Trump spent a lot of political capital on the race over the past few days, even recording a robocall against Ossoff.

BRIGGS: Celebs involved in that one, too.

KOSIK: Exactly.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's bring in managing editor of CNN Politics Digital, Zach Wolf.

Good morning to you, Zach. Great to have you on.

KOSIK: Good morning.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR: Good morning. BRIGGS: This was -- so much talk leading up to this about how it was a bellwether for either party and here we are the next day wondering, was it Donald Trump tweeted, we talked about it, glad to be of help. So, was he of help and what changed in this dynamic given the national sentiment?

WOLF: Well, I think he's happy to say he was of help, but I don't think there's any way to view the 48 plus percent that John Ossoff got other than something as kind of referendum on Trump. He didn't quite get to that 50 percent but he was clearly the top candidate. He probably has a shot going into the runoff election but this is probably more a canary in the coal mine, if you will, for Republicans.

This is a reliably a Republican district and if the Democrats can get this kind of energy in places that are maybe a little bit less reliable, it could be a real hard midterm election in a year's time for Republicans.

KOSIK: So what do Republicans have to do at this point to get that momentum that you see happening with the Democrats?

WOLF: Well, you know, a lot of it is going to come down to President Trump, I think. This was billed as a referendum on him and his policies and what he's done in the White House.

[05:05:01] The way he leads. It was billed that way by the liberal groups that were pouring money into the race and John Ossoff himself. So, you know, it's all going to come back to Trump, I think in this case.

BRIGGS : All right, speaking of Trump he was in Wisconsin yesterday in Kenosha the Snap-On Tools Factory talking about his plans America own is the new push but talked about successes in these first 90 days. Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days, that includes our military, on the border, on trade, on regulation, on law enforcement. We love our law enforcement.


BRIGGS: Zach, your reaction.

WOLF: I would like to see the details on that particular claim. It's usually people use 100 day rubric, but I think in the main, you know, legislative goals that he set out, he has not accomplished one of those yet. It's early still. But other presidents had things in the bag right now. So, it would be hard for him to make that claim and make it stick.

KOSIK: Exactly. I mean, President Trump seems to be very busy signing a lot of executive orders and not -- obviously not involving Congress in any of his measures. One in particular that was signed yesterday putting to paper some rhetoric that he had been talking about the buy America. So, this is executive order kind of beefing up protections for some specific products made in America while also initiating a review of the program for skilled immigrants, the H-1B visa program which not just the White House but critics say have been abused.

But is there a lot of hypocrisy going on with this order? I mean, you know, not just with buy America, a lot of Trump products are made in China and Bangladesh and India and also, you look at the H-1B visa program, President Trump has a lot of foreigners working for his company.

WOLF: You know, we come back to this over and over again over the course of the campaign and now with President Trump. He's a successful businessman. He has these businesses that are, you know, international corporations. So, you're always going to have this kind of difficult interplay between the stuff he's going to do as president and the stuff that is going to be done now for him but he used to do as a businessman.

So, you know, I don't think that's surprising. But it certainly is something that makes you kind of arch your eyebrows.

BRIGGS: But now, some friendly fire at a town hall had some criticism regarding the president regarding all these trips to Mar-a-Lago. Here's what she told her constituents.


SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: I do wish that he would spend more time in Washington, D.C. That's what we have the White House for. We would love to see more of those State Department visits in Washington, D.C. I have not spoken to him about the Florida issue yet, but that is something I think that has been bothering not just me but some other members of our caucus.


BRIGGS: The president has spent seven of his 12 weekends at Mar-a- Lago. The cost has been widely criticized but, Zach, of particular interest is what she said there at the end, "It's not just bothering me but some other members of our caucus."

Where does this go from here?

WOLF: I don't think it goes anywhere. I mean, it can frustrate Republicans and Democrats, but at the end of the day, he's president and he's going to go where he's comfortable. That's clearly Mar-a- Lago, you know, his private club where he can entertain world leaders in the style to which he's accustomed. I don't think that's going to change. And, you know, it is who he is.

BRIGGS: So, he will continue to have his chocolate cake --

KOSIK: And continue to golf.

BRIGGS: And eat it, too. All right.

KOSIK: Zach Wolf, thanks so much. We'll see you in 20 minutes from now for more.

WOLF: Sounds good.

BRIGGS: All right. Coming up, Vice President Pence heading to Jakarta this morning after wrapping up his trip to Japan. What was his message to troops abroad aboard the USS Reagan? We're live in Tokyo when we come back.


[05:13:26] KOSIK: Now to a CNN world exclusive, Turkey's president insisting Sunday's referendum that vastly expands his powers was not a step towards dictatorship. CNN's Becky Anderson spoke with Recep Erdogan. She's joining us live now from Ankara with more.

So, tell me, Becky, how is President Erdogan spinning this to say it's not a dictatorship?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alison, he says a win is a win in a simple yes or no referendum. He is insistent that this was a democratic exercise. The result is the will of the people here in Turkey. That's the first point.

The second point is that the shift in the way this country will be run going forward he says has sufficient checks and balances to ensure that it's about more than one man's rule.

So, is this a march towards dictatorship? I put that to him.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): For a dictatorship, to exist, you don't necessarily have to have a presidential system. Here, we have an election, a ballot box. If you say ballot box produces a dictator, that would be unjust, unfair to the ballot box process and to those who cast their ballots in that box.


ANDERSON: President Erdogan, well, this was a big defeat for the opposition parties here in Turkey. They ran one of their best campaigns ever it has to be said.

[05:15:00] And despite winning in the big urban centers like here in Ankara, they still came up short. Now, they insist not only were they --

KOSIK: OK. We're having technical difficulties with Becky there about President Erdogan's win there on that referendum.

We got the picture. President Erdogan, concentrating power in his lap at this point with that referendum. He's saying it's not a march towards dictatorship, others say different.

BRIGGS: Others certainly do.

All right. Also this morning, we're learning that the U.S. show of force against North Korea wasn't everything it was cracked up to be. Earlier this month, the White House responded to North Korea missile test by sending what President Trump called an armada to the Korean peninsula. But it turn out those ships were steaming in the opposite direction.

So, what was behind the mix-up? For the answer, let's bring in CNN's Alexandra Field. She is live in Tokyo where Vice President Pence addressed U.S. troops this morning.

Good morning to you, Alex. What was behind that miscommunication?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's coming to light white mike pence is in the region he spoke to the troops today onboard the USS Reagan, talking about the resolve of the United States military when it comes to confronting North Korea.

He also cited the U.S. military strikes in Syria and the decision to drop the MOAB, the mother of all bombs, in Afghanistan, as evidence of the military's ability to be decisive under President Trump's leadership.

But it was just last week that President Trump was saying a decision was made to send a warning message to North Korea by deploying U.S. warships to the waters off the Korean peninsula. It now seems that while he was making that announcement, saying that publicly on TV, those ships were actually headed in the opposite direction, headed south to participate in naval training exercises with the Australian military.

Officials in Washington now say that the warships will make their way to the waters off the Korean peninsula but they won't arrive until the end of the month. So what was going on there? Well, an administration official says there was a miscommunication with the Pentagon and lack of follow-up with commanders on the ground.

But the announcements that this U.S. aircraft carrier strike group was headed towards the Koreas certainly enraged Pyongyang which said this was a move that threatened global security and it seems to have prompted another provocative act from North Korea, which test launched the missile. That test failed just over the weekend.

But a senior North Korean official telling BBC that these missile launches will continue on a weekly basis. The Pentagon is saying it has plans next month to test its capacity to shoot down missiles -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Very much active situation there. Alexandra Field, live for us in Tokyo, thank you.

KOSIK: OK. The Chinese government has approved two Ivanka Trump's brand trade marks on the same day that Ivanka Trump and her father met with Chinese President Xi. The move is highlighting the careful maneuvering that Ivanka Trump must take to avoid potential conflict of interests.

Two trademarks were provisionally approved on April 6th, another was approved in February. Sixteen other Ivanka Trump brand trademarks have full approval in China. The Trump Organization won preliminary approval of 35 others earlier this year.

The CEO of Ivanka Trump's company tells us this is a normal course of doing business in China where trademark infringement is rampant. She says several third-party companies have already tried to file trademarks in the Trump name in recent weeks.

Trump resigns from her management post at the clothing and accessory company to take the job in her father's administration. But she still has an ownership stake in the business. Her attorney says her assets have been moved into a trust. You would think she would extricate herself from her businesses to avoid all the media kind of dig into her, but she's --

BRIGGS: Conflict of interest abound.

All right. Mr. Brady goes to Washington. The Super Bowl champs getting the red carpet treatment at the White House today, but not all the Pats want to meet the White House.

Coy Wire live here in studio in New York with the "Bleacher Report" next.


[05:23:30] BRIGGS: Well, the Super Bowl champs will make their long awaited, much anticipated visit to the White House later today.

KOSIK: Coy Wire has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report" right here with us. Good morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Top of the morning to you.

So, this will be President Trump's first team that he's welcoming to the White House. It would be interesting see how many Patriots show up. You would think Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick would be there. Both are very good friends with Mr. Trump. And this will be their fifth visit.

Look how young Belichick looks like, 15 years ago. Incredible. Talk about dominance over a long period of time.

Owner Robert Kraft is a dear friend of Trump as well. But at least six players, guys, have said they aren't going to go. Four of them saying that Trump is the reason.

But players skipping out on the White House visit, this is nothing new. One guy said he'll be spending with Chelsea Handler. Another guy said he's been there. Tom Brady himself didn't go during Obama's presidency in 2015 because

of a family commitment, but it will be interesting to seethe turnout for Trump. Nonetheless, 2:30 today.

All right. Another Boston team, the Celtics, top seed in the eastern conference playoffs are struggling with the eighth seed Chicago Bull. Check this out. Fourth quarter, Boston is down and Marcus Smart misses a shot and then it appears to get in an exchange with a fan.

You'll see that there -- giving the one finger salute. It appears to be the case things get worse for Smart and the Celtics.

KOSIK: Doesn't seem focused.

WIRE: Doesn't seem focused.

BRIGGS: That's a whole game there.

WIRE: They're now down two games to none.

[05:25:00] All right, guys. I got to spend some time with the GOAT, Michael Phelps, yesterday, arguably the greatest athlete of all time. Gold medals in four different Olympic Games, and only two others have done that. He said he's retiring from swimming, but he doesn't want to go for a fifth gold, you know, in Tokyo. I had to ask.


MICHAEL PHELPS, WON 23 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS: After 2012, I retired. Ad took some time away from the sport and for me, I had to be able to find the passion if I wanted to do it again. Being able to come back and win five more, hell, I mean, it's pretty nut, it's crazy. So, to be able to finish like that, there's no better way to go out and it was a perfect deal.


WIRE: So, no one has ever won a gold in five different Olympic Games. I think he's not very convincing to me.

KOSIK: I was going to say, how much do you believe him?

WIRE: I don't believe him. I think we'll see him in Tokyo.

Dave, I under your son is a big swim fan. The message is dream big.

BRIGGS: Two days this guy brings --


BRIGGS: It's a good thing I brought a gift. I brought you socks so you always think --

KOSIK: I'm left here holding nothing. Thanks guys. Where's my signed magazine?

BRIGGS: He's not retiring, is he?

WIRE: I don't see it, man. He's 31. He looks incredible. That competitive edge. He said the one thing that bummed him the last games in Rio was he didn't gate 40th world record broken. There's just something inside that's going to let this guy quit.

BRIGGS: He's going five, maybe six. He's not done.

Coy Wire, great to have you here.

KOSIK: Coy, thanks.

WIRE: You're welcome.

KOSIK: All right. The Republicans avoid a big loss but Democrats can't get the big win they wanted in a closely watched Georgia special election. The race headed to a runoff. More from Atlanta, next.