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Rep. Scalise in Critical Condition After Gun Attack; Mueller to Meet with Top Intel Officials; Mayweather Versus McGregor Fight Date Set. Aired 5-5:30a ET
Aired June 15, 2017 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 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?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: 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)
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.
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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.
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REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R), ILLINOIS: There's such a hatefulness in what we see in American politics and policy discussions right now.
[05:00:00] 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. For more reaction from Capitol Hill, let's turn to CNN's Phil Mattingly.
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.
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.
ROMANS: All right. Phil Mattingly, thank you for that.
Let's break it down with CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano. He's a retired FBI supervisory special agent. And from Washington, we're joined by "Weekly Standard" reporter Chris Deaton.
Good morning, everyone.
Chris, let me start with you, since you're joining us this morning. This is really one of those stories that really shook -- you know, shook all of us who are part of the political process here. It really seemed kind of an attack on democracy. Keeping all those people safe, all those people who do the work of the government, it really was a shock. What's the mood there this morning?
CHRIS DEATON, REPORTER, WEEKLY STANDARD: Sure, it still is a lot of shock. You know, I talked to some aides last night, of course, you know. Washington is a city where a lot of people get to know each other quite well. And you hear names kind of float around.
Mr. Mika, for example, has certain Indiana ties and I'm an Indiana guy myself. So, you know, you hear some stories about him and these names kind of resonate to a certain extent. It really hits home with the Washington community.
And when you take an event like this one, which I have attended before, it's actually in my neighborhood. It's a very peaceful event. There's a coffee shop across the street. People are out walking their dogs, it's friendly, there are handshakes.
It's a low-key affair, it's apolitical. And when you visit this kind of violence or this kind of heinous incident on something that we would otherwise regard as a peaceful gathering of people who are kind of outside of the political sphere and don't have to worry about some of the stuff we see out in the open, socially in our political debates. And this is where that kind of stuff takes place and it shakes everyone to their core, and I think understandably.
BRIGGS: No doubt about that.
All right. James, from a law enforcement perspective, first what Rand Paul said is right on. If Steve Scalise was not there, this could have been a massacre because he has that extra protection, given someone in a position of leadership. But given that impossibility of protecting all these members of Congress, and the far more difficult task of policing social media, what does the investigation hope to learn that might prevent things like this from happening?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Dave, we have very, very expert counterterrorism teams, whether it's in the military, or law enforcement. But unfortunately, they are not on the front lines. What you saw yesterday was a response by first responders, where they're going to be the ones there in these incidents.
What I was struck by in listening to some of the 911 calls was how succinct the callers were. One of the things is by getting these kind of messages out about active shooters and what the protocols and processes should be, I think that's helpful because you notice yesterday on the calls, people made phone calls in. We heard some of them this morning where they said, we've got an active shooter. That's helpful.
[05:05:00] The other piece of this which I think is good for your viewers to understand is, the doctrine that we're teaching in law enforcement to folks that find themselves at a baseball field yesterday in Alexandria, Virginia. First thing you do is run. Second thing, if you can't run away is to hide.
Now, you want to hide behind something that's going to give you some type of protection. ROMANS: Right.
GAGLIANO: And then the last resort is to fight -- run, hide, fight. Then obviously, tell, because we need folks that see this to be there to help and give us the evidence --
ROMANS: Run, hide, fight. I'll tell you that it took a couple of hours, just a couple of hours after the shock of this event, you guys, before it turned political, before you had people talking about the political climate, and the political atmosphere. I want to just listen to a little bit of that and get your response on the other side.
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NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: The intensity on the left is very real. Whether it is somebody holding up -- a so-called comedian holding up, you know, the president's head in blood, or it's right here in New York City, a play that shows the president being assassinated --
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric, that the rhetoric has been outrageous, of the finger-pointing, the -- just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters. Really, then, you know, some people react to things like that. They get angry as well. And then you fuel the fires.
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ROMANS: Chris, some of the top Democrats are being very careful to strike a unifying tone. Is this criticism from Newt Gingrich and Chris Collins, is that fair?
DEATON: Well, you have to be careful not to draw broad strokes in instances like this. I mean, when you take the shooter himself and you read about some of his background what he had been doing in the lead up to this incident, coming from Bellevue, Illinois, and setting up shop in Alexandria, you know, taking his white van out there and staking out some ground at a gym next door for a couple of months.
We have to let the FBI obviously conduct its investigation and we don't need to necessarily chip in with speculation from the sidelines here. But there are indications of patterns of clearly abnormal behavior. And to try to draw big brought strokes from this about the national climate, I mean, of course, some of these points about needing to tone down the vitriol and have a more measured public discourse, with or without heinous incidents like this, that's always a healthy thing to say.
But when you get into the game of attribution, you have to be very careful about going down a slippery slope here and really kind of take stock and perspective in what this all actually means.
BRIGGS: Chris, you cover D.C. every day. Is it fair to blame one side for the political rhetoric that we're in the midst of? DEATON: Oh, I don't think at all. I think that's absolutely unfair.
It is -- this is a non -- not a bipartisan but a nonpartisan issue. This is a non-ideological issue that you can ascribe to any one particular ideology. Ebbs and flows, certainly some people are in charge sometimes and they -- when they're in the majority, they tend to draw some heat from critics. And sometimes that gets fervent to the point of where it's unacceptable. But to the point of violence, I mean, we're not talking about words here, we are talking about thing that is affect people's lives. Put people in harm's way.
And that is another step, a gigantic step beyond all that other stuff.
BRIGGS: Yes. I just think the former speaker and the congressman could have spoken to the rhetoric on both sides of this debate.
ROMANS: The chanting, lock her up, remember during the election, how much anger.
ROMANS: You talk about this passion, this rhetoric, this intensity on the left is what Newt Gingrich says. There's intensity on the right too.
BRIGGS: No question. Guys, stick with us. We want to get your thoughts on this 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" reporting 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 Mike Rogers. Now, Mueller plans to meet face-to-face with both men.
ROMANS: Now, CNN -- 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. Excuse me.
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 both DNI Coats and Admiral Rogers denied they felt pressured by the president to impede the Russia investigation.
All right. Gentlemen, let's talk about this here quickly, because James Comey, I think this investigation, once you open up an investigation, it could go anywhere.
[05:10:08] Is it necessarily a surprise that obstruction, at least asking questions that could lead to investigating obstruction, is on the table?
GAGLIANO: Well, I think you make a good point, Christine. Obviously the one argument that people make against a special prosecutor is, they don't have anyone to answer to. So, they are literally this -- they can't be touched by either side, which is a good thing in a political climate, but by the same token, Mueller doesn't answer to anybody.
Now, the president can fire him, he's going to lose in the court of public opinion.
GAGLIANO: What's going to happen here -- look back to 1998 when William Jefferson Clinton was impeached. There were four articles, two of perjury, I think one was obstruction of justice charge, and one was abuse of power. The obstruction of justice he was impeached on in the House.
There's a very real possibility here. Obviously, with a Republican House that makes it difficult. But where we're going to get boxed in here is this: the FBI director, the former FBI director, James Comey, May 3rd, testified in front of Congress and said -- it's not my experience that anybody put pressure on me to stand down the investigation. Then, Andy McCabe, the current acting director, doubled down on that on May 11th.
And then you had General Rogers as well as coats, DNI and director of the NSA, both say no. So, you have this one deputy director at NSA saying that. That means somebody was lying, somebody at the top was lying, or he saw a different version of it than they did.
BRIGGS: Of course, most legal analysts have suggested obstruction is impossible, maybe not impossible but difficult, because of the intent factor, Chris. But the White House would push back on the leak aspect of this story, Marc Kasowitz blasting the leaks coming from -- we don't know. They suggested it was the FBI, could be the intel community, could be this special counsel's department, we don't know.
But how big a problem are the leaks in terms of this investigation moving forward without distraction, and the administration moving forward getting business done?
DEATON: Yes. I think to take this in a broader context the administration has talked about this leak type of stuff throughout its entire nascent administration so far, with respect to a bevy of things, particularly this one. And it does do a lot of damage to politicizing the environment, clouding it. Making people have some doubt that Washington has its stuff together.
I mean, can you actually trust certain investigators to dispassionately discharge their duties when there is so much political speculation around that the FBI and certain people who were agents and career analysts are taking sides. And so, it goes with other intelligence agencies and their analysts.
So, that raises a lot of questions about Washington able to get its stuff done. And, you know, with respect to the administration being able to move on and enact some of its agenda, look, I will admit here that I thought when Bob Mueller was appointed special prosecutor, some of this stuff would be defused.
But there are so many investigations of this matter going on that it is going to find its way into the headlines somehow. This latest "Washington Post" story about obstruction potentially being inquired about is a part of this investigation. It's just the latest instance of that. I would expect we'll continue did see a steady drip, drip, drip of that as time goes on. It's going to make the environment very difficult for anything that would be regarded as agenda-setting or policy-setting.
BRIGGS: They do -- "The Washington Post" cites five sources. Again, not sure where those sources come from, but pretty widespread.
ROMANS: All right. Jim Gagliano, Chris Deaton, thanks, guys. Talk to you again very, very soon here.
All right. The Fed is raising rates, no surprise there. What is a surprise? Maybe the future of Fed Chief Janet Yellen.
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JANET YELLEN, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: I fully intend to serve out my term as chair, which ends in early February.
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ROMANS: But will the Trump administration give her a second term? That's next.
[05:18:05] ROMANS: As expected, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates. A sign the central bank thinks this economy is on solid ground. Further roof it plans to sell the $4 trillion in assets it bought during the financial crisis. Both of those moves will raise borrowing costs for you on credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages.
I want to be really clear here, though, right now, today, mortgage rates are at historic lows. I don't expect them to rise immediately or sharply. Now, this is the fourth rate hike since 2015. The Fed kept rates near zero for a decade before that. Officials expect maybe one more hike this year. Somewhere, the economy's nine-year recovery now can't handle much more.
I spoke to former labor secretary Robert Reich.
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ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: When we look at, you know, retail sales or we look at what's happened to the median wage or you look at the number of people who are still out of the labor force, there are some clouds on the horizon. This is an old recovery. It's getting long in the tooth. I wouldn't take the chance. I think they've done enough for now.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Another question facing the Fed this year -- the future of Fed Chair Janet Yellen.
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YELLEN: And I fully intend to serve out my term as chair, which ends in early February. I have not had conversations with the president about future plans.
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ROMANS: The president has both praised and criticized Yellen. It's unclear if he will nominate her next year. If he doesn't, Yellen would be the first Fed chair in 40 years to only serve a single term.
"Wall Street Journal" reporting yesterday that Gary Cohn, the president's top adviser, will be --
BRIGGS: Looking for a potential replacement?
ROMANS: Forming a search committee. Right, a search committee for potential replacement.
BRIGGS: Mnuchin not part of that?
ROMANS: Maybe he'll be part of the overall team, we'll see. But Gary Cohn will be the quarterback of that, we're told.
BRIGGS: All right. It is official. Floyd Mayweather will come out of retirement to fight UFC champ Conor McGregor.
[05:20:02] It should be fascinating.
Andy Scholes with more on the mega fight in this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.
BRIGGS: The attack yesterday in Alexandria hitting close to home for Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker.
ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.
You know, dusty baker got woken up by a phone call from a friend asking if he was OK. Asked because Baker lives in Alexandria, and not too far from where the shooting happened. Baker also had recently met with many of the members of Congress that are playing in tonight's charity game. Yesterday, Baker reacted to what happened.
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[05:25:04] DUSTY BAKER, WASHINGTON NATIONALS MANAGER: Yes, I was very aware. It's a sad state, you know, of affairs. You know, there's -- everybody has to be, I told my family, always aware of your surroundings because you never know.
And we always see things happening afar. But there's a problem here domestically too. So, I'm just -- I don't know what the answer is. It's just sad when innocent people get hurt.
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SCHOLES: Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred releasing a statement on the shooting and tonight's charity game, saying in part: Both teams have been practicing in weeks for preparation for the game at Nationals Park and we fully support the decision to play the game. We look forward to a full recovery for each of the victims and hope that the game can play a constructive role in the healing process.
All right. Mark your calendars. The fantasy mega fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor is happening August 26th in Las Vegas. This will be a boxing match. The 40-year-old Mayweather is ending his 2 1/2-year retirement for the fight. He's expected to make more than $100 million to get back in the ring.
McGregor, who is UFC's most popular fighter, he's never boxed professionally. Mayweather, on the other hand, a perfect 49-0 in his career, a massive favorite for the match.
Guys, to win $10, you'd have to bet $130 on Mayweather. That's how lopsided the oddsmakers think this fight is going to be. Is it weird? I really still want to watch it.
BRIGGS: I haven't paid for a boxing match in years. This one? I will pay for it. Have we heard what it might cost, though?
SCHOLES: I mean, I think -- if I remember correctly, I think Mayweather/Pacquiao was 100 bucks, I imagine somewhere around that.
BRIGGS: North, right?
BRIGGS: I guess we can't go too much for the --
SCHOLES: UFC's got to get their money, Showtime's got to get their money. Mayweather got to get -- I mean, there's a lot of people need to get paid here.
BRIGGS: A lot of downside for Mayweather if he goes out there and gets beat by an MMA fighter.
SCHOLES: Yes, highly unlikely I would imagine.
BRIGGS: Highly unlikely.
BRIGGS: Huge betting favorite, his money. All right. Thanks, buddy.
ROMANS: All right. President Trump sending his support to a congressman in critical condition after being shot during baseball practice.
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TRUMP: Congressman Scalise is a friend and a very good friend. He's a patriot and he's a fighter.
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ROMANS: What's next for Steve Scalise's recovery and will this incident tone down the rhetoric on Capitol Hill?