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One Dead, Eight Injured After Van Runs Over Worshippers Outside North London Mosque; Is President Trump Being Investigated for Obstruction of Justice?; Senate Democrats Threatening Bockade Over GOP Health Care Plan; Seven Sailors Identified; Cosby's Legal Team Preparing for Round Two. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 19, 2017 - 04:00   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, a van slams into a crowd outside a mosque in London. Police investigating this attack as terrorist.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Mixed messages from the White House and from President Trump.

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: It's that simple. The president is not under investigation.

BRIGGS: The president's own lawyer contradicting his boss. How the Trump legal team is explaining the president's claims he is under investigation.


BRIGGS: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday. Good morning, Monday, June 19th, 4:00 A.M. in the East. Let's begin here with breaking news. At least one person is dead, eight others injured after a van ran over Muslim worshippers outside a north London mosque. This incident now being treated as an act of terrorism.


Take a look at the pictures the aftermath taken just after midnight London time. Witnesses describing a chaotic scene with people screaming for help from police and medics. At least one person has been arrested. A 48-year-old, a man described as the driver of that van. You see him in this video. He was detained at the scene by members of the public.

BRIGGS: Listen to this witness, Saeed Hashi, described the courage now he personally pull that driver out of his vehicle.

SAEED HASHI, WITNESS: I suddenly turned right from the mosque. So I was -- that sudden I was shocked, and we were screaming. And he -- first a woman, an old Somalian woman, in her 60s, and then (Inaudible), an Algerian guy, that he drove a bus, he hit another three, four, five, six, seven. And suddenly, the car stopped. So we went after him. We managed to get him out of the car.


BRIGGS: Now authorities are not saying if Muslims were specifically targeted, but London's mayor is calling the incident a "horrific terrorist attack."

Let's go live to London and get the latest development from CNN's Phil Black. Good morning to you, Phil. What are we hearing this morning?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dave. Yes, so you say just after midnight that white van, according to witnesses, swerved into crowds of people who were just emerging from a mosque, having observed prayers during this holy season of Ramadan. And you heard the witness account there. A truly terrifying moment as it plowed through people.

That man you heard from was among a few who wrestled the man to the ground and held him there for about ten minutes until the police arrived. Now while they were holding him down, he was fighting back, we're told, punching, kicking, swearing, and crucially saying things like, "you deserve it. You guys deserve it."

Now the authorities here is either treating this as terrorism because there's all the format of recent terrorist attacks. They're talking about the vehicle attacks that London have seen in much near the parliament building more recently, in early June on the London Bridge. This is when people using cars mowed down as many people as they could beat for going a rampage with knives.

On this occasion however, the police are keen to stress no one suffered any knife injuries. They are treating it as terrorism. They do say, however, they are keeping an open mind as to the motive behind this. But the local Muslim community however, there is no doubt. They believe that they were targeted specifically by a crime and an attack motivated by hatred of them. Back to you.

BRIGGS: Phil Black. We'll check back with you in about thirty minutes. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, here at home, more confusion and contradictions from the White House over whether President Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice. The president's lawyer says he is not under investigation, and that directly contradicts the president who was tweeting that he is being investigated.

CNN is reporting, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether enough evidence exist to launch a full scale obstruction probe. The Washington Post has reported for such a probe is already underway. Who's right? Or would the president necessarily know? We get more this morning from CNN Athena Jones. ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine

and Dave. Mixed messages are something that have come to define this White House. Numerous times we've seen the president contradict not only his aides or others who work for him but also himself. And this is a case in point.

On Friday, he tweeted what seemed to be a confirmation of a Washington Post report from Wednesday that he is under investigation for obstruction of justice. It is the report that the president on Thursday called a phony story.

Yet, on Friday he seemed to confirm it. Now one of the president's lawyers Jay Sekulow is saying, no, he is not, in fact, under investigation. The president was citing that Washington Post report when he sent out that tweet on Friday. Here's more of what Sekulow had to say about this on "STATE OF THE UNION". Watch.


[04:05:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Should we take that tweet from the president as confirmation that the president is under investigation?

SEKULOW: Let me be clear, the president is not under investigation.

TAPPER: The president said, I am under investigation, even though he isn't under investigation?

SEKULOW: That -- that response on social media was in response to the Washington Post piece.

TAPPER: You're saying that the president when he said that was not accurate?

SEKULOW: No. The president wasn't -- it was a hundred and foty-one characters. There's a limitation on Twitter.

TAPPER: So the president thinks...

SEKULOW: So there should be no confusion. No confusion. The president is not under investigation.

TAPPER: But it is -- it is confusing.


JONES: so after months of White House officials telling us we should take the president's tweets at face value, we should consider them presidential statements, now his lawyer is arguing something different.

It's also important to note here that the president's allies, his lawyers and the folks at the Republican National Committee who have been defending him, have repeatedly pointed to now-fired FBI Director James Comey's testimony that he told the president on three separate occasions that he was not personally under investigation. The problem there is that Comey has not been in charge of the FBI

since the beginning of May, nearly six weeks ago, which is a very long time in Washington and in the news business.

The other thing that's important to note is that the president himself and his legal team wouldn't necessarily know whether he's under investigation because the FBI and special counsel's office wouldn't necessarily notify the president of his -- and his lawyers of that fact. So you have one of the president's lawyers here asserting as fact something that he's not really in a position to know. Christine, Dave?

BRIGGS: Athena Jones, thank you. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are threatening a blockade this week or perhaps next week to protest the GOP health care plan. Right now, tough the bill being crafted behind closed doors by Republicans, Democrats demanding a fair and open hearing.

Stop me if you've heard that before. If they don't get one, the plan is to bring the Senate to a crawl by mucking things up, if you will, with speeches and parliamentary procedures.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has more.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, good morning. Democratic Senators want to make it hard for Republicans to schedule votes and uneven bills that are considered non-controversial. They would keep nominees from the Trump administration from getting confirmed.

That could create a glacial pace of work in the Senate in a body that's already pretty slow. Among the techniques they may employ, preventing committees from conducting routine business, and even stopping committees from extending their hearings when the Senate is in session.

The goal here would be to force Republicans to open the debate on the health care bill which at this point's been doing behind closed doors. All Democrats and quite a few Republicans have yet to see what is in this new bill despite the fact that Republican leadership has promised a vote before the fourth of July holiday. On Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION", Senator Bernie Sanders, who is an independent but who caucuses with the Democrats, endorsed this move.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I am in favor of the American people and members of Congress doing everything that we can to defeat that horrific piece of legislation that will hurt tens and tens of millions of people in our country.

What kind of process is it that when you deal with an issue that impacts tens of millions of people in this country, Republicans don't even have the guts to allow it to go to a committee where we can have an open hearing, where questions can be asked.


NOBLES: And Democrats are prepared to put this plan in place as early as today. They could potentially hold the floor of the Senate through midnight tonight. And during that time, members could come up and give speeches where they talk about their constituents who have been benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

Now, Democrats would prefer not to go down this route, especially in the wake of unity displayed at the Congressional Baseball game after the shooting last week. And Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called for an all-senators meeting to hash out their differences. This is a last-ditch effort to make the process more bipartisan. At this point though, republicans have not agreed to participate. Dave and Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Ryan. Thank you for that.

A Syrian warplane shot down near Raqqa by the U.S. coalition. Military officials say the action comes after a Syrian army jet targeted a U.S.-led force in a bomb attack earlier in the day.

Syrian regime forces claim one of their warplanes was attacked in Raqqa while carrying out a combat mission against ISIS. They're condemning the action, accusing the U.S. of supporting terrorism.

BRIGGS: Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise's condition upgrade from critical condition to serious. The House Majority Whip underwent another operation Saturday for a gunshot wounds he suffered at last week after from Republican Congressional baseball practice. MedStar Washington Hospital released a statement saying Scalise continues to show signs of improvement.

[04:15:00] A tweet on his page Sunday read in part, this father's day has special meaning for the Scalise family. Take the time to be close with the ones you love. Another one of the shooting victims, Lobbyist Matt Mika, now expected to make a full recovery.

ROMANS: Oh, that is good news for him.

All right, President Trump earned hundreds of millions of dollars last year, that's according to the closest look yet at his finances. But this report lacks the details ethics watchdogs would like to see.

Here's what we know, according to a financial disclosure released by the Office of Government Ethics, the Trump administration made at least $529 million since January 2016, that includes Trump golf courses, hotel, and book sales.

You know, an exact total is not possible since income on these forms is reported in a range. But this disclosure only provides a glimpse of the president's finances. It's nowhere near as detailed as the federal tax return. Trump refuses to release those. And they would reveal the specifics ethics experts want to see.

For example, if the president benefits from his own tax proposals and the identity of any foreign business ties. They're concerned money from foreign governments could influence policy. The president has not yet decided -- disclosed rather, the sources of any foreign money to his business empire, prompting Democratic lawmakers to file a lawsuit against him last week in the hopes that in the discovery process they'll be able to see those tax returns.

BRIGGS: Don't hold your breath.

ROMANS: I know.

BRIGGS: How many times have I said that?


BRIGGS: All right, Bill Cosby's legal team claiming victory.


ANDREW WYATT, BILL COSBY'S SPOKESMAN: Mr. Cosby's power's back. It's back. It has been restored. The jurors, they used their power to speak.


BRIGGS: What's next after a mistrial is declared in the comedian's trial?


ROMANS: The Navy has now identified the seven sailors who were killed when a U.S. guided missile destroyer collided with a container ship off of Japan on Saturday. This collusion ripping a gaping hole in the USS Fitzgerald, flooding sleeping berths where divers found the bodies.

These are the men who lost their lives in the incident -- the sailors range in age from just nineteen to thirty-seven years old. They were from all over the country.

Kaori Enjoji is live for us in Tokyo with the very the latest in this. Just a sad incident, good morning.

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Good morning, Christine. Well, a severe emergency occurred off the coast of Japan. This is how the U.S. Navy described the situation in the early hours of Saturday morning when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship.

The seven bodies of the missing seamen were identified earlier on this morning, and they were found by the divers who went in good to the berthing area, the area that was flooded when this collusion occurred. There was major flooding according to the U.S. Navy in the berthing area, in the machine room, right in the ship's captain's quarters, as well.

And they called it a severe emergency that required a heroic effort just to keep the ship afloat. The commander was airlifted out and taken to hospital but he has been released from the hospital earlier on today. We still don't know how this collision took place.

A collision between one of the most technologically advanced warships and a huge container ship off the coast of Japan. There will be a number of investigations by the U.S., a navy by the costal -- coast guard, by Japanese authorities, as well. And this could be a very complicated process.

It's especially if some of the crucial data is deemed as classified by the U.S. Navy. Now if it were just two commercial ships, jurisdiction would fall to the Japanese side because this is in Japanese waters.

But, of course, there are statutes in place and if the U.S. Navy as most analysts seem to believe, want to lead this investigation, they will have the jurisdiction. But it's going to be months, Christine, probably before we have any kind of final verdict onto how this collision happened.

ROMANS: And by all accounts, Kaori, it's amazing that -- that the ship was able to limp into the port with all the damage there below the waterline. Thank you so much for keeping us up to speed on that.

BRIGGS: Bill Cosby's legal team preparing for round two after a judge declared a mistrial in the comedian's aggravated indecent assault trial. Jurors in the first trial deadlocked after six days of deliberations. The result, Cosby Spokesman Andrew Wyatt considers it a major victory.


WYATT: Mr. Cosby's power's back. It's back. It has been restored. The jurors, they used their power to speak. The legacy didn't go anywhere. It has been restored. For all those attorneys who conspired like Gloria Allred, tell them to go back to law school and take another class.


ROMANS: Gloria Allred, of course, is one of the attorneys representing Cosby accusers. CNN's Jean Casarez spoke with the entertainer's lawyer about the trial and the road ahead.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Brian McMonagle has been the lead attorney for Bill Cosby since the very beginning and tells me he was prepared for a hung jury.


CASAREZ: The judge has declared a mistrial. Is that a win for you? Is that a loss for you?

BRIAN MCMONAGLE, BILL COSBY'S LEAD ATTORNEY: It can't be a loss. Having said that, there are no winners here, we tried a case for a week. The jury deliberated for fifty some hours without a verdict. But you know, as I've said many times before, as long as you can leave that courtroom with your client presumed innocent as he began, then I'm satisfied. CASAREZ: This was a drug-facilitated sexual assault case. Did you

pause at all?

MCMONAGLE: I never pause when I have the opportunity to defend someone like him who maintains his innocence. And I'm a trial lawyer. My job is to go in.

[04:25:00] And defend people who are accused of a crime, and require that the prosecution be put to the test. No matter what's written, no matter what's said outside a courtroom, I require people who are going to make accusations to be put to the test. And I welcomed that opportunity here. I've been a fan of Mr. Cosby's forever. And now I get to opportunity to call him my client and my friend.


CASAREZ: McMonagle tells me that when the jury filed in on Saturday morning and sat down, he saw actually two female jurors crying. The night before, one of those late nights when there was all that read- back testimony, saw one juror sleeping and says that if Bill Cosby asked him to be part of this retrial, he will consider it. Christine, Dave?

ROMANS: All right, Jean Casarez is where is said covering that, every angle of that story.

Another tragedy in London to tell you about stunning new images from inside a burned out high-rise this morning, police saying they expect the death toll to rise. We're live next.


BRIGGS: Shocking new images from inside London's burned out Grenfell Tower this morning. The charred, gutted remains of the 24-story high- rise leading police to conclude the fifty-eight people missing from the building are likely dead. That's prompting the government to offer emergency payments to grieving families.

Angry residents claiming the tragedy could have been prevented years ago. CNN's Nic Robertson is live form London with the Latest. Good morning to you. If we understand some insulation banned is now the center of the investigation. Good morning to you.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, good morning. Well, a senior government official did say that over the weekend that there was a likelihood that the cladding that have been used on the building -- that have recently been fitted to building was in fact nor for use on buildings at that height. It was for use on buildings under eighteen meters, about fifty feet high, nothing more than that.

So the investigation will take in. Obviously part of the cladding, they're concern now is to that the presumed dead toll of fifty-eight people, that is also possible to climb. We've heard that from officials over the weekend. What they're saying, what they are asking, they're appealing for

people who -- who lived in the building, appealing for friends, any witnesses, to come forward if they have a reason to believe that someone who wasn't registered to be normally living in that building was in the building.

The police are saying they're not going to -- they're not going to follow up on why that information wasn't made immediately available to them but they are saying that it's important if anyone has an information to come forward.

Residents have been angry at the way they've been treated, angry at the way that the government and local services have not stepped up quickly to support them, to find them accommodation. The government has authorized the dispersion of $7 million across all the family first in the table to about $7,000 per family or per person rather.

And that -- that is to go to meet the immediate needs for hotel accommodation, for food, clothing, all those sorts of needs for those families. But this is a very big point of anger and contentions still in this country, particularly that this cladding may have been incorrectly fitted.

BRIGGS: Just a devastating story. Nic Robertson live for us, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, stay in London, a van crashes into a crowd of pedestrians leaving one dead and eight injured. Our breaking news this morning. We'll have the latest on the investigation into what's being now called a potential terror attack.