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Van Hits Muslims Outside North London Mosque; Trump Contradicts Own Lawyer On Obstruction Probe; Dems Demand Open Debate On Health Care; Prosecutors Plan To Retry Cosby After Mistrial; Prosecutors Plan To Retry Cosby After Mistrial. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 19, 2017 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- 39 million that's according to a new report on the state of U.S. housing. Experts recommend spending only 30 percent of your income on housing, but a third of American households spend at least that much, and nearly 19 million pay more than 50 percent.

That means you are house rich, and you are one job loss away from financial catastrophe. Look, this is tough. You have less money to spend on food, health care, and transportation when you have so much in their house.

Tight inventory and high demand are causing home prices to rise higher here. So it's not necessarily the cost of other things going up, but it's the cost of housing that's going up. It's good -- value of your home is going up. For many people that means they are priced out.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: That is an extraordinary number of people.

ROMANS: Thirty -- everyone, go home and think about that. Am I spending more than 30 percent of my paycheck, am I paying more than that on housing? If you are, that's risky.

BRIGGS: What are you going to do about it now?

EARLY START continues right now with the latest breaking news from London.

Breaking overnight, one dead, at least eight injured after a van slams into a London crowd. The police saying the attack is being treated as terrorism.

ROMANS: Mixed messages from the White House and President Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's that simple -- the president is not under investigation.


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

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's Monday, June 19th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the east. We begin with the breaking news. At least one person dead, eight injured after a van ran over Muslim worshippers outside a North London mosque. The incident now being treated as an act of terrorism.

Take a look at these pictures of 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 man described as the driver of the van. He was detained at the scene by members of the public.

ROMANS: Authorities are not saying if Muslims were specifically targeted. Let's go live to London and get the latest developments from CNN's Phil Black. Where do we stand here on this investigation, Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The police are saying, Christine, this bears all the hallmarks of recent terror attacks because once again a car has been used as a weapon. What they're not sure of or not being definitive on just yet is the motive. It is beginning to look pretty clear.

It was just after midnight. That's when the white van came down the road behind me, and witnesses say it swerved and seemingly deliberately plowed through people who were emerging from a mosque following late-night prayers during this holy Ramadan season.

Eight people have been injured. One person has died. The police have qualified that, too, by saying they're not certain he died as a result of this attack. There were witness claims that an old man collapsed in the road just moments before. So that could help explain that perhaps.

But what then happened was bystanders ran in, pulled this man out of the vehicle, and wrestled him down to the road. They say he was fighting, biting, scratching, and swearing the whole time saying things like, "you deserve this, you guys deserve this."

There seems little doubt at that this was deliberate. It all comes down to what was the motive. All of the victims were Muslims. The local Muslim community here is very angry. They believe they were targeted significantly and purposefully.

And they believe this is just the latest escalation of Islamophobia, following the recent terror attacks in London. The one at parliament in March and more recently London Bridge in early June, and of course, Manchester, as well. They believe it has all created a significant caldron of increasing hatred towards the Muslim community. Back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Phil Black, keep us posted from the scene if there are any new developments. Let's talk about this a little bit more because it was pure chaos outside that London mosque just after the stroke of midnight. Listen to this witness describe the carnage before he pulled the driver out of the van and helped subdue him.


SAEED HASHI, WITNESS WHO PULLED DRIVER OUT OF CAR: I suddenly turned right to the mosque. So I was -- then I was shocked. We were screaming and he -- first a woman, old Somalian woman, in her 60s. Then another two Moroccan or Algerian guy, he drove a bus, hit another three, four, five, six, seven, and suddenly the car stopped. We don't know -- we went after him. We managed to get him out of the car.


BRIGGS: All right, so where the investigation goes from here, let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst, James Gagliano, a retired supervisory special agent with the FBI. Good morning to you, James.


BRIGGS: There's an attempted murder charge, what does that tell us about whether this is terrorism or is not, does it matter?

GAGLIANO: Dave and Christine, I think we have to look at this dispassionately as law enforcement. That's hard to do. This is a very visceral punch to the gut, if you will, especially coming on the heels of all the attacks that have happened recently in the U.K.

[05:05:11]I think from the law enforcement perspective, naming it -- some people look at that and say it's just semantics. We have understand what the crime or violation might be and where the evidence may lead us. To call it a terrorist act, I think that's fair.

I think that they were measured, whether it was Sadiq Kahn or Theresa May, in waiting for the appropriate amount of time. Looking at this and understanding the witnesses' accounts of what the gentleman -- I use that loosely -- that was pulled out of the car or jumped out of the car was saying, it appears to me to be more of a hate crime motivation.

It's almost more relativism. Somebody who saw what happened a few weeks ago and said I'm going to do something similar.

ROMANS: Yes, when he was pulled from the car he was saying, "you guys deserve this, you deserve this," after having steered the van through crowds of worshippers. People who are coming out from the mosque at the stroke of midnight, at the end of Ramadan. So they're being careful about saying what the motive is here yet. Clearly they will have to debrief this guy. Tell me what we can expect next to the investigation.

GAGLIANO: The good news is that the folks who were there -- you can understand their passions being enflamed after a car tries to t mow them down out of worship, they were able to subdue and hold him because here now we have somebody that can be interviewed.

And so not only the police conducting their forensic analysis, going through his Facebook page, social media platforms. If they've identified where this man is from, they're talking to associates, looking at where he lived and what his patterns of life were.

But most importantly I think in this, too, understanding that from the perspective of we have a spate of these things happening, and could this also be somebody who's a copycat? Copycats will see something in the news.

We're trying to educate folks, trying to give them information, and a copycat sees that and says, "I want to do the same thing" or they read something in fiction and want to do that. That could also be a motivation.

BRIGGS: The fourth terror attack in the last three months, but the third using a car. Is there anything that can be done to prevent these type of attacks?

GAGLIANO: For law enforcement there is a thing we use called "Cooper's colors," and we always tell people that there's four states of color, white, yellow, orange, and red. Red is a heightened sense where you detect that there is a threat. Most people walking around in daily conditions in white, which means oblivious and unaware. I would suggest and most of law enforcement suggests that at a minimum we're in condition yellow, which says we're just aware of our surroundings.

ROMANS: Using a van as a weapon is a pretty low-tech way to do some major damage. We have seen this from Nice to the Christmas market in Berlin. Should there be -- should cities be thinking differently about how to protect large groups of people?

GAGLIANO: I think, you know, after 9/11 and after a spate of different terrorist attacks on facilities, on infrastructure and buildings, we got smarter, and what we started to do was putting up concrete bollards, which prevents vehicles like in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing from getting close enough for the maximum impact to take the building down or kill, you know, have massive casualties.

I don't know. I don't know if some of these pedestrians thoroughfares, we want people to be able to walk and shop and enjoy life in the western world, but it's getting difficult to do it safely.

ROMANS: All right. James Gagliano, come back, we'll talk about this more as the investigation details emerge this morning.

GAGLIANO: Will do.

BRIGGS: All right, to politics here at home and confusion, contradictions from the White House over whether President Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice. The president's lawyer says he's not under investigation. That directly contradicts the president who is tweeting that he is being investigated. CNN reporting Special Counsel Robert Mueller looking into whether enough evidence exists to launch a full-scale obstruction probe. The "Washington Post" reporting such a probe is already underway. Who's right? Would the president necessarily know? We get more now from CNN's 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. 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's the same 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 all of this on "STATE OF THE UNION." Watch.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "STATE OF THE UNION": Should we take that tweet from the president as confirmation that the president is the under investigation?

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: 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 response -- that response on social media was in response to the "Washington Post" piece.

[05:10:08]TAPPER: You're saying that the president when he said that was not accurate?

SEKULOW: No. The president wasn't -- it was 141 characters. There's a limitation on Twitter.

TAPPER: So the president thinks --

SEKULOW: So there should be no confusion -- the president is not under investigation. Yes.

TAPPER: But 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 important to note here that the president's allies, his lawyers, 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 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 the special council's office wouldn't necessarily notify the president 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.

ROMANS: All right. Athena, thank you for that.

Meantime, Senate Democrats are threatening a blockade to protest the GOP health care plan. Right now the bill is being crafted behind closed doors by Republicans. Democrats are demanding a fair and open hearing.

If they don't get one, the plan is to bring the Senate to a crawl by crippling the chamber with speeches and parliamentary procedures. Democratic sources tell CNN they may even begin implementing that blockade, Dave, today.

BRIGGS: Let's bring in CNN politics reporter, Eugene Scott. Good morning to you, my friend.


BRIGGS: Let's see, behind closed doors, health care. If this sounds familiar to the American public, that's because it should be. Here's Mitch McConnell in 2009.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: This massive piece of legislation that seeks to restructure one-sixth of our economy is being written behind closed doors without any input from anyone in an effort to jam it past the -- not only the Senate but the American people.


BRIGGS: OK, a soundbite Mr. McConnell clearly regrets at some point, but is this the only way to hash out health care? Why is it being done this way once again?

SCOTT: Yes. Well, Chuck Schumer certainly doesn't think it's the only way. He wants to have a meeting this week where both sides of the aisle can talk about where the bill is presently. But I think one of the reasons why the Republicans are still having these conversations among themselves is because according to the most recent updates and reporting, they still aren't completely on the same page about what it is that they want in this bill.

I mean, there's been quite a bit of confusion among the Republican Party about what the base is asking for and not just the base but conservatives of the president, as well. The president, conservative leaders, and conservative voters, what they want in their health care bill.

And so I think there's a desire to get on the same page before they go public with that, but I don't think the Democrats like that approach.

ROMANS: The clock is ticking here, though. I mean, if they want to fix this -- well, some would argue they're not fixing it. Democrats are saying they're not fixing it. They're making it worse. But if they want to get something done, the clock is ticking here. What about this notion of a Democratic blockade and we heard all the big Democrats talking about it this weekend. Is that something that's feasible? Would you think it will start today?

SCOTT: I think they certainly would like it to. What I'm paying a lot of attention to is where are we moving forward in terms of bipartisanship after everything we saw last week and so much talk from both sides of the aisle asking that people come together and form some type of united front in terms of getting policies forward. How will they be able to get on the same page peacefully without criticizing one another in a way that becomes offensive and disruptive to this deal-making period?

BRIGGS: Of course, the big story on the Sunday shows was the question of whether or not the president is under investigation for obstruction of justice. You saw the exchange between Jake Tapper and the president's lawyer. If you thought that was confusing, listen to this one with Fox News' Chris Wallace.


SEKULOW: The president takes action based on numerous events including recommendations from his attorney general and the deputy attorney general's office. He takes the action that they also, by the way, recommended. Now he's being investigated by the Department of Justice. He's being investigated for taking the action that the attorney general and deputy attorney general recommended him to take --

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You've now said that he is being investigated after saying that you didn't --


WALLACE: You just said, sir --

SEKULOW: No, nothing --

WALLACE: You just said that he's being investigated.

SEKULOW: No, Chris. I said -- let me be crystal clear so you completely understand. We have not received nor are we aware of any investigation of the president of the United States.

[05:15:06]WALLACE: Sir, you just said two times that he's being investigated.


BRIGGS: He did. He did say it twice. Chris Wallace did not make that up.

SCOTT: He did.

BRIGGS: But almost 20 years later, here we are having another debate over what the definition of "is" is. How important is that, and do the two sides, not two sides, the president and his lawyers needs to get on the same page?

SCOTT: Certainly, I think what's really important that people have to remember is that last week the president tweeted, "I am being investigated." That's what he said. So this goes to I think what much of his legal counsel was saying regarding him needing to be really careful with Twitter if he's trying to communicate to the American people what's happening.

Because when you say things like "I am being investigated," you cannot be upset when people believe that you're being investigated. And I think an important point that's been made repeatedly is that it is possible that he's being investigated and has not yet been notified.

ROMANS: Right.

SCOTT: And so to say that I know everything that's happening over there is just not true. That's not how these things work.

ROMANS: The reporting from the "Washington Post" is the most sort of dramatic in that it says that he is under investigation now for obstruction of justice. That investigation is underway. Our reporting at CNN is that Bob Mueller and his team are looking into whether an obstruction of justice probe is warranted.

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: So either way, poking around there, that's what we know. All right.

SCOTT: Yes. We've seen lots of interview requests happening. There are so many questions that still need to be answered.

BRIGGS: More questions for you in 30 minutes.

ROMANS: Get a cup of coffee, and come back.

BRIGGS: OK, Bill Cosby's legal team claiming victory. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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


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



ROMANS: Welcome back. It's 20 minutes past this hour this Monday morning. Prosecutors plan to retry Bill Cosby after a judge declared a mistrial in his aggravated indecent assault trial. Jurors reported being deadlocked after six days of deliberations. Cosby did not take the stands during this case. His accuser, Andrea Constand, did, giving disturbing details about how he allegedly drugged and molested her in his Pennsylvania home in 2004.

BRIGGS: To golf where there's a new U.S. open champ. You may never have heard of him, but the rest of pros know all about Brooks Kopeka. Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report" when we come back.



BRIGGS: Father's day means U.S. Open. You sit on the couch and watch golf.

ROMANS: I went to the driving range.

BRIGGS: At least you participated. Golfer Brooks Kopeka wins his first major in dominating fashion at that U.S. Open.

ROMANS: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. Brooks Kopeka has taken the long way to get to the top of the mountain. The 27-year-old from Florida learned the ropes playing in Europe's second tier tour starting back as a 22-year-old.

Before the final round yesterday his friend and workout partner, last year's champ, Dustin Johnson, told him he could win it. He was better than good finishing with a record tying 16 under par at the U.S. Open.

The win marked the seventh straight time a major was won by a first timer who cashes the largest paycheck in golf history, $2.16 million. CNN's Patrick Snell caught up with the champ.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BROOKS KOPEKA, 2017 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION: I never got nervous. I was always confident, very in control of my game, in control of the way I was thinking, walking up to the golf ball. I felt like every shot I was going to hit was going to be really good, and every putt, I feel like it was going to go in. To get my name on the trophy with the greatest players that's ever played this game is pretty neat. It's special. I couldn't be happier right now.


WIRE: History was made in the WNBA yesterday. Diana Tarasi becoming the league's all-time leading scorer. That layup right there late in the second quarter by the Phoenix Mercury guard set the mark. NBA legend, Kobe Bryant was on hand to witness this accomplishment and pay respect. Diana has won four Olympic gold medals, three championships each in the NCAA and WNBA, now the 35-year-old legend has etched her name in the record books.

Lebron James spent Father's Day weekend celebrating one of his children. He threw 10-year-old Bryce an epic birthday bash. Field painted with Bryce's name.

ROMANS: No way.

WIRE: There was football, soccer, and of course basketball, and Lebron went beast mode. Dunking on the kids. He didn't hold anything back. After working up a sweat, the kids -- King James and his wife, blasted him with water. Look at this. One heck of a party thrown by King James, guys. It was a great father's day for him. I hope you had a great one, Dave, and all of our EARLY START viewers out there, as well.

BRIGGS: It wasn't that good, man. I think he needed a boost after that NBA finals. Dunk on some kids, that will make you feel better.

WIRE: Letting out some frustration.

ROMANS: Thanks, Coy.

BRIGGS: Thanks, buddy.

WIRE: You're welcome.

ROMANS: All right, 29 minutes past the hour. A van crashes into a crowd of pedestrians in London. One is dead, eight are injured. We're going to have the latest on the investigation of what's being called a potential terror attack next.