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Terror In Spain; GOP Senators Question Trump's Competence, Moral Authority; 21st Century Fox's James Murdoch Slams Trump. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 18, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: -- debunked myth just days after saying he waits for the facts. So why peddle a fake anecdote that's essentially a lie?

Plus, the president coming under fire from some southern state Republican senators. We'll get to that in a moment.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. A busy Friday morning, folks. Thirty minutes past the hour.

An intense manhunt underway this morning for the driver who plowed into pedestrians on a crowded Barcelona street in a deadly terror rampage.

I want to warn you these pictures are really hard to watch -- the immediate aftermath of that attack.

Officials say police foiled a second attack hours later in the coastal town of Cambrils, some 70 miles away. Five terrorists killed there in a shootout with police.

BRIGGS: Now, this all started around 5:00 p.m. local time Thursday in one of Barcelona's most popular tourist districts. Thirteen people were killed, at least 100 injured when the van zigzagged through the crowd.

And in a bizarre twist, police now say a house explosion in Catalonia the night before is linked to the attacks.

Let's go live to Barcelona where a moment of silence is 30 minutes away.

CNN's Becky Anderson has the latest details. Becky, let's start with the driver of that van. Still on the loose?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Still on the loose and we heard in the past couple of hours that authorities, quite frankly, don't know who he is and don't know where he is.

He abandoned that vehicle after he had zigzagged down that boulevard careening into people, killing people, injuring hundreds, and then he fled. And he is, as we understand it, on the loose. The authorities here are trying to unravel what is a complex web of terror.

Before I get to that, I do want to show you what is happening behind me here because this is really important. Lest we forget as we consider what is going on here -- and this is an ongoing situation and these are terrorist attacks -- let's remember that people have been killed and injured here in Spain over the past 24 hours.

And the crowds that are now gathering here in Placa de Catalunya, which is at the top of Las Ramblas -- and for anybody -- any of our viewers who have been to Barcelona, they will know this area very well.

These crowds are awaiting the King of Spain, who will arrive here within the next half an hour and there will be a moment of silence for all of the victims. When I say all of the victims I'm talking about victims from more than 24 nations, as we understand it.

Those who were injured, some critically injured, are in hospitals all over this city. Thirteen have lost their lives here, hundreds injured here. And as you rightly point out, that happened at five in the afternoon yesterday.

Later on, in the evening, it was brought to our attention that there was a terror incident going on about 70 miles down the road in a coastal town of Cambrils, which is very close to a city called Tarragona. What unfolded there is as yet unclear but what we do understand is that four terrorists were shot and killed in an Audi A3 car after they had plowed towards crowds there.

A fifth terrorist who was injured in that incident has since died. One police officer was injured and six civilians were injured there. That was 70 miles down the road from Barcelona on Thursday evening, the investigation ongoing.

You rightly pointed out that on Wednesday night there was an explosion in a house in Alcanar. Now, it's not clear -- it wasn't clear, certainly, at the time exactly what happened. One of the newspapers here reporting that that had been a gas explosion -- butane and propane canisters, it was said and reported in that house. One died and six were injured.

But it now appears that all three incidents -- Wednesday evening, Thursday afternoon in Barcelona, and Thursday evening southwest of here -- all these incidents are now being considered related. And what authorities are telling us is that these are lightly related by family association. We're not sure how many people.

What we do know at this stage -- and this looks like a cell or, at least -- at least one cell if not more. But what we do understand is that there have been three arrests in the incident here in Barcelona. A Moroccan man, a Spanish individual of a -- who was from a Spanish enclave in North Africa, and the third, as yet, unidentified suspect.

So there are people who've been arrested, there are people who have died, and there are many, many people who have been injured in what has been this catastrophic 24 to 28 hours here in Spain, and this is an ongoing and fluid situation. Back to you guys.

[05:35:09] ROMANS: Still looking for that driver.

BRIGGS: Yes. Thanks, Becky.

ROMANS: All right. Let's bring back James Gagliano, a CNN law enforcement analyst.

So, first off, what's happening here, they are hunting for a suspect. They feel as though maybe this has the makings of a cell. This is an active situation.


Remember, an explosive device went off on Wednesday night and basically destroyed a house. That could have been part of this as far as their plan to use maybe an improvised explosive device to cause even more carnage. We've seen that before.

And then, there were two locations where actual attacks went off. One where, as you pointed out, that 13 people were killed and a number of people still in critical condition. And the other where they try to ram a police blockade and ended up getting into a shootout and, I think, four perished immediately -- four of the terrorists -- and one died subsequently, due to their wounds.

This is a big concern. And as we talked about in the earlier hour about some of the things that we need to do, we talked about putting up concrete bollards around pedestrian thoroughfares.

Another thing is outreach, and whether it's in Charlottesville with the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists, we need to be talking to folks so that if they have a child or a relative or someone that lives with them that's expressed radicalized views, whether it's a neo-Nazi or whether it's a radical Islamist, is that they feel comfortable coming forward. It has to be part of the law enforcement effort.

ROMANS: The Internet is the oxygen in both of those cases, by the way, you know?

GAGLIANO: Absolutely.

BRIGGS: So as we discussed, this is now the sixth vehicle ISIS-linked attack in Europe in just over a year's time. From the appearance of it, how does this one look different in terms of its coordination --


BRIGGS: -- in terms of its sophistication, and planning?

GAGLIANO: So we know that there have been 31 of these type of attacks -- vehicle attacks -- since 2006. And as you mentioned, from 2014 to 2017, the last three years, there have been a total of 14, so there is a trend here.

One of the things that we've noticed from the law enforcement perspective that's different is the fact that the police were able to make arrests. They don't know if it was the van driver himself, but they do know that he was one of the -- two of the associates. This is going to be a treasure trove of human intelligence for us because we're going to be able to interview those folks and try to get information.

Now, police are speculating there are two things that could happen here. One is you could have a couple of folks that were committed to martyrdom and then got cold feet at the last minute. The second is a different strategy, Dave. They had a getaway car and we have not seen that in these type of ISIS-inspired attacks before.

ROMANS: Let me ask you about the president's response, quickly. I don't want to put you on the spot but the president responded by condemning the attack and by saying, you know, he -- we would help -- the United States would help, which are a typical presidential response.

And then the president started talking about his myth of Gen. Pershing, who shot 49 Muslim captives and let the fifth go free. Shot them with pig-stained bullets and then there were -- you know, for 35 years there weren't other terror attacks. I think the president is trying to look strong here, trying to look tough.

It's a myth -- you've even heard this myth --


ROMANS: -- but it's not true, you know. Military historians incredibly skeptical of this story.

What should the United States' response be? Should it be talking tough like that? Does that further inspire and enflame these people who hate the West?

GAGLIANO: Sure, there are arguments about that.

You know, I think regards to his -- to his tweet from yesterday, he made the same comment back in February of 2016 on the campaign trail in North Charleston, South Carolina.

"PolitiFact" did a study on that. I think they spoke to some eight different highly-regarded, prominent historians --



GAGLIANO: -- and they were all, at least, skeptical about the bonafides of the story, whether or not there was any truth to it. And they were -- there were all adamant that the response from that was not the way that it was made to appear. That tensions eased in the Philippines back at that time and there were no more attacks. Is it helpful? No.

I wrote a condemnatory piece about the president's remarks out on Long Island recently when he went out there to talk about MS-13 --

ROMANS: That's right.

GAGLIANO: -- and he made some statements about how law enforcement -- and he said it -- it could be joking, hyperbole -- make sure you don't cover their heads when they get into a police car.

Now, whether it was joking or whether or not it was a dog whistle, law enforcement doesn't need that type of -- you know, that kind of -- because again, the vast majority of law enforcement, the vast majority of people that are working counterterrorism are good people, but you've got to fear that tiny infinitesimal percentage that might look at that and say well, if the president says it, it must be OK.

BRIGGS: Right.

Well, to quote James R. Arnold, who wrote the book "The Moro War: How America Battled a Muslim Insurgency in the Philippine Jungle."

During this time, "This is a repeated myth that has no basis in truth."

He was very clear about that story.

James Gagliano, thanks for your insight and your analysis. We appreciate it.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

GAGLIANO: Thanks for having me again, guys.

ROMANS: Thank you so much, James.

All right. Two key southern senators come out strongly against this president. Hear what Bob Corker and Tim Scott said, next.


[05:45:10] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: The president has not yet -- has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.


BRIGGS: The criticism of President Trump from fellow Republicans is growing.

You heard Bob Corker there. He's not the only one with harsh words for this president who is sharing some harsh words about other Republicans, himself. Let's bring back Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner." Good morning to you, once again.

Now look, the president is still very popular with his base -- some say around 80 percent, the polls -- with Republicans, but what does it say that southern senators like Bob Corker who was on the short list for Secretary of State, like Tim Scott are now willing to step out and criticize, by name, this president?

SARAH WESTWOOD: Look, I think that looking at the criticism from Republican senators and members of Congress who don't typically call out the president is kind of a good way to gauge just how much trouble the president is in right now in terms of his response to Charlottesville. Possibly the way he's handled the Barcelona terror attack.

These are things that could really undermine his efforts to get his legislative agenda passed when members come back to Washington at the end of the month. He needs them to work on items that are a priority to him.

In a lot of areas, the Congressional Republicans do have their own agenda that is a little bit different from what the White House would prefer to see. And he is risking all of the things that are a priority to him only, like the border wall --

ROMANS: Right.

WESTWOOD: -- as long as he continues to antagonize these members who feel compelled to come out and distance themselves from the president when he gets himself into so much controversy.

ROMANS: There is no question this is an isolated President of the United States. I mean, even yesterday, you saw the Dow fall when people thought that Gary Cohn would resign because, you know, people -- the business community is leaving the president's side in droves.

You mentioned his response to the Barcelona terror attack. Let's remind people what happened.

He tweeted -- that was his firstresponse. He tweeted that he condemned the attack. That he -- the United States would help, of course, do whatever necessary to help be strong and tough. We love you.

OK, so that is presidential if -- well, in the new world of presidential where you respond with a tweet.

But then he went on to repeat this debunked myth about a World War I, Gen. Pershing, who used pig blood-tipped bullets in Muslim captives -- just shooting them so that that would prevent terror for 35 years. Debunked, by the way, you know. Historians, at best, skeptical but mostly saying this did not happen.

The president, this is the way he talks. He throws out stories and anecdotes that often are not true or they're wrong. But what does this get him when he's already so isolated and he doesn't seem to even want to change a little bit to act more presidential in what is a very important moment, you know. Barcelona is reeling.

WESTWOOD: Right. This is the kind of thing that the new chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, was supposed to crack down on. The spread of misinformation, the incendiary tweets, the spontaneous outbursts.

These are the types of things that the new chief of staff were supposed to reduce to bring a sense of order and structure into the White House and I think he's done that behind the scenes, but we're still seeing the president engage in the same kind of mischief that has gotten him into trouble in the past.

Now, when we've seen President Trump backed in a corner politically, and when we see him under fire from members of his own party, we've seen the president sometimes dig himself a bigger hole by turning around and firing on --


WESTWOOD: -- people who should be his allies.

In a lot of ways, we saw that kind of response after the "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape. President Trump did not come out and ever apologize. He never struck a conciliatory tone. Really, he just waited for the controversy to blow over.

This is obviously a lot different. The issue of race is so much more toxic and polarizing and it's incredibly difficult to dig yourself out of a hole once you have climbed in with neo-Nazis and racists. So this is something --

ROMANS: Right.

WESTWOOD: -- that President Trump is going to have difficulty overcoming without doing what is an anathema to President Trump, which is apologizing and admitting that you erred.

ROMANS: But, you know, he's somebody -- don't you think he's somebody, Dave, who he -- his mirror is the "New York Post," "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page, the media, you know. He watches and consumes so much media.

I wonder -- "Time" magazine, "The New Yorker," the cover of "The Economist" -- the way, almost at the same moment, three very different publications are representing this president as a racist.

Look at them right here. "Hate in America" on "Time" magazine. "The New Yorker" and "The Economist" both show him holding, you know, Ku Klux Klan hats.

[05:50:00] You know, you've got to wonder if at some point there's a tipping point for this president where he realizes that the very media that he so craves and that brought him to the pinnacle of politics, you know, views him like this. WESTWOOD: Well, the media has rarely treated him well. I mean, he's frequently portrayed as someone who's unstable, as someone who holds, you know, incorrect views. He's always faced criticism in the media and in some ways that fuels a lot of what he does.


WESTWOOD: He enjoys attacking the media. So I don't know that facing criticism in the typical, you know, mainstream publications will affect him.

Once he starts to see evidence, though, that maybe his base is uncomfortable with the direction that his presidency has gone -- once he sees that these kinds of controversies, even though they may -- he may consider them to be overblown by the media are getting in the way of his ability to move forward with other priorities for his administration, those are the types of things that might persuade him to take a different tack, not necessarily just the typical left- leaning publications portraying him as negatively as they usually do.

BRIGGS: Expect the president to hit back next week at a rally in Arizona when some feel he may pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Sarah Westwood from the "Washington Examiner." Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend, Sarah.

WESTWOOD: Thank you. You, too.

ROMANS: All right. A moment of silence in Barcelona just minutes away after yesterday's terror attack.

We'll be right back.


[05:55:50] ROMANS: Another CEO speaking out against the president's response to Charlottesville. James Murdoch, head of 21st Century Fox, slamming President Trump in a letter obtained by CNN.

He writes that he is concerned over the president's reaction, saying, quote, "I can't even believe I have to write this. Standing up to Nazis is essential. There are no good Nazis. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this."

Murdoch also pledges $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism.

Murdoch's criticism notable due to his father's relationship with the president. Rupert Murdoch speaks with the president several times a week.

All right. An isolated president sends stocks sharply lower. U.S. stocks fell over political concerns, also some disappointing earnings. All the major indices losing at least a percent. The market hit its lowest spot, though, after the Barcelona attack.

That news hit airline stocks particularly hard. The sector, one of the worst performers of the day.

And futures this morning -- global markets and futures are down again so you could see some more --

BRIGGS: A tough day.

ROMANS: -- selling this morning, yes.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs.

A moment of silence for the victims of the Barcelona attack just minutes away.

"NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo and Poppy Harlow starts right now.

Have a great weekend.


BRIGGS: A second vehicle attack coming just hours after a terrifying scene unfolded in Barcelona.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All you could hear was so much chaos and everyone just screaming and yelling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was just plowing people down.

ROMANS: President Trump responding to the attack by citing a fake story.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Terrorists should know the United States and our allies are resolved to bringing justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just when you think it couldn't any worse, he quadruples down.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: What we want to see is clarity and moral authority, and that moral authority is compromised.

CORKER: He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation.

WILLIAM KRISTOL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": This is a party that is in crisis and it couldn't have happened at a worse time.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, August 18th, 6:00 here in New York.

Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow has been with me all week, value added.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you. Good to be here.

CUOMO: Thank you for being with me, my friend.

All right. This morning, this is the "Starting Line."

Arrests overnight in the worst attack on Spanish soil in over a decade. Thirteen were murdered, at least 100 injured.

A van plowing into crowds of people on Barcelona's famed Las Ramblas. Police still searching for the driver.

Also developing overnight, a second deadly attack thwarted by authorities in another Spanish seaside city 70 miles southwest of Barcelona. Five suspected terrorists killed in a shootout. Police are working under the assumption that the incidents are related.

HARLOW: And, President Trump under fire this morning for his response to the tragedy in Barcelona. The president retelling a debunked mythical story about Gen. Pershing shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig's blood during the Philippine-American War. It is the same discredited story that he told during the campaign at a rally in 2016.

Now, Republican support for the Trump presidency is continuing to wane and show substantial cracks. Top Republicans calling him out, questioning his competence and stability, their words.

A big day of news ahead and CNN has it all covered.

Let's start with Becky Anderson who is live in Barcelona where a moment of silence will be observed to honor these victims in just seconds -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And we will get to what is this complex terror investigation by Spanish authorities in a moment.

But it's important that we just pause for a moment because there are hundreds of people who have gathered here in this square, Placa de Catalunya, where the King of Spain has just arrived to remember those who were victims of these terror attacks -- victims of these terror attacks.

Thirteen dead here in Barcelona, over 100 injured. More injured in Cambrils, on the coastal town.

Let's just pause for a moment.