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Gunman Kills Six at Maryland Newspaper; Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray Testify on Capitol Hill; Details of Trump-Putin Summit Announced; Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 29, 2018 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:13] SELENE SAN FELICE, STAFF WRITER, CAPITAL GAZETTE: Thanks for your prayers, but I couldn't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about them if there's nothing else.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A targeted attack on a Maryland newspaper. The alleged gunman had a personal vendetta against the paper.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Did you threaten to subpoena their calls and e-mails?

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: No, sir, and there is no way to subpoena phone calls.

JORDAN: Well, I mean, I'm just saying.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The deputy attorney general beating back GOP efforts to undermine the Russia probe. Rod Rosenstein debunking claim after bizarre claim by the Republicans.

BRIGGS: And the White House is fast tracking the search for a Supreme Court nominee. The president personally meeting with senators trying approve the next justice, even one who he attacked the night before in North Dakota.

Happy Friday, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: It is Friday.

HARLOW: Come on. We've been thinking about that.

ROMANS: I know. For five days. I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, June 29th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

This morning's front page in Annapolis, Maryland, says it all. A gunman's rampage at the "Capital Gazette" that killed five people. The deadliest day for American journalists since 9/11. Officials releasing the names of the employees killed. Wendi Winters, who works on special publications, Gerald Fischman, editor of the editorial page, John McNamara, a staff writer who covers sports, Rebecca Smith, a sales assistant, and Robert Hiaasen, the paper's assistant editor and brother of famed Miami novelist Carl Hiaasen.

We encourage you to go to the "Capital Gazette's" Web site for more on each of these victims. One survivor, "Capital Gazette" staff writer Celine San Felice describes her terrifying experience to CNN.


SAN FELICE: I was working at my desk when I heard the shots, and it took a couple of them for me to realize what was happening. And I looked at Anthony, the intern, and I said, I'm getting out of here. And I grabbed my purse and I went to the back door which I was only a couple of steps away from. It was locked.

What happened here was very calculated. I reported on Pulse, when Pulse happened. I went to school in Florida. And I remember being so upset hearing about the victims who were texting their families, and there I was sitting under a desk texting my parents, telling them that I loved them. And I just don't know what I want right now.

Our whole lives have been shattered. And so thanks for your prayers, but I couldn't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about them if there's nothing else.


ROMANS: Police officials say the shooter's intent was clear.


WILLIAM KRAMPF, ACTING CHIEF OF POLICE, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY: This was a targeted attack on the "Capital Gazette." He entered the building with a shotgun and he looked for his victims as he walked through the lower level.


BRIGGS: Overnight, police searched the suspect's home. We're learning more about a possible motive. In 2011, the paper ran a story about his guilty plea to criminally harassing an old high school classmate. He filed two lawsuits over the story. Both dismissed. The suspect due in court this morning. The "Capital Gazette" reporting overnight he has been charged with five counts of first- degree murder.

CNN's Brian Todd with more from Annapolis.

BRIAN TODD, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, the man who allegedly opened fire on the "Capital Gazette" newspaper on Thursday afternoon has been identified by multiple law enforcement sources to CNN as Jarrod Warren Ramos, in his late 30s. According to our sources, Mr. Ramos did have a complaint with the newspaper that he filed a defamation claim against the "Capital Gazette" back in 2012, but that that claim was dismissed.

Police say there were social media threats directed at the newspaper of a general nature, not directed at any particular person that they know of at the moment, but there were threats via social media directed at the "Capital Gazette," some of them coming as recently as Thursday morning.

We have dramatic accounts also of -- from witnesses and from survivors of the police response and of the gunman's movements when he came into the building. According to Phil Davis, who is an employee of the newspaper who survived this, the gunman came in, shot his way through the glass doors, came into a small space there in the newsroom and started opening fire. Mr. Davis said he could hear him reloading as Mr. Davis was hiding under his desk as were several other people and described it as a terrifying experience.

We're told by police that the police response was incredibly rapid. That they got to the scene within about 60 seconds, no later than 90 seconds from when the shooting started. One witness told CNN she was on lockdown at a distance not too far away from the shooting.

[04:05:05] She said she saw police running in, some of them in their civilian clothes, pulling their Kevlar bulletproof vests on as they ran into the building. Police credited with basically interrupting this attack.

A very tragic incident here on Thursday afternoon. Five people dead, at least two people wounded. The shooter we're told has not been cooperating with police. We're told by one source that they identified him from facial recognition software, at least initially -- Dave, Christine.

BRIGGS: All right, Brian Todd, thank you.

Conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos insisting he was joking when he recently called for shooting journalists. He reportedly sent a text message to a "New York Observer" reporter saying, quote, "I can't wait for vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down." Yiannopoulos now says he sent messages to reporters as a way to troll them.

ROMANS: Meantime, Sean Hannity just moments after the newspaper shooting managed to blame Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters' recent rhetoric for the shooting.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I've been saying now for days that something horrible is going to happen because of the rhetoric. Really, Maxine, you want people to -- call your friends. Get in their faces. And Obama said that, too. Get in their faces. Call them out. Call your friends. You know, get protesters. Follow them into restaurants and shopping malls and wherever else she said.


ROMANS: Even some conservatives were not happy with Hannity's reaction. Former congressman and radio host Joe Walsh tweeting, "He doesn't even know who the shooter is or what the motive is. What a stupid, irresponsible, dangerous and selfish thing for Hannity to say. Just horrible."

BRIGGS: The simmering feud between the president's supporters and the Department of Justice playing out for all to see on Capitol Hill. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Robert Wray fending off attacks from House Republicans in a fiery five-hour hearing. Listen to Trey Gowdy who took nearly 2 1/2 years to complete the Benghazi investigation ripping Rosenstein for the length of the Russia investigation.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If you have evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the Trump campaign, present it to the damn grand jury. If you have evidence that this president acted inappropriately, present it to the American people, whatever you got. Finish it the hell up.


BRIGGS: But what the hell? Rosenstein, a registered Republican spent much of the hearing debunking efforts by the GOP to undermine the Russia probe including one memorable clash with the congressman citing a claim straight from FOX News.

Here's Manu Raju.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. Now the House Republicans and Rod Rosenstein went to battle. They have been battling for months and months over a range of issues, namely the production of documents related to the Clinton e-mail investigation and the Russia investigation.

The Justice Department has provided documents. In fact, Christopher Wray, the FBI director, and Rod Rosenstein testified yesterday that they have provided 880,000 pages of documents. Nevertheless Republicans are just not satisfied. They say that enough of these documents either have been heavily redacted or they're not responsive to the request and a sign of the tension between conservatives and Rod Rosenstein, a very feisty exchange between Jim Jordan and Rosenstein at a contentious hearing yesterday.


JORDAN: I don't know why you won't give us what we've asked for.

ROSENSTEIN: Sir, I certainly hope that your colleagues are not under that impression. That is not accurate, sir, and --

JORDAN: It is accurate. We have caught you hiding information -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, can we allow the witness to answer?

Mr. Chairman, point of order, we can go to Mr. Jordan's press conference and listen to him, but we came here to hear from the witness.

ROSENSTEIN: Your statement that I am personally keeping information from you, trying to conceal information --

JORDAN: You're the boss, Mr. Rosenstein.

ROSENSTEIN: That's correct, and my job is to make sure that we respond to your concerns. We have, sir.

JORDAN: Mr. Rosenstein, did you threaten staffers on the House Intelligence Committee? Media reports indicate you did.

ROSENSTEIN: Media reports are mistaken.

JORDAN: Sometimes. But this is what they said, "Having the nation's number one law enforcement officer threaten to subpoena your calls and e-mails is downright chilling." Did you threaten to subpoena their calls and e-mails?

ROSENSTEIN: No, sir, and there's no way to subpoena phone calls.

JORDAN : Well, I mean, I'm just saying.



RAJU: The House yesterday passed a resolution calling on the production of these documents by July 6th. Otherwise, there's a warning among some conservatives that Rod Rosenstein could be held in contempt of Congress.

Now Democrats are saying this is all part of an effort to undercut Rosenstein because he's in charge of the Mueller investigation. They would think that either simply trying to give a pretext for President Trump to ultimately fire Rod Rosenstein and put someone else in charge of the investigation when they meddle in the Mueller investigation -- Christine and Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, Manu. Thanks.

Moments after President Trump tweeted that Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election. The president essentially giving Vladimir Putin a pass, despite intelligence assessments that say otherwise despite his own secretary of State saying otherwise.

[04:10:07] His meeting with Putin also underscores the growing tension between the U.S. and its traditional allies.

Let's bring in Fred Pleitgen live in Moscow just past 11:00 a.m. there. Fred, is this another PR win for Vladimir Putin at the hands of the

United States president?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly seems that way. It's interesting, Dave, because when you see the official line coming out of the Kremlin, they say, look, we don't want America to call into question its alliances that it has with other countries but certainly if you look at especially Russian state-run television which essentially is controlled by the government here, then the tone certainly is very different.

They are saying that President Trump is on their side. They have a longstanding thing where they keep saying that President Trump wants better relations with Russia. But it's people in America who are stopping him in the administration. They also say that in the future, the Europeans are going to have to come to grips with the fact that it's going to be America and Russia calling the shots that the Europeans will be marginalized and saying that the destinies of Russia and President Trump are in some way tied together.

Now, of course, all of that is something that folks in European capitals won't want to hear. And it's something that is of grave concern because they have had those altercations with the president, especially over the past couple of weeks and months where the president has essentially called into question America's relations with the European Union and also with NATO as well. And that's why this upcoming summit between Vladimir Putin and President Trump is going to be looked at so carefully because it comes right after that NATO summit.

And certainly if that one goes badly and the summit with Vladimir Putin goes a lot more positively, there will be more concern for European allies who also -- who seemingly increasingly seem to believe that the damage that is being done to those alliances might be not permanent but more long term than maybe just for the term of one president -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Fred Pleitgen just past 11:00 a.m. there in Moscow. Thank you, Fred.

ROMANS: All right. The vice president in Guatemala with a message. This message about migrants crossing the southern border.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say with great respect to the presidents gathered here, this exodus must end.


ROMANS: What the White House now says about that order to reunite more than 2,000 families separated at the border.


[04:16:20] BRIGGS: 4:16 a.m. Eastern Time. With a Supreme Court battle brewing, the White House launches a full-court press to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. The president plans to have a nominee by July 9th, weeks before Kennedy is scheduled to leave at the end of July.

President Trump had key senators over to the White House Thursday. They included three red state Democrats, West Virginia's Joe Manchin, Indiana's Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, all facing tough re-election fights this year.

ROMANS: Their states went overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016 and a vote against his Supreme Court nominee could end up costing them crucial votes. The president also met with Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley and GOP senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins who are being watched closely as the White House vets Supreme Court nominees.

BRIGGS: The White House claims it cannot keep the country safe unless a federal judge reverses its order requiring the administration to quickly reunify immigrant families separated at the border. A spokeswoman for the president telling reporters on Air Force One, the ruling endangers national security. The administration's hard-line immigration policy is not deterring everyone.

CNN's Nick Valencia was on a ride along with Customs as they caught a group of immigrants crossing the Rio Grande.

ROMANS: Vice President Mike Pence visiting Central America, home to many fleeing migrants. After meeting with the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, Pence delivered a clear message.


PENCE: Among this flood of illegal migrants are human traffickers and violent gang members like MS-13. But most are making the journey seeking economic opportunity. Driven by the misguided belief that they can ignore the laws of the United States and enter our nation without consequences. I say with great respect to the presidents gathered here, this exodus must end.


ROMANS: As of Monday, there are 2,047 separated, unaccompanied minors in the United States. According to a map provided to CNN by a U.S. government source, most of them are in Texas, Arizona, New York and Florida.

BRIGGS: Senators are receiving briefings on the status of those children by officials at Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the Justice Department. Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois not impressed with what he's hearing.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: When it comes to reunification there wasn't a word about it in the president's executive order. And as we listen to them today, it doesn't sound like they have any plan whatsoever. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: One migrant mom Lydia Sosa of Brazil now reunited with her son after they were separated at the border. A judge granting a preliminary injunction to get 9-year-old Diego released. The family will still need to go through the process of seeking asylum.

ROMANS: All right. A tale of two companies in Wisconsin. President Trump praising Taiwan's Foxconn while taking another swap at Harley- Davidson. Trump helped Foxconn break ground on a new $10 billion plant yesterday. The electronics manufacturer is promising 13,000 jobs. Wisconsin wooed Foxconn with a controversial $4 billion in tax breaks and incentives. One of the richest ever. So Foxconn getting $4 billion to put that plant there. That's going to cost taxpayers if you break it out about $200,000 per job. At the event, President Trump had words for a nearby company, Harley-Davidson.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Harley-Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA please, OK? Don't get cute with us. Don't get cute.


ROMANS: Trump has threatened higher taxes on Harley if it moves some production to be closer to European customers overseas. But Harley needs to avoid steep new tariffs from the EU, its second largest market. Those tariffs are retaliation for Trump's tariffs on foreign metal which he also defended.


[04:20:06] TRUMP: We've put tariffs on steel and aluminum. Those businesses are through the roof. U.S. Steel called me up. They're expanding or opening six plants.


ROMANS: U.S. Steel is actually reopening two plants, not six, but it does credit the metal tariffs. However, those same tariffs raised the cost for many other businesses, including Harley.

And when you look at Harley-Davidson, it's so fascinating, Dave, because there are three ways the president's trade policies are hurting Harley. One, it costs more to make a bike in the United States because of the higher steel and aluminum prices because of those tariffs. Two, he pulled out of TPP. And TPP would have allowed American-made bikes to sell for very low tariffs in Asia, big booming market. So they're move something production to Taiwan because we're not in TPP. And then third, those European retaliation tariffs really hurt it.

BRIGGS: But now he continues to target Harley.

ROMANS: Right. BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, how does triple-digit heat sound? We are

headed that way this weekend with heat alerts for tens of millions. The forecast next on EARLY START.


[04:25:30] ROMANS: All right. More than 55 million people under an excessive heat alert today in the plains and Midwest. And the heat wave set to roll over the East Coast this weekend.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam has the latest.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We've got a sizzler of a weekend ahead of us, Dave and Christine. Over 55 million Americans under an extreme heat warning, advisory or watch. This includes Chicago, Grand Rapids, Michigan, St. Louis, Little Rock and Minneapolis. One of those weekends you want to stay indoors, enjoy the air conditioning and certainly if you're going to step outside, drink plenty of water and find shade whenever possible.

If you step outside, this is what it will feel like on your exposed skin. Easily breaking triple digits from Kansas City to Wichita, all the way southward into Dallas. Actual temperatures this weekend will be hot along the East Coast as the heat spreads towards New England. 91 today in the big apple. 97 to cap off the weekend.

This is all thanks to an upper level ridge that's developed across the central parts of the U.S. And this ridge is responsible for a boundary of severe thunderstorms that caused over 350 wind damage reports on Thursday. More severe weather possible for the upper Midwest later today.

Back to you.

ROMANS: Those are some high temps. A big reminder, check on your elderly neighbors. You know, help out at cooling centers if you can. It's going to be real rough.

BRIGGS: And pack the kids lots of water for little league baseball games.

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: Ahead, survivors of the shooting at the "Capital Gazette" in Maryland left searching for answers.


PHIL DAVIS, STAFF WRITER, CAPITAL GAZETTE: If we're at a position in our society where all we can offer each other is prayers, then where are we?


BRIGGS: What we know about the victims, the shooter and his motives which date back years. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)