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EARLY START

Gunman Kills Five at Maryland Newspaper; Rosenstein and Wray Testify on Capitol Hill; Pence Says Migrant Exodus Must End; Trump Praises Foxconn, Warns Harley; Oregon State Wins College World Series; Decision Time for LeBron James. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 29, 2018 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:00]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the White House fast-tracking the search for a Supreme Court nominee. The President personally meeting with senators key to approving the next justice.

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

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR:: And I'm Dave Briggs. Happy Friday, everybody, June 29th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We start with sad news, though. This morning's front page in Annapolis, Maryland says it all. A gunman's rampage at the "Capital Gazette" had killed five people, the deadliest day for American journalists since 9/11.

Officials released the names of the employees killed -- Wendi Winters who worked on special publications; Gerald Fischman, editor of the editorial page; John McNamara, staff writer who covered 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 visit the "Capital Gazette's" Web site for more on each of the victims.

One survivor, "Capital Gazette" staff writer Selene San Felice described her experience to CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SELENE SAN FELICE, STAFF WRITER, CAPITAL GAZETTE (via telephone): I was working at my desk when I heard the shots, and it took a couple of them for me to realize what I 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. And it was locked. What happened here was very calculated.

I reported on Pulse, when Pulse happened. I am -- 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 -- 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 (INAUDIBLE) about them if there is nothing else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM KRAMPF, ACTING CHIEF OF POLICE, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Overnight, police searched the suspect's home, and we're learning more about a possible motive.

In 2011, the paper ran a story about the suspect's guilty plea to criminally harassing an old high school classmate. He filed two lawsuits over that story. Both suits dismissed.

The suspect is in court this morning. The "Capital Gazette" reporting, overnight, he has been charged with five counts of first- degree murder.

CNN's Brian Todd has more from Annapolis.

BRIAN TODD, CNN 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 were 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. 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.

ROMANS: You know, an attack on journalists and attack on a newsroom, just chilling what that means for American democracy.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: And this morning, "The Washington Post" saying, newspaper clings to its mission as a polarized nation mines for blame. Searching around for who to blame. Clearly, this suspect has been charged with five counts of murder.

[05:05:02] BRIGGS: Yes. Credit to Sarah Sanders for tweeting -- an attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American.

But you can see "The Daily News" take here. Their cover, "who is the enemy now?" That based on what President Trump has called the press, the enemy of the people. You remember that, and that is what this is in reference to.

That was peppered with reporters' questions, the President was, about the Annapolis newspaper shooting as he arrived back at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any words about the shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what about the shooting, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, can you comment on the shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk about the active shooter today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, can you react to the shooting in Annapolis?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Annapolis shooting, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you please talk to us about the dead reporters in Annapolis?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, why -- will you keep talking about the enemies of the people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any words at all for the families, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you walking away?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why won't you come and talk to us about that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Earlier, the President put out this tweet. He said his thoughts and prayers were with the victims. He thanked the first responders. The first lady called the shooting tragic and evil.

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 Chris Wray fending off attacks from House Republicans in a fiery five-hour hearing.

ROMANS: Listen to Trey Gowdy who took nearly two and a half years to complete the Benghazi investigation ripping Rosenstein over the length of the Russia investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: It has gone, what, two years? I know Mr. Gowdy investigated Benghazi for two and a half years for context.

Joining us this morning, CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University. Good to see you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning, Julian.

JULIAN ZELIZER, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Good morning.

BRIGGS: This was a contentious five hours. This one, in particular, stood out, from Jim Jordan pressing Rod Rosenstein. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: I don't know why you won't give us what we've asked for.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Sir, I certainly hope that your colleagues are not under that impression. And that is not accurate, sir, and you --

JORDAN: It is accurate. We have caught you hiding information, Mr. Rosenstein.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: 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: Actually, that is 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 is no way to subpoena phone calls.

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

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Not sure that Jim Jordan intended that as a laugh line, but the crowd found it humorous, Rosenstein's pushback. House Republicans have given Rosenstein a week to produce these documents related to Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation and Trump-Russia. Is this about documents or something else in your estimation?

ZELIZER: No, it's not about documents. It's not about information. It's about discrediting an investigation. And that is what the Republicans are engaged in.

And it's working. I think it's been very effective. But the actual substance, I don't think, is relevant to them.

ROMANS: I mean, yesterday, the President of the United States, just before announcing that he would meet with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16th, there would be the summit for these -- between these two leaders, he says this.

He says, Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election. Where is the DNC server and why didn't shady James Comey and now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn't Hillary-Russia being looking at? So many questions, so much corruption.

And "Washington Post," in an editorial, says this morning, either Mr. Trump has lost touch with essential U.S. interests or there is some other explanation for his kowtowing that is yet unknown.

The President is essentially acting as a spokesman for the Kremlin there yesterday, saying, no, no, the Kremlin says there is no meddling. At odds with his own intelligence committee, his own Secretary of State. What -- why is the President doing this?

ZELIZER: Look, he's been doing it very consistently throughout his presidency. He sees that not as an attack on Russia or what Russia is doing but about his own presidency.

And so every time that accusation and that issue comes up, he throws out all kinds of disjointed stories. He denies that there is any kind of meddling, and he urges everyone to move on.

And, you know, he could probably solve this much easier and much earlier if he acknowledged what most agree happened and dealt with it so it doesn't happen again in 2018.

ROMANS: Our Fred Pleitgen was just reporting to us that inside Russia, when you watch the, you know, state-sanctioned television --

[05:10:02] ZELIZER: Yes.

ROMANS: -- we watch T.V. in Russia, the storyline among the anchors or the banter is about how it was Russia that helped elect Donald Trump, that Russia gets some credit for electing Donald Trump.

BRIGGS: Well, John Bolton, who is over there in Russia meeting with Putin, a year ago, said it's a true act of war, Russian meddling in our election.

ZELIZER: Right.

BRIGGS: What is the impact, though, of the President saying Russia says didn't meddle? Ultimately, does it invite them back into our election? Does it undermine the intel community? What's the damage?

ZELIZER: Well, it certainly doesn't create any pushback, and it is a serious issue. And even if you take President Trump out of the story, no one should want this kind of interference in our electoral process. It is not something that is desirable or healthy.

So if the President takes this stand, it hurts every effort to actually deal with the problem and to create pushback against Russia from doing it again or for other countries to try the same.

ROMANS: Right. All right, Julian Zelizer, come back in a few minutes. We got a lot to talk about this morning. Thank you, sir.

BRIGGS: Yes. I want to ask you about a piece you wrote. Democrats might be underestimating President Trump.

ROMANS: All right, the Vice President is in Guatemala with this message about migrants crossing the southern border.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:15:29] BRIGGS: The White House claims it cannot keep the country safe unless a federal judge reverses his order requiring quick reunification of 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 hardline immigration policy is not deterring everyone. CNN's Nick Valencia was on a ride along with Customs as they caught a group of migrants 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: 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 are in Texas, Arizona, New York, and Florida.

ROMANS: Right. A tale of two companies in Wisconsin, President Trump praising Taiwan's Foxconn while taking another swipe 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, costing taxpayers about $200,000 per job.

At the event, President Trump had words for a nearby company, Harley- Davidson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: U.S. Steel actually are reopening two plants, not six, but it does credit the metal tariffs. However, those same tariffs raise costs for lots of other businesses, including Harley. In fact, you know, it costs more for Harley-Davidson to produce a bike in the United States because of those first tariffs.

Number two, the President pulled out of TPP which means they could have had some very favorable tariff treatment in Asia if the President stayed in TPP. So that hurts them there and then these European Union tariffs.

So, basically, you've got Harley-Davidson navigating the President's very own trade policy which hurts the company.

BRIGGS: All right. Coming up, will he stay or will he go? LeBron James has to decide by today whether to opt out of his contract in Cleveland. Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report," next.

[05:18:44] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: After a thrilling series at Oregon State College World Series champion.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Good morning, guys.

Yes, the Beavers beating Arkansas last night in a winner-take-all Game 3 to win their third national championship. Congrats to them, but, man, do you have to feel bad for Arkansas.

Wednesday night, the Razorbacks were one out away from winning it all. And they had a chance to end the game on this foul ball, but it dropped in the middle of three of their players.

Oregon State had new life. They then rallied to win that game. It's really hard to come back from, if you're Arkansas, and they never really did.

Beavers' Freshman Kevin Abel throwing the game of his life last night. A two-hit shutout as Oregon State won Game 3 five to nothing to win the national championship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will be your most favorite part of this college world series?

KEVIN ABEL, PITCHER, OREGON STATE BEAVERS BASEBALL: That dog pile. It hurt. It hurt a lot, but I loved it. I love it. It's something you dream about, and that's something I'm never going to forget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: That was a solid dog pile. All right, the World Cup continuing yesterday with a game that no one wanted to win. England was taking on Belgium. Both teams were already through the knockout stage, and the loser of the game would actually end up on the easier side of the bracket.

Belgium would win one to nothing on that. Check out the celebration by Michy Batshuayi. Right back in the face. I'm pretty sure he didn't draw it up that way.

Now, there's no game today. The knock out round is going to get going tomorrow with Messi and Ronaldo both in action. The first kickoff between France and Argentina at 10:00 Eastern.

All right. Finally, it's decision day for LeBron James. He has until midnight tonight to let the Cavs know if he's going to opt out the final year of his contract. In the meantime, LeBron doesn't look like he is stressing about the decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[05:25:03] LEBRON JAMES, POWER FORWARD, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Let's go!

(LAUGHTER)

JAMES: Let's go! Black excellence! (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Yes, that was LeBron cliff diving with his family somewhere in the Caribbean.

And, guys, the decision today about opting out of the contract, it doesn't really mean where LeBron's going to end up next season. The only thing it really does is it will eliminate the Houston Rockets from the conversation because the only way they could obtain LeBron, really, is through a trade.

So even if he does opt out, Cavs and Lakers are still both in play throughout the weekend. It's going to be interesting.

BRIGGS: And the Celtics snuck into this conversation which is, I think, surprising to a lot of people.

SCHOLES: They would also probably have to trade for him too. So if he opts out today, Dave, the Celtics would also probably be eliminated from the LeBron sweepstakes.

BRIGGS: Don't do it, Celtics. All right. Thank you, Andy Scholes. Appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right, 26 minutes after the hour, survivors of that shooting at the "Capital Gazette" in Maryland are left searching for answers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: What we know about the victims, the shooter, and his motives which date back years.