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EARLY START

Trump Says He'd Take Dirt on Rivals; Trump Jr. Appears Before Senate Intelligence Committee; Hope Hicks to Testify on Capitol Hill; House Panel Holds William Barr and Wilbur Ross in Contempt; Two People in Serious Condition in Hong Kong Protests. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 13, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:19] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says if Russia or China offered damaging information about a political rival, he's all ears.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Police say the shooting of David Ortiz in the Dominican was a paid hit job.

ROMANS: And breaking news. Word of another possible oil tanker attack in the Middle East. Oil prices spiking right now.

BRIGGS: And they're singing in St. Louis after the Blues stunned Boston to capture their first ever Stanley Cup. They are still celebrating.

ROMANS: Sounds like "Gloria"? I can barely hear it.

BRIGGS: "Gloria" is right. Well-done. Name that tune.

Good morning, everyone. And welcome to EARLY START. Congratulations to all you folks in St. Louis.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday. I woke up today and thought it was Friday. Isn't that so depressing?

BRIGGS: I know. Sorry to disappoint you.

ROMANS: It is -- it is Thursday. It is June 13th. So we'll just roll through it here. It's 4:00 a.m. in the East. And a lot of news to get to this morning.

President Trump says he would not necessarily report it to the FBI if a foreign government like Russia approached his campaign again with damaging information about an opponent. In this interview with ABC News the president disputed the idea that such an offer amounted to election interference. And he said there would not be, quote, "anything wrong with listening."

The president was asked whether Donald Trump, Jr. should have gone to the FBI when he got an e-mail offering dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians.

We're going to play the president's entire answer so there's no question whether he was taken out of context.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK, let's put yourself in a position, you're a congressman. Somebody comes up and says, hey, I have information on your opponent. Do you call the FBI?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: I think if it's coming from Russia you do.

TRUMP: I'll tell you what. I've seen a lot of things over in my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI -- in my whole life. I don't -- you don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Al Gore got a stolen briefing. He called the FBI.

TRUMP: Well, that's different. A stolen briefing but this is -- this is somebody that said we have information on your opponent. Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn't work that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI director says that's what should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't -- there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent, well, I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go, maybe, to the FBI.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Still stunning. One important note for context, it is a crime for a campaign to knowingly solicit or accept anything of value from foreign nationals. That and the danger of election interference were recurring themes in the furious reaction of President Trump's comments. Many of his Democratic opponents tweeted their outrage or were asked about it by reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's the commander in chief and has a duty and a responsibility to the American people to be a defender, if not the greatest defender, of our democracy. And -- but, to quite the contrary, what we hear tonight is that he is, yet again, open to the idea of working with foreign governments to undermine the integrity of our election system. It's outrageous and it tells me the guy just -- doesn't understand the job and can't do it very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler who is leading multiple investigations into Mr. Trump tweeted, "It is shocking to hear the president say outright that he is willing to put himself in debt to a foreign power."

One other person who said foreign dirt should be reported to the FBI, Attorney General William Barr last month at a Senate judiciary hearing. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Going forward, what if a foreign adversary, let's now say North Korea, offers a presidential candidate dirt on a competitor in 2020, do you agree with me the campaign should immediately contact the FBI? If a foreign intelligence service --

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: A foreign government? A foreign intelligence service?

COONS: A representative of a foreign government --

BARR: Yes.

COONS: -- says we have dirt on your opponent.

BARR: Yes.

COONS: Should they say, "I love it, let's meet," or should they contact the FBI?

BARR: If a foreign intelligence -- if a foreign intelligence service does, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right, so that -- there you go. All right, now look, Donald Trump, Jr. back in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, appearing Wednesday behind closed doors under subpoena. A source close to the president's eldest son says he stuck to his earlier testimony from 2017. Afterward Trump, Jr. told reporters he was not at all worried about perjury charges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:05:07] DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT'S SON: I don't think I changed anything of what I said because there was nothing to change. I'm glad that this is finally over. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Our source says Trump, Jr. told senators Wednesday he did not talk to his father about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians. He also said he did not pay close attention to the Trump Tower Moscow project because it was one of many potential deals. Since the release of the Mueller report there have been questions about discrepancies between Trump Jr.'s testimony and what other witnesses told Congress and Mueller's team.

BRIGGS: One of the president's longest serving and closest aides set to testify next week on Capitol Hill. Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director and longtime campaign aide, will appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

Our Sunlen Serfaty has more from Washington.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave and Christine. This will be such a huge moment up here on Capitol Hill. Hope Hicks has been such a key member of President Trump's inner circle for so long. One of his longest serving and closest aides, most recently as a White House communications director.

The House Judiciary Committee announcing that she has agreed to testify next Wednesday up here on Capitol Hill. It will be a closed- door testimony, but they intend to release a transcript afterwards, and of course she'll be facing questions about her time in the Trump campaign, the transition and during her time in the White House.

Now significant thing to watch is that the White House last week, they told Hicks not to provide any documents to the committee related to her time at the White House. So the thing to watch here will be whether they assert executive privilege to prevent her from talking to the committee about her time at the White House. But of course the campaign time will be fair game -- Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: OK, Sunlen, thank you.

The House Oversight Committee voting to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress. The committee is investigating who ordered a citizenship question to be added to the 2020 Census.

Was it a routine decision by the Commerce Department or a political decision by the White House? The contempt vote came hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege holding back documents related to the central question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): For months the Trump administration has claimed that the decision to add the citizenship question was made at a department level rather than at the White House. But now the president is asserting executive privilege over all of these documents. This begs the question, what is being hidden?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The Commerce secretary called the move a, quote, "empty stunt" and the Justice Department accused the committee of playing political games. A panel's top Republican said it was really about influencing a Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Democrats said the Supreme Court will rule by the end of this month on this citizenship question. But they hope to use this committee's oversight power to create a controversy around this issue to try to impact the court's decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The committee's resolution includes citations for both civil and criminal contempt.

ROMANS: All right, breaking news. An oil tanker sailing through the Gulf of Oman suffering a fire this morning. This follows media reports that two oil tankers have been attacked. The company that manages the tankers says the crew of the Front Altair were evacuated and are safe.

CNN has been unable to confirm if it was an actual attack that had taken place or if any other oil tankers were involved. This morning's incident follows an attack on four oil tankers in the United Arab Emirates last month, suspected to be carried out by Iran. Oil prices on this news, no surprise, spiking about 3 percent.

BRIGGS: A rare sight Monday in the nation's capitol, a staged military flyover at the White House.

President Trump and the first lady watching the single F-35 fighter jet along with the visiting Polish president and his wife. It came just hours before the two leaders announced an agreement enhancing military cooperation between the two countries. It calls for an additional 1,000 U.S. troops to be stationed in Poland.

Meantime the president saying more about that letter he received from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un just ahead of the one-year anniversary of their summit in Singapore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He just wrote me a very nice letter, unexpected, and someday you'll see what was in that letter. Someday you'll be reading about it. Maybe in 100 years from now, maybe in two weeks. Who knows?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: An administration official describes the letter as a birthday greeting. The president's birthday is Friday. A source familiar with the letter's contents says it contains nothing of substance or a way forward on the stalled denuclearization talks.

ROMANS: You could read about it in a couple of weeks or in 100 years.

Authorities in the Dominican Republic say the shooting of Red Sox legend David Ortiz was a hit job.

[04:10:05] Police say the alleged gunman, 25-year-old Rolfi Ferreira Cruz, has confessed to shooting Ortiz at a nightclub last weekend in Santo Domingo. They say Cruz and six other men were involved in that shooting. One still at large. Authorities are not commenting on a possible motive, but they say the suspects were offered the equivalent of about $7800 to carry out the hit on Ortiz.

BRIGGS: For the first time in their 52-year history the St. Louis Blues will drink from the Stanley Cup.

The Blues beating the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Boston in the winner-take- all game seven in the Stanley Cup Final series. In one of the great sports traditions the Stanley Cup champion Blues led by their team captain carried the cup around the rink passing it from player to player. The Blues' Ryan O'Reilly was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the most valuable player in the NHL playoffs.

And back in St. Louis Blues fans celebrated the team's hockey milestone the only way they know how with the stirring rendition of?

ROMANS: "Gloria."

BRIGGS: "Gloria." The team and its fans adopted the 1982 Laura Branigan song during their historic run to the Stanley Cup, and a tearjerker moment coming up in the "Bleacher Report" in the 5:00 hour. You won't believe the young lady who got to get a kiss from the Stanley Cup. That's coming up next hour.

ROMANS: I can't wait to see that.

All right. One day after dozens were hurt in clashes with police, police in Hong Kong using tear gas on protesters again. We go live to Hong Kong next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:16:21] BRIGGS: Tensions remain high in Hong Kong after two days of violence between police and protesters. At least 79 people were injured with two in serious condition. Police fired tear gas and used rubber bullets on the demonstrators. Thousands blocked roads, closing the city's legislator and forcing a postponement of a controversial bill allowing extradition of suspects to mainland China.

Ivan Watson standing by live in Hong Kong with the latest.

Ivan, looks and sounds calm behind you.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has calmed down significantly. We're not seeing anything remotely close to the raging street battles and protests and charges by riot police that brought the downtown of this international financial hub to a complete halt on Wednesday. And it could be the tropical rain that's helped kind of dampen some of the tempers that were raging late into the night on Wednesday and also maybe sheer exhaustion by the early pre- dawn hours.

The riot police have kind of moved back and just abandoned streets and abandon barricades that the demonstrators had setup, and many of them had gone home as well. So now it's kind of this lull after a real face-to-face test of wills between predominantly young Hong Kongers and the security forces over this extradition bill.

The authorities have postponed a second round of debate of the legislation in the Hong Kong parliament indefinitely. We don't know when that's going to happen. The chief executive of Hong Kong, the mayor, if you will, Carrie Lam, she has conceded that the legislation is controversial, which is a bit of an understatement given that there were estimates of more than a million Hong Kongers came out to protest peacefully on Sunday.

That's one in seven people in this city. So I guess we're just waiting to see where the next shoe drops in this political crisis here in this former British colony -- Dave, Christine.

BRIGGS: For the time being it looks like a win for the people of Hong Kong. 4:18 p.m. there. Ivan Watson, great reporting. Sir, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, a brave tearful revelation from a Hollywood star.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIRA SORVINO, ACTRESS AND TIME'S UP ADVOCATE: That last part ever in public because it is impossible sometimes to share these sort of things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: More from Oscar winner Mira Sorvino next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:23:53] ROMANS: Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino revealed Wednesday she is a survivor of rape. Sorvino has been one of the most vocal voices of the Me Too Movement. She was speaking at a press conference trying to encourage New York lawmakers to eliminate that state's statute of limitations on rape in the second and third degrees and pass additional sexual harassment protections. She grew emotional while telling her story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SORVINO: I'm also a sexual assault victim and I'm also a survivor of date rape. So -- but I've never said that in public and I do not want to go into detail, but I have never said that last part ever in public because it is impossible sometimes to share these sort of things. And I'm doing it here to try and help.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Wow. Sorvino says she is speaking out because she knows there are other survivors who need time to sort through the trauma and the shame of what has happened to them. What they've been through. She did not give details about who assaulted her or when it happened, but she's talking about statute of limitations. And I think that that's what so women say about sexual harassment, and sexual abuse and sexual assault, is that for some women it takes years to work through all this. And then what is your legal recourse?

[04:25:03] BRIGGS: Yes, that's stunning that there is a statute of limitations. A difficult revelation there.

Frightening moments for visitors to Chicago's Willis Tower SkyDeck. A ledge on the tower's popular sky deck cracked under the feet of visitors Wednesday. The protective layer covering the glass splintering into pieces.

Official tell CNN affiliate WBBM that no one was in any danger and the protective coating did what it was supposed to do. The glass sightseeing box extends from the 103rd floor of what was once called the Sears Tower, which attracts about 1.5 million visitors each year. The protective layer cracked once before in 2014 creating a similar panic among visitors.

ROMANS: Have you been up there?

BRIGGS: I have not.

ROMANS: It's really cool. I take my kids up every year and my little guy calls it the serious tower. Serious tower.

BRIGGS: You may not be up there again.

ROMANS: I know. I'm not good at -- I'm not good at heights.

All right, President Trump was asked what he would do now if a foreign government offered him dirt on a political opponent. You'll hear the entire stunning answer next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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