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EARLY START

Police Investigate London Van Crash As Terrorism; President Trump: I Am Under Investigation; Navy Identifies 7 Sailors Killed In Destroyer Collision. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 19, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:33:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, one dead, at least eight injured after a van plows into a crowd of pedestrians outside a London mosque. Police treating the deadly incident as an act of terror.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump own lawyer contradicting his boss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: It's that simple. The president is not under investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: But the president claims he is under investigation, at least on Twitter, and how the Trump legal team is explaining yet another mixed message from the White House.

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

ROMANS: Good morning, I'm Christine Romans. Thirty-three minutes past the hour this Monday morning and let's begin with our breaking news.

(VIDEO PLAYING)

At least one person dead, eight others injured after a van ran over Muslim worshipers 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. At least one man has been arrested -- a 48-year-old man described as the driver of the van. He was detained -- there he is there. He was detained at the scene by members of the public.

BRIGGS: Now, authorities are not saying if Muslims were specifically targeted but London's mayor is calling the incident a "horrific terrorist attack."

Let's go live to London and get the latest developments from CNN's Phil Black. Phil, it sounds from the eyewitnesses that they were, in fact, targeting Muslims. Good morning to you. PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, David. There is no doubt the community here believes they were targeted specifically. Police say they are treating this as a terror attack because it looks and feels like the city's other recent terror attacks. It's the third time this year a car has been used as a weapon but there are some differences. This wasn't a high-profile target in central London, this was in the city's north outside a mosque in the very earliest hours of Monday morning. The crowd was just leaving the mosque after observing prayers for the holy month of Ramadan. That was when witnesses say this white van swerved, deliberately plowing through people.

[05:35:10] Now, as you've touched on, people watched this unfold and more than that, they intervened, so people ran in, grabbed the man, pulled him out of the vehicle, and wrestled him to the ground. We are told by those people who intervened that he resisted the whole time, he fought back, he bit, he punched, he scratched at them, and he told him things like "You deserve this. You guys deserve this." They were then able to hold him on the ground until the police arrived and more than that, keep a very angry crowd away from getting close to him as well.

The police say what they try to determine here now is the motive -- what drove this man to do this. That will ultimately determine just what crime he is charged with. But as I said, the community is pretty clear. They believe there has been rising hate and anger and bigotry towards the Muslim community of London in the wake of the earlier terror attacks here in the capital. Back to you.

BRIGGS: CNN's Phil Black live for us in London, thank you. It was a grim scene outside that London mosque. Listen to this witness describe the carnage right before he pulled the driver out of the van and helped subdue him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAEED HASHI, WITNESS WHO PULLED DRIVER FROM CAR: Suddenly he turned back to the mosque so I was -- that's when I was shocked and we were screaming and he -- first, a woman -- old Somalian woman was in her sixties and then another two Moroccan or an Algerian guy. Then he drove a bus. He hit another three, four, five, six, seven. And so then the car stopped so we went over -- we went after him. We managed to get him out of the car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. For the latest on this apparent attack -- terror attack -- let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano. He's a retired supervisory special agent with the FBI. So we know that this man, this 48-year-old man, was the driver of the van who's being held on an attempted murder charge, so that's sort of the procedural part for the -- for the authorities there, and we're told that they are now investigating this as a potential attack. On the scene there were some worshipers and some members of the public who there who felt like it took a little long -- too long to call this a terror attack. Does -- talk to me about how difficult it is -- you know, the public pressure from people there who wanted this labeled a terrorist attack right away.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think that that's understandable. We have to -- what you have to be cognizant of in issues like this where you have an event or an incident or an attack where everyone's passions are inflamed, and what we understand in law enforcement and the military understands, during critical events your ability to understand time as a -- as a relative means, it's difficult to do.

ROMANS: Yes.

GAGLIANO: Sometimes a police officer or someone in combat will shoot their weapon 20 times and they'll be asked afterward "Did you fire your weapon?" "No, I didn't." Or, "How long did it take the ambulance to get there?" "Well, it took 30 minutes." In actuality, it was two minutes. So I think it's fair to say sometimes that the eyewitness accounts -- you have to -- you have to understand that. I can understand the frustration. This comes on the heel of the recent London attack on the bridge and I can understand that. I think we've all got to be -- we've all got to be calm and cool and collected about this.

Understand that, you know, it's still too early to piece together motivation. Motivation is critical here because as you talked about in the charging piece of this you have two pieces to a crime. You have -- you have actus reus, which is the Latin for the actual incident or the event -- the crime itself, and then you have to have criminal mind, the mens rea. We have to establish that and that's where the motivation goes to.

BRIGGS: One thing is clear is an extraordinary act by that eyewitness who, instead of running away, ran to the van, pulled this man out of the seat, and held him down until the police got there. Is this the type of response we need to see more of in the wake of these horrific car attacks?

GAGLIANO: We've come to expect that with our law enforcement that these are folks, men and women, that go to the sound of the guns per se. To see somebody do that who's a citizen, it's very heartening because unfortunately, we can't put a police officer on every corner so the first line of defense is really people that are aware of their surroundings. They're not in condition white, they're aware of their surroundings. And then to intervene like this so that this gentleman did not get away or cause more carnage because keep in mind, the van -- 4,000-5,000 pounds -- that's two, two and a half tons and when it's hurtling down that road -- we're very lucky right now that the casualty count is so low.

ROMANS: These low-tech terror weapons -- a rented van, a rented car, a stolen -- a stolen truck like we saw in the Nice attack, should we be doing more to protect the public from these?

GAGLIANO: Again, Christine, we go back to continuum. Do we want civil liberties? Do we want to live in a free and open society or do we want to be 100 percent safe and secure? And the only way to do that is to have a police state, which we're never going to have in the west.

ROMANS: Well, you make a point that people could be more aware, though.

GAGLIANO: Absolutely.

ROMANS: They usually -- we are walking -- in the west, we are walking around in a state of no concern.

[05:40:00] GAGLIANO: Condition white, right --

ROMANS: Right.

GAGLIANO: -- and that's something I think now that as more of the events happen and people realize it's not just a matter of being on a plane that gets hijacked or being in a high-rise building or a building that's a target because it's an iconic building or because it houses federal assets, people are recognizing that. Walking around Times Square or --

ROMANS: Right.

GAGLIANO: -- walking around -- coming out of a mosque out of a service like that, they have to be at least in condition yellow, which says you can enjoy your life but just be aware of your surroundings.

BRIGGS: Sure. James Gagliano, thank you for your --

GAGLIANO: Thanks, guys.

BRIGGS: -- inside analysis on this.

ROMANS: Always great, your analysis. Thank you.

All right, here at home more confusion and contradictions from the White House over whether President Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice. The president's lawyer says he is not -- he is not under investigation. That directly contradicts the president who is tweeting that he is being investigated. CNN is reporting -- our reporting is that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether enough evidence exists to launch a full-scale obstruction probe. "The Washington Post" is reporting such a probe is already underway. Who's right? Would the president necessarily know? We get more this morning from CNN's Athena Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 for him but also himself, and 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 this on "STATE OF THE UNION" -- watch.

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

SEKULOW: Let me be clear, the president's 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.

TAPPER: You're saying that the president, when he said that, was not accurate?

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

TAPPER: So the president thinks --

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

TAPPER: But it is -- it is -- 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 also important to note here that the president's allies -- his lawyers and 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 in 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 counsel'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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Athena Jones, thank you so much. Let's bring in CNN Politics reporter Eugene Scott. And, Eugene, this weekend the president, and his wife, and his wife's parents, and his son went to Camp David, the first time he's gone on a weekend someplace that wasn't, you know, his own branded property --

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Right.

ROMANS: -- except for that trip -- the foreign trip that he -- that he took. (Video playing) And, you know, we're told -- there they are leaving Marine One. There's his kid behind him. That kid loves those shoes -- just like that's his kid. Kids who are 11 wear the craziest colored shoes. Mines does too. But what we are told is that this president is still really fired up about these investigations and gets very angry about them. Listen to what Sen. Marco Rubio said on NBC this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The one thing we've learned, I think, from the testimony of multiple people now is the president's pretty fired up about this, OK? He, from every pronouncement we have seen, feels very strongly that he did nothing wrong and he wants people to say that. That in no way is going to impede any of this work from continuing. It's going to happen and this is going to move forward. We're going to get the full truth out there and I repeat, I believe that is the best thing that can happen to the president and for this administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So even for the cameras with some R&R at Camp David, it seems that this president is obsessed with this investigation -- is angry about it.

SCOTT: Certainly, and I think one of the main criticisms that the Trump administration has of the mainstream media is that we spend so much time talking about this investigation, but if you were to monitor the president's tweets he actually spends so much time talking about this investigation almost daily.

[05:45:10] ROMANS: And breathes life into developments every day.

SCOTT: Especially by tweeting things like "I am being investigated." I mean, these -- the American people, who he says he wants to communicate with via his Twitter, that lets them know that this is something that they should be concerned about as well because he is.

BRIGGS: And that tweet was difficult to explain for the president's lawyer. He went on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace. Listen to this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 -- they also, by the way, recommended -- and 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, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: You've now said that he is being investigated after saying that you didn't --

SEKULOW: No.

WALLACE: You just said, sir --

SEKULOW: No, he's not being investigated.

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

SEKULOW: No, Chris. I said that the -- 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, period.

WALLACE: Sir, you just said two times that he's being investigated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's not crystal clear.

BRIGGS: I was going to say, crystal clear should not be applied to whatever's happening here. How much more difficult are the president's tweets making his case and this investigation?

SCOTT: I mean, based on that interview alone, extremely. I mean, the reality is he said I am being investigated. His lawyer, at least twice, said I am being investigated and so the American people are going to take him at his word based off of what he's put out there. You know, I think what is important to realize --

BRIGGS: Does it matter?

SCOTT: It matters to some people, it doesn't matter to other people, right? The reality is these investigations are very serious and they're ongoing, and conclusions have not been made public yet and I think that's a really important point to stick on -- focus on. I think there are people who are saying well, nobody has found anything.

ROMANS: Right.

SCOTT: Just because it hasn't been revealed to you doesn't mean that it hasn't been revealed.

BRIGGS: It just seems like the eye has been taken off the ball, which is Russian interference --

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: -- in our election.

SCOTT: Right. Well, I think this could be a huge part of it and that's what I think the special counsel and his team is trying to figure out.

ROMANS: I mean, what about the eye off the ball of policy, right? So, you've got tax reform. I don't know where tax reform stands right now, you know. SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: I know that there are Republicans who really want to get something done but the clock --

SCOTT: He tweeted that they're working on it.

ROMANS: The clock -- the clock is ticking on this. Also ticking on the repeal and replace for health care --

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: -- and that's happening behind closed doors. And that was a big storyline this weekend with Democrats who -- some were talking about blockade --

SCOTT: Sure.

ROMANS: -- of Senate business so that they could slow this down. What are you -- what are you hearing?

SCOTT: Well, what I'm hearing is that the Democrats really want to meet with Republicans -- a Senate-wide meeting because there's been some frustration that Republicans are meeting amongst themselves, not being public about where they're going with this. Lots of questions have remained unclear and the Democrats don't know where this is. You remember Mitch McConnell said that he was hoping there would be a vote by July fourth. That's like 10 business days. The likelihood of that happening, I think, it's low, but we've seen bigger things happen in a shorter amount of time. But I think if they want to make this type of progress before the end of July there's going to have to be way more communication between both sides of the aisle than we're seeing now.

BRIGGS: Well, remember, Republicans can only lose no more than two votes --

SCOTT: Right.

BRIGGS: -- in the Senate to get that bill through. Eugene Scott --

SCOTT: Thank you.

BRIGGS: -- we don't know if that will happen but thank you.

ROMANS: Happy Monday, Eugene. Thanks for being here. Thank you.

SCOTT: Thanks.

BRIGGS: All right, up next, the bodies of seven U.S. sailors recovered from the USS Fitzgerald. The latest on that tragedy at sea ahead on EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:52:50] ROMANS: Welcome back. The Navy has now identified the seven sailors who were killed when a U.S.-guided missile destroyer collided with a container ship off Japan Saturday. The collision ripped a gaping hole in the USS Fitzgerald, flooding sleeping berths where divers found those bodies. These are the seven men who lost their lives in the incident. The sailors range in age from 19 to 37 years old. They were from all over the United States.

Kaori Enjoji is live in Tokyo with the very latest on the incident. Good morning.

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Christine, it remains a mystery as to how this major collision could have happened in the first place, making it all the more important how these investigations progress from here on. There are going to be a number of investigations by the Navy, by the U.S. Coast Guard, by the Japanese authorities as well, and it could get fairly complicated, particularly if some of the data that they retrieve in these investigations is deemed classified by the U.S. Navy.

Now, normally, if you're talking about commercial vessels in Japanese waters it would be a Japanese investigation, but because there are security treaties between the two, it could be led by the Navy and it could take months before we get to the bottom of how this collision took place.

ROMANS: It's certainly -- what an undertaking to get that wounded vessel back to port. By all accounts it was an emergency that they were able to even keep that thing afloat. Thank you so much for that. Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo for us.

BRIGGS: All right, time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joining us. Chris, it's been almost 20 years since the president led us to ask the question what the definition of 'is' is, but it appears we are here again.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": You know, it's funny, Dave. I'm sorry, you caught me looking down there. Good morning, Christine.

ROMANS: Hi.

CUOMO: I'm reading all of this different stuff. We have Trump's counsel on today, Jay Sekulow, and we'll talk about this, that is more about confusion and language than it is about any meaningful legal distinction. I mean, you know, I like a good back and forth as much as the next person but, you know, it's important for our audience that we just don't engage in the absurd.

[05:55:00] So what's going on with the president? Is he being looked at, is he not being looked at by the special counsel? This is not a meaningful legal situation, what you call it. Is he being investigated, is he being looked at, but this is confusion that the president has created by his own tweets. He said something. We all act on what he said because he is President of the United States and a phone call away from any type of information about what's going on with this investigation. There is no mystery for a President of the United States about what's being looked at, but his lawyer said one thing, he said another, and now everybody's confused. And really, Dave and Christine, it's a window into why these tweets can be a blessing and a curse.

Now, on the legit legal issue about whether or not any of this stuff is obstruction, we've got a great thing for you today. We've got Alan Dershowitz--

ROMANS: Oh, good.

CUOMO: -- you know, the big brain from Harvard, and Jeffrey Toobin, the big brain from CNN. They've been bumping on this. We're going to have them on the show today. They're going to litigate the issue. I will be the judge, complete with --

ROMANS: A gavel.

BRIGGS: Oh, no.

CUOMO: -- a silver gavel, which happens to be a very prestigious legal award that very few people have won. I just happened to have one in my office.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Are you wearing a robe?

BRIGGS: Is that right?

CUOMO: I wear a robe underneath my suit every day. It's part of a secret sect I'm in. Did I say that out loud? So, it will be good.

ROMANS: All right, brains bumping inthe --

BRIGGS: Be careful with that gavel. Watch out, Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Will do. I'm scared.

CUOMO: It's very heavy.

ROMANS: All right, thanks, guys. We have the very latest on the markets with CNN Money Stream, next. Cuomo in a robe. Is it a bathrobe? Is it a legal robe?

BRIGGS: And a gavel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CUOMO: We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, June 19th, 6:00 here in New York, and we do begin with breaking news. A van plows into Muslim worshipers near a mosque in north London. At least one man dead, eight others injured. Police are treating the incident as a terror attack.

CAMEROTA: The alleged attacker is in police custody. He was detained by bystanders until authorities arrived. This is the third vehicle attack in the U.K. in the last four months. So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Phil Black. He is live at the scene in north London. What's the latest, Phil?

BLACK: Yes, Alisyn, as you said, they're treating it as a terror investigation because it is so similar to the other attacks this city has experienced recently. Again, a car has been used as a deadly weapon. There's a key difference, though. This isn't a high-profile target in central London, this is the north of the city and this was a crowd leaving a mosque in the earliest hours of Monday morning after observing prayers for the holy season of Ramadan. That's where witnesses say they saw that van swerve into the crowd, plowing through people. We've been speaking to people who say this unfold and, more than that, people who got involved and stopped it from escalating further. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASHI: Suddenly he turned back to the mosque so -- that's when I was shocked and we were screaming and he -- first, a woman -- old Somalian woman was in her sixties.