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EARLY START

Secret Taliban Talks Canceled; Dems Renew Focus On Impeachment; Bahamas Fight To Survive; Bullied Boy's Last Laugh; America's Choice 2020; Air Force Orders Review Of International Layovers; Cost Of The U.S./China Trade War; Search And Recovery Teams In Bahamas; Brexit Power Struggles; MIT Official Resigns Amid Jeffrey Epstein Revelations. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 9, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


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MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: If you're going to negotiate peace, you often have to deal with some pretty bad actors.

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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Is there any way out of America's longest war? The president knickses (ph) secret talks in the U.S. with the Taliban.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Congress is back today. A full agenda with guns, the border and trade, but House Democrats are keeping their focus on impeachment.

ROMANS: Seventy thousand people struggling to survive in the Bahamas. The window quickly closing to find people missing after hurricane Dorian.

BRIGGS: And he was mocked for a homemade shirt. Now, one Florida boy is getting his swag and far more. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is "Early Start." I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Good morning to you.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday September 9, it is 4:00 a.m. in New York. Let's begin here with this week, marking 18 years since September 11th. And now we've learned secret peace talks were planned for this weekend at Camp David, with the group that harbored the terror group responsible for those attacks.

President Trump cancelling the talks accusing the Taliban of an attack in Afghanistan that killed 12 people including an American soldier. The president saying they probably don't have the power to negotiate a meeting for an agreement anyway. How many more decades are they willing to fight? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the president's decision and his original invitation.

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POMPEO: If you're going to negotiate peace, you often have to deal with some pretty bad actors. I know the history, too at Camp David. Indeed President Trump reflected on that. We all considered as we were debating how to try and get to the right ultimate outcome.

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BRIGGS: The invitation angered many lawmakers, including some Republicans.

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REP. MICHAEL WALZ (R-FL): As we head into the anniversary of 9/11, I do not ever want to see these terrorists step foot on United States soil. Period.

REP. ADAM KINGZINGER (R-IL): Nothing wrong with negotiations, but the president should not be negotiating with these really evil people. We can't forget what they did. We can't forget what they continue to do.

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BRIGGS: Liz Cheney, the number three House Republican, whose father was vice president on 9/11 says quote, Camp David is where America's leaders meant to plan our response after 9/11. No member of the Taliban should set foot there, ever.

Pompeo says the U.S. is still interested in striking a peace deal, but for now, the talks are dead and efforts to end America's longest war are again moving back. Let's go live to London and bring in Clarissa Ward, who embedded with the Taliban a few months ago for more on what's next. Clarissa, good morning, where are we headed here?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is a million-dollar question, Dave. Everybody wants to know, does this mean that the peace deal and talks are now dead in the water? Certainly, if you listen to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he does seem to advocate to continuation of talks. Provided the Taliban honored their agreements and the Taliban as well, have released a statement saying that the U.S. has diminished its credibility. And that this is going to cost the U.S. dearly in blood, and in treasure.

But they also do still leave the door open for the continuation of peace talks. But the question is now, how do you get the momentum going? This deal, Dave, was about to be sign, lawmakers (inaudible), the U.S. representative who was in DOHA, negotiating the deal said that it basically had been taken care of and done in principle. And it just needed the approval of the president.

There were a lot of people very critical of the deal. For a number of reason. We spent time with the Taliban earlier this year. We found no indication that they changed really in terms of their isolationist, fundamentalist ideology. A lot of people were very upset. There was no guarantee for women's rights. No precondition of a cease-fire.

The Afghan government were not indeed part of the negotiations. But at the same time, there was also a school of thought, a much more pragmatic rail politics school that says, listen, if you want to get out of this war, 18 years long, 2,400 U.S. servicemen killed, trillion of dollars spent, you need to be able to sit down at the table with the Taliban, with the people who are capable of ending it with you and hash out a proper deal. And so, there's a lot of concern now that there isn't a clear coherent message going forward from the White House about what they see the strategy is being going forward.

BRIGGS: One step forward, two steps back. Clarissa Ward, live for us in London this morning. Thank you. Great context.

ROMANS: Congress returns from summer recess today with no shortage of issues on the table. Guns, trade, and the government funding bill.

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The top of the agenda for many Democrats, is impeachment. Moving their probe forward and broadening its scope. But it is far from clear how far they will get with the legislative calendar running out and strong opposition from Speaker Nancy Pelosi. CNN's Jeremy Herb has this from Washington.

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JEREMY HERB, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave and Christine. Congress returns to Washington today from a six-week recess, with Democrats preparing to take key steps to formalize their impeachment investigation into Donald Trump. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution that would define parameters of impeachment investigation and lay the ground rules for inducting potential impeachment hearings.

The details of that resolution are expected to be unveiled as soon as today. The vote represents an escalation of the committee's impeachment probe. And it comes as the panel broadens out the investigation to go beyond what was in the Mueller report, and examine issues like foreign payments to Trump's business. The president's dangling of pardons and hush payments made during the 2016 campaign.

There are now at least 134 Democrats who publicly support an impeachment inquiry. And more than 35 have come out in favors since Congress left for recess at the end of July. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has set a goal at the end of the year to decide on whether to introduce articles of impeachment. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still opposed to moving forward on it. Making the coming weeks a key period for the Judiciary Committee and those advocating for impeachment to convince the public and reluctant lawmakers to joined their efforts. Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BRIGGS: All right. Jeremy, thanks. Joe Biden has a commanding lead

over crowded Democratic field in the latest ABC News Washington Post poll. But the race appears to be a lot tighter in some of the early voting states. Nationwide, Biden has 27 percent support among Democrats. And Democratic-leaning independents, putting him eight points ahead of Bernie Sanders. Ten up on Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg round out for top five in single digits.

But according to a CBS news and YouGov survey, Biden is neck and neck with either Warren or Sanders in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. He does hold a sizable 25 point lead though in South Carolina. One other note from that poll, businessman Tom Steyer, registered 2 percent in Nevada. His campaign say that qualifies him for the upcoming October debate.

ROMANS: Seven minutes past the hour, the air force is ordering a review of all international layovers in the wake of some questionable bookings at the president's Scotland hotel. The review once again raises questions whether the president is benefiting financially from his position. Air force crew members stayed at his Turnberry Resort during refueling stops.

For one stop in March, Air Force officials claim Turnberry was less expensive than a nearby Marriott. The Air Force has said the stopover of planes in Glasgow is not unusual.

Just last week, Vice President Mike Pence came under fire for spending two nights at the president's resort in Ireland, even though it was 181 miles from where his meetings were in Dublin. He insisted staying at his boss' resort made logical sense. Pence claims he made the decision because he has family ties to that town.

BRIGGS: Another primary challenge against President Trump. Former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford is now the third Republican trying to unseat his own party's leader. Former Massachusetts Governor Bill weld and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh have already declared. Sanford is a long-time deficit hawk. He is challenging the president and his own party over what he considers reckless spending.

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MARK SANFORD, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a party, we've lost our way. The president has called himself the king of debt. Has a familiarity and comfort level with debt that I think is ultimately leading us in the wrong direction.

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BRIGGS: Under President Trump, the national debt has soared from 19.9 trillion, to $22.5 trillion. And the congressional budget office predicts the deficit could top $1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year. Trump campaign is calling Sanford's primary challenge quote, irrelevant. Sanford best known outside South Carolina for his notorious Appalachian Trail sex scandal. ROMANS: All right, 9 minutes past the hour. There's concrete proof

President Trump's trade war with China is being felt by government and families. China reported Sunday, Chinese exports to the U.S. fell 16 percent, imports into China felt 22 percent.

And a new report from the National Foundation for American Families found the average American family will pay more than $2,000 a year for the president's tariffs. The trade war escalated earlier this month when new tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of goods kicked in on both sides, disrupting industries ranging from agriculture, the auto sector and all kinds of consumer goods.

Talks between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this summer and without a deal. Officials from Beijing are expected to visit Washington next month for another round of talks, with Trump planning additional tariff hikes on October 1st and December 15.

BRIGGS: The hurricane Dorian death toll rising to 45 in the Bahamas. And it is expected to climb much higher.

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Hundreds remain missing and are likely buried beneath rubble on Grand Bahama and Abaco. Many cars remaining submerged one week after the hurricane's arrival. Volunteers are doing what they can, distributing food to 10's of thousands of Bahamians who are now homeless. Paula Newton has more from Freeport.

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PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. The number is staggering, 70,000 people now left homeless because of hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. The issue now is how to get the aid that the need to those people. A lot of them are here in Nassau, but even this, even though it is the capital of Bahamas under strain. Not just to get people the immediate needs in terms of food and shelter, but what happens next.

As we discussed before, so many of those islands completely obliterated. Homes, down to their foundation and the issue becomes, kids need to go to school. People need jobs. This is about long-term care. And it is going to take a lot to really get a lot of these people back on their feet.

The other issue here, of course, that we are dealing with is the death toll. We have seen from USA I.D. dozens of search and rescue teams, unfortunately now, it is move to search and recovery. They have canines. They have portable morgues and morticians all at the ready. This is going to be painstaking work.

And the other issue in speaking to a lot of relatives who say that they don't know what has happened to their family members. They've seen them wash away from the storm surge and they fear that their loved ones will never be found. And add to that, the confusion, about exactly who is missing and where they are. The idea that they have to identify all of these victims will be also a very monumental challenge for this country. Christine, Dave?

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ROMANS: All right, Paula, thank you so much for that.

All right, Downing Street says parliament abused its power of passing a law against the no-deal Brexit. Big question, will the European Union even grant an extension? We will go about the parliament, next.

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ROMANS: All right, welcome back. The bill that keeps British Prime Minister Boris Johnson from enacting a no-deal Brexit will become law today. Johnson's government is expected to make a last chance push for a snap election, but opposition parties have resolved to block the move until Brexit is officially postponed. CNN's Max Foster is live in London for us outside of parliament with the latest twists and turns. Max?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Christine. Well, you know, we struggle to predict what's going to happen in the next hour, let alone over the course of a day. But what we're looking at today in this is this vote that will be presented to parliament, calling for a snap election. And it's pretty clear that Boris Johnson just doesn't have the numbers for that.

But they are still pushing very hard on that. At the same time, this bill comes into law, which could ultimately force Boris Johnson to write to the European Union, asking yet for another delay in Brexit. So, the government or Down Street at least, is briefing behind the scenes, they're trying to find a way around that.

And one of the ideas that they are considering is sending this letter to the E.U. from the Prime Minister's office. But adding to that, a political letter which will say, that they don't want a delay. That in their mind might force the E.U. to turn down the delay.

Extraordinary circumstance currently going on at the moment. The E.U. meanwhile, not engaging in any of this politics. They say, they can't really give a formal response, until they have a formal application of some sort from the U.K. But we do have Boris Johnson meeting his counterpart in Ireland, in this hour.

And we're looking for any indications that they might be able to make some progress on the Irish border issue. How do they keep the border open between the U.K. and Ireland? They both want to do that, but just can't agree, Christine, on how to do it.

ROMANS: All right. Max Foster, thank you so much for that, outside of parliament this morning. Thanks.

BRIGGS: Ahead, four crew members are still missing after a ship tilted to its side at the Georgia coast. The latest on rescue efforts, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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ROMANS: All right. Four crew members from a South Korean cargo ship that has capsized off of the coast of Georgia are still missing this morning. Right now, the 656 feet Golden Wray is on its side off the coast of St. Simons Island -- sound rather. Authorities first noticed the vessel was listing at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Coast Guard crews and other agencies responded and rescued 20 of the 24 people onboard before a fire forced them to suspend the evacuation effort. Officials are now working to stabilize the cargo ship.

BRIGGS: Federal investigators search -- serving search warrants on the owner of "Dive Boat Conception," Sunday, 34 people died Labor Day morning when the boat caught fire and sank off of Santa Cruz Island in Southern California. Five crew members survived. Members of the coast guard investigative service, served the warrants on Truth Aquatics with help from the FBI, the ATF and Santa Barbara Sheriff's Deputies. The salvage barge is set to raise a nearly 80-foot boat in the coming days. Investigators will then look inside and determined the cause of the fire.

ROMANS: A top MIT Official resigned this weekend. Following explosive allegations he tried to disguise the source of donations made or solicited by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Joi Ito was a professor and director of MIT's media lab. He stepped down less than a day after "the New Yorker" reported he tried to conceal the lab's relationship with Epstein.

Internal communication and documents obtained by CNN shows Epstein was key to soliciting donations from major donors, they include $2 million from Bill Gates and at least $5 million from private equity firm founder Leon Black, the university is now calling for an independent probe. Epstein killed himself from the Manhattan jail cell last month while facing federal sex trafficking charges.

BRIGGS: A Florida fourth grader bullied for his homemade t-shirt is getting the last laugh. The boy wanted to represent the University of Tennessee at his elementary school college colors day. But he didn't have any apparel so he drew U.T. logo on a piece of paper and pinned it into an orange t-shirt. But the boy's fan was in tears by lunch after some girls made fun of his sign.

ROMANS: His teacher wanted to raise his spirit with an officially U.T. shirt, so she posted the boy's story on-line, to see if any friends could help. The post of course, went viral and the University sent him a care package full of swag. And then this it gives me goosebumps. The U.T. also turned the boy's design into an official t- shirt logo. A portion of the proceeds for every shirt sold will go to an anti-bullying foundation.

[04:25:07]

BRIGGS: That is awesome.

ROMANS: Great response from U.T.

BRIGGS: Nineteen majors and counting for Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard capturing his fourth U.S. open title, Sunday on a 4:50, five sets. It is really overdone. You know, Medvedev of Russia, Nadal won the first two sets, dropped the next two and then came back to win the fifth and deciding set, 6-4. He's 19th major puts him one behind Roger Federer on the all-time list. On Saturday 19 year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu captured the women's title defeating Serena Williams to win her first major and what was an outstanding weekend at the U.S. Open.

ROMANS: yes, it sure was. All right, 25 minutes pass the hour. Secret peace talks were planned with the very group that harbored the 9/11 terrorist, days before the 9/11 anniversary. The White House defend this move. Lawmakers are outraged.

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