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EARLY START

President Trump Cancels Camp David Talks with Taliban; House Panel to Advance Impeachment Probe of President Trump; Biden Holds Comfortable Lead in ABC-Washington Post Poll. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 9, 2019 - 05:00   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, UNITED STATES: If you're going to negotiate peace, you often have to deal with some pretty bad actors.

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DAVE BRIGGS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Is there any way out of America's longest war? The president nixes secret talks in the U.S. with the Taliban.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Congress is back today, a full agenda with guns, the border and trade. The house Democrats are keeping their focus on impeachment.

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

ROMANS: And he was mocked for a home-made shirt. Now, one Florida boy is getting his UT swag and more. Good morning and welcome back to EARLY START everybody, I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Nice gesture there, good morning --

ROMANS: So good --

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs, Monday, September 9th, 5:00 a.m. in the East. This week marks 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 harbor the terrorists 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, quote, "they probably don't have the power to negotiate a meaningful 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POMPEO: If you're going to negotiate peace, you often have to deal

with some pretty bad actors. And 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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ROMANS: 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 KINZINGER (R-IL): Nothing wrong with the negotiation, 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Liz Cheney, the number 3 house Republican whose father was Vice President on 9/11, says this "Camp David is where America's leaders met 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 once again moving a step back. Let's go live to London and bring in CNN's Clarissa Ward, she was embedded with the Taliban a few months ago. Clarissa, so, what's next here?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a question that everybody is asking now, Christine. Like, are these talks completely dead in the water or is there the potential still to resuscitate them.

You heard as you played there from Mike Pompeo, he says that the White House is still amenable to continuing these talks. That the Taliban simply needs to honor their agreement. And a Taliban also have released this statement, it's a pretty scathing statement.

They accused the U.S. of undermining their credibility of being anti- peace. They say the U.S. will pay for this in blood and treasure, but they stopped short of closing the door on the continuation of talks, saying that they are still -- their position is still the same, that they would continue that dialogue.

But in order for that dialogue to really continue at this stage, Christine, it's going to require a big climb-down from someone, most probably, that would be the Taliban because this deal has come under a lot of criticism for the simple fact that there were no pre-conditions attached to it. There was no pre-condition of a ceasefire, there was no guarantee of women's rights. There was no seat at the table for the Afghan government. A lot of

people have said, hold on, this wasn't a peace deal being negotiated. This was a withdrawal deal being negotiated. At the same time though, you have a strong other faction of people who were saying, hold on a second, let's get real, 18 years of war, 2,400 U.S. service men killed, countless trillions of dollars spent, it has to end and the only way it can end is at the negotiating table and the Taliban would be the party to negotiate with.

So, there's still some real debate about what these talks should look like and what a peace agreement should look like. But for now, the more immediate concern is, can the talks even continue, can they regain that momentum?

Important to remember, Christine, that they were this close. Zamil Khalil(ph); the U.S. special representative who was representing the U.S. in Doha at these talks said that the deal had basically been agreed in principle, it just needed the signoff at the president, and now, that deal very much hanging in the balance. No sense yet as to where we go from here, Christine.

ROMANS: And American service members are still dying in Afghanistan. You know, we -- and that is a really important part of this story for 18 long years, that has been the backdrop of this terrible, difficult diplomacy here. All right, Clarissa Ward, thank you so much for that.

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BRIGGS: All right, back here, Congress returns from Summer recess today with no shortage of issues on the table, guns, trade and a government funding bill. But top of the agenda for many Democrats is impeachment, moving their probe forward and broadening its scope. But a variety of issues could slow those efforts. Jeremy Herb has more from Washington.

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: 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 the parameters of its impeachment investigation and lay the ground rules for conducting 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 businesses, the president's dangling of pardons and hush money 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 favor 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 for 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 join their efforts, Dave and Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Jeremy, thank you so much for that. Joe Biden still has a commanding lead over a crowded Democratic field in the latest "ABC New"-"Washington Post" poll. But the race appears to be tighter in some of the early voting states. All right, so, nationwide, Biden has 27 percent support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, putting in 8 points ahead of Bernie Sanders and 10 points up on Elizabeth Warren.

Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg round out the top five. 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 holds a sizable 25-point lead in South Carolina. One other note from that poll, businessman Tom Steyer registered 2 percent in Nevada, his campaign says that qualifies him for the upcoming October debate.

BRIGGS: The Air Force is ordering a review of all international layovers in the wake of some questionable bookings at President Trump'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 actually less expensive than a nearby Marriott. The Air Force have said stop-over of planes in Glasgow is not unusual. Just last week, Vice President Pence came under fire for spending two nights at President Trump's resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, even though it was 180 miles from his meetings in Dublin.

He insisted staying at his boss' resort made logical sense because Pence claims he made the decision because his family has ties to the town.

ROMANS: Another primary challenge against President Trump. Former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford is now the third Republican trying to seat 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 reckless spending.

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MARK SANFORD, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: 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 alone. The Trump campaign is calling Sanford's primary challenge, quote, "irrelevant", that may literally be the case.

South Carolina and Nevada Republicans have taken steps to cancel their primaries and caucuses to line up behind President Trump.

ROMANS: There's just about 9 minutes past the hour, there's concrete proof now that the president's trade war with China is being felt by governments and families and trades between these two huge economies is shrinking.

China reported Sunday, exports, Chinese exports to the U.S. fell 16 percent, U.S. goods imported into China fell 22 percent. And a new report from the National Foundation for American Policy 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, consumer goods. Talks between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this Summer ended without a deal.

Officials from Beijing are expected to visit Washington next month for another round of talks with the president planning additional tariff hikes on October 1st and December 15th.

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BRIGGS: The Hurricane Dorian death toll rising to 45 in the Bahamas, and it is expected to climb much higher. USAID describes the destruction looking like nuclear bombs were dropped, hundreds remain missing and are likely buried beneath rubble on Grand Bahama and Abaco.

Volunteers are doing what they can, distributing food to tens of thousands of Bahamians who are now homeless. Paula Newton with more from Nassau.

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 they need to those people. A lot of them are here in Nassau, but even this, even though it's the capital of the Bahamas under strain.

Not just to get people the immediate needs in terms of food and shelter, but what happens next. As we've 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's 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're dealing with is the death toll. We have seen from USAID dozens of search and rescue teams, unfortunately, now it's moved 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 and speaking to a lot of relatives who say that they don't know what has happened to their family members, they've seen them washed 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?

ROMANS: All right, thank you so much for that, Paula. All right, Downing street says parliament abused its power passing a law against a no-deal Brexit. Big question, will the European Union even grant an extension? CNN is live at the parliament.

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ROMANS: Well, 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 final push for a snap election, but opposition parties have vowed to block that until Brexit is officially postponed.

Boris Johnson just wrapping up a news conference with the Irish Prime Minister. CNN's Max Foster live in London outside parliament. And the Irish question has been a really -- a tough part of all these negotiations.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're just trying to work out what's going to happen next. I think the only predictable thing in Westminster today is that it's raining. But as you say, Boris Johnson currently meeting his Irish counterpart in Dublin. Quite a frosty press conference they just held.

But interesting that both of them very much committed to the idea that Britain should leave at the end of October. Boris is famous for wanting that, but also Leo Varadkar saying it works on our side as well because we don't want to keep delaying Brexit.

Let's just get this done so we can get on with all the best of the work that the EU should be doing rather than being distracted by this. Meanwhile, here in London, Boris Johnson aside very much still pushing this idea of a snap election, they're going to bring it to a vote in the house today.

But it's simply, I can't imagine it getting through because they need this two-thirds majority, they just don't have the numbers. At the same time, this bill becomes law which could ultimately force Boris Johnson to write to the EU, asking for a delay in Brexit.

Again, something they just don't want to do. So, they're trying to find ways around it, and one of the idea is being muted because if he writes the letter, asks for a delay, then writes a separate letter, saying he doesn't want a delays because there's no point in agreeing to one.

So, it gets a bit complicated at the moment. Also, court case today questioning all of this. So, we're trying to keep on top of it, Christine, but at the moment, we're just getting very close to October, the 31st deadline.

ROMANS: Sure, all right, Max Foster there in London, thank you so much. All right, 17 minutes pass the hour, four crew members are still missing after a ship rolled to its side off the Georgia coast. The latest on rescue efforts, next.

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BRIGGS: Stop vaping immediately. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention suggesting people avoid these cigarettes altogether. The number of severe cases of respiratory illnesses among people who vaped more than doubled since last month. There are now 450 cases in 33 states.

Five people have died in Illinois, Oregon, Indiana, Minnesota and California. Federal and state health officials say they're working together to figure out which products might have been used.

ROMANS: Four crew members from a South Korean cargo ship that has capsized off the coast of Georgia are still missing this morning. Right now, the 656 foot Golden Ray is on its side off the coast of St. Simons Sounds. Authorities first noticed the vessel listing at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

Coast Guard crew and other agencies responded and they rescued 20 of the 24 people aboard before a fire forced them to suspend the evacuation effort. Officials are working to stabilize the ship.

BRIGGS: Federal warrants have been served on the owner of the dive boat that caught fire on Labor Day, killing 34 people. The boat Conceptions sank off Santa Cruz Island in Southern California. Members of the Coast Guard investigative service served warrants on Truth Aquatics with help from federal and local law enforcement. The salvaged part(ph) is set to raise a nearly 80-foot boat in the coming days. Investigators will look inside to determine the cause of the fire -- five crew members survived.

ROMANS: A top MIT official resigning, following explosive allegations he tried to disguise the source of donations made or solicited by Jeffrey Epstein. Joi Ito was a professor and director of MIT's media lab. He stepped down 16 hours after the "New Yorker" reported that he tried to conceal the lab's relationship with the disgraced financier.

Internal communications and documents obtained by CNN show 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. BRIGGS: A heartwarming gesture in support of a Florida fourth grader

bullied for his home-made T-shirt. The boy wanted to represent the University of Tennessee at his elementary school's college Colors Day.

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But he didn't have any apparel, so he drew a UT logo on a piece of paper and pinned it to an orange T-shirt. The Volts fan was in tears by lunch after some girls made fun of his sign.

ROMANS: His teacher wanted to raise his spirit with an official UT shirt, so, she posted the boy's story online to see if any friends could help. The post of course went viral and the university sent the boy a care package full of swag. UT also turned the boy's design into an official T-shirt logo. A portion of the proceeds from every shirt sold will go to an anti-bullying foundation. And I talked to my kids about this story last night because I say when --

BRIGGS: We should all talk to our kids about that --

ROMANS: I said, you know, school started this week for us, and I said, you've got to look out there for somebody who feels like they don't belong or is sad or is nervous, you know, step forward and be the one who is not laughing at somebody, but who is helping somebody.

BRIGGS: Got that advice, parents? Good stuff. Ahead, secret peace talks were planned with the group that harbored the 9/11 terrorists days before the 9/11 anniversary. The White House defends the move, lawmakers on both sides outraged.

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